Friday, 27 August 2010


It's not a franchise, BBC Worldwide doesn't license the characters for action figures. There's no media frenzy around the actors and no "trendy" showrunner or writer. But New Tricks is one of the BBC's biggest hits and the show returns for a seventh series on September 10 (BBC One).

Launched in 2003 with a pilot episode and shown since 2004, New Tricks is a "cold case" comedy/drama show with a difference. Headed by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, played by Amanda Redman, UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad) is a very special unit composed of retired and burnout aged police officers.

Jack Halford (James Bolam, of the Likely Lads fame) is haunted by the death of his beloved wife. Brian "Memory" Lane (the fabulous Alun Armstrong) is a recovering alcoholic with OCD. And Gerry Standing is a gambler and a ladies man, with three ex-wives and three daughters. Standing is played by the legendary Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney, the original Minder).

Faithful to his own myth, Waterman sings It's alright, "da feem toon" (as his parody by comedian David Walliams would say in Little Britain) of the show. Unfortunately French viewers were deprived of the song when pubcaster France 3 started to air New Tricks in 2008. Someone had the bad idea to replace it by Rien n'est écrit, a song in French performed by... Murray Head. Anyway, Flics toujours is a flop in France!

Both the humour and the sensibility of the show come from the simple idea of these men dealing with their personal demons but proving you "can't teach old dogs new tricks" when they're back on the job. And they are with virtuosity in spite of a total lack of discipline and professional orthodoxy. Plus the weaknesses of age but the strength of experience.

In 2009 the BBC commissioned series seven (with an extended 10-episode run) and eight simultaneously, allowing the comedy/drama to go on at least until 2011. Produced by Wall to Wall and distributed by BBC Worldwide, New Tricks is an enjoyable, funny and intelligent crime series with a splendid ensemble cast.

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