BBC Two's Line Of Duty returns for a second run. Written by Jed Mercurio and produced by World Productions, series two features a new police corruption story told over six one-hour episodes.
Introduction by series creator and writer Jed Mercurio
No one was more surprised or more delighted than me by the success of the first series of Line Of Duty. I loved writing the scripts and then had the privilege of being part of the team that brought the pages to life over five one-hour episodes broadcast on BBC Two last summer. It was a Golden Summer of Sport, but for us it was also a Golden Summer of Drama!
I was hugely flattered to receive a commission for a second series, and immediately set to work with the editorial team – Simon Heath (Executive Producer) and Priscilla Parish (Script Editor) at World Productions, and Stephen Wright (Head of Drama at BBC Northern Ireland) – to flesh out an idea for a new run of six hours. The question I’ve been asked by fans of the first series is how is it possible to carry on without Tony Gates? Of course, Lennie James dominated the show in that role, but the original pitch I’d made to World Productions and the BBC was that Line Of Duty would have a unique format for a returning drama. The investigators would return from series to series, but each time they’d investigate a different police officer accused of some form of corruption. The case would play out as a serial over the run of the episodes, and reach a final irrevocable climax for the guest star. It was always understood by the production team that DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) would plunge into a new assignment within the fictional anticorruption department, AC-12. The only question was, who’d be their target this time?
For series two, I wanted to create a character as far from Tony Gates as possible. Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton appears to be a mild-mannered, backroom detective; repeatedly overlooked for promotion, she’s definitely not one of the boys – and her social and professional isolation make her a figure of mistrust. Playing against type, Keeley Hawes is an absolute revelation as Lindsay.
I was intent on opening the series in the same explosive fashion. This time, the ambush of a police convoy leads to the deaths of three police officers and critical injuries to a protected witness. As the sole surviving police officer, DI Denton is initially AC-12’s most valuable witness. However, as their investigation becomes more complex and unsettling, suspicions begin to arise that Denton may not be so innocent after all.
An addition to AC-12 is Detective Constable Georgia Trotman (Jessica Raine). Georgia is new to anti-corruption work and experiences ethical conflicts in investigating fellow officers. She also has impulse-control issues that lead to some uncomfortable situations in her professional relationships. Taking personal command of the overall investigation into the ambush is the ruthlessly ambitious Deputy Chief Constable Mike Dryden (Mark Bonnar) – an officer with one or two skeletons hidden in his closet.
If I was to explain the most fundamental way in which series two contrasts with series one, I’d say that this one is much more of a whodunit. Every episode leads AC-12 nearer the truth about whether Lindsay Denton did or didn’t conspire in the ambush, only for twists and turns of the plot to cast the answer tantalisingly farther out of reach.
Series one was shot in Birmingham, although in the show itself the setting remained undisclosed. Series two was filmed in Belfast, doubling seamlessly (and extremely enjoyably) for our anonymous English city. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work with a fabulous local crew and many local cast; we were made to feel extraordinarily welcome. I’m delighted that for series two we were able to command the services once again of our hugely talented Director of Photography, Ruairi O’Brien, and for the Director of series one episodes 4 to 5, Douglas MacKinnon, to lead off with the first three episodes of series two. The Australian feature-film director Daniel Nettheim picked up the baton for episodes 4 to 6. And, finally, it was fabulous to team up once again with our returning cast, Martin, Vicky and Adrian, plus one or two others that I’m afraid I’m forbidden to disclose...