Who is Ryan in Line of Duty? The returning character explained, and where he has featured before in the BBC drama

Line Of Duty fans were glued to their screens after the reappearance of Ryan Pilkington in the latest season
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Viewers may recognise Ryan Pilkington from season five of the hit crime show, but that wasn’t the only time fans have seen the character.

Who is the returning character, and where has he featured before? Here’s everything you need to know about Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty.

Article contains spoilers

Ryan made his first appearance in Line Of Duty season one (World Productions/BBC)Ryan made his first appearance in Line Of Duty season one (World Productions/BBC)
Ryan made his first appearance in Line Of Duty season one (World Productions/BBC)

Who is Ryan Pilkington?

Ryan made his first appearance in Line Of Duty season one.

Fans will recognise him as the kid on the Borogrove estate who was doing dodgy jobs for the ‘balaclava gang’, despite his young age.

Ryan was seen to be completing odd jobs for the crime gang, including drug dealing around the estate on his BMX, and delivering burner phones to bent cop DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James).

The character was also part of the group that kidnapped Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) towards the end of the season. Ryan even attempted to cut Steve’s fingers off with some bolt cutters, but his efforts would be unsuccessful because of his young age.

Ryan also had an interaction with Kate Flemming (Vicky McClure) when she interviewed him in connection to Steve’s kidnapping. In the interview, DC Kate Flemming took an unorthodox approach, attempting to scare Ryan with details of what would happen if he was sent to a juvenile correction facility.

Ryan eventually admitted to odd crimes, including stealing phones, but denied any involvement in Steve’s kidnapping.

In series five, Ryan returned to the show as a member of the Organised Crime Group, where he was seen teaming up with John Corbett, Lisa McQueen and the rest of the balaclava gang.

Viewers will remember that it was Ryan who would go on to kill John after they realised he was a mole.

Who plays Ryan Pilkinton in Line of Duty?

Ryan is played by Gregory Piper, the same actor who has played the role since Ryan was seen in the show as a child.

The actor was 12 years old when he made his debut on the show, and showrunner Jed Mercurio brought him back to reprise the role several times.

Is Ryan Pilkington now in the police force?


It was revealed to fans at the end of season five that Ryan was in training to become a police officer.

Fans were teased with a shot of the character in uniform, after he was sitting exams and working towards securing a ‘regular job’.

In the interview he told recruiters: “Where I grew up, it was easy to fall in with the wrong crowd. My mum, she was off her face on drink and drugs a lot of the time. The person who made me see another way and to be a useful member of society is a police officer called PC Simon Bannerjee. He’s the reason why I wanted to become a police officer too. To help people.”

Why did the character of Ryan Pilkington lead to some controversy?

In 2012, the BBC was found to have had a “serious lapse” in care, after a review by Ofcom.

The review found that actor Gregory Piper had not been sufficiently protected from emotional distress during filming scenes of a “high violent and adult nature,” which also exposed him to “sexually explicit language.”

The BBC said programme-makers had been “in constant dialogue” with the parents “before, during and after filming every day” and that “neither episode resulted in any apparent harm, distress or anxiety to the child actor.”

Related topics: