First viewed : 7 June 1984
Crimewatch ( originally Crimewatch UK ) was a programme that immediately caught my attention, tapping into the vigilante ambitions that lie dormant in anyone who's been bullied a bit. I always watched it with the - still unfulfilled - hope that I would see someone I recognised and help nail the bastard. I guess I don't move in the wrong circles.
The show's most famous presenter was Breakfast Time's earnest Nick Ross whose stint on the show lasted 23 years. His catchphrase "Please don't have nightmares" was much-lampooned but nailed his appeal as a reassuring presence. Sue Cook was his co-presenter until 1995 when she was succeeded by the ill-fated Jill Dando whose still-unsolved murder four years later may have been connected with the programme. Fiona Bruce eventually took over her chair.
The show was on monthly and featured three or four reconstructions , necessarily with the violence toned down a bit , providing a good source of work for little-known actors. Dando's killing itself was a featured reconstruction but that wasn't in any way responsible for the wrongful conviction of Barry George. Serving police officers presented a short section where they had photographs from the crime or pictures of known offenders being sought. There was also the Aladdin's Cave section where an antiques expert would trawl through a selection of stolen property, a feature I felt fitted in like a stone in a shoe, but I suppose it served a purpose. Viewers were given numbers to ring if they could help with any of the cases and later in the evening there was Crimewatch Update where Nick would tell you the lines were still hot with useful information though obviously he couldn't give any details.
Many police forces were extremely sceptical about the value of the programme and initially only three would co-operate but , once the show could boast one or two successes, they all came round and interviews with the senior detective on the case became a regular part of the show. I can't remember the name of the one who came out with the pearler that "Very often, the last person to see the victim alive is the murderer" but I'm sure he must have been promoted for that telling insight.
We'll cover the Crimewatch File spin-offs in a separate post.
I watched it regularly in the eighties and nineties, less so after I got married and I don't think I've seen it since Ross and Bruce left in 2007. It's been less high profile since their departures and has only gone out every other month. but still continues.