Line of Duty

Anatomy of a Hit: Line of Duty

The critically acclaimed second series hit our screens in 2014 and realising they had a hit on their hands, the BBC commissioned two more that year. Having become the most popular drama series broadcast on BBC Two in the multi-channel era, Line of Duty made the jump to BBC One.

 With filming for series five underway and fans eagerly anticipating the return of the AC-12 team in 2019, Line of Duty is widely recognised as the decade’s best British drama series.

Lennie James: taking television to new places

(Credit: Sky)

There is a scientific way to calculate how much a television audience appreciates a show. An “appreciation index” involves panels, scores out of 10, and demographic weighting. Now, however, there is another way: just take note how quickly an audience comes back for more.

When Sky released Lennie James’s drama Save Me (the possessive apostrophe is because he created, wrote and starred in it) as a box set on the last day of February, it took a week for 700,000 viewers to watch all six episodes.

Line of Duty creators share what to expect in season five

Panellists Adrian Dunbar, Priscilla Parish, Anne Robinson, Simon Heath and Jed Mercurio (Credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

Speaking at an Anatomy of a Hit event dedicated to the police corruption series, Mercurio revealed he has written the first couple of episodes of season five, which is due to air next year.

He said of the next series: “It feels like things we haven’t done before, characters we haven’t seen before and that’s part of the construction of the series; the architecture that allows us to rejuvenate the format.

Jed Mercurio's advice for screenwriters

Line of Duty (Credit: BBC)

Now's a great time to get into writing for TV. There have never been more opportunities for scripted programming. To stand out from the crowd, an idea should seem original and distinctive.

While the breadth of programming has increased, the traditional formats have remained dominant. Your writing should fit the standard models for a mini-series, a serial or an episodic series; 30 minutes for comedy, 60 minutes for drama.

Channel 4 commissions first drama series for female writing duo

Kate Ashfield, When The Lights Went Out, Sky,

Channel 4 has commissioned the writers Tracey Malone (Silent Witness) and Kate Ashfield (Line of Duty) for their first drama series as a duo.

The psychological thriller, under working title Born to Kill, will be made by World Productions, and looks into the mind of a teenage boy who suppresses psychopathic desires.

Jed Mercurio: the Drama Doctor

Critical

Jed Mercurio doesn't make it easy for himself. His current show, Sky 1's Critical, is a 13-part drama set in a state-of-the-art trauma centre. Every week, it focuses on a different and gruesome medical emergency while also telling the intertwined personal stories of its large cast. Oh, and it's told in real time, too.

"I always think that everything is achievable," he says, when I ask if he deliberately set the challenge of making this series as hard as possible for himself.