Published On: Mon, May 3rd, 2021

Line Of Duty: The clues that led us to The Fourth Man

As H was finally revealed on Sunday night’s long-awaited Line Of Duty finale, many fans realised we had been looking at the enigmatic mastermind the entire time. 

As eagle-eyed fans learned that Superintendent Buckells was the famous fourth man, having liased with OCG’s to bring down officers who failed to do their bidding, clues from past seasons of the show came to light. 

After portraying himself as a hapless fool, it transpired he actually formed a secret operation with ‘bent coppers’ and even blackmailed Acting Superintendent Davidson thanks to her history with the group as Tommy Hunter’s daughter. 

As H was finally revealed on Sunday night’s long-awaited Line Of Duty finale, many fans realised we had been looking at the enigmatic mastermind the entire time.

The mistake that DEFINATELY gave him away 

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word ‘definately’, with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way. 

When Ted and his team saw exchanges between the OCG and Jo Davidson featuring the word misspelt on a number of occasions, he demanded the archives were sifted through in the hunt of the mistake again.

The trawl then revealed the same error in 2019, in communications between the OCG and Lisa McQueen, in the same year in Operation Lighthouse and again in the Lawerence Christopher inquiry in 2003.

This quickly left fingers firmly pointed towards Buckells.

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word 'definately', with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way.

The biggest giveaway for Buckells turned out to be the word ‘definately’, with his repeated spelling gaffe turning fingers his way.

Mugging them off

In typical Hastings style, Ted dropped a clanger that resounded in fans’ ears when he rounded out his 12 minute interrogation of Buckells. He simply stated: ‘No-one makes mugs of AC-12’. 

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past. 

In Series Four, Buckells appeared as a replacement for Thandiwe Newton’s character DCI Roz Huntley when she was removed as Operation Trapdoor head.

The Fourth Man-to-be saw Vicky McClure’s DS Kate Fleming on the squad, having encountered her in his first in the furst season, where he worked out that she was working undercover for the anti-corruption squad.  

When Ted learned he had clocked Kate, he covertly met with the villain to instruct him not to blow her cover – something her agreed to with clear chagrin and even refused to help further their investigation as he was ‘no grass’.   

When Kate was uncovered, he remained insistent that he did not blow her cover but also made it very clear he had nothing but dislike for AC-12. 

Ted then had a heated exchange with Buckells, who was dismissed – not before sneering: ‘You lot treat everyone like mugs. Who’s the mug now?’

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

A hole in one

Earlier in the series, viewers saw a set of golf clubs in Hillsgate police station and noted that the clubs have strong significance.

Harking back to villain Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan and his nickname ‘The Caddy’, fans then recalled his death in series three and once Buckells’ clubs were spotted, began to close in on the villain. 

A slip of the tongue 

Back in 2017, while promoting Series Four of the show, Nigel Boyle – the man behind Buckells – appeared to be throwing crumbs to fans in a big way. 

In an interview with Digital Spy, he seemed to allude to what fans had to wait four more years for as he said: ‘There’s definitely more to Buckells than meets the eye!’ 

Continuing his description of the ultimate villain, he went on: ‘He’s very competent, very good at what he does, he’s the go-to guy, but he’s certainly not a popular guy – he’s petulant, and a bit of a jobsworth I think… 

‘I don’t think people give him enough credit, just because of his personality!’  

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past.

This however was much more than just another bold statement from the anti-corruption chief and was in fact a nod to many clues from the past.

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