The Gentle Touch
|The Gentle Touch|
Main title screen featuring Jill Gascoine
|Created by||Terence Feely|
|Opening theme||Roger Webb|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||5|
|No. of episodes||56 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||1 hour (inc. commercials)|
|Original release||11 April 1980 –
24 November 1984
|Followed by||C.A.T.S. Eyes|
The Gentle Touch is a British police drama television series made by London Weekend Television for ITV which ran from 1980–84. Commencing transmission on 11 April 1980, the series is notable for being the first British series to feature a female police detective as its leading character, ahead of the similarly themed BBC series Juliet Bravo by four months.
The series starred Jill Gascoine as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes, who has worked her way up through the ranks of the police force and is based at the Seven Dials police station in London. Maggie's husband, a police constable, is murdered during the first episode, leaving her to juggle her career with single parenthood, raising her teenage son.
The Gentle Touch largely dealt with routine police procedures and offered a frank depiction of relevant social issues (including racism, sexism, homosexuality, mental health and euthanasia). It was low on action and violence in comparison to previous crime series such as The Sweeney, opting for a more realistic and character-driven approach. Although the series mostly focused on Maggie's professional life in a male-dominated field, it also showed her home life with her son Steve, as well as her occasional romantic involvements which sometimes clashed with her job. In real life Jill Gascoine could not drive so when Maggie had to be seen driving the scenes would be shot using a car towed behind the camera truck.
The Gentle Touch was a ratings success in the UK, where it was screened on Friday nights in a 9.00pm slot (except for the final series which was shown on Saturday nights). One episode shown in January 1982 garnered over 18 million viewers and was the 5th most watched television programme in Britain that year. The Gentle Touch made Gascoine a household name and ran for five series until 1984, however the character of Maggie Forbes lasted longer and she returned in 1985 in the more action orientated spin-off series C.A.T.S. Eyes (also created by Terence Feely) about a team of female detectives in Kent who covertly work for the Home Office.
- Jill Gascoine as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes
- William Marlowe as Detective Chief Inspector Bill Russell
- Brian Gwaspari as Detective Inspector Bob Croft (1980–83)
- Derek Thompson as Detective Sergeant Jimmy Fenton (1980–82)
- Paul Moriarty as Detective Sergeant Jake Barrett
- Nigel Rathbone as Steve Forbes
- Kevin O'Shea as Detective Sergeant Peter Phillips (1982–84)
- Bernard Holley as Detective Inspector Mike Turnbull (1982–84)
- James Ottaway as George Taylor
- Michael Graham Cox as Detective Inspector Jack Slater (1984)
The first and second series of The Gentle Touch were originally released on DVD (Region 2, UK) by DD Home Entertainment, but the company entered into administration as of 26 July 2007. The series rights were then passed to Network DVD who re-released series 1 (with new artwork) in January 2008, and followed on with the re-release of series 2 (also with new artwork) in April 2008. The third series was released on 15 February 2010, and the fourth series was released on 12 April 2010, the day after the series' 30th anniversary.
The fifth and final series was released by Network DVD on 14 November 2011.
- "Top 10 Programmes 1982". BARB (British Broadcasters Audience Research. Retrieved 4 December 2012.