First viewed : Autumn 1980
It took a while for this one to register with me but eventually it became a favourite and I mourned its passing.
Juliet Bravo was the brainchild of Ian Kennedy Martin , creator of The Sweeney. It followed the adventures of a local police station in the fictional Lancashire town of Hartley where the inspector in charge was a woman. For the first three seasons it was Jean Darblay ( Stephanie Turner ) , for the latter three, Kate Longton ( Anna Carteret ). Her two sergeants Joe Beck ( David Ellison ) and George Parrish ( Noel Collins ) were in it for the duration. In the Darblay years there was a new PC each season but the Longton seasons had two regulars, the sensible Brian Kelleher ( C J Allen ) and more impulsive Danny Sparks ( Mark Botham ).
Although the series tackled some hard-hitting issues such as rape, heroin, incest. the occult to name a few, it was in other respects a return to the world of Dixon of Dock Green whose time slot it inherited. Joe Beck, though a bit short-tempered, was every bit the reassuring town bobby that everyone would love to see pounding the streets.
Like The Gentle Touch on the other channel, Juliet Bravo gave a fair amount of time to its lead character's domestic life. Jean Darblay was a married woman although husband Tom ( David Hargreaves ) didn't appear in every episode. That was one of the reasons why I held the series at arm's length for most of her tenure although it gradually dawned on me that most of the series was filmed in nearby Rossendale so spotting familiar landmarks became a reason for watching it.
Turner quit of her own volition at the end of the third season ( 1982 ) but the series continued with a new first lady. Kate Longton was single and had romances with characters played by Tom Georgeson and Edward Peel but her personal life didn't seem to intrude on the storylines as much as Darblay's had. These latter three seasons coincided with the autumn terms during my three years at university and I would often watch it with my mum after coming back from football and before heading back to Leeds. This connection with my early years watching the Dale and a lifestyle that will never come round again gives the series a real nostalgic glow and I remember some of the episodes very vividly :
- Solvent Solution ( 1983 ) Kate has to deal with a bout of glue sniffing in Hartley not helped by the arrogance of the hardware shop owner played by Simon Rouse.
- There's None So Blind ( 1984 ) An old blind lady on Joe's beat helps turn the tables against a young thief.
- Halloween (1984 ) An evil man played by serial TV villain Tony Anholt has lured a young girl into the occult and persuaded her she will die on October 31st. Joe and George pull him in for drink driving to make sure it doesn't happen.
- Alibi ( 1984 ) The naive Danny Sparks makes some new friends who use him as an alibi for their criminal activities although he does eventually rumble them.
- Resolution ( 1984 ) Joe is investigated over a death in custody and considers leaving the force
- Flowers Tomorrow ( 1984 ) An extraordinarily powerful story where an unemployed man at the end of his tether kills in a moment of rage and then climbs to the upper stories of Robin Wood Mill in Todmorden ( sadly now much reduced since an insurance job fire in 1992 ) to commit suicide. Brian manages to talk him down but Kate's blundering intervention causes him to jump out of the window.
- Hostage To Fortune ( 1985 ) A gang of criminals take a bank manager's wife hostage and Brian ends up having to shoot one of them. He then asks Kate to be taken off firearms duty because "I felt like I enjoyed it ".
- Scab ( 1985 ) The team have to diffuse a feud between a striking miner played by Geoffrey Hinsliff and his strike-breaking neighbour while contemplating their own role in the dispute.
- Chasing the Dragon ( 1985 ) Heroin comes to Hartley and Sally Whittaker, shortly before going into Coronation Street, is one of the young addicts.
- Inspection ( 1985 ) The station is on tenter hooks while undergoing an inspection . Robert Glenister plays a former constable on the inspection team who's not inclined to do his former colleagues any favours.
- We Are The People ( 1985 ) A contrived but memorable story where a drunken Scottish fan returning from Wembley somehow finds himself wandering the Lancashire moors and dropping into a barn. He tells the police he was given a blanket by a young woman wearing a chain. She turns out to be the hidden offspring of a sibling farming couple.
- Reasons For Leaving ( 1985 ) A dramatic conclusion to the series when Danny surprises a pair of Christmas tree thieves. They knock him unconscious and he perishes through smoke inhalation.
I don't know why the Beeb decided the series had run its course but sometimes it's better to go out leaving people wanting more.
None of the series regulars had such a high profile again although Anna Carteret remains a highly respected stage actress. Both Ellison and Collins have passed away in recent years. Allen is a bit part actor and Botham , who had a strong resemblance to my old school friend Patrick, seems to have left the profession at the beginning of the nineties.