Shoestring (TV series)

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Created by Robert Banks Stewart
Richard Harris
Starring Trevor Eve
Michael Medwin
Doran Godwin
Liz Crowther
Composer(s) Ronnie Hazlehurst
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 21 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Robert Banks Stewart
Running time 50 minutes
Original network BBC One
Original release 30 September 1979 – 21 December 1980

Shoestring is a BBC television show set in Bristol. It featured a private detective with his own show on Radio West, the local radio station.

The programme ran between 30 September 1979 and 21 December 1980, in two series with 21 one-hour-long episodes. Star Trevor Eve decided not to return to the role after two series, as he wanted to diversify into theatre roles, so the same production team changed the format to be based in Jersey and created Bergerac, also about a detective returning to work after a bad period in his life.


Eddie Shoestring is a computer expert who suffers a nervous breakdown.[1] In those days computers were large bulky machines with open reel tape drives creating considerable noise. In one episode Shoestring visits such a computer room and finds it hard to maintain a steady grip. After a period of convalescence, Shoestring decides to try his hand at detective work.[2] His landlady, barrister Erica Bayliss, arranges for him to investigate a potential scandal involving an entertainer who works for the local Radio West.[3]

After sorting the matter out, Shoestring visits Radio West to brief his client who has just chaired an unsuccessful planning meeting to come up with new programme ideas. Inspired by a sketch of herself made by Shoestring, Radio West's receptionist Sonia proposes that he is hired as the station's "private ear"[4] to present a weekly broadcast entitled 'The Private Ear of Eddie Shoestring': members of the public are offered his services in order to investigate cases affecting them, such as disappearances or the unsolved deaths of loved ones. The final episode was a Christmas special. The episode "Find The Lady" featured singer Toyah Willcox and allowed her to perform some of her own material in character.

Almost a year after the show finished, 27 October 1981 Bristol's first independent radio station was started under the name of Radio West. The franchise battle had been hard fought and two groups, Radio Avonside and Bristol Channel, came together to form the winning consortium.[5]

Afternoon repeats on BBC One in January 2002 were highly edited, cut down to between 42 and 44 minutes duration.


  • Trevor Eve as Eddie Shoestring, a computer expert who suffers a nervous breakdown and turns to detective work instead. He is hired as "Private Ear" for Radio West and investigates cases for the public free of charge. He is sometimes called "bootlace". At first he drives an old Hillman Hunter, but when this is destroyed, he purchases a bright orange Ford Cortina estate.
  • Michael Medwin as Don Satchley, the owner of Radio West. He sometimes finds that Shoestring's cases conflict with his commercial interests.
  • Doran Godwin as Erica Bayliss, Shoestring's landlady who got him the job at Radio West where, as a barrister, she sometimes provides legal advice. There are some hints of a romance between them.
  • Liz Crowther as Sonia, receptionist at Radio West.

Episode list[edit]

Series 1 (1979)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Private Ear" Robert Banks Stewart and Richard Harris Douglas Camfield TBA 30 September 1979 (1979-09-30)
Call-girl Sarah Marshall kills herself on a beach, after stealing the car belonging to a man she had tried to contact - David Carn, a popular DJ with Bristol radio station Radio West.
2 "Knock for Knock" Bob Baker Roger Tucker TBA 7 October 1979 (1979-10-07)
Eddie assists Claire Stevens, whose husband was killed in a hit and run by drivers of a white van. A tip-off leads Eddie to a duo of young fraudsters who go 'on the knock', buying antique furniture from gullible elderly people at less than the real value.
3 "Higher Ground" Dave Humphries Marek Kanievska TBA 14 October 1979 (1979-10-14)
Higher Ground, a boarding school run by strict ex-Army major Hansford and his wife Jean, is being plagued by sadistic, sick stunts - but Hansford refuses to call in the police, so Jean employs Eddie.
4 "An Uncertain Circle" Robert Bennett Mike Vardy TBA 21 October 1979 (1979-10-21)
Marion Cutler asks Eddie to trace her boyfriend, Nick Forrest, who has disappeared from the coastal caravan park where he was staying, though Steve the owner denies all knowledge of Forrest.
5 "Listen to Me" Terence Feely Peter Smith TBA 28 October 1979 (1979-10-28)
Adamant that her husband Harry was wrongly jailed for killing a shop assistant during a jeweller's shop robber, Mel Shepherd threatens to jump from Radio West's roof - unless Eddie finds the real murderer.
6 "Nine Tenths of the Law" Peter Miller Marek Kanievska TBA 4 November 1979 (1979-11-04)
Mary Phillips asks for Eddie's help after her ex-husband Dennis snatches their little daughter June, a ward of court, with a view to taking her back to Australia with him.
7 "The Link-Up" Peter King Douglas Camfield TBA 11 November 1979 (1979-11-11)
After Molly Tasker, director of a local women's refuge, accuses Radio West of ignoring domestic violence, Eddie investigates why the late Jackie Craig, whose wife is in the hostel, was unaccountably wealthy when he drowned.
8 "Stamp Duty" John Kruse Martyn Friend TBA 18 November 1979 (1979-11-18)
Stamp dealer Joss Hargreaves collapses and dies whilst being bundled into a car by heavies working for Strickland, a corrupt businessman whom Eddie is trying to expose.
9 "Find the Lady" Philip Martin and Sarah Leigh Marek Kanievska TBA 2 December 1979 (1979-12-02)
Rock singer Toola asks Eddie to dissuade her sacked bass player Mole from his belief that his beauty queen girlfriend Chrissie was killed out of jealousy by the band's manager Malcolm Kenrick.
10 "The Partnership" Michael Armstrong Paul Ciappessoni TBA 9 December 1979 (1979-12-09)
Sonia, the Radio West receptionist, is concerned for her friend, travel agent Jenny Kelson, whom she sees apparently being threatened by a young man. Eddie photographs and follows him, leading to a remote country house owned by a couple of dog breeders.
11 "I’m A Believer" Jim Hawkins Mike Vardy TBA 12 December 1979 (1979-12-12)
When Maddy Hopkins joins religious cult the Starshiners, her anxious mother, convinced that the group is out to get her trust fund money from her twenty-first birthday, asks Eddie to investigate.

Series 2 (1980)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1 "Room With A View" Robert Bennett Henry Herbert TBA 5 October 1980 (1980-10-05)
Retired music hall singer Lettie Ross witnesses a murder in the empty house opposite her flat but, when the police and her daughter are dismissive, she calls in Eddie.
2 "The Teddy Bears’ Nightmare" Leslie Darbon Martin Campbell TBA 12 October 1980 (1980-10-12)
Out fishing, Don sees a thief rob a young couple of the woman's handbag, but the couple themselves flee and fail to report the theft. Don retrieves the bag and Eddie traces it to Christine Page, who says that she and her married lover Ken Bailey, are being blackmailed.
3 "Mocking Bird" William Hood Ben Bolt TBA 19 October 1980 (1980-10-19)
Young women are being mugged around the city and the perpetrator, a caller with an Ulster accent, keeps ringing Eddie and taunting him for his inability to catch him. The police are called in but smug inspector Healey is little help.
4 "The Mayfly Dance" Bill Craig Henry Herbert TBA 26 October 1980 (1980-10-26)
Don asks Eddie to locate Jody Brent, a once popular singer whose big hit 'Lazy Daisy' is enjoying a revival on Radio West's easy listening show. Though Miriam, Jody's manager, claims he is in America, Eddie hears that he is living in Wales in seclusion.
5 "The Farmer Had A Wife" William Hood Paul Ciappessoni TBA 2 November 1980 (1980-11-02)
To encourage more human interest stories, Don persuades Eddie to help water cress farmer David Mortimer, whose wife Rosemary has disappeared for a second time and is being accused by other villagers of murdering her, to try to locate her.
6 "Utmost Good Faith" Andrew Payne Marek Kanievska TBA 9 November 1980 (1980-11-09)
After her debt-ridden husband Tim kills himself, Mary Reynolds asks Eddie's help in discovering why her credit facilities have been stopped when the debt concerned was twelve years earlier and apparently cancelled.
7 "Looking for Mr. Wright" Robert Bennett Laurence Moody TBA 16 November 1980 (1980-11-16)
Erica's secretary Lois meets the charming Clive Wright through a dating agency, but he disappears whilst they are in a restaurant and the restaurant staff and dating agency workers are equally unhelpful as to whether he existed.
8 "Another Man’s Castle" Dave Humphries Douglas Camfield TBA 7 December 1980 (1980-12-07)
Whilst Philip and Diana Hoskens are moving house, the van containing all their furniture is stolen by a shady landlord, Terry Bowen, to furnish a property he is letting to a young couple.
9 "Where Was I?" Peter Miller Jeremy Summers TBA 14 December 1980 (1980-12-14)
Family man Keith Amery goes camping on the moors alone, and sees a helicopter land - but falls and hits his head, bringing on amnesia. On the advice of Eddie's old psychiatrist, Keith's wife asks Eddie to help Keith recall events, and things slowly start to come back.
10 "The Dangerous Game" Chris Boucher Ben Bolt TBA 21 December 1980 (1980-12-21)
Pete Johnson, a market trader who deals in stolen goods, gives his little son Mike an early Christmas present - an electric racing game called Lunar Race 2000 - but it is faulty, and blows up, hospitalizing young Mike.


BBC Books published two novels based on the series written by Paul Ableman, Shoestring (1979) and Shoestring's Finest Hour (1980).

DVD release[edit]

Shoestring was scheduled to be released on DVD (Region 2, UK) by DD Home Entertainment in 2005 but was abandoned due to the high cost of music rights licensing (the series being set at a radio station).

However, 2|entertain have confirmed a UK (Region 2) DVD release of Series One for 17 October 2011.[8] Episodes will be uncut apart from one small music replacement, the first time the series has been seen uncut since UK Gold screenings in the early 1990s.

In June 2012, the first series was released as a box set.[9]


  1. ^ "Trevor Eve on Front Row". BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Shoestring (1979-80)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  3. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, Volume 2. VNR AG. p. 376. ISBN 9780918432612. 
  4. ^ Turnbull, Sue (2014). The Crime Drama. Edinburgh University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780748678204. 
  5. ^ "RW + WR = GWR". Radiomusications. Archived from the original on 28 August 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  6. ^ "Top 30 Programmes – BARB". Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Shoestring - Series 1 [DVD] [1979]". Amazon. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  9. ^ Crace, John (28 June 2012). "Your next box set: Shoestring". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 

External links[edit]