Strangers (TV series)

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Not to be confused with the 1989 New Zealand TV series written by Margaret Mahy, or the 1996 French-Canadian anthology TV series, both of the same name.

Strangers is a UK police drama that appeared on ITV between 1978 and 1982.

After the success of the TV series The XYY Man, adapted from books by Kenneth Royce, Granada TV devised a new series to feature the regular characters of Detective Sergeant George Bulman (Don Henderson) and his assistant Detective Constable Derek Willis (Dennis Blanch). The result was Strangers.

The series began as a fairly standard police drama series with Bulman as its eccentric lead. Its premise was that a group of police officers have been brought together from different parts of the country to the north of England. There, the fact that they are not known locally gives them the opportunity to infiltrate where a more familiar local detective could not. Initially, the team consisted of Bulman, Willis (promoted to Sergeant) and Linda Doran (Frances Tomelty). Their local liaison was provided by Detective Sergeant David Singer (John Ronane); their superior was Chief Inspector Rainbow (David Hargreaves). Despite being based around a comparatively small team of detectives, a regular feature of the programme in its early years was that few episodes featured the entire team, with most using just two or three of the regulars in any major role.

Series two, shown in early 1979, introduced the character of Detective Constable Vanessa Bennett who was played by Fiona Mollison. The same series would be the last to feature the characters Linda Doran and Chief Inspector Rainbow.

The first series was made primarily on videotape, with location footage shot on film. Series two would feature even more film: with the opening episode The Wheeler Dealers being made entirely on film and the season closer, Marriages, Deaths And Births, being entirely on film bar the standard series title sequence and a few scenes at the police station. From series three onwards, the entire production moved to film.

The first series used a mixture of writers with only one - Leslie Duxbury - writing more than one episode. He would contribute one further script, for series two, and it was during the second season that Murray Smith came to the fore as the series' main writer. Having penned the programme's first episode, he wrote all but six of the twenty-five episodes that formed series two to five.

In series three (1980), Bulman, Willis, Bennett and the newly promoted Detective Inspector David Singer became members of the Inter City Squad under the command of Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Lambie (played by Mark McManus). The basic premise was similar, but rather than covering just the north west of England, the team's remit now extended to the whole country.

By series four (1981), Bulman had also gained promotion - to Detective Chief Inspector. The same series also introduced the semi-regular character of William 'Bill' Dugdale (Thorley Walters) a member of the British Foreign Office/Secret Services who would become involved when there was a political or intelligence aspect to the investigation. His role was not necessarily to help the detectives; that would only happen when was in the government's interest for them to succeed.

The character of Chief Inspector Bulman, still played by Don Henderson, appeared in a subsequent series Bulman by which point he had retired from the police but was still involved in detective work.

All five series are now available on Region 2 UK DVD (released by Network DVD).

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