Review: Line of Duty has subverted our expectations from the start, so why should the ending be any different?

Mother of God!  So Line of Duty (BBC1, Sun, 9pm) has ended after six series of bent coppers, shocking deaths and Northern Irish aphorisms.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 5:00 pm

This – apparently final – series has teetered close to self-parody, particularly with Ted Hastings’ quaint sayings, while viewers seem to have been expecting an ending filled with shoot-outs, unexpected guest stars and a big reveal.

However, what writer Jed Mercurio served up was a low-key finale, in which the fabled ‘H’, or the fourth man was unmasked (spoiler alert) as the personification of the Peter Principle in the bungling Ian Buckells, and Hastings and his team were left powerless – knowing of corruption in the police force, but unable to do anything.

However, if you have watched this series from the start, you should know that, firstly, Mercurio delights in subverting expectations, and secondly, many of Line of Duty’s best scenes have been the quiet moments.

DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) were at the centre of Line of Duty

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And at the end of every series, we have been left in no doubt that Mercurio believes that decent people can be corrupted, no good deed goes unpunished, and there is always someone with something to lose who will hush up wrongdoing.

So we got the ending we deserved, in drama, as in life. If we turn a blind eye, swallow the comfortable lies instead of looking for the hard truths, we get, for want of a better word, shafted. As Ted says: “It devastated me that we have stopped standing up for accountability, that we have stopped caring about truth and integrity because it’s these institutional failures that enable the likes of Ian Buckells to be corrupt.”

It’s always lovely to watch someone who’s passionate about a subject, which is why Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping (Channel 4, Weds, 10pm) was such a surprising, funny joy.

My liking for Ian Wright grows. His punditry is illuminating, he seems like a genuinely nice man, and as Ian Wright: Home Truths (BBC1, Thurs, 9pm) shows, he does more than most to get men talking.

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