Line of Duty season 7: What does the future hold for AC-12? Will there be a spin-off film? All you need to know

Line of Duty season 6 concluded with a controversial ending, but was it the last ever series? We round up the latest news and updates on season 7.

By Alex Fletcher Updated: 9 August 2022 - 10.35am
BBC Vicky McClure and Martin Compston in the Line of Duty season 6 finale

Line of Duty gripped the nation with cliffhanger endings, shocking twists and a mind-bending central mystery that has kept us all guessing – just who is the Fourth Man?

But following the controversial ending of season 6, one of the burning questions on fans’ lips is - will the show return for season 7?

Writer Jed Mercurio has been throwing in lots of throwbacks to previous seasons this year and has tied together the events of all six seasons from Tommy Hunter and Tony Gates to Jo Davidson and Marcus Thurwell.

The ixth season finale finally gave us the identity of ‘H’, The Fourth Man at the top of the OCG and wrap up a story that has slowly unravelled over the last decade.

From Lindsay Denton to balaclava men, ‘definately’ to Danny Waldron, the wee donkey to sucking diesel, season 6 felt like a conclusion to one of the greatest TV dramas of all time.

But is it? Here is everything we know about a possible season 7…

Is Line of Duty season 7 confirmed?

Steve Arnott and Ted Hastings in Line of Duty season 6, played by Adrian Dunbar and Martin Compston BBC

Despite record breaking ratings, a smash hit BBC Sounds podcast and an outpouring of love for Adrian Dunbar, Vicky McClure and Martin Compston, a seventh season of Line of Duty is still not confirmed.

There are three possible reasons.

One, Jed Mercurio wanted to wrap up the show with the Fourth Man mystery in season 6 and go out on a high.

Two, they didn't want to confirm a seventh season until the end of season 6, because it would have implied that all our AC-12 heroes got out alive (although, that point is a bit redundant now, as we've been waiting so long!)

Or three, the BBC and Jed Mercurio simply haven’t decided yet. Season 5 and 6 were confirmed at the same time, allowed the writer to plot out a longer story and the conclusion to the Fourth Man mystery. A seventh season would probably need a story reboot, so may take Mercurio a little longer to plan.

BBC Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore has confirmed that as far as the BBC is concerned, they would like to see more series of Line of Duty.

“I’m looking forward to having a conversation with the team about where we go next and what the future of the series might be,” she said.

She added: “I would like to congratulate [Jed Mercurio] and the entire cast and crew for delivering such an incredible drama series.”

Will there be a Line of Duty spin-off film?

After more than a year since Line of Duty season 6 came to an end, Adrian Dunbar (Ted Hastings) has revealed that an announcement on the show's future could be made by the end of September.

"I think there might be something, there’s something going on out there regarding Line of Duty," Dunbar told the PA news agency via RTE.ie.

He added: "It depends what they come up with. I think we’ll hear something shortly about it. I’ve got a feeling that before September is out we might hear something about Line of Duty that we can tell people."

He teased a spin-off film, telling PA: "I’m not sure what shape it’ll take… somebody was talking about possibly a film or maybe you know two 90 minutes or three episodes.

"I’m not sure you’d get a full series. But I think there’s still an audience out there to see the three of us back together again.

"It certainly would be nice to get back to Belfast where we’ve always had good fun."

How did Line of Duty season 6 end?

Nigel Boyle as Ian Buckells in Line of Duty BBC

The show’s sixth season concluded the mystery of The Fourth Man and ‘H’.

AC-12 discovered that it was Ian Buckells (Nigel Boyle) who had been working alongside the OCG to murder Gail Vella and numerous other crimes across the past six seasons.

Buckells confirmed that he was the person sending orders via computer programme to Jo Davidson (Kelly McDonald) and that he had helped cover-up crimes and help organised crime alongside previous show villains Tommy Hunter, Matthew Cottan, Derek Hilton, Marcus Thurwell and others.

Despite uncovering the truth about Buckells, the series ended on a sour note for AC-12 as Ted Hastings headed into early retirement, while Chief Constable Osborne dismantled anti-corruption and managed to keep the details of the Buckells court case out of the headlines.

Read our full review of the Line of Duty season 6 finale

Jed Mercurio explains the controversial ending

Line of Duty’s creator and writer Jed Mercurio appeared on the BBC’s Obsessed With podcast to explain why he ended season 6 with the reveal that Buckells was ‘H’.

"You know there were suspicions around him in the first two episodes and then Jo points the finger at him, AC-12 get him in, they charge him, off he goes to prison, and it feels like he's done and dusted,” said Mercurio.

"And I think that if we kept him as part of the action, all the way through, then it would have been very hard to misdirect the audience, so we were trying to present other candidates to take the focus away from him.

"But it was always really important to me that it was someone who had been in season one, someone who had been there the whole time.

Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty season 6 as Ted Hastings BBC

"We did introduce some characters late, so Thurwell came in late, we went back to Fairbank, who'd appeared in season three, we had the Chief Constable, who had obviously been there since season one.

"But then I don't think he would have been a satisfying candidate because he had been absent for so long, it would feel like we'd just brought him back in to pin it on him."

He added: “Also because I think we'd been directing the audience towards a particular image of the kind of character that 'H' would be, that 'H' would be a criminal mastermind, and we wanted to make different commentary on the way in which someone can do a lot of harm without necessarily being a mastermind.”

Mercurio also reminded fans that Buckells had appeared in a scene at the end of season 1, where he allowed ‘The Caddy’ to “have a quick word” with criminal boss Tommy Hunter in the back of a van.

 

What could happen in season 7?

Vicky McClure as Kate Fleming in Line of Duty season 6 BBC

You’re never going to run out of bent coppers, but the long-running ‘H’ and ‘Fourth Man’ mystery was resolved in the season 6 finale.

But from evidence given by Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) in her interview with AC-12, the OCG is no longer a united front and has splintered into rival gangs.

So even though AC-12 nailed The Fourth Man, there are still surviving groups of criminals with links to the police.

The future of AC-12 looked uncertain as Patricia Carmichael was brought in by CC Osborne to strip back the department.

A new season could mean a different team – Hastings is heading for retirement – and that could mean an increased role for Shalom Brune-Franklin’s DC Chloe Bishop.

Another possible storyline could revolve around the Freemasons. It was a storyline that was touched upon with Patrick Fairbank and Hastings, who exchanged a Masonic handshake. Mercurio revealed in the BBC's Obsessed with Line of Duty podcast that he has considered returning to the activities of Freemasons.

The writer said that the plot had been revisited in scripts, only to be later taken out and said that he was intrigued by the possibility of revisiting the storyline.

Who will be in the season 7 cast?

Kate, Steve and Ted survived the finale, alongside newcomer Chloe, so we'd expect to see them all back in some capacity.

CC Osborne, DCC Andrea Wise and Chris Lomax are also possible returning characters in future seasons.

Watch Line of Duty seasons 1-5 on BBC iPlayer.