At last, a resolution of sorts. The Fourth Man, formerly the con artist known as H, was finally revealed to a nation who have gorged on red herrings and deep fried dead ends since the wee donkey was just a wee foal.
Yet when the great reveal came, it was still a bit of a shock to everyone, including AC-12.
‘He’s been under our noses since the beginning,’ cried DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston). ‘What does this make us look like?’ wailed DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure).
What indeed? Anyone who mentions the Keystone Kops will be arrested on sight.
Thank goodness Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) was there to point out that they could have done nothing without fresh evidence, most of it supplied by DC Chloe Bishop (Shalom Brune-Franklin), the smartest and hardest working cop on the Central Police force.
It was Chloe who traced the misspelling of ‘definately’ all the way back to Detective Superintendent Buckells (Nigel Boyle), thus sealing his fate.
The identity of con artist known as ‘H’ has been revealed in the season finale of the sixth series of BBC’s Line Of Duty. Pictured L-R: DI Kate Fleming (VICKY MCCLURE), DS Chris Lomax (PERRY FITZPATRICK), DCI Ian Buckells (NIGEL BOYLE), DCI Joanne Davidson (KELLY MACDONALD)
When the great reveal came, it was still a bit of a shock to everyone, including AC-12 (Pictured L-R: DI Steve Arnott, Superintendent Ted Hastings, DI Kate Fleming)
Buckells! Buckells the Brummie dolt. Buckells the incompetent officer who makes Inspector Clouseau look like Sherlock Holmes.
It was cocky Buckells, hiding in plain sight all along, rising to the upper echelons of the Organised Crime Group because everyone else had been bumped off. He was the last man standing, the grunt of the litter, the last rotten coconut in the shy of shysters.
In LoD pre-history, Buckells was a constable involved in the investigation into the murder of Lawrence Christopher. In series one he was a Detective Inspector investigating Jackie Laverty’s disappearance. By series four he was a Detective Chief Inspector who blew Kate’s undercover identity, accidentally on purpose.
Finally, he was the Detective Superintendent in charge of a murder team, but in reality he was the secret and malign puppetmaster controlling DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald) via misspelled text messages.
DI Steve Arnott (right) said that the puppet-master had been ‘under their noses since the beginning’ while DI Kate Fleming (left) asked: ‘What does this make us look like?’
It was DC Chloe Bishop who traced the misspelling of ‘definately’ all the way back to Detective Superintendent Buckells (Nigel Boyle) (left, talking to Superintendent Ted Hastings), thus sealing his fate
‘How some people can fail upwards, it beggars belief,’ said Hastings, shaking his great, craggy head at how the network of corrupt officers had facilitated the miscreant’s undeserved promotions. Buckells was duly handcuffed and guarded by a thousand armed policemen as he journeyed to his final destiny in Interview Room RO7/9.
The quiet joy of what happened next was that he wasn’t exposed as a criminal mastermind masquerading as the village idiot – far too clichéd.
Instead, he really was an idiot, a simpleton motivated by simple greed, a man whose crooked imagination could rise no higher than a secret £3million property empire, including a predictably dreary villa on the Costa del Crime.
Fleming sneered at his ‘crap suits and dad car’, his eternal reluctance to buy a round of drinks. Hastings derided his lack of remorse, and how his corruption had been mistaken for incompetence.
‘I am only the one who has made total mugs out of you lot!’ Buckells shouted in his own defence, before declaring he wanted to enter a witness protection programme. (‘It’s me you’re going to need protection from,’ growled Ted.) In a dazzling piece of procedural manoeuvring, the team then boxed him in like a pepperoni pizza. There was to be no escape for Buckells, despite his sauce.
‘No one makes mugs of AC-12,’ said Hastings afterwards and honestly, I felt like cheering. For even devoted fans must agree that, despite the record viewing figures, this has not been a vintage series of LoD.
Buckells was the Detective Superintendent in charge of a murder team, but in reality he was the secret and malign puppetmaster controlling DCI Jo Davidson (Kelly Macdonald, right) via misspelled text messages
Nigel Boyle, who plays DS Ian Buckells, is still on the loose as he pops out for a pain au chocolate and croissants from his local shop
Perhaps that is simply because in many long-running dramas, viewers can fall into exhausted confusion. Tommy who? Thingy what? Is poor Jackie Laverty still in the freezer? What did Patrick Fairbanks actually do?
One of LoD’s great strengths lies in its claustrophobia and bleakness; that chilling lack of narrative threads that can distract – or provide relief – from the core business of catching bent coppers. Outside AC-12, nobody has much of a life. Ted has a wife who left him, then was tortured with an electric drill. Kate has a seldom-seen child, Steve has a waistcoat.
There were moments in this series when the relentless grimness of their task became overwhelming. However, I would rather see characters suffer in the line of duty than the ghastly alternative momentarily offered here.
PS: You’ll see Steve back in sub drama
DON’T worry about missing Martin Compston (right). He stars in new BBC thriller Vigil with Suranne Jones (left) about a death on a Navy submarine later this year.
Martin Compston (centre) will star in a new BBC thriller
Suranne Jones (left) will also star in the show about a death on a Navy submarine later this year
Modern drama must bend to the mores of modern times of course, but are we now condemned to finales featuring endless creepy guys with clipboards, stroking their beards as they ask key characters about their mental health issues? Arnott and Fleming both had appointments with the in-house shrink this week, a clammy, boneless desk jockey who was worried about the effect witnessing people getting killed might be having on their psyches. Bit late for that, mate, as Kate might say.
It even got a bit too much for Superintendent Hastings who cried not once, but twice during events. ‘Who is going to judge what I did? The law, my colleagues? God?’ he cried, in one moment of redemptive breast beating.
In another key scene, perhaps the crux of the whole series, he made an impassioned speech about truth, integrity and accountability. ‘It devastates me that we have stopped caring,’ he bawled, as Detective Chief Superintendent Patricia Carmichael (Anna Maxwell Martin) looked at her fingernails and dreamed of torturing a puppy or two when she got home. What can I say? Line of Duty, you did your duty. You did not let me down. Overall this was a richly satisfying final episode, one that made up for the longeurs of previous weeks. Many loose ends were tied up, although one big question remains: Will there be another series? Consider the evidence. Clearly there is work still to be done. Dodgy Chief Constable Phillip Osborne (Owen Teale) is still in charge, while Detective Sergeant Chris Lomax (Perry Fitzpatrick) is still looking shifty. And perhaps with all this in mind, Ted has announced that he is going to make an official appeal against his enforced retirement. Mother of God, now he is sucking diesel. So with a probability greater than 99.9 per cent, I would suggest Line of Duty will be back sooner rather than later. As you were.
After five long years, Line of Duty’s secret fixer known as H is finally unmasked
By Eleanor Sharples, TV & Radio Reporter for the Daily Mail
The truth is finally out – but don’t tell your friends if they’re still in the dark as plot spoilers could get you locked up too.
After five long years, Line of Duty fans finally learned the identity of mysterious ‘H’ – in a tantalising conclusion to series six.
Last night’s finale revealed Detective Superintendent Ian Buckells, played by Nigel Boyle, as the fourth corrupt police officer orchestrating the actions of the organised crime gang (OCG).
The tense episode also left fans believing that Superintendent Ted Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar, would appeal against his enforced retirement – while the identity of Gail Vella’s murderer was confirmed as OCG member Carl Banks.
And DCI Jo Davidson, played by Kelly Macdonald, was saved from an assassination attempt when the van she was travelling in – which was being controlled by corrupt prison officers – was intercepted by Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12) before a stand-off with the OCG.
Vicky McClure (left) posted some of the memorable stage moments to celebrate the conclusion of Line Of Duty series 6
The show’s creator Jed Mercurio has kept viewers guessing as to who ‘H’ is since it was first mentioned at the end of series three, which aired in 2016. And last night the evidence against DS Buckells, who was already in prison after being charged with perverting the course of justice earlier in the series, came to light.
The misspelling of ‘definitely’ as ‘definately’ was found in reports of past high-profile investigations, including the Lawrence Christopher case and Operation Lighthouse, both of which DS Buckells was involved in.
It was also found that the faceless man with whom DCI Davidson had been communicating online was Buckells after the laptop was found and matched the IP address.
But viewers had to endure a dramatic few minutes as ‘H’ was brought in for questioning before being revealed to be Buckells.
After a string of ‘no comments’, when Detective Inspector Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston, asked Buckells if he was the top man, the suspect finally confirmed: ‘Tommy Hunter was the top man.
‘After he went, they all split into different OCGs. I just pass on the orders. It used to be Fairbank and Thurwell, then it was Hilton and Cottan, now they’ve gone, it’s just…’, before Hastings interrupted with ‘you, the last man standing’.
The future of the hugely popular drama has been unclear for some time, with the BBC and Mercurio failing to confirm another season. And last night’s finale didn’t give any more clues as to whether there will be more Line of Duty on our TV screens.
Speaking about if there will be another series, Compston told The Jonathan Ross Show on Saturday night: ‘That’s nothing different for us. Jed always takes months after… there’s stuff above our pay grade, analytics, figures and all that kind of thing that comes in. He always takes time off.
‘But I think it is important to say, I think this natural story arc that we’ve been on for the last six years…’
He added: ‘We won’t come back just for the sake of it. That’s for sure. We’ll come back if there’s a story to tell. But, so as well, if it ends well maybe sometimes it is best to leave it. But, so, genuinely we don’t know.’
Meanwhile, Vicky McClure, who played Detective Inspector Kate Fleming, marked the end of the series by sharing snaps from the set on her Instagram account.
The penultimate episode of Line of Duty series six was its most-watched ever – with an average of 11million viewers tuning in.
It returned to screens in March with 9.6million viewers, up on the series five finale, which drew in 9.07million. But last night’s finale is expected to have won over its biggest audience ever.