To say Line Of Duty fans are eager for the sixth series would be an understatement.
A new season was originally set to air in 2020, but the pandemic put paid to that when filming had to be shut down mid-way through filming last March.
Production eventually wrapped at the tail end of last year, and the countdown is now officially on until Line Of Duty returns to our screens.
If you’re thirsty for more info about series six, here’s everything we can tell you...
How did the cast manage to film?
Prior to the pandemic shutting down production, the Line Of Duty cast had already shot four weeks of material on location in Belfast.
Everyone was subsequently sent home while the UK entered lockdown, and show-runners desperately tried find a way for filming to resume safely.
After much speculation, including whether the cast would have to re-shoot what had already been filmed, things finally got back on track in September.
Production was able to resume with strict measures in place, including cast members bubbling up while filming away from home in Northern Ireland, and regular Covid testing.
Filming wrapped at the end of November after what executive producer Simon Heath called “three [months] of shooting under the most trying of circumstances”.
The show’s creator Jed Mercurio had previously ruled out incorporating coronavirus into the plot, adding: “We’re not a show that is similar to the soaps where there’s a possibility of bringing the actual subject of corona into the storyline, where that could make it slightly easier for them to adapt to it, whereas it’s currently not in Line Of Duty’s world.”
So, remind me – how did series five end again?
Series five revolved around the hunt for mysterious organised crime boss “H”, who was believed to be a high ranking police officer.
But after Ted Hastings was arrested, the final episode revealed that “H” didn’t actually exist at all, and legal counsel Gill Biggeloe had been framing the Superintendent.
From a closer examination of DI Matthew Cottan’s dying declaration, it was then confirmed that “H” was actually a clue, indicating there are four high ranking officers in league with organised crime.
So far, Cottan, ACC Derek Hilton, Biggeloe have already been unmasked, with another still at large...
So what will series six be about?
While the specific plot of series six has not been confirmed, it is highly likely the hunt for the fourth officer in league with organised crime will be central to it.
There’s also a heap of unanswered questions left over from the end of the fifth series.
While Hastings was cleared of being “H”, there’s still a question mark over whether he is corrupt, after he was seen giving a bundle of cash to John Corbett’s wife.
A spokesperson for Line Of Duty confirmed to HuffPost UK that suspicions about Hastings had been left deliberately vague ahead of the sixth series.
Who is returning to the cast?
All three lead actors, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar, are back as DS Steve Arnott, DI Kate Flemming and Superintendent Ted Hastings.
Although they are the three officially announced to return, there are other characters likely to appear as well.
Series five ended with OCG member Ryan Pilkington (Gregory Piper) attending a police interview seemingly set on embedding himself in the force to carry on with the gang’s work from the inside.
Let’s not forget that Biggeloe (Polly Walker) is still alive and living under a new identity after helping police with their investigations, while organised crime gang member Lisa McQueen was given witness protection after sharing information on the OCG, now working to help teens avoid crime.
Rochenda Sandall, who played McQueen, later admitted she didn’t think we’d seen the last of her character, telling Digital Spy: “If you think about it, nobody who’s gone for immunity, in the whole series, has ever got away with it.
“Myself and Ryan [Pilkington] are the only two OCG members left and I know about his police school... so I don’t think it’s the end. I hope it’s not the end. But I won’t know until the time comes!
“I definitely think there’s an open door for Lisa.”
Who is joining the cast?
Kelly Macdonald will play Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson, whose suspicious conduct will be investigated by the police anti-corruption unit.
DCI Davidson is the senior investigating officer of an unsolved murder, who Jed Mercurio described as “the most enigmatic adversary AC-12 have ever faced”.
Kelly follows in the footsteps of previous AC-12 adversaries DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James), DI Lindsay Denton (Keeley Hawes), Sergeant Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), DCI Roz Huntley (Thandie Newton) and DS John Corbett (Stephen Graham).
Kelly is best known for her roles in Trainspotting, Gosford Park, Boardwalk Empire and, most recently, The Victim and Giri/Haji.
There’s also a new arrival in AC-12 with the addition of DC Chloe Bishop, who is played by Shalom Brune-Franklin.
Shalom is best known for playing Private Maisie Richards in BBC drama Our Girl and Morgana in Netflix’s Cursed.
What else has been said about series six?
Martin had his first script through for the new series in December 2019, and admitted that he was “scared” by it in a cryptic Instagram post.
As you would expect with Line Of Duty though, the show is shrouded in mystery.
However, Martin did let slip during an interview with the Radio Times that there is a major revelation in the fourth episode that he was waiting to find out the conclusion to.
He told the publication: “For this year, I think we’ve filmed [episodes] one and two, and as a cast, we’ve got [the scripts for] three and four, and Jed is writing five and six and we haven’t seen them, and there’s a bombshell at the end of four and I’m desperate to find out what happens.”
After the BBC show’s creator Jed Mercurio posted the a set of on-set images from filming in Belfast back in October, some eagle-eyed fans were quick to notice a tiny detail in one of the shots.
They picked up on the fact DS Arnott was not wearing police stripes on his epaulettes, suggesting that he was now working as a police constable.
Previously, he has been a detective sergeant, which is indicated by three white stripes worn on an officer’s shoulders.
A PC usually just has their collar number, which Arnott is seen wearing, pointing at the possibility the character will either be demoted or be working undercover in the new series...
There’s an extra treat for fans this series too
The BBC has announced that series six will have a one more episode than usual, consisting of seven instalments instead of the usual six.
To celebrate, the BBC released a sketch featuring Hastings demanding “more from Arnott”, before he says: “How about an extra episode, gaffer?”
Responding to the video on Twitter, Jed Mercurio joked that AC-12 were “losing their touch” so he had to “give them an extra hour to close the case”.
Most importantly, when will Line Of Duty series six air?
There’s no official date as yet from the BBC, but it did say series six will be “coming soon” when news of the extra episode was announced.
Given that this appears to be the start of the promo trail, we’d certainly anticipate this meaning within the next two months. Fingers crossed.