|Created by||Ian Kennedy Martin|
|Theme music composer||Harry South|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||53|
|Executive producers||Lloyd Shirley|
|Production locations||West London|
South East England
|Running time||50 minutes|
|Production company||Euston Films Ltd for Thames Television|
|Budget||£266,000 per episode|
|Original release||2 January 1975 –|
28 December 1978
|Preceded by||Regan (1974)|
The Sweeney is a 1970s British television police drama focusing on two members of the Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police specialising in tackling armed robbery and violent crime in London. It stars John Thaw as Detective Inspector Jack Regan and Dennis Waterman as his partner, Detective Sergeant George Carter. It was produced by the Thames Television subsidiary Euston Films for broadcast on the ITV network in the UK between 1975 and 1978.
In 1977, the BBC responded to the success of The Sweeney on ITV and commissioned its own hard hitting police series, Target. It was heavily criticised for the levels of violence and the BBC cancelled Target after just two seasons.
The Sweeney was developed from a one-off TV drama entitled Regan which served as the pilot episode for the series. Regan is a 90-minute television film written by Ian Kennedy Martin for the Thames Television anthology series Armchair Cinema (see Armchair Theatre) in 1974.
The part of Jack Regan was specifically written for John Thaw, who was a friend of Ian Kennedy Martin, with whom he had worked on the TV drama series Redcap in the 1960s. Dennis Waterman was cast after his performance in the Special Branch episode "Stand and Deliver", also produced by Euston Films.
From the very beginning, the Regan film was seen as having series potential. After it scored highly in the ratings, work began on the development of the series proper. Ian Kennedy Martin saw the subsequent series as being mainly studio-based, with more dialogue and less action, but producer Ted Childs, inspired in part by Get Carter (1971) and The French Connection (1971), disagreed. Following this battle for creative control, Ian Kennedy Martin parted company with the project. His shoes as series writer were filled by his brother Troy Kennedy Martin, Roger Marshall, Ranald Graham and Trevor Preston.
Every writer on the series was given very specific guidelines to follow: "Each show will have an overall screen time (minus titles) of 48 minutes 40 seconds. Each film will open with a teaser of up to 3 minutes, which will be followed by the opening titles. The story will be played across three acts, each being no more than 19 minutes and no fewer than 8 minutes in length. Regan will appear in every episode, Carter in approximately 10 out of 13 episodes. In addition to these main characters, scripts should be based around three major speaking parts, with up to ten minor speaking parts."
Previously, most TV police dramas had shied away from showing officers as being fallible. The series shows a somewhat more realistic side of police life, depicting them as flawed human beings, some with a disregard for authority, rules and the "system". Police officers in The Sweeney are ready and willing to meet violence with violence when dealing with London's hardened criminals, and are prone to cut corners and bend the law in pursuit of their prey, as long as it gets the right result. Until The Sweeney, the violent reality of policing was largely ignored by British television. The series broke new ground for TV drama and didn't shy away from self-awareness and genre-referential humour. This is very evident in episodes such as 2.7 "Golden Fleece" when Regan brandishes a lollipop at Carter and says "who loves ya, baby" in a nod to hit US crime series Kojak (1973-78); or in 2.10 "Trojan Bus" when Regan whistles the theme-tune to the BBC's sedate police series Dixon of Dock Green (1955-76) after a particularly elementary piece of detective work.
The series also captured the zeitgeist as it was made during a dark period for the real-world Flying Squad. During the mid 1970s Flying Squad officers were publicly censured for being involved in bribery, corruption and for having excessively close links with the criminal fraternity. At the time, this reality served as a backdrop to the series, and it is reflected in the mood, tone and story lines of The Sweeney. Detective Chief Superintendent Kenneth Drury, the Flying Squad's real-life commander, was convicted on five counts of corruption and imprisoned for eight years. Twelve other officers were also convicted and many more resigned. In the late 1970s, this and other scandals led to a massive internal investigation into the activities of the Metropolitan and City of London Police lead by Dorset Police, codenamed Operation Countryman. All of this may have inspired parts of the plot of Sweeney 2.
Cast and characters
The two main protagonists are Detective Inspector Jack Regan and Detective Sergeant George Carter. The third is Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins, their boss and a senior Flying Squad officer.
John Thaw stars as Detective Inspector John "Jack" Albert Regan, a tough police officer, often frustrated by Scotland Yard's red tape. Originally from Manchester (like Thaw himself), he has been in London for several years. He occasionally refers to his northern roots (his poor upbringing, his father's work on the Manchester Ship Canal), which prompts banter from George Carter, a Londoner, such as humming "The Red Flag". A heavy drinker and smoker (comically, he is sometimes seen stealing other people's cigarettes), Regan has some success with women; although not as much as Carter, or in one episode, Detective Chief Inspector Haskins. He has an ex-wife, Kate, and daughter, Susie, who live in Ruislip.
Regan may be tough but he is also a decent man, seen to help out an ex-informer whose son is kidnapped in 4.9 "Feet of Clay"; and his sympathetic pushing enables his boss Haskins to ask for help when his wife goes missing after a breakdown, in 4.13 "Victims"; it's Regan who finds her. Regan will bend the rules in order to achieve the desired result: for example, fabricating evidence, arranging for a criminal to be kidnapped, illegally entering private property and threatening to lie about being attacked by a prisoner in order to get information. Despite this he has his own very strong moral code. He's unwilling to cheat for personal gain, delivers a blistering attack on a corrupt copper, and refuses to take bribes.
Although he is seen driving various cars himself throughout the series, Regan usually travels by squad car with police driver. He drives what is presumably his own car, a green 1974 Ford Capri (Mk II) 3.0 Ghia (PTW 475M), in episode 1.13 "Abduction".
Dennis Waterman plays Detective Sergeant George Hamilton Carter who comes from south London. In the series' timeline, George was in the Flying Squad prior to events in Regan, but quit for family reasons (cf. Regan and 1.5 "Jigsaw"). Carter is not as aggressive as Regan and usually plays the "good cop" role. He is married to Alison Carter, a schoolteacher, but is widowed when she is murdered in episode 2.5 "Hit and Run". He is a former amateur boxer, as shown in the pilot Regan, and is described as having professional boxing potential in episode 2.1 "Chalk and Cheese". Like Regan, he enjoys a drink, and follows football. After the death of his wife Carter is shown dating women in several episodes.
Garfield Morgan plays Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins. He is married and has three children, all at boarding school, and is Regan's immediate superior. Prior to the series timeline, the character had done "National Service in the Signals Corps in a minor intelligence role" (as revealed in episode 2.9 "Stay Lucky, Eh?"). He is frequently seen at odds with Regan, preferring more conventional "by-the-book" policing methods.
The main episodes featuring Haskins are 2.7 "Golden Fleece", in which he is set up to be the victim of a corruption inquiry, and 4.13 "Victims", in which his wife suffers a mental breakdown.
During the first three series, Haskins appears in the opening titles of every episode whether or not the character appears in the actual story.
Haskins is absent at the start of the fourth and final series due to Garfield Morgan's other professional committments, but he returns a few episodes in. Correspondingly, there are two versions of the fourth series opening titles, one with, and one without, Haskins.
Other recurring characters
The series introduces several other Squad officers over the years including: Detective Sergeant Matt Mathews (John Flanagan); Detective Sergeant Kent (Carl Rigg); Detective Constable Thorpe (Martin Read); Detective Constable Jellineck (James Warrior); Detective Constable Gerry Burtonshaw (Nick Brimble); Detective Sergeant Tom Daniels (John Alkin).
Regan's squad car comes with an "authorised" police driver. In the first series Regan has a variety of drivers including Len (Jack McKenzie), Fred (Denis DeMarne) and Brian Cooney (Billy Murray). Episode 1.7 "The Placer" introduces the character of Bill (Tony Allen) who becomes Regan's regular driver, although he plays a peripheral, non-speaking role in most episodes. Tony Allen subsequently worked as wardrobe manager for many of John Thaw's later projects.
Other more senior officers include: Detective Chief Superintendent Maynon (Morris Perry), a semi-regular throughout the series and more willing than Haskins to bend the rules to get a result (later promoted to Commander); Detective Superintendent Grant (T.P. McKenna); Detective Chief Superintendent Braithwaite (Benjamin Whitrow). Colin Douglas features as an unnamed Commander in series 1, with Michael Latimer as Commander Jackman in series 2.
The relationship between Squad officers is largely informal. Regan is always referred to as "Guv'nor", or just "Guv". He invariably calls Carter and the other Squad members by their first names, or occasionally nicknames. When off duty, Regan and Carter are friends and drinking buddies, so in private Carter calls him "Jack". This is all in accordance with widespread police convention. Everyone calls DCI Haskins simply "Haskins" (or Mister Haskins), though Regan occasionally calls him by his first name, "Frank".
Although not people, the cars used in The Sweeney became just as important to the series as any of the human characters.
The most iconic car in the series is NHK 295M, a metallic copper-bronze 1974 Ford Consul 3000 GT V6 (often mistaken for a Granada Mk1). As well as being the main squad car used to get Regan and Carter around London, it also features in the opening titles of series 1-3 (driven by stuntman Joe Wadham).
Other squad cars featured include an onyx green 1973 Ford Granada 3.0 Ghia (Mk1) (NHK 292M), a blue 1974 Ford Cortina 2000 XL (Mk3) (NHK 296M), a bronze 1976 Ford Granada (Mk1) 3.0 Ghia X (RHJ 997R). The main squad cars were supplied for filming by Ford from their press fleet at no cost, and the producers were specifically told that the cars were not to be damaged. Such was the prominence of the company's cars in the series, it was jokingly referred to as "The Ford Squad". In later episodes Ford updated the cars, providing a metallic silver Mk1 Ford Granada Ghia 3.0 V6 (NWC 301P), a silver 1978 Ford Granada (Mk2) 2.8iS (VHK 491S) and a silver Ford Cortina (Mk4) 2.0 GL (PNO 548R), among others.
A jupiter red Granada (UAY 272S) was due to be used for filming in season four but it suffered bodywork damage while being delivered to Euston Films and was replaced.
The series is infamous for featuring Jaguars as the criminal's car of choice. Jaguar S-types in particular were regularly deployed throughout the series as getaway cars, most notably in episode 1.10 "Stoppo Driver". A blue/grey S-type DWD 606C is used in the series 1-3 opening titles, pursued and chased down by the Squad in NHK 295M.
One reason cited for the regular appearance of Jaguars is that they were favoured by the stunt drivers as being the "safest" cars to use. The same few cars would be used and re-used, crashed, fixed up, and resprayed numerous times. According to Kevin Whately, John Thaw claimed that he had witnessed the regency red 1960 Jaguar Mark 2 (registration 248 RPA) used in Inspector Morse being written off several times while filming The Sweeney. Apparently, the car was in real-life a "polished up wreck" and would often break down during filming.
A red Fiat 850 coupé (UJB 92G) makes cameo appearances in several episodes: typically, it is parked at the side of the road as the action takes place around it. One theory is that the car belonged to a crew member who tried to include it as an in-joke in as many episodes as possible.
Other featured characters include the close family of the three leads.
Carter's wife Alison (Stephanie Turner) is seen attempting to prise him away from the Squad in episode 1.5 "Jigsaw", while her hostility toward Regan is apparent in 1.13 "Abduction". She is murdered in episode 2.5 "Hit and Run". In the DVD commentary for "Abduction", it is claimed that Alison was written out because actress Stephanie Turner was asking for too much money to continue to appear in the series. Stephanie Turner went on to appear in Juliet Bravo, also devised and part-written by Ian Kennedy Martin.
Doreen Haskins (Sheila Reid) features in the penultimate episode 4.12 "Victims", which deals with her deteriorating mental health and the impact of police work on family life. One of Haskins' three children, Richard, also appears in this episode.
Guest stars in the show included:
- ɫGeorge Cole and Dennis Waterman went on to star in Minder.
- ɫ̩ɫ̩Morecambe and Wise appeared in return for Thaw and Waterman appearing on their show.
Many up-and-coming actors also appeared in the show during its run, such as:
The Sweeney strived for authenticity and social realism. This ethos was reflected in most aspects of production, from the storylines, casting, locations and most importantly the dialogue. As well as the series title, cockney rhyming-slang gave extra colour to the dialogue, including ‘poppy’ (money), ‘bottle’ (courage) and ‘grass’ (informer). Criminal and police slang was also used, including 'ringer' (a car thief, also a stolen car with fake plates), 'stoppo' (a getaway car), 'snout' (informant), 'factory' (police station/office), 'fence' (selling stolen goods, also someone who sells stolen goods) and 'fireman' (somone who deals with problems). Many of these slang terms were brought to a wider audience for the first time in The Sweeney, some even entered popular use, but the terms have remained part of the British crime drama landscape.
The Sweeney was shot on 16mm film, allowing producers to use much smaller and more agile camera crews than shooting on videotape allowed at that time. This made it possible to shoot almost entirely on location for both exteriors and interiors, helping to give the series a startling degree of realism and elevating London as a character of its own. Using film also allowed directors to feature many more action sequences. Directors Tom Clegg, Terry Green, Douglas Camfield, David Wickes, Mike Vardy and William Brayne were among the group of "guerrilla filmmakers" that realised the episodes. What they and the crews delivered is a fast-paced series, depicting the Squad's relentless battle against armed robbery; but it also includes a substantial degree of humour. For the period it has a high degree of on-screen violence, and it is not unknown for several deaths to occur in an episode.
Each episode had a budget of £266,000 with an eight-and-a-half-week production schedule: two weeks' pre-production (for casting, finding locations etc.), two weeks' shooting, four weeks' picture editing (the first two weeks of which overlapped with the shoot), two weeks' sound editing, and two-and-a-half days' dubbing. 
The filming of each episode normally took 10 working days, shooting about five minutes of edited screen time per day. Due to this, the number of different filming locations had to be restricted to 10, i.e. one location per day. At the Euston Films production office in Colet Court, Hammersmith, a standing set of the Flying Squad offices was constructed which provided an alternative option for when inclement weather restricted the day's shooting. Two days would normally be spent filming on the set, equalling 10 minutes of any episode being set in the offices. Shooting took place through the spring, summer, autumn and winter months; exterior night shooting was expensive, and was limited to three minutes of external night material in any episode.
Most of the locations used for filming The Sweeney were around the west London area—in particular, Acton, Chiswick, Shepherd's Bush, Hammersmith, Fulham, Earl's Court, Kensington & Chelsea and Notting Hill districts, close to the Euston Films HQ at Colet Court in Hammersmith. The London Docklands, derelict at the time, were ideal for filming location sequences. The opening titles were filmed in Colet Gardens. However, other notable locations in London, the South East of England and further afield were also used for filming the show's episodes and included:
- Chertsey/Penton Hook Lock, Surrey - "Thin Ice", "Bad Apple", "On the Run", "Feet of Clay" & "Jack or Knave?".
- Battersea - "Jigsaw", "Stoppo Driver", "Faces", "Trap", "Trojan Bus", "Country Boy", "Visiting Fireman", "Tomorrow Man", "May" & "Victims", "Chalk & Cheese" (Craven Arms, Lavender Hill)
- Bermondsey - "Regan".
- Black Park Country Park, Wexham, Buckinghamshire - "Regan", "Payoff", "On the Run" & "Hearts & Minds".
- Dulwich - "Regan", "Ringer".
- Dulwich Hamlet F.C. "Ringer".
- Gozo/Maltese Archipelago - "Sweeney 2".
- Earl's Court - "Bait" (Cromwell Crescent & Logan Place).
- Earlsfield - Garratt Lane and Garratt Snooker Club - "Supersnout".
- Hammersmith - "Jackpot".
- Heathrow - "Golden Boy", "Stoppo Driver" & "Tomorrow Man".
- Kingston upon Thames - "Hit and Run" & "Trojan Bus".
- Ladbroke Grove - "Hard Men"
- Maida Vale - "Night Out". (The Warrington Hotel)
- Peckham - "Ringer".
- Potters Bar "Big Spender".
- Putney/Putney Bridge "Contact Breaker", "Abduction" "Taste of Fear" & "Sweeney 2".
- Queens Park Rangers F.C., Loftus Road - "I Want the Man!".
- Raynes Park - "Big Spender", "Golden Fleece" & "Victims".
- Richmond (River Lane; Leonard Gold's house) -"The Bigger They Are"
- Roehampton - "Queen's Pawn", "Golden Fleece" (Bank of England Sports Centre), "Victims" & "Sweeney 2" (Danebury Avenue/Alton Estate).
- Sandown Park Racecourse, Esher, Surrey - "Big Spender".
- Shepherd's Bush - "Jackpot".
- Southall Gas Works - "Faces".
- Southwark - "Ringer".
- Staines, - "The Placer".
- Tooting Bec - "Abduction" (Trinity Road & Tooting Bec Tube Station).
- Twickenham - "The Placer", "Golden Fleece" (Twickenham Stadium) & "Bad Apple".
- Uxbridge - "Thou Shalt Not Kill" (Brunel University) & "Bad Apple".
- Wandsworth - "Queens Pawn", "Jigsaw", "Abduction", "Country Boy", "Tomorrow Man", "May", "Drag Act" & "Sweeney 2".
- White City - "May" (White City Stadium).
- Wimbledon - "Contact Breaker" (Wimbledon Stadium), "Stay Lucky, Eh?" "May", "Lady Luck" & "Money, Money, Money".
- Wokingham, Berkshire - "Thin Ice".
The series was commissioned off the back of the TV film Regan, which served as the pilot episode, first shown on 4 June 1974.
In all, four series were made, originally broadcast on ITV at 21:00–22:00 on weekdays (usually Mondays), with repeated screenings at the same time until the early 1980s.
Series 1 was broadcast between 2 January and 27 March 1975.
Series 2 was broadcast between 1 September and 24 November 1975.
Series 3 was broadcast between 6 September and 20 December 1976.
Between the third and fourth series, two 90-minute feature films were produced, Sweeney! (1977) and Sweeney 2 (1978).
Series 4, the final series, was broadcast two years later from 7 September to 28 December 1978.
Series 1 (1975)
All series one episodes were shot during 1974.
The promotional episode shown to the press was 1.3 "Thin Ice".
The early episodes feature a degree of hostility and mistrust between Regan and his senior officer, Haskins. In episode 1.1 "Ringer", he even attempts to separate Carter from Regan in order to help Carter's career.
Episode 1.4 "Queen's Pawn" shows how far Regan is willing to go, to bend or even break the law, in order to get the desired result.
Some episodes look at the strains that police work puts on family life. and 1.5 "Jigsaw" explore Regan's personal life, drawing parallels between the unhappy situation of the main villain's family and Regan's own domestic situation, a theme returned to in 1.13 "Abduction".
- Series 1 Episode List
All episodes were broadcast from 2 January 1975 to 27 March 1975 on ITV, Thursdays at 21:00.
|Episode No||Title||Original airdate|
|1.1 (1)||"Ringer"||2 January 1975|
|Detective Inspector Jack Regan endangers an operation, and loses his girlfriend's car.|
|1.2 (2)||"Jackpot"||9 January 1975|
|Regan and his team are suspected of pocketing £35,000.|
|1.3 (3)||"Thin Ice"||16 January 1975|
|A crook flees the country, but leaves his beloved pet dog behind - Regan is determined to still bring him to justice.|
|1.4 (4)||"Queen's Pawn"||23 January 1975|
|Three crooks walk out of court as free men. Regan is determined to get a conviction, and plans to make one of them turn Queen's evidence.|
|1.5 (5)||"Jigsaw"||30 January 1975|
|Regan tries to nail a criminal for robbery, and meets opposition from an MP.|
|1.6 (6)||"Night Out"||6 February 1975|
|Regan gets suspicious about an invitation to spend a night out with an old friend.|
|1.7 (7)||"The Placer"||13 February 1975|
|Regan goes undercover to break a ring of lorry hijackers.|
|1.8 (8)||"Cover Story"||20 February 1975|
|A beautiful journalist poses problems for Regan.|
|1.9 (9)||"Golden Boy"||27 February 1975|
|A chance encounter in a pub puts Regan on the trail of gold bullion robbers.|
|1.10 (10)||"Stoppo Driver"||6 March 1975|
|A gang boss plans to blackmail a Flying Squad driver into driving a getaway car.|
|1.11 (11)||"Big Spender"||13 March 1975|
|Large amounts of money being spent lead Regan to the Smiths—and another case.|
|1.12 (12)||"Contact Breaker"||20 March 1975|
|Regan tries to prove that a prisoner on parole has nothing to do with a bank raid.|
|1.13 (13)||"Abduction"||27 March 1975|
|Regan's daughter is kidnapped.|
Series 2 (1975)
All Series 2 episodes were shot in 1975.
"Thou Shalt Not Kill" features a tense hostage situation inside a bank, with Haskins faced with the dilemma of whether or not to use marksmen to kill the criminals.
Poignant and affecting, episode 2.5 "Hit and Run", features Alison Carter's murder and the aftermath.
This series also includes a pair of tongue-in-cheek episodes, 2.7 "Golden Fleece" and 2.10 "Trojan Bus", featuring two cocky Australian villains, played by British actors Patrick Mower and George Layton;
- Series 2 Episode List
All 13 episodes were broadcast from 1 September 1975 to 24 November 1975 on ITV, Mondays at 21:00.
|Episode No||Title||Original airdate|
|2.1 (14)||"Chalk and Cheese"||1 September 1975|
|Giles Nunn and Carrie Selhurst commit a robbery.|
|2.2 (15)||"Faces"||8 September 1975|
|A security van is robbed by a masked gang.|
|2.3 (16)||"Supersnout"||15 September 1975|
|With Haskins on holiday, Quirk takes charge.|
|2.4 (17)||"Big Brother"||22 September 1975|
|Suspect Andy Deacon collapses during an interview with Jack Regan.|
|2.5 (18)||"Hit and Run"||29 September 1975|
|George Carter’s wife, Alison is killed in a hit and run accident.|
|2.6 (19)||"Trap"||6 October 1975|
|Regan gets a promotion from the Golden Maid Dairy Robbery 5 years earlier.|
|2.7 (20)||"Golden Fleece"||13 October 1975|
|Two Australians commit 11 armed robberies.|
|2.8 (21)||"Poppy"||20 October 1975|
|Violent robber, Vic Labbett returns from exile.|
|2.9 (22)||"Stay Lucky, Eh?"||27 October 1975|
|Jenner’s leg is injured in a shooting by a gunman.|
|2.10 (23)||"Trojan Bus"||3 November 1975|
|Two Australians hijack a bus.|
|2.11 (24)||"I Want the Man!"||10 November 1975|
|Informant Popeye is abducted by Maynard.|
|2.12 (25)||"Country Boy"||17 November 1975|
|Telephone engineer Ronald Peters is kidnapped and bound by an armed gang.|
|2.13 (26)||"Thou Shalt Not Kill"||24 November 1975|
|The university branch of the National Mercian Bank is robbed.|
Series 3 (1976)
"Tomorrow Man", "Visiting Fireman", "Taste of Fear", "Sweet Smell of Succession", "Loving Arms" and "Lady Luck" were shot in 1975. "Selected Target", "In from the Cold", "Taste of Fear", "Bad Apple", "May", "Down to You, Brother!", "Payoff" and "On the Run" were shot in 1976.
Episode 3.5 "Taste of Fear" introduces violent psychopath Tim Cook (George Sweeney), an army deserter embittered by his experiences in Northern Ireland, and he reappears at the end of the series in 3.13 "On the Run".
3.4 "Tomorrow Man" focuses on the clash between traditional policing methods and newer, more technological ways of solving crime. 3.6 "Bad Apple" deals with police corruption and reveals Regan's deep contempt for corrupt officers. 3.3 "Visiting Fireman" has elements involving radioactive material and the Security Services that would later be revisited and expanded by writer Troy Kennedy-Martin in the BBC series Edge of Darkness (1985).
- Series 3 Episode List
All 13 episodes were broadcast from 6 September 1976 to 20 December 1976 on ITV, Mondays at 21:00.
|Episode No||Title||Original airdate|
|3.1 (27)||"Selected Target"||6 September 1976|
|While in prison, inmates Titus Oates and Colly Kibber plan a robbery.|
|3.2 (28)||"In from the Cold"||13 September 1976|
|Some years earlier, Eddie Medhurst a gang member who shot a police sergeant escapes to Spain but returns.|
|3.3 (29)||"Visiting Fireman"||20 September 1976|
|A Turkish policeman arrives in England.|
|3.4 (30)||"Tomorrow Man"||27 September 1976|
|Regan and Carter meet Dennis Longfield.|
|3.5 (31)||"Taste of Fear"||4 October 1976|
|A caravan site is raided by armed robbers.|
|3.6 (32)||"Bad Apple"||11 October 1976|
|Regan goes undercover as an ex-conman.|
|3.7 (33)||"May"||25 October 1976|
|Young Davey Holmes is arrested following the attack of a retired money lender.|
|3.8 (34)||"Sweet Smell of Succession"||8 November 1976|
|Gang leader Joe Castle dies.|
|3.9 (35)||"Down to You, Brother!"||22 November 1976|
|An ex-criminal Raymond Meadows is drunk during a stag party.|
|3.10 (36)||"Pay Off"||29 November 1976|
|Shirley’s partner, Eddie goes missing.|
|3.11 (37)||"Loving Arms"||6 December 1976|
|An off-duty policeman is killed.|
|3.12(38)||"Lady Luck"||13 December 1976|
|Regan meets a housewife Marcia Edmunds at a pub.|
|3.13 (39)||"On The Run"||20 December 1976|
|Violent psychopath Tim Cook absconds from custody during a hospital visit.|
Series 4 (1978)
"Messenger of The Gods", "Drag Act", "Trust Red", "Money, Money, Money", "Feet of Clay", "One of Your Own" and "Jack or Knave?" were shot in 1977. "Hard Men", "Nightmare", "Bait", "The Bigger They Are", "Hearts and Minds", "Latin Lady" and "Victims" were shot in 1978.
The final series has been criticised as being the weakest. The perceived decline in quality led John Thaw and Dennis Waterman to the realisation that the show was in danger of running out of steam, and the decision was taken to end it while it was still extremely popular.
The fourth series introduces a new title sequence and DCI Haskins is absent from a number of episodes.
Notable episodes include 4.5 "Nightmare", which features a slightly experimental dream sequence and a then-contemporary plot of two ex-IRA men trying to buy their way back into the organisation. It is also the episode with the highest number of deaths.
4.2 "Hard Men" guest stars James Cosmo as Detective Sergeant Davey Freeth from Strathclyde Police. He strikes up an uneasy relationship with Regan and Carter to catch a pair of Scottish criminals working in London. This episode may have been intended as a pilot for a Glaswegian spin-off.
4.11 "Hearts and Minds", was the last episode to be filmed, and features the comedy duo Morecambe and Wise. It was a quid pro quo for John Thaw and Dennis Waterman appearing in a sketch on the 1976 Morecambe and Wise Christmas show on BBC One.
The final broadcast episode, 4.14 "Jack or Knave?", brings the series to an ambiguous close. Regan is seen to resign in disgust after being implicated in a corruption scandal. It's left open as to whether he will change his mind or not. The events of the feature film Sweeney! (1977) would suggest that Regan does not go through with the resignation, but this too is open to viewer interpretation (see Sweeney!).
- Series 4 Episode List
All episodes were broadcast from 7 September 1978 to 28 December 1978 on ITV, Thursdays at 21:00.
|Episode No||Title||Original airdate|
|4.1 (40)||"Messenger of the Gods"||7 September 1978|
|A drunken Regan pulls Luke Sparrow for questioning for the theft of mercury worth £30.|
|4.2 (41)||"Hard Men"||14 September 1978|
|A dour Scottish sergeant arrives from Glasgow.|
|4.3 (42)||"Drag Act"||21 September 1978|
|A gang of cold-blooded thieves set off on lorries killing a driver and injuring a policeman.|
|4.4 (43)||"Trust Red"||28 September 1978|
|A burglar falls to his death from a roof.|
|4.5 (44)||"Nightmare"||5 October 1978|
|A lorry containing cigars is hijacked and one of the robbers plus the driver is killed.|
|4.6 (45)||"Money, Money, Money"||12 October 1978|
|Regan tracks down Fischer.|
|4.7 (46)||"Bait"||19 October 1978|
|Regan is staking out a robber Vic Tolman.|
|4.8 (47)||"The Bigger They Are"||26 October 1978|
|Tycoon Leonard Gold is blackmailed by Harold Collins.|
|4.9 (48)||"Feet of Clay"||2 November 1978|
|Alan Ember’s son, Paul is kidnapped with a ransom of £10,000.|
|4.10 (49)||"One of Your Own"||9 November 1978|
|Jimmy Fleet, a prisoner, is arrested and remanded in custody at Wormwood Scrubs Prison.|
|4.11 (50)||"Hearts and Minds"||23 November 1978|
|A burglar is found dead at Professor Busby’s home.|
|4.12 (51)||"Latin Lady"||30 November 1978|
|Gynaecologist Dr Delacroix leaves his clinic on the way to the airport.|
|4.13 (52)||"Victims"||14 December 1978|
|DS Taylor is injured in a shooting.|
|4.14 (53)||"Jack or Knave?"||28 December 1978|
|A security officer is murdered during a payroll snatch.|
The cinematic versions of The Sweeney feature the same actors and characters as the TV series, however both films have levels of swearing, violence, sex and nudity that would not have been possible on television at the time.
In Sweeney!, Regan and Carter become involved in a plot which shares similarities to the 1963 Profumo affair and British actor Barry Foster features as an American socialite loosely based on Stephen Ward. Made in 1976, and released in 1977, the film appears to be set in 1979. On screen and in-film references include the line "The same damned speech you made in 1978" and a large banner at the OPEC delegates meeting features the convention's logo and the year "1979". This suggests that the events of the film occur after the end of the television series chronologically, assuming series 4 is set in 1978 as broadcast.
Sweeney 2 (1978)
In Sweeney 2, Regan and Carter are on the trail of particularly violent armed criminals. The gang has carried out several successful bank and payroll robberies all over London and killed anyone that gets in their way, even their own members. Regan and Carter are assigned the case as a last order from Detective Chief Superintendent Jupp (Denholm Elliott) before he resigns to face allegations of corruption in the courts.
In director Nick Love's film, the characters from the original series are reimagined, and the setting and action are moved to the early 21st Century. The Sweeney (2012) stars Ray Winstone as Regan, Ben Drew as Carter and Damian Lewis as Haskins.
In the UK, The Guardian's Steve Rose gave Nick Love's film a one star review, saying that "rather than upgrading the 1970s TV favourite, it (the 2012 film) treats it like a stolen car – to be stripped down, resprayed and erased of identifying features. Only the brand name has been retained."
The 2012 film was remade in France as The Squad (2015), also known as The Sweeney: Paris.
The title theme music and end credit reprise were both written by Harry South, a key figure in British jazz during the 1950s and 1960s.
Dave Gelly writing in The Guardian called South's title music "the most emblematic TV theme of its day".
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Sweeney|
In 2001 a soundtrack album Shut it! The Music of The Sweeney was released and in contains a large selection of the incidental music used in the programme, some augmented with classic pieces of dialogue from various episodes. Also included on the album is the main title theme music from the first feature film, Sweeney!.
Nine books were written and released in 1977 published by Futura Publications Ltd.
- The Sweeney
- Regan and the Manhattan File
- Regan and the Deal of the Century
- Regan and the Lebanese Shipment
- Regan and the Human Pipeline
- Regan and the Bent Stripper
- Regan and the Snout Who Cried Wolf
- Regan and the Venetian Virgin
- Regan and the High Rollers
The first three books were written by Ian Kennedy Martin, the rest by Joe Balham. The plots of the books are not taken from any of the television episodes; overall, the tone of the books differs somewhat from the television series in that Regan is usually depicted as working alone, and his relationship with Carter is distinctly unfriendly.
- The repeat of the episode "Selected Target" on 21 December 1978 recorded the highest viewing figure of the series, with 19.05 million people watching. This coincided with a 24-hour strike at the BBC.
- The Sweeney is mentioned in the song Wow! by Kate Bush.; and Cool For Cats by Squeeze.
- In the orange-tinted photographs that are shown in the closing credits for Series 1–3, an enlarged set of fingerprints is displayed on a board behind Detective Chief Inspector Haskins.
- Reference is made to The Sweeney in the Black Books episode "The Blackout".
- Regan and Carter appear briefly as part of a stakeout operation in one of the novelizations of the TV series The Professionals.
- Scotland Yard's real Flying Squad lost an important surveillance technique when The Sweeney exposed their use of the roadside tents erected by telephone engineers, who would place them over open manholes in the street to protect them from the weather. These tents are frequently shown in the series as hideaways for keeping a covert eye on suspects.
- A two-part 1998 instalment of Diagnosis: Murder, "Obsession", features lead villains named Carter Sweeney and Regan Sweeney.
- The creators of the show Life on Mars and its sequel, Ashes to Ashes, have often stated that The Sweeney was a big influence on both programmes.
- To date, only one episode of The Sweeney has been shown on the BBC. It was shown on 31 May 1993 as part of the "Cops On The Box" segment of BBC Two's "Crime And Punishment" season. The episode broadcast was "Supersnout". It was introduced by Shaw Taylor, better known for his Police 5 series on ITV.
Detectives on the edge of a nervous breakdown
In 1977 and 1978, publishers Brown Watson (who specialised in annuals based on TV series) published two editions of The Sweeney Annual featuring a mix of comic strips (some with art by Brian Lewis) and illustrated text stories, interspersed with occasional features on the TV series, articles about policing, puzzles and (in the 1978 annual) an interview with John Thaw and Dennis Waterman.
In the early 1980s, the comic Jackpot featured a strip called "The Teeny Sweeney" which was originally drawn by J. Edward Oliver. A trio of schoolboys played at being plain-clothes policemen, with two of them looking like little versions of Regan and Carter. They even had "Flying Squad" written on the side of their cartie. Their attempts at being helpful, however, almost always ended in disaster.
A TV ad for the Nissan Almera car in the late 1990s had two characters similar to Carter and Regan racing through London to deal with a "bank job". A suspicious group of men have entered a bank dressed as painters. As "Carter" races the car through the streets, "Regan" keeps bellowing at him and others to "Shut it!"
At one stage, "Regan" shouts "Mark it!", which is slang for following a suspect, but in this case, means "market" as "Carter" drives erratically through a market place. "Carter" tells "Regan" to stop shouting, to which "Regan" barks the reply "I can't!".
When they burst into the bank, it turns out that the men are genuine painters and that "Regan", their guv (or boss), is there to tell them that they have the wrong sort of white paint(!) "Carter" says, "Think we'd better go back to the yard, guv, and get some more." "Shut up!"
One of the painters talks in a squeaky-like voice and is called "Squealer", which is slang for informant.
The complete tv series of The Sweeney was released by Network on 14 DVDs in 2005. This release did not include the pilot film Regan or either of the two feature films.
Regan was released on DVD in November 2005.
Both films, Sweeney! and Sweeney 2, have also been released on DVD.
In 2007 Network released an 18-disc box-set containing Regan, all four television series and both feature films. The box-set also contains exclusive extras, listed below:
- Introduction by Ian Kennedy-Martin.
Commentary with Dennis Waterman, producer Ted Childs and director Tom Clegg.
- Interview with creator Ian Kennedy-Martin.
Commentaries with Dennis Waterman, Garfield Morgan, producer Ted Childs, writers Trevor Preston and Troy Kennedy-Martin, directors Tom Clegg and David Wickes and editor Chris Burt.
- "Thick as Thieves" episode and "Special Branch" episode.
Episode introductions by guest stars Warren Mitchell, Wanda Ventham, Prunella Gee, John Forgeham, Billy Murray, Tony Selby and Dudley Sutton.
- Restoring The Sweeney
- Interview with stunt arranger Peter Brayham.
- "Wild Boys" featurette.
- The Sweeney annual PDF.
- Interview with writer Roger Marshall.
- "Golden Fleece" episode script PDF.
Episode introductions by guest stars Bill Maynard, Gwen Taylor, James Booth, Ken Hutchison and Lynda Bellingham.
- Sweeney! film trailer with introduction by Lynda Bellingham.
- Sweeney! film promotional gallery.
- "Redcap" episode.
- "Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show" 1976 sketch.
- "Strange Report" episode.
- Episode introductions by guest stars Geraldine James, Steven Pacey, George Sweeney, Nadim Sawalha, Tina Heath and John Lyons.
- "ITV – This is Your Life" clip from 1976 Thames trailer.
- "Evening News Film Awards" clip.
- The Sweeney 1977 Annual PDF
- "The Electric Theatre Show" interviews with John Thaw, Dennis Waterman and Ted Childs.
- "This is Your Life – John Thaw" extract.
- "This is Your Life – Dennis Waterman" extract.
- Series 4 textless titles with dual sound.
- Episode introductions by guest stars James Warrior, George Sewell, Jenny Runacre, Nick Stringer, Gary Morecambe and Peter Wight.
- Sweeney film trailer with introduction by Ken Hutchison and James Warrior.
- Sweeney 2 promotional gallery PDF.
- The Sweeney 1978 Annual PDF.
- Stills gallery Extract from "Behind the Sunshine" PDF, recounting the making of "Hearts and Minds".
Sweeney! and Sweeney 2:
- Commentary on Sweeney! with Ted Childs, Ranald Graham and David Wickes.
- Commentary on Sweeney 2 with Ted Childs and Tom Clegg.
- Textless material.
- These extras are exclusive to the boxset.
All four series one are now available as Region 1 (North America) DVDs.
In 2012, the first series was released on high-definition Blu-ray by Network. For this release the original 16 mm film negatives were scanned in HD and comprehensively restored by BBC Studios and Post Production.
The pilot episode Regan was also given a Blu-ray release by Network at roughly the same time.
- Fairclough, Robert (June 2019). "The Sweeney: 'You're Nicked Sunshine'". INFINITY. p. 42-49.
- Alvarado, Manuel; Stewart, John (1985). Made for Television: Euston Films Limited. BFI Pub. p. 59. ISBN 9780423013108.
- "The Sweeney gave us TV's most arresting coppers", The Telegraph, 17 November 2015, archived from the original on 12 January 2022, retrieved 27 April 2017
- Marsh, Ian; Melville, Gaynor (2014). Crime, Justice and the Media (2nd ed.). Routledge. pp. 157–158. ISBN 978-1-134-08715-0.
- Heffer, Simon (25 February 2017). "Cheers to you, Ludovic Kennedy". Daily Telegraph. p. 28.
- Andrew Walker. The Sweeney's proud history, BBC News, 17 May 2004.
- "The Sweeney 1974 Ford Consul 3000 GT". Drive. 20 February 2020. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
- Fairclough, Robert (June 2019). "The Sweeney: 'You're Nicked Sunshine!'". INFINITY. p. 46.
- The Sweeney (TV Series 1974–1978) - IMDb, retrieved 18 January 2022
- "Jaguar 'S'-type Register". www.jagstyperegister.com. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
- "The Sweeney Forum :: View topic - Fiat 850 Coupe (Red) - UJB 92G". thetvlounge.co.uk. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Cooke, Lez (2015). British Television Drama: A History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-84457-895-5.
- Chibnall, Steve; Murphy, Robert (2005). British Crime Cinema. Routledge. p. 143. ISBN 9781134702701. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
- "THE SWEENEY - Episode Guide". thesweeney.info. 4 June 1974. Archived from the original on 18 May 2007. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- The Anorak Zone, The Sweeney, Season Four November 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2021.
- Lubin, Gus (13 November 2012). "FLASHBACK: At Least Petraeus Wasn't Having An Affair With The Mistress Of A Soviet Spy". Business Insider. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
- Sweeney! (1977) David Wickes [film]. EMI Films.
- Sweeney 2 (1978) Tom Clegg [film]. EMI Films
- "The Sweeney – review". the Guardian. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2022.
- Gelly, Dave. 'Harry South: The Songbook review – a perfect potted history' in The Guardian, 2 July 2017
- Shut it! The Music of "The Sweeney"
- "The Sweeney - Swag". thesweeney.info. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- Book review, trashfiction.co.uk
- "The Sweeney - Episode Guide". thesweeney.info. 4 June 1974. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
- "Industrial Disputes". The TV Room. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
- Chesterton, George (25 January 2012). "Old music: Kate Bush – Wow". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- Wylie, Ian (21 May 2010). "Ashes to Ashes: co-creator Matthew Graham says goodbye to Gene Hunt". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
- "Schedule - BBC Programme Index".
- "The best car adverts ever - 19. Nissan Almera: The Sweeney". Auto Express. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
- "Nissan Almera Advert - Sweeney Spoof". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "The Sweeney". BBC Studios and Post Production. Archived from the original on 6 October 2013. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Distributing, Network (3 September 2018). "Hi Scott, I'm afraid that because of a lack of demand we decided not to go ahead with more Sweeney on Blu-ray". @networktweets. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- Manuel Alvarado and John Stewart, Made for Television: Euston Films Limited. London: Methuen/BFI, 1985. ISBN 0-423-01310-6.
- Robert Fairclough and Mike Kenwood, Sweeney! The Official Companion. London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd., 2002. ISBN 1-903111-43-9. (review).
- Dennis Waterman, Reminder. Hutchinson, 2000. ISBN 0-09-180108-7.
- Martin Day and Keith Topping, Shut It! Virgin Books, 1999. ISBN 0-7535-0355-7.
- Mike Kenwood and George Williams, Fags, Blags, Slags & Jags: the Sweeney. The Unofficial Companion to the TV Series, 1998. No ISBN.
- Troy Kennedy Martin, "Four of a Kind", in: H.R.F. Keating, ed., Crime Writers. London: BBC, 1978. ISBN 0-563-16287-2.
- Andrew Pixley, "The Sweeney: Compulsive Viewing", in: Prime Time Magazine, issue 13. London: WTVA ("Wider Television Access"), circa 1984. ISSN 0266-0083.