Merseybeat (TV series)

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For other uses, see Mersey sound (disambiguation).
Genre Police procedural
Starring Haydn Gwynne
John McArdle
Michelle Holmes
David Hargreaves
Jonathan Kerrigan
Chris Walker
Josie D'Arby
Joanna Taylor
Leslie Ash
Shelley Conn
Scot Williams
Mark Womack
Claire Sweeney
Theme music composer Jonathan Kerrigan
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 38 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Mal Young
Chris Murray
Producer(s) BBC Birmingham
Running time 60 mins
Original network BBC One
Picture format 576i
Original release 16 July 2001 – 19 January 2004
External links
Merseybeat at the BBC

Merseybeat is a British police procedural television series shown on BBC One, with a total of four series broadcast between 2001 and 2004. The series follows the personal and professional lives of one shift of police officers from the fictional Newton Park police station on Merseyside, England.[1]

In 2001, prior the launch of the series, Merseybeat attracted controversy due to alleged similarities between its pilot episode and the murder of James Bulger, though the BBC defended the series, saying "there are no associations with the tragic case of James Bulger".[2]

In July and August 2002, Merseybeat faced heavy criticism upon its return for a second series.[3] The broadcasting standards commission criticised the quality of the series and ratings fell sharply. In June 2002, ratings fell below 5 million viewers for the first time in the series' history[4] and, in August of the same year, The Guardian reported that the number of viewers had dropped by one million compared to the first episode of the second series.[5]

In late 2003, when Merseybeat commenced its fourth series, it underwent a major revamp, including the scrapping of the title sequence and theme tune, which was replaced with a record from Liverpudlian band Cast.[6] A more "gritty" approach to the drama was also part of the revamp, with the introduction of the station's CID and Mark Womack, formerly of Liverpool 1 as DI Hammond.[6]

For the first three series, filming took place mainly in Widnes, Lancashire and also the neighbouring town of Runcorn in Cheshire, making heavy use of local landmarks such as the Silver Jubilee Bridge and Fiddlers Ferry power station. The police station itself was a disused Golden Wonder factory also located in Widnes. For the fourth and final series, filming was moved to Liverpool. The series is notable for having never been repeated since broadcast; and despite strong interest from fans of the series, it has never been released on DVD either.


Character Series
Series 1 Series 2 Series 3 Series 4
Superintendent Susan Blake Haydn Gwynne
Chief Inspector/Superintendent Jim Oulton John McArdle
Inspector Charlie Eden Leslie Ash
PC/Sergeant Connie Harper[7] Michelle Holmes
Sergeant Bill Gentle[8] David Hargreaves
Sergeant Danny Jackson Danny Lawrence
Sergeant Mark Salt Bernard Merrick
Sergeant Lester Cartwright Gary Cargill
PC Steve Traynor Jonathan Kerrigan
PC Larry "Tiger" Barton Chris Walker
PC Jodie Finn Josie D'Arby
PC Jackie Brown Joanna Taylor
PC Miriam Da Silva Shelley Conn
PC Dee Milton Kaye Wragg
PC Glenn Freeman Scot Williams
Detective Inspector Pete Hammond Mark Womack
Detective Sergeant Roz Kelly Claire Sweeney
Reception Sergeant Maddie Wright Eileen O'Brien
Chief Constable Mike Bishop Stephen Moore
Chief Constable William Harvey Sean Arnold

Episode list[edit]

Series One (2001)[edit]

Before broadcast, episodes one and two had to be completely re-filmed, as the role of Supt. Susan Blake was re-cast, as producers decided that the original lead, Michelle Collins, was not suitable for the role; and although having initially turned down the opportunity, producers approached Haydn Gwynne, who eventually agreed to take over.[9] Episode two was also completely re-written. The original script for the episode was entitled "Hard Rain", and featured officers investigating a chemical leak at a nuclear power plant. This storyline was scrapped entirely, however some scenes in episode six, "Thicker Than Water", were filmed close to the plant where filming for "Hard Rain" took place.[10] Notably, episode five was dedicated to the memory of guest actor Kenneth MacDonald, who died just a week before the broadcast of his guest role on August 6, 2001.

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date Viewing figures (m.)
1 "Deep End" Brian Kelly Chris Murray 16 July 2001 8.16m
Supt. Blake co-ordinates a search when an eleven-year old boy is reported missing by his parents. Witnesses claim to have seen a young boy running scared in nearby woods, and when the team go to investigate, PC Milton (Kaye Wragg) is injured after being pushed off a cliff face by a possible suspect. With emotions running high, the team try to find the man responsible as well as locate the missing boy. When a link to the boy's estranged father is discovered, the team realize they may not be dealing with the psychopath that they first expected. However, when PC Milton's condition worsens and she dies in hospital of her injuries, the case is upgraded to a murder enquiry.
2 "Step By Step" Robert Del Maestro Chris Murray 23 July 2001 6.60m
Ch. Insp. Oulton tries to help out an old friend, Phil Scott (Duncan Preston), when an arson attack burns down a homeless charity that he volunteers for. A link to other local arson attacks is suspected, but Oulton soon realizes that Scott may have been having extra-marital relations with an underage girl - which may indicate a motive for the attack. Meanwhile, a young girl brought into custody on suspicion of shoplifting turns out to be withholding an extra special surprise - a baby. And when tempers between the girl and her father boil over, it's not long before the girl enters early labour, and Sgt. Jackson realizes that he may have to deliver the baby himself.
3 "Coming of Age" Brian Kelly Patrick Melanaphy 30 July 2001 6.26m
Sgt. Gentle decides it's time for a change and decides to go out on the beat with PC Traynor, and the pair investigate a burglary at the home of an antiques dealer, and soon discover a link with several other local robberies. However, one thing that did not account for, is that one of the robbers is a relative of the dealer - a vital piece of information which could lead them to the ringleader of a dangerous gang. Meanwhile, Ch. Insp. Oulton tries to help out an old friend who has found himself on the wrong side of the law - but realizes that he may have completely misjudged his loyalties when evidence is uncovered suggesting that the man may have been guilty after all.
4 "Unexploded Bombs" Richard Signy Chris Murray 6 August 2001 6.48m
PCs Traynor and Barton go undercover in an attempt to catch a gang of muggers, whose mode of operations is to dip the purses of their elderly victims whilst on the bus. However, Traynor fails to account for a elderly woman who is at the end of her tether - and when an already tender situation boils over, she unleashes a machine gun and accidentally manages to shoot one of the youths. Meanwhile, Supt. Blake attends a medical convention with her husband, and ends up chatting to a heavily-pregnant woman who seems on edge. However, when the woman later confesses to the murder of her own baby some twelve years previously, Blake finds herself caught up in the middle.
5 "Dead Time" Richard Signy Graham Mitchell 13 August 2001 6.56m
PCs Traynor and Barton embark on a high-speed chase in an attempt to catch three joyriding youths in a stolen car. However, when the chase goes off-road, Traynor is forced to call for help after crashing the panda car. Meanwhile, a young boy, Scott Carter, has been attacked in his own home, and Ch. Insp. Oulton believes that Robbie Elliot (Kenneth MacDonald), who was convicted of the murder of Scott's sister, Helen, may have been responsible for the attack. Helen and Scott's grieving father decides to pay Elliot a visit after a tip-off from Oulton, but when Scott dies, Elliot is targeted and finds himself trapped inside a burning house, with both he and his daughter in grave danger.
6 "Thicker Than Water" Tom Clegg Steve Lawson 20 August 2001 6.90m
PCs Harper and Traynor tail a youngster on suspicion of credit card fraud, unaware that he is one of Harper's relatives. However, Harper's decision to let the boy off with a caution backfires when they discover he is responsible for a string of local burglaries. Meanwhile, PCs Da Silva and Barton investigate a domestic violence case, involving a man who has been repeatedly arrested for beating his wife, but after she is threatened and attacked, Da Silva sees red when making the arrest, and physically restrains the suspect to prevent him from talking to his wife. The suspect decides to put in a complaint, but it's not long before his wife's temper finally blows and she attacks him.
7 "Fools Rush In" Paul Walker Joe Ainsworth 27 August 2001 6.75m
PCs Barton and Harper find a young girl washed up on the riverbank, who they find has been badly beaten. With the girl unable to speak a word of English, they suspect she may have entered the country illegally, but a vital lead comes when they uncover a link to a local strip club, and suspect that thugs tasked by the club's owner, who is an arch enemy of Ch. Insp. Oulton, may have been responsible for the beating. Oulton's investigation of his nemesis leads him to uncover that his own wife is having an affair. Meanwhile, Supt. Blake decides to go out on the beat with PC Da Silva to prove she can still cut the mustard, but comes up against a tricky shoplifter who fakes dementia.
8 "For Better or For Worse" Robert Del Maestro Joe Ainsworth 10 September 2001 7.23m
Sgt. Gentle leads the team in search of an attacker after his wife is brutally mugged. Angry at the lack of evidence against prime suspect Michelle Talbot, PC Barton decides to unleash his own brand of justice, and has a quiet word in the ear of her ex-boyfriend - which results in Talbot receiving a savage beating. Meanwhile, Supt. Blake and PC Traynor lead a talk on crime prevention at a local women's rights group, but when Supt. Blake goes to investigate loud music coming from a nearby pub, she is confronted by an angry landlord who is trying to commit suicide with a shotgun. Ch. Insp. Oulton then decides to risk his own life by offering himself as a second hostage.
9 "Crying Out Loud" Rob Evans Chris Murray 17 September 2001 7.15m
PCs Harper and Traynor tail a group of teenage joyriders, but the chase ends in tragedy when the youths crash their car, and the young female driver is killed. PC Harper finds herself on the receiving end of a slap from the girl's angry father, but Supt. Blake isn't happy to discover that the defendant is a good friend of the chief constable - and comes close to resigning when she discovers that he leaked information claiming that PC Harper was responsible for the crash. Meanwhile, Ch. Insp. Oulton investigates when Supt. Blake receives a number of anonymous gifts, which appear to be from a stalker. He questions a murder suspect that Blake previously convicted who was recently released from prison.
10 "What Goes Around" Keith Boak Chris Murray 24 September 2001 7.83m
Supt. Blake's husband Al is seriously injured when the car he is driving explodes, and SOCO find evidence of a bomb. Blake suspects that he is a victim of her stalker and that she was the intended target. Ch. Insp. Oulton continues to investigate a murder suspect who swore revenge on Blake some seven years previously, but soon finds the man dead in his flat, having supposedly taken his own life. Supt. Blake's neighbour manages to identify a man seen running away from her house around the time of the explosion, but his description doesn't match that of the deceased. When suspect Phillip Kitchener (Kevin Whately) is later identified, PC Barton decides to take the law into his own hands once again.

Series Two (2002)[edit]

Series two introduced three new main characters into the cast - probationary PCs Jodie Finn (Josie D'Arby) and Jackie Brown (Joanna Taylor), as well as new custody Sergeant Mark 'Pepper' Salt (Bernard Merrick). This series saw the programme take a step away from crime-fighting and focuses more on the personal relationships between the main characters, much like's the show's main rival at the time, The Bill. Episode two was broadcast an hour later than usual due to the content of the episode; this however resulted in an increase of viewership, with more than 1.5m additional viewers tuning in compared to the previous week.[11]

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date Viewing figures (m.)
1 "Ghosts" Rob Evans Chris Murray 24 June 2002 5.57m
Newton Park's newest recruits, PCs Jackie Brown and Jodie Finn, both have a roller coaster of a first day as the team deal with a former police officer who manages to escape from custody after being sentenced to five years in jail. The arrival of Supt. Blake's ex-husband Guy causes trouble for the team after he and his friend are arrested on suspicion of drink driving. To top it all off, Ch. Insp. Oulton's wife has petitioned for divorce and PC Barton's caught napping on the job. And with Blake tied up at work, her husband Al realises that the strain on their marriage is becoming clearer day by day. But Blake soon has other problems to worry about after she is attacked on her way home.
2 "The Morning After" Rob Evans Joe Ainsworth 1 July 2002 7.02m
The aftermath of Supt. Blake's attack unfolds as she once again comes head to head with the Chief Constable, this time during a progress meeting with a young mother whose son was left disabled after being caught in a road traffic accident involving a group of joyriders. Blake decides to confront her ex-husband in an attempt to discover whether or not he was responsible. Meanwhile, PC Barton arrests one of his old school friends for animal cruelty, but is surprised when he decides to turn grass on his own brother. PC Traynor decides to further his relationship with Blue McCormack. PCs Finn and Brown receive a harsh reprimand from Supt. Blake for their catfight the previous night.
3 "Child's Play" Jo Johnson Chris Murray 8 July 2002 4.89m
PC Finn decides to turn lone ranger after an accusation of child abuse is made by a fighting couple during her and PC Traynor's investigation into a report of noisy neighbours. After confronting the defendant's father and practically accusing him of abuse, PC Finn is reigned in and Supt. Blake takes over the investigation. As it transpires that the defendant was being abused by his stepfather, Supt. Blake breaks down in the arms of PC Finn and reveals that she was raped two weeks previously, but asks her not to tell anyone. Meanwhile, Ch. Insp. Oulton continues to rebuild his relationship with his wife, while Tiger's decision to bring his dog to work ends in disaster when it disappears.
4 "Crossing the Line" Jo Johnson Joe Ainsworth 15 July 2002 5.60m
PC Finn is unable to withhold the secret of Supt. Blake's attack any longer, and decides to inform Insp. Oulton, which opens up a whole new can of worms when he decides that her husband, Al, should be kept in the picture. Meanwhile, PC Traynor investigates an attack on Blue McCormack's club. When Blue reveals that the perpetrator is a dodgy local supplier whom she recently cancelled an order with, Traynor decides to issue a harsh warning of his own, much to the upset of PC Finn. PCs Barton and Brown learn the true value of friendship when Barton attempts to move a dead body in order to avoid filling out the neccessary paperwork, but Brown is unable to keep his secret.
5 "Desperately Seeking" Andy Hay Chris Murray 22 July 2002 6.18m
Supt. Blake tries to convince her husband that he could not have prevented the rape. Ch. Insp. Oulton questions her ex-husband, Guy Morgan, but is unable to break his alibi. Further enquiries lead the team to local villain Cody Martin, who has a history of sex crime and eventually confesses to the attack - but inconsistencies in his story convince Ch. Insp. Oulton that the real rapist has yet to be caught. Meanwhile, Chief Constable Bishop takes a shine to PC Brown, and asks her to be his eyes and ears within the station. PC Traynor warns crime boss Phil Brack that Blue is no longer prepared to continue accepting deliveries of dodgy booze and fags, but he refuses to play ball.
6 "Unhappy Medium" Andy Hay Joe Ainsworth 29 July 2002 5.37m
Sgt. Harper and PC Brown take opposite sides in a dispute between two neighbours, when two young lads are caught terrorising an elderly couple with a motorbike. However, PC Brown realises that her judgement call may have been way off when tensions boil over and one of the young boys ends up getting stabbed. Meanwhile, PCs Traynor and Finn deal with a psychic medium who is being threatened by an angry customer. When he is brought into custody, he makes reference to Supt. Blake's attack, and Ch. Insp. Oulton tries to use him to identify a suspect. Sgt. Harper and Ch. Insp. Oulton get intimate, while PC Traynor delivers a harsh warning to crime boss Phil Brack.
7 "Over and Out" Robert Del Maestro Colin Bytheway 5 August 2002 5.98m
Sgt. Harper is forced to become bedside vigil for crime boss Phil Brack following his brutal assault at the hands of PC Traynor. PCs Barton and Brown suspect that one of Brack's dealers may be involved in his attack. However, after following him to Blue's club, their impatience and cockiness causes them to stumble right into the middle of a CID operation, blowing months of secret surveillance. Meanwhile, PC Traynor, unable to silence his conscience any longer, admits to Insp. Oulton that he was responsible for Brack's attack. Oulton, however, chooses to back up his man and forces Brack to keep silent. PC Finn warns Blue to stay away from PC Traynor for the sake of his career.
8 "Going Down" Robert Del Maestro Chris Murray 12 August 2002 5.92m
PCs Brown and Finn uncover a scam involving two youths who are 'faking' car accidents in at attempt to steal cash from their victims. Meanwhile, Ch. Insp. Oulton discovers that his daughter's fiance, Kit, has a criminal record for possession of drugs. Sgt. Gentle goes undercover in Blue's nightclub to gather evidence against him, but the operation goes awry when Oulton is forced to arrest his own daughter. PC Barton finds himself playing landlord when Oulton decides to separate from his wife, but soon discovers his night of intimacy with Sgt. Harper. After digging around, Sgt. Gentle uncovers new evidence and manages to break Guy Morgan's alibi for the night of Supt. Blake's rape.
9 "Long Shadows" Adrian Bean Colin Bytheway 19 August 2002 5.68m
Caroline Morgan turns up at the station and demands to see Supt. Blake, and subsequently reveals that Guy was not at home on the night of her rape, as she previously claimed. PC Brown becomes the face of a new campaign to raise awareness of the force amongst young people, but at a PR stand set up in the local shopping centre, she is anonymously handed a blackmail letter which claims if she does not hand over £500, nude photos taken when she was a teenager will be leaked to the press. Although she initially decides to pay the money, PC Finn decides to dig deeper. Unable to hide her suspicions any longer, Blake invites Guy out for dinner and confronts him face-to-face.
10 "End Game" Adrian Bean Joe Ainsworth 26 August 2002 5.93m
Supt. Blake finally comes to realise that her attacker was none other than her ex-husband, Guy Morgan. With Morgan on the run, Sgt. Gentle, who is supposed to be in hospital for his brain operation, decides to lead the manhunt, but after confronting Morgan in a local pub, collapses and ends up being blue-lighted to the hospital by PC Traynor. Meanwhile, PCs Barton and Brown investigate when Barton's ex-wife claims to have been burgled. With Sgt. Gentle critically ill in hospital, Supt. Blake decides to take matters into her own hands. Taking a gun from the property store, she leads Guy Morgan back to his house, where she ties him up to a radiator and confronts him about the attack.

Series Three (2002-2003)[edit]

# Title Episode notes Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "Love is Not Love" 18 November 2002
Six weeks since the events of "End Game", the inquest into the death of Guy Morgan is well underway, but both Supt. Blake and Insp. Oulton have chosen to lie to the board in order to save Blake's skin. However, when Blake is exonerated of any wrongdoing, Oulton becomes the scapegoat. Meanwhile, PCs Traynor and Barton deal with a father and son fighting in the street. They discover that their feuding is the result of the boy having sexual relations with his step-sister, which PC Traynor passes off - until a shocking relevation reveals the siblings are actually blood related. Meanwhile, it's Insp. Oulton's daughter's wedding, which amazingly goes off without a hitch - until Supt. Blake uncovers Jenny's new beau snorting cocaine in the toilets and kissing another woman. Sgt. Harper discovers she is pregnant with Insp. Oulton's child and struggles to keep the fact a secret. PC Brown deals with a nuisance caller, only to arrive at his address to find him dead.
2 "Happy As..." 25 November 2002
Ch. Insp. Oulton decides to dish out his own brand of justice when his son in law is caught dealing drugs - and cheating on his daughter.
3 "The Good Lord Giveth..." 2 December 2002
Sgt. Harper and PC Finn are left badly injured after chasing a group of joyriders, and the team set out to find those responsible.
4 "Under the Cosh" 9 December 2002
Supt. Blake faces an inquest into the death of a suspect, while Ch. Insp. Oulton's father is implicated in a murder enquiry.
5 "On Borrowed Time" 16 December 2002
Supt. Blake finds her operational powers have been reduced when the verdict of inquiry is revealed.
6 "Only the Lonely" 6 January 2003
Ch. Insp. Oulton is promoted to Superintendent, but soon has to deal with a death in custody involving PC Traynor and Insp. Eden.
7 "Precious Illusions" Dominic Keavey Colin Bytheway 13 January 2003
Insp. Eden deals with an irate father who threatens to harm his daughter's pimp.
8 "The Thirty-Third Degree" Dominic Keavey Joe Ainsworth 20 January 2003
PC Traynor's brother is left badly beaten after two henchmen come to collect repayment on his drug debt.
9 "Is That Love?" Joe Ainsworth 27 January 2003
Supt. Oulton and Insp. Eden investigate a bomb threat at the home of a medical research activist.
10 "Peace for the Wicked" 3 February 2003
Supt. Oulton realises that two of his officers are implicated in the death of youth Des Orton.

Series Four (2003-2004)[edit]

# Title Episode notes Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "Hearts and Minds" Keith Boak 17 November 2003
PCs Barton and Brown investigate when a young boy is attacked by a thug looking to recover a debt.
2 "Warrior's Moon" Sven Arnstein 24 November 2003
PCs Barton and Freeman find a body of a woman during a routine call out to the Mersey.
3 "Broken Dreams" Keith Boak 1 December 2003
PCs Brown and Finn find a young boy living home alone, who claims his father has gone to Majorca.
4 "True Colours" Sven Arnstein 8 December 2003
Insp. Eden and DI Hammond investigate an adoption agency selling children to the highest bidder.
5 "Angels with Dirty Faces" Adrian Bean 15 December 2003
Sgt. Gentle teams up with Supt. Oulton's father to investigate a cold case involving a wrongly convicted murder suspect.
6 "Repeat Offender" Ian Barnes 5 January 2004
DI Hammond and the team investigate a serial sex attacker in an attempt to stop him before he attacks again.
7 "Distant Vices" Adrian Bean 12 January 2004
DI Hammond and DS Kelly investigate when a student found dead in a school playground turns out to be a drugs mule.
8 "Day of Reckoning" Ian Barnes 19 January 2004
DS Kelly suspects her father is about to commit an armed robbery, leading DI Hammond into a life-or-death confrontation with a gun dealer.


  1. ^ "Merseybeat". London: BBC. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  2. ^ "BBC defends police drama". BBC News (London: BBC). 16 July 2001. Retrieved 12 December 2009. 
  3. ^ Flett, Kathryn (30 June 2002). "The second series of Merseybeat is more plod than drama, but there's nothing quite as funny as the filthy humour of A Life of Grime". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  4. ^ Gibson, Owen (9 July 2002). "Merseybeat fails to arrest viewers". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  5. ^ Cozens, Claire (20 August 2002). "Merseybeat takes a beating". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  6. ^ a b McLean, Gareth (18 November 2003). "Let's talk about sex". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "Michelle Holmes". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "David Hargreaves". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^

External links[edit]