Line of Duty - Fact is, this is the best drama on TV

Apparently, we are living in a post-truth world, one in which the truth can be anything you like, as long as it fits your own view of the world.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st March 2017, 12:56 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:27 pm
Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure in Line of Duty
Martin Compston, Adrian Dunbar and Vicky McClure in Line of Duty

In Line of Duty (BBC1, Sundays, 9pm), everyone is assembling their own version of the truth, from DCI Roz Huntley, who is leading an investigation into a series of murders, to forensic officer Tim Ifield, who is sure the wrong man has been charged, to the anti-corruption team at AC-12, who have to work out who is right.

There are plenty of facts here – facts about the distribution of carpet fibres, about police interview procedure, about past criminal records – but precious little truth.

As Roz’s boss, the weaselly ACC Hilton, tells her: “There are facts, and then there’s the truth.”

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And this is what strikes at the heart of Line of Duty, how facts can be put at the service of truth, and how seemingly incontravertible evidence can suddenly seem flawed.

Of course, this is not a philosophical discussion about the meaning of truth, this is primetime drama.

That means there is plenty of running about, sirens blaring, and in a final scene between Huntley and Ifield in the scientist’s poky little flat, sustained, stomach-knotting tension.

This is what Line of Duty, now moved to primetime BBC1 after critical acclaim on BBC2, has built its reputation on, turning a couple of people talking into some of the most dramatic TV around.

This is where the characters can’t hide behind the facts, and where the truth can emerge, and writer Jed Mercurio is terrific at building these little scenes.

But the talky bits aren’t everything, and the horror-movie style jump scare at the end – no spoilers – is a real old-fashioned cliffhanger. Truth and dare.

Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad (BBC1, 9pm, Tuesday) was a difficult watch, but revealed exactly what can be achieved by talking about the anger, loneliness and desperation of grief. A vital piece of television.

More grief on Catastrophe (Channel 4, 10pm, Tuesdays), which continues to surprise with its truth, and a telling image of the week, focusing on little Frankie’s hand as he tried to comfort mum Sharon.