Pie in the Sky (TV series)

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Pie in the Sky
Created by Andrew Payne
Starring Richard Griffiths
Bella Enahoro
Nick Raggett
Malcolm Sinclair
Maggie Steed
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 40
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) WitzEnd Productions
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original network BBC1
Original release 13 March 1994 (1994-03-13) – 17 August 1997 (1997-08-17)

Pie in the Sky is a light-hearted British police drama starring Richard Griffiths and Maggie Steed, created by Andrew Payne and first broadcast in five series on BBC1 between 13 March 1994 and 17 August 1997 as well as being syndicated on other channels in other countries, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The series departs slightly from other police dramas in that the protagonist, Henry Crabbe, while still being an on-duty policeman (much against his will), is also the head chef of the title restaurant set in the fictional town of Middleton and county of Westershire.


Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe is a long-serving police officer in the fictional county of Westershire. Although very much his own man and an independent thinker, he is not a maverick, nor has he any particular neuroses; indeed, Crabbe is a highly intelligent, gentle and thoughtful man of high moral principle. On the other hand he does have one passion in life: food. He dreams of retiring from the police to run his own restaurant serving good English fare. However, since he is the most outstanding detective in his department, his superiors – in particular Assistant Chief Constable Freddie Fisher – are reluctant to allow him to leave.

The first episode (The Best of Both Worlds) opens with Crabbe, after 25 years in the force, just seven weeks away from retirement when he finds himself close to catching high-profile fraudster Dudley Hooperman (played by Michael Kitchen), whom he has been trailing for years. While making his escape (with £3–4 million worth of stolen treasury bills) Hooperman shoots Crabbe in the leg, which, although a relatively minor injury, consolidates Crabbe's desire to retire on his police pension and open his own restaurant in the fictional town of Middleton – Pie in the Sky, technically owned by his wife Margaret, although Henry is the main chef. (Much to Henry's disgust, Margaret has no feeling whatever for food, seeing it as nothing more than fuel, and has a partiality for bars of chocolate and – horror of horrors, in Henry's eyes – prawn cocktail flavour crisps). However, during his "final" case, an investigation into police corruption, he is tricked into appearing to take a bribe. Although Crabbe himself is entirely innocent, the circumstances enable his superior, A.C.C. Fisher, effectively to blackmail Crabbe into continuing to take on occasional cases as required, threatening to re-open the inquiry if Crabbe disagrees. Thus Crabbe has, in Fisher's own words, the best of both worlds – still investigating the cases that Fisher puts his way while at the same time cooking back at Pie in the Sky.

Between his first love – cooking – and being constantly called back on duty by Fisher, Henry finds that he's not going to fulfil his dream in peace.

Prowlers, sudden deaths, retrieving rebellious daughters, missing lovers, psychics and fear of the restaurant critic are all elements Henry has to deal with as well as creating his signature steak and kidney pie – containing anchovies and said to be addictive.


Richard Griffiths
DI Henry Crabbe
Maggie Steed
Margaret Crabbe
Malcolm Sinclair
ACC Freddy Fisher
Nick Raggett
Leon Henderson
Alison McKenna
Linda (1994)
Joe Duttine
Steve Turner (1994–1995)
Ashley Russell
John (1994–1995)
Bella Enahoro
WPC/DS Sophia Cambridge (1994–1996)
Samantha Janus
Nicola (1995–1996)
Nicholas Lamont
Gary Palmer (1995-1997)
Marsha Thomason
Sally (1997)
Mary Woodvine
WPC Jane Morton (1997)
Derren Litten
PC Ed Guthrie (1997)

In series 1–4, Crabbe is aided by WPC (later Detective Sergeant) Sophia Cambridge, played by Bella Enahoro. In the final series, she is replaced by WPC Jane Morton (Mary Woodvine, daughter of actor John Woodvine) and PC Ed Guthrie (Derren Litten). In the restaurant, Crabbe is helped by chefs Steve Turner (Joe Duttine; 21 episodes) and then, Gary Palmer (Nick Lamont; 20 episodes) – both reformed ex-criminals – and John the waiter (Ashley Russell) and Linda the waitress (Alison McKenna). The latter was subsequently replaced by Nicola the waitress (Samantha Janus). After Nicola's departure, she is in turn replaced by Sally (Marsha Thomason). Also, reappearing throughout is Leon Henderson (Nick Raggett), who supplies the restaurant with fruit and vegetables, as well as working there, some evenings doing the washing up. Robert Putt is Chief Constable Braithwaite who appeared in 3 episodes between (1996–1997). Caroline Loncq played Jenny Drabble for 3 episodes (1996–1997). One of Henry's heroes, the (fictional) food writer Hilary Smallwood (the other being Alexis Soyer), is modelled on Elizabeth David.


1st Series (1994)
  1. "The Best of Both Worlds" (13 March 1994) - Henry lets Hooperman escape, and Fisher takes the opportunity to suspend his retirement.
  2. "The Truth Will Out" (20 March 1994) - A delusional cop seeks to bring Fisher's ally down, and Henry recruits a new waiter.
  3. "An Innocent Man" (27 March 1994) - Pie in the Sky becomes the scene of a corruption sting, but Henry acts in favour of his customer.
  4. "Once a Copper" (3 April 1994) - Henry cooks a banquet for a visiting Japanese delegation, and tracks down a criminal from his past, who was presumed dead.
  5. "A Shot in the Dark" (10 April 1994) - A narcotics investigation ends in a bitten hand for Fisher, and Henry finds a new source of escargots.
  6. "Undesirable Elements" (17 April 1994) - Steve investigates the burglary of Pie in the Sky, while Henry does battle with murderous private sector cops.
  7. "Passion Fruit Fool" (24 April 1994) - The girlfriend of Henry's dry cleaner is kidnapped by a psychotic ex-lover.
  8. "A Matter of Taste" (1 May 1994) - Henry uncovers two separate wine scams in Middleton.
  9. "Who Only Stand and Wait" (8 May 1994) - Henderson's neighbour finds a dismembered corpse, which may prove the innocence of an imprisoned man.
  10. "Endangered Species" (15 May 1994) - Margaret and Henderson side with Reynard the Fox in opposing a new bypass, while Henry must question his loyalties.
2nd Series (1995)
  1. "Hard Cheese" (15 January 1995) - Henry investigates a prowler fond of older ladies, and begins to suspect the celibate supplier of his cheese.
  2. "Brown Bread" (22 January 1995) - A corpse vanishes from the Pie in the Sky's lavatories, and Henry soon finds himself investigating a counterfeit currency.
  3. "The Policeman's Daughter" (29 January 1995) - Fisher's daughter joins a squat on Henderson's field, and Henry is recruited to bring her back.
  4. "The One That Got Away" (5 February 1995) - The fish farmer's fiancé appears to have been murdered, and it's up to Henry to save his best trout supplier.
  5. "Dead Right" (12 February 1995) - Henry becomes entangled with a self-publicising psychic, and together they solve the mystery of a missing girl.
  6. "Black Pudding" (19 February 1995) - Henry is reunited with his hero, Hillary Smallwood, and becomes embroiled in her nephew's wicked plot.
  7. "Swan in His Pride" (26 February 1995) - Henry goes undercover in Bath to investigate the local constabulary, who are using a serial killer to mask their errors.
  8. "The Mild Bunch" (5 March 1995) - As two pensioners go on a fraud spree, the inclusion of Dundee marmalade in their trademark pudding motivates Henry to find them.Starring Joan Sims
  9. "The Mystery of Pikey" (12 March 1995) - Two posh children take advantage of a poor fisherman, and Henderson falls in the river.
  10. "Lemon Twist" (19 March 1995) - Henry goes on a management training course, while Pie In The Sky is mobbed following a glowing review.
3rd Series (1995/1996)
  1. "Money Talks" (31 December 1995) - Henry stakes out a pizza parlor. John and Steve have left. A new chef, Gary arrives and helps Henry catch the pizza gang.
  2. "Game Pie (In the Sky)" (7 January 1996) - Henry caters his friend's pheasant shoot, where Fisher is among the guests. A member of the estate staff is shot and killed and it looks as if Fisher accidentally shot him.
  3. "Irish Stew" (14 January 1996) - An Irishwoman books the restaurant for a wedding banquet for her and her new husband. Byron's briefcase is stolen from his hotel and Henry is suspicious of his reaction.
  4. "Doggett's Coat and Badge" (21 January 1996) - Charles Rider, a wine-loving regular at Pie in the Sky, is being threatened. So Rider comes to Henry Crabbe for help.
  5. "This Other Eden" (28 January 1996) - Henry investigates thefts of valuable plants from gardens, while Margaret unknowingly employs the chief suspect.
  6. "Coddled Eggs" (4 February 1996) - While recovering stolen cars, Henry apprehends a larger smuggling ring headed by two Russians.
4th Series (1996)
  1. "Devils on Horseback (1)" (15 September 1996) - Henry and Margaret spend a day at the races with her new client Bob Bishop. The corpse of stable lad Ben Tucker is found in a horse-box.
  2. "Devils on Horseback (2)" (22 September 1996) - Margaret stumbles on the killer. Meanwhile Nicola is annoyed when a school friend appears to be making a play for Gary.
  3. "Chinese Whispers" (29 September 1996) - The Chen family's Chinese takeaway is the target of an arson attack, but Mr. Chen will not go to the police. His daughter Mei asks Henry for help.
  4. "New Leaf" (6 October 1996) - Henry must guard a safe house protecting an uncooperative star witness. He eventually wins her over with his cooking.
  5. "Breaking Bread" (13 October 1996) - To save money, Fisher employs a new company to supply the police canteen. Arrests go down and Fisher relies on Henry to find a reason to get rid of the new company.
  6. "Gary's Cake" (20 October 1996) - When the restaurant is robbed, Henry closes the restaurant to do his own investigation, solving the crime in time to mark two years of Gary giving up alcohol with a celebratory cake.
5th Series (1997)
  1. "Squashed Tomatoes" (29 June 1997) - Cambridge is gone and Henry is saddled with two new staff members. At the restaurant, Nicola has left and Gary is unhappy.
  2. "Ugly Customers" (6 July 1997) - Henry's team go to the garish Luxor Hotel to protect a jury. Back at the restaurant Sally learns to get the better of a sex pest.
  3. "Pork Pies" (13 July 1997) - Henry and the squad go to a meat factory where animal rights protesters are demonstrating against the owner. Henry finds the sausages contain soya and are wholly meat-free.
  4. "Cutting the Mustard" (20 July 1997) - Henry is called to a school where a student has been beaten up by local youths. Henry finds a Chemistry teacher selling Ecstasy tablets.
  5. "Return Match" (27 July 1997) - Henry has to solve a series of thefts from lorries and gets unexpected help from private security firm Troubleshooters.
  6. "The Apprentice" (3 August 1997) - Nicky comes to Pie in the Sky, claiming he is there for work experience. Henry uses him in the kitchen and he impresses everyone. The till is robbed and Nicky goes missing.
  7. "In the Smoke" (10 August 1997) - The Crabbes holiday in London. Henry discovers a friend in hiding while Margaret finds a body in the trash.
  8. "Smelling of Roses" (17 August 1997) - Henry loses his sense of smell and mysteriously regains it when he resigns from the police once and for all.

Filming locations[edit]

Westershire, the fictional county where the series is set, is based on Berkshire in southern England. Although scenes in Middleton were often filmed in Marlow in Buckinghamshire, the exterior of the restaurant, Pie in the Sky, was filmed outside number 64 High Street in the Old Town in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Originally, a florist and then a toy shop, the building became a minor tourist attraction while the series ran, and from 1997 has housed the business of a dolls’-house maker. A nearby restaurant at 80 High Street renamed itself "Pie in the Sky" (later becoming "Les Amants") to capitalise on the programme's popularity. All internal filming at the restaurant was carried out at Bray Studios at Water Oakley, near Windsor in Berkshire. The local newspaper, the Maidenhead Advertiser, occasionally appears in the series redubbed the 'Barstock and Middleton Advertiser'. Freddie Fisher plays golf at Stoke Park Golf Club at Stoke Poges.[1][2][3]

Series 1[edit]

Both the exterior and interior of the 'Nebditch Intercontinental Hotel' which features throughout episode 2 of the 1st series, "The Truth Will Out", was filmed at John Nike's Coppid Beech Hotel in Binfield, near Bracknell in Berkshire.

In episode 3 of the 1st series, "An Innocent Man", train enthusiast Duncan Spellar lives at Brocket Hall at Lemsford in Hertfordshire. In the opening scene, Julian Tubbs MP is shown dining on the terrace at the 'Compleat Angler' at Bisham in East Berkshire, overlooking Marlow Church on the other side of the River Thames. Later Crabbe follows him to 'Middleton Station' which was filmed at Horsley railway station in Surrey.

In episode 4 of the 1st series, "Once a Copper", the opening scene was filmed at Shirburn Castle. Barstock University is Bracknell College. Cambridge meets with an officer from a former investigation in Bracknell - the 3M Building can be seen out of the window. The 'Thin Blue Line' Conference takes place at Oakley Court, adjoining Bray Studios. Henry confronts a supposedly dead criminal at Windsor Racecourse and is later shown hurrying to the Japanese Reception across Marlow Bridge.

In episode 5 of the 1st series, "A Shot in the Dark", the deceased works at White Waltham Airfield while his home is a cottage in Waltham St Lawrence both in East Berkshire.

Series 2[edit]

In episode 1 of the 2nd series, "Hard Cheese", the 'Laxton Grange Hotel' was filmed at Oakley Court, adjoining Bray Studios in Berkshire. The local cheese-merchant confesses his indiscretions to Henry in the garden at the Flower Pot Hotel at Aston near Remenham, also in Berkshire. Henry and Cambridge examine a large map at one point which reveals other locations in Berkshire: Henry's home town of 'Middleton' is a non-existent town located at Waltham St Lawrence; 'Laxton' is broadly based on the town of Bracknell, though actually located at nearby Warfield; 'Brayfield' is broadly based on Maidenhead, being located at Braywick on the town's southern edge; adjoining this is 'Sommersby' based on Twyford relocated to Woolley Green.

In episode 5 of the 2nd series, "Dead Right", Henry has a picnic with the psychic down by the River Thames in the churchyard at Bisham in East Berkshire.

Episode 7 of the 2nd series, "Swan in His Pride", is set in the city of Bath in Somerset which features throughout. Crabbe and Fisher catch the train to Bath from Reading railway station in Berkshire.

In episode 9 of the 2nd series, "The Mystery of Pikey", the bikers ralley in front of Warfield Church, near Bracknell, in Berkshire; while the tyres of a number of cars are slashed at Baileys Garage in Maiden's Green, part of the neighbouring parish of Winkfield. The Anchor public house at Wisley, near Woking, in Surrey features throughout the episode.

Series 3[edit]

In episode 4, "Doggett's Coat and Badge", Doggett is seen purchasing a Bow Street Runner figurine in a shop in Windsor in Berkshire.

In episode 6, "Coddled Eggs", Crabbe and Fisher are seen entering their police station. This was filmed at what was then the Mercury Rev (as of 2016, the Honda UK Building) in Cain Road in Binfield, also in Berkshire.

Series 4[edit]

In episodes 1 & 2 of the 4th series, "Devils on Horseback," the cider brewery is filmed at Stanlake Park near Twyford in Berkshire.

In episode 5 of the 4th series, "Breaking Bread," Crabbe and Cambridge go to the council estates department to examine building plans. The offices are Easthampstead Park, near Bracknell.

Series 5[edit]

In episode 2 of the 5th series, "Ugly Customers," Crabbe goes to examine the home of the foreman of the jury. He visits a small country house which is the 'Pump Room' at Winkfield Plain, near Windsor, in Berkshire.


The entire series is available on DVD in the UK.

In the United States, Acorn Media has released separate sets of all five series on 12 May 2009 (Series 1), 26 January 2010 (Series 2), 7 September 2010 (Series 3), 25 January 2011 (Series 4) and 2 August 2011 (Series 5).


  1. ^ "EnchantedCastles, Contact Page". Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  2. ^ "About Enchanted Castles, home of unique Dolls' Houses". Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  3. ^ "Les Amants French Bistrot". hertfordshire.com. Retrieved 2009-01-12. 

External links[edit]