Missing Line Of Duty? Here are 6 hard-hitting police dramas to ease the pain…

Watch Line of Duty season 6 episode 7 online
(Image credit: BBC)

Shows do not come any more pulse-racing or nerve-shredding than Line Of Duty. 

The British drama began life in 2012. It didn’t arrive with much fanfare and its stars had no profile to speak of. Martin Compston and Vicky McClure were relative unknowns, while Adrian Dunbar was a solid number four or five on the cast list of most of the things he’d appeared in. Even the BBC, which had commissioned the show, didn’t have much faith in it, putting it out midweek on BBC Two, a channel and a time slot normally reserved for history documentaries. That was a long way from the prominent 9pm-on-a-Sunday slot it would command for its sixth season, one that, in truth, the series deserved from the word go.  

Created by Jed Mercurio, Line Of Duty follows the travails of AC-12, a unit tasked with uncovering police corruption. At the start of the show, we meet Compston’s Steve Arnott, who is sent to AC-12 after he refuses to cover up wrongdoing in an investigation into suspected terrorism. Once there, he is partnered with McClure’s Kate Fleming, a rising undercover officer with a keen investigative instinct. Together, the pair work under the supervision of Dunbar’s Superintendent Ted Hastings, with each series focusing on a different cast of suspected corrupt coppers. 

The show’s stature grew with every season, and, by its sixth, Line Of Duty was the BBC’s flagship drama and a huge hit around the world, as Arnott, Fleming and Hastings worked ever harder to untangle a dark web of links to organized crime that had spread to the very top of the police force. Mercurio’s writing was so sharp, he made every interrogation scene feel like a car chase, and he can drop a cliffhanger like no-one else. It’s no wonder the show became such event viewing every time it aired. 

As far as we know, the show’s sixth season will be its last, but Dunbar has spoken recently about the possibility of continuing Line Of Duty. Asked about its future on food critic Jay Rayner’s Out To Lunch podcast, Dunbar went as far as to say “I think there will be something else." Whether it’s a continuation or a spin-off, who knows, but fans will be heartened by news that these characters may get another outing. 

We are, however, still dealing in hypotheticals. Compston, McClure and Dunbar are busy, Mercurio is even busier, and there’s nothing definite in the pipeline. 

So, for those of you in need for a Line Of Duty fix, we thought we’d pick out some replacements; six hard-hitting detective dramas to get pulses racing and provide some comfort while the future of the show is still being debated.



(Image credit: Netflix)

An easy place to start. Bodyguard is another Jed Mercurio creation and shares an awful lot of DNA with Line Of Duty.  

The show stars Game Of Thrones' key man Richard Madden and Spooks' Keeley Hawes. Madden plays Police Sergeant David Budd, a former British solider and war veteran, now working for the protection unit of the police force. Budd is assigned to protect Hawes' Julia Montague, an Home Secretary with ambitions of becoming Prime Minister. 

Montague wants to bring in a so-called "Snoopers' Charter" bill, which infringes civil liberties and has left her with a great many enemies. 

Struggling with PTSD and a difficult family situation, Budd does all he can to protect Montague, but he soon discovers that there are forces beyond his control. 

Action-packed, gripping and awash with real twists and turns, Bodyguard plays to Mercurio's strengths perfectly, even if the ending rather unravels. Still, we're excited to see where it goes with a planned second season. 

Where can I stream it? 

BBC iPlayer (UK), Netflix (rest of the world)

Happy Valley

Happy Valley

(Image credit: BBC)

One of the finest dramas in recent years, Happy Valley is an underrated marvel

Created by Gentleman Jack's Sally Wainwright, Happy Valley stars Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood, a no-nonsense police sergeant trying to keep her patch in order. Away from her work, her family life is very full-on. She is still coming to terms with the suicide of her teenage daughter, Becky, she is living with her sister, a recovering alcoholic and heroin addict, and between them they're tasked with bringing up up Becky's young son, Ryan, the product of a rape that drove to her to suicide. 

When Catherine hears that Tommy Lee Royce, the rapist who drove her daughter to kill herself, is being released from prison, she becomes obsessed with finding him. In amongst all that, a local girl disappears, a crime that draws together both Tommy and Catherine. 

It sounds grim, and at times it is grim, but Lancashire and James Norton, who plays the thoroughly dislikeable Royce, are so compelling that they carry the whole thing through. 

Thankfully, we're getting a third season in the coming months. 

Where can I stream it?

BBC iPlayer (UK), Fubo/AMC+ (US), BritBox (Australia)

Young Wallander

Young Wallander on Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

Another sorely underrated detective drama, which, when the second season dropped, we praised highly, calling it "Netflix's best detective drama", because, well, it is.

This one is a grown-up, accomplished and gripping take on Henning Mankell's dour detective, which takes the veteran cop and reworks him to be a young man on the streets in modern-day Stockholm. Both seasons have been brilliant, with star Adam Pålsson growing into a superb leading man. 

The series has the same gripping nature as Line Of Duty: a young detective fighting against a corrupt system which is always ready to bite back. 

Where can I stream it?

Netflix (Worldwide)


Watch Bosch online

(Image credit: Amazon)

This has a more procedural feel than many of the shows we've recommended, but if you're in the market for a long-term commitment, then all seven seasons of Bosch are waiting for you. 

Titus Welliver plays Harry Bosch, the creation of bestselling author Michael Connolly and a no-nonsense crime-solver. A former soldier, Bosch works in the homicide department and each 10-episode run finds him investigating a grisly murder that always turns out to have profound consequences for someone in authority. 

Bosch is a classic maverick detective: brash, unconventional and someone who regularly sticks it to his superiors. But boy, is he a compelling watch, just like the members of Line of Duty's AC-12. 

Where can I stream it?

Prime Video (Worldwide)

The Shield

The Shield

(Image credit: 20th Television)

Another long-running drama with seven full seasons to work through, this is the ultimate drama about corrupt police. 

Michael Chiklis stars as Vic Mackey, a brutal detective who is tasked with leading small anti-gang unit, who are supposed to curbing the rampant drug trade in the fictional Farmington district of Los Angeles. 

Mackey, who is in league with a high-profile drug dealer, considers himself above the law and will stop at nothing (including murder) to protect himself and his team. 

The whole show is a high-wire act. You want Mackey to get caught and to see him suffer the consequences, but you'll also want his travails to continue for as long as possible...

Where can I stream it?

Amazon Freevee (UK), Hulu (US), 7+ (Australia)

Slow Horses

Gary Oldman in Slow Horses

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Our final pick is a little different, as we're straying away from police dramas and into the murky world of spies and espionage. But Slow Horses still has a lot in common with Line Of Duty. 

Slow Horses isn’t your typical spy drama, with globe-trotting superagents chasing bad guys across rooftops and desperately trying to prevent catastrophe. Author Mick Herron’s team are the bottom of the barrel, spooks who've drifted there from other departments, much like in Line Of Duty. 

The Slow Horses are all MI5 agents who have ended up making serious mistakes, and, rather than be fired, have been moved to a back office named Slough House. There, they are overseen by a grubby, flatulent and abrasive man named Jackson Lamb, and forced to push paper around until, in theory, they get so demoralized they quit the service. 

At the start of the series, their newest recruit, River Cartwright, has found himself there after bungling a training operation. Cartwright, who is from MI5 royalty, has plans to turn his career around, but that’s not something Lamb is going to encourage…

A brilliant show with as many twists and turns as Line Of Duty, we highly recommend Slow Horses. 

Where can I stream it?

Apple TV Plus (Worldwide)

If you want to catch up on Line Of Duty, you can see it on BBC iPlayer in the UK, and the first five seasons on Hulu in the US. However, if you want to watch the sixth season, you'll need a BritBox subscription. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…