Backup (TV series)

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Genre Police procedural
Created by Nigel McCrery
Written by Nigel McCrery
Roy Mitchell
Directed by Jan Sargent
Bob Blagden
Starring Martin Troakes
Christopher John Hall
Nick Miles
Katrina Levon
Calum MacPherson
William Tapley
Composer(s) John Lunn
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 14 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Caroline Oulton
Chris Parr
Producer(s) Hilary Salmon
Cinematography Steve Saunderson
Editor(s) John Rosser
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Studios
Original network BBC1
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Stereo
Original release 7 September 1995 – 2 July 1997

Backup is a British television police procedural crime drama series, focusing on the work of a police Operational Support Unit, similar to the Territorial Support Group. Created by Nigel McCrery and Roy Mitchell, who famous co-created Silent Witness and New Tricks, the series ran for a total of fourteen episodes across two series, and was broadcast on BBC One between 1995 and 1997.[1] Martin Troakes, Christopher John Hall and Nick Miles star as the main protagonists of the series, Bill Parkin, Eric Warren and John Barrett.[2] Initial press releases for the series stated, "When things get too much for the officers on the front line, they call for Backup, the Operational Support Unit (OSU)."[3]

Devised by Nigel McCrery, who was a former police officer himself, the series based on the operations of the nine officers of Charlie Van, an OSU squad of the West Midlands Police, and with a strong focus on the personal lives of the officers. Critical acclaim for the series was mixed, with many viewers stating that despite the high quality of the opening episodes, the standard and pace of the overall story arc began to decline, and that the last episode of the second series does not tie up all of the loose ends previously suggested during the first series.[4] A third series of the show was not commissioned due to declining viewing figures. Notably, the series has never been released on DVD.


  • Martin Troakes as Sgt. Bill 'Sarge' Parkin (Series 1—2)
  • Christopher John Hall as PC Eric 'Token' Warren (Series 1—2)
  • Nick Miles as PC John 'Thug' Barrett (Series 1—2)
  • Katrina Levon as PC Gill 'Dippy' Copson (Series 1—2)
  • Calum MacPherson as PC Roger 'Flub' Tennant (Series 1—2)
  • William Tapley as PC Lionel 'Oz' Adams (Series 1—2)
  • Alex Norton as PC Iain 'Jock' MacRae (Series 1)
  • Colette Koo as PC Susan 'Bruce' Li (Series 1)
  • Oliver Milburn as PC Wayne 'Bog' Cheetham (Series 1)
  • James Gaddas as PC Jim 'Grim' Reaper (Series 2)
  • Matthew Rhys as PC Steve 'Hiccup' Higson (Series 2)
  • Adam Morris as Inspector 'Jean' Harlow (Series 1—2)
  • Peter Sullivan as DI Overton (Series 1—2)
  • Christopher Quinn as PC Richard Goole (Series 1—2)
  • Suzan Crowley as DCI Helen Chivers (Series 1)
  • Sam Cox as Superintendent Hallsworth (Series 1)
  • Kate Gartside as DS Kath Reaper (Series 2)
  • Annie Miles as Tracy Collins (Series 1—2)
  • Amelda Brown as Brenda Parkin (Series 1—2)
  • Beverly Hills as Kate Warren (Series 1)


Series 1 (1995)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1 "Not All There" Roy Mitchell Jan Sargeant 7 September 1995 (1995-09-07)
After assisting DI Overton on a bungled drugs raid, the members of Charlie Van are assigned to look for the body of a missing teenage girl, a suspected victim of former sex offender John Kerridge (Sean Scanlan). The investigation proves emotional for Token, as he struggles to deal with the memories of his teenage sister's disappearance some years earlier. The search is wound up when a body is found, but it is later discovered not to be the victim the team are looking for. During interview, Kerridge confesses to another five murders and the team are sent back to his farm to dig for more bodies. Whilst escorting Kerridge to and from the farm to identify the locations of the further victims, Charlie Van come under attack from a group of emotionally distraught parents of Kerridge's victims. And when the body of Token's sister is discovered, the team are left in shellshock.
2 "Tender Loving Care" Steve Trafford Jan Sargeant 14 September 1995 (1995-09-14)
An ex-soldier returns from Bosnia with plans to prevent his sister getting married, and traumatised by his experiences of war, barricades himself into her house, which results in the team being called in.
3 "Toleration Zone" Steve Trafford Jan Sargeant 21 September 1995 (1995-09-21)
The officers from Charlie Van struggle to keep the peace when hostilities erupt between an Asian community and local prostitutes, and a group of vigilantes decide to take drastic action.
4 "Mouth and Trousers" Avril E. Russell Douglas Mackinnon 28 September 1995 (1995-09-28)
Charlie Van is called into action when the leader of a hooligan gang is stabbed before a UEFA cup football match between Liverpool and Aston Villa, but need back-up themselves when a riot between rival gangs looks inevitable.
5 "Badlands" Simon Stirling Douglas Mackinnon 5 October 1995 (1995-10-05)
The team visit the inner-city housing estate from hell when events threaten to spiral out of control following an attack on an elderly couple during a burglary.
6 "Happy That Way" Roy Mitchell Douglas Mackinnon 12 October 1995 (1995-10-12)
The team have to go undercover as prostitutes, drug dealers and rent boys, in order to stamp out crime on a local common. They catch a copper from another nick with an under age girl in his car.
7 "Clubbing" Roy Mitchell Bob Blagden 19 October 1995 (1995-10-19)
The team are called upon to assist the Drugs Squad in closing down a club notorious for the flow of narcotics through its doors. Superintendent Hallsworth confronts DCI Chivers over suspected corruption involving her team, and finds he may have more to lose than he thought.
8 "Cut and Dried" Roy Mitchell Bob Blagden 26 October 1995 (1995-10-26)
A routine surveillance job by the Drugs Squad turns into tragedy for the Charlie Serial team, who find themselves at the frontline when a stakeout at a drug dealer's house goes wrong. And for PC Warren, the outcome of the operation proves doubly heartbreaking.

Series 2 (1997)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1 "A Night Out with the Lads" Roy Mitchell Bob Blagden 28 May 1997 (1997-05-28)
The team investigate illegal boxing matches and find the body of a teenage boy.
2 "Partners" Susan Wilkins Bob Blagden 4 June 1997 (1997-06-04)
Three convicts have escaped from prison. One is recaptured, and the team is called on to locate the others. However, as the operation intensifies, the crew find themselves under siege.
3 "Touched" Avril E. Russell Jan Sargeant 11 June 1997 (1997-06-11)
A call to a horrific train crash has lasting repercussions for Sergeant Parkin and WPC Copson. Charlie Serial face an inquest following a rescue attempt where two people died.
4 "Presence" Robin Mukherjee Jan Sargeant 18 June 1997 (1997-06-18)
Community policing provides headaches for Charlie Serial when a fight flares up on a pub on a local housing estate being ruled by a protection racket.
5 "Not Cricket" Robin Mukherjee Jan Sargeant 25 June 1997 (1997-06-25)
A worker at a local factory is sacked, leading to unrest in the local community. The team is called to attend the picket lines. Tennant investigates when he suspects the factory of using child labour.
6 "Something for the Weekend, Sir?" Roy Mitchell Bob Blagden 2 July 1997 (1997-07-02)
Copson becomes convinced that Overton is involved with a child sex ring after she sees him with a suspected paedophile, and decides to break into his house to find evidence. Meanwhile, Parkin's loyalties are put to the test when his wife goes into labour while he is on duty.


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