The first comprehensive account of the classic cult TV series contains new interviews with cast members, scriptwriter, stuntmen, and camera crew
The Sweeney broke the mold for British cop shows. Hitherto they'd been rather stolid, sometimes quaint, dramas about upholding the law, not breaking it; about smart blue uniforms, not kipper ties and long hair. They were about preventing or punishing violencenot about inflicting it with pleasure on villains. Then, in 1975, The Sweeney burst onto commercial television. Based on the notoriously corrupt activities of Scotland Yard's Flying Squad, it followed two disheveled and uncouth detectives, Regan and Carter, played by John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, who hurtled around unsalubrious parts of London in a battered Ford Granada roughing up anyone who failed to spill the beans quickly enough. Where Dixon of Dock Green would bid his viewers "Goodnight all," with a cheery salute, this pair snarled "Shut it!" at toe-rags who spoke out of turn and "Put 'em away, love" at gangsters’ molls whose boudoirs they'd just burst in on. Philip Glenister’s Gene Hunt in Life on Mars is both parody and homage. Here is the essential companion to this cult cop show, featuring interviews with dozens of people who made it happen, from screenwriters to stuntmen.