Line of Duty: the Unanswered Questions Series 7 Could Tackle

If Line of Duty returns, what plot threads could series seven resolve? We explore the biggest remaining unanswered questions.

Adrian Dunbar in Line of Duty series 6
Photo: World Productions

This feature contains spoilers for all series of Line of Duty

If, like much of the UK, you are still nowhere near over that Line of Duty series six finale from May 2021, you might be wondering if that really was it for the nation’s favourite crime drama. Will there be a series seven of Line of Duty? This question is becoming as oft repeated as ‘just how many waistcoats does Steve Arnott own?’ and ‘Seriously – BUCKELLS?!’

When asked about it, the show’s cast have been teasingly vague: back in August, Martin Compston said ‘there’s always a chance’ whereas in early October Adrian Dunbar went one step further, saying ‘Within the next few weeks or couple of months we might hear something.’ So far, so promising. And in December 2022, fresh rumours arose of a three-part special set to begin filming in the New Year. They’re unsubstantiated as yet, as we await official news from World Productions and the BBC.

Back in October, series mastermind Jed Mercurio gave the latest official update as: ‘There’s no news.’ We won’t let that curb our enthusiasm for nicking bent coppers, though, so here’s the unanswered questions we think series seven could (should?) return for:

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Was Buckells really H?

Nigel Bole as DSU Buckells in Line of Duty series 6

Many saw it as one of the cruellest anti-climaxes in TV history when we discovered the incompetent Buckells was the mysterious ‘H’ in charge of the OCG’s criminal activity. It turns out it was he who had been feeding orders to Corbett and McQueen via laptop in series five, ordered Jo to ‘get rid of’ Kate in series six and kept spelling it ‘definately’. But it’s not like we weren’t fed enough clues that this might not be as open-and-shut as all that, so there’s hope yet that there’s actually a bit more to it.

Firstly, we know the identity of H can and did change – Buckells was just the latest in a long line after Cottan and Hilton, Fairbank and Thurwell etc – so who put Buckells in charge and why? And if the other Hs seemingly came in pairs, did Buckells have an accomplice, and if so who?

Then there’s the death of Jimmy Lakewell: when he got strangled in a jail cell in front of Buckells, it was clear from his shaky-handed, milk-sloshing attempt at a cuppa that Buckells was terrified. And Lee Banks, the OCG wrong’un what done it, had a clear message for Buckells: this is what happens to rats. This was never really explained, but it certainly looks like there’s someone else who can conveniently organise prison murders.

Another big question is who was behind Jo’s fake prison transfer papers? While Buckells suggested it was time for her to be dealt with, organising the forged release documents (with Lomax and Fleming’s signatures) not to mention the prison van is a big ask from behind bars, so who was responsible for that, and how much power do they have? Could it have been Lomax himself? 

And of course, we didn’t see Buckells brought to justice, as the series ended with the suggestion but not confirmation that he might be getting public-interest immunity, so there’s surely more to unpack before his story fully ends.

Just how corrupt is Osbourne?

Series six dropped some serious hints that Osbourne might be less-than squeaky clean – one might go so far as to say ‘bent as a nine-bob note’ – and many viewers were convinced he was H.  

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There was certainly the suggestion he’d been involved in (or at least a beneficiary of) Gail Vella’s death, something which Buckells refused to answer questions about, and he was also heavily linked to bent copper Thurwell and the coverup involving Lawrence Christopher’s murder. 

And if you’d call Hastings Line of Duty’s ‘Mr Anti-Corruption’ himself, Osbourne is Mr Anti-Anti-Corruption, hellbent on slashing the budget and number of AC detectives, getting rid of Hastings and putting his old mate Carmichael in charge. So is he just refusing to address the issue of corruption on his watch, or does he have more to hide? Either way, we never saw him get his comeuppance, so there’s plenty of series seven potential.

Is Thurwell definitely dead?

A lot of fans were convinced there’s no way that a big-name actor like James Nesbitt would appear as just a character in a photograph before turning up dead. But it’s not like it’s beneath Jed Mercurio to call in a favour from Nesbitt so he could lob us a cheeky red herring, and in the series six finale Chloe confirms that the bodies of Marcus Thurwell and his wife were formally identified by Spanish police and had been killed some weeks ago. 

And yet – whodunnit? And why? We never did find a motive for his death, only that Buckells had been disguising his laptop’s IP address from prison by rerouting it through Thurwell’s Spanish computer systems, and would probably have stopped doing that had he known Thurwell’s gear was now in the hands of police. 

Maybe someone got wind of the net closing in on the OCG, and wanted to get rid of a potential witness? Or maybe Thurwell got wise to this and wanted to fake his own death so he and his wife could get away? A lot of fairly big answers just waiting to be revealed here, Nesbitt or no Nesbitt.

Why did Hastings spell ‘definately’ wrong?

In one of series five’s biggest ‘OMG’ moments, we saw Hastings use the infamous ‘definately’ spelling when messaging the OCG pretending to be H. During his interrogation, he claimed he’d done it because he’d studied H’s messaging style to be more convincing, but it left many viewers… less than convinced. 

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Besides, we never really found out why Hastings had his laptop disposed of, either. While it seems unthinkable Hastings could be bent (Mother of God, no!) there might be a twist or two left to discover.

Is this really the end of AC-12?

Line of Duty cast

The way things were left, it really wasn’t looking promising for our beloved anti-corruption unit, but some minuscule glimmers of hope remained.

Although he was forced into retirement, a defiant Hastings told Carmichael he was appealing the decision, hooray! That said, he did then essentially confess to being accidentally responsible for Corbett’s death, leaving Carmichael to decide whether to prosecute him or not. 

Steve was a hot mess throughout series six, addicted to painkillers, inappropriately shacking up with Corbett’s widow, and just generally putting his entire career at risk. By the finale, he seemed to be trying to get back on track, but his future at AC-12 was far from certain.

And Fleming was still working for MIT at the end of series six, but confessed she wanted to return to AC-12, so at least she’s up for a reunion with her mate Steve.

Quite what they’d all have to return to in a seventh series, with the merging of various AC teams and Carmichael at the helm, is another matter entirely. All we know is the nation would love to see Line of Duty back on our screens.

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