OK, admit it. Who else didn’t see that coming in Line of Duty?

In a shocking break with tradition, the series’ biggest new star, Hollywood’s Thandie Newton, didn’t get bumped off at the end of episode one for once after all.

Instead it was forensics expert Tim Ifield for the chop.

He’d been poised to slice up Newton’s apparently dead DCI Roz Huntley with a buzzsaw when her eyes suddenly flicked open — immediately before the end credits, as luck would have it.

So with her apparently missing, having failed to turn up for duty or answer her calls and with news of a mutilated woman’s torso discovered in the woods, her casual entrance at the police station seven minutes in to the second instalment was, if anything, even more of a jaw-dropper than the opener’s cliffhanger.

A genuine twist from writer Jed Mercurio, whose script, attention to detail and self-assured pacing, along with the fabulous regular cast at anti-police corruption unit AC-12 and Line of Duty’s trademark, epic interrogation scenes, maintains this show as the best Britain has produced this decade.

And in Huntley we have a morally complex character who appears to have been nothing more than slightly dodgy to secure a conviction in the Balaclava Man case before becoming a victim of circumstances and only then turning full-on villain.

So it’s incredibly frustrating, then, that a completely needless political agenda appears to have crept in.

From seemingly nowhere, Supt Ted Hastings has become a sexist pig.

First he all but blamed Huntley’s career stagnation on the fact she had a baby and took maternity cover, then he told her: “I’m the senior ranking officer here, darling.”

Huntley: “Yes you are, and I would thank you to use gender-neutral language.”

It’s not just Hastings, mind.

Assistant Chief Constable Derek Hilton, on hearing an Operation Trapdoor update from DCI Ian Buckells: “Small mercies, at least we’re allowed to call them prostitutes again,” a reference to Huntley who, before she was kicked off the case, had insisted on referring to the murder victims by name.

It was starting to jar by the time AC-12’s DS Kate Fleming told her: “For what it’s worth, I don’t think they would have replaced you as SIO (senior investigating officer) if you were a bloke.”

And it reached shark-jumping waters by the time Hastings promoted DS Steve Arnott to inspector over Fleming, an entirely reasonable decision given their relative years of experience as detective sergeant.

Except he’d taken Arnott for a blokey pint to discuss it and refused to do likewise with Fleming, insisting: “I can hardly meet her for a drink, can I? An attractive woman like that?

“How would it look? I might as well be seen running around with one of Pan’s People,” just in case we were in any doubt how much of a dinosaur Hastings now apparently is, a trait that had shown no previous signs.

It’s my heartfelt hope that this is all merely a blip.

Because Line of Duty is way too good a show to be distracted by this kind of right-on axe to grind.

Otherwise I fear what Sunday’s episode might have in store.

A 27-minute interrogation scene at Hastings’ sexual discrimination employment tribunal hearing.


C4’s Catastrophe finale, with Carrie Fisher.

Broadchurch’s best episode of the series finally taking the grieving Latimers’ old story somewhere.

Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’s fantastic I’m A Celebrity Get Out of Me Ear, with Dermot O’Leary.

BBC2 repeating Inside No 9’s two best episodes back to back — The 12 Days of Christine and Cold Comfort.

The deafening, hanging silence that greeted This Morning’s Phillip Schofield when he asked Charlotte Crosby sat next to boyfriend Stephen Bear: “Tell us what you saw in him?” “…..”

And The Voice’s Tom Jones admitting his series highlight was “when the four coaches all sing together”, rather than any of the contestants. With you, Sir Tom.


Eddie Jordan’s unwelcome Top Gear return.

A stage invasion failing to lift The Voice’s unremittingly dull final.

Horrendous MTV reality show Just Tattoo Of Us.

This Morning giving yet more airtime to “the woman who sees guardian angels” Lorna Byrne because she’s got another book to plug.

And Bradley Walsh’s surprising inability to salvage The Nightly Show, which hit a new low on Wednesday with him laughing and pointing at dogsbody Joe Pasquale’s manhood in tight S&M latex shorts and Tommy Tiernan saying of his Irish chat show: “It’s called The Tommy Tiernan Show but it could just as validly be called Clutching at Straws.” Welcome to The Nightly Show, Tommy. You’ll feel right at home.