Murphy's Law (TV series)

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For the U.S. 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
Directed by Brian Kirk
Colm McCarthy
Starring James Nesbitt
Del Synott
Mark Benton
Claudia Harrison
Owen Teale
Andrea Lowe
Robbie Gee
Ian Redford
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 23 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Greg Brenman
Robert Cooper
Carol-Ann Docherty
Andrew Lowe
Stephen Wright
Producer(s) Sanne Craddick
Jemma Rodgers
Tom Sherry
Stephen Smallwood
Location(s) London
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]

All 23 episodes have since been released on DVD. All episodes from series two onwards were released as edited 50-minute masters instead of the 60-minute versions that were broadcast. The first, second and third series were all released on 28 August 2006.[3][4][5] The fourth and fifth series were released in a joint box-set on 15 October 2007.[6]


Detective Sergeant Tommy Murphy (James Nesbitt) 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. Murphy was previously married with a young daughter, in Northern Ireland.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9]


Episode list[edit]

Series 1 (2001-2003)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Pilot" Colin Bateman John Strickland 7.48m 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.
2 "Electric Bill" Colin Bateman Peter Lydon 6.23m 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" Colin Bateman Peter Lydon 5.25m 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 "Reunion" Phil Charles Maurice Phillips 5.50m 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.[16]
5 "Kiss and Tell" Scott Cherry Menhaj Huda 5.08m 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.[17]

Series 2 (2004)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Jack's Back" Colin Bateman Brian Kirk 6.24m 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.[18]
2 "Bent Moon on the Rise" Tony McHale Brian Kirk 5.07m 17 May 2004
A promising young officer commits suicide, and Murphy is assigned to investigate.
3 "Ringers" Stephen Brady Ed Fraiman 5.20m 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.[19]
4 "Go Ask Alice" Colin Bateman Ed Fraiman 5.33m 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.[20]
5 "Convent" Colin Bateman Phillip John 6.07m 7 June 2004
Mysterious occurrences in a local convent prompt Murphy to go and investigate.[21] However the nuns are not guilty of anything more than taking part of a scientific experiment.
6 "The Group" Colin Bateman Phillip John 6.07m 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.[22]

Series 3 (2005)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "The Goodbye Look" Allan Cubitt Brian Kirk 5.29m 26 May 2005
Gangland boss and cop killer Dave Callard wants a hitman, and Murphy is just the man for the job.[24]
2 "Disorganised Crime" Simon Donald Andy Goddard 5.31m 2 June 2005
Murphy is recommended to some dangerous brothers. He gains quite a reputation for being a reliable killer.[25]
3 "Strongbox" Julian Perkins Brian Kirk 5.36m 9 June 2005
Callard instructs Murphy to obtain counterfeit Euros, and he needs all his fingers if he is to be successful![26]
4 "Extra Mile" Michael Crompton Andy Goddard 5.10m 16 June 2005
Murphy begins to realise how big this case is. His life really does depend on it.[27]
5 "Boys Night Out" Allan Cubitt Richard Standeven 5.01m 23 June 2005
Heroin from Afghanistan needs stopping, but events take a turn for the worse.[28]
6 "Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts" Simon Donald Richard Standeven 5.32m 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.[29]

Series 4 (2006)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Exile" Allan Cubitt Colm McCarthy 5.47m 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...[30]
2 "Hare Trigger" Allan Cubitt Colm McCarthy 5.83m 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.[31]
3 "Strike Out" Allan Cubitt Colm McCarthy 5.75m 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.[32]

Series 5 (2007)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Food Chain (Part One)[33]" Russell Lewis Colm McCarthy 4.56m 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.
2 "Food Chain (Part Two)" Russell Lewis Colm McCarthy 4.81m 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.
3 "Food Chain (Part Three)" Russell Lewis Colm McCarthy 4.66m 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.


  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. ^ "Murphy's Law: Series 1 [DVD] [2003]". 
  4. ^ "Murphy's Law: Series 2 [DVD] [2003]". 
  5. ^ "Murphy's Law: Series 3 [DVD] [2003]". 
  6. ^ "Murphy's Law : Complete BBC Series 4 & 5 [DVD]". 
  7. ^ Electric Bill information from IMDB
  8. ^ Manic Monday information from IMDB
  9. ^ Bent Moon On The Rise information from IMDB
  10. ^ Series 4 character list from
  11. ^ Series 1 character list from
  12. ^ Series 2 character list from
  13. ^ Series 3 character list from
  14. ^ Series 5 character list from
  15. ^ a b c "Top 30 Programmes – BARB". Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  16. ^ Reunion information from IMDB
  17. ^ Kiss and Tell information from IMDB
  18. ^ Jack's Back information from IMDB
  19. ^ Ringers information from IMDB
  20. ^ Go Ask Alice information from IMDB
  21. ^ Convent information from IMDB
  22. ^ The Group information from IMDB
  23. ^ "Weekly top 30 programmes". 
  24. ^ The Goodbye Look information from IMDB
  25. ^ Disorganised Crime information from IMDB
  26. ^ Strongbox information from IMDB
  27. ^ Extra Mile information from IMDB
  28. ^ Boy's Night Out information from IMDB
  29. ^ Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts information from IMDB
  30. ^ 4.1 information from IMDB
  31. ^ 4.2 information from IMDB
  32. ^ 4.3 information from IMDB
  33. ^ "Murphy's Law". CBS Interactive. 

External links[edit]