Crime Traveller

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Crime Traveller
Title card
GenreCrime drama
Science fiction
Created byAnthony Horowitz
StarringMichael French
Chloë Annett
Sue Johnston
Paul Trussell
Richard Dempsey
Bob Goody
Music byAnne Dudley
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series1
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
ProducerBrian Eastman
Running time50 minutes
Production companyCarnival Films
Original networkBBC One
Picture format4:3
Audio formatStereo
Original release1 March (1997-03-01) –
19 April 1997 (1997-04-19)

Crime Traveller is a 1997 science fiction detective television series produced by Carnival Films for the BBC based on the premise of using time travel for the purpose of solving crimes.[1]

Anthony Horowitz created the series and wrote every episode. He got the idea while writing an episode of Poirot. Despite having over eight million viewers on a regular basis, Crime Traveller was not renewed after its first series, because according to Horowitz, "The show wasn't exactly cut. There was a chasm at the BBC, created by the arrival of a new Head of Drama and our run ended at that time. There was no-one around to commission a new series...and so it just didn't happen.".[2]

Some fans have drawn similarities between the series and the film Timecop which also depicts a Police Officer travelling back in time to solve crimes. Horowitz quickly realised he was in fact out of his depth, trying to capitalise on the hiatus of Doctor Who, which did not meet up to his assurances.


Jeff Slade is a detective with the CID department of the local police force led by Kate Grisham; although unusually for such a position he is an armed officer, carrying a handgun as routine. Slade is a good detective who gets results although his approach is somewhat maverick and his methods do leave a lot to be desired and have more than once landed him in trouble. Amongst Slade's colleagues at the department is science officer Holly Turner who has a secret that Slade manages to uncover. Holly owns a working time machine that was built by her late father. The machine is able to take Slade and Holly back far enough in time to witness a crime as it happens and discover who committed it. As a result, Slade's track record with crime solving goes through the roof with case after case being solved in record time.[3]


The Time Machine featured in the series was invented by Professor Frederick Turner. The machine has been cobbled together from various different pieces of electronic equipment over the years and has a distinctly home-made look about it. Turner built the machine in the living room of his flat in Sundown Court where he lived with his daughter Holly and presumably at some stage his wife. Holly is the only other person he ever told about the machine. The most vital component for the machine is the electro-magnetic crystal which is in the heart of the machine. Unfortunately it is also the single most expensive part of the machine. Turner had to sell his house to buy his.

Attached to the machine is a time piece which has a small analogue clock and a digital countdown display. This indicates how far back the machine has taken you and how much time remains until you are back at the time you left. This time piece can be removed from the machine and placed in a watch which the time traveller can carry round to remind of how much time is left. The time piece must be replaced in the machine before the countdown reaches zero otherwise the traveller or travellers will be caught in a loop of infinity constantly living out the same few hours that they travelled back in time. This is what happened to Frederick Turner. The machine is now maintained by Holly and she was the only person to know about it until she told her friend and colleague Jeff Slade.

Rules of time travel[edit]

The rules of time travel in the series are as follows.

  • You cannot travel into the future. Holly explains in the first episode that you can't travel into something that doesn't exist.
  • The time machine sends the traveller back in time by a random interval. Usually this is about a day but it may be as little as a few minutes or as much as a week. In the final episode of the series it is found that the length of time travelled back can be controlled by altering the length of the photon rods; this is discovered by the research company Webb Biotech, who have also invented a time machine.
  • You are not allowed to cheat. Holly explains in the first episode (which is expanded upon in 'The Lottery Experiment') that any attempt to profit off time travel will inevitably fail; for instance, if you go back in time and put a bet on a winning horse then the slip will disappear upon returning to the present. Slade attempts to expose a loophole in this by memorising winning lottery numbers and going back in time himself, reasoning that he can tell Holly the numbers so she can put the ticket on. However this also doesn't work, as all attempts by Slade to contact her fail and the numbers are later misread by his colleague.
  • However long you go back for, you must live through that time again.
  • You must not meet yourself in the past. It is not clear what would result if you did, but it is presumed the consequences would be dire.
  • You cannot change the past. One of the results of this restriction is that the effects of the time traveller's journey back in time are already visible "before" the journey is made.
  • You cannot exist more than twice in the same time frame. If you try to go back a second time, the machine will simply fail to operate.
  • When "in the past", you must get back to the time machine by the time you "left". Otherwise, you will be trapped in a "loop of infinity" which is what happened to Holly Turner's father.
  • Upon returning to the "present", any injuries you acquired while in the past will disappear.
  • You cannot bring anything back from the past with you. Anything you do try to bring will vanish upon returning.


  • Jeff Slade (Michael French) — Slade is not what could be described as a conventional detective. His style is maverick to say the least and he is more prone to go on instinct rather than cold hard facts. This approach invariably gets him in trouble with his superiors but nine times out of ten they will result in an arrest. Slade clearly enjoys his job and is very dedicated to it even though his attitude sometimes suggests otherwise. He was inspired to join the police because of his father Jack who was a highly respected detective himself until his false arrest and imprisonment for theft in 1992. Jeff took this very hard as he had always admired his father and refused to believe he was capable of such a thing following such a distinguished 30-year career. Slade was once married but very little is known about how long he was married and indeed how the marriage ended but it is thought that his wife died as he keeps a picture in his flat of a girl he tells Holly is now dead. Outside work Slade tends to keep himself to himself and rarely if ever socialises with colleagues such as Morris and Nicky. His only real friend at work is science officer Holly Turner. They have clearly always been on friendly terms but it is suggested that before her telling him about the machine they didn't socialise outside of work. Since his finding out about the machine the two have become a lot closer and spend a lot of time together outside work. It is hinted throughout the series that Slade is attracted to Holly but for whatever reason he has never seen fit to tell her how he feels. As well as making them closer personally their use of the machine has also shown that professionally they are a very good team and together they have solved several crimes including who set up Slade's father five years before and getting him released.
  • Holly Turner (Chloë Annett) — Holly is the daughter of Professor Frederick Turner, a prominent physicist whose specialist field was that of time travel. After years of research and work, Turner was able to develop a working time machine. Turner used the machine to carry out experiments on time and the laws and rules by which it abides, such as 'you can't change the past' and 'time won't allow paradoxes'. The only other person Turner ever told about the machine was his daughter Holly. When Turner failed to return to the machine in time on his last trip and was trapped in a loop of infinity, Holly took over work on the machine and continued to maintain and perfect it to continue his experiments. To do so, Holly needed money but she didn't dare apply for a grant for fear of someone discovering the machine. So, she went to work for the CID as a science officer and it was there that she met detective Jeff Slade. The two were friendly from the start but when Holly used the machine to help Slade out after a case had gone badly wrong and got Slade in trouble, Slade found out about the machine. This resulted in their relationship becoming closer and they began spending time together outside work. Holly is clearly attracted to Slade as he is to her but like him, she chooses not to reveal this to him, probably because she thinks that if the machine were not around then Slade wouldn't give her a second glance. Like Slade, Holly tends to keep herself to herself, possibly more so than he does because she is so terrified that someone may find out about the machine. Whilst she feels that Slade relies too much on the machine to solve his cases, she does seem to like having someone to talk to about the machine and she no longer has to keep all the financial worries that its upkeep brings completely to herself.


  • Michael French as DI Jeff Slade — City detective, and the only person other than Holly who knows about the time machine.
  • Chloë Annett as Holly Turner — Forensic scientist whose father invented the time machine, which she keeps and adjusts in her apartment.
  • Sue Johnston as DCI Kate Grisham — Slade's irritable boss whom, thanks to his methods, he is constantly getting on the wrong side of.
  • Paul Trussell as DS Morris — Slade's slow-witted colleague, who usually takes the credit for his success.
  • Richard Dempsey as DC Nicky Robson — A posh, intelligent but naïve trainee detective, too helpful and trusting for his own good.
  • Bob Goody as Danny — Caretaker at Holly's apartment block, who is constantly having to deal with the power outages caused by Holly and Slade's use of the time machine.


Episode[4] Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Jeff Slade and the Loop of Infinity"Anthony HorowitzBrian FarnhamTBA1 March 1997 (1997-03-01)
Slade is in trouble with his boss when a stakeout goes wrong, but his partner, Holly Turner, has a secret plan to help him out. Her methods, however, are somewhat unusual and involve a time machine.
2"Death in the Family"Anthony HorowitzRick StroudTBA8 March 1997 (1997-03-08)
When Holly's Aunt Mary is poisoned in a five star restaurant, she and Slade travel back in time to find the murderer, but she discovers that her relatives aren't the people who she originally thought they were. Things take an unexpected turn when she is arrested for the crime herself.
3"Fashion Shoot"Anthony HorowitzBrian FarnhamTBA15 March 1997 (1997-03-15)
When top fashion designer Sonia Duvall receives death threats, the entire division is assigned to guard her at the forthcoming fashion show. Their efforts fail, however, and she is shot on the catwalk - but Slade and Holly soon discover all is not what it seems.
4"The Revenge of the Chronology Protection Hypothesis"Anthony HorowitzRick StroudTBA22 March 1997 (1997-03-22)
When Holly sees a news report telling her that Slade has been shot, she travels back in time to try and prevent the shooting. However, she discovers that her own actions may have caused the shooting in the first place. Holly is forced to go against everything she's ever believed, and goes on a seemingly hopeless quest to save him.
5"Sins of the Father"Anthony HorowitzRick StroudTBA29 March 1997 (1997-03-29)
Slade is framed for stealing diamonds, and it's suspiciously like a similar incident which had happened to his father, Jack, nearly five years ago. With the help of Holly, will he be able to prove that both Jack and himself are innocent? Soon enough, they find their pasts coming back to haunt them.
6"Death Minister"Anthony HorowitzBrian FarnhamTBA5 April 1997 (1997-04-05)
When Grisham becomes suspicious of Slade's success rate in solving crimes, Holly decides to warn Slade that they have been using the machine too much - but when an MP is killed, they simply can't resist taking a look. Temptation proves too much for Slade, however, and he later uses the machine without Holly's knowledge.
7"The Lottery Experiment"Anthony HorowitzBrian FarnhamTBA12 April 1997 (1997-04-12)
To apologise for using the machine without asking, Slade hatches a way to win the lottery, in order to secure the money Holly needs to finish the final stages of construction. He goes back in time to find the winning numbers, but ends up discovering that putting his practice into theory is going to be harder than he first thought.
8"The Broken Crystal"Anthony HorowitzRick StroudTBA19 April 1997 (1997-04-19)
Holly's old flame comes back into her life, and Slade finds that his jealousy gets the better of him. Meanwhile, the most expensive and most vital part of the machine breaks, cutting Holly and Slade's time travelling escapades short. A new problem arises when the possibility of another time machine is brought into question. Will they take it?

Home media[edit]

Revelation Films released the entire series on DVD on 21 June 2004.[6]

The DVD Box Set includes an exclusive interview with writer and creator Anthony Horowitz. DVD Special Features also include; Cast and Crew Biographies, Episode Synopsis and Original Production Trailer.

See also[edit]

  • Quantum Leap, an American science fiction show involving time travel to fix the past; this often involves crime solving.
  • Seven Days, an American science fiction show in which a government-controlled machine can send one man a week back in time, though the expense means that it is only used to avert serious disasters; this can involve stopping criminals or terrorists.
  • Timecop, a 1994 science-fiction film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as a time-travelling police officer.


  1. ^ "Crime Traveller: The Complete Series". 21 June 2004 – via Amazon.
  2. ^ "Rewind: 'Crime Traveller' revisited". 20 June 2012.
  3. ^ Frydland, Liane. "Crime Traveller Homepage".
  4. ^ "Crime Traveller - Episode guide - BBC One". BBC.
  5. ^ "Weekly top 30 programmes - BARB".
  6. ^ "Crime Traveller: The Complete Series". 21 June 2004 – via Amazon.

External links[edit]