Apparently everybody is watching Line of Duty, so in an effort to keep up I just watched season one. It was first broadcast in 2012 so this review is a bit behind the times. I’m going with it as I have an empty blog that needs content.

The writing feels brutally minimal, the dialogue is no more ornate than it needs to be to serve the preposterous but undeniably engaging plot. I am hooked, which means the series has done exactly what it was supposed to. Full marks for that.

My reservation is that a programme about police corruption could maybe take itself a bit more seriously. The people don’t talk or behave like people, and the plots only make sense if you make a special effort to not think too hard. It’s funny that the first episode debuted a couple of months before Charlie Brooker’s brilliant police procedural parody A Touch of Cloth. It reminded me of it a lot.

For a more grounded experience you could try following the ongoing Undercover Policing Inquiry, which is livestreaming some of its evidence hearings.

You’ll hear about an ever increasing number undercover officers using their cover identities to have sexual relationships, often with people completely unconnected with the political movements they were infiltrating. They were given large budgets to maintain these covers.

You’ll hear that at least four undercover police officers fathered children with unsuspecting women. These men feined commitment, then later engineered disappearances with the police force’s assistance and resources, leaving their supposed partners to pick up the pieces.

This morning you would have heard about a woman being contacted only six years into the inquiry, as the officer involved had forgotten her name.

After Mark Kennedy was outed as a cop in 2010 there was a flurry of media excitement, with at least one movie and one TV series announced based on his story. Neither of them has materialized, which I suspect is because the realities are sordid and uncinematic.