Line of Duty: Just another hair-raising night in the hunt for the fourth man and the meaning of life

Nobody, as Monty Python were fond of bursting into the room and exclaiming, expects the Spanish Inquisition. But who the heck expects James Nesbitt in a bad wig?

Martin Compston as Steve Arnott leads the charge at the scene of the Fleming-Pilkington shootout. PIC: BBC/World Productions/Steffan Hill

What a shock it was in Line of Duty (BBC1) the previous week to be greeted by the bluff Irish charmer, suddenly popping up on Steve Arnott’s computer screen.

Hang on, you’re saying that Kate Fleming possibly being gunned down in a car park was the real shockeroonee? You could be right, and I’ll come to that, but I’m baffled by Nesbitt and his “hair”.

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I know police identikit photos generally make features seem stuck-on but that’s because they are. I know Nesbitt in other shows has had some pretty dodgy rugs. But this one resembled my old plastic George Harrison moptop, an ingenious but rubbish toy from the height of Beatlemania.

Maybe Nesbitt was there as light relief, the comical before the storm. The shootout between Fleming and Ryan Pilkington had become the national conversation as we waited all week, in the old-fashioned way, to learn last night that - mega-spoiler alert - Kate didn’t die, Pilkington taking both bullets.

Normally a drama would save such a cliffhanger for the penultimate episode, but Line of Duty doesn’t do normal. That would have meant an awful lot of explanation in the finale and just an hour to pack it all in. In this season of dredging up right bad yins from before and introducing new ones with funny barnets, that would be impossible.

Creator Jed Mercurio is like a sadistic funfair attendant and we’re all strapped into his Merry Mixer which he’s cranked into the red zone. It slowed down a bit last night for one of those long interrogation-room scenes for the grilling of Jo Davidson who more than did her bit to keep the audio cassette industry viable.

I’m pretty sure she set a new world record for the most number of “No comments”. Ted Hastings was highly unimpressed. Surely any moment he was going to blurt: “Mother of God!” Though once Davidson’s well weird family story was revealed, “Uncle who is also father of God!” would probably have been more appropriate.

The big reveal - uncovering H, the fourth man and the meaning of life - will have to wait one more week. Longer, if there’s to be a seventh series. Nesbitt’s character, Marcus Thirwell, had been tracked down to Spain and I wondered if Mercurio was going to ship Line of Duty over to the Costa del Benticopper in pursuit of him. Half of me wanted to see this. Adrian Dunbar and Nesbitt could have gone head-to-head to find out who among Irish charmers is the bluffiest of them all. But the other half was panicking. Ted in shorts and - gasp - crocs? No!

In the end AC-12 watched on a screen as Spanish cops bashed down a door and located Thirwell who wasn’t in any position to undergo a Spanish inquisition or even tell us what was going on with his hair.

“That’s another kick in the teeth!” roared Ted. “There’s only so much a man can take!”