Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Between the Lines

One of the drawbacks of writing in the evenings is that I miss some good television shows. (A corresponding upside is that I miss an awful lot of rubbish.) As a result, I came far too late to ‘Between the Lines’, which was originally screened from 1992-1994, and which earned a great deal of acclaim. So it was good to catch up on the second episode of the first series, and to get an idea of what the fuss was about.

‘Out of the Game’ was written by Russell Lewis – an experienced tv writer who, as it happens, was once touted as a potential scriptwriter for the Harry Devlin series that never made it to, or even close to, the small screen. The star was the charismatic Neil Pearson as Superintendent Tony Clark, assigned to investigate police complaints, and often biting off more than he can chew.

This episode featured the shooting by police officers of a man with learning difficulties who was in possession of a replica gun on a tough London housing estate. Clark suspects that the local police may have something to hide, but eventually uncovers a very different form of conspiracy – only to find that the authorities are not really interested in ensuring that justice is done, as long as the good guys are protected.

I enjoyed the show and felt it stood the test of time relatively well. Pearson was very effectivelyl supported by Tom Georgeson, the gorgeous Siobhan Redmond, Tony Doyle and – cleverly cast as a blunt senior officer – the excellent Pete Postlethwaite. The temptation to buy the complete DVDs of the three series is strong – trouble is, I’m not sure I’d ever get round to watching them all.


Jilly said...

Martin, I watched all three series at the time and found them brilliant. Francesca Annis appears in later episodes. It always seemed to me to have a certain ring of truth about it even though it may of course be total fiction! Happy viewing.

Anonymous said...

I practically never watch TV but I have about five boxes full of DVDs of films and boxed sets, still unwatched -- one day, maybe.
Between the Lines was an exception, I watched most of the episodes of all three series when they first aired -- in the 1980s? Mainly because of Neil Pearson I have to admit.
I remember that the first series was excellent, about the institutional corruption of the police force and the moral corruption of the main character, shown by the degeneration of his marriage.
The second series was good too, though it somewhat changed tack via the affair with the Francesca Annis character as mentioned above by Jilly -- and not as hard-hitting.

The third and final series was tired cliche, very disappointing. The main chraracters have left the police and form a kind of private army; the whole thing goes into a shoot-em-up macho mess with insufficient budget to make even that convincing (you know the kind of thing - yet another car blown up in a gravel pit).

Shakespeare's Housekeeper said...

Hi Martin,
it was great to see an episode of this show last night.
My husband wrote for 'Between the Lines' and it was great watching the episode with him- had my own running commentary!
Jilly, from what hubby tells me, the writers were able to have free reign with their scripts, and a lot of the stories were based on truth.
Havin perused the Radio Times, i see there is a different episode on bbc 4 on Sunday night.
Might be subject to change, of course!

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. I do intend to watch more episodes as soon as I can.
SH - absolutely fascinating to get your own personal commentary!