Line of Duty’s Lennie James confirms scrapped plans for return

Line of Duty's Lennie James confirms scrapped plans for return
Could Tony Gates still return? (Picture: BBC)

Former Line of Duty star Lennie James has confirmed that plans to bring his character back from the dead have been scrapped.

James starred as corrupt detective Tony Gates during the police-drama’s subdued first season. Gates’ story revolved around him getting involved in the murky world of crime after covering for his mistress’ traffic violation.

It all came to head as he killed himself in the highly-dramatic conclusion to Line of Duty’s debut series, but apparently writer Jed Mercurio wasn’t quite ready to let go of him.

Speaking to Radio Times, actor James revealed that Mercurio, who also scripted Bodyguard, came to him once with an idea for how to resurrect him on-screen.

James recalled: ‘I was excited because it would have been fun to hang out with my mates again – Martin [Compston], Adrian [Dunbar], [Vicky McClure] – they’ve become friends for life.’

Sadly, however, it seems that the spark of inspiration didn’t last long – and we have to admit, even Line of Duty can only stretch things so far.

‘[Jed] came back in the next day, and I was like: “So what’s the details, when can I see it?”‘ James recalled. ‘He was like, “I’ve scrapped it, it’s a stupid idea.”‘

Gates was the first suspect investigated by AC-12 (Picture: BBC)
Gates did meet his final end in series one, sorry (Picture: BBC)

James also confirmed to the publication that Gates was ‘well and truly mashed – [he’s] dead and gone,’ so we suppose that’s that on that!

The bent copper, however, was just the first of many antagonists to be caught in AC-12’s crosshairs. Subsequent seasons would introduce a revolving door of guest stars to square up against Martin Compston and Vicky McClure, including Keeley Hawes and Thandie Newton.

The upcoming sixth series – whose production has stalled thanks to the coronavirus crisis – will welcome Trainspotting star Kelly MacDonald as the new villain.

More: Line of Duty

Mercurio admitted that he likes hiring well-known actors to portray a series’ individual villain and pushing them into ‘their deepest dilemmas.’

He also shared that when he first dreamt up the idea for the action-thriller serial, he had ‘no idea’ that it would turn out to be such a hit.

Line of Duty is available to stream now via BBC iPlayer.

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