Line of Duty 3, BBC2, Daniel Mays

Line of Duty - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE), Sgt Danny Waldron (DANIEL MAYS), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Deadly force: DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McCure), Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston)

Third instalment of the corruption cops saga is another taut and gripping affair

★★★★ BBC2, Thursday, 24 March, 9pm

DANIEL MAYS has always had a nice sideline in larky roles, from the C4 sitcom Plus One to the recent Dad’s Army movie. Even when he’s played a villain, such as Ronnie Biggs in Mrs Biggs, he was more of a rogue than a hard case.

So it seemed unlikey casting to make him Sergeant Danny Waldron, a proper bastard, in the latest incarnation of the cop corruption drama Line of Duty. However, the decision is totally justified – he uses his full acting skills and height of 6’2″ to put the fear of god into all those around him.

The story sees Waldron brought up on a killing charge before series regulars Supt Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), DS Arnott (Martin Compston) and DI Cottan (Craig Parkinson). Waldron heads an armed unit that corners a suspected gang hitman, who ends up dead in suspicious circumstances.

Daniel Mays is terrific as Waldron

When other members of the team are reluctant to go along with Waldron’s questionable version of events, he tells them with a sneer: “We’re all in this together.”

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 20:30:01 on 07/03/2016 - Programme Name: Line of Duty - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: PC Rod Kennedy (WILL MELLOR), Sgt Danny Waldron (DANIEL MAYS), PC Hari Bains (ARSHER ALI), PC Jackie Brickford (LEANNE BEST) - (C) World productions - Photographer: Steffan Hill

Law unto themselves? PC Kennedy (Will Mellor), Sgt Waldron (Daniel Mays), PC Bains (Arsher Ali), PC Brickford (Leanne Best)

He faces down Supt Hastings and his inquisitors in a bravura, lengthy interrogation scene during which he spits out facts and regulations at the anti-corruption boys of AC-12. When he goes jogging he pushes himself to extremes and ends up vomiting.

And when squad member Hari (Arsher Ali) looks like he may break ranks, Waldron is genuinely scary when slapping him down. This guy is a walking volcano, and Mays is terrific in the role. [Read more…]

Line of Duty 2, BBC2, with Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar, Keeley Hawes PREVIEW

Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) in Line of Duty, BBC
In the spotlight – Denton (Keeley Hawes) is monitored by Arnott (Martin Compston) and Fleming (Vicky McClure). Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★★

BBC2: starts Wednesday, 12 February, 9pm

Story: A police convoy is ambushed and three officers are killed and a witness seriously injured. When evidence suggests that a police source may have leaked the convoy’s whereabouts, suspicion arises that the sole surviving police officer, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, could be the prime suspect. 

LENNIE JAMES put in a blistering performance in series one as the detective chief inspector under scrutiny for corruption. The success of this follow-up series will also depend on the new cop under the spotlight being as slippery and intriguing an adversary for the anti-corruption unit AC-12.

On hearing that the role is being played by Keeley Hawes, you might think she’s too glam, too

Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton (KEELEY HAWES) in Line  of Duty, BBC
Victim or perpetrator? DI Lindsay Denton

lightweight to cut it as a hardened cop scrapping for survival in the shark-infested police hierarchy.

But, actually, she’s a revelation here. Forget all her larking about in Ashes to Ashes and dressing up in Upstairs Downstairs. She’s discarded some of the make-up, dresses down a bit and really keeps the viewer on their toes in a terrific opening episode.

Suspicion falls on Keeley Hawes’s detective inspector

It bursts into life with a tense sequence in which her character, Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, is improvising a highly dangerous and hastily thrown together transfer of a witness from one compromised hide-out to another location.

When the police convoy is ambushed on a quiet back road, with three officers being brutally killed and the witness badly injured, it seems a fair guess that someone leaked the convoy’s route. Suspicion falls on the lone police survivor of the disaster – DI Denton.

A car in a police convoy is set alight by a masked person in Line of Duty, BBC2
The brutal ambush by masked gunmen

The injured inspector is initially vulnerable, ostracised by colleagues and superiors on her return to duty. There is a shocking scene on her first day back when the officers inflict a brutal welcome on her in the Ladies.

Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar return

And then AC-12 use an interview with her to make veiled accusations that she may have been behind the leak. Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar revisit their roles as Arnott, Fleming and Hastings, with Hastings as the smiling inquisitor – to the discomfort of Arnott and his new colleague DC Trotman (Jessica Raine). He tells Denton she was a ‘desk destective’, implying she was out of her depth on this frontline operation.

But the series writer and creator, Jed Mercurio, gives us glimpses of another side to Denton that keep us wondering about her role in the ambush. He also develops the characters of the AC-10 officers further while creating a web of ambitions and dodgy goings-on that make it difficult for viewers to know who to side with.

Superintendent Ted Hastings (ADRIAN DUNBAR), Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott (MARTIN COMPSTON), Detective Constable Kate Fleming (VICKY McCLURE) in Line of Duty, BBC2
Watching the detectives – Hastings, Arnott and Fleming

The opening episode combines pacey storytelling with interesting, believable characters in addition to an explosive end. I felt series one started well and became a bit lurid as it went on.

But if series two keeps up the terrific quality of episode one, it will put even Lennie James and his series in the shade.

Cast: Keeley Hawes Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton, Martin Compston Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure Detective Constable Kate Fleming, Adrian Dunbar Superintendent Ted Hastings, Mark Bonnar Deputy Chief Constable Mike Dryden, Jessica Raine Detective Constable Georgia Trotman

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