|Rock solid crew – Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong Amanda Redman and Denis Lawson. Pics: BBC|
BBC1: starts Tuesday, 30 July, 9pm
Story: Brian is suspended after assaulting an officer he suspects of covering up a death in custody which lead to his early retirement.
THE OLD DOGS are going to have to learn new tricks because there are a lot of changes coming to BBC1’s long-running hit drama.
Having lost James Bolam last time round, his replacement Denis Lawson is settling in nicely, but stalwarts Alun Armstrong and Amanda Redman are leaving during this new series. Armstrong leaves during episode four and Redman during episode eight.
Only Fools‘ Nicholas Lyndhurst along with Tamzin Outhwaite will be the replacements, with only Dennis Waterman remaining from the original quartet.
New faces could give New Tricks a boost
This all follows the hoo-haa last year with the departing stars making noises about the characters/stories New Tricks, in which two-dimensional characters don’t grow or develop, is that it can end up going round in circles.
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becoming ‘stale’ and ‘bland’. The trouble with a series such as
So, perhaps the trio of actors are rightly bored with what must have become a repetitive format for them (and us), and the drama will benefit from new faces. The danger is that Bolam and Armstrong and to a lesser extent Redman have such a pedigree of fine series behind them that their replacements won’t generate that same warmth of recognition from the show’s mature generation of fans (with the exception of Lyndhurst).
One thing’s for sure, the Beeb certainly hasn’t given up on the show, and a two-part special set in Gibraltar gets the latest outing under way in style. Called The Rock, it starts with a bang as Brian Lane, for my money the most compelling character on the show, gets up at a retirement do for one of the Met’s most successful Commanders, Bill Embleton, and promptly punches the retiree’s lights out.
Brian’s going off on one again
As usual with Brian, everyone, including his long-suffering wife Esther, thinks he’s lost his mind, but the recovering alcoholic with OCD traits has his reasons. He believes Embleton covered up a death in custody that led to Brian’s early retirement.
His assault is a do-or-die attempt to flush out the truth. Brian now faces a disciplinary hearing and could be kicked out of the force.
The other storyline concerns a convoluted investigation into the recovery of an Argentinian pistol from the Thames. This appears to be a relic from the Falklands War and is linked to the unsolved murders of a playboy shipping heir and an 11-year-old boy on Gibraltar during the ’80s.
Stop monkeying around, Gerry
The setting-up of this story is dreary, with a load of info-dumping dialogue before the fun starts in the
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Med – ‘Why was he trying to raise half a million pounds before he was murdered…?’ ‘Street value of that coke must have been at least half a million…’ ‘If Christian had agreed to smuggle those drugs he’d been held responsible for their loss, wouldn’t he?’ ‘Your assumptions are arbitary at best.’
Yes, yes, anyway the plot finally gets moving in Gibraltar with the appearance of dishy Superintendent Cruz and Vincent Regan as a shady online casino owner. What New Tricks does best, however, is the humour and there are some nice moments here. One involves Gerry thinking his hotel room’s been burgled, only to find the island’s famous monkeys have got in and used it as a lavatory.
On this showing, there’s life in the old dogs still and none of the cast seem demob happy yet. So, it looks like they’ll be signing off in style as New Tricks gets its make-or-break changing of the guard.
Cast: Alun Armstrong Brian Lane, Denis Lawson Steve McAndrew, Amanda Redman Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, Dennis Waterman Gerry Standing, Susan Jameson Esther Lane, Richard Clothier Cmdr Adam Sinclair, Vincent Regan Harry Truman, Dhaffer L’Abidine Supt Raphael Cruz, Georgia Zaris Marcia, Tim Wallers Gordon Fletcher, Vincent Riotta Levy Bossano, Gabriela Montaraz Natalie Bossano, Amanda Drew Laura Highsmith, Nicholas McGaughey Coxy, George Irving Bill Embleton, Sharon D. Clarke Sarah Kaye