"Get your trousers on. You're nicked." So, Jack Regan busts another crim with his usual subtle use of the English language.
'The Sweeney' was the first really hard-edged police drama on British TV screens, with doors being broken down by burly shoulders, and criminals not given the option of a "quiet word down at the station."
Beginning with the television film, 'Regan', in 1974, 'The Sweeney' was first broadcast by ITV in January, 1975 (a time when ITV was in its prime, and far removed from this now sad channel's decline into desperate 'reality' shows and general tackiness). Created by Ian Kennedy-Martin, 'The Sweeney' was Cockney rhyming slang, i.e. 'Sweeney Todd' and 'Flying Squad'. The Flying Squad was a specialised arm of London's Metropolitan Police.
John Thaw (D.I. Regan) and Dennis Waterman (D.S. George Carter) were friends off screen, and that obviously helped the on screen chemistry between the two. Regan and Carter were soulmates, and mavericks, and D.C.I. Haskins (Garfield Morgan) was their old-style boss, trying to do things by the book.
Jack Regan doesn't let much get in the way of doing his job (well, maybe women apart...). In one episode of 'The Sweeney', Jack mocks George Carter's compassion, when George is concerned about leaving a shot colleague: "He's not dying, is he?!" Catching the criminals comes first with Jack.
At times it seemed like the film 'Bullitt' on speed, with a plethora of car chases, and then there were the collaring of the villains, with a few traded blows. 'The Sweeney' was a forerunner in style to 'The Bill', and was authentic. Thaw and Waterman were drinking buddies with some real life members of The Flying Squad, who got a bit nervous about the pairs womanising in the series - as the real coppers were fearful as to whether their wives would think they were 'at it' too.
As well as making John Thaw and Dennis Waterman big, even household, names, 'The Sweeney' also had an impressive list of guest stars, including Morecambe & Wise, and up and coming actors such as Karl Howman. There were also two spin-off 'Sweeney' movies. Thaw decided to quit after four series, as he felt the series was so good it could probably only go downhill, and 'The Sweeney' without Jack Regan would have meant the series would have become a pale shadow. So many good TV series do plod on when they're well past their best. Thankfully, 'The Sweeney' wasn't one of them.
- Paul Rance/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
The Sweeney Main Cast List
John Thaw as Det. Insp. Jack Regan
The Sweeney DVDs available from booksmusicfilmstv.com - in association with Amazon.co.uk
More Sweeney Stuff
The Sweeney Transmission Details
January 1975-March 1975; 14 Episodes
The Sweeney Factoids
Sweeney' was produced by Ted Childs, for Euston
Films, a subsidiary of Thames Television.
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