Who is Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty? Everything you need to know about the returning character

Ryan Pilkington Line of Duty
Ryan Pilkington Line of Duty

Ryan Pilkington has returned to Line of Duty for the third time...

Ryan Pilkington has returned to Line of Duty for season 6, leaving many fans wondering where they have seen him before.

Eagle-eyed fans will know that Ryan appeared in season 5, but that wasn't the first time we had seen the character.

As Line of Duty fans know, show creator Jed Mercurio's insanely clever plotting means every character we see has a good reason for being there, and Ryan is definitely no exception.

**Warning - spoilers for all Line of Duty series below**

Here is everything you need to know about Line of Duty character Ryan Pilkington... 

Who plays Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty?

Ryan is played by Gregory Piper, the same actor who has played the role since Ryan was a child.

Gregory was barely a teenager when he landed the role of Ryan and he has now been brought back numerous times by Jed Mercurio over the years.

More: How to watch Line of Duty season 6 online anywhere in the world 

Where did we first see Ryan Pilkington?

Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty

Fresh-faced Ryan was first seen in Line of Duty in season 1 (Picture: BBC)

Ryan first appeared on our screens as a tearaway kid in season 1 who was already doing dodgy jobs for the 'balaclava gang' despite being so young.

He came from the Borogrove Estate - a crime-ridden council estate in Moss Heath -  and quickly became known to the police for his role in drug dealing and delivering untraceable burner phones while riding his BMX bike at breakneck speed.

Ryan was also part of the group that kidnapped Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) back in season 1.

When gang leader Tommy Hunter kidnapped Steve, Ryan soon got involved in the drama and even tried to cut Steve's fingers off with some bolt cutters. Luckily for Steve, Ryan didn't have the strength  to do it, due to him being so young.

But Steve isn't the only one to have crossed paths with Ryan.

Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) interviewed Ryan in connection to Steve's kidnapping all those years ago, and now she is working with him.

More: Line of Duty character Gail Vella - who is the season 6 murder victim?

Is Ryan Pilkington part of the OCG?

Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty

Ryan has been part of the OCG for years (Picture: BBC)

Yes, Ryan returned to our screens for Series 5, this time all grown up and a fully-fledged member of the Organised Crime Group.

By this point Ryan was teamed up with the likes of undercover-copper-gone-rogue John Corbett and the rest of his balaclava gang, including Lisa McQueen and a thug called Miroslav.

Fans of the show will remember that it was actually Ryan who killed John when they realised he was was a mole.

When did Ryan Pilkington join the police?

Ryan Pilkington in Line of Duty

It was revealed in series 5 that Ryan had gone undercover and joined the police (Picture: BBC)

It was revealed to viewers at the end of season 5 that Ryan was training to become a police officer, leaving fans desperate to find out more.

The very last moments of the series revealed he was sitting exams and working towards a 'regular' job - which later turned out to be the police!

Ryan was shown with his police uniform on and the words 'Ryan Pilkington has been accepted for training as a Student Police Officer' appeared on screen.

Has Kate Fleming clocked who Ryan really is? 

In episode two of season 6, Kate came face to face with Ryan at the murder scene of Carl Banks... and it was clear that there was a moment of recognition between the pair. Kate was left pondering where she had seen Ryan before, while the look on Ryan's face was nothing but distaste.

Kate later confronted Ryan asking if they had worked together before, but he was evasive and fobbed her off by asking if she'd done a talk at his training college. However, eagle-eyed fans noticed that Kate was later seen researching Ryan on her computer. Was this a routine check? Or has she worked out that he is an undercover member of the OCG?

As AC-12 raided Hillside Lane Station, Ryan also made sure he kept his face hidden by keeping his back to DI Arnott as he went about his business. Even after all these years, Ryan knows that Steve would never forget the face of a teenager who tried to cut off his fingers!

Line of Duty season 6 continues on BBC One on Sundays at 9pm. You can catch up on season 1-5 and missed season 6 episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.