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I TALK Line of Duty (Series 3)

Line of Duty, the series from Jed Mercurio about the investigations of Anti-Corruption Unit, AC-12, returns for a third series with Daniel Mays taking centre stage.

When it comes to drama so far this year, there’s absolutely no doubt that the BBC are miles ahead of anyone else. Just this month, we’ve seen exceptional performances in The Night Manager, Happy Valley, Thirteen and now Line of Duty.

Whilst most third series require you to have seen the previous two, Line of Duty really doesn’t. Although of course, you’ll get a much richer viewing experience if you have.

It’s worth noting that both series are available on Netflix (UK). If you haven’t watched the series and don’t want them spoiled then scroll down to Daniel May’s photo and start reading from there!

Each series sees a different police officer under investigation, in a new serialised storyline. In the first series, Lennie James played the main protagonist, DCI Tony Gates.

Married with two kids, Tony was recently awarded “Officer of the Year”, and his downfall began when he had an affair with the wrong woman, and had to lie for her in order to cover his tracks.

The second series saw the wonderful Keeley Hawes play new protagonist DI Lindsay Denton, a Missing Persons detective.

When an ambush of a police convoy takes place, three police officers die and and a protected witness suffers critical injuries, whilst Lindsay becomes the sole surviving police officer, and as a result, AC-12’s most valuable witness. At least at first.

As their investigation becomes more complex and unsettling, suspicions begin to arise that Denton may not be so innocent after all. And rightly so, as the series ends with Lindsay being locked up. But the big question everyone’s asking, is whether or not she will she make a surprise appearance in series three?

So what about series three then? Well, the new series opens with the fatal shooting of a criminal suspect by an armed response unit led by Sergeant Danny Waldron the new protagonist, played superbly by Daniel Mays.

Danny and his team claim they acted in self-defence, but as AC-12 begin to gather evidence, something suggests that this was a deliberate killing. And this is where the series really gets going.

When questioned by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), Daniel Mays as Danny really shines. Able to confidently rebut all of AC-12’s accusations that he acted unlawfully Danny is led back into the line of duty.

But this time he’s not on his own. Listening in from the other room, DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) is sent undercover into Danny’s team to find out what he’s really like.

Played by the brilliant Vicky McClure Kate is quick to identify tensions and conflict between Danny and his team.

But when Kate’s own conduct comes under scrutiny, she finds herself sidelined from an armed drugs raid at the end of the opening episode that goes very badly wrong.

Fast becoming one of my favourite actors on television, Daniel Mays put in an outstandingly confident performance in the opening episode, and speaking at the series launch at BAFTA last month, he revealed how he landed the lead role in one of the UK’s finest television dramas:

“I got the first episode to read, and the audition piece was to learn as much as you like from the interrogation scene. It came in late on a Friday, I had a very busy weekend with my kids, and they wanted me to go in at 11 o’clock on a Monday. So I called my agent and said, can you not just ask them for a few more days? And then they gave me another week... So I thought shit. I need to learn all that now!

But in all seriousness, it was such an exceptional piece of writing, it was like, if you really want to get this, show willing, learn it. Don’t show them you can read. Show them you can act. I recognised immediately the quality of the writing, I was a huge fan of the first two series, I thought Lennie James and Keeley Hawes were big shoes to fill, so I grabbed it with both hands."

And once you watch the first episode, you’ll understand just how incredibly written that scene is, full of the wonderful jargon that only Line of Duty knows how to do. What I especially loved about that interrogation, aside from Daniel Mays’ flawless and confident performance, is the language.

Sure, most of the terminology flew straight over my head, but I loved that.

I love not knowing exactly what is meant by certain words, because after all I’ve chosen to watch a drama about a world which is far away from mine, and the not-quite-knowing, makes it seem authentic and real. A real strength of Line of Duty.

When asked about that interrogation scene at the BAFTA launch, Jed said: “The subject of the scenes tend to be the technical side of policing, which is evidence. So I never wanted to write the kind of scene where someone would just shout “You’re guilty! Just admit it!”.

I’m really interested in the fact that in the physical world you have to gather evidence, and we have great police advice now and so we talk about the letter of the law. We make a feature of the fact that unusually for a police drama, the person on the other side of the table is a police officer.

Who knows the law, knows how evidence should be gathered, knows how evidence should be presented and so that made the decision for us that we had to be very technical. I just love the detail."

Will Mellor, continues to prove his worth as a credible actor joining the series as PC Rod Kennedy. Part of Danny Waldron’s team, let’s just say Rod doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Danny.

Also joining the new series are Asher Ali and Leanne Best who play PC Harinderpal ‘Hari’ Bains and WPC Jackie Brickford. I’ve only seen one episode, but already I’m fascinated by Hari, his unwillingness to cooperate with Danny could lead to some rash decisions and I can’t wait to see how he progresses throughout the series.

Whilst the first two series of Line of Duty were of an exceptional standard, I reckon the third is even better! So it’s time to add Line of Duty to your long list of TV programmes you HAVE to watch.

As with the previous two series, there are bound to be a ton of twists, turns and surprises in the new series and fans of Line of Duty, old and new, will be pleased to learn that a fourth series has already been commissioned, and speaking at BAFTA, writer Jed Mercurio revealed: "We’re just working now on the start of series four, and it’s the same thing. The first episode introduces a guest character, who is involved in some kind of corruption/misconduct that is then investigated."

Line of Duty returns Thursday 24th March at 9pm on BBC Two

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