Taggart

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Taggart
Taggart2010.jpg
Taggart's current 2010 titles, the first to be shot in HD
Genre Drama
Format Live action
Created by Glenn Chandler
Starring Blythe Duff
John Michie
Alex Norton
Siobhan Redmond
Country of origin Scotland, United Kingdom
No. of series 27
No. of episodes 109
Production
Executive producer(s) Margaret Enefer (2010);
Eric Coulter (2001–2010)
Producer(s) Marcus Wilson (2010);
Graeme Gordon (2001–2010)
Running time 60–120mins
(including commercials)
Production company(s) STV Productions
(Scottish Television)
Broadcast
Original channel

STV, ITV, UTV;
Alibi (2013)

(1983–2011)
Picture format 576i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original run 6 September 1983 (1983-09-06) – 7 November 2010 (2010-11-07)
Chronology
Related shows Rebus (2000–2007)

Taggart is a Scottish detective television programme, created by Glenn Chandler, who has written many of the episodes, and made by STV Productions for the ITV network. The series revolves around a group of detectives initially in the Maryhill CID of Strathclyde Police, though various storylines have happened in other parts of the Greater Glasgow area, and other areas of Scotland. As of the most recent series, the team has operated out of the fictional John Street police station across the street from the City Chambers. It is one of the UK's longest-running dramas[1] and is the longest-running police drama after the cancellation of The Bill.[2][3]

Actor Mark McManus, who played the title character of Taggart, died in 1994, but the series continued with the same name although an entirely new character took up his position.

The show's 100th story aired on Christmas Eve 2009 on the ITV network. In May 2011, it was reported that the ITV network had decided to axe Taggart from the network after 28 years. The series may continue to be screened in Scotland on the STV network and on overseas broadcasters.[4]

History[edit]

The Scottish BAFTA-winning pilot episode, "Killer", broadcast in 1983, directed by Laurence Moody, introduced the character of Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jim Taggart (played by Mark McManus until his death in 1994), a tough and experienced detective who had worked his way up through the ranks. His original sidekick was Detective Sergeant (DS) Peter Livingstone (Neil Duncan). Livingstone represented the new breed of young graduates entering the police force, and frequently had a difficult relationship with Taggart as a result. Taggart's boss in the pilot was Superintendent Robert Murray (Tom Watson), known as "The Mint" after the well-known sweet. This humour was continued in the subsequent series with Taggart's boss replaced after the second episode ("Dead Ringer") by Superintendent Jack McVitie (Iain Anders), nicknamed "The Biscuit" because he shared his name with a popular brand of biscuits. Another important character was Taggart's long-suffering, wheelchair-bound wife Jean (Harriet Buchan) whose disability did not prevent her from pursuing a number of interests in life, while her cynical husband stuck mainly to his job.

In 1987 the character of Mike Jardine (James MacPherson) was introduced, and when Neil Duncan left the series in 1989, a new female sidekick, Jackie Reid (Blythe Duff) was introduced.

McManus died in 1994 in the middle of filming an episode. His absence was explained by the claim that Taggart was in constant meetings with the Chief Constable. The 1995 episode "Black Orchid" opened with Taggart's funeral but, unusually, despite the death of the title character, the series continued with Jardine being promoted to Detective Inspector and DC Stuart Fraser (Colin McCredie) was introduced, becoming the long-suffering sidekick to Jardine, former long-suffering sidekick to Taggart. Fraser was later revealed to be gay. DI Robbie Ross (John Michie) joined the team in 1998 (Michie had made an early appearance in Taggart in 1990, when he played a suspect called Robby Meiklejohn in an episode called "Love Knot").

When MacPherson left the series in 2002, his character was killed off, and replaced with DCI Matt Burke, formerly of Special Branch (played by Alex Norton who had previously appeared in the series playing a murder suspect in the 1986 episode, "Knife Edge"). Alex Norton's Matt Burke character has gained widespread critical acclaim, many believing him to be the first credible successor to McManus's original Taggart character.[citation needed]

Much was made of the platonic relationship between Jardine and Reid, with the two being shown to share a brother/sister-like bond. Both pursued a number of relationships with other characters over the years. Reid even got married, but later separated from her husband, who is now dead. The personal relationships of the police officers in this series are shown as nothing to be envious of; Reid once describing herself, Burke, Ross and Fraser as three divorcees and a celibate homosexual (episode "Penthouse and Pavement").

After completing filming of series 26 in December 2009 Colin McCredie was informed that he and his character would not be returning for filming of the next series.[5]

ITV/STV dispute[edit]

ITV plc, the company that operates the ITV franchises in England, Wales, and the Scottish Borders, had failed to announce whether it planned to show any new episodes of Taggart that STV produces, prompting STV to suspend production of the programme in September 2009.[6] STV later announced, in November 2009, that it would produce new episodes of Taggart for broadcast in 2010 regardless of whether ITV plc decided to screen it. This would have resulted in Taggart only being screened in Central and Northern Scotland if ITV plc had not taken up the option to screen the new series.[7]

However, in February 2010, it was announced that ITV and STV had put their wider commercial differences to one side to make a new series, which Scottish viewers will get to see first. The two broadcasters co-commissioned a six-part series of the show, with pay-TV broadcaster UKTV also investing in return for repeat rights. New episodes of Taggart debuted on STV in autumn 2010 before being broadcast on ITV across the rest of the UK in 2011. UKTV's Alibi digital channel will show the episodes in 2013. Online catch-up of the new series will not be available to STV Player users until the show is broadcast on ITV/UTV.[8]

Format and broadcast information[edit]

The format of the show has changed over the years. Originally the show ran as three one-hour episodes to each story (130 minutes without the adverts). This was later changed to a two-hour stand-alone story, which was later shortened to 90 minutes. From 2008 onwards the show became a one-hour stand-alone story for the first time since 2003. The DVD rights are held by Clearvision.

Fans of the show have in the past been frustrated by the scheduling of the show.[citation needed] Although blocks or series of the show are filmed, they are often not shown together as with other series. They are usually just fitted into the schedule wherever there is a gap, meaning they are often not shown in consecutive weeks or on one set night of the week. Often months will pass between episodes of the same series being shown.

One particular example can be seen in 2008. The last two episodes of the 23rd series, "The Caring Game" and "Lifeline", were the last of the 90-minute episodes filmed before the new one-hour format began. However, these were not broadcast at the time. Instead the ITV network broadcast all five episodes from the 24th series and the first episode of the 25th series, all one-hour episodes. "The Caring Game", was then shown on 14 November. This meant that the episode was shown well out of sequence. In the episode, DI Ross is faced with the choice of leaving for Canada, with his ex-wife and son, or staying in Glasgow. However, viewers already knew that Ross was not leaving the programme, as numerous future episodes had already been broadcast. The other missing episode "Lifeline", was finally broadcast on 30 December of that year.

Current cast[edit]

Previous cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Other[edit]

  • Tom Watson as Superintendent "The Mint" Murray (1983–1985)
  • Gavin Brown as Sgt Blackman (1983–1985)
  • Patricia Ross as DS/Sgt Laura Campbell (1987–1988)
  • Anthony Cochrane as Dr Colin Crawford (1987–1993)
  • Gray O'Brien as DC Rob Gibson (1993–1995)
  • Yasmin Marley as WPC Heather McIntyre (1999–2001)
  • Brian Cowan as DCS Brian Holmes (2000–2005)
  • Lesley Harcourt as Pathologist Dr Gemma Kerr (2003–2005)
  • Michael MacKenzie as Pathologist Dr Magnus Baird (2005–2008)
  • Katrina Bryan as Pathologist Dr Ellis Sinclair (2008–2010)

Guest appearances[edit]

Actors appearing on Taggart episodes over the years include:

Filming Locations[edit]

The show is primarily shot in and around Glasgow and its metropolitan area, although the show has occasionally has ventured farther to Loch Lomond, Edinburgh and the Highlands on several occasions. The original title card of the show used a panoramic shot of Glasgow taken from the summit of the Cathkin Braes to the south of the city (in the early Mark McManus years, live infill shots of the city taken from this vantage point were used also), whilst in recent years a shot of the city centre is used.

In recent series, the buildings of Strathclyde University have been extensively used for exterior shots – the entrance level of the Livingstone Tower has been used as the police station for example, and "John Street" (the current name of the police station) is a real location within the campus.

Episodes[edit]

Since 1983, there have been a total of 109 episodes of Taggart. Early episodes were split into multiple parts, and aired over three weeks, while later episodes were self-contained.

International distribution[edit]

Taggart is also broadcast to various countries around the world[10] on the following networks:

Country Channel Notes
 Australia ABC1, 7TWO, 13th Street In 2011, ABC1 aired episodes on Friday at 8:30 pm.

ABC1 actually broadcast episodes 101 ("IOU"), 102 ("Local Hero") and 103 ("The Rapture") before STV did, because of scheduling conflicts. 7TWO airs repeat episodes.

 New Zealand Vibe
 Sweden TV4
 Denmark DR1 and DR2
 Czech Republic CT1
 Ireland RTÉ 1
 Bulgaria AXN Crime
 Romania AXN Crime
 France
 China
 Norway NRK1, VOX
 Belgium CANVAS
 Netherlands KRO
 Iceland RÚV

References[edit]

  1. ^ There's been a commission – new Taggart series ordered, The Guardian
  2. ^ What is the longest-running police drama in the uk?, Answers.com
  3. ^ The Bill: ITV drops police drama after 27 years, The Guardian
  4. ^ 'Taggart axed by ITV after 28 years' Digital Spy 12 May 2011.
  5. ^ "Taggart star Colin McCredie is sacked from TV show in phone call after 15 years". Daily Record. 30 December 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  6. ^ The TV Braveheart at war with Grade This is Money, 27 September 2009
  7. ^ "STV to make a new series of Taggart". BBC News. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 
  8. ^ Plunkett, John (18 February 2010). "There's been a commission". London: Media Guardian. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  9. ^ Episode 33, according to her filmography on DVD 2 of series Conviction (2004), BFS Video, Canada, 2007.
  10. ^ "Internationally popular detective series Taggart". Casting Call / STV Productions. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 

External links[edit]