OH Ted. How could you?
All those bleak hours, in the Edge Park Hotel, we thought you might have been passing secret messages to an Organised Crime Gang but now it turns out you were actually “looking at pornography” on that laptop.
BBC Viewers tuned in on Sunday night to see if Ted Hastings would be unmasked as the crooked ‘H’
The finale could have created one of TV’s biggest ever sensations by turning its greatest character into the criminal mastermind H
“Nothing illegal — nothing extreme,” you claimed.
So what the hell was it then? Horny Protestant Housewives? Hot Balaclava Women? Or something more “specialist”, like “Sucking On Diesel”?
Along with the fate of the bike-less bike gang, it’s one of the enduring mysteries of a brain-frazzling final episode of BBC1’s Line Of Duty, which had an unenviable choice to make on Sunday night.
Create one of television’s biggest ever sensations by turning its greatest character, Ted, into the criminal mastermind H?
Or risk frustrating viewers by playing a longer and more complicated game? Wisely, I thought, it chose the latter.
Before we got to the big reveal, though, Ted and DCS Patricia Carmichael, played by the brilliant Anna Maxwell Martin, treated viewers to a mesmerising interrogation scene that was overflowing with numbers, images, documents, death stares, laptop revelations, VPNs and a whole lot of WTFs.
With all of it initially turning on a bungled “section 32” arrest by Carmichael’s striking-looking sidekick DI Brandyce, which had her boss demanding she put in “a transfer request”.
Ideally to Last Of The Summer Wine or a Pogues tribute band.
‘THAT’S THEIR FUNERAL’
Seasoned viewers of this table-turning drama will have guessed where this one was heading from about the 12-minute mark, though, when lawyer Gill Biggeloe arrived with about as much subtlety as Bet Lynch on a Space Hopper.
Artful it sometimes wasn’t, with the dialogue also veering between the brilliant and Fleming’s Scooby Doo-ishly awful line: “Something’s not right. And we need to find out what.”
It wasn’t, however, until Gill Biggeloe was unmasked as the latest bad apple, that the episode really lost the plot.
Firstly by trying to repeat series four’s “Urgent exit required” text trick.
Arnott and Fleming reveal H is four people and not just one on Line of Duty
GREAT DRAMS SHOULD DEMAND A LOT FROM VIEWERS
Then by turning sweet, little ginger Tina, who went for Biggeloe in the toilet with a knife, into a member of the OCG death cult. And finally by asking us to believe DI Cottan’s death twitches signalled four people were H.
For some, I know, this will have been a step too far, but I’m still keeping the LoD faith.
It may demand a lot of viewers and take risks, but that’s what all great dramas should do.
And, if some don’t come off, it’s one of the few home-made shows that can usually fall back on its script or the astonishing performances of its cast.
Particular plaudits this series, of course, go to Adrian Dunbar who’s turned Superintendent Ted Hastings into a television legend and, in these crucifyingly right-on times, reminded us how much the public still loves a strong male character.
I don’t expect such an important message to register with BBC drama, where every overpaid moron in the building will be running around shouting: “We need a female Ted.” But that’s their funeral.
It’s one of the few home-made shows that can usually fall back on its script or the astonishing performances of its castAlly RossSun Columnist
Line Of Duty will still have over ten million viewers hooked, whenever it returns, because, as we learned in the closing credits, its integrity, storyline and main characters all endure: Arnott’s been exonerated after shooting Tina.
OCG member Ryan’s at police training college. Gill Biggeloe’s “been given a new identity” (Please God, not another series of Age Before Beauty) and flawed hero Ted Hastings is back in charge at AC-12 where he’s free to complete his Edge Park Hotel TripAdvisor review.
“Faulty toilet, no guests, great wi-fi connection.”
Anna Maxwell Martin was mesmerising as DCS Patricia Carmichael
BBC Line of Duty is one of the few home-made shows that can fall back on the astonishing performances of its cast
Britain’s Got Talent comedian Graeme Mathews turning out to be a lot funnier and not half as bloody annoying as he looked.
The very slow-burning beauty of Netflix’s Shtisel. AJ Odudu charming and battling her way through to the SAS: Who Dares Wins final.
And Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid attempting to have an incredibly earnest discussion about the re-emergence of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while flanked by the real Piers Morgan and the hairdryer version, both of them with their gobs stuck in the receive position. God I love this television show.
MY COLUMN returns in a fortnight. In the meantime, can I recommend you watch the actor-to-stuntman handover, about four minutes into tonight’s EastEnders, as a topless Keanu escapes down Louise Mitchell’s drainpipe?
’Cos if that segment doesn’t win the Best Comedy Weight Loss category, something’s gone terribly wrong at next month’s Soap Awards.
Breaking newsMEANWHILE, back on Good Morning Britain:
Piers Morgan: “My collar size used to be 16 and a half, it got to 17 and I didn’t like it.”
And who would, on their first day at school?
But let’s talk about the here and now, Chunk.8XL?
Celebrity SAS wins my vote
A MAJOR shock during the final episode of Channel 4’s absorbing Sunday night series Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
Rugby player Ben Foden voluntarily withdrew, during the interrogation phase, having been subjected to several hours of “disturbing and repetitive noises”.
Pete Dadds/Channel 4 Ben Foden voluntarily withdrew in the final episode of Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins
The one thing you’d think he was prepared for, after marrying one of The Saturdays.
Whatever demons those ungodly howls awoke in Ben, they didn’t seem to bother Frankie Bridge’s husband Wayne, who’s been the obvious and deserving winner of the series since episode one.
The final was still well worth an hour of your time, though, just to see the interrogation of Made In Chelsea’s Sam Thompson, whose endless backchat, sulking and general toddler antics went down every bit as well as you’d expect with the show’s battle-hardened Special Forces veterans.
“Are you pulling a fookin’ face?” “No, Sir.” “Then stop being a fookin’ c*** then.”
Pete Dadds/Channel 4 Made In Chelsea’s Sam Thompson went down every bit as well as you’d expect with the show’s battle-hardened Special Forces veterans
When verbal threats failed to register, the staff tried guilt-tripping him by menacing Victoria Pendleton with two alsatians.
A tactic that probably went down badly with all those people who think the real SAS operates like a community outreach theatre group, pacifying hostile forces through the medium of dance and mime.
Personally, I thought the whole series was so brilliantly executed it should become an annual fixture, with celebrities forced to do it at gunpoint if necessary.
And, if anyone disagrees, just try telling me you wouldn’t like to see Gemma Collins shoved out of a helicopter backwards.
Quiz show doughnuts of the week
The Chase, Bradley Walsh: “Oxfam was originally established to fight famine in Europe during what war?”Kathy: “Sixth.”
Bradley Walsh: “Teddy Sheringham is the oldest man to score a goal in what English league?”Catherine: “The FA Cup.”
Bradley Walsh: “In 1914, who was the first reigning British monarch to attend an FA Cup Final?”Mick: “Queen Elizabeth II.”
And Tipping Point: “Which musical is the song Reindeers Are Better Than People from?”Jane (channelling Trigger from Only Fools And Horses): “Dave.”
THIS Morning, April 23, “The woman who can predict the future by throwing asparagus”, Jemima Packington: “Meghan’s going to have the baby by the end of April. Twins, one boy, one girl. By the end of April.”
And I’m sure the other one will be out any moment, Jemima.
Great Sporting Insights
Glenn Hoddle: “The defender’s lying down completely flat with his legs in the air.”Martin Keown: “Along with his players, Daniel Farke single-handedly got Norwich promoted.”And Chris Hughton: “It’s difficult to say if Glenn is okay but thankfully he is.”(Compiled by Graham Wray)
Random TV irritations
ITV’s The All New Monty turning out to be another excuse for Alexander Armstrong to sing.
Game Of Thrones’ big battle episode forgetting the most obvious rule of television (the vision bit).
BBC News’ Natalie Pirks acting more like Caster Semenya’s PR than a reporter.
Earth From Space offering us elephants and penguins rather than finding stuff that’s genuinely missing, like Justin Lee Collins, Labour’s EdStone, and Rangers’ “Going for 55” fan display.
And Good Morning Britain’s Charlotte Hawkins undoing all the creativity of the caption writer who came up with CYCLONE FANI BATTERS INDIA, by pronouncing the offending weather pattern as “Faw-knee”. A world of wrong.
Time to Square up again
APOLOGIES for the recent lack of EastEnders updates.They stopped abruptly, last November, when Sharon and toyboy lover Keanu introduced handcuffs to their bedroom repertoire, Phil arrived back early from Spain and, oh, the horror, the horror . . .
BBC Ben Mitchell is back on EastEnders and this incarnation clearly thinks he’s Michael Caine
Five months seemed a safe enough gap to leave, and I’m pleased to report the coupling’s been forgotten by everyone – including Louise Mitchell, who was blackmailing Sharon over the affair.
There now also seem to be more people living at the Slaters’ house than in Basingstoke – and Robert Kazinsky has even returned from Hollywood to reprise his role as Jean’s prodigal son Sean, having clearly benefited from the experience of landing such stellar parts as Randy in Hot Pursuit and George Jetson in Robot Chicken.
BBC Robert Kazinsky has returned from Hollywood to reprise his role as Jean’s prodigal son Sean Slater
The bad news, though, is that EastEnders is on to its sixth version of the endlessly useless Ben Mitchell and, having gone through his gay, incontinent ballet dancer phase, this one clearly thinks he’s Michael Caine, trying to put the heat on Lola’s Geordie boyfriend with this less-than-menacing line: “I’m gonna come up to Noocastle, to that grotty little flat, above that grotty little shop, in Westgate, and I’m gonna kill ya. Any questions?”
How come you’re not deaf any more?
Mind-reader of the weekThe Widow, Charles “Martin Benson” Dance to Kate “Georgia Wells” Beckinsale: “Did I mention this is a terrible idea?”
No. But it is a really terrible f***ing idea.
THIS week’s winner is the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt and Ian Beale
Emailed in by Neil Taperell.
Picture research: Marta Ovod.