Shoestring (TV series)

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DVD cover
Genre Detective fiction
Created by Robert Banks Stewart
Richard Harris
Starring Trevor Eve
Michael Medwin
Doran Godwin
Liz Crowther
Composer(s) George Fenton
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
Cinematography John Baker
Peter Burton
Keith Champan
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Studios
Distributor 2 Entertain
Original network BBC One
Audio format Mono
Original release 30 September 1979 – 21 December 1980
Followed by Bergerac

Shoestring is a British detective fiction drama series, set in Bristol, featuring private detective Eddie Shoestring (Trevor Eve), who presents his own show on Radio West, the local radio station. Broadcast on BBC One between 30 September 1979 and 21 December 1980, the programme lasted for two series featuring a total of twenty-one episodes. After the second series was broadcast, Eve decided not to return to the role, claiming that he "wanted to diversify into theatre roles". Subsequently, the production team began taking popular elements of the series and revising them into a new format, which was to be based in Jersey, and in 1981, Bergerac, a series starring John Nettles as the aforementioned detective, who returns to work after a bad period in his life, first broadcast.

In conjunction with the series, BBC Books published two novels written by Paul Ableman, entitled Shoestring (1979) and Shoestring's Finest Hour (1980). The series was repeated on terrestrial television for the first time in January 2002, with both series airing back-to-back on daytime BBC One. However, due to clearance issues and scheduling, between 6 and 8 minutes of footage was cut from every episode, meaning that episodes ran for between 42 and 44 minutes in duration.

The first series was originally scheduled to be released on DVD in its entirety by DD Home Entertainment in 2005, but the idea was abandoned due to the high cost of music rights licensing. In 2011, 2|Entertain confirmed that they had picked up the rights to release the series on DVD, and that the first series would be released on 17 October 2011.[1] They announced that all eleven episodes will be uncut, except for one minor music replacement, meaning that it would be the first time the series had been seen uncut since UK Gold repeats of the series in the early 1990s. The DVD release was later postponed due to clearance issues, but was eventually released in June 2012.[2] On the BBFC website, Series Two was passed for commercial release in June 2017. According to the information on the BBFC website, Series Two was passed uncut. In June 2017, Network Distribution revealed that a box set of both Series One and Series Two has been planned for a release in late 2017.


Eddie Shoestring is a former computer expert who has resigned after suffering a nervous breakdown.[3] (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.) Following a period of convalescence, Shoestring has turned his hand to private detective work.[4] His landlady, barrister Erica Bayliss, arranges for him to investigate a potential scandal involving an entertainer who works for the local Radio West.[5]

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"[6] to present a weekly broadcast entitled 'The Private Ear of Eddie Shoestring', in which 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. At first, Shoestring drives an old Hillman Hunter, but when this is destroyed, he purchases a bright orange Ford Cortina estate. 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, Bristol's first independent radio station was started under the name of Radio West on 27 October 1981. The franchise battle had been hard fought and two groups, Radio Avonside and Bristol Channel, came together to form the winning consortium.[7]


  • Trevor Eve as Eddie Shoestring — A "Private Ear" for Radio West, who investigates cases for the public free of charge. He is sometimes called "bootlace".
  • 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. As a barrister, she sometimes provides legal advice for the cases he is investigating. There are also some hints of a romance between the pair.
  • Liz Crowther as Sonia — The receptionist at Radio West.

Supporting Cast[edit]

  • Colin Maitland as Pete — A sound engineer and studio assistant at Radio West. (eight episodes)
  • Jeanna L'Etsy as Liz (four episodes)
  • Julian Littman as Vincent Dinsdale (four episodes)
  • John Vine as Karl Winning — A DJ and announcer at Radio West. (three episodes)
  • Stewart Bevan as Paul — A DJ and presenter at Radio West. (three episodes)
  • Alan David as Dr. Ben Fischer (three episodes)


Series 1 (1979)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1 "Private Ear" Robert Banks Stewart and Richard Harris Douglas Camfield 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Original airdate
1 "Room With A View" Robert Bennett Henry Herbert 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


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

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