Good morning. Superintendent Moir will be holding a briefing in the interview room immediately and your attendance is mandatory.
Reason for meeting: to update readers on the fifth series of Line Of Duty, which began on BBC1 last Sunday — attracting a staggering eight million viewers, making it the most watched TV show of the year so far. It continues tomorrow evening at 21 hundred hours prompt — that’s 9pm to you, fella.
Moir is now inserting a cassette and pressing the button. BEEEP. Please refer to Page Five in your folders, specifically to subsection brackets C brackets, which is headed The Story So Far.
For the benefit of the tape, Supt Moir is holding her head in her hands and muttering: ‘Just one episode in, and already I’m confused.’
After an absence of two years, the hit police procedural series is back. Written and created by Jed Mercurio, it features the travails of AC-12, an anti-corruption squad based at Polk Avenue police station in a nameless northern town, although it is actually filmed in Belfast.
Reason for meeting: to update readers on the fifth series of Line Of Duty, pictured, which began on BBC1 last Sunday
That fella Mercurio has form as long as my arm. He also wrote the BBC series Bodyguard, which starred Keeley Hawes as the Home Secretary and Richard Madden as her personal protection officer. The latter’s character was an army vet who suffered from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and also had a bad case of PASH (Pantsdown Action Surprisingly Hot).
Mercurio, as we shall see, is very fond of deploying genuine police jargon and acronyms in his fast-paced dialogue. This klaxon of authenticity can be perplexing, but luckily I am HTH (Here To Help).
In LOD (Line of Duty), the principal POI (Persons of Interest) are Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), Detective Inspector Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston).
We shall return to them shortly. In the meantime, for the purposes of clarity, please refer to your cheat sheet on Page Eight of the folder.
Last week, AC-12 found themselves accidentally embroiled in Operation Peartree, a long-term undercover investigation into links between organised crime and high-ranking police officers. What? Are you joking? ‘That is our turf and we didn’t even know it was going on,’ complained Hastings.
Peartree also opened a door into the bigger question that has fuelled the show’s dense plotlines since the very first series. Namely, who is H, the corrupt cop mastermind behind — well — everything?
At the Peartree centre of events is UCO Detective Sergeant John Corbett (Stephen Graham). He is embedded with the OCG (see panel) responsible for the heroin heist that left three police officers dead and another in hospital.
Now AC-12 are onto Corbett, who seems to have gone rogue and turned into a vicious gangland boss with blood on his hands – but perhaps the balaclava-clad brute will turn out to be a saviour
AC-12 were originally investigating the prospect of insider collusion in this attack on the police convoy carrying the seized drugs.
Now they are onto Corbett, who seems to have gone rogue and turned into a vicious gangland boss with blood on his hands.
OR IS HE? Perhaps the balaclava-clad brute will turn out to be a saviour. For now, he spends a lot of time fondling babes in an unlikely nightclub which, eagle-eyed viewers spotted, serves Aldi vodka.
SO WHO IS H?
God only knows. Series four seemed to conclude it was Assistant Chief Constable Hilton, who then obligingly killed himself.
OR DID HE? Perhaps he was murdered and framed by the real H, who continues to ply his evil blue on blue trade? Suspicions certainly continue to ferment. Could H even be Hastings? This is the terrible conundrum that is going to dominate this series and keep us all awake at night.
The cheat sheet: police jargon
AC-12: Anti-Corruption unit.
UCO: Undercover Officer.
OCG: Organised Crime Group.
ANPR: Automatic Number Plate Recognition.
ED905: Name of the new casefile AC-12 are investigating
ACC: Assistant Chief Constable. Usually referring to Assistant Chief Constable Hilton (deceased).
ATT: At This Time.
MOPI-C-1601: Sometimes referred to as ‘the Mopi notes’. Last week AC-12 operatives were denied access to this electronic file, which turned out to concern Operation Peartree (see below). Ironically, this alerted them to the fact that SBWU (Something Big Was Up).
TIC: Previous crimes Taken Into Consideration.
Triple 9s: The process of dialling 999.
Status zero: Panic button situation in which an officer desperately needs help.
Blue on blue crime: I shouldn’t have to explain this to you again, officer, but it has nothing to do with wearing a navy skirt and an azure top.
Regulation 15 Notice: When AC-12 serves a Reg 15 it advises an officer a complaint has been made or a conduct matter has arised that warrants investigation.
Old Testament Ted is the moral compass of AC-12, interested in one thing and one thing only — catching bent coppers. Yet he has had plenty of financial trouble and has started acting suspiciously.
Like Alan Partridge, he is living in a Travelodge — complete with a broken toilet to match his broken spirit. He still loves the wife who wants a divorce, but look on the bright side; he has a trouser press.
By day he has taken to fretful stares at any activity in the office beyond his desk. By night he walks the streets in his shortie raincoat, making suspicious phone calls and looking furtive.
Even his ‘best team’ have their doubts. Now and again, DI Fleming gives him her special orb-throb laser stare of distrust, while DS Arnott looks on in hamster-faced puzzlement. Still, H could be anyone, couldn’t he? Or she?
Maybe it is Fleming herself, who now lives in a posh house and has an expensive new haircut.
Perhaps it is Arnott, whose satin-backed waistcoats shimmer with suppressed tension at moments of stress. Or might it even be Corbett, whose secret nickname might be Harry (H!), in honour of the celebrated Sooty puppeteer?
Or might I be going mad?
GOING OFF DUTY
In previous LOD series, AC-12 were rarely off duty — or far from the glass balcony where they all like to huddle. They were too busy firing automatic weapons while clinging to a speeding lorry (Fleming, series three), being tortured by bolt cutters (Arnott, series one) or floating up the River Lagan on a bubble (Hastings, current series.)
Now writer Mercurio has taken a deeper dive into their personal lives. Already we have been led to believe that Fleming is back with her husband Mark and little boy Josh, unless she has kidnapped another family. This follows child custody issues due to the restrictive nature of her job. Oh, and her torrid affair with the husband of a murdered policewoman who was also her best friend (series two).
Meanwhile, Arnott gets hairier every season and has now grown a masterful beard to replace the timid furze of before. His former girlfriend, Detective Sergeant Sam Railston (Aiysha Hart) made a surprise appearance in one scene, so perhaps love may bloom again for the luckless crimefighter.
And in the privacy of his hotel room, Hastings hangs his great craggy head in despair as he lurches from crisis to calamity. He hasn’t paid his hotel bill, even though he is buying drinks for everyone down at the Red Lion.
Series four seemed to conclude it was Assistant Chief Constable Hilton, who then obligingly killed himself.
At the end of the first episode four officers are dead, including lovely PC Maneet Bindra (Maya Sondhi)
The only personal effects in his room are his polycotton police shirts, a photograph of his wife Roisin and his unsigned divorce papers. What next for the great man?
At the end of the first episode four officers are dead, including lovely PC Maneet Bindra (Maya Sondhi). Her murder was ordered by Corbett, who despatched his thugs to kill her at night on a jetty.
This was because she could have exposed him, but as what? And to whom? To his underworld cronies as a cop? Or to the cops as the real H? Maneet had been giving information to the sometime H, ACC Hilton, to protect her cousin, a civilian who worked at Polk Street and who had a gambling problem.
He was selling info to the underworld to pay off his debts, and Hilton was using this as leverage.
Gambling problems seem to be the primary facilitator for good cops going bad in Line Of Duty.
If Hastings really wants to root out all the secret gamblers on the force, why doesn’t he just install a one-armed bandit in the police canteen, then hide behind a pillar for surveillance purposes? It might save a lot of time and trouble.
In the meantime, darling Ted, Ulsterman of our dreams, blue light of our lives, please don’t let the baddie be you. Millions of us could not bear it.
For the benefit of the tape, Superintendent Moir is now leaving the room . . . in tears.