I Ranked The Men of Line of Duty from Hot to Not

With myself and my partner unable to see each other due to the oncoming third wave of the pandemic, we did what any self respecting individual would do and decided to co-watch Line of Duty. Burning through the series in reckless, stress-induced abandon, cold nights locked in our homes became an excuse to enter the world of AC-12.

After nine years, six series, a third lockdown and a rotating cast of waistcoats, our collective thirst has translated into record viewing figures for the BBC just as the series reaches its close. Though we all want to know who the fuck H is (my money is on James Nesbitt’s fly infested fake corpse), a year of trauma has also resulted in a singleminded quest to uncover which of the Men of LoD are the most fuckable. A Hot or Not of bentness, if you will.

So sit back, relax, and let’s start sucking on diesel.

24: Chief Superintendent Patrick Fairbanks

The most rotten apple in a barrel full of rotten apples, Patrick Fairbanks was the closest the series got to touching operation Yew Tree, with the former chief superintendent discovered to be in league with paedophiles and high ranking OCG. A double whammy of bentness.

Whilst this would guarantee anyone a bottom spot on the ‘hot or not’ list, it doesn’t help that Fairbanks’ sideburns-cum-beard gave him the aura of a Dickensian pervert, plus the countryside manor he resided in emitted big Bond villain vibes. Though he now lives in a high-security facility, the fact that his redundant memory gives him a fee-waiver to his crimes is an act of contempt to us, the audience and — most devastatingly of all — Steve Arnott. We can’t help but feel sad he didn’t meet his match on the dock of doom.

23: Tommy Hunter

Kingpin Tommy Hunter’s single redeeming feature is that he is now dead. The mob boss has been linked to the very origins of the OCG, reigning supreme over Moss Heath like a malevolent Mufasa.

Though he was nicked by AC-12 and subsequently killed off by his own gang, the revelation of his incestous past (red flag) puts him at rock bottom of this list where he belongs. If only he wasn’t the epitome of Absolute Evil, we might have found his curly hair and burly figure appealing. But even that’s a stretch.

22. DCI Lester Hargreaves

There are two types of men in the world: those who don’t look like pitbulls and those that do. Hargreaves falls into the latter half of this category.

This bent copper was a nasty bastard from the get go, marking out his territory by relentlessly merking Steve Arnott in front of his ex at every given opportunity. Though initially we may have suspected he was more bully than bent, season 5 revealed that Lester Hargreaves was in the grip of the OCG who had used his liking for underage girls as a means to force him into their bidding. A miserable git as well as a bad egg, Hargreaves will not be missed.

21: DCC Mike Dryden

Lindsay, Lindsay. What the fuck were you doing? Whatever you think about Lindsay Denton, the fact that she threw it all away for this low life is the cherry atop a many-layered cake of poor life choices.

Smarm made physical, Mike Dryden was not only bent, but also had a penchant for underage waitresses, a bad look that puts him amongst the lowest of the low. Whilst to be fair to him, he’s not physically unappealing (I’ve heard that there are some mums out there who fancy him), Dryden gave off a sweaty, nervous energy that is palpably Not Hot.

20: Timothy Ifield

With no offence to the fantastic Jason Watkins, Tim Ifield had the aura of a weird secondary school IT technician that would leave his job under a cloud of “suspicion”. Basically, a massive creep.

These suspicions were well and truly founded when Ifield went full Patrick Bateman on his boss, Ros Huntley. Complete with power tools and a murder onesie, that he was quickly dispatched by an unconscious Ros only makes him less hot in our eyes. Like, you had one job???

19: Ryan Pilkington

When seeking consultation re “The List” I was duly horrified when someone who shall not be named referred to Ryan as PC Twinkington. After a long discussion with said individual, I would argue that Ryan’s deceptively unthreatening (cute even) outside appearance is not enough to counter the bastard bentness of this young crim.

Even as a kid, PC Pilkington was nothing short of an absolute shit. Yes, he was groomed and coerced into a life of crime. Yes, it is not his fault that as a vulnerable child he was taken advantage of by a hostile OCG, but I’m a firm believer in the potential of redemption and for Ryan, there was none. Make no mistake, this is a cold blooded killer in the guise of your first sixth form boyfriend. From slicing open John Corbett (RIP sweet prince), dumping the murdered body of PC Maneet Bindra on the Dock of Doom, turning a blind eye to human trafficking and threatening to cut off Steve’s fingers, Ryan Pilkington is simply not capable of sweet, passionate loving. Bye bitch!

18: DS Ian Buckells

On the basis of pure incompetence, DS Buckells wins the award for worst bent copper. In an alternate universe, Buckells could have been your harmless, bumbling colleague. The kind that makes slightly offensive jokes that no one laughs at, the one that’s always accidentally left out of the pub round, that no one wants to get for Secret Santa. Yet along with failing at basic aspects of his job, Buckells is also terrible at being bent.

You would think that a little sprinkle of corruption could spice things up a bit, but his sexting was unforgiveable. I’ll show you my helmet? No thanks.

17: Miroslav Minkowicz

In Miroslav’s defence, this eastern European hunk could have been Line of Duty’s resident Himbo. There is something, at a base level, quite hot about the fact that Miroslav is definitely strong enough to hoist your body above his head. But even the fantasy of a backstreet Dirty Dancing moment is not enough to make up for Miroslav’s big headed thuggish-ness.

Maybe prison reform would be good for him, and the image of Miroslav as a gentle, repentant giant is not totally unsexy, but for now it looks like this bad boy is simply too bad to get a higher ranking.

16: Nick Huntley

Everyday I wake up grateful that I am not married to this man.

Ros Huntley’s husband was no match for her chaotic magnetism and can be encapsulated by the phrase: “human weasel in a suit.” The reason why he is so low down on this list, is that I can’t help but hate a man who sniffs his wife’s secretly gangrenous arm and tells her she stinks.

15: DCI Hilton

And so we reach the tricky middle. How do we describe DCI Hilton, one of the most senior corrupt police officials uncovered by AC-12? Just like his hotel-chain namesake, Hilton brings a touch of class, but precious little character. This pusillanimous pen-pusher is just the type to organize date night on a spreadsheet.

Despite being a pivotal part of season 4, what with his pathetic attempt at seduction (a hand on a leg in a sleazy hotel bar- original) and his appearance on the Dock of Doom; what makes DCI Hilton Number 15 is that he was so unspeakably boring. The Playmobil figure of police corruption, DCI Hilton died as he lived: unsexily.

14: DCI Osbourne

I will admit, there is something quietly hot about Osbourne. Despite being a massive, probably bent bastard, this is a man who bows to no one. He radiates a masculinity so strong that being near him would set my feminism back at least four decades.

Even if Osborne isn’t bent, his staunch, unwavering defence of the police leaves a sour taste in my mouth. If there’s one thing that’s worse than being bent, it’s licking boot.

13. Danny Waldron

Poor Danny Waldron. Life dealt this man a bad hand in the form of a troubled family life, abusive foster home and subsequent emotional breakdown.

In many ways, Waldron is one of the saddest souls of the series, the wheels of his demise put in motion from the very get go. That being said, he does have guts, and killing off a criminal nonce when he was given the chance has to warrant some praise. I like to think that Danny could have been good boyfriend material if he’d had more access to a decent therapist, less access to hair gel, and taken some time away from the police to work on himself. Alas, what could have been!

12. Jimmy Lakewell

There is something so very Warwick University about Jimmy Lakewell. The fact he is a lawyer, the fact he wears brown trousers, the fact that he is both posh and also not quite posh enough. But being a down ’n’ out incarcerated crim does look good on him, and I would recommend he swaps the suits and keeps the grey trackies we’ve become so fond of.

11. DC Nigel Morton

Now, you might be wondering why Nigel Morton ranks so highly on this list given the fact you can trust him about as far as you can throw him. But in a strange way, his sleazy appeal is what makes Morton ever so slightly….hot.

This is old-school bentness with a lower-case b, and the cane adds a dignified ‘je ne sais quoi’ which after a few sambucas at work drinks could be the thing that tips you over the edge. He also managed to out-maneuver (and out-run) Dot Cottan, which speaks to a hidden athleticism that might prove useful after hours.

10. Lee Banks

As upsetting as it is to admit this, though Extremely Depraved, Lee Banks is also Very Hot in a way that tall dark haired men often are. He’s also “not a rat”, and we have to respect a man that can commit.

9. Terry Boyle

I will fight anyone that has a bad word to say about our angel Terry Boyle. Unlike frenemy and psychopath Ryan Pilkington, this cutie remained good in soul despite having been groomed into helping the OCG from a young age.

The victim of callous cuckoo-ing, Terry was framed for Gail Vella’s murder and had to live in a flat where unbeknowst to him, the freezer-packed body of Jackie Laverty was stored. This hero may have had a hard time of late, but his resilience in the face of near-drowning and body-horror kitchen nightmares gives him a place within the upper echelons of the hot list.

8: Commissioner Rohan Sindwahni

He’s tall, he’s dishy, he is stern but in a hot, headteacher-y way. Yes, the now resigned Chief Inspector Sindwahni might have given Hastings a hard time, but after revealing he had been fighting to save AC-12 from the inside we found ourselves swooning for this subtly sexy bureaucrat. Literally the only Chief Inspector we’ve had who hasn’t either been A) Bent or B) Bent and Sexually Deviant, Sindwahni glides into our top ten of Mercurio fitties.

7. Jamie Desford

Jamie Desford is certifiably hot. Though he may have the personality of an overly eager labrador, Desford has the confident swagger of a man who knows he looks like a Hollyoaks heart throb. Indeed, for Line of Duty, a show that is so unsexy even the sex scenes feel like an admin task, Jamie Desford is almost….too hot.

Under the glaring fluorescent bulbs of a normal working office, we can’t help but feel that something is amiss. Where is the rugged charm? The crooked teeth? The ill fitting suits or sexual incontinence? That Jamie Desford looks more like a Love Island castmember than a traumatised, substance abusing Anti-Corruption officer is precisely why he is not top of the list. Still, credit where credit’s due. Jamie, if you’re reading this: call me.

6. DI Matthew “Dot” Cottan

This list wouldn’t be as comprehensive as it is unless some serious research had been undertaken. What this research revealed is that attractive, intelligent, emotionally secure women are ready to throw it all away for this man. The words: “But I think I could change him” may have been uttered.

What do we know about Dot Cottan? Well we know that he’s about as bent as it gets. We’re talking years of undercover police corruption, not to mention the murders of SEVERAL women police officers (RIP Lindsay) which doesn’t feel very woke if you ask me. Yet despite being revealed to be the caddy, this scheming, manipulative, lying bastard might also be a bit of a catch. Because the truth is, Cottan had charm! He knew how to work a room and was something of a flirt. Perhaps Ted Hastings wasn’t the only man of AC-12 that Gill Biggeloe (aka Queen) had eyes for, and to be honest, I don’t blame her.

Maybe this tall, skinny, bent man really could have been changed if he had just met the right person? I like to think so, but until then I would ask those on Team Cottan to look within themselves and seek help.

5. DI Steve Arnott

Steve Arnott. What a rollercoaster it has been. Over a period of six series it has been a swift fall from grace for Steve, previously AC-12s top shagger and now a very sad man who should probably be getting professional help. Yet for all the reasons Steve isn’t sexy (waistcoats, brown shoes, subscription painkiller addiction, tendency to sleep with women who have been witness to grave criminal activity) it also paradoxically, makes him sexy.

The Chosen One of AC12 is not sexy in a conventional sense. He looks more at home in an All Bar One than an OCG shoot out. But for all his mistakes, Steve’s sheer commitment to catching bent coppers (ACAB) is what puts Arnott in our top five.

Yes, Steve’s back injury means that he is unable to have sex. Yes, the audio recording of Steve’s dalliance with Lindsay Denton was so unhot that my hymen grew back, but you can’t take away the fact that Steve knows how to rock a beard and bullet-proof vest combo.

4. Superintendent Ted Hastings

It has been quite the year. A global pandemic, the imminent threat of climate collapse, job losses, widening divides, mass protests, did I mention the virus? I will say it again: the virus. Through it all, nothing has provided more reassurance or pleasure than the abstract idea of stability, and if you’re looking for stability, Ted is your man.

Ted Hastings is stability personified. Even his “Ted-isms” are so well rehearsed he is the closest AC-12 has to a panto dame. Yes, there are times when Hastings has rocked the boat. His failed marriage, the porno computer, the dodgy investments and his dark past as a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary don’t exactly scream strong and stable, but who doesn’t like a spoonful of bad?

Instead, I like to think of Ted as the ultimate reformed bad boy. He’s older, wiser and more in touch with his emotional side than ever before. Out of all them, Hastings is the one who I most want to tenderly hold at night, the one who I would trust to throw his body infront of mine should I ever be in the line of fire. Also I can’t help but caveat this by saying that I have seen photos of young Adrian Dunbar and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.

3: DC Lomax

DC Lomax is an enigma. We know nothing about him really other than that he is tall, handsome, and gets very annoyed when you take away his phone.

In the world of Line of Duty, this constitutes something of a miracle. With only one episode left of the series to go, Lomax might be one of the few series hotties who isn’t either bent or low-key traumatised. He is literally, ordinarily hot. It might be that Mr Mercurio decides to ruin this for all of us, revealing Lomax to nasty (albeit dashing) piece of work, but we have to hold on to what we have and so we say: Jed, do not take Lomax away from us!

2: DCI Tony Gates

When it comes to the Line of Duty top two, we are faced with two halves of the same bent coin. One of these halves is Tony Gates.

The anti-hero of season one, Tony Gates burned into our collective consciousness and helped pave the way for the iconic series it is today. How did he do this? Simply by emitting a shagging energy so powerful that you can’t help but excuse every bad thing he has ever done. Being bent? Allowed. Cheating on his wife with Jackie Laverty? Allowed. Hiding her subsequent muder by the OCG? Allowed. Abetting police corruption so he can put his very adorable children through private school? Allowed.

Even in scenes where we’re definitely not supposed to find sexy, in a show as sex-less as this, its hard not to be distracted by the soft, tender kisses he showers upon Ms Laverty, or (and this is important) the Marlon Brando machsimo of Tony Gates straddling a chair whilst briefing the office. Whilst Tony Gates on a chair is not pivotal to the plot, I am nonetheless extremely thankful that Jed sought to arrange this for us as many times as possible.

The only thing I can fault Tony Gates for other than his crimes is that his glasses are too 2012 even for 2012. But when I’m in a dark place I like to imagine Tony Gates in a pair of horn rimmed spectacles, ready to carry me over his shoulder and off into the sunset.

  1. John Corbett

I am assuming that anyone reading this is as chaotically emotionally involved in this series as I am. Therefore I can say that John Corbett’s death has emotionally set me back at least two years.

There are so many aspects of John Corbett that make him number one in our eyes. There’s his physical demeanor which is characterised by a confidence that some men are simply born into. There’s also his thick almost indecipherable Liverpudlian accent, which I want to listen to with my head cocked adoringly as we drink two for one cocktails together at an inner-city bar. But really, what makes John Corbett the most fuckable man on this list, is that he is good and bad at the same time.

A brief dive into his biography only serves to make him hotter. Firstly, he’s an orphan, and if there’s anything we have learnt from literature, it’s that orphans are more special and more hot than their parented counterparts. Secondly, even in death Corbett was a sexy hero, blowing his cover and dying in the line of duty so he could save the lives of countless abducted women and stop a human trafficking operation. Finally, through it all — the going undercover, the leading an OCG, the emotional breakdowns and the relationship conducted over a burner phone — John Corbett passionately loved his wife.

I hope that everyone at some point in their lives is able to get dicked down as passionately as John and Steph Corbett, truly a couple for the ages. This is a man so hot that even in death Steve is cucked by the ominipotent spirit of John Corbett, with Steph so in love with her deceased husband she can only hold a man in bed platonically.

That’s his legacy and that’s what makes John Corbett our number one.

Art and Culture Writer. Words: Dazed/ Elephant/ Guardian/ Prospect.