WPC 56

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WPC 56
Series title over a line up of policemen and one policewoman in silhouette
Genre Drama
Created by Dominique Moloney
Composer(s) Debbie Wiseman
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 15 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Will Trotter
Producer(s) Mike Hobson
Location(s) Birmingham, West Midlands, England
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Birmingham
Original network BBC One
Picture format 16:9 1080i
Original release 18 March 2013 (2013-03-18) – 13 March 2015 (2015-03-13)
External links
Website www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vp31f

WPC 56 is a British television drama series, written by Dominique Moloney and broadcast on BBC One. The series revolves around the first woman police constables to join Brinford Constabulary, a fictional police force in Birmingham, starting in 1956. The first two series focused on WPC Gina Dawson's struggle to gain acceptance at a male-dominated police station while having to deal with the sexist attitudes that were commonplace at the time. The third series depicts the experiences of her successor at the station, WPC Annie Taylor.

The three series of WPC 56 were broadcast, each as a set of five episodes on five consecutive afternoons, in March 2013, February 2014 and March 2015 respectively.


Series 1[edit]

Set in 1956, the series follows WPC 56 Gina Dawson through the trials of being the first female officer to serve in her home town of Brinford in Birmingham. Chief Inspector Roger Nelson gives her a small office, previously a storage room, and has her making tea, doing paperwork, dealing with children and women. She is told not to distract the men, who might seek to protect her in dangerous situations, so that they can deal with the important police work. She finds that she has to work hard to be taken seriously by her male colleagues, and is shocked by some of the methods employed by Sergeant Sidney Fenton and the blind eye turned by the rest of the officers in order to keep the Chief Inspector in the dark.

Dawson lives at home with her parents, Joe and Brenda Dawson, and has a boyfriend, Frank Marshall.

The first series revolves around two missing boys and a serial attacker, and the relationships of the officers and their families.

Series 2[edit]

Detective Inspector Jack Burns leaves the police to look after his sick wife and his daughters. He is replaced by a Londoner, Detective Inspector Max Harper. Inspector Nelson and Desk Sergeant Pratt are replaced by Briggs and Swift. Police Constable Eddie Coulson is on honeymoon with Cathy Sinclair. His father, now Assistant Chief Constable Coulson, has sexual designs on WPC Dawson. Sergeant Fenton has a daughter and is on friendly terms with the local brothel madam, Rosie Turner, and the crooked boxing promoter Lenny Powell. Cathy Sinclair is replaced by Susie Nightingale as the station secretary.

The second series revolves around a councillor's dead body and his missing girlfriend Rebecca Jones.

Series 3[edit]

WPC Gina Dawson, having been cleared of all blame in a shooting, moves to the Metropolitan Police. Assistant Chief Constable Coulson reneges on his promise to Inspector Briggs that he will retire early after sexually molesting Dawson.

WPC Annie Taylor, whose father is a retired Brinford police sergeant, replaces Dawson. She lives with her parents and knows how to handle her fellow officers, including Sergeant Fenton.

Fenton returns to duty, after being shot, his confidence dented; which he tries to regain using Constable Perkins.

Detective Inspector Harry Sawyer, a Jewish officer who is estranged from his mother, replaces DI Max Harper.

The third series revolves round the shooting of a retired Brigadier and events at a secure hospital and the relationships of Inspector Briggs, his wife Charlotte, homosexual Carl Saunders and Coulson's desire to take control of the station and undermine those that know of his past misdemeanours.


WPC 56 is a BBC Birmingham production.

Claudia Jessie replaced Jennie Jacques in the third series because Jacques had other filming commitments.[1]


The show is filmed in and around Birmingham using period locations, including the Jewellery Quarter and the Black Country Living Museum.[2]

The exterior of the police station exterior is the Birmingham and Midland Institute on Margaret Street. The interiors are in a disused building on Vittoria Street.[3]



Foreground:Gerard Horan, Jennie Jacques, Kieran Bew, Charlie De'Ath, John Light. Background:Justine Michelle, Chris Overton.
  • Jennie Jacques as Woman Police Constable Gina Dawson (series 1–2)[a]
  • Claudia Jessie as Woman Police Constable Annie Taylor (series 3)
  • Charlie De'Ath as Sergeant Sidney Fenton
  • John Bowler as Chief Superintendent/Assistant Chief Constable Coulson
  • Kieran Bew as Detective Inspector Jack Burns (series 1, series 2.1)
  • John Light as Chief Inspector Roger Nelson (series 1)
  • Gerard Horan as Desk Sergeant Peter Pratt (series 1)
  • Chris Overton as Police Constable Eddie Coulson (series 1)
  • Justine Michelle Cain as Cathy Sinclair (series 1)
  • Marianne Oldham as Deborah Burns (series 1)
  • Martha Howe-Douglas as Abigail Fenton
  • Tim Plester as Linus Brody
  • Tom McLarney as Sam Pratt (series 1)
  • Jonty Stephens as Joe Dawson (series 1)
  • Kathryn Hunt as Brenda Dawson (series 1)
  • Ben Turner as Detective Inspector Max Harper (series 2)
  • Jessica Duncan as Rebecca Jones (series 2)
  • Mark Healy as Chief Inspector Briggs (series 2–3)
  • James Barriscale as Desk Sergeant John Swift (series 2–3)
  • Liam Jeavons as Police Constable Tommy Perkins (series 2–3)
  • Daniel Brocklebank as Carl Saunders (series 2–3)
  • Rachel Leskovac as Susie Nightingale (series 2–3)
  • Charlotte Lucas as Charlotte Briggs (series 3)
  • Oliver Rix as Detective Inspector Harry Sawyer (series 3)
  • John Duttine as Douglas Taylor (series 3)
  • Melanie Kilburn as Lydia Taylor (series 3)
  • Chris Wilson as Tom (series 1 & 3)


  1. ^ Jennie Jacques appears in a pre-title flashback of episode 3.1


Series 1 (2013)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "Sink or Swim" Ian Barber Dominique Moloney 18 March 2013 (2013-03-18)
A man and his dog find a child’s skeleton in an abandoned mine, and a woman, Sylvia Stewart, is attacked in Victoria Park on her way home from work. A Jamaican man, Donald Palmer, is arrested who denies the assault but he knows the victim well. Under questioning in front of her parents she denies knowing a black man and Dawson believes the prejudice of the time prevents her telling the truth. DI Burns sends Dawson to the library to look at newspaper back issues for news items about a missing six-year-old boy.
2 2 "Memories are Made of This" Ian Barber Ray Brooking 19 March 2013 (2013-03-19)
Dawson discovers a newspaper item about two missing boys thirty years previously and DI Burns and Dawson break the news to one of the boys mother who identifies effects found with the skeleton as her son William. Chief Superintendent Coulson (revealed as Constable Coulson's father after a station inspection), who was a Sergeant at the time of the boys going missing, arrested a man for their murders and with little evidence and no bodies had the man committed to an asylum where he subsequently killed himself. DI Burns is still searching for a second skeleton. A second woman is attacked in the park but Sergeant Fenton dismisses the victim as she is a known prostitute. Dawson sees this as evidence that the locked up Palmer is innocent and risks her career by going to a West Indian club for information, only for Fenton to find her there.
3 3 "Great Pretenders" Ian Barber Dominique Moloney 20 March 2013 (2013-03-20)
DI Burns continues his investigation of the missing boys, as William is laid to rest, interviewing another suspect from the time. Fenton is a laughing stock when an informant misleads him about a planned bank robbery location, but he turns it to his advantage when he leads the capture of the gang at their hideout. A third woman is attacked in the park and Dawson goes to Palmer's trial to convince Sylvia Stewart to tell the truth. Fenton is furious with Dawson as the trial verdict is challenged. Burns' marriage is falling apart due to his wife's mental problems. Constable Coulson is stabbed breaking up a fight at a coffee bar where Dawson is present, along with her boyfriend and Desk Sergeant Pratt's son.
4 4 "Nature of the Beast" Niall Fraser Ray Brooking 21 March 2013 (2013-03-21)
All the resources of the station are turned to finding Coulson's attacker, and Fenton and Dawson work together and identify the attacker, Johnny Harris, a friend of Sgt. Pratt's son, who is in hiding. Burns has committed his wife to an asylum and his children are taken by his mother-in-law. Dawson consoles Burns over a drink in a pub overseen by Fenton who spreads malicious gossip throughout the station. The investigation into the missing boys continues and Burns' search uncovers a recently dead woman, who had a child aged six who died thirty years ago, who was living with her son of 37 who does not have a birth certificate. Fenton captures Coulson's attacker with help from Pratt's son. A fourth victim is found in the park – this one is dead.
5 5 "Little Boy Lost" Niall Fraser Dominique Moloney 22 March 2013 (2013-03-22)
The dead body in the park is another victim of the assailant, the first to be murdered. The Chief Superintendent – dissatisfied with Burns progress – seconds Sergeant Fenton to the C.I.D. and take charge of the investigation. Under pressure from Chief Inspector Nelson, Fenton decides to use Dawson as a decoy to flush out the assailant which she readily agrees to despite Burns objections. The plan works and Fenton arrests a suspect and in the confusion Dawson is left behind at the mercy of the real assailant and goes missing. Burns detective work and Fenton's doggedness lead a two pronged search for Dawson that takes the case in a full circle.

Series 2 (2014)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
6 1 "Cry, Cry, Cry" Niall Fraser Dominique Moloney 10 February 2014 (2014-02-10)
A funfair in Brinsford is the centre of the search for a missing 15-year-old girl who is besotted with the son of the owner. The girl's brother, leader of a gang of teddy boys, become involved in a fight with the fairground workers with tragic consequences. Debt owing councilor Daniel Pembroke's dead body, found in a flat, is the first case for the new Detective Inspector and WPC Dawson remembers him and his missing girlfriend, Rebecca Jones, at the funfair.
7 2 "Dead Man Dancing" Niall Fraser Ray Brooking 11 February 2014 (2014-02-11)
Counterfeit ten shilling notes are circulating in Brinsford and Harper is ordered to make it a priority over the dead body. Petty thief, Linus Brody (Fenton's informant), steals a purse and it leads Harper and Fenton to the arrest of the woman passing the notes. Information from the woman leads to the capture of the counterfeiters. WPC Dawson is sent undercover into the Sapphire Club, a seedy members' club, where Rebecca Jones worked and meets gangster Lenny Powell, a crooked businessman, fight promoter and brothel owner. Boxer Mike Maddox refuses to take a dive and pays the consequences.
8 3 "Eye of the Storm" Niall Fraser Dominique Moloney 12 February 2014 (2014-02-12)
A police raid on a 'gay' pub brings trouble to Inspector Briggs who finds himself blackmailed. WPC Dawson's report of Coulson's propositioning of her to Briggs falls on deaf ears. Dawson continues undercover at the Sapphire Club falling for the club manager Chris Hutton. Harper finds Rebecca Jones at the railway station trying to escape from the brothel where she was being forced to work to pay her boyfriend's debts. Rosie Turner, brothel madam and love of Fenton, who aided her escape is visited by Powell and Fenton's wife receives an unexpected gift to his horror.
9 4 "That Old Devil Called Love" James Larkin Ray Brooking 13 February 2014 (2014-02-13)
Fenton's world is falling apart with the murder of Rosie Turner and witness Rebecca Jones in protective custody. Coulson goes to far in his sexual advances to Dawson, Unable to do anything she seeks comfort from Hutton at his nightclub. Susie Nightingale goes to a dating agency and falls foul of a confidence trickster. Harper links Powell to Turner's murder. Powell is charged and sees Dawson in the police station. In transit to prison Powell is sprung and heads for the nightclub and Hutton's part in the murders is revealed while Dawson sleeps in the next room.
10 5 "The Harder They Fall" James Larkin Dominique Moloney 14 February 2014 (2014-02-14)
Fenton, suspended, conducts his own search for Powell using petty thief Brody to locate a passport forger and then to Powell and the truth about the murders, Rosie, and Powell's secret son Chris Hutton. Dawson's complaint against Coulson is backed up by constable Perkins but not to the outcome she expects. A final confrontation takes place at the safe house where Rebecca Jones is hiding when Dawson is followed by Hutton.

Series 3 (2015)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11 1 "A Different Beat" Lisa Clarke Dominique Moloney 9 March 2015 (2015-03-09)
The Miss Birmingham 1956 beauty contest in aid of servicemen stirs up animosity between old soldiers and when nude photographs of one of the contestants, amongst others, turn up illegally sold in a local bookshop; WPC Annie Taylor is given the job of interviewing the girl. The investigation leads to the current Miss Birmingham being dated by Inspector Sawyer and his mother's boyfriend, the competition's host. A shooting takes place at a retired Brigadier's residence.
12 2 "Walk the Line" Lisa Clarke Ray Brooking 10 March 2015 (2015-03-10)
Brigadier Morris is discovered, by Taylor and Sawyer, tortured and shot to death and Sawyer suspects Lance Corporal William Shepherd after the incident at the beauty contest. Shepherd known to Taylor is arrested but unfit for question is committed to a psychiatri hospital straining her relationship with her father who served with Shepherd and the Brigadier. Fenton takes Perkins under his wing to show him how things are on the streets as they investigate stolen tins of salmon from an army warehouse. Shepherd escapes from the hospital and a nurse is attacked. Coulson follows Briggs and discovers his homosexual friend.
13 3 "From the Shadows" Lisa Clarke Dominique Moloney 11 March 2015 (2015-03-11)
Taylor asks her father for information about his fellow soldiers in the war. A date between Sergeant Swift and Suzie Nightingale has to be rescued by Taylor and Perkins. Sawyer talks another nurse at the hospital into handing over the psychiatric record of Shepherd showing he was recommended for treatment called the "Petra project": when the real assailant of the nurse appears, Sawyer loses the man in the chase. Coulson enlists Fenton in his quest to uncover Briggs secret leading to Fenton arresting Briggs and Saunders at the latter's flat for an act of gross indecency with another male person.
14 4 "The Wayward Wind" David Beauchamp Ray Brooking 12 March 2015 (2015-03-12)
With Inspector Briggs under arrest Coulson takes operational control of the police station. Perkins investigates theft of money from a café he frequents; with a waitress he likes suspected of the thefts. To discover the truth he tampers with evidence. Sawyers investigations proceed and following the arrest of a new suspect, who had been a victim of German death camps involving medical experiments on twins by a doctor and nurse now working at the psychiatric hospital; placed there by the Brigadier after the war. Fenton is called to a flat and discovers Briggs, who had been goaded by Coulson and disowned by his wife, has killed himself.
15 5 "Requiem" David Beauchamp Dominique Moloney 13 March 2015 (2015-03-13)
Inspector Brigg's widow invites the officers to her husbands funeral; only WPC Taylor and Susie Nightingale agree to go. At the end of Brigg's funeral the officers, except Coulson and Fenton, turn up to pay their respects. The doctor and nurse have gone from the hospital; Taylor and Sawyer find a film hidden in the doctor's desk drawer of his experiments on patients. Interrogating their suspect they realize he has a twin brother and from the film Taylor recognizes the location as a place that her father had been photographed at. Raiding this location, a closed wartime training centre, they discover the doctor, his nurse Petra, Shepherd, and the twin brother.

International broadcasts[edit]

In Ireland, the programme is broadcast on RTÉ One.

In Finland, the programme is broadcast on Yle TV1.

In Russia, the programme is broadcast on TV Tsentr.


  1. ^ Laws, Roz (14 November 2014). "Birmingham actress Claudia Jessie is the new WPC 56 in 1950s police drama". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Hit daytime crime drama WPC 56 to return to BBC One for second series". BBC Media Centre. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Sparks68. "Birmingham Film & TV Locations Tour". Retrieved 22 January 2014. 

External links[edit]