Line Of Duty creator Jed Mercurio snapped at a reporter for “generating clickbait” after she asked about the future of the much-loved BBC police procedural.
The 55-year-old has a string of hit shows to his name including Bodyguard and Bodies, but Line Of Duty remains his biggest hit to date.
A staggering 12.8 million people tuned in as the ending of its sixth series aired back in May, and many are curious as whether the show will return.
But Mercurio was reportedly "suddenly furious" when the topic was brought up in an interview to promote his new graphic novel Sleeper, which follows a decommissioned space law marshall in the 24th century.
“It just feels like this is clickbait now,” he said when iNews arts editor Alice Jones asked him if there would be another series. “Feel free to generate some clickbait!”
Jones argued it had been a fair question given the show's success, but wrote: “Our time [had] run out and so [had] Mercurio’s patience.”
She then branded him “the unhappiest man to have written the most-watched drama of the 21st century (so far)”.
Jones had earlier asked him about his fierce defence of series six's much-criticised ending, which saw the unmasking of long-mysterious corrupt cop "H".
After the show aired, he shared internal BBC data on Twitter that he said proved it was much less divisive among viewers than had been suggested.
“It felt like a certain assumption was becoming factual, when the data was showing, that, actually, it wasn’t," he said.
"It was something that was developing into quite profound disinformation.”
In the Twitter fallout that followed the series, he also came under fire for labelling one journalist who questioned his data a "f***ing prick" – with similar comments aimed at viewers.
The record-breaking show follows an anti-corruption team as they dig out "bent coppers" within the police force.
Neither Mercurio nor the cast – led by Vicky McClure, Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar – have said whether it will return for a seventh series.
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