New detective drama Line of Duty

Line of Duty

Compelling if not especially complex drama series

When ‘the best detective in this city’ is on the spot to save a young mother from being mugged at knifepoint in the street, you might expect his hero status to go through the roof. Instead, he is slapped with a ‘yellow notice’ for not declaring the unpaid frothy cappuccino he left behind to apprehend the blade-happy reprobate. It wouldn’t have happened to Gene Hunt in Life on Mars. But it does happen to Tony Gates (Lennie James) in Line of Duty (BBC Two, Tue 26 Jun, 9pm).

There is a hidden agenda to this move by the anti-corruption unit whose leaders just can’t believe that the wildly impressive crimestopping figures of Gates and his team have been achieved without some underhand methods. The fact that the seemingly squeaky-clean Gates is protecting an old flame who killed a pedestrian in a drunk-driving hit-and-run merely opens up a can of worms stuffed full of moral dilemmas. And worms.

Jed Mercurio is more used to stalking the corridors of hospitals on the likes of Bodies, Cardiac Arrest and Casualty, but here is taking a scalpel to the grimy political world of backstabbing coppers and the rabid zealots handpicked to police the police. Asides from a rather limp homage to The Wire and Martin Compston, as the possible moral centre of the story, giving us a pitch-perfect Dick Van Dyke cockney brogue (you’ll be doing well if you can place the accent The Thick of It’s Paul Higgins is attempting though), this looks like a of compelling if not especially complex drama series.

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