Sunday, 31 July 2016

453 Juliet Bravo

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.   


  1. A real favourite of mine. Joe Beck was quite the hero in our house. I recently rewatched them all on DVD again and it still has more than its fair share of quality eps, though I think I prefer Jean to Kate personally. I believe it ended because Anna Carteret only signed on for a couple of years and wouldn't be persuaded to continue. The BBC keen to fill the Saturday night slot with something similar, continued to work with Geraint Morris the producer with two potential replacements; one concerning a cottage hospital starring Hannah Gordon, and the other concerning a night shift in an inner city A&E department. Gordon's vehicle fell by the wayside, and Casualty was subsequently born. It's been there ever since.

  2. Thanks for making those connections Mark. A little piece of the modern world falls into place.

    1. You're welcome. Of course watching Casualty now you would hardly believe it occupied the same world as Juliet Bravo, it's such a luducrous, non-realistic soapy monster, straddling much of the year with its epic 40 odd week run. But back in the day, similar themes and concerns were beautifully conveyed as I'm sure you're aware. It's just a shame that there's so little variety to tell these stories nowadays. There isn't a stablemate of a Saturday evening to occupy the schedules when Casualty goes on a break (hence the show runs on fumes for the best part of a year) The obvious answer would be a police series like JB; City Central proved popular for a time and could've run and run. Cuffs was shoved into the midweek schedules and ran for one series.

  3. You caused a raised eyebrow there by saying Chris Ellison had died, as I'd just been talking of that actor's more famous role at work today! However, it seems you've got the wrong Christian name for the Juliet Bravo bod.

  4. Good spot D.C. - now corrected.

  5. A forum I used to belong to had some lovely stories about JB, specifically about the late David Ellison. One fan wrote a letter to his former agent which made its way to Beer, where he had by that time retired to. The fan had his phone number on his letterhead and so, rather than reply via the post, Ellison actually rang him up and thanked him for writing, and shared a few anecdotes too. The subject of The Sweeney came up and he dismissed his guest spot on it as not being especially happy on account of Thaw and Waterman being a couple of bigheads. Overall the cast seemed to be more of a unit with Carteret than they were Turner it seemed and another guy recalled Noel Collins working as a driver in his retirement and enjoying the odd coffee with him.