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I’m a TV reviewer and have just started watching Line of Duty

Spurned the most explosive TV drama of our times? Think you’re too good for an old-fashioned, weekly BBC show? Lucy Sweet has some questions to answer
Line of Duty is the biggest show on TV. Photo: BBC/Photographer: Steffan Hill

Be gentle with those of us who are just discovering Line of Duty. Yes, there are a few still left out there. Forgive us, because we do not know what we do. We are sad little AC-12 virgins loitering outside the interrogation room of life, while the real drama is happening inside. Personally speaking, I have no excuses or alibis. As a TV reviewer, it’s extremely embarrassing that it passed me by for so long. It’s a bit like a chef saying: “Have you heard about this amazing ingredient called…CHICKEN?”

But I just couldn’t. I don’t know why. It just seemed so… BBC. So ‘cover of the Radio Times’. The sort of thing your mum might be watching while you’re getting ready to go out. It was created by a guy called Jed Mercurio – surely a stage hypnotist from Blackpool who makes women called Sheila think they’re an ostrich.

It was a revolving door of jobbing British actors whose names you could never remember. It was full of boring acronyms and paperwork. Why bother with that when you could watch a darkly glamorous smorgasbord of Scandi crime candy instead, and brush up on your Danish swearwords while you were at it?

I’m only on series three of Line of Duty. I still haven’t seen DS Steve Arnott’s full collection of waistcoats

Yet here I am, in the dying embers of lockdown 47, chugging it like cheap ale in a freezing beer garden. Oh how I’ve changed my tune. Every night is LoD night. I watch in awe at everyone’s ability to remember their lines, especially ones like “If you’ll refer to document eight in your folder you’ll see photo 2463-LP4 where you can clearly see that you contravened the Firearms Act 1987 section 642 brackets 4.7 which is tantamount to a dereliction of duty. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT, FELLA?”.

One minute I’m hooting at some plot hole or preposterous cliche, next I’m gasping in shock and screaming ‘Mother of God!’ into the sofa cushions. There are more bent coppers in my living room than in a penny falls machine at the fair.

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Yes, I know this is old news to most of you. I’m only just discovering Ted Hastings’ mellifluous mastery of procedural nitty gritty and his grand nose, which seems to occupy a different weather system. I still haven’t seen DS Steve Arnott’s full collection of waistcoats that he buys in packs of 10 from the boys’ section at Debenhams.

I’m only on series three, so you could probably destroy me with five years of spoilers. But please, spare me. There’s only one thing I’m interested in, and that’s Line of Duty. Please respect my privacy until I work out what the hell is going on and catch up with the rest of the universe. You never know, by the time the next series comes out, I might be on season four.