LINE Of Duty's dedicated fanbase have drawn on James Nesbitt's "pointless" cameo as proof a seventh season is in the making.
Question marks remain over whether Jed Mercurio's hit BBC drama will continue, with many viewers left disappointed over what they believed to be a lacklustre series six finale.
James, 56, joined the Line Of Duty series as dodgy detective Marcus Thurwell, a senior investigating officer who was briefly mentioned in series three.
He was involved in two cases that were being probed by Gail Vella, the TV journalist whose assassination was the mystery at the heart of the sixth series.
In one episode, AC-12 hero DI Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston, 36, was shown discovering Thurwell’s involvement in the case of Lawrence Christopher.
But Thurwell was also the Senior Investigating Officer looking into the killing of Oliver-Stephens Lloyd, who tried to expose a VIP paedophile ring in series three.
With such a long-running history to the role, which saw him appear in a photograph and not utter a line despite being such a high profile TV star, fans are convinced he will make a comeback – even though his character is dead.
The bodies found at a Spanish house were confirmed as those of Thurwell and his wife – but could the authorities in the Med have been passing on false information?
Fans certainly think so, and have taken to Twitter in their droves to speculate on more to come.
One wrote: "I'm still convinced there’s another series, because I refuse to believe James Nesbitt got paid just for being in two photographs and wearing a wig."
Another giggled: "Line Of Duty has to be the easiest acting job James Nesbitt has ever had."
One then mused: "Surely there has to be another series of @Line_of_duty
I still can’t get my head around why Jimmy Nesbitt didn’t really appear!
"I don’t think his character is dead… must be leading to another series! I feel really disappointed with the way this series ended. 🙁 #LineOfDuty."
A BBC One viewer then speculated: "James Nesbitt is too talented an actor to be used for a few still images, and an appearance in the final episode of #lineofduty tonight. That's why I think(and hope) this leads to another series. Fingers crossed!"
A fan followed up with the words: "I thought they were setting up for another series, only this time Ted will only be able to meet in carparks as he's retired. I don't buy Buckles is the Mr Big and James Nesbitt was hired for one computer still! Roll on series 7," before one surmised: "Can’t be the end. What about James Nesbitt? Must be another series. #LineOfDuty."
The Sun exclusively revealed how James' Line Of Duty debut was all the more surprising for fans as the Northern Irish actor had previously lied about his anger at being snubbed for the show.
While promoting another police thriller also shot in Belfast, James told reporters: “Even though Line Of Duty had been shot here for years I was never considered for it, which has always slightly galled me.”
But the misdirection was all a ruse cooked up with Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio to keep his appearance top secret until the big reveal.
But James later revealed the ruse, saying: “I had a lot of fun saying how Jed has snubbed me for Line Of Duty, all the while knowing our little secret.”
Jed added: “It worked brilliantly, because everyone thought he was genuinely annoyed. We laughed lots about all the coverage he got for being ‘snubbed’.
“It was the same when Keeley Hawes came back to shoot series three — she told people she wasn’t in it and, brilliant actress that she is, everyone fell for it.”
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