Between the Lines (TV series)
|Between the Lines|
|Created by||J. C. Wilsher|
|Theme music composer||Hal Lindes
& Colin Towns
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||35|
|Executive producer(s)||Tony Garnett|
|Running time||c. 50 minute episodes|
|Original run||4 September 1992 – 21 December 1994|
Between the Lines is a television police drama series created by J. C. Wilsher and produced by World Productions for the BBC. It was first shown on BBC1 between 1992 and 1994, running for three series.
The show centred on the eventful life of Detective Superintendent Tony Clark, played by Neil Pearson. Clark was an ambitious member of the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB), an internal organisation that investigates claims of corruption inside the police in England and Wales. Along the way Clark had to overcome strong influence from his superiors and problems in his private life, most notably the break-up of his marriage following an affair with WPC Jenny Dean (Lesley Vickerage). Throughout the series Clark was assisted by sidekicks Harry Naylor (Tom Georgeson) and Mo Connell (Siobhan Redmond).
Clark's work as a lead officer in CIB was the focus of the first two series. In the first series his boss was Deakin, a tough ex-RUC Northern Irish policeman. At the end of the first series Deakin was revealed to be a corrupt officer himself. He left the force but remained a recurring character working freelance for the security services and others, sometimes in conflict with Clark and sometimes assisting him. At the start of the third series (after a dramatic shoot-out at the end of the second) Clark, Naylor and Connell leave the police force and work in the murky world of private security, far right politics and espionage. The third series ends with the betrayal of Clark and Naylor who had been masquerading as mercenaries. The betrayal is made by Connell in league with Deakin, their former boss and nemesis. It is unclear whether Clark and Naylor have died as the show ended on a cliffhanger. Rumours of a remake did circulate for some years, but Pearson confirmed in 'Watching the Detectives' that he had wanted a 'final' ending at the time and would never return to the role.
Between The Lines was one of the first British TV dramas to include a homosexual character. Maureen (Mo) Connell (Siobhan Redmond) came out as a lesbian in the series after the divorce from her husband.
The show became a surprise hit for the BBC, winning a British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) for Best Drama Series in 1994. In 2000 it was voted into the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes by the British Film Institute.
Several then unknown actors with small roles in the series later became well known, including John Hannah, Hermione Norris, Daniel Craig, Michael Kitchen, Hugh Bonneville (in 1994 known as Richard Bonneville) James Nesbitt and David Hayman.
Cast and crew
Tony Clark - Neil Pearson. He had previously played the part of Mungo in Chelmsford 123 (1988–90) and, during the same period he was appearing in Between the Lines, also had the regular role of Dave Charnley in Drop the Dead Donkey (1990–98). Since Between the Lines, he has appeared in several British films and television programmes including Fever Pitch (1997), Bridget Jones' Diary (2001), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Trevor's World of Sport (2003) and The State Within (2006). He also has appeared in one episode each of Midsomer Murders, Inspector George Gently and Death in Paradise.
Harry Naylor - Tom Georgeson. Georgeson is a long-established British character actor with notable roles in Boys from the Blackstuff (1982), The Manageress (1989–90), G.B.H. (1991) and Bleak House (2005).
Maureen “Mo” Connell - Siobhan Redmond. Redmond's first major role was as Lucy McGinty in Bulman (1985–87). She has since appeared in The High Life (1995) and The Smoking Room (2004–05). She has also appeared in several episodes of the Scottish criminal TV series Rebus and Taggart.
Guest stars in the series included many today well-known British actors such as Daniel Craig, James Nesbitt, Jerome Flynn, Bernard Hill, David Morrissey, Jaye Griffiths, Paul Brooke, Francesca Annis, Sylvestra Le Touzel, John Hannah, Michael Kitchen, David Hayman, Hermione Norris, Ray Winstone , Larry Lamb and Hugh Bonneville (Richard Bonneville as of 1994). Most of them was unknown or less known, prior to their appearances in this series.
Executive producer Tony Garnett had begun his career as an actor before becoming a producer in the late nineteen-sixties. His credits included The Wednesday Play and Play for Today. Following Between the Lines, he went on to produce several popular and notable series including This Life (1996–97), Ballykissangel and The Cops (1998–2000).
The situation in Northern Ireland in the years that followed after 1969 called the Ulster Police Force to begin the use of "new methods". These methods were later adopted by some police officers in Great Britain that wanted fast results sooner than finding the truth. Due to this, years later several convictions were found to be unsafe (like "Birmingham Six" for instance). The police forces of the UK appeared to need some cleaning of bad staff and for the Metropolitan Police this meant that the Complaints Investigation Bureau, CIB was invented. The two first series of Between the Lines is a kind of dramatisation of this "cleaning-up" process. In the third series focus is shifted more towards the secret services and MI5 in particular.
John Deakin, whose shadow is present throughout all three series, has a past in the Ulster police. He is the "fireproof" high rank detective who decides which other high ranked detectives that may use which methods. Tony manages to discover who he really is, but not good enough. Deakin also has contacts in the secret services. And the final two episodes ("The End User" 1 & 2) deals with a story of illegal weapon smuggling to Northern Ireland.
All three series of Between The Lines have been released on DVD (Region 2) by 2 Entertain/Cinema Club.