Line of Duty: who is Gill Biggeloe?

Polly Walker as Gill Biggeloe  - 5
Polly Walker as Gill Biggeloe - 5

Well, she wasn’t quite the shadowy “H” – in ingenious-yet-irritating news, nobody was – but the big villain of Line of Duty’s latest run turned out to be Gill Biggeloe.

In the feature-length, twist-laden finale to Jed Mercurio’s fifth series, the police lawyer (played by Polly Walker) was unmasked as the puppet-mistress behind most of the balaclava-clad wrongdoing over the past six weeks.

So exactly who was Gill Biggeloe: Corrupt Gigolo? Here’s your full briefing dossier…

Who was Biggeloe?

Basically, Lady Macbeth with a law degree. A single, fiftysomething, pencil-skirted glamour-puss who previously worked as a defence solicitor and has been employed as an in-house police lawyer since series three.

Adrian Dunbar and Polly Walker - Credit: BBC
Adrian Dunbar and Polly Walker Credit: BBC

Series three, aka “the Daniel Mays one”

After the mishandling of the Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) case, which ended with Denton being freed on appeal, Gill Biggeloe was called in to serve as departmental lawyer for AC-12.

As well as being on-hand to ensure investigations were beyond reproach (no more sleeping with witnesses, thanks, DS Steve Arnott) and cases couldn’t be “pulled apart in court”, PR-savvy Biggeloe always had one eye on the force’s image.  This slick approach led to clashes with traditionalist Supt Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar).

She acted as go-between for AC-12 and the Police Federation during the investigation of Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays) and his armed response squad, often recommending a softly-softly approach. She flirtatiously wined and dined Ted, then invited him back to her well-appointed house. They shared a brief kiss before Hastings backed off, saying he felt uncomfortable breaking his vows, despite being separated from wife Roisin (Andrea Irvine). Good Catholic boy, you see.

Biggeloe was seen to be in cahoots with DI Matthew “Dot” Cottan (Craig Parkinson), encouraging him to apply for promotion and backing his case against Arnott being “The Caddy”. She also passed Ted a redacted file on murdered paedophile Ronan Murphy which omitting his connections to Tommy Hunter’s organised crime syndicate. It transpired that Cottan had doctored the file. None of this looked too clever when Cottan himself was unmasked as The Caddy.

In the series finale, it became apparent that Biggeloe was attempting to stem the flow of corruption cases to manage the force’s public image. Hastings has always been a stickler (“regs are regs”, after all), so Gill was shown the departmental door.

Series five, aka “the Stephen Graham one”

Biggeloe made a surprise return in the latest series, crossing paths with Hastings for the first time since their fiery encounters three years previously. When Ted was summoned to see the top brass, he was startled to see Biggeloe – now turned from blonde to brunette.

Ever the expert schmoozer, she was ensconced as the senior legal counsel to Central Police’s new Police and Crime Commissioner, Rohan Sindwhani (Ace Bhatti). Once again, Biggeloe proved a political operator - sometimes seeming to help AC-12, at other times blocking their inquiries and setting them up for a fall.

She was more successful in her second attempt to seduce Ted, returning to his hotel room after dinner. When Gill excused herself to use the bathroom. Ted poignantly turned a framed photo of himself and Roisin face down. The next day, though, he rebuffed her, ridden with guilt that she’d been in his bed at the same time as Roisin was brutally assaulted by rogue undercover cop DS John Corbett (Stephen Graham).

As the case progressed, Gill seemed to be increasingly shady: advising PCC Sindwhani to have a “non-exclusive relationship with the truth”, urging Hastings to take early retirement and inserting herself into the action at every turn.

In the run-up to the series finale, social media was rife with conspiracy theories that Biggeloe could be the nefarious master villain “H”. Some viewers thought that Cottan identifying “H” with a blink during his dying declaration was wrongly timed and he’d actually meant “G” for Gill. Others speculated that “H” stood for “Her”. Tenuous but intriguing nonetheless.

How did she get caught?

In the feature-length finale, Biggeloe sat in on Hastings’ interrogation by AC-3’s DCS Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) as “an official observer to ensure correct procedures are followed”. Her real motive was to manipulate proceedings from the inside.

As a damning case built against him, Hastings repeatedly protested that he was being set up. It wasn’t until his loyal protégés Arnott and DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) arrived with new evidence that the villainess was unmasked.

Polly Walker as Gill Biggeloe  - Credit: BBC
Polly Walker as Gill Biggeloe Credit: BBC

The floodgates opened when Arnott and Fleming discovered that Biggeloe had been instrumental in selecting Corbett as the undercover cop to infiltrate organised crime. She’d hired a private investigator to look into Hastings’s past in Belfast and discovered his connection to Corbett’s mother, who was murdered for being a police informant.  She exploited this to convince Corbett that Hastings not only caused his mother’s death but was now the evil “H”, offering Corbett a chance for vengeance by bringing Hastings down.

We learned that Gill had fallen in with the gangland fraternity back when she was a defence lawyer. Seduced by money and seedy glamour, she was recruited to secretly work on their behalf. She’d set up fall guy Hastings to take the brunt of the anti-corruption crusade and act as a smokescreen, concealing the institutionalised complicity between bent cops and organised crime.

Gill coerced ex-cop Mark Moffat (Patrick Fitzsymons) to give Hastings £100,000 in cash, ostensibly as part of a dodgy investment deal. She used her burner phone whenever she visited Ted’s office to make it appear he was making dodgy phone calls. She took hair follicles from his comb when she used his hotel bathroom and had them incriminatingly planted on Corbett’s corpse.

A thorough fit-up but not quite thorough enough to fool our AC-12 heroes. Biggeloe was promptly charged with perverting the course of justice and misconduct in a public office. Cue a trademark hair-toss and sulky pout.

Was she “H”?

No, she wasn’t. As we discovered in a late twist, “H” was a clue rather than an initial: Morse code for four Dots, meaning four senior police staff in league with organised crime. Biggeloe was one member of a corrupt quartet – at least one of whom is still at large.

What happened to her in the end?

Realising the jig was up, Biggeloe texted her gangland associates with “Urgent exit required”, expecting a gunpoint extraction to rival Cottan’s in the series three finale. However, the balaclava-clad cavalry never arrived. Her organised crime paymasters clearly didn’t deem her an important enough asset to rescue.

Instead they ordered bent PC Tina Tranter (Natalie Gavin) to silence her. Tranter attacked Biggeloe with a knife but ever the survivor, Gill fought like a tomcat and Arnott burst into the ladies’ loos in time to shoot the blade-wielding assailant.

Biggeloe later struck a plea deal (“She’s too fond of the finer things to do a prison stretch,” noted Fleming drily), receiving immunity and a new identity in return for assisting police in subsequent prosecutions, including Moffat’s for bribery.

She was last glimpsed living a more modest life than she’d like – a hatchback rather than a sports car, a council house rather than a swanky pile – in a clifftop town. Biggeloe goes to Broadchurch, anyone?

Where have I seen actress Polly Walker before?

Cheshire-born trained ballerina Polly Walker is, perhaps unsurprisingly, best known for villainous roles. She was ruthless terrorist Annette in the Harrison Ford blockbuster Patriot Games, and Julius Caesar’s scheming niece Atia in toga-clad potboiler Rome, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

You might also recognise her from Lorna Doone, Enchanted April, Prisoners’ Wives, Mr Selfridge or as the wife of David Morrissey’s dodgy MP in State of Play. Last year she played the lead in soapy BBC beauty salon drama Age Before Beauty.

She now joins the illustrious ranks of Line of Duty femme fatales, alongside Jackie Laverty (Gina McKee), DI Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes) and DCI Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton). Mother of God, Ted, you had your work cut out there.