DEBORAH ROSS: Hokum? Yes. Was I hooked? Definately

Line Of Duty

Sunday, BBC1


Line Of Duty, you have let me down, and have let all of us down. Line Of Duty, we have sat through so much. What is it now? Five series and 30 episodes and 762 ways of prefacing ‘fella’? (Wee fella, good fella, poor fella…) Plus all the throat cuttings and dismembered bodies hidden in freezers and Tony Gates throwing himself under a lorry and Ryan with his bolt cutters and the child abuse and Roz with her stinky arm and Denton having her brains blown out by ‘The Caddy’ and poor, poor Maneet, and it all adds up to 1,800 minutes, which is the equivalent of watching 20 full-length feature films and yet… Still no closure. Still? No? Closure? 

Anna Maxwell Martin and Adrian Dunbar in Line Of Duty. Closure would have been lovely but we are now, I have to admit (grudgingly), well set up for the sixth series

Anna Maxwell Martin and Adrian Dunbar in Line Of Duty. Closure would have been lovely but we are now, I have to admit (grudgingly), well set up for the sixth series

Line Of Duty, let me tell you: all I was left with after this finale was the image of Ted all alone in his sad hotel room watching porn (Mother of God!). Has his toilet been fixed, at least? Or is it Ted all alone in his sad hotel room watching porn (Mother of God!) while still waiting for his toilet to be fixed? Either way, great. That’s just the image I want to carry around in my head, probably for the rest of my life. I would also ask: once Ted has watched porn all alone in his sad hotel room with the toilet that may or may not work, does he then always dispose of his laptop and purchase a new one? Is that why he’s so broke? 

I admire Jed Mercurio, the writer of this series, but also hate him. Jed, I would wish to say to him, if you can’t say it in 20 feature-length films, maybe you shouldn’t say it at all? But his brilliance pulls you in even so. He does cat and mouse, but you are never quite sure who is the cat and who is the mouse, even when both are sitting opposite each other in the AC-12 interrogation room. Or maybe there are two cats and it’s the sweetly poisonous, silky-bloused Gill Biggeloe with her fabulous blow-dry who is the mouse? Unless she’s the cat? 

This was an interrogation room episode, referring us to document 63, paragraph four, and also document 12, paragraph six. Gimleteyed DCS Carmichael (a mesmerising Anna Maxwell Martin) thought she had her man, that Ted was ‘H’, definately. And the evidence was stacking up nicely against him. The £50,000 discovered in his hotel room. The visit to Lee Banks in prison. The hairs found on  Corbett’s corpse. The Belfast background. When he discovered Corbett was Anne Marie’s son he wept like a baby – terrific performance from Adrian Dunbar, by the way – while I was furious with Carmichael. Hey, love, stop bullying our Ted. You’ve made him cry. Proud of yourself now? 

It was looking bad for Ted, but I knew he wasn’t ‘H’. I just did. OK, the porn. Disappointing. But he wasn’t ‘H’. So the drive of this episode was: he’ll be exonerated, but how? Arnott and Fleming. That’s how. Off they charged, scooping up the last-minute evidence that would, and did, get Ted off the hook.  Certainly, it was good to see Fleming, especially, get up off her passive backside for once. (I think we’d have all understood if PC Sohota had ever exclaimed, ‘Hang on, am I the only one doing any work around here?’) 

The pair then raced back to expose Gill as the one responsible for framing Ted. No amount of silky blouses or blow-dries could save her now. She was cat, then mouse. Also, Arnott had noted something. He had looked at the footage of Dot Cottan’s dying declaration and seen he was tapping his fingers. Morse code, apparently, for ‘four’, so there are four ‘caddies’. Quite how Arnott could see tapping when the image was stilled will have to remain a mystery, as will this: why would a dying man tap out Morse code when he could just hold up four fingers? 

The show loses a star because it was hokum. If, for instance, Carmichael et al were tracing Gill’s burner phone, why didn’t they track it to her home or office? And they gave her witness protection. Why? When she obviously didn’t reveal who the ‘fourth’ person is? 

But like Mercurio’s other, most recent series, Bodyguard, it’s the kind of sustained entertainment that everyone loves to second-guess, usually wrongly, and plays out with the audience in mind unlike, say, Chimerica. (Didn’t I say those viewing figures would fall off a cliff, and haven’t I been proved right? It was attracting an audience of less than 500,000 last time I looked.) 

Closure would have been lovely but we are now, I have to admit (grudgingly), well set up for the sixth series. Who was Tranter working for? Who will Ryan be working for? Will Brandyce ever wear her hair over her ears? Will Fleming ever get home in time to take her kid to the pictures? And who is the fourth ‘bent copper’? It was not, and will never be, Ted. Laptop, porn, ditch, replace. Laptop, porn, ditch, replace. How would he ever find the time?