As you would possibly anticipate, over the course of the 5 hour drama, a query mark is hung over Gates’ suitability for the accolade. Is he the squeaky clear officer his goal file suggests? Is his group the mannequin unit they seem to be on paper? Asking these questions is DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), a current switch to Anti-Corruption, and an unwelcome newcomer to the Midlands unit. Who watches the watchmen? AC do, not that anyone thanks them for it.
Although core characters proceed to the second sequence, Line of Responsibility’s first run works as a standalone drama. It’s a five-hour episodic story pivoting on the fulcrum of Tony Gates’ character. Is he actually a bent cop, or a sufferer of circumstance? Together with the viewers, AC-12’s place on Tony rotates from corrupt to wash (properly, cleanish), from ally to enemy and again once more.
Shifting us via Gates’ many sides is Lennie James (The Strolling Useless, Save Me), a stage and display actor and author whose expertise is accountable in no small half for sequence one’s success. Even in Line Of Responsibility’s extra sensational cop thriller moments, James’ efficiency as Gates is various, layered and credible. Gates is a household man and he’s an adulterer, he’s a careerist surrounded by cronies and – to borrow from The Wire – he’s good police. All of these features James performs with absolute conviction.
Becoming a member of James in the ranks of gifted forged are Vicky McClure and Martin Compston as DS Fleming and DS Arnott. When sequence one aired in 2012, each younger actors have been higher identified for indie movie and, in McClure’s case, improvised drama (she was heart-breaking as Lol in Shane Meadows’ This Is England sequence) and maybe as a result of of that, each convey that sense of naturalism to the typically clichéd world of TV crime drama. Over the subsequent 4 sequence, every one a steadily rising word-of-mouth hit for the BBC, McClure and Compston have turn into beloved by followers and at the moment are indissociable from their AC-12 double-act. (The encompassing forged simply continues to enhance too, with visitor stars in later sequence together with Keeley Hawes, Daniel Mays, Thandie Newton and Stephen Graham.)
In Line of Responsibility, we meet younger, optimistic police, and jaded, unsympathetic box-tickers. There are officers pushed by a robust sense of responsibility, and people in it only for the pension and to repay private money owed. We see the police each hamstrung by, and selecting to, prioritise paperwork and statistics over justice. There are such a lot of tiny derelictions of responsibility fringing the central corruption investigation that it’s no surprise lively police weren’t blissful to advise on the drama; it doesn’t flatter the occupation.