WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE LATEST EPISODE OF LINE OF DUTY, SEASON SIX, EPISODE SEVEN, AS WELL AS PREVIOUS SEASONS. DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU ARE NOT UP TO DATE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
The actor unveiled as Line Of Duty’s mysterious "H" has revealed the show’s creator told him of his character’s true identity over a clandestine phone call.
Millions of people tuned into Sunday night’s finale of the BBC One series to see Detective Superintendent Ian Buckells, played by Nigel Boyle, unmasked as corrupt police officer H.
The revelation follows years of twists and turns and red herrings which have kept the nation guessing.
And Boyle, who grew up in Birmingham, was similarly one of those in the dark until Jed Mercurio – the show’s creator – called him midway through shooting the current series in late 2020.
Boyle said: "We’d had the first four scripts and started filming some of series six when we had to stop due to the first lockdown. When we were about to resume filming, Jed sent me a text saying, ‘Are you free for a chat at some point today? Don’t worry it’s not that call…’
"Which I took to mean that I wasn’t going to end up dead! But I was still quite nervous and not sure what he wanted to talk to me about.
"He called me and said, ‘The scripts for the next episodes are going to be sent out imminently and so it’s time to tell you the secret that I’ve been keeping, you’re going to be revealed as someone rather significant…"
An average of 12.8 million people watched as Buckells was unveiled as "the fourth man" – an individual commanding a network of corrupt officers behind the murder of journalist Gail Vella – during the season six finale.
The episode – which also left the future of anti-corruption unit AC-12 hanging in the balance – had a peak viewing figure of 13.1 million, according to the BBC.
It makes the show it the most watched episode of a drama in 20 years, the corporation said.
On finding out his true identify, Boyle said: "I was buzzing with excitement! I never suspected it because I know how Jed leads people down the garden path with really good red herrings, so I didn’t really pay too much attention to things like Buckells’ golf clubs etc, but clearly I should have done!
"I’d fully bought into the idea that Buckells was low on competence levels but looking back it all makes sense!"
Boyle has been in Line Of Duty since the first series of the police drama which aired in 2012.
The actor, who also starred in Peaky Blinders, said he kept the secret for a long time, only telling his wife, Lainy.
He said: "I’ve been sitting on it for a long time! The only person I told was my wife, nobody else, I know how much is at stake.
"Even if you tell someone you trust with your life, they might tell someone they trust with their life and then suddenly more and more people know.
"When friends have asked me who H is, I’ve just said there isn’t an H."
Asked on BBC Breakfast if there would be another series of Line Of Duty, Boyle said: "No comment. I honestly don’t know. I hope there is, personally, but I just don’t know".
Fans of the series were divided over the finale reveal, with Irish author Marian Keyes tweeting: "Like, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve NEVER felt so LET DOWN!!!!!! #LineOfDuty."
The much-anticipated finale also drew a mixed reaction from critics, with some taking issue with the muted pace of the episode.
Broadcaster and author Piers Morgan used a reference to a previous clue with a spelling error in it, as he tweeted: "Definately a tad underwhelming. #LineofDutyFinale."
Gerard Gilbert, writing in the i, said the revelation that Buckells was the culprit "turned what should have been a tyre-screeching climactic episode into something of a slow puncture".
While The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan said the revealing was done "rather anti-climatically" giving the show three stars out of five.
But some critics were impressed.
The Times’ Ben Dowell gave it four stars out of five, writing: "Perhaps Mercurio has more surprises in store. It’s the sort of thing he does. Roll on series seven I say."
The Daily Telegraph gave it four stars, with its critic Anita Singh calling the unveiling of ‘H’ "genuine edge-of-the seat stuff" and praising Boyle as "the standout performer of this series".
Line Of Duty has pulled in millions of viewers as people speculated on the identity of the mystery character.
The penultimate episode earned an average of 11 million viewers and 51.7% of the audience share, according to the BBC.
The sixth series featured returning favourites Martin Compston (Steve Arnott), Adrian Dunbar (Ted Hastings) and Vicky McClure (Kate Fleming), with Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald appearing as DCI Joanne Davidson.