TV review: it would be criminal to miss ‘Line of Duty’

I can’t remember the last time I saw such a cliffhanger on a TV show as on Line of Duty last night (BBC1, 9 pm). Actually, I think it must have been during the previous series of Line of Duty in 2016 (which is on iPlayer, albeit expiring imminently). The previous series of the police procedural drama received near universal acclaim and was so successful that it earned the programme a switch from BBC2 to the coveted BBC1 evening slot. The cast all play their roles to perfection, and the writing ensures it’s an edge-of-the-seat watch throughout for the viewer.

The plot, roughly outlined to avoid spoilers, is as follows. Two women have been kidnapped and killed by a masked man. When a third is snatched, the officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton), and her team uncover crucial new leads – and more importantly, an arrest to appease the high-ups and the media. However, there are doubts about the evidence amongst some members of her team, which cause the anti-corruption unit AC-12 to get involved. AC-12 is led by tough copper Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), supported by tenacious Detective Sergeants Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure).

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Thandie Newton (image by Ministry Of Stories)

Writer Jed Mercurio has marked himself out as a masterful plotter during the previous series of the show, and he has frequently shown himself to be entirely unpredictable. This series has been no exception, with twists and turns in each of the three episodes thus far. By far the most impressive occurred in last night’s episode, marking the half-way point of the series with a shocking conclusion. Mercurio is brilliant at penning tense scenes, well interspersed with climactic passages.

He is supported in this by the magnificent cast filling out the roles. Newton is wonderfully scheming as under-pressure Huntley, and the usual AC-12 cast of Dunbar, Compston, and McClure are once again eminently believable and faultlessly acted.

Line of Duty is one of the best BBC dramas I have seen, and certainly one of the best of the current crop of crime dramas. If you have the chance to watch it, it would be criminal to miss it.

Last night was the third of six episodes in series 4, so there is plenty of time to watch it on BBC iPlayer (if you’re in the UK) – here’s episode one. If you’re outside the UK and want to watch it, I’m afraid that you may have to purchase it from the BBC Store or on DVD.

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