The missed Line Of Duty clues that exposed The Fourth Man H from the golf clubs to a link to Ryan Pilkington

The missed Line Of Duty clues that exposed The Fourth Man H from the golf clubs to a link to Ryan Pilkington

May 3, 2021

LINE Of Duty fans were already certain they knew who the bent copper was after spotting a series of clues – from the golf clubs to a link to Ryan Pilkington.

BBC One viewers were on the edge of their seats last night as the identity of The Fourth Man was exposed, but several eagle-eyed fans were far from surprised at the plot twist.

Series six of the hit BBC crime drama concluded on Sunday evening with the revelation of the identity of H.

The show created by Jed Mercurio finally revealed the fourth member as bungling bent copper Ian Buckells was H.

However, fans had picked up clues that it was the over-promoted but under-talented cop all along.


The incompetent detective, played by actor Nigel Boyle, had hidden in plain sight since he first appeared in series one in 2012 because no one thought the “blundering fool” capable of being a crook.

Buckells was one of the only surviving senior officers who had been in the show from the very beginning and was considered the obvious suspect.


Several fans had also clocked onto his unusual behaviour hinting that he was corrupt from the start.

Viewers suggested that his interaction way back in series one with a young Ryan Piklington immediately raised red flags, when he treated the tearaway to a Big Mac while interviewing him.

Viewers had seen Pilkington make drug deliveries on his bike, deliver burner phones and in one grisly scene attempt to cut Steve Arnott's fingers off.

Ryan went on to achieve notoriety in series five when he slit the throat of undercover officer John Corbett, played by Stephen Graham.

One fan wrote: ”Kate interviewed Ryan about Steve’s torture. Straight after that Buckles Comes in he seems worried.

“After Buckles sits down with Ryan, Ryan says 'Can I have my Big Mac now?' I think Buckles may have bribed him with it.

“I know it sounds stupid but if Ryan was poor and living in a rough area, then a Big Mac would be a massive deal for the kid.”


Pilkington met his end after confessing to multiple murders on the show and was gunned down by Kate Fleming in a tense stand-off.

However fans were convinced that Buckells was aware that Pilkington was corrupt from the start.

Jo Davidson claimed that the young lad had been transferred to Hillside Lane at the express request of Buckells.

Viewers suggested that Buckells must have been aware of the copper's real identity hinting his involvement in the conspiracy.

One fan wrote: "Kate can’t place Ryan’s face, but Buckles also interviewed him in Series 1.

"If he’s in his squad now, Buckles for sure knows who Ryan is. Buckles is 100% bent #LineOfDuty."

Another viewer added: "I am 90% certain Ryan said in his interview that he had been in trouble as a kid and it was a police officer that helped him turn his life around and inspired him to apply for the police force so it's not like he has hidden his past ever if Buckells knows."


BBC One fans also spotted that that Buckells was appointed to the Laverty case by the bent Superintendent Derek Hilton.

Buckells was responsible for the paperwork mix-up which allowed the OCGto swap Terry Boyle into Carl Banks’s flat at the start of the season.

Viewers learnt that Buckells had coaxed false testimony out of his lover Deborah Devereux to tie Terry Boyle into Gayle Vella’s killing.

We then saw AC-12 interview Buckells, after finding a key piece of evidence stashed in his car.


Armchair sleuths were convinced they had identified the final member of H thanks to an easy-to-miss golf club clue. 

They pointed the finger at Buckells after spotting golf clubs in the corner of his office, and they immediately linked that to what they already know about 'H'.

Taking to Twitter, one wrote: "Didn’t know Buckles plays golf? H Caddy."

Another added: "Buckles is H. We already know him. He gets promoted faster than anyone else. He’s not really competent yet flies up the ladder.

"Always called in on ops involving bent coppers. HAS GOLF CLUBS IN HIS OFFICE."

A third tweeted: "golf clubs in buckles' office? golf = caddy #LineOfDuty."

The BBC has refused to confirm or deny whether any future series have been formally commissioned, leaving dedicated fans worried they may have watched their last ever episode of the cop drama.

Meanwhile, others are furious that the series six finale could be how the show ends, and have demanded another one to make up for what they consider an "underwhelming" conclusion.

One irate viewer wrote on Twitter: "Well how underwhelming was that??!!! #LineofDutyFinale #LineOfDuty still left open for another series as there must be people higher up? But that episode just never got going."

Another tweeted: "The only way that was a good ending is if there’s another series. If there isn’t, well #LineOfDuty."

A third wrote to creator Jed Mercurio: "I have watched the show since the first episode. I think you are a creative genius but please please please do another season…can't be ending it like that."

Far from being a criminal mastermind, Buckells himself said he hadn’t conceived of any crimes, just helped to organise them. He said: “That’s their doing – I just pass things on.”

Instead he claimed that most of the shots were called by criminal kingpin Tommy Hunter, who is revealed in this series as being the father AND uncle of Acting Chief Supt Jo Davidson, played by Scot actress Kelly Macdonald.

He was killed in series two with help from DI Lindsay Denton, played by Keeley Hawes, but not before he’d groomed his niece and daughter to be a mole inside the police.

Buckells said: “Tommy Hunter was the top man. After he went they all split into their own OCGs. I just pass on the orders.”

Line of Duty is available on BBC iPlayer.

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