New Tricks final series, BBC1

Programme Name: New Tricks - TX: n/a - Episode: New Tricks Series 12 - generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Danny Griffin (NICHOLAS LYNDHURST), DCI Sasha Miller (TAMZIN OUTHWAITE), Ted Case (LARRY LAMB), Steve McAndrew (DENIS LAWSON) - (C) Headstrong Pictures - Photographer: Amanda Searle

Final four – Danny Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst), DCI Sasha Miller (Tamzin Outhwaite), Ted Case (Larry Lamb), Steve McAndrew (Denis Lawson)

The cold case oldsters of UCOS return for the last 10 episodes of the popular light-hearted crime drama

★★★ BBC1, starts Tuesday, 4 August, 9pm

AND NOW, the end is near, as the New Tricks crew faces the final curtain. Of course, the crew isn’t what it used to be following the recent spiky departures of hugely popular cast members James Bolam, Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong.

New Tricks series 12 Gerry

Skeletons come back to haunt Gerry

Dennis Waterman is still there living up to his character’s nickname of Gerry ‘Last Man’ Standing, but even he will be bailing out after the first two episodes of this final series. Larry Lamb, familiar to viewers from EastEnders and Gavin & Stacey, will replace him as the 12th series runs its course.

It may be a little unfair on the newcomers to the show – Denis Lawson,Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicholas Lyndhurst – but it was always going to be a tall order to step in and replicate the chemistry of the original four, who were major audience favourites from earlier classics such as Minder and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?

New Tricks has been huge for BBC1

But even before their exodus began with James Bolam’s departure in 2011, New Tricks was really past its prime. Bolam called it stale, Amanda Redman said it was bland and Alun Armstrong didn’t like that his character had ‘got saner’.

Still, it’s been a storming success for Auntie. It started in 2003 with the motley crew of retired detectives coming together to probe cold case files under the beady eye of Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Redman).

It often crushed other shows scheduled against it, with series 8 frequently coming close to hitting 10million viewers. Even Dennis Waterman’s jaunty theme It’s Alright couldn’t dent its success. [Read more…]

The Sweeney — Killer TV No.35

1975-78, ITV
‘We’re the Sweeney. We kill you – nothing. You kill us – 30 years.’ – Jack Regan
John Thaw (DI Jack Regan), Dennis Waterman (DS George Carter), Garfield Morgan (DCI Frank Haskins)
Identikit: Two members of the London Metropolitan Police service’s Flying Squad use robust methods (fists, fabricating evidence, kidnapping) to take on the capital’s armed robbers and other violent villains.


Sweeney Todd – Flying Squad, for all you non-East London geezers. The 1970s drama about two no-nonsense detectives, Jack Regan and George Carter, showcased a period when the Metropolitan Police bent the rules and did whatever it took to nail the bad guys. Though our fictional heroes certainly were not as out of control as the real thing, Regan did use his fists, arrange kidnappings, open mail illegally and fabricate evidence, but he didn’t take backhanders. The coppers all drank and smoked too much and often looked like they had a hangover – no pretty boy actors in this cast. The British crime series had come a long way since Dixon of Dock Green (which only wrapped in 1976, when its star Jack Warner was an implausible 80 years old). His successors on The Sweeney were not the paragons the authorities liked to hold up. Produced on 16mm film stock at real locations, the series still looks vibrant and immediate. The accent was on action – London looks pretty dowdy and washed out – and the show was a huge hit, spawning two movies, Sweeney! (1977) and Sweeney 2 (1978), along with the 2012 Ray Winstone reboot. It was also fondly, obliquely recalled in the character of Life on Mars‘s Gene Hunt. It grew out of an Armchair Cinema film (1974) that firmly established the characters and what became the drama’s catchphrase – ‘Get yer trousers on, you’re nicked!’ Regan is the Met’s leading thief taker, often kicking against red tape, and with a messy personal life. And then there is Carter, who’s been lured reluctantly back to the squad by Regan, having previously left for family reasons. Everyone from Diana Dors and Lynda La Plante to Morecambe and Wise appeared, while in addition to the spin-off movies there were books, comic strips and mentions in pop records (Kate Bush, Squeeze) and parodies (The Comic Strip Presents…). Drinking, punch-ups, womanising and haring around town in a Ford Consul. ‘Nuff said.

Classic episode: Taste of Fear from series three introduced psychopath Tim Cook, reckoned by aficionados to be the show’s most formidable baddie. A much-admired episode mixing drama, tragedy and a riveting performance from the ironically well-named actor George Sweeney as Cook.
Watercooler fact: As a teenager ‘Raymond’ Winstone had a small role as ‘2nd Youth’ in TV’s The Sweeney before going on to emulate ‘icon’ John Thaw (‘one of my favourite people’) in the underwhelming big-screen remake.

More of the Killer 50

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New Tricks 11, BBC1, Dennis Waterman, Tamzin Outhwaite, Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst

Not exactly the laughing policemen, but the New Tricks squad still raise a smile. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★½

BBC1: starts Monday, 18 August, 9pm

Story: Newly divorced Sasha Miller is forced to work with her ex-husband, DAC Ned Hancock and Gerry is visited by an old friend from the past, Ralph Paxton, who has just got out of prison. Paxton asks Gerry to help him solve the murder of his youngest grandson, architecture student Jake.

THE OLD DOGS are having to learn further new tricks now that there’s a fresh guvnor in town – namely Tamzin Outhwaite’s DCI Sasha Miller. In fact, most of the clue sniffers are new, following the recent exodus of old faves James Bolam, Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong.

These were hugely popular performers with much audience goodwill built up down the years through hits such as The Likely Lads, At Home with the Braithwaites and Our Friends in the North. Can New Tricks survive their departure?

With the series still hitting audiences of around nine-million last year, the

Dennis Waterman, Amanda Redman, James Bolam, Alun Armstrong in New Tricks series 9
The way we were – Waterman, Redman, Bolam and Armstrong

BBC were always going to try to keep the magic alive.

And these ratings came despite reports in recent times of behind-the-scenes flouncing – with the stars criticising the writers for making the stories more bland. It seems it would take a lot to blow New Tricks off its perch.

How good is the new New Tricks?

Perhaps the whole shebang needed a fresh makeoever, and that’s what we’ve got. So, how do the new lot – and Dennis Waterman – measure up?

We had a glimpse of former EastEnder Tamzin Outhwaite at the end of series 10. She slips into her role as the nanny for her ‘boys’ in the unsolved crimes unit with ease.

She is feisty while being authoritative and able to do the humorous bits too – such as the scene in the opener, Bermondsey Boy, when she orders Gerry to ‘hug it out’ with his prospective son-in-law.

Nicholas Lyndhurst and Dennis Waterman

Nicholas Lyndhurst’s posh-up of detective Dan Griffin is bizarre. The whole schtick he has for modern coppering and ‘speed-reading’ the body-language of suspects would work a treat if he dropped the silly effete accent.

Dennis Waterman gets a lot of stick as Standing, but really playing a London copper is never going to stretch him that much, and he does enough to earn a reduced sentence for his crimes against TV theme music. Meanwhile, Denis Lawson, who doesn’t have much to do in the opening episode, is now established as a distinctive and welcome addition to the team.

All in all, it’s a good reboot for the show. The script is sharp and witty in places, and, while the stories remain wholesomely entertaining and corny, it’s an easy-going and charming hour.

Edgy and groundbreaking New Tricks is not. But that’s obviously not what nine-million loyal fans want. And apparently another two series have already got the green light.

Check out these links…
New Tricks BBC1
New Tricks in Radio Times

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New Tricks series 10 with Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong, Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson

BBC's New Tricks Gerry Standing (DENNIS WATERMAN), Brian Lane (ALUN ARMSTRONG), Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (AMANDA REDMAN), Steve McAndrew (DENIS LAWSON)
Rock solid crew – Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong Amanda Redman and Denis Lawson. Pics: BBC

Rating: ★★★

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.

Harry Truman (VINCENT REGAN), Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (AMANDA REDMAN) in BBC's New Tricks
Suspect Harry charms Pullman

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

BBC's New Tricks Cruz (DHAFER L'ABIDINE), Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (AMANDA REDMAN)
Hands across the water – Cruz and Pullman

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

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New Tricks series nine DVD REVIEW

DVD: ★★★★ 

This month New Tricks has been knocking EastEnders off BBC1’s top spot.

Fans of this quietly but hugely popular series about the retired coppers delving into old cases won’t have to wait long for the DVD and Blu-ray boxsets of series nine to appear, with both coming out in November.

But is this series the final glorious blast from the show? With the excellent and much-liked James Bolam bowing out in episode one, it seemed that the chemistry between Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and Dennis Waterman could have been dented for good.

However, Denis Lawson’s joining the crew in episode four as retired Glasgow detective Steve McAndrew did inject a little fresh feistiness into the quartet. Particularly enjoyable has been the way he’s got up the nose of Gerry Standing (Waterman).

It seems the cast shake-up has not convinced Amanda Redman to stay, the actress recently announcing she was leaving after 10 years as detective superintendent Sandra Pullman. Alun Armstrong, who plays Brian Lane, also seems to be leaving. Which means series nine is the last featuring the original gang, and begs the question of will there be many more series to come (Armstrong is committed to one more season).

Despite some of the cast moving on, and they have even criticised the show for being at times blander than it used to be, in the eyes of its fans, New Tricks series nine has still been much-see television.

DVD: release date 5 November, RRP £25.99
Blu-ray: release date 26 November, RRP £25.99

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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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Regan starring John Thaw on Blu-ray REVIEW

Rating ★★★★

• REGAN (15) on Blu-ray: Network, released 10 Oct 2011, RRP 19.99, running time 77mins

Forget Gene Hunt and Life and Mars. If you want the original bad copper in no-nonsense flares you should track down Regan, the 1974 pilot for The Sweeney starring John Thaw, which is being released on Blu-ray this month.

This is an evocative blast from the past – and I’m not just talking about the shooters going off, guvnor. It’s the lost era of sheepskin jackets, pub singalongs and derelict docklands. And some bloody ugly cars – anyone remember the Ford Zephyr? What a monster.

Get your trousers on…
We first glimpse one careering round a bend carrying detective inspector Jack Regan. He barges into a house, marches into the suspect’s bedroom and says, “Get your trousers on. You’re nicked.”

The first words out of the Jack’s mouth and the show’s got its still fondly remembered catchphrase.

Regan was shown in ITV’s Armchair Theatre slot and was a body slam to the old school of cop shows, such as Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars. It was the story of an investigation into the murder of a copper, detective sergeant Cowley (Del Baker), who was caught between two vicious criminal gangs.

Regan was far rougher than Gene Hunt
But the clear star of the show was Jack Regan, a maverick detective who pushed himself to a suspension and the verge of legality to the get Cowley’s killers. We see Regan recruiting detective sergeant George Carter, played in his youth by New Tricks‘ Dennis Waterman.

Carter is reluctant to join the trouble-friendly Regan because he values his marriage too highly. When Regan breaks and enters a property, all Carter’s doubts seem confirmed.

And would Gene Hunt ever get away with telling the German boyfriend of his ex-wife, ‘I don’t like Krauts,’ before going on to call him ‘young Adolf’. He’s violent, aggressive and plays dirty – a bit like many would imagine the hard cases were in the real Sweeney (Sweeney Todd: rhyming slang for Flying Squad).

19 million viewers for The Sweeney
Maureen Lipman appears as Regan’s married lover. When her feller returns and she has to dump Regan, he asks her how her husband was. ‘Not bad,’ she says, ‘seeing as you left a jacket and two pairs of Y-fronts in his wardrobe.’

A bonus feature is some of the vile clothes that passed for cool in the Seventies. Most hilariously is the climax, when Regan faces off with a violent gang while wearing a psychedelic cravat. You have to be genuinely hard to pull that off.

But despite all the machismo, Regan fascinates because he is tinged with sadness. He is someone far too devoted to his grim job for his own good.

Regan hit an audience of seven million, which led to the commissioning of The Sweeney, a series that ran from 1975 to 1978, reaching a peak of 19 million viewers.

Regan edgier than many hit crime shows of today
Seeing that UK crime series usually go soft on the police, Regan still seems a lot more edgy than twee favourites of today, such as Midsomer Murders.

The Blu-ray features a fascinating commentary by Dennis Waterman, producer Ted Childs and director Tom Clegg. There is also an interview with writer Ian Kennedy Martin.

New Tricks series 8 PREVIEW

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

Rating ★★★½

BBC1 from Monday, 4 July, 9pm

The New Tricks detectives are up to their old tricks as they return for summer. There’s nothing fresh and no new faces to shake up their familiar routine – and that is surely just how the fans prefer it.

Like those trousers with elasticated waists, New Tricks is a sensible, comfy series. Apart from a little swearing, there’s nothing to have the purple-ink brigade spluttering into their Horlicks.

So familiar is the series that these days it comes around with a minimum of fuss and fanfare. Even the Beeb’s New Tricks web page hasn’t been touched since 2008. With its unchanging format and cast, you know what you’re getting.

Old Fossils
It’s not as gloatingly grisly as Silent Witness or CSI, or as edgily violent as Dexter, The Shadow Line or Boardwalk Empire. Instead, New Tricks is a pleasant, gently humorous crime series with a likeable, distinguished cast.

While it occupies that area of safe, middle-of-the-road crime shows along with Lewis and Midsomer Murders, at least the characters in New Tricks have a bit of hinterland, with the boyishly obsessive recovering alcoholic Brian, cockney lothario Gerry, the widower Jack, and career-damaged Sandra. And those ITV series have nothing like the backlog of popular TV baggage that Alun Armstrong, Dennis Waterman, James Bolam and Amanda Redman bring with them.

Old Fossils opens this 10-part series, and detective superintendent Sandra Pullman has to convince her old dog retirees on the Unsolved Crime and Open Case squad that the death of a palaeontologiest at the Natural History Museum is worth investigating.

Pathologist got it wrong
The autopsy stated Dr Bernard Fletcher died of a fall, but with pathologist Bob Ruston now suspended for negligence, it looks as though his report was wrong – Fletcher may have been whacked on the head.

Sandra and the boys discover that Fletcher was a legover mechant, that he opposed museum sponsorship from Mondial Fuel owing to the oil industry’s record of environmental damage, and that there is a black market in fossils sold as artworks to the rich and famous. So, motives abound.

It’s a good opener for the new series, with wry moments – Brian explaining the wonders of China as a fossil resource to colleagues frozen in boredom – and a mystery with an intriguing theme.

The episode also makes great use of its extensive access to the Natural History Museum, with the team hunting for clues in the labyrinthine corridors of fossils. Cop dinosaurs walking with dinosaurs, in a way.

• Amanda Redman Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, Dennis Waterman Gerry Standing, Alun Armstrong Brian Lane, James Bolam Jack Halford, Trevor Bannister Bob Ruxton, Vicky Pepperdine Madeleine Simmonds, Natasha Little Sarah Winslow, Lucy Brown Marie Braden


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