Entertainment

JAN MOIR’s view from the sofa as Line of Duty makes its hotly anticipated return to our screens 

Line of Duty, BBC1

Rating:

Houl yer whisht!’ orders Superintendent Hastings, his quaint way of asking subordinates for silence. 

With those three words, two big surprises and one tragic death already in the body bag, Line Of Duty roared back into action last night, jingling with jargon, bristling with the usual bells and whistles, and with tension tighter than one of Steve’s snazzy waistcoats.

Despite all best efforts in five previous series it soon became clear that the Organised Crime Group (OCG) is still flourishing and that the identity of H, the last high-ranking officer who works with them, remains a mystery.

Despite all best efforts in five previous series it soon became clear that the Organised Crime Group (OCG) is still flourishing and that the identity of H

Despite all best efforts in five previous series it soon became clear that the Organised Crime Group (OCG) is still flourishing and that the identity of H

Who can it be? And for how long can they keep us mired in this tortuous, H-bomb guessing game?

The first thing you need to know is that there have been changes at AC-12, the Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) alongside key team members DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston).

Steve is so bored investigating lowly plod expenses claims that he has grown a beard, while Kate has grown wings and moved to the MIT (Murder Investigation Team) over at Hillside Lane station, where her boss is new character DCI Joanne Davidson, played by Kelly MacDonald.

Joanne is the kind of policewoman who, at critical moments, wears her hair in a bun and keeps a telescope in her pocket.

‘Is the word ma’am not in your vocabulary?’ she barks at a CHIS (Covert Human Intelligence Source) handler who has clumsily lost his CHIS.

Davidson is the SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) on Operation Lighthouse, concerning the murder of journalist Gail Vella by person or persons unknown.

Joanne is the kind of policewoman who, at critical moments, wears her hair in a bun and keeps a telescope in her pocket

Joanne is the kind of policewoman who, at critical moments, wears her hair in a bun and keeps a telescope in her pocket

Can I say something, ma’am? It is almost certainly not Terry Boyle, whom you have already arrested and questioned. Everyone seems to be unaware that Terry has often been used as a fall guy by the OCG and even kept Jackie Laverty’s body in his freezer alongside some garden peas and fishfingers for about three entire series. I can’t get into that now. For the purposes of the tape, let’s move on.

Hastings is still tainted by the investigation into the £50,000 found resting in his hotel room in the last series. Look. This is not Ted’s first rodeo. 

He accepted the disciplinary action and surely the matter is now closed. Or is it?

Deputy Chief Constable Andrea Wise, also sporting a Critical Bun, pursed her sour plum lips and made sure Hastings was not invited to a top brass meeting in the Conference Room.

Something good must have been going on, probably involving tea and pink wafer biscuits, because he was crushed like a grape at the rejection. 

‘Best keep your head down Ted,’ she sniffed.

The first thing you need to know is that there have been changes at AC-12, the Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) alongside key team members DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston)

The first thing you need to know is that there have been changes at AC-12, the Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) alongside key team members DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston)

The spectre of H floats above them both like a fog, but in reality, it could be anyone. It could even be Kate, who has tried to escape AC-12, but could find herself being dragged back in, like Al Pacino in The Godfather. 

When suspicions start to swirl around Davidson, Steve attempts to recruit Kate back into the fold. ‘We can keep it on the DL only if we have a CHIS inside MIT,’ is how he put it.

‘Either I am accused of being a traitor, or become one to avoid being accused,’ she replied, neatly summing up the ethical dilemma than now engulfs her. Or does it? In Line Of Duty, nothing and no one is ever quite what they seem.

From the get go, the opening episode of the sixth series was a dizzying stampede of masked police thundering about like heavily armed bison, forensic officers in crime scene suits with goggles, raiders in balaclavas and senior officers shouting at each other from opposite ends of the incident room or the car park. 

‘The super isn’t buying the intel!’ bawled one. ‘What am I going to tell the chief?’ hollered another.

You can see how they got around Covid restrictions when filming, so very clever of them. All that was missing was Ted in a Norman helmet and chain mail, telling anyone who would listen that it was ‘Hastings, like the battle’.

How marvellous to be back with the Central Police force in this blighted, undesignated town somewhere in the UK. 

Line of Duty star Vicky McClure posed for a picture on Instagram after she was allowed to keep her AC12 jacket

Line of Duty star Vicky McClure posed for a picture on Instagram after she was allowed to keep her AC12 jacket

Just be glad you don’t live there, fella. For here, the mean streets are absolutely saturated in crime. Corruption and lawbreaking abound in the grim housing estates, on the rain swept streets, even inside the police force itself.

The action in this first episode was dominated by Davidson, who has mastered the art of the Line Of Duty ambiguous, middle distance stare – and also speaks more jargon-ese than everyone else put together. 

She wants replacement AFOs (Authorised Firearms Officers), she wants an urgent SITREP (Situation Report) and she really wants to GAL (Get A Life).

Fast paced and exciting, this was a triumphant return for Line Of Duty, still earning its stripes after all these years.

If I have one criticism, it is that there was SNET (Simply Not Enough Ted) this week. Nestled inside his polycotton shirt and office lanyard, our hero barely got a word in, an overlooked wee currant among all those women in buns.

There was only time for him to lightly patronise ‘wee Chloe’ in the office, ask Steve if he was waiting for a ‘puff of white smoke’ and peer worriedly through the frosted panes in his window.

Mother of God, can Ted really be H? I’m afraid it’s time to HYW (Houl Yer Whisht) until next week.

Short hair of the law – but star did once look different 

Since Line Of Duty started in 2012, Vicky McClure has sported the same short signature hair style.

But it hasn’t always been that way for the star, who plays Detective Inspector Kate Fleming in the hit BBC drama which returned for its sixth series last night.

Pictures on her Instagram show the 37-year-old actress as a youngster with much longer hair than she has now. 

Pictures on her Instagram show the 37-year-old actress as a youngster

In the Instagram pictures she has much longer hair than she has now

Pictures on her Instagram show the 37-year-old actress as a youngster with much longer hair than she has now

One sees her as a girl with her hair over shoulder as she holds a rabbit, while in another she sits by a Christmas tree with hair down to her waist.

Recently show creator Jed Mercurio appeared to joke about her character’s unchanging hair, posting some set pictures on Twitter and writing: ‘Catch up on all Kate’s hairstyles through Series 1-5.’

 


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