Detail is everything to Line of Duty. Its jargon, case numbers, evidence labels and acronyms create precinct realism, while its plots to uncover corrupt police officers rest on pinhead-small tells from stray DNA to bacterial infections and spelling mistakes … Every so often though, a detail is included in Line of Duty for a much nobler purpose: a bit of fun.
As creator Jed Mercurio lets us in via Twitter on behind-the-scenes filming secrets for series one, which is currently being repeated on BBC One, here’s a bit of extra behind-the-scenes nerdiness from the BBC’s biggest crime drama.
Hill Street tribute
As explored here, Jed Mercurio has paid tribute to Steven Bochco’s Hill Street Blues for years, by using names of the show’s New York City precincts for police stations in the Line of Duty universe. First there was South Ferry, then Polk Avenue, and in series five: Decker Avenue, all of them taken lovingly from the world of Bochco’s show.
Kate and Steve’s radio call signs
During the Eastfield Depot raid in series five episode three, DI Fleming and DS Arnott’s radio call signs were shown to be Alpha Charlie Three Seven (AC-37) and Alpha Charlie Four Five (AC-45), respectively.
The significance? “The call signs 3-7 and 4-5 are Bodie and Doyle,” Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio confirmed to Den Of Geek. He is of course referring to William Bodie and Ray Doyle from Brian Clemens’ 1970s-80s UK crime drama The Professionals.
Kate’s crack shot
Another nod to Brian Clemens’ LWT show, says Mercurio, is “the sequence at the end of series three where Kate ends up having a shot at a distant moving vehicle was something that happened in an episode of The Professionals. The context of it was completely different, but it was something that I remember watching as a kid when Bodie was being held hostage in a house and Cowley and Doyle were driving away on a country lane and he fired a sniper rifle and managed to clip the car to alert them to come back. That’s a bit of a tenuous connection!” He’s talking about series one episode seven, ‘Close Quarters’.
A romantic connection
Actor Tianna Chanel Flynn’s photograph appeared in one Line of Duty series five scene, in the first episode, when DS Arnott receives a dating app match on his mobile phone. “Hi Steve, great messaging you, do you want to meet for a drink?” says ‘Tina Watts’ – aka Martin Compston’s real-life wife.
Josh Fleming is Kate’s rarely seen son (his dad mostly looks after him and he and Kate split early on before reuniting for series five). Any familial resemblance spotted isn’t just good casting as Josh is played by Kai Redd, Vicky McClure’s real-life nephew.
Up The Forest
Look closely at Kate’s homelife scenes and you’ll spot two nods to Nottingham Forest football team – a red scarf hanging on her son’s bedhead and a personalised ‘Josh’ NFFC mug. Despite McClure being a Notts County fan, her nephew (above) supports Forest fan and her fiancé Jonny Owen is a director at the club.
Lee Banks? Not a nod!
Lee Banks, the OCG member currently banged up in Blackthorn Prison, appears to share his name with a location in Jed Mercurio’s home town of Birmingham. Speaking to Den Of Geek, Mercurio acknowledged “Lee Bank is a road, yeah. Lee Bank Middleway goes up towards the Fiveways Island past the Birmingham Accident Hospital where I used to work.”
However, the name wasn’t intended as a deliberate nod, says Mercurio.
“It was just the fact of coming up with a guy’s name. It doesn’t relate to a specific significance of that place, it was actually that we have a pile of names that are clearable and this character of Lee Banks turned out to be a clearable name. It’s kind of a coincidence rather than being a reference.”
Lennie James and the Penguin Expedition
In series one, episode two, just when things are starting to become serious for DCI Tony Gates, there are a couple of scenes of Tony’s homelife that establish just what he stands to lose. One shows him reading aloud to his daughters in bed at night.
“He could feel his grandfather’s spirit reaching out across the years, urging him to take the first big step. Scott took a deep breath and then he said for all to hear, “I’m ready.”
That book? Penguin Expedition written by one Jed Mercurio, published in 2003.
Read our spoiler-filled Line Of Duty series five interview with Jed Mercurio here.