Where Line of Duty fans have seen Ryan Pilkington before as he returns to show

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Line of Duty season 6 is underway on BBC One, and in episode two fans were shocked to see the return of an old character.

One surprised fan on Twitter said: “Oooh Ryan Pilkington is back,” with a shocked emoji.

Another said: “What an episode tonight. So many plates spinning and then they bring in Ryan bl***y Pilkington.”

Ryan Pilkington (played by Gregory Piper) returned, leaving many fans wondering where they have seen him before.

Eagle-eyed fans may remember Ryan from season five – but that wasn’t the first time he appeared on Line of Duty. Here is everything you need to know.

Who is Ryan Pilkington?

Ryan first appeared on our screens as a child in Line of Duty season 1.

The tearaway kid, whose mother and father were absent, was recruited by Organised Crime Group (OCG) leader Tommy Hunter.

He came from the Borogove Estate, which was a crime-ridden council estate in Moss Heath.

His job was to steal mobile phones and act as a courier on his BMX bike.

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These were used as burner phones so Hunter could give them to those he was blackmailing and issue demands.

One of these individuals was DCI Tony Gates (Lennie James), who was frequently called “bent” by Ryan who rode off on his bike.

Line of Duty fans might recall that Ryan was there when DI Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) was kidnapped.

The teenager held the phone to Steve’s head so he could speak to Tommy, but was headbutted by the officer when he got too close.

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Ryan furiously tried to remove Steve’s fingers with a pair of bolt cutters, but thankfully he was too weak to do this.

He admitted he stole phones for Hunter, but denied involvement in the kidnapping, and was returned to the estate without charge.

The character returned in series 5 when he was in his 20s, when he had a bigger role in the OCG.

By this point Ryan teamed up with undercover copper John Corbett (Stephen Graham) who was trying to find the bent officers working in the group.

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But the criminals realised Corbett could be a rat, and Ryan slit his throat from behind.

Despite having a strong connection with the OCG, Ryan was able to get into the force easily, because he didn’t have a criminal record.

In season 6 he is now a police officer who works alongside DI Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure), who is part of the Murder Investigation Team (MIT), after requesting to be transferred from AC-12.

Kate was sure she recognised his face, and one fan reckons she is already onto him after spotting his picture and profile on her computer screen.

Sharing a screen grab from the episode, they tweeted: “Kate knows!! #LineOfDuty did anyone else clock this??”

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Show writer Jed Mercurio, who hired the then teenage actor for series 1, said: “It’s great to be working once again with ­Gregory Piper in the role of Ryan Pilkington.

“Now that Ryan’s a police officer, viewers will have to wait and see if he has turned over a new leaf or if he remains a dangerous inside man for organised crime."

Line of Duty continues on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One.

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