Line Of Duty: The clues that led us to The Fourth Man

As H was finally revealed on Sunday night’s long-awaited Line Of Duty finale, many fans realised we had been looking at the enigmatic mastermind the entire time. 

As eagle-eyed fans learned that Superintendent Buckells was the famous fourth man, having liased with the OCG to bring down officers who failed to do their bidding, clues from past seasons of the show came to light. 

After portraying himself as a hapless fool, it transpired he actually formed a secret operation with ‘bent coppers’ and even blackmailed Acting Superintendent Davidson thanks to her history with the group as Tommy Hunter’s daughter.  

Now that it has been revealed, clues from past seasons have been exposed, including bad spelling, a repeated catchphrase and even a hint from Nigel Boyle – the man behind Buckells – as a warning that he was ‘one to watch’. 

As H was finally revealed on Sunday night's long-awaited Line Of Duty finale, many fans realised we had been looking at the enigmatic mastermind the entire time.

As H was finally revealed on Sunday night's long-awaited Line Of Duty finale, many fans realised we had been looking at the enigmatic mastermind the entire time.

As H was finally revealed on Sunday night’s long-awaited Line Of Duty finale, many fans realised we had been looking at the enigmatic mastermind the entire time.

Mugging them off

In typical Hastings style, Ted, played by Adrian Dunbar, dropped a clanger that resounded in fans’ ears when he rounded out his 12 minute interrogation of Buckells. He simply stated: ‘No-one makes mugs of AC-12’. 

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past. 

In Series Four, Buckells appeared as a replacement for Thandiwe Newton's character DCI Roz Huntley when she was removed as Operation Trapdoor head.

In Series Four, Buckells appeared as a replacement for Thandiwe Newton's character DCI Roz Huntley when she was removed as Operation Trapdoor head.

In Series Four, Buckells appeared as a replacement for Thandiwe Newton’s character DCI Roz Huntley when she was removed as Operation Trapdoor head.

In Series Four in 2017, Buckells appeared as a replacement for Thandiwe Newton’s character DCI Roz Huntley when she was removed as Operation Trapdoor head.

The Fourth Man-to-be saw Vicky McClure’s DS Kate Fleming on the squad, having encountered her in his first in the furst season, where he worked out that she was working undercover for the anti-corruption squad.  

When Ted learned he had clocked Kate, he covertly met with the villain to instruct him not to blow her cover – something her agreed to with clear chagrin and even refused to help further their investigation as he was ‘no grass’.   

When Kate was uncovered, he remained insistent that he did not blow her cover but also made it very clear he had nothing but dislike for AC-12. 

The Fourth Man-to-be saw Vicky McClure's DS Kate Fleming on the squad, having encountered her in his first in the furst season, where he worked out that she was working undercover for the anti-corruption squad

The Fourth Man-to-be saw Vicky McClure's DS Kate Fleming on the squad, having encountered her in his first in the furst season, where he worked out that she was working undercover for the anti-corruption squad

The Fourth Man-to-be saw Vicky McClure’s DS Kate Fleming on the squad, having encountered her in his first in the furst season, where he worked out that she was working undercover for the anti-corruption squad 

Another ceramic red herring came when fans were convinced earlier this month that home decor - tying in with the mug detail - was the answer to H's identity

Another ceramic red herring came when fans were convinced earlier this month that home decor - tying in with the mug detail - was the answer to H's identity

Another ceramic red herring came when fans were convinced earlier this month that home decor – tying in with the mug detail – was the answer to H’s identity 

Ted then had a heated exchange with Buckells, who was dismissed – not before sneering: ‘You lot treat everyone like mugs. Who’s the mug now?’

Another ceramic red herring came when fans were convinced earlier this month that home decor – tying in with the mug detail – was the answer to H’s identity.  

The theory involved John Corbett’s widow Steph, when fans noticed an intricate ‘clue’ hidden in her kitchen tiles.

Fans were convinced that the ‘H’ pattern in Steph’s tiles was a link to the man AC-12 have been hunting for the past six series. 

And while some dismissed the speculation as wild, it seems it was in fact a true illustration due to the presence of the poignant ‘mug’ line. 

The trio finally found their man - but has he been in plain sight all along?

The trio finally found their man - but has he been in plain sight all along?

The trio finally found their man – but has he been in plain sight all along? 

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word 'definately', with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way.

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word 'definately', with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way.

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word ‘definately’, with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way.

The mistake that DEFINATELY gave him away 

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word ‘definately’, with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way. 

When Ted and his team saw exchanges between the OCG and Jo Davidson featuring the word misspelt on a number of occasions, he demanded the archives were sifted through in the hunt of the mistake again.

The trawl then revealed the same error in 2019, in communications between the OCG and Lisa McQueen, in the same year in Operation Lighthouse and again in the Lawerence Christopher inquiry in 2003.

This quickly left fingers firmly pointed towards Buckells.

Oh! One fan noted the presence of the golf caddy - harking back to an earlier villain

Oh! One fan noted the presence of the golf caddy - harking back to an earlier villain

Oh! One fan noted the presence of the golf caddy – harking back to an earlier villain

A hole in one

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

Harking back to villain Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan and his nickname ‘The Caddy’, fans then recalled his death in series three and once Buckells’ clubs were spotted, began to close in on the villain. 

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

A slip of the tongue 

Back in 2017, while promoting Series Four of the show, Nigel Boyle – the man behind Buckells – appeared to be throwing crumbs to fans in a big way. 

In an interview with Digital Spy, he seemed to allude to what fans had to wait four more years for as he said: ‘There’s definitely more to Buckells than meets the eye!’ 

Continuing his description of the ultimate villain, he went on: ‘He’s very competent, very good at what he does, he’s the go-to guy, but he’s certainly not a popular guy – he’s petulant, and a bit of a jobsworth I think… 

‘I don’t think people give him enough credit, just because of his personality!’  

Oops! Back in 2017, while promoting Series Four of the show, Nigel Boyle - the man behind Buckells - appeared to be throwing crumbs to fans in a big way (Nigel, pictured on Monday)

Oops! Back in 2017, while promoting Series Four of the show, Nigel Boyle - the man behind Buckells - appeared to be throwing crumbs to fans in a big way (Nigel, pictured on Monday)

Oops! Back in 2017, while promoting Series Four of the show, Nigel Boyle – the man behind Buckells – appeared to be throwing crumbs to fans in a big way (Nigel, pictured on Monday)

The pre-show hints 

When quizzed on whether viewers will learn who the illusive ‘H’ is, Martin said: ‘I wouldn’t quite go the Jo Davidson no comment route – but what I will tell you is I think there’s a lot of pay offs coming this Sunday.

‘There’s a lot of big answers and it’s deserved, people have stuck with us for a long time, so there comes a point where the story arch comes to an end.’ 

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past.

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past.

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past.

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