Ahead of the beat: Is Line of Duty getting predictable? - Liam Rudden

LINE OF DUTY is mid-way through another run right now and, as always, it has become a hot topic as Jed Mercurio twists and turns his characters until they are barely recognisable.

Monday, 29th April 2019, 1:24 pm
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 1:30 pm
Line of Duty

It’s a technique he uses to great effect and one that keeps viewers guessing, although in this latest investigation I have to admit I’ve managed to keep one step ahead, so far.

Could Mercurio be running out of ideas?

Like most TV drama, Line of Duty, good as it is, is written to a formula. Five series in, with a sixth already commissioned, that formula may be starting to show.

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After all, there are no new ideas really. Everything has been done before. It’s how you repackage them as your own that matters.

Never mind that there are shock moments in this series that could have been lifted straight out of dramas such as Spooks, or that the events driving the action aren’t particularly original, some of the telegraphing of what’s about to happen is just plain blatant. Well, to me anyway.

Surely, I’m not the only one?

It’s almost impossible to write this without giving away a spoiler, by the way, but I’ll try my best.

Ted Hastings - enigmatically played by Adrian Dunbar - is written to look like he is a man with much to hide, which ultimately means he’s a good guy... unless of course it’s a double bluff, in which case...

Yes, the twists keep coming.

Actually, I’m pretty certain he has something to hide, just not what Mercurio would have us think it is.

Keep ‘em guessing. It is the same art Glenn Chandler perfected when scripting early episodes of Taggart.

In fact, penning convincing red herrings is arguably the most important thing any TV script-writer can do when faced with an ongoing crime drama, especially one as long-running as Line Of Duty.

Now, at this point, again without giving any spoilers away, I have to say I have developed a theory as to where this series will take us.

I daren’t share it, of course, on the off chance that I’ve hit the nail on the head.

I’ve also heard other theories from fans, all appear equally plausible.

As a late-comer to the party, I didn’t get hooked until I started watching Series Three, I’m looking forward to blasting through the first two series before this one ends to see if there’s anything I’ve missed that might be relevant to what’s happening now and change my thinking.

That said, I’ve been pretty much on the money so far, consequently a couple of friends have banned me discussing the series with them... in itself a testament to Mercurio’s stealth and cunning.

One thing I do love about the new series are his nods to the TV good guys of the past.

I can’t help raise a wry smile whenever Steve Arnott or Kate Fleming say their call-signs - 37 and 45. They were, famously the call-signs of Doyle and Bodie in The Professionals.

Now there was a series.