Murphy's Law (TV series)

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For the US TV series, see Murphy's Law (U.S. TV series). For other uses, see Murphy's Law (disambiguation).
Murphy's Law
Murphy's Law.jpg
Series DVD artwork
Genre Crime thriller
Created by Colin Bateman
Written by Colin Bateman
Allan Cubitt
Russell Lewis
et al.
Directed by Brian Kirk
Colm McCarthy
et al.
Starring James Nesbitt et al.
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5 (plus Pilot)
No. of episodes 23
Executive producer(s) Greg Brenman
Robert Cooper (Pilot)
Carol-Ann Docherty (S1)
Andrew Lowe (S4–5)
Stephen Wright (S2–3)
Producer(s) Sanne Craddick (Pilot; S1)
Jemma Rodgers (S2–3)
Tom Sherry (Pilot)
Stephen Smallwood (S4–5)
Location(s) Northern Ireland
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Tiger Aspect Productions
Distributor Endemol UK
Original network BBC One
Picture format PAL (576i)
Audio format Stereophonic
Original release 24 September 2001 – 3 October 2007
External links

Murphy's Law is a BBC television drama, produced by Tiger Aspect Productions for BBC Northern Ireland, starring James Nesbitt[1] as an undercover police officer, Tommy Murphy. There were five series of the drama, shown on BBC One. The first two were composed of individual stories. Series three, four and five were each single stories composed over multiple episodes. Colin Bateman adapted the pilot for a novel.

A sixth series has not been commissioned. In a 2008 interview, Nesbitt attributed this to the fifth series' ratings being damaged after it was scheduled opposite ITV's popular drama Doc Martin.[2]

Detective Sergeant Tommy Murphy[edit]


Murphy is an uncompromising, sometimes tough talking cop. He has no issues with using his charm and sense of humour to attempt to impress any woman, especially Annie, his colleague and later boss.

History and career[edit]

Murphy was previously married with a young daughter, in Northern Ireland. There, his family were taken hostage and he was forced to make a choice; either carry a bomb and blow himself up in a local barracks, or have his daughter killed. He originally chose the first option but when he got to the barracks he couldn't go through with detonating a bomb that would kill a hundred people. When he got back to the house, he found that they had slit his daughter's throat and that his wife had been forced to watch. His decision affected almost everything he does in life. He reflects at intervals, and remarks that he received 'a nice medal' for 'saving' so many lives, by making such a sacrifice. Yet, he still feels responsible for his daughter's death.


Air Date: 24 September 2001

A team of undertakers are moonlighting as diamond thieves, and the bodies are stacking up. Murphy infiltrates the group and discovers a somewhat sinister connection with Japanese heroin dealers. Meanwhile, the team's leader, Hatcher, is planning the most audacious heist yet. Murphy has to hold his nerve in an epic final showdown.

Series 1 (2003)[edit]

"Electric Bill"

Air Date: 28 April 2003

Murphy is sent undercover into a prison, in an attempt to draw out of Richard Mooney (Kevin Doyle) a confession for several murders, and to find the location of a missing woman. He is painted as an international terrorist as his cover. Mooney is released after no conclusive evidence is found, and this leads to a finalé, filmed at Biggin Hill Airport. The killers' family are ready to board a plane and escape, but Murphy arrives just in time to exercise justice.[3]

"Manic Munday"

Air Date: 5 May 2003

Micky Munday, a world-renowned snooker player is being blackmailed to fix snooker matches. Murphy and his colleague Annie go undercover in an attempt to protect the player and find the criminals masterminding the scam. Along the way, Murphy's wife reappears and turns out to be the current partner of Munday's opponent in the final.[4]


Air Date: 12 May 2003

London's stereotypically bloody culture is explored, as Murphy goes undercover to investigate rivalry, warfare and murders occurring between local club owners. Annie is again drawn into the mix, and together, she and Murphy discover the true culprits and those responsible for the killings.[5]

"Kiss and Tell"

Air Date: 19 May 2003

Murphy has the opportunity to practice his charm, as he is required to join an exclusive sports centre, doubling as a meeting place for unfaithful adults, in an attempt to track down the instigators of scams, deals and money laundering operations. During his adventure, he meets a number of beautiful women, all potentially responsible, and the men that are suffering as a result.[6]

Series 2 (2004)[edit]

"Jack's Back"

Air Date: 10 May 2004

A West End serial killer is on the loose, and it is Murphy's job to track him or her down. The case takes on a new dimension for the detective however, when tragedy strikes close to home.[7]

"Bent Moon On The Rise"

Air Date: 17 May 2004

A promising young officer commits suicide, and Murphy is assigned to investigate.[8]


Air Date: 24 May 2004

Murphy is asked to be part of an Interpol investigation, to infiltrate a car ringing gang. He is paired with a French officer, Benoit.[9]

"Go Ask Alice"

Air Date: 31 May 2004

Murphy goes undercover in a biotech laboratory to investigate possible rumours of a chemical leak that may have killed a young child, and gets more than he bargains for.[10]


Air Date: 7 June 2004

Mysterious occurrences in a local convent prompt Murphy to go and investigate.[11] However the nuns are not guilty of anything more than taking part of a scientific experiment.

"The Group"

Air Date: 14 June 2004

Murderers are being murdered. Coincidence or revenge? Murphy goes in to investigate, but when given the chance to exact a very personal revenge, his loyalties are tested.[12]

Series 3 (2005)[edit]

Series 3 saw a continuous storyline, which followed one major undercover investigation.

"The Goodbye Look"

Air Date: 26 May 2005

Gangland boss and cop killer Dave Callard wants a hitman, and Murphy is just the man for the job.[13]

"Disorganised Crime"

Air Date: 2 June 2005

Murphy is recommended to some dangerous brothers. He gains quite a reputation for being a reliable killer.[14]


Air Date: 9 June 2005

Callard instructs Murphy to obtain counterfeit Euros, and he needs all his fingers if he is to be successful![15]

"Extra Mile"

Air Date: 16 June 2005

Murphy begins to realise how big this case is. His life really does depend on it.[16]

"Boy's Night Out"

Air Date: 23 June 2005

Heroin from Afghanistan needs stopping, but events take a turn for the worse.[17]

"Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts"

Air Date: 30 June 2005

Callard is systematically destroying the forensic evidence against him. After so long investigating, Murphy can't blow it now, and has to act fast.[18]

Series 4 (2006)[edit]

Series 4 is one three-part serial shown over the 2006 August Bank Holiday (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday)

"Part 1"

Air Date: 27 August 2006

Tommy is called back, from compassionate leave at his mother's side, to infiltrate the Johnstone brothers, exiled from Belfast to Leicester. A botched drugs deal provides the perfect 'in', and Murphy is once more in the centre of the action...[19]

"Part 2"

Air Date: 28 August 2006

Murphy's cover looks like it is blown when a CPS report is lost and he returns to Belfast. However, only the younger Johnstone brother is aware of his true identity and flies to Belfast to exact retribution. However, Murphy turns the tables, denounces Johnstone as the grass who provided the 'in' for the drugs deal and the two look set to return to Leicester to prevent a deal going bad.[20]

"Part 3"

Air Date: 29 August 2006

Murphy and Billy return to Leicester, but Billy soon strikes out on his own, attacking Drew's wife and banker in his quest to retrieve their money. Soon enough, a three-way confrontation is held between the brothers and Tommy, and, the case closed, Murphy returns to his Ma's side.[21]

Series 5 (2007)[edit]

Series 5 is one three-part serial shown at the beginning of October, 2007.

"Part 1"

Air Date: 1 October 2007

Murphy is cover officer for Mitch, who has worked with him previously, and Kim, who Murphy himself trained, on a deep cover operation into identity theft in Norfolk. When the couple fail to contact him at an agreed time Murphy becomes anxious and finds that they have gone missing. Murphy infiltrates a group of people smugglers who he believes Mitch was working for on his own and meets their boss, Mark Baker. When Mitch's body washes up, Murphy fears the worst for his protégé.

"Part 2"

Air Date: 2 October 2007

Murphy discovers that his initial contact into Baker's group, Milos, is using the people smuggling to import cocaine as a personal sideline and uses this to his advantage. On discovering that Kim had been held at an abandoned hotel that the group use to make pornographic films and had scrawled the word Car in her own blood on the wall, Murphy and his own cover officer, Jackie Cole, ride with another of Baker's group, Branko, to a brothel in Cardiff where Jackie's cover is blown. She shoots Branko but he gets away.

"Part 3"

Air Date: 3 October 2007

Murphy discovers that his own cover is blown when he rings Baker and attempts to convince him that Branko is the problem. After questioning the brothel madam and the local driver whose name she gives him, Murphy finds Kim at Cardiff docks. A standoff with Branko leads to Murphy shooting him once but Kim grabs Murphy's gun from him and finishes Branko off. Kim is taken to hospital for psychiatric care and the group are rounded up by the police. However, the only person who prepared to testify against Baker commits suicide. Kim absconds from the hospital after Murphy tells her the CPS will not be pressing charges against Baker. Murphy goes to warn Baker that Kim is coming for him but Baker laughs off the suggestion that she could do him any harm. However, not long afterwards, Kim kills Baker and then arrives at the operations room armed and takes the Chief Superintendent hostage. Murphy tries to talk her out of killing him but Kim turns the gun on herself, shooting herself in the head. The last scene is of Murphy sitting in his car in tears and repeatedly pressing his gun to his head but unable to pull the trigger.


Character Actor Series
DS Tommy Murphy James Nesbitt All
DI Annie Guthrie Claudia Harrison Series 1[22]
DC Alan Carter Del Synott Series 1 – 2
Father McBride Mark Benton Series 1 – 2
DI Hilary Clark Sarah Berger Series 2[23]
Dave Callard Mark Womack Series 3[24]
DS Paul Allison Owen Teale Series 3
DSI Rees Michael Feast Series 3
Caz Miller Michael Fassbender Series 3
Richard Holloway Ramon Tikaram Series 3
Ellie Holloway Georgia Mackenzie Series 3
DC Ollington Shaun Dooley Series 3
Sir George Garvey Larry Lamb Series 3
Drew Johnstone Liam Cunningham Series 4[25]
Billy Johnstone Brian McCardie Series 4
Bash Emil Marwa Series 4
DCI Warren Francis Magee Series 4
Mark Baker Christopher Fulford Series 5[26]
DC Kim Goodall Andrea Lowe Series 5
DCS John Atwood Robbie Gee Series 5
Chief Supt Ken Bowry Ian Redford Series 5
DC Jackie Cole Jessica Oyelowo Series 5
DS Mitch Kershaw Tim Dantay Series 5
Milos Michael Klesic Series 5
Branko Joe Hanley Series 5
Miroljub Robert Zawadzki Series 5

DVD releases[edit]

All episodes from series 2 onward were released using edited 50-minute masters instead of the 60-minute versions that were broadcast.

  • Series 1, 3 May 2004, re-released 28 August 2006.
  • Series 2, 28 August 2006.
  • Series 3, 28 August 2006.
  • Series 1-3 boxset, 28 August 2006.
  • Series 4 & 5, 15 October 2007.
  • Series 1-5 boxset, 15 October 2007.


  1. ^ James Nesbitt role from IMDB
  2. ^ Dickson, E. Jane (3–9 May 2008). "Of Muck and Men". Radio Times. BBC Magazines: pp. 22–23.
  3. ^ Electric Bill information from IMDB
  4. ^ Manic Monday information from IMDB
  5. ^ Reunion information from IMDB
  6. ^ Kiss and Tell information from IMDB
  7. ^ Jack's Back information from IMDB
  8. ^ Bent Moon On The Rise information from IMDB
  9. ^ Ringers information from IMDB
  10. ^ Go Ask Alice information from IMDB
  11. ^ Convent information from IMDB
  12. ^ The Group information from IMDB
  13. ^ The Goodbye Look information from IMDB
  14. ^ Disorganised Crime information from IMDB
  15. ^ Strongbox information from IMDB
  16. ^ Extra Mile information from IMDB
  17. ^ Boy's Night Out information from IMDB
  18. ^ Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts information from IMDB
  19. ^ 4.1 information from IMDB
  20. ^ 4.2 information from IMDB
  21. ^ 4.3 information from IMDB
  22. ^ Series 1 character list from
  23. ^ Series 2 character list from
  24. ^ Series 3 character list from
  25. ^ Series 4 character list from
  26. ^ Series 5 character list from

External links[edit]