Forget bent coppers - Ted Hastings is the reason Line of Duty is cooking with gas

Whether or not he turns out to be ‘H’, Adrian Dunbar’s portrayal of Superintendent Ted Hastings is one of the main reasons we’re all tuning in, writes Gary Shipton

“Bent coppers and the detectives sent to stop them. AC-12 isn't here to make friends,'” claims the BBC blurb.

But the broadcaster could not be more wrong about its blockbuster Line of Duty.

The heroes of the police anti-corruption unit have made millions of friends in living rooms the length and breadth of Britain.

Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) and DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) - (C) World Productions - Photographer: Steffan Hill

And as the ratings juggernaut comes roaring to the brutal showdown of its sixth series on Sunday, there will be one thought above all others' on aficionados' minds.

“We hope it's not Ted Hastings.”

Just about anyone who has walked across the set in seven rollercoaster episodes since March 21 is a possible contender for the ignominious 'H' - the fourth and final senior corrupt police officer whose identity has been hunted over the nine years since the drama was born.

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But thanks to the extraordinary talent combo of actor Adrian Dunbar and mercurial writer Jed Mercurio, Superintendent Hastings who heads the anti-corruption unit has won a place in the hearts of the nation.

Gruff, erratic, with a wonderful turn of phrase - he's both liked and trusted as the true antidote to corruption in the police.

Too many police dramas fail in this most fundamental of missions - to produce characters the audience like and are rooting for.

Line of Duty is not just about edge of the seat showdown interviews across the AC-12 table nor plots that twist as unpredictably as an old A road in the English countryside.

It's about being a beacon of decency in an increasingly depraved landscape - of sticking to that most basic of principles of always seeking to do what is right. And being kind even when you have to be tough.

There are already countless guesses as to the identity of 'H'.

The great British public will tune in in their millions for the season finale and rejoice in any number of final plot twists.

But the disappointment on Sunday will be palpable if 'Mother of God' Hastings turns out to be the biggest bad apple of them all.

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