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…]

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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The Honourable Woman, New Tricks, Shetland, Z Cars, Inspector Nardone

Maggie Gyllenhaal has signed to appear in Hugo Blick’s new thriller, The Honourable Woman, for BBC2. Blick was behind the quirky, compelling The Shadow Line, so all-in-all this looks a bit special. Gyllenhaal will play Nessa, whose father was a Zionist arms procurer, and, as a child, she and her brother witnessed his assassination. As an adult, she inherits his business and tries to switch its purpose from arms to laying data cable between the Israel and the West Bank. The Shadow Line was convoluted but full of brilliant verbal sparring, so this new seven-parter with its spies and international setting should be thick with intrigue.

• The tenth series of New Tricks returns on Tuesday, 30 July, at 9pm. This time in the drama following the retired cold-case cops, Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) is suspended after assaulting an officer he suspects of covering up a death in custody that led to his early retirement. Stalwarts Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong will be leaving during this series, following the recent departure of James Bolam. However, Tamzin Outhwaite and Nicholas Lyndhurst will be joining Dennis Waterman and new boy Denis Lawson, so the hit drama will be facing a bit of crunch time to see if and how the fresh characters bed in. Meanwhile, the 9th and final series of CSI: NY also launches on Tuesday, 30 July, on C5. But New Tricks, wobbling from all the departures as it may be, should still see off CSI: NY in the ratings with ease.

• Must admit, I couldn’t really understand why the Beeb decided to do another series of Shetland, such was the quiet passing of the first, but they’re certainly throwing the stars at it for the next outing of the Douglas Henshall drama. Brian Cox ( The Bourne Identity) and Julie Graham (Survivors) will be on hand for the next batch of Ann Cleeve‘s stories – Raven Black, Blue Lightning and Dead Water. If the writers manage to breath some life into the characters this time round, I’ll raise a dram to them.

• If you’re an Everton supporter the Z Cars theme tune is never far away, but for the rest of us there will be a chance to renew acquaintances with the music and accompanying series that was so hugely popular and influential during the 60s and 70s. Z Cars Collection One will be released on a two-disc DVD on 2 September. Writer Troy Kennedy Martin believed that the genre needed ‘an injection of energy and bite’ and that’s what Z Cars had in abundance. Making its TV debut on the BBC in 1962, it went on to become one of the longest-running British TV shows, airing until 1978.

• Inspector Montalbano is currently on leave of absence from BBC4. But the Sicilian is not the only Italian crime-fighter on UK telly. Ever heard of Inspector Nardone? If not, that’s probably because he is tucked away on True Movies, one of the lesser known multi-channel networks. It’s a period drama set in post-war Milan and is based on a real person. Nardone (played by Sergio Assisi) is a crusading cop who roots out corruption at the Questura despite opposition from his spineless superiors. Like Montalbano, there a strain of light-heartedness and romance running through the series, and for crime fans who like the era, it’s a fresh take on the continental cop genre. Inspector Nardone returns to True Movies 1 at 1am from Saturday, 17 August, through to Friday, 23 August, and on True Drama at 1am from 12 August through to 17 August.

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Luther 3, Scott & Bailey finale, Elementary in London, Mad Dogs 3, Tamzin Outhwaite for New Tricks

Idris Elba in Luther series 3, BBC1
Stormy times ahead for lovestruck Luther. Pic: BBC
• He may not be back on our screens until September, but here is an early peek at Luther to keep fans going. The third series starring Idris Elba as the slightly unhinged detective will see Sienna Guillory joining the cast as Luther’s new love interest, Mary Day. What will psycho Alice have to say about that?

• Watch out for a double bill of Scott & Bailey this week, wrapping up what has been a terrific series (ITV, Wednesday 22 May, Thursday 23 May, 9pm). Here’s a video going behind the scenes of the finale…

Elementary, Sky Living’s US Sherlock Holmes update with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, will be filming the opening episode of season two in London — its first venture outside of New York. Sherlock is called to Blighty to revisit an old case and, while doing so, is forced to face his past. Meanwhile, Watson learns more about Holmes’s mysterious life…
Sky1's Mad Dogs series 3, Woody (Max Beesley), Quinn (Philip Glenister), Baxter (John Simm) and Rick (Marc Warren)
The future’s orange… but not so bright for the boys
Mad Dogs makes a welcome return to Sky One on Tuesday, 4 June. The holiday from hell continues for the four guys — Woody (Max Beesley), Quinn (Philip Glenister), Baxter (John Simm) and Rick (Marc Warren) — as we meet them locked up in a dilapidated prison in the desert, where torture and interrogation are the order of the day. Jaime Winstone is also behind bars, playing the feisty Mercedes… 

Tamzin Outhwaite is joining the cast of BBC1’s hit drama New Tricks, lining up alongside Dennis Waterman, Denis Lawson and Nicholas Lyndhurst. She’ll be stepping in as Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong join James Bolam in leaving the hugely popular show. Former EastEnders star Tamzin will play DCI Sacha Millard. Armstrong is reported to be leaving the show in episode four of the tenth series, while Redman will depart during the eighth instalment.

Orphan Black, BBC America, starring Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning
Sarah takes on a dead woman’s identity
• BBC3 has acquired a new thriller called Orphan Black from its US wing, BBC America. Tatiana Maslany plays Sarah Manning, an orphan who witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks like her. Naturally, Sarah assumes her identity, bank account and boyfriend. Then she discovers she’s in the midst of a deadly conspiracy.

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