‘Line Of Duty’ Creator Pressured To Tone Down Violence In Series 4

Line of Duty continues to garner support as Series 4 launched, but creator Jed Mercurio reveals that BBC has been pressuring him to tone down the violence in the show.

Spoilers might be ahead. You’ve been warned.

Line of Duty came back with Series 4 last March 26 and it’s still one of the most popular drama series broadcast on BBC Two. Line of Duty Series 4, Episode 3 has just landed tonight and social media is already bursting at the seams as the series kills off another character in a riveting shock-twisting ending, The Guardian reports.

Goodbye, Steve Arnott [Image by BBC]
Fans say goodbye to Steve Arnott [Image by BBC]

Steve Arnott (played by Martin Compston) brings to life one of the most heartbreaking cliffhangers in the history of Line of Duty as he gets killed off by the Balaclava Man on his way to confront Nick Huntley (Lee Ingleby). The Balaclava Man then proceeds to throw Steve’s body down a flight of stairs after the encounter, which left Line of Duty fans in a mixed state of surprise, heart-brokenness, and impatience.

Steve, of course, is not the first person that Line of Duty kills since Series 1. In fact, such violence and heartbreaks have started to become a common trope in the series that creator Jed Mercurio tells Mirror he has been getting orders from BBC heads to tone down the violence in the show.

“We have the BBC editorial policy unit who govern that and they apply the rules. We deliver material for broadcast the meets all the accepted standards.”

“One of the things I find frustrating is that when we show violence, we also show the consequences of violence, people get injured, they end up carrying their injuries for some time. They scream when they get hurt.”

“We’re often given advice to tone down the reaction because that takes the violence into a level of causing distress. But then you’re heading towards something which I am not a big fan of, which is the violence where you can fire guns at people, you can get into fist fights and people can just be fine afterwards, like a computer game.”

“That’s frustrating that the balance is set that way in British TV.”

If this level of violence is threatening BBC, it’s interesting to note that Line of Duty is not Jed Mercurio’s most controversial work. Mercurio has also created Cardiac Arrest back in 1994, a British medical drama series known for Mercurio’s visceral, albeit wryly humorous, look at the NHS in the 1990s.

Mercurio's Cardiac Arrest [Image by BBC]
Mercurio’s Cardiac Arrest [Image by BBC]

Mercurio is also the genius behind another medical television drama entitled Bodies in 2004, which Den of Geek has noted for its graphic and intimate depictions of surgical procedures.

Bodies has also been Mercurio's most controversial work [Image by BBC]
Bodies has also been Mercurio’s most controversial work [Image by BBC]

With controversial themes and tropes like these under Mercurio’s belt, it’s a surprise BBC is still trying to reel him back in Line of Duty. After all, what Mercurio wants for Line of Duty is for the show to be able to communicate how hard the fight is for people to overcome and recover from violence and pain. In the end, it is vital for the drama to be as realistic as possible, and not sanitized, to be able to pull this message off.

Line of Duty airs every Sunday, 9 p.m., at BBC One (previously aired on BBC Two). It can also be streamed from Netflix and Hulu.

What will happen in Line of Duty's next episode? [Image by BBC]
What will happen in Line of Duty’s next episode? [Image by BBC]

[Featured Image by Tabatha Fireman/Getty Images]