Strangers (TV series)

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Genre Crime
Created by Murray Smith
Starring Don Henderson
Dennis Blanch
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 32
Running time 58 minutes
Production company(s) Granada Television
Distributor ITV Studios
Original network ITV
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Mono
Original release 5 June 1978 (1978-06-05) – 20 October 1982 (1982-10-20)

Strangers is a UK police drama that appeared on ITV between 5 June 1978 and 20 October 1982.

After the success of the TV series The XYY Man, adapted from books by Kenneth Royce, Granada Television devised a new series to feature the regular characters of Detective Sergeant George Bulman (Don Henderson) and his assistant Detective Constable Derek Willis (Dennis Blanch). The result was Strangers.


The series began as a fairly standard police drama series with Bulman as its eccentric lead. Its premise was that a group of police officers have been brought together from different parts of the country to the north of England. There, the fact that they are not known locally gives them the opportunity to infiltrate where a more familiar local detective could not. Initially, the team consisted of Bulman, Willis (promoted to Sergeant) and Linda Doran (Frances Tomelty). Their local liaison was provided by Detective Sergeant David Singer (John Ronane); their superior was Chief Inspector Rainbow (David Hargreaves). Despite being based around a comparatively small team of detectives, a regular feature of the programme in its early years was that few episodes featured the entire team, with most using just two or three of the regulars in any major role.

Series two, shown in early 1979, introduced the character of Detective Constable Vanessa Bennett who was played by Fiona Mollison. The same series would be the last to feature the characters Linda Doran and Chief Inspector Rainbow.

The first series was made primarily on videotape, with location footage shot on film. Series two would feature even more film: with the opening episode The Wheeler Dealers being made entirely on film and the season closer, Marriages, Deaths And Births, being entirely on film bar the standard series title sequence and a few scenes at the police station. From series three onwards, the entire production moved to film.

The first series used a mixture of writers with only one - Leslie Duxbury - writing more than one episode. He would contribute one further script, for series two, and it was during the second season that Murray Smith came to the fore as the series' main writer. Having penned the programme's first episode, he wrote all but six of the twenty-five episodes that formed series two to five.

In series three (1980), Bulman, Willis, Bennett and the newly promoted Detective Inspector David Singer became members of the Inter City Squad under the command of Detective Chief Superintendent Jack Lambie (played by Mark McManus). The basic premise was similar, but rather than covering just the north west of England, the team's remit now extended to the whole country.

By series four (1981), Bulman had also gained promotion - to Detective Chief Inspector. The same series also introduced the semi-regular character of William 'Bill' Dugdale (Thorley Walters) a member of the British Foreign Office/Secret Services who would become involved when there was a political or intelligence aspect to the investigation. His role was not necessarily to help the detectives; that would only happen when it was in the government's interest for them to succeed.

The character of Chief Inspector Bulman, still played by Don Henderson, appeared in a subsequent series Bulman by which point he had retired from the police but was still involved in detective work.

All five series are now available on Region 2 UK DVD (released by Network DVD).

Main cast[edit]


Series 1[edit]

Regular cast:

  • Det. Sgt. Bulman (Don Henderson)
  • Det. Con. Willis (Dennis Blanch)
  • Det. Insp. Singer (John Ronane)
  • Det. Con. Doran (Frances Tomelty)
  • Det. Ch. Insp. Rainbow (David Hargreaves)
Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Guest stars
1"The Paradise Set"Carole WilksMurray Smith5 June 1978 (1978-06-05)Malcolm Tierney, Philip Jackson, Annie Hulley
Arriving in Manchester to work on their new patch as 'strangers' to the local underworld, Bulman and Willis investigate a jewel robbery.
2"Duty Roster"Oliver HorsburghIvor Marshall12 June 1978 (1978-06-12)Shirley Stelfox, Bill Waddington, Bill Tarmey, Stan Richards, Christopher Coll
A routine assignment to follow up muggings of a local postman lead Bulman and Willis to a much bigger case, much to Rainbow's annoyance.
3"Silver Lining"Bill GilmourSteve Wakeham19 June 1978 (1978-06-19)Hywel Bennett, Judith Barker, Harry Littlewood
Bulman becomes a bookie and Doran gets a job in a tipster's office to uncover a case of race fixing.
4"Accidental Death"Nicky CooneyBrian Finch26 June 1978 (1978-06-26)James Warrior, Reginald Marsh, William Russell, Briony McRoberts
When a prominent local journalist is murdered, Doran goes undercover as a reporter on his old desk, and Willis becomes a coroner's officer.
5"Briscoe"Yvonne GoodeLeslie Duxbury3 July 1978 (1978-07-03)Michael Byrne, David Neilson, Bill Tarmey, Bartlett Mullins, Michael Turner
Bulman is assigned to establish whether the suspicious practices of a uniform branch sergeant point to him being crooked. (This is the first of two episodes to feature the character of Briscoe. This episode does not feature any regular cast apart from Bulman.)
6"Right and Wrong"J. BruceC. P. Taylor10 July 1978 (1978-07-10)David Daker, Anne Reid
Willis and Doran play man and wife to investigate their neighbour - a prominent local councillor - who is suspected of receiving bribes to initiate controversial new education practices. (This episode does not feature Bulman.)
7"Paying Guests"Quentin LawrenceLeslie Duxbury17 July 1978 (1978-07-17)Michael Byrne, Amanda Barrie, John Tordoff, Norman Comer, Teddy Turner
Bulman co-opts Briscoe into lodging with the Parkers, who are assisting him with his enquiries concerning a bank robbery.

Series 2[edit]

Regular cast:

  • Det. Sgt. Bulman (Don Henderson)
  • Det. Con. Willis (Dennis Blanch)
  • Det. Insp. Singer (John Ronane)
  • Det. Con. Doran (Frances Tomelty)
  • Det. Ch. Insp. Rainbow (David Hargreaves)
  • Det. Con. Bennett (Fiona Mollison)
Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Guest stars
8"The Wheeler Dealers"Sally TaylorMurray Smith9 January 1979 (1979-01-09)Gyearbuor Asante, Anne Kristen, Tariq Yunus
With Rainbow growing increasingly frustrated at their unorthodox methods, Bulman, Willis and Doran are on a case involving illegally imported goods. Bulman's head is turned by a lady doctor who is involved in the case.
9"Call of the Wild"Baz TaylorLeslie Duxbury16 January 1979 (1979-01-16)Paul Copley, Deirdre Costello, Ron Tarr
Bulman goes undercover with a gang to gather evidence for a number of robberies, and finds himself involved in the perpetration of one of them - which unbeknownst to him, Singer is pursuing. (This is the last episode to feature Det. Con. Doran.)
10"Clever Dick"Quentin LawrenceBrian Finch23 January 1979 (1979-01-23)John Duttine, Andrew Sachs, Geoffrey Chater, Neil Stacy
When a hotshot former colleague of Bulman's comes up from London to take the lead in a counterfeit case, Bulman's annoyance is matched by his curiosity as to why.
11"Friends in High Places"Bill GilmourMurray Smith30 January 1979 (1979-01-30)Derek Fowlds, Freddie Jones, Anthony Steel
Bulman and Willis are on the trail of the attacker of a youth in a hotel public toilet, unaware that there are other interested parties, for other reasons... (This episode introduces the character of Det. Con. Bennett.)
12"Marriages, Deaths and Births"Charles SturridgeMurray Smith6 February 1979 (1979-02-06)Ben Cross, T. P. McKenna, Bill Fraser, James Copeland, Tommy Boyle, Bill Tarmey
When Bulman attempts an arrest of a gangland ringleader, it goes horribly wrong and he finds himself a kidnap victim of the psychopathic criminal. (This is the last episode to feature Det. Ch. Insp. Rainbow, and the first to feature the character of Willie Mauchlin.)

Series 3[edit]

(From Series 3 all episodes were produced entirely on 16mm film)

Regular cast:

  • Det. Sgt. Bulman (Don Henderson)
  • Det. Con. Willis (Dennis Blanch)
  • Det. Insp. Singer (John Ronane)
  • Det. Con. Bennett (Fiona Mollison)
  • Det. Ch. Sup. Lambie (Mark McManus)

Supporting cast:

  • Det. Insp. Tom Casey (Bruce Bould)
  • Bill Dugdale (Thorley Walters)
Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Guest stars
13"Retribution"Carol WilksMurray Smith14 October 1980 (1980-10-14)Malcolm Tierney, Kevin Whately, Shirley Stelfox, Andy de la Tour, Geoffrey Hutchings, Oliver Smith
The team come under the command of DCS Lambie and a new Inter-City Squad in London, and immediately become involved in arms trafficking in the capital. (This episode is the first to feature the occasional character of DI Casey.)
14"You Can't Win Them All"Bill GilmourMurray Smith21 October 1980 (1980-10-21)Anthony Sharp, Sabina Franklyn, Tracey Childs, Arthur Blake
A fraud investigation gets complicated when Bulman and Willis find that the Foreign Office have interests in one of the individuals involved in the case. (This is the first episode to feature the character of Dugdale.)
15"Armed and Dangerous"William BrayneMurray Smith28 October 1980 (1980-10-28)Maurice Colbourne, Keith Buckley, Rachel Davies, Jonathan David
Bulman and Willis are assigned to bring a suspect to London for questioning, however things do not go smoothly. (This is part one of a two-part story, and the last episode to feature DI Casey.)
16"Racing Certainty"Ken GrieveMurray Smith4 November 1980 (1980-11-04)Maurice Colbourne, James Copeland, Rachel Davies, Jonathan David
Bulman and Willis go undercover to flush out the murderer of their colleague at a racetrack. (This episode features the character of Willie Mauchlin.)
17"Clowns Don't Cry"William BrayneMurray Smith11 November 1980 (1980-11-11)Alan Ford, Geraldine Gardner, Yuri Borienko, Robert Glenister
When one of Bulman's contacts is beaten up, he becomes embroiled in a case which leads to international espionage, and one in which Dugdale is particularly interested.
18"Tom Thumb and Other Stories"Laurence MoodyMurray Smith18 November 1980 (1980-11-18)Jim Norton, John Horsley, David Webb
Bulman disguises himself as a tramp to try and track down a drug smuggler at Liverpool's docks - and finds himself caught in the crossfire of factions within the gang.
19"No Orchids for Missing Blandisch"Bill GilmourMurray Smith25 November 1980 (1980-11-25)Ray McAnally, Richard Wilson, Kenneth Cranham
A tip-off leads Bulman, Willis and Bennett to an arms-dealing operation with a hired killer involved to protect interests.

Series 4[edit]

Regular cast:

  • Det. Chief Insp. Bulman (Don Henderson)
  • Det. Sgt. Willis (Dennis Blanch)
  • Det. Insp. Singer (John Ronane)
  • Det. Con. Bennett (Fiona Mollison)
  • Det. Ch. Sup. Lambie (Mark McManus)
  • Bill Dugdale (Thorley Walters)
Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Guest stars
20"The Moscow Subway Murders"William BrayneMurray Smith25 September 1981 (1981-09-25)George Pravda, Eugene Lipinski, Georgina Melville, Shaun Curry, Patricia Maynard, Jeffry Wickham
Bulman, now promoted to Detective Chief Inspector, feels frustrated with the office-bound nature of the job, but is soon challenged by an intriguing murder case.
21"The Loneliness of the Long Distance Copper"Tristan DeVere ColeMurray Smith2 October 1981 (1981-10-02)Frederick Treves, Bernard Brown, Roy Barraclough, Trevor Thomas, Patricia Maynard, Frank Mills, Davyd Harries, Brian Peck, Tim Condren
A convict with a score to settle with Lambie escapes from prison.
22"A Dear Green Place"Bill GilmourEdward Boyd9 October 1981 (1981-10-09)James Copeland, Virginia Stark, James Cosmo, Saeed Jaffrey, James Bree, Valerie Lush, David McKail
Escorting a prisoner from Glasgow to London turns out to be anything but a routine assignment for the squad.
23"Stand and Deliver"Bill GilmourMurray Smith16 October 1981 (1981-10-16)Jonathan Scott-Taylor, Simon Dutton, Joan Hickson
The Squad is called upon to investigate a modern-day highway robbery.
24"The Flowers of Edinburgh"Jonathan Wright MillerEdward Boyd23 October 1981 (1981-10-23)Geoffrey Keen, Gabriel Byrne, Ken Hutchison, Nicholas Le Prevost, Andrew Burt, Fulton MacKay
Bulman and Willis head to Edinburgh to investigate a blackmail racket.
25"Soldiers of Misfortune"William BrayneMurray Smith30 October 1981 (1981-10-30)Leslie Schofield, Tony Scannell, John Forgeham, Antony Booth, Christopher Ellison, Morris Perry, Gary Whelan, Michael Goldie
The squad becomes involved in a conflict between rival groups of mercenaries.

Series 5[edit]

Regular cast:

  • Det. Chief Insp. Bulman (Don Henderson)
  • Det. Sgt. Willis (Dennis Blanch)
  • Det. Con. Bennett (Fiona Mollison)
  • Det. Ch. Sup. Lambie (Mark McManus)
  • Bill Dugdale (Thorley Walters)
Episode # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Guest stars
26"A Much Underestimated Man"Ken GrieveMurray Smith8 September 1982 (1982-09-08)Edward Peel, Pamela Salem, Constantin De Goguel, Michael Melia, Brian Miller
Bulman and Willis are on the trail of a hitman before he reaches his target.
27"A Swift and Evil Rozzer"William BrayneMurray Smith15 September 1982 (1982-09-15)Geoffrey Bateman, Catherine Schell, John Castle, Dudley Sutton, Edward de Souza, Valerie Leon, Nigel Humphreys, Steve Plytas, Barry Stanton, Bill Tarmey
The squad investigates the kidnapping of a prominent politician.
28"The Tender Trap"Ben BoltBruce Crowther22 September 1982 (1982-09-22)Simon Williams, Nigel Stock, Rachel Davies, Bernard Gallagher, John Collin
Bulman and Willis investigate a crooked land developer.
29"The Lost Chord"Bill GilmourMurray Smith29 September 1982 (1982-09-29)Richard Vernon, Michael Gough, Peter Woodthorpe, Rupert Everett, Graeme Garden, Tim Wylton, Kim Thomson, Mark Strickson, Andrew Tourell, Kristopher Kum
The squad visit Cambridge when a number of politicians die in strange circumstances.
30"A Free Weekend in the Country"Bill GilmourBruce Crowther6 October 1982 (1982-10-06)Kenneth Cope, Derek Fowlds, Kenneth Cranham, Annette Ekblom, Harry Littlewood, Christopher Coll
A police officer is murdered during a weekend seminar on urban terrorism.
31"Charlie's Brother's Birthday"Roger TuckerMurray Smith13 October 1982 (1982-10-13)Suzanne Danielle, Colm Meaney, Daragh O'Malley, Lol Coxhill, Keith Washington, Shirley Stelfox, Ian Redford, Peter Martin, Roy Alon
The squad follow the trail of stolen coffins to uncover a smuggling ring.
32"With These Gloves You Can Pass Through Mirrors"William BrayneMurray Smith20 October 1982 (1982-10-20)Suzanne Danielle, Patrick Mower, Floella Benjamin, John Woodvine, George Pravda, Keith Washington, Yuri Borienko, Ian Redford, Patricia Maynard, Valentino Musetti
As Bulman faces retirement, the squad closes in on the smuggling gang.

External links[edit]