Jack Taylor (TV series)

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Jack Taylor
Directed by Stuart Orme
Starring Iain Glen, Ralph Brown, Tara Breathnach, Nora-Jane Noone, Killian Scott
Country of origin Ireland
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 6 (List of episodes)
Producer(s) Clodagh Freeman
Location(s) Ireland
Original channel TV3
Original run 2 August 2010 – Present
External links
Jack Taylor Films

Jack Taylor is an Irish television drama based on a series of novels by Ken Bruen. Set in Galway, the series features Iain Glen in the eponymous role of Jack Taylor, a former officer with the Garda Síochána (national police) who becomes a "finder" (ie. a private investigator) after leaving the service. Taylor is a man who goes looking for clues where others have not bothered to. He also knows the streets of his hometown like the back of his hand.

The series has received mixed reviews from critics. Bernice Harrison, of The Irish Times, felt the series was spoiled by Glen's voice-overs, which gave the character the feel of a gumshoe in a film noir. But David Stephenson, of the Daily Express, said he had been hooked since the first episode's strong opening sequence. A real-life private investigator, interviewed by The Guardian's Laura Barnett, said he found the series entertaining, but that it did not always give an accurate portrayal of his profession.

Plot summary[edit]

Set in Galway, the series is based on Ken Bruen's crime novels and features Iain Glen as the protagonist, Jack Taylor, an old-school detective, and a maverick who often drinks much more than is good for him. After he is sacked from the Gardaí (the Irish police force) for assaulting a high-powered motorist he has stopped for speeding, Jack is hired as a private investigator, reluctantly taking on cases the police will not investigate. Incidentally, there are no private eyes in Ireland--"It's too close to being an informant – a dodgy concept". However, Jack soon realises his experience suits him in his new role. He is aided in his investigations by his contacts, including some of his former Gardaí colleagues, notably Officer Kate Noonan.[1][2]


  • Iain Glen as Jack Taylor
  • Killian Scott as Cody Farraher
  • Nora-Jane Noone as Garda Kate Noonan
  • Tara Breathnach as Anne Henderson
  • Frank O'Sullivan as Superintendent Clancy
  • Stephen Cromwell as Hugh Kelly


The first Jack Taylor film, The Guards, received its television debut on Ireland's TV3 on 2 August 2010.[3] It was later shown on Canvas in Belgium with Dutch subtitles, and received its first UK broadcast on Channel 5 on 21 February 2013.[1] Following The Guards, two further films, The Pikemen and The Magdalene Martyrs, were recorded and aired in September 2011. In November 2011 the Irish Film and Television Network reported that a further two films, The Dramatist and Priest, were in production, and that Noone and Scott would once again join Glen, reprising their roles. Aaron Monaghan, Emma Eliza Regan and Gavin Drea would also join the cast.[4] The Dramatist aired on TV3 on 3 March 2013,[5] with Priest debuting a week later.[6] Filming for Shot Down, the sixth episode of the series, and billed as the season one finale, began on 7 June 2013. The film is based on Bruen's novel The Killing of the Tinkers.[7] All six episodes are available on Netflix Streaming as of February 19, 2014.[8]

Iain Glen spoke to the Daily Record about his role as Taylor shortly before the series began airing in the UK in February 2013, saying the chance to pay homage to the 1970s film, Chinatown, had inspired him to take the part: "I've always fancied playing a private eye, ever since I saw Jack Nicholson play Jake Gittes in Chinatown. It is familiar territory but I think there are various aspects that individualize it. One is Ireland's west coast, which has a stunning coastline, and the town of Galway itself [...] The big advantage of taking stuff from books as well written as Ken Bruen's, is that he offers you fantastic dialogue. It's kind of Philip Marlowe with American, quick, dry one-liners all the way. It's lovely to play."[9]

Episode list[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Irish air date[a]
1 "The Guards" Stuart Orme Tom Collins, Anne McCabe, Ralph Christians 2 August 2010 (2010-08-02)
Jack Taylor is fired from the Gardaí after assaulting a politician he catches speeding. He is subsequently contacted by Anne Henderson, who hires him as a private eye on the premise of finding her missing teenage daughter. Henderson suggests the girl may have become the latest in a series of suspicious 'suicides' in Galway. Assisted by his artist friend, Sutton, Jack traces several of the dead girls to a sleazy factory manager named Ford, and discovers a collection of illegal sex videos. These revelations turn out to be only the beginning of his investigation.
2 "The Pikemen" Stuart Orme Marteinn Thorisson 1 & 8 September 2011
Upon returning to Galway a year on from the events in The Guards, Jack is hired to investigate the murder of a man who fell from the scaffolding of a construction site. Assisted by Cody, a naive young man who idolises him, Jack becomes drawn into the world of a vigilante group. Upon re-establishing contact with Anne Henderson, Jack finds her in an abusive relationship with a local businessman, who later turns up murdered. Jack is arrested and questioned for the murder, but escapes from custody, and he is forced to rely on Cody to help clear his name.
3 "The Magdalen Martyrs" Stuart Orme Marteinn Thorisson 15 & 22 September 2011
Jack Taylor is hired by Maggie McCarthy, the daughter of a recently deceased former inmate at St Monica's, an infamous Magdalen laundry in Galway, who wishes to identify the sadistic nun mentioned in her mother's diary, known only as Lucifer. The investigation is quickly hampered when Cody discovers that incriminating church records have vanished; while Jack is warned to drop the case by local criminal, Bill Cassell. As the diary reveals the depth of Lucifer's brutality, Jack discovers a 50-year-old family secret that leads him to the nun's identity, and an unexpected connection to the recent deaths of two brothers.
4 "The Dramatist" Stuart Orme Marcus Fleming 3 March 2013 (2013-03-03)
Seven months after his mother's stroke, and continuing on his path of sobriety and healthier living, Jack is called on to investigate the death of a female university student, who falls from a roof while dressed in theatre costume. A ring of paper around her wrist contains an apparent suicide note written in her blood, and Gardaí assume the death to be drug related.
5 "Priest" Stuart Orme Marteinn Thorisson 10 March 2013
Jack investigates the death of a priest who has been beheaded, and discovers the cleric abused two boys several years earlier. As more secrets from the church are revealed, Jack drifts back into his old habits, and discovers more of his own demons, along with the horrendous consequences the victims of the priest's earlier abuse are still enduring.
6 "Shot Down" Stuart Orme Marteinn Thorisson
Riddled with guilt after a personal tragedy, Jack leaves Galway for Dublin. There he meets Rosie, a young girl who witnessed her mother's murder, but has suppressed the memory. While also dealing with a travellers' feud, Jack must help Rosie to recall the events of her mother's death before the killer strikes again.


Bernice Harrison of The Irish Times gave the first film, The Guards a mixed reception. "Stylishly filmed by director of photography John Conroy, its cool, contemporary atmosphere was spoiled by the corny device of periodically giving Taylor a voiceover, improbably turning the ex-guard in Galway with a drink problem into an old-style gumshoe in a film noir. Perhaps if it had been just an hour long instead of feature-length, director Stuart Orme would have insisted on a tighter script, been sharper with his edits and made a better drama. The book deserved it and grizzly Jack Taylor is a strong enough character to hang it – or for that matter, a series – on.[3] She was far less positive about the following two films in 2011, finding Glen's Irish accent to be unconvincing. "TV3 is showing two more Jack Taylor investigations...and they are even worse than The Guards...The dramas are a mostly German production – filmed partially in Bremen, which may or may not look like Galway – and there's a touch of the Oirish about the whole thing, and not just because Taylor's weapon of choice is a hurley. Glenn [sic], who in The Guards couldn't quite settle on an accent, has now decided to channel Clint Eastwood: his voice is a husky American-tinged drawl that wouldn't have gone down too well in Templemore."[10]

Keith Watson of Metro felt The Guards had several problems, but that Glen had rescued it. "Sidestepping gumshoe cliché, Glen gave Taylor a world-weary charisma that lifted him above the odd story he found himself in from failure. A mixed-up yarn involving a dodgy old artist mate, a spot of under-age sex, a femme fatale and some sideswipes at the state of the Irish economy, the plot buckled under its baffling lack of logic. But Glen, peering at the world through Taylor's boozed-up eyes, lent the action a credibility and mystery it scarcely deserved."[11]

David Jenkins of Time Out was more positive about The Guards, although he felt there was nothing new in the storyline. "It's all very clichéd, from the wiseacre patter to the generic chase scene through a strangely empty warehouse. But who's complaining when the clichés are thrown together with this much tenderness and panache?"[12] David Stephenson of the UK's Daily Express praised the episode's opening sequence. "The first few minutes of this new feature-length drama confirmed in my mind that I was going to enjoy the next 90 minutes. For a start it began with a car chase after Jack had taken a requisite large slug of booze."[13] Reviewing The Pikemen following its British television debut, the Radio Times's David Butcher was generally positive, praising Glen for his portrayal of the central character. "It's not the paciest of crime thrillers but Iain Glen makes Jack the kind of doleful, rugged character you want to keep watching and the story has the right kind of rough edges."[14] Phil Harrison of Time Out called the second film, "surprisingly enjoyable", but echoed Jenkins's concerns about plot. "[T]he familiar scenarios are at least played out with appropriate relish and conviction and Glen's excellently gnarly in the lead. Daft, grimy fun."[15] Reviewing the DVD release of the first three films The Independent's Ben Walsh gave it three out of five stars, saying Iain Glen "convinces as damaged Jack Taylor, an alcoholic former cop who now works as a Galway gumshoe."[16]

In March 2013 The Guardian's Laura Barnett spoke to a real-life private investigator, who had a mixed opinion of the series. Tim Burchell of UK Private Investigators told Barnett: "The first time I tried to watch this, I turned it off after 20 minutes. I just couldn't stand all the cliches: the heavy-drinking, loner ex-cop. That's not who I am at all [...] I enjoyed it much more the second time. It does show all the groundwork we have to put in: people think we sit and type names into Google, but we're out there, pounding the streets. And although I've never taken on a murder case, as Taylor does, missing-person cases are our bread and butter." He also felt that such shows can give a misleading view of his profession. "Shows like this are great entertainment, but they do give people the wrong idea."[17]

DVD releases[edit]

Lumière released the first five episodes on DVD with Dutch subtitles on 29 January 2013.[18][19] Acorn Media released the first three episodes on DVD in the UK on 4 March 2013.[20]


  1. ^ All air dates refer to an episode's original broadcast in Ireland.


  1. ^ a b Simon, Jane (21 February 2013). "Channel 5's Jack Taylor The Guards hurtles around at an exhausting pace". Daily Mirror (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Carter, Carol (21 February 2013). "Jack Taylor, Murder on the Victorian Railway and Meet The Izzards". Metro. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Harrison, Bernice (7 August 2010). "A sub-standard adventure" (subscription required). The Irish Times (The Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Drohan, Ciara (24 November 2011). "New 'Jack Taylor' Movies Filming in Galway, Monaghan, Regan & Drea Join Cast". The Irish Film & Television Network. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Gilmore, Gearóid (28 February 2013). "Jack Taylor Returning To TV3 With Two New Instalments". The Irish Film & Television Network. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Cronin, Kevin (7 March 2013). "'Jack Taylor' investigates murder of beheaded priest in TV3 finale". The Irish Film & Television Network. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "‘Jack Taylor: Shot Down’ Filming Until 28th June". The Irish Film and Television Network. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 15 December 2013. 
  8. ^ http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Jack_Taylor/70259177
  9. ^ Hendry, Steve (17 February 2013). "Game of thrones star Iain Glen ditches his sword and becomes a detective". Daily Record (Trinity Mirror). Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Harrison, Bernice (17 September 2011). "One forensic documentary beats two cliche-ridden cop dramas" (subscription required). The Irish Times (The Irish Times Trust). Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Watson, Keith (23 February 2013). "TJack Taylor got a credibility it scarcely deserved from Iain Glen". Metro (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  12. ^ Jenkins, David (14 February 2013). "Jack Taylor: The Guards review". Time Out London (Timeout). Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Stephenson, David (24 February 2013). "PI Jack is worth a shot". Daily Express. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Butcher, David (1 March 2013). "Jack Taylor | Series 1 – 2. Jack Taylor: The Pikemen". Radio Times. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Harrison, Phil (22 February 2013). "Jack Taylor: The Pikemen review". Time Out London (Timeout). Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  16. ^ Walsh, Ben (22 March 2013). "DVD & Blu-ray review: Jack Taylor: Collection One". The Independent (Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  17. ^ Barnett, Laura (18 March 2013). "A private investigator's view on TV drama Jack Taylor". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Ken Bruens Jack Taylor binnenkort op DVD". Crimezone.nl. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  19. ^ "Jack Taylor (DVD)". Bol.com. 
  20. ^ "Jack Taylor: Collection One (DVD)". Amazon.co.uk. 

External links[edit]