Postscript: Jed Mercurio thrillers, pandemic policing, and populism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Since 2020, Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty (BBC, 2012–) has had an unprecedented impact on British television police series. Employing the principal conventions of the thriller genre, Mercurio has his detectives navigate an ever-growing complex external threat whilst the limits of their physical and mental endurance are tested (Glover 2003: 135–154). This postscript considers how Line of Duty, Vigil (BBC, 2021–), Trigger Point (ITV, 2022–), and The Responder (BBC, 2022–) utilise the thriller genre to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed policing. I determine how each series adheres to a model of normative compliance, whereby compliance with the law emerges because people deem the ‘directions of authority to be morally appropriate’ and fairly enforced (Stott et al. 2020: 575). Then I consider to what extent each series adopts a model of instrumental compliance, where adherence revolves around ‘fear of authority’s capacity to impose punishment’ (Stott et al. 2020: 575). I discover which model of policing is preferred in a manner akin to enquiries that criminologists are conducting into police forces worldwide, by assessing how the fictional police operate across stations, civilian settings, and in private. Employing this spatial model of textual analysis helps us better understand the political cut-through that Mercurio’s series have experienced in an era of populism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYou're Nicked
Subtitle of host publicationInvestigating British Television Police Series
EditorsBen Lamb
PublisherManchester University Press
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameThe Television Series


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