The crime drama’s creator and writer shared research that suggests a large share of the 12.8 million audience that watched the episode enjoyed how the long-running “H” storyline concluded.
“No one disputes the Line of Duty finale divided social media opinion but the audience research so far shows a far less extreme picture,” he wrote on Twitter.
“We knew a ‘down’ ending would rate less favourably with some viewers, however all seven episodes varied by under 10 per cent on average viewer score.”
He continued: “The research determines the episode ratings based on randomly polling viewers, rather than sites like IMDb where scores can be skewed by users strongly motivated to register their immediate anger/adulation.”
Elaborating on this point, Mercurio said: “1,000 random viewers submitted scores from 1-10 which have been used to calculate the Appreciation Index (AI) as a score out of 100. The AI for the “down” finale was only 7 points below the next lowest in Season 6 (Ep 1)...
“These figures won’t stop the debate, of course, nor should they – that’s still all part of the experience of shared TV viewing. Thanks again for watching.”
Following the broadcast of the episode on Sunday (2 May), many viewers with Twitter accounts expressed their disdain for how the show ended.
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Many believed they had been watching the final ever episode of the series, which began in 2012. Addressing the social media backlash, Mercurio said he “knew [the finale] wouldn’t appeal to everyone”.
Martin Compston, who plays DI Steve Arnott, said he “understands” why some fans were left disappointed with the ending.
There is no official word on whether the show will return for a seventh series, but while announcing the figures, the BBC hinted it was happy to continue broadcasting the series should Mercurio wish to write more.
Meanwhile, Nigel Boyle – who played former detective superintendent Ian Buckells – defended the drama on BBC Breakfast, stating: “You can’t have every series end with a big shoot-out.”
All six series of Line of Duty are available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
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