'Line of Duty' was originally rejected by the BBC, says writer Jed Mercurio

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Line of Duty (Credit: BBC)

Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio has said that the cop show was initially rejected by BBC One when it was first pitched.

Mercurio, who also wrote Bodyguard, has accused the broadcaster of “selective amnesia”, taking aim at the former controller of BBC One, who he does not name.

“That particular controller never had to justify her decision. It didn’t affect her career, that she turned down something that went on to be the biggest BBC1 drama currently returning,” he told the Radio Times.

“Everybody, and every TV commissioner or TV executive, who was involved in rejecting Line of Duty now pretends that it didn’t happen.”

Jed Mercurio (Getty Images)

He went on: “It’s not that I seethe, we’re in a fantastic position and I’m certainly not bitter. But if you consider all the other projects that have been rejected over the years, the opportunities missed, and the ones that still are rejected, then of course it’s disappointing.

“You worry that something that you’ve worked on and you believe in is never going to see the light of day.”

Mercurio's series, about the fictional AC-12 police anti-corruption squad, first aired in 2012, starring Martin Compston, Vicky McClure Gina McKee, Adrian Dunbar and Lennie James.

It moved to BBC One after its third series, with its fifth series, airing in 2019, averaging nearly 13 million viewers.

Series six began filming in Belfast in February this year, but was curtailed by the coronavirus lockdown.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Mercurio said that the footage already shot could now be axed.

“We’re all considering [a rewrite]. We shot for four weeks in a pre-lockdown world, and all that material would have to be reshot if we were going to change things,” he said.

“That would have huge cost implications, but we are considering it.”

The show is likely to return in 2021.