Shoestring (TV series)

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Created by Robert Banks Stewart
Richard Harris
Starring Trevor Eve
Michael Medwin
Doran Godwin
Liz Crowther
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 21
Running time 52 mins
Original network BBC One
Original release 30 September 1979 – 21 December 1980

Shoestring was 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.

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

The real Radio West[edit]

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]


  • Trevor Eve – 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, when this is destroyed it is replaced with a bright orange Ford Cortina estate.

  • Michael Medwin – Don Satchley, the owner of Radio West. He sometimes finds that Shoestring's cases conflict with his commercial interests.
  • Doran Godwin – 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.

The episode "Find The Lady" featured singer Toyah Willcox and allowed her to perform some of her own material in character.

Episode list[edit]

Episode Title Writer Director Guest stars

Series 1[edit]

(BBC1, 30 September 1979 to 4 June 1980)

1 Private Ear Robert Banks Stewart and Richard Harris Douglas Camfield William Russell, Stacy Dorning, Sean Arnold, Tony Haygarth, Brian Miller, Stewart Bevan, Kenneth Gilbert, Michael Crane, Christopher Coll, Brian Hawksley
2 Knock For Knock Bob Baker Roger Tucker Dominic Guard, Shirley Anne Field, Christopher Guard, Ysanne Churchman, Malcolm Terris, Pavel Douglas, Aimée Delamain, Kevin Flood
3 Higher Ground Dave Humphries Marek Kanievska Glyn Houston, Anna Cropper, Gorden Kaye
4 An Uncertain Circle Robert Bennett Mike Vardy Royston Tickner, Antony Carrick
5 Listen To Me Terence Feely Peter Smith Roger Sloman, Sandy Ratcliff, Brian Croucher, Tony Caunter, Patrick Malahide, Edward Kelsey, James Marcus, Jeffrey Segal, Nicholas Donnelly, Stacy Davies, James Murray
6 Nine Tenths of the Law Peter Miller Marek Kanievska Harry H. Corbett, Nell Campbell, Geraldine James, Andy Ho
7 The Link-Up Peter King Douglas Camfield Janet Key, John Woodnutt, Sylvia Coleridge, Stewart Bevan, Sheila Dunn, Albert Moses, John Gregg, Harry Waters, Ian Fairbairn, Anthony Stafford
8 Stamp Duty John Kruse Martyn Friend David Ashton, Diana Davies, Ray Barron, Arthur Kelly, John Scott Martin, Stewart Bevan, Timothy Block, William Wilde, Michael McStay, James Appleby, Raymond Adamson
9 Find The Lady Philip Martin, Sarah Leigh Marek Kanievska Christopher Biggins, Toyah Willcox, Diana Weston, Gary Holton, Peter Dean, Lynda Bellingham, Brian Capron, Chris Jagger, Harry Fielder, Desmond Cullum-Jones
10 The Partnership Michael Armstrong Paul Ciappessoni Michelle Newell, Kevin Whately, David Griffin, Walter Sparrow, Sarah Kemp, Norman Hartley, Philip Ryan, John Cannon
11 I’m A Believer Jim Hawkins Mike Vardy Jeananne Crowley, Preston Lockwood, Derek Seaton, Geoffrey Bateman, Christine Pollon, Steve Ismay

Series 2[edit]

(BBC1, 5 October to 21 December 1980)

1 Room With A View Robert Bennett Henry Herbert Michael Culver, Madoline Thomas, Oscar James, Christopher Benjamin, Kika Mirylees, Alexander Davion, Rod Beacham, Geoffrey Bateman
2 The Teddy Bears’ Nightmare Leslie Darbon Martin Campbell Dave King, Charlotte Cornwell, Donald Sumpter
3 Mocking Bird William Hood Ben Bolt Frederick Jaeger, John J. Carney, David Sibley, Pik-Sen Lim
4 The Mayfly Dance Bill Craig Henry Herbert Philip Sayer, Michael Gothard, Michael Craig, Ann Bell, Lance Percival, Oliver Smith, Eric Mason, Nicholas Donnelly
5 The Farmer Had A Wife William Hood Paul Ciappessoni Ronald Hines, Gary Watson, Pam St. Clement, Arthur Hewlett, Kevin Brennan, Daniel Day-Lewis, Charles Pemberton, Ian Brimble, Ralph Morse
6 Utmost Good Faith Andrew Payne Marek Kanievska Derek Martin, Andrew McCulloch, Nula Conwell
7 Looking For Mr. Wright Robert Bennett Laurence Moody Diana Dors, Caroline Blakiston, Avril Elgar, Milton Johns, Jack May, Annette Badland, Roy Spencer, Declan Mulholland, Martin Fisk, Andrew Forbes
8 Another Man’s Castle Dave Humphries Douglas Camfield John Forgeham, Dean Harris, Sheila Dunn, Keith Smith, Graham Simpson, Eric Francis, Jon Croft, John Owens, Les Conrad
9 Where Was I? Peter Miller Jeremy Summers Philip Bond, Colin Jeavons, Ralph Arliss, George Roubicek, Peter Craze, Hilary Ryan, Graeme Eton, Jack Le White
10 The Dangerous Game Chris Boucher Ben Bolt Michael Elphick, Celia Imrie, Maurice Colbourne, Burt Kwouk, Eric Richard, Leslie French, Rachel Bell, Norman Tipton, Constantine Gregory, Nick Stringer, Tariq Yunus


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.[6] 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.[7]


  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. ^ "Shoestring - Series 1 [DVD] [1979]". Amazon. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  7. ^ Crace, John (28 June 2012). "Your next box set: Shoestring". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2012. 

External links[edit]