New Tricks series 9 PREVIEW

Dennis Waterman, Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong
Dennis Waterman, James Bolam, Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½ 

BBC1: starts Monday, 27 August, 9pm

Story: Jack Halford’s behaviour – secret calls, personal appointments and an obsession over an outstanding case – is causing the team some concern. But nothing can prepare them for the bombshell he’s about to drop. Halford is quitting UCOS.

In critical terms, New Tricks is bomb-proof. This comfy old cardie of a show is about to begin its ninth series and it doesn’t matter what the critics say about it, viewers like it a lot – the last series hit a new peak averaging nine-million – and a 2013 season has already been commissioned before series nine is even shown.

Having such a distinguished bunch of players is surely the major ingredient in the success of what is a rather low-key drama – the Beeb doesn’t make that much of a fuss about its return these days. Even the cast feel it has become a little bland, with Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman all voicing criticisms in a recent Radio Times.

End of an era on New Tricks

Denis Lawson
Denis Lawson as Steve McAndrew

But for many viewers, fond memories of classic series no doubt return on watching the ensemble of Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney, Minder), James Bolam (Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, The Biederbecke Trilogy), Alun Armstrong (Our Friends in the North and dozens of other films and dramas) and Amanda Redman (At Home with the Braithwaites). That’s a lot of terrific television DNA for one series.

However, all this is about to change. As this opener, A Death in the Family, reveals, Jack Halford (played by 77-year-old James Bolam), is about to retire for good this time. Denis Lawson will be introduced during this series as his replacement. Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong are also leaving after next year’s series.

Tim McInnerny as the sneering secret agent
Why Jack is going is revealed at the end of this opener, which starts disconcertingly with a Victorian murder scene, a young woman being stalked through foggy London. Naturally, the curmudgeonly investigators think that the intelligence officer demanding they reopen the case should instead ‘shove it’, as Jack puts it.

Tim McInnerny
Tim McInnerny as Fisher

Tim McInnerny is the high-handed intelligence man, and he’s great value when butting heads with the team, particularly Sandra.

Double mystery
‘Grumpy lot, aren’t they?’ he says to DAC Strickland, a sentiment probably shared by the scriptwriter Julian Simpson, who has hit back strongly at the cast’s criticisms of the show’s writers.

Anway, the victim Abigail Padua was a maths whiz, a ‘computer’ in Victorian parlance. Her murder was made to look like robbery but it seems there may have been more of a conspiracy around her killing.

James Bolam
James Bolam as Jack

Perhaps the creative tensions between the actors and writer/directors bore fruit, because this is a cracking opening to the series. The two mysteries – Victorian conspiracy and Jack’s departure – are filled with humour, intrigue and regret – and, at least this week, are not remotely bland.

Cast: James Bolam  Jack Halford, Amanda Redman Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, Alun Armstrong Brian Lane, Dennis Waterman Gerry Standing, Anthony Calf DAC Strickland, Tim McInnerny Stephen Fisher 

Upcoming episodes:

  • 3 Sept: Old School Ties – The team re-investigate a teacher’s disappearance. Guest Susannah Harker
  • 10 Sept: Queen & Country – A cover-up and a suspected suicide

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  1. Goody – love this series. It’s fantastic but I just can’t see it being the same without James Bolum. And now you tell me that Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong will be leaving. Despair. What superb actors they all are. I met Amanda Redman and Antony Calf at a Criminology Conference where I was appearing in July. This may be cardi comfy TV but we need that as well as the scary stuff.

  2. I think you’re right, it won’t be the same without the old gang. And I meant no disrespect by calling it an old cardie of a show.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I get the feeling that this end of New Tricks has been brewing for a while. Simmering discontent. BBC PC enterinmg the scripts. Entertaining eccentricity goin out of the window. It is more conformist and less eccentric, less idiosyncratic which is a shame. The actors aren’t getting a chance to be creative any more. And the writers are acting like primadonnas.
    Why does British TV shoot itself in the foot so often? Good series go or are cancelled, rubbish proliferates. I used to locve Rosemary and Thyme. That was cancelled by Simon Schapps, who then got kicked out and replaced. But they never brought R&T back. Same with Stephen Fry in Kingdom.

    I’ll just get the DVDs…

  4. Anonymous says:

    I just don’t believe it. How can they possibly consider the show without the most miserable grumpy old codger of all.Where are you Jack? I’m really saddened that Jack’s gone.

  5. Anonymous says:

    rosemary and thyme was crap and badly written crap at that. can’t compare with new trix.

  6. June Boyer says:

    New tricks is on it’s way out since Jack (James Bowlin) left and without the others. Hope the writers starve to death.

  7. Anyone know who played Abigail Padua?

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve been trying to discover who this actor that played Abigail Padua, as well. Absolutely NONE of those characters in the murder sub-plot has been noted!

  8. I’ll plead guilty to that one. In mitigation, I would say the Beeb is sometimes rubbish at revealing who all the cast are, which is frustrating. On this occasion they kept the identity of the actors a secret, though presumably if you ever catch it on DVD or repeat, her name will appear in the end credits.

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