Line of Duty, the British crime series about a special ops agency who hunt down corrupt cops, has been going since 2012, but the upcoming fifth season is probably about to see a huge surge in viewership. That's because it's written by Jed Mercurio, the mastermind who captured everyone's attention last year with Bodyguard season 1, and his new fans are finally discovering the showrunner's back catalogue of hard boiled thrillers (Line of Duty being one of them).
Line of Duty season 5 premieres this Sunday, March 31 on BBC One in the UK (the US release date has yet to be announced), but you can watch all four previous seasons on Netflix and BBC iPlayer if you're looking to catch up. The TV critics, however, have already been treated to exclusive previews of the latest chapter in AC-12's ongoing story, and we've collated their best reviews and reactions below (with mild spoilers), just to get you even more excited.
Line of Duty season 5's new villains are an inspired addition - The Radio Times (opens in new tab)
"Series five turns the spotlight onto the organised crime gang led by John Corbett, who must surely be one of the biggest bulk-buyers of balaclava masks in the country. By his side is Lisa McQueen (Rochenda Sandall), another key player in organised crime – and she refuses to be underestimated. The success of each series of Line of Duty rides on the performance of the guest leads. Early indications are that Graham is absolutely in the same league as previous antagonists Keeley Hawes (DI Lindsay Denton) and Thandie Newton (DCI Roz Huntley); he exudes menace from every balaclava-covered pore and you would not want to cross him. It’s an inspired piece of casting."
Line of Duty season 5 continues the show's tradition of dark, humourless drama - The Independent (opens in new tab)
"Line of Duty, like writer Jed Mercurio’s other recent hit creation, Bodyguard, takes itself very seriously indeed and, it seems, audiences return the compliment. What Mercurio understands is that if you get the tiny details right, then the rest will follow. That’s partly why the interrogation scenes are so riveting, because they’re underpinned with the correct protocol. This core realism that has become a Mercurio trademark since his 1990s series Cardiac Arrest was voted the most realistic medical drama of all time in a poll of health professionals, and in Line of Duty it helps audiences swallow the more preposterous plot developments."
Line of Duty season 5's twists and turns are as shocking as ever - Yahoo (opens in new tab)
"The first episode of each new series of Line Of Duty always serves up a truly shocking moment that changes the game completely, and we don’t think we’re giving anything away by saying this series is no different. We audibly gasped for breath twice during the screening, and no doubt people will have a lot of theories to share the morning after the episode airs. For this reason, we 100% recommend watching live, as there is no way you’re going to be able to avoid spoilers."
Line of Duty season 5 suggests the show isn't ending anytime soon - Metro (opens in new tab)
"The budget has undoubtedly gone through the roof series by series but the quality has never faltered. If anything, Mercurio has managed to increase intrigue more and more as the story unfolds. Theoretically, Line of Duty’s expiry date should be looming – how many more curveballs can they possible throw at us now? But Mercurio still has unbeatable knack of making sure the unexpected will creep up on us when we least see it coming, and that’s already the case here. Basically, brace yourselves for an extremely stressful six weeks ahead."
Line of Duty season 5 is a return to form following its disappointing fourth chapter - The Telegraph (opens in new tab)
"The set-up is slightly different but in a way that feels fresh and invigoratingly non-formulaic. Its seedy gangland setting is grittier than in previous series (and indeed the glossy Bodyguard). This feels like a back-to-procedural-basics approach after the arm-amputating melodrama of series four. We’re treated to the show’s trademark police jargon and interview scenes.The performances of Dunbar and newcomer Rochenda Sandall catch the eye. Stephen Graham, the reliably superb Scouse actor, is the primary antagonist initially, but Mercurio’s writing is rarely so straightforward. Who polices the police? And do they need policing too?"
Discover all the biggest new TV shows (opens in new tab) to watch out for this year, or find out the top five to keep an eye on by watching the video below.