Wire in the Blood

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Wire in the Blood
Wire in the Blood Titles.jpg
Series titlecard
Genre Crime drama
Written by Val McDermid (novels)
Starring Robson Green
Hermione Norris
Simone Lahbib
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 6
No. of episodes 24
Executive producer(s) Sandra Jobling
Producer(s) Philip Leach
Running time 90 mins
Production company(s) Coastal Productions
Original network ITV
Picture format 16:9
Original release 14 November 2002 (2002-11-14) – 31 October 2008 (2008-10-31)
External links
Production website

Wire in the Blood is a British crime drama television series, created and produced by Coastal Productions for the ITV network that ran from 2002 to 2008. The series is based on characters created by Val McDermid, including a university clinical psychologist, Dr Anthony "Tony" Valentine Hill (Robson Green), who is able to tap into his own dark side to get inside the heads of serial killers. Working with detectives, Hill takes on tough and seemingly impenetrable cases in an attempt to track down the killers before they strike again.


The series is set in the fictional town of Bradfield, which is assumed to lie within West Yorkshire. It follows the Major Incident Team (MIT) of Bradfield Metropolitan Police's CID and the assistance provided to the detectives by clinical psychologist and serial offender profiler Dr. Tony Hill. All of the main episodes revolve around a serial killer whom Hill helps to track down by means of a profile, based on the killer's actions.

From Series 1 to 3, the MIT is headed by Detective Inspector (Chief Inspector from Series 2) Carol Jordan. The two develop a close relationship, which is further explored in McDermid's novels, in which Jordan is always head of the MIT. In the first episode of Series 4, Jordan is replaced - without real explanation - by Detective Inspector Alex Fielding, who (despite being initially hesitant to accept Tony's support) eventually develops an equally close relationship.

A constant theme is Carol’s, and later Alex's, struggle with their senior officers, who are often less trusting of Tony's eccentric methods and far-fetched theories than Carol and Alex. There is also a romantic storyline showing a growing development in Tony’s relationships with both Carol and later Alex. Whilst starting as friendships, both detectives begin to develop romantic feelings for Tony, although these feelings never develop into a relationship.


A clinical psychologist whose expertise with damaged minds has proved invaluable to the police. Intelligent and endearing, if somewhat eccentric, he is driven by a tangible sense of right and wrong and his understanding of human behaviour enables him to empathise strongly with both victim and killer. Tony formed a close bond with DCI Carol Jordan, between them putting many serial killers behind bars. As such, he was devastated to learn in Series 4 that she had left Bradfield to work in South Africa. Despite his often bizarre behaviour, Tony’s ability to get results when evidence is scarce has won him the support of Jordan's successor DI Alex Fielding, who eventually trusts him as part of her team. But Tony’s involvement with the police often affects him deeply as he finds it difficult to distance himself from disturbing cases.

The plastic "blue bag" that Tony Hill is often seen with was gleaned from Robson Green's research for Wire in the Blood, which involved spending time with revered criminal psychologist Julian Boon. Green described Boon in part as an "extraordinary, intelligent, nice guy who carried his life in a blue bag and travelled on a double-decker bus. No-one looked at him twice."

A hardworking officer and head of the Major Incident Team (MIT) of Bradfield Metropolitan Police's CID, who formed a close relationship with Tony Hill, successfully working with him to secure the arrest of several killers. In series two, Carol is promoted from Detective Inspector to Detective Chief Inspector. Although the two soon grow close, they never achieve the romantic relationship that Carol desires with Tony and in the end, Carol left Bradfield to take a position in South Africa. Speaking of Hermione Norris’ portrayal of Carol Jordan, Val McDermid said that she "brings real intelligence and insight to her role, demonstrating that there's a lot more to her skills than we got to see in Cold Feet." [1]

A senior detective at Bradfield CID and a dedicated professional, always willing to put in the hours to get the case solved. Her warmth and down-to-earth style have gained her the respect of her police colleagues and Dr Tony Hill. She has learned to trust that Tony’s intuition can sometimes mean the key to cracking a case when physical evidence is hard to come by. But the pressure of working on murder investigations sometimes causes a strain at home where she is a single mum to young Ben. When the stresses of life take their toll, she finds it difficult to ask for help.

Kevin has proved himself a worthy member of the team, despite a few indiscretions and lapses in judgement. After a rocky start he comes to respect Tony, believing he can offer an extra dimension to the investigations. Kevin works closely with DC Paula McIntyre and their professional bond has made them good friends.

  • D.C. Paula McIntyre (Emma Handy) (Series 2 - 6)

A lively and feisty young detective, Paula doesn’t get fazed easily. She is keen to take on more responsibility and pleased to have strong role-models in Carol and later, Alex. Paula also has a deep respect for Dr Tony Hill after he saved her life during an investigation. She’ll do what it takes to catch a killer.

An excellent and experienced senior officer, but one who is shown to be more concerned with ends rather than means. Brandon is shown to expect quick results from the MIT and from Carol in particular, though he tries to back her as much as he can. In the Series 2 finale Sharp Compassion, Brandon suffers a heart attack and nearly becomes a victim of the episode's killer. Although his character continues to appear in the novels, Brandon was replaced in the show at the start of Series 3 by ACC Paul Eden.

Alex's boss in the MIT, Assistant Chief Constable Eden is college-educated, fast-tracked and confident. Focused, tailored and practical, he demands tangible results and is wary of Tony's more cerebral methods. He secretly hopes Alex will not become as close to Tony as Carol did.

  • D.S. Don Merrick (Alan Stocks) (Series 1 - 2)

A persistent and perseverant officer with the Major Incident Team (MIT) of Bradfield Metropolitan Police's CID. While generally a conscientious officer, his temper occasionally gets the better of him, leading to impulsive behavior. In the Series 2 finale Sharp Compassion, Merrick assaults D.S. Kevin Geoffries after he compromises one of Merrick's closest informants. It is assumed that this leads to his demotion or relocation; he does not appear in any later episodes.

Recurring characters include (*** Spoilers ***):

  • D.S. Annie Reiss (an African-American detective and part of Jordan's team; Reiss only appears in Series 1, after which she is replaced by Paula McIntyre)
  • Dr. Ashley Vernon (the police medical examiner; replaced by Dr. Liam Kerwin in Series 6)
  • Ben Fielding (Alex's son)
  • Tim Eccles (the police's resident IT expert)
  • Maggie Thomas (an institutionalized serial killer with whom Tony has an unhealthily close relationship during Series 1 and 2)
  • Dr. Kate Lloyd (a senior lecturer at Bradfield University and Tony's immediate superior, who comes to rely on him in a more personal capacity in Series 2)
  • Angelica Bain (a transvestite serial killer from the pilot, whom Tony maintains an interest in throughout Series 1)
  • The cannibalistic serial killer known as 'Michael', the main antagonist throughout Series 6
  • Geoffrey Markham, a solicitor who appears throughout Series 2, often as legal counsel to criminals

List of episodes[edit]

Only the first two episodes of the first series, "The Mermaids Singing" and "Shadows Rising", the second episode of series four, "Torment", and the second episode of series six, "Falls the Shadow", are based on McDermid's books; the rest are original plots written by others.

Series One (2002)[edit]

Filming took place from 22 October 2001 to 14 February 2002 in various locations around Newcastle upon Tyne, Durham and Northumberland, including Bollyhope Quarry (Durham), Chopwell Woods (Gateshead) and the fabulous Eshott Hall (Northumberland) which was used for the Vance residence.

# Title Original airdate Ratings
1 x 1
The Mermaids Singing
14 & 21 November 2002
8.08m & 6.15m
Clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill is asked to help police track down the brutal killer of three men in Bradfield. DI Carol Jordan hopes his skill as a profiler will crack the case, but Tony’s off-beat methods cause others to dismiss him. When a cop is killed, the pressure for results mounts. Police focus on the gay scene, while Tony thinks the killer is sending a message on the body of his victim. Then the investigation takes a more personal turn…
Based on McDermid's book of the same name.
1 x 2
Shadows Rising
28 November & 5 December 2002
6.38m & 7.59m
When two teenagers’ bodies are pulled from a Northumberland tarn, Dr Tony Hill immediately suspects a multiple killer. DI Carol Jordan is called to the home of popular chat show hosts Jack and Amanda Vance, who fear they are being stalked. As the dead girls are identified as suspected runaways, the attacks on the Vances escalate dramatically. Could the two investigations be connected?
Based on McDermid's novel The Wire in the Blood.
1 x 3
Justice Painted Blind
12 & 19 December 2002
6.93m & 7.18m
The abduction of an 11-year-old girl and the strangulation of a young woman bring back memories of the murder of young Trudy Hibbert three years earlier. Known paedophile Paul Gregory was acquitted but police and locals fear he is killing again. Dr Tony Hill is convinced the attacks bear the hallmarks of a different killer – until a bizarre link suggests more deaths will follow.

Series Two (2003–2004)[edit]

The series was filmed in locations in and around Newcastle including the main location of the old Bank of England building in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. Also used: Finchale Priory, Durham Cathedral, Calder's Brewery near the Newcastle Arena plus various temporary (daily) locations. Every episode of series two was the leader in its time slot.

# Title Original airdate Ratings (Overnights Only)
2 x 1
Still She Cries
17 December 2003
Dr Tony Hill finds his work with the police compromised when a student from his university is abducted. But that’s not his only worry – Carol stops trusting him when he allows one of his own pupils to help with the investigation.
2 x 2
The Darkness of Light
21 December 2003
A 500-year-old skeleton in unearthed while foundations are being excavated for a hotel extension. Under the body are two more modern corpses. A journalist vanishes and the hotel is burned down, with more deaths. The hotel manager dies while being questioned, and more corpses are exhumed. A multiple stab victim had been discovered nearby a few years previously. Hill pieces together the motivation as those of a delusional person obsessed with Joan of Arc and killing imagined heretics. The journalist is found dead, and a priest murdered. The story finishes with a race to save the journalists husband and two small children from murder by arson in a police appointed safe house. The murderer lights a bathtub of petrol, killing herself, as the family are taken to safety.
2 x 3
Right to Silence
28 December 2003
Tony and Carol think they’ve scored early when two murders lead to one man. The trouble is that the man is in prison; could he really be controlling it all from the inside?
2 x 4
Sharp Compassion
11 January 2004
Bradfield is in panic as someone preys on its most vulnerable – its hospital patients. Carol must juggle how to warn the public, and how to keep a predatory MI5 official at bay. The only way out is to solve the case fast – but there is very little to go on, even for Dr Tony Hill.

Series Three (2005)[edit]

Filmed in and around Newcastle and Northumberland.

# Title Original airdate Ratings
3 x 1
21 February 2005
Tony suspects a killer is luring unhappy children to their deaths when the bodies of three boys are found in different locations in Bradfield. Each of the victims had suffered abuse. Could the killer believe he or she is righting wrongs and alleviating suffering by ending their lives? Tony and Carol's investigation closes in on the work of a local minister. With another child's life at stake, will they be able to ensnare the murderer?
3 x 2
Bad Seed
28 February 2005
When a series of brutal murders rocks the town, Tony becomes obsessed with the notion that they are the work of William 'Mack the Knife' MacAdam, newly released from prison, apparently reformed and keen to take Tony's place as media pundit on serial killer cases.
3 x 3
Nothing But the Night
7 March 2005
The murder of a woman, battered to death with a steam iron and ironing board, brings Tony back from a publicity tour for his latest book to join Carol's investigation. More bizarre but completely different deaths follow, and Tony is baffled, unable to create a profile for a seemingly schizophrenic killer. As he is stalked by a Canadian woman he met on the book tour, Tony realises they must focus on the relationships at work behind the crimes.
3 x 4
14 March 2005
Tony faces his own mortality when he is diagnosed with a brain tumour after being hit on the head by a criminal. While assisting Carol on an investigation into an anonymous sniper who is picking off victims in the city street, his behaviour becomes more erratic and his wild theories make Carol wonder if his health is making him unreliable. In a city gripped by fear, can random forces and chance save Tony – and help them catch this unpredictable killer.

Series Four (2006)[edit]

Hermione Norris does not return as Carol Jordan in series 4 (the character having emigrated to South Africa), but remains a character in the books. Simone Lahbib joins the cast as D.I. Alex Fielding.

# Title Original airdate Ratings
4 x 1
Time to Murder and Create
20 September 2006
An old case reopened by lawyers, catches Tony Hill out. So does the surprise news that Carol Jordan has been replaced. Combative and wily new detective Alex Fielding doesn't like Tony or his methods, but gradually realises he knows much more about her first major murder case than he should.
4 x 2
27 September 2006
The violent murder of a young prostitute, is a case easily solved by Tony Hill. Unfortunately the killer was incarcerated in a high security psychiatric unit at the time. Whilst Alex chases shadows in an uneasy alliance with Vice squad detectives Shields & Mulligan, Tony tries to see who or what is controlling an invisible killer whose next target is one of their own.
Based on McDermid's novel The Torment of Others.
4 x 3
Hole in the Heart
4 October 2006
Horrific double murders bear the hallmarks of religious zealotry, or do they? Can Tony Hill's lack of personal faith and religious disinterest enable him to see through the opaque and shed light on the identities of a disparate group intent on cleansing the human race.
4 x 4
Wounded Surgeon
11 October 2006
Tony Hill looks unable to survive the revelation of an error made 10 years ago, which resulted in the conviction of an innocent man and will see every case he has ever undertaken, scrutinised by the police and the media. Even Alex can't help him in his darkest hour.

Series Five (2007)[edit]

Filmed in and around Newcastle and Northumberland from 15 January - 20 April 2007.

# Title Original airdate Ratings
5 x 1
The Colour of Amber
11 July 2007
When a young girl is abducted from a housing estate, Alex and Tony know they may only have hours to get her back alive. While Alex launches an Amber alert – a massive public appeal – Tony builds a profile of likely suspects. A distraught mother reports her daughter Janita as missing, but the Amber alert produces no information. Is the abduction all it seems?
5 x 2
18 July 2007
Black magic is the theme when Alex investigates the deaths of a teenage girl and a young boy, who bear signs of ritual killings. The trail leads to animal sacrifices and paintings in blood. As the investigation turns personal, Tony remains sceptical but Paula and Kevin appear to be cursed by voodoo dolls.
5 x 3
The Names of Angels
25 July 2007
Tony is faced with a series of deadly puzzles when a killer rapes and strangles young female victims in Bradfield but chooses to dress and identify them as young women he killed several years before in Europe. Why is he boasting to police about his past, leaving the bodies where they can easily be found? And why - and how - is he choosing confident, successful victims from the world of business, and killing them in Bradfield?
5 x 4
Anything You Can Do
1 August 2007
The murder of an elderly woman, suffocated in her own home, seems too deliberately staged to be an accident of robbery. And when Alex calls in Tony he realises that the killer will strike again. But could the deaths be connected to the sudden return of Tony’s old hero, respected psychologist Jonathan Goode?

2008 special[edit]

Prayer of the Bone is a Coastal/ BBC America co-production and is filmed in and around Austin and La Grange, Texas (USA).

# Title Original airdate Rating
Prayer of the Bone
7 January 2008
Tony Hill finds himself in unfamiliar surroundings when he travels to Texas to assist the local district attorney in the case of Darius Grady who is accused of murdering his wife and two children.

Series Six (2008)[edit]

Filmed in and around Newcastle and Northumberland in early 2008 and wrapped on 30 March.

# Title Original airdate Ratings
6 x 1
Unnatural Vices
12 & 19 September 2008
5.93m & 5.11m
Tony and Alex investigate theories of honour killings, fetishism and cannibalism when human remains are found in wasteland. New team member Collins gets inextricably drawn into the case and Tony begins a personal battle with a serial killer.
6 x 2
Falls the Shadow
26 September & 3 October 2008
5.03m & 5.18m
Tony becomes the prime suspect in a murder inquiry after a female friend he meets at a psychology convention is killed. Alex is investigating a spate of prostitute murders – and Tony puts himself at risk trying to help.
Loosely based on the novel The Last Temptation by Val McDermid.
6 x 3
From the Defeated
10 & 17 October 2008
5.07m & 5.03m
Tony gets caught up hunting a serial killer who is brutally slaughtering young men so doesn’t realise that convicted murderer Michael is planning to escape from a secure unit – with devastating consequences.
6 x 4
The Dead Land
24 & 31 October 2008
5.10m & 4.80m
Tony has to work with ambitious Oxbridge graduate DI Andy Hall when a killer starts targeting homeless men. Meanwhile someone is stalking Tony. Could it be the cannibalistic serial killer, Michael?

International airings[edit]

The series has appeared in the United States on the cable channel BBC America, in Australia on the public channel ABC, and in New Zealand on TV 1. As of May 2014, the show is screening on British televisions on the channel ITV3.

DVD releases[edit]

Region 2 is distributed by Revelation Films, Region 1 by Koch Vision and Region 4 by Magna.

DVD name Release dates
Region 2 Region 1 Region 4
Wire in the Blood - The Complete Series 1
5 May 2003
22 June 2004
8 June 2004
Wire in the Blood - The Mermaids Singing
22 March 2004
11 November 2003
16 July 2003
Wire in the Blood - Shadows Rising
22 March 2004
13 January 2004
16 July 2003
Wire in the Blood - Justice Painted Blind
22 March 2004
16 March 2004
16 July 2003
Wire in the Blood - Still She Cries
17 August 2004
14 May 2004
Wire in the Blood - The Darkness of Light
14 May 2004
Wire in the Blood - Right to Silence
14 May 2004
Wire in the Blood - Sharp Compassion
11 June 2004
Wire in the Blood - The Complete Series 2
5 March 2004
12 July 2005
9 September 2004
Wire in the Blood - The Complete Series 3
6 October 2006
7 February 2006
1 November 2005
Wire in the Blood - The Complete Series 4
22 October 2007
5 February 2008
9 April 2008
Wire in the Blood - The Complete Series 5
7 July 2008
10 June 2008
9 April 2008
Wire in the Blood - The Complete Series 6
2 March 2009
14 July 2009
3 March 2009
Wire in the Blood - Completely wired box set
30 November 2009
November 2011

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Ceremony Awards References
Royal Television Society Awards
Winner of 'Best Network Production'
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
'Best Television Feature or Mini-Series Teleplay' - Alan Whiting
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
'Best Television Episode Teleplay' - Guy Burt (Redemption)
Edgar Allan Poe Awards
Winner of 'Best Television Episode Teleplay' - Patrick Harbinson (Prayer of the Bone)
Television and Radio Industries Club Awards
Nominated: TV Crime Programme - Philip Leach


ITV cancelled the series in 2009, citing high production costs (which were estimated at up to £750,000 per episode) and the large number of new series being broadcast on the network.[2]


External links[edit]