Line of Duty shares first pictures of Kelly Macdonald as filming wraps on season 6

Dusty Baxter-Wright
·8-min read
Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

From Cosmopolitan

In between Great British Bake Off, The Crown and Schitt’s Creek, it's a miracle we've got any time to be thinking about other TV shows. But when it comes to Line Of Duty, there's always space in our brain, thanks to our minor obsession with Ted Hastings, Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming, aka AC12.

Line Of Duty series 5 dropped on our television screens at the end of March 2019, with the entire season focussing on the identity of 'H' - a corrupt, high-ranking member of the police force.

*Spoilers* In the season finale, you might remember that the identity of 'H' actually remained a mystery, with the final scene revealing there are four corrupt members of the force, three of which are either dead or in prison - meaning one is still at large. So, will their identity be the focus of Season 6? Here's what we know about Line Of Duty so far.

When will Line Of Duty season 6 be released?

BBC has confirmed Line Of Duty will air in March 2021 - not long to wait! It was originally supposed to drop this year, but production was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Filming officially wrapped on season six on 23 November.

Line of Duty showrunner and creator Jed Mercurio said: "Thanks so much to our brilliant cast and crew who applied rigorous COVID safety measures to deliver Line of Duty 6 to our wonderful fans. We're all immensely grateful to World Productions and the BBC for the unswerving support they've given us in a time of unprecedented challenges to UK television production."

While Simon Heath, executive producer for World Productions, added: “Huge praise has to go to Jed, Kelly, Vicky, Martin, Adrian and the brilliant Line of Duty cast and crew who completed filming on Series 6 yesterday, after 5 months of lockdown and three more of shooting under the most trying of circumstances. The audience is in for a treat next year.”

Filming resumed in September, with the official Instagram account writing on 1 September: "As you were, fellas! Filming is once more underway on the new series of #LineOfDuty 🎉."

Jed also captioned the pic on Twitter: "When I took this photo I was careful to keep the inmate opposite ⁦@martin_compston hidden but you can just about see an out-of-focus image on the camera monitor. Clue: it’s not Julia Montague."

Meanwhile, Line Of Duty hasn't followed a predictable release pattern with its last five series. While there was a two year gap between season 1 (2012), season 2 (2014) and season 3 (2016), season 4 then aired in 2017, only one year later. It was then a two year gap before season 5 dropped in 2018.

Who will star in Line of Duty season 6?

Fan favourites Ted Hastings, Steve Arnott and Kate Flemming - played by Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston and Vicky McClure respectively - are all back.

On October 5th, Jed shared behind the scenes pictures from filming in Belfast and one image immediately caught fans' attention. In the shots posted to Twitter, the cast appear to be in the middle of a raid, with Fleming, Arnott and Hastings all wearing official uniform.

However, eagle-eyed fans noticed that in one picture Arnott's three stripes on his uniform - highlighting his sergeant status - had disappeared. While it could just be a simple wardrobe mistake, some believe it could possibly be a clue to a season 6 storyline. Zooming in on his shoulders one asked, "Stevie boy demoted to PC?"

While a second tweeted, "No Sgt stripes on @martin_compston uniform. Has he been demoted?"

A third replied, "Exactly what I was wondering. Undercover as a PC? Demoted, or a big omission!"

Earlier in the year, on 11 February, the BBC One twitter account also shared a picture of the reunited trio, along with new lead cast member Kelly Macdonald, doing their first read-through of the exciting new script. "Back to work for this lot at the #LineOfDuty Series 6 read-through," they wrote.

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

Meanwhile, creator Jed previously hinted that a number of special guests will be joining the cast for the new season. "#LineofDuty Series 6 team @Vicky_McClure, @martin_compston and The Gaffer Adrian Dunbar nervously awaiting arrival of secret guest stars," he tweeted alongside a picture of Adrian, Martin and Vicky.

We now know one of those special guests is actor Kelly Macdonald, who has starred in the likes of Gosford Park, Boardwalk Empire and No Country For Old Men. Kelly will be playing Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson, the senior investigating officer of an unsolved murder, whose unconventional conduct raises suspicions at AC-12.

Jed said: "We're honoured that Kelly Macdonald will join Martin, Vicky and Adrian in Series 6 of Line of Duty. DCI Joanne Davidson will prove the most enigmatic adversary AC-12 have ever faced."

Photo credit: BBC Press Office/Twitter
Photo credit: BBC Press Office/Twitter

In teaser pictures released on 17 February 2020, fans see Steve briefing his fellow AC-12 unit on Kelly's character Joanne, as they attempt to get to grips with the case. The same day, actor Martin also shared a photo from set alongside showrunner Jed Mecurio, with the caption: "Day one in the AC12 house. 4months to go 👮♂️"

Fans can also probably expect to see Steve's on-off love interest DS Sam Railston (Aiysha Hart) and PC Tatleen Sohota (Taj Atwal) back on their screens, as well as DCC Andrea Wise (Elizabeth Rider) and Hastings' wife Roisin (Andrea Irvine).

Unsurprisingly, John Corbett (played by Stephen Graham) won't be returning, but that doesn't mean we've definitely seen the last of Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall). Plus, the storyline has to focus around Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper), the gang member who was training to be a policeman at the end of season five. Doesn't it?

Are there any fan theories about Line Of Duty season 6?

  • Could Hastings still be 'H'? Now that we know 'H' is four people - three of which are either imprisoned or dead - could Hastings still be unmasked as the final corrupt police officer? Despite being exonerated at the end of the last series for the crimes levelled against him, some fans are convinced he's still acting a little shady.

  • Even if he isn't 'H', could Hastings be involved in corrupt goings on? Martin Compston, who places DS Arnott, wouldn't put it past him, revealing in a recent Radio Times interview: "I think that's the thing with the show... there's so many grey areas,. That doesn't mean that [Hastings] is the big bad, but whether he's been up to something shady at some point, that's a possibility. "

  • Could Lindsey Denton and Tony Gates come back from the dead? OK OK so this one is a little far-fetched, but could season 6 feature a season 1 and season 2 crossover? Jed Mecurio certainly hinted at it, tweeting a photo of the pair with the caption: "Looking forward to seeing you meet in Series 6."

  • Is Kate actually corrupt? Now this would be a huge twist! Many fans are questioning whether Kate is in on the dodgy police dealings, due to how quickly she suspected Ted in series five. On top of that, why did Dot stop her getting killed in season 3?

  • Is Ryan Pilkington going to play a pivotal role? We know the gang member has infiltrated the police force, but it's unclear whether he'll take centre stage during season 6. Like Martin Compston told Radio Times, "I couldn't even tell you if the character Ryan will come back, but if he does or doesn't, then you know he's there – he's planted, and it's just something that keeps ticking over in the background."

Photo credit: BBC
Photo credit: BBC

What the cast has said about season 6:

Vicky previously admitted she has no idea what Jed is planning for the upcoming season. She told Red magazine: "I'm just not Jed, I don't have that skill in my brain to conjure up where we could go next. He's an extremely creative writing genius. He just is. Nobody else writes quite likes Jed with that kind of detail and finesse.

"So I would never be able to predict because I've never been able to predict before. Every series I'm picking up the script thinking, 'I didn't see that coming...'"

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