Target (UK TV series)

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For the consumer affairs program, see Target (New Zealand TV series).
Genre Action
Created by Graham Williams
Written by Bob Baker
Dave Martin
David Wickes
Starring Patrick Mower
Philip Madoc
Brendan Price
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 17
Producer(s) Philip Hinchcliffe
Location(s) Southampton 13th Regional Crime Squad
Running time 50 minutes
Original network BBC1
Original release 9 September 1977 – 10 November 1978

Target was a police drama series, which ran from 1977–78, on BBC1. The show was the BBC's response to ITV's successful series, The Sweeney.


Target was set in Southampton, as the 13th Regional Crime Squad. The series was originally developed under the title Hackett, by producer Graham Williams but he was asked to swap roles with the outgoing producer of Doctor Who, Philip Hinchcliffe, who retitled the show Target.

It starred Patrick Mower as Det. Supt. Steve Hackett, Brendan Price as Det. Sgt. Frank Bonney, Vivien Heilbron as Det. Sgt. Louise Colbert and Philip Madoc as Det. Chief Supt. Tate. Seventeen fifty-minute episodes were produced, over two series. The theme music was by Dudley Simpson.

Initial Reaction[edit]

At the time, the show was criticized for its level of violence. The BBC's Director General, Alasdair Milne, reportedly received 5,000 letters of complaint from Mary Whitehouse's League of Light.[1] Its release also coincided with the publication of the Belson Report (Television violence and the adolescent boy). The first series was curtailed and the second series toned down the level of violence.


A third series was mooted, with Robert Banks Stewart taking over as producer. He spent two weeks in the producer's chair, during which he planned to change the supporting cast, reduce the violence and steer the show further away from The Sweeney. Banks Stewart wanted James Bolam as the new lead but Bolam preferred to do one final series of When the Boat Comes In first. Banks Stewart then claims he was asked by Graeme McDonald, the BBC's Head of Series and Serials, whether he would prefer to scrap Target altogether and produce a new series.[2] He devised the private eye drama, Shoestring.

However, Patrick Mower offered a view which was slightly different: he wanted to terminate his commitment anyway. With reference to the rather unfortunate fate of Professionals lead, Lewis Collins, he emphasized in the late 1990s that he did not like to be identified with one particular role and, for this reason, he had made it his policy never to appear in a series for more than two years.[3]

Some of the episode were written by David Wickes, who also wrote scripts for The Professionals and his production company, David Wickes Productions, produced The New Professionals, in 1999.


Like The Sweeney, the cars used were Fords, mostly Cortinas and Granadas. However, Hackett's personal car, seen in several episodes, is a 1969 Mercury Cougar.

Official Releases[edit]

In 1983, the BBC tried to relaunch the series on the then-soaring video market, releasing the pilot, Shipment, on VHS tape. However, no further releases were forthcoming.[4]

The first series was last aired on TV on the now-defunct British Satellite Broadcasting cable channel, Galaxy, in 1990. The second series has not been aired since 1978. There have long been calls for the series to be aired again, especially as programmes such as The Sweeney and The Professionals have had many repeats.

All seventeen episodes survive in C1 format (16 mm film), in the BBC archives. Some sources, such as Halliwell/Purser, claim that there were twenty-two episodes but this is simply a mistake.[5]


Two Target novels were published. It seems that writers, Michael Feeney Callan and Simon Masters, were asked to turn their scripts into novels, so that the BBC could put them on the market.[6]

Series One 1977[edit]

# Title Writer Director Airdate
1 "Shipment" David Wickes & Philip Hinchcliffe David Wickes 9 September 1977
Hackett follows up on information about dodgy dealings aboard an international cargo ship provided by a murdered snitch.
2 "Blow Out" Roger Marshall Douglas Camfield 16 September 1977
Hackett is baffled by a series of jewel thefts and turns to a prisoner awaiting release for help.
3 "Big Elephant" Bob Baker & Dave Martin Douglas Camfield 23 September 1977
A sailor tries to sell a package of stolen drugs he believes to be hashish, but it is actually heroin.
4 "Hunting Parties" Bob Baker & Dave Martin Christopher Menaul 30 September 1977
A revolutionary action group interrupts a burglary at a former villain's home. Hackett and the victim's family try to track them down.
5 "Vandraggers" Bernie Cooper & Francis Megahy Francis Megahy 14 October 1977
An electronics shipment has been hi-jacked, prompting Hackett to empty a bank's safety deposit boxes.
6 "Lady Luck" Ray Jenkins Terry Green 21 October 1977
Hackett quits the force in disgrace after being accused of accepting a bribe. He arranges to sell police files to people traffickers to pay for his enforced retirement.
7 "Set Up" Ray Jenkins Jim Goddard 28 October 1977
Hackett is suspended for alleged corruption. "If you're innocent, stand and fight" pleads Ros. So why's Hackett on the run?
8 "Roadrunner" James Clare Mike Vardy 4 November 1977
Hackett investigates the hijacking of a truck and the subsequent murder of its driver by a hitchhiker and uncovers pilfering at an electronics plant.
9 "Carve Up" Bob Baker & Dave Martin Ben Bolt 11 November 1977
Hackett investigates possible police corruption in relation to bids for a city development project and is led into an embarrassing triangle with the daughter of a chief superintendent.

Series Two 1978[edit]

# Title Writer Director Airdate
1 "Rouges' Gallery" Bob Baker & Dave Martin Mike Vardy 15 September 1978
Hackett investigates the curious theft of rare old paintings from wealthy homes and finds a dedicated young woman determined to advance the careers of several young artists.
2 "A Good and Faithful Woman" Richard Harris Ben Bolt 22 September 1978
Hackett investigates the curious theft of rare old paintings from wealthy homes and finds a dedicated young woman determined to advance the careers of several young artists.
3 "Queen's Pardon" David Wickes David Wickes 29 September 1978
Hackett has to deal with a hostage situation when a disturbed father demands a pardon for his son who was executed for murder fifteen years before.
4 "Fringe Banking" Ken Follett Terry Green 13 October 1978
Hackett stumbles onto a scheme to acquire a struggling construction company that is in line to win a lucrative government contract.
5 "Promises" Tony Hoare Gordon Flemyng 20 October 1978
A young squad member is murdered when accompanying a key witness to the trial of a prominent gangster.
6 "The Trouble with Charlie" Dave Humphries Peter Smith 27 October 1978
Hackett meets an old flame at the airport but her current boyfriend gets involved in a cocaine deal that goes wrong.
7 "Figures of Importance" Christopher Menaul Christopher Menaul 3 November 1978
Hackett's former fiancée is killed by a strong arm man. He and her delinquent son want to find out who killed her and why.
8 "The Run" Peter J. Hammond Terry Green 10 November 1978
Hackett uses an accountant to get evidence against a porn publisher who is buying drugs with smuggled gold.


  1. ^ Mower, Patrick (2007). Patrick Mower, My Story. John Blake. p. 221. ISBN 978-1-84454-447-9. 
  2. ^ "Target". Media Gems. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  3. ^ "Target". Media Gems. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  4. ^ "Target". Media Gems. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  5. ^ "Target". Media Gems. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 
  6. ^ "Target". Media Gems. Retrieved 2014-07-21. 

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