Popular policing drama set for return

The highly acclaimed Line Of Duty will be back on our TV screens towards the end of March, 2021, the BBC has confirmed. Particularly popular in this quarter, as much of the content elsewhere on this website features policing issues and officer misconduct, writes Neil Wilby.

For two years, devoted fans have been keenly anticipating the sixth instalment of the highly acclaimed police drama, based around an anti-corruption unit codenamed AC-12, and racking brains as to whom the enigmatic ‘H’ could be. A very corrupt and influential senior officer (or policing official) as yet to be unmasked.

An attempt to frame Superintendent Ted Hastings as ‘H’ in the last series failed as a result of the efforts of his subordinates. There were also dark references to Masonic influence and a suggestion that there may be a corrupt group at work, rather than a single officer.

Series five, the most edgy yet and featuring undercover officers inserted into a serious and organised crime group, aired between March and May 2019, left viewers on that particular cliff edge – and reeling as it was revealed there were four corrupt officers at or near the top of the hierarchy: Gill Biggeloe (senior aide to the police and crime commissioner), Assistant Chief Constable Derek Hilton and AC-12’s own DI Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan, with the final member, or members, remaining at large.

A trailer, aired during the Wales v England Six Nations rugby match on BBC One yesterday afternoon, revealed the show’s imminent return.

Filming for series six began in Belfast in February 2020. However, the virus epidemic halted shooting when the UK went into lockdown the following month. There were rumours that the schedule may be completely overhauled as a result, but it was later confirmed that the cast returned to Belfast to continue filming in October 2020.

Regular stars Vicky McClure (Detective Inspector Kate Fleming), Adrian Dunbar (Hastings) and Martin Compston (Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott) all return, whilst the show also sees Shalom Brune-Franklin play a new recruit to the AC-12 team, Detective Constable Chloe Bishop.

Kelly Macdonald (best known as Trainspotting star, Diane Coulston) makes her debut as guest lead: Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson, the senior investigating officer on an unsolved murder case whose suspicious conduct attracts the attention of anti-corruption officers. Kelly also appeared in a supporting role in one of my all-time favourite films, Gosford Park.

Polly Walker and Maya Sondhi will be missed as Gill Biggelow and PC Maneet Bindra. Two fine actresses who contributed significantly in the previous series. But the outstanding actress, or actor, across the history of the programme will not be appearing again: Keeley Hawes who played Detective Inspector Lindsay Denton in series two and three.

Line Of Duty returns in the prime 9pm to 10pm slot on Sunday 21st March on BBC One. It will air weekly at the same time. The series features seven episodes, making it the longest to date as the extended break did, in the event, create an unexpected bonus, as it allowed series creator Jed Mercurio to write and produce the extra programme.

Who else can’t wait?

Page last updated on Thursday 4th March, 2021 at 0935hrs

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2021. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

By Royal Warrant

A freedom of information request has revealed that there are 157 part-time judges sitting in the North Eastern Circuit, which encompasses court centres in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, York, Hull, Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield.

The list includes seven district judges and one immigration judge.

The Circuit has its own website (see here) and its current Leader is Richard Wright QC whom, some years ago, became one of the youngest ever to be appointed as a deputy (part-time) district judge.

The Courts and Tribunals Judicial Appointments Team based at the Royal Courts of Justice, responding to the information request on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, also confirmed that Recorders are appointed by Royal Warrant, following recommendation by the Lord Chancellor.

Once appointed, Recorders sit for four or five years, and their tenure is usually extended, automatically, by the Lord Chancellor for further successive terms up until their retirement date. Usually, their 70th birthday.

One of the youngest and one of the oldest Recorders were both involved in the same long running civil case about which much is written elsewhere on this website (see here). The appeal following the county court trial, heard at the High Court in Leeds, was upheld by one of the two Presiding Judges on the Circuit, Mr Justice Lavender (Mr Justice Goss is the other).

Ben Nolan QC is the longest serving Recorder on the circuit, having been appointed on 3rd March, 1989. He is due to retire next year.

The most recent additions were last month (October, 2020) when five Recorders were all newly appointed on the same day.

A Recorder receives a fee of £668.04 per sitting day (read full judicicial fee list here).

Page last updated: Thursday 26th November, 2020 at 065 hours

Photo credits: North Eastern Circuit logo

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

© Neil Wilby 2015-2020. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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