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Compared to today’s gritty, hard-hitting crime dramas Juliet Bravo seems rather tame but from 1980 to 1985 it was a frontrunner amongst police series on TV. Devised by the man behind The Sweeney, Ian Kennedy Martin, Juliet Bravo went through six series and two leading actresses, outlasting and outshining its rival, The Gentle Touch.
Set in the fictional town of Hartley in Lancashire (most of the filming was carried out in and around Bacup), the episodes usually dealt with minor crimes and incidents such as runaway teenagers, juvenile vandalism, domestic disputes and petty theft with a big tasty case thrown in every now and again to add a little spice.
Series 1 to 3 starred Stephanie Turner as Jean Darblay, the female inspector in charge of a small police station. She was replaced by Anna Carteret as Inspector Kate Longton for series 4 to 6. By the way, Juliet Bravo was the inspector’s call sign. The series centered on the inspector, highlighting her ups and downs in a male-dominated job and frequently taking a peek into her home life.
A fairly regular cast made up the police team working alongside the inspector, including David Ellison (Sergeant Joseph Beck), Noel Collins (Sergeant George Parish), Mark Botham (PC Danny Sparks) and CJ Allen (PC Brian Kelleher). These supporting characters were slowly developed as the series progressed and became very familiar to viewers in the early eighties.
Sergeant Beck was the no-nonsense, old school bobby who was always likely to give a young tearaway a thick ear. He had a flat cap, a dirty raincoat and a laid back attitude – and he kept pigeons! Sergeant Parish was a pie and pint deep thinker, a sounding board for the inspector. And the young constables were often the fall guys and the butt of jokes.
Each fifty minute episode told a different story but with continuity throughout the six series – minor characters would often crop up in different epiodes throughout. Juliet Bravo was also notable for early roles for young actors who went on to make a name for themselves such as Kevin Whately, Neil Morrissey and Joanne Whalley. There was also a liberal smattering of guest stars including Jean Boht, Bill Dean and Diana Coupland.
The jaunty theme music, arranged by Derek Goom, is quite catchy and would be great as your mobile phone ringtone. Try it!
Review submitted by Chris Green