A WEEK goes by and, under normal circumstances, any TV show is quietly forgotten.
But then Line of Duty is no ordinary TV show. It’s the best this decade and possesses such staggering swagger and self-confidence that it set up a whodunit in scene one of series four and didn’t really feel it had to answer it.
Some misguided souls, though, have branded the police drama “guff” and accused it of “going all EastEnders” with the admittedly far-fetched plot.
So let’s put them right on a few things.
Starting with a small matter mentioned by genius writer and creator Jed Mercurio on This Morning’s sofa on Tuesday: “It’s a fiction, and one of the things that’s fictional about it is the way in which things happen so quickly.”
This from the man who gave Line of Duty its calling card of meticulous, 23-minute interrogation scenes.
OK, so Sunday’s finale could have been happily extended like series three’s — it is galling to think ITV shunted News at Ten half an hour, eight weeks solid, for The Nightly Show disaster but BBC1 wouldn’t budge its bulletin one night for a masterpiece.
But what Mercurio called the “edited highlights” is probably still the best hour of telly you’ll see all year, thanks to the fabulous script and incredible performances of Thandie Newton, Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston.
Granted, there is an overload of acronyms. The CPS charged the SIO, DCI Roz Huntley, after AC-12 lost her GPS so used ANPR to track her near the A38/A51 where she dumped items reference YLM-5, MRT-3, RN-1 and CED-2, containing her DNA and MRSA, which she used as ID to unlock BTV-1.
In reply, the DCI pulled out RH-1 to incriminate ACC Hilton, who’s possibly top corrupt cop “H” and wanted to hand the SIO her P45, for the benefit of the DIR.
And that doesn’t include the KRG-13/30 mix-up, DC Fleming at A&E, FIs at Tim Ifield’s flat, Nick Huntley framed with TRH-7, Hastings’ Reg-15 or any of AC-9.
And yet it all not only makes perfect sense but adds authenticity.
Yes, there are plot holes, such as when Nick phoned Jimmy Lakewell who phoned Hilton who phoned Balaclava Man who, presumably, pressed his Star Trek Federation badge to transport him outside the lift containing DS Steve Arnott on the fifth floor of Nick’s office in the blink of an eye.
But you get the feeling even these will be tied up at some point.
And the fact is that Roz dramatically confessing and then unexpectedly taking Hilton and Jimmy down with her, gun-toting DC Jamie Desford’s AC-12 bust-out bid and Hastings shooting Balaclava Man amounted to a thrilling finale.
There was one moment, though, when I concede Line of Duty did indeed “go all EastEnders”.
Or rather, EastEnders went all Line of Duty, on April 21, when Lauren Branning received a text from love interest Josh Hemmings.
The significance? Josh sent it from 07700 900183 — just two digits from Hilton’s unregistered mobile, which he used to contact Balaclava Man, and part of the murderous gang’s network of untraceable “burner phones” with similar numbers.
“H” as in Hemmings? Don’t answer it, Lauren!
The Island With Bear Grylls.
ITV4’s Better Late Than Never, with The Fonz, Captain Kirk and George Foreman goofing around Asia.
Quiz show The Question Jury: “What is the UK’s highest grossing export industry?” Contestant: “Carlsberg.”
Writer Jed Mercurio during a grilling on Line of Duty’s plots by This Morning’s Phil and Holly: “I have the right to be questioned by someone from a rank senior.”
Tonight at the London Palladium contestant Jack, 84, telling Bradley Walsh: “You’re pretty good. I watch Tipping Point every day.”
And The One Show balding guest Paddy McGuinness complaining: “That (studio) light’s not bouncing off my head enough. Turn it up. I really want it shining in their eyes.” Lighty? No likey.
Peter Kay pulling the plug on terrific Car Share after ten miserly episodes.
Rylan’s game show Babushka involving even less skill than Deal or No Deal.
Celebrity Eggheads with Gary Pe, Ellie Cannon, Danny Sebastian, Raj Bisram, Babita Sharma and Javid Abdelmoneim who highlighted his credentials: “You’d have seen me in the Panorama special about ebola.” (BBC2, the title you’re looking for is Eggheads.)
BBC1 bookending Madeleine McCann: Ten Years On with wholly inappropriate continuity clips of birdwatchers with binoculars.
And BBC4’s Betroffenheit, 9pm Sunday, promising “a boundary-stretching hybrid between theatre and dance which explores the psychological states of trauma, grief and addiction”. Or you could just watch Take Me Out: The Gossip.