Belfast Telegraph

Over 10m tune in as Line of Duty reaches a tense and gripping finale

DCS Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) interrogates Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) during the series finale of Line of Duty
DCS Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) interrogates Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) during the series finale of Line of Duty
Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure)
Steve Arnott (Martin Compson)
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

Mother of God, now we're sucking diesel.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph I knew that fella who didn't float up the Lagan in a bubble all the way from Enniskillen definitely - or 'definately' - would be cooking with gas and that he'd straighten out the bent copper rap in the TV series that had 10 million viewers hooked last night.

But for a nation of Line of Duty obsessives and Adrian Dunbar fans, it was like waiting for Supt Ted Hastings' number 19 bus as script-writing serial sadist Jed Mercurio tortured us during an anything-but-merry dance of tension and teasing before finally putting us out of our misery that our local boy hadn't done bad. Or maybe not all that much bad.

The doubts still lingered after a rollicking rollercoaster of a thrill-ride in the last episode, as the freshly exonerated Hastings was seen with a package which we can only assume contained half of the £100,000 that was planted on him by crooks - but which he appears to have hidden from the long arm of the law he upholds.

At a preview of the first episode 936 hours earlier (who's counting?) in Belfast where the series was filmed, Mercurio told an audience of Duty-ful diehards who were the lucky ones among 6,000 ticket applicants that he loved "messing" with their heads.

And he was true to his word last night, leading viewers up more garden paths than a National Trust guide during a finale that had an extra half-hour bolted onto it to delay the revelation of the truth about whodunnit or whodidn'tdunnit in cahoots with the murderous Organised Crime Group.

At the conclusion of a series that involved double-dealing undercover cops, sawn-off limbs in freezers, monstrous throat-cuttings (one of them filmed in the old Belfast Telegraph building), cryptic throwbacks to the Troubles, and misspellings of the word 'definitely', the figure known as 'H' wasn't, we were told, a person at all - but rather a clue about a foursome of fraudulent cops and robbers.

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And the latest Mr Big to be unmasked was a Miss Biggeloe - Gill Biggeloe, a female police lawyer who tried to frame Hastings after trying to bed the porn-loving superintendent and who was lucky to survive a murder bid by a woman officer in the team investigating the team investigating the corruption team.

And in a chilling throwback to the Omen movies, the Damien of the Line of Duty piece, baby-faced OCG throat-slasher Ryan Pilkington, was seen on the march as a trainee police officer, nicely teeing up series six at the end of series five.

Earlier in the day, unable to bear the unbearable counting down of the clock to transmission time, I'd launched my own AC-12-style inquiry to see if one of the stars of Duty, Martin Compston, would be corrupted on a TV show into giving away clues about whether or not there was a Dunbar link to the OCG.

Compston pleaded the fifth about the denouement of the fifth series, laughing that every word he utters in real life is too often over-analysed by Line fans online, so to speak.

Proof of the haggis came as conspiracy theorists who didn't realise that Compston was from Greenock in Scotland thought they smelt a rat in the way he was speaking 'funny' on the programme … with a Scottish drawl and not the soft Sassenach accent he uses in Duty.

The rat was quickly stamped on.

Mercurio had earlier denounced a national newspaper that claimed to have inside information about Duty and tweeted a four-letter word to describe the journalist who wrote it.

But he must have been equally furious over last-minute reports that a supermarket chain put a DVD of Duty on sale yesterday 24 hours too early, allowing fans to share Mercurio's storyline on social media.

But for now it's the end of the Line, leaving millions of us wondering how to fill our Duty-free Sunday nights until Hastings comes back to our screens, hopefully with more Ulsterisms that will amuse us on this side of the Irish Sea and baffle and bamboozle everyone on the other side.

Like the confused Cosmopolitan writer who recently said she loved Dunbar's "iconic one-liners and cheeky colloquialisms" such as: "I didn't float up the lagoon on a bubble."

Belfast Telegraph

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