New Tricks (TV series)

New Tricks
New Tricks Series 8.jpg
Series 8 Title Card
Genre Comedy/Drama/Crime
Created by Nigel McCrery
Roy Mitchell
Starring Alun Armstrong
Amanda Redman
Dennis Waterman
James Bolam (series 1-8)
Theme music composer Mike Moran
Opening theme "It's Alright" (vocals by Dennis Waterman)
Ending theme Reprise
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 67 (List of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Wall to Wall
Original channel BBC One
Original run 27 March 2003 – present
External links
The cast of New Tricks (top left: Alun Armstrong, top right: Dennis Waterman, bottom left: Amanda Redman, bottom right: James Bolam).

New Tricks is a BBC television drama series which follows the work of the Metropolitan Police Service's Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS). Led by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman, it is made up of retired police officers who have been recruited to reinvestigate unsolved crimes. The series title is taken from the popular expression "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". The "old dogs" are successful in adapting their skills and experience to modern policing, with their knowledge of past cases proving especially useful.


Main characters

Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman): Born 1961 she is the head of the unit and is the youngest and only currently serving police officer (and the only woman) in Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS), Sandra Pullman was previously a Scotland Yard high flyer and a highly successful career woman until an incident involving the shooting of a dog during the rescue of a hostage (which becomes a running gag during the series). Following this incident, her career stalled and she was given the dubious honour of running UCOS against her will. An intensely ambitious and competitive woman, she has sacrificed most of her personal life in pursuit of her career and likes to be in absolute control of every situation. A running subplot involves Pullman's lonely and unsuccessful love life, consisting of a string of adulterous relationships in her past and numerous failed efforts at romance (including, in one episode, speed dating), and her lack of domestic skills (Gerry: "Still afraid of the cooker?"). Pullman believes in following the rules, and is often exasperated by her colleagues' eccentricities and willingness to bend the rules in pursuit of a result. Ironically, she herself does so at times. An example was when the team were told to fix the accounts but the men went behind her back; when she found out she went into the case saying "I'm a copper, not an accountant." Although reluctant to lead the squad, as time goes by she begins to warm to her colleagues and view them as her friends, and at the same time change her attitude towards life. Her mother Grace is still alive, but recently had a stroke. Her father, Detective Inspector Gordon Arthur Pullman committed suicide in 1975 by carbon monoxide poisoning, when Sandra was 14, while under investigation for corruption by Jack Halford after he attempted to cover up killing a criminal. However, she did not find out about this until 2007, believing that he died of a heart attack. In Season 3, Episode 6, she is introduced as "Chief Superintendent Sandra Pullman" by Strickland at an awards ceremony. She is also called 'Chief Superintendent Pullman' by DCI Melissa Temple in Series 8, Episode 5. However, despite these references, she is referred to in the credits and often in dialogue as a Superintendent, so it can be assumed the references to her being a Chief Superintendent are continuity errors.

Gerald "Gerry" Standing (Ex-Detective Sergeant) (Dennis Waterman): Born Gerard Lestade, the son of Smithfield Market butcher Norman Lestade, Gerry changed his name as he did not get along with his father and loudly protests against his French Huguenot background ("I'm *not* bleedin' French!"), instead preferring to be known as a Cockney born and raised in Bermondsey. Nicknamed "Last Man Standing" because of his refusal to take backhanders while the rest of his squad were all bought out by a gangster, his cousins Sid and Barry appeared in the last episode of the 2009 series ("Meat Is Murder"), facing off against Danny Paye, a gangster Gerry owed money to in 1977. Something of a 'Jack the Lad', Gerry Standing is very much an old-school police officer. In his time he was a top 'thief-taker' who passionately enjoyed catching criminals but nevertheless mixed easily with them. As a result, allegations of corruption arose which he angrily denies, but nevertheless were among the reasons he left the police force, the other being that he punched his then-superior officer, Don Bevan, as a result of these allegations. Something of a ladies' man, he has been married three times. Although his marriages were unsuccessful, he is a devoted father to his four daughters and has a grandson, Gerry Jr.. Standing maintains amicable relationships with his three ex-wives, so much so that he occasionally manages to seduce them once again. Although he is now a grandfather, he maintains his devil-may-care lifestyle, but insists that he is merely "a naughty boy, not a bastard". Gerry owns a 1977 Triumph Stag Roadster which is seen in some scenes. He also has a passion for cooking fine food for his extended family and co-workers. While initial tension existed between them, he and Pullman share a mutually respectful but nonetheless barbed friendship. They sometimes pose as husband and wife when undercover. Along with his familial commitments, he also has a continuing interest in gambling and thus joined UCOS for financial reasons, much to the consternation of DAC Bevan.

Brian Lane (Ex-Detective Inspector) (Alun Armstrong): Born in either 1946 or 1947, Brian 'Memory' Lane is an exceptional detective, possessing a keen attention to detail and a remarkable instant recall memory that allows him to call up obscure details not only regarding cases but the officers investigating them at the time. He is also extremely socially inept and highly eccentric, a sufferer of Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) and a recovering alcoholic. As a result, despite being an essentially well-meaning individual, he possesses extremely poor social skills and a tendency for getting himself into trouble. He left the force under a cloud, having been held partly responsible for the death of a prisoner in his custody. Although Brian maintains it is part of a conspiracy against him (and was, at least initially, consumed with attempting to discover who was behind it), his colleagues believe that he simply cannot admit he made a mistake. Brian is married to the long-suffering but caring Esther, and they have an adult son called Mark. Brian finds his work in UCOS becoming too stressful for him throughout the fifth series and resumes drinking alcohol when nobody else is around, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings once again. In the final episode of the fifth series ("Mad Dogs"), he gets drunk in a pub and ends up kissing two young women that he is drinking with, in full view of Esther and Mark as they come into the pub to look for him. Esther then walks out, leaving Brian realizing the cost of resuming his alcoholism. Based on the souvenirs in his office and the banner behind his desk, Brian is an ardent supporter of the football club AFC Wimbledon; at the end of Season 2 Episode 3, he skipped an afterwork celebratory drink with his UCOS mates, saying, "I have an appointment to support my team" while throwing his AFC Wimbledon team scarf around his neck, and singing "A-F-C-Wim-ble-don" to the tune of Verdi's "La donna è mobile". He is also an avid cyclist and was revealed to be a keen war-gamer. In Series 3, Episode 8 "Congratulations", he digs out his old war-gaming board and figurines and attends a war-game tournament, which he wins. He is nearly tempted to take a drink of celebratory champagne out of his cup, saved only by the arrival of the rest of the team who have been looking for him.

Jack Halford (Ex-Detective Chief Superintendent) (James Bolam): The highest-ranking ex-officer on the team and the first to be approached by Pullman when she was forming UCOS, Jack Halford is something of a second-in-command to Pullman and acts as a mentor to her on numerous occasions (based on their previous working relationship when she was subordinate to him on the murder squad). Halford retired from the police force to care for his dearly-loved wife Mary who had been involved in a hit-and-run incident; he is still haunted by her death. This is partly because no-one was ever charged in connection with it, although it was common knowledge that it was Ricky Hanson. After being frustrated by Hanson's acquittal in his trial for his attempted murder of Hanson in a hospital, Halford briefly disappeared, but was found by Brian Lane and returned to UCOS. Ricky Hanson was finally charged with the death of Mary in Series 6, Episode 6 "The Last Laugh" and apparently convicted. Halford still speaks to his wife's memorial in his garden, often seeking her help and opinion in solving cases. A softly-spoken and gentle man, he nevertheless possesses a quick and sometimes violent temper that he has unleashed on several suspects in the cases that he has worked on. Actor James Bolam decided to leave the show after series eight, though he may return for a cameo in series nine to provide closure for his character.[1]

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland (Anthony Calf): Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland is the team's boss. He is a political animal who enjoys basking in reflected glory of UCOS's clean up rate and his choice of cases is influenced by a desire to make his department look good. Despite this, he is a strong supporter of the UCOS team and has used his influence to protect them when necessary.

Esther Lane (Susan Jameson): Esther is Brian Lane's long-suffering wife. Esther and Brian met when he arrested her for attempting to steal a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover from a library. They have an adult son, Mark, who is rarely spoken about but was seen for the first time in the third episode of the second series, where they attend a football match of AFC Wimbledon. Susan Jameson, who plays Esther, is in real life married to co-star James Bolam.

Recurring and Previous Characters

Episodes: "The Chinese Job" - "Talking To The Dead" (7 Episodes)

Chief Assistant Commissioner Donald Bevan is the founder of UCOS, originally intending for it to be a public relations gesture and to prevent an ex-convict from suing the Met for wrongful arrest. In contrast to the team, he was stereotypically obsessed with modern bureaucracy and buzzwords, and relations between them were strained: UCOS's results would anger him for being done in the 'wrong' way. He knows both Jack Halford and Gerry Standing, and strongly opposed Standing's inclusion in the team, mainly because of the history between them. In his final appearance, he tried to get Sandra Pullman hired onto SO10 and suffered politically as a result.

Episodes: "The Chinese Job" - "Talking To The Dead" (7 Episodes)

PC Izzy Clark is assigned to the team to help them with their IT needs and administration, though he soon becomes a valued member of the team. Unlike the retired members of the team, Izzy relies completely on modern policing techniques, an asset valued highly by CAC Donald Bevan.

Episodes: "God's Waiting Room" - "Setting Out Your Stall" (5 Episodes)

Grace Pullman is Sandra Pullman's mother and the widow of Sandra's father, Gordon, who committed suicide by carbon monoxide inhalation. Her first appearance occurs when Sandra helps her choose a care home to stay in, due to her recent battle with Ménière's disease, however, the decision uncovers a murder which prevents Grace from moving into her desired home. She later sufferes a stroke, causing her to reveal to Sandra the truth about her father's death.

Episodes: "Congratulations" - "Dead Men Talking" (7 Episodes)

Emily Driscoll is a trainee police officer who turns up Gerry's claiming that she thinks he's her dad. However, unknown to her, he does a DNA test which proves he is not her biological father. He doesn't have the heart to tell her, and she continues to believe he is her dad. She soon realises that he has lied to her when he gives evidence in court relating to Ricky Hanson, when he hestitates before claiming that Emily is his daughter. She later ignores his phone calls when he tries to apologise to her. Emily is eager to be a great police officer like the man she believes to be her father and proves successful. Hannah Waterman, who plays Emily, is Dennis Waterman's real life daughter.

Episodes: "Congratulations" - "The Last Laugh" (4 Episodes)

Ricky Hanson is a career criminal and the man responsible for death of Jack's wife, Mary. When he confesses this to Jack, he attempts to run Hanson down in his car as Hanson had done to Mary, however, Sandra, along with Gerry and Brian, slams her car into Jack's in order to prevent the murder. Hanson remained unharmed, but all four of the UCOS team were hospitalised. Hanson then appears disguised as a doctor, and visits the ward in which Jack and Brian were being kept, and, after muttering to Jack, "Jack... Jack... Say hello to the wife", begins to smother his nemesis with a pillow. Luckily, Brian, despite being on crutches and without sight in one eye, hits Ricky on the head, stopping him from smothering Jack, however, Ricky starts to choke Brian, but Jack picks up an oxygen cylinder and strikes Hanson on the back of the head, knocking him out. Ricky was then arrested for attempted murder. He then stands trial for the attempted murder. His shrewd representative Ian Figgis (James Fox) leads the jury to think badly of the UCOS team while they gave evidence: Brian for his recovery of alcoholism and his OCD, Sandra for her occasional tendency to bend rules, and Gerry for incorrect use of forensic facilities within UCOS. When Hanson gives evidence, he lies to the court that he did not attempt to murder Jack, and that he bore no ill will towards him. The jury gives the verdict that Hanson was not guilty, and triumphantly he leaves the court with a few of his criminal friends, all singing smugly at his not guilty verdict. Jack disappears after this, despite the efforts of Sandra, Gerry and Brian to keep him under friendly surveillance, and it was thought that he had left UCOS for good. Strickland ordered Sandra to start interviewing possible replacements for Jack, but Brian becomes determined to get Jack back on the team, and manages to track him down. Jack feels unable to carry on in UCOS, knowing Hanson had been let off with his wife's murder, but Brian persuades him to return to the team to ensure other career criminals like Hanson would not be loose on the streets, and so Jack resumes working for UCOS again. Hanson then returns when he is linked to the disappearance of two Anti-Fascist Activists, leading to renewed hope among UCOS of sending him down. They discover from a former adversary that his son, Luke was in the car when he killed Mary. Though Luke initially denies this, he admits it when it is revealed that Ricky had had an incestuous relationship with his secret daughter. Ricky is arrested for Mary's murder, plus the murders of the two activists and various other crimes, making sure that his downfall was assured and he was sent to prison.

Episodes: "The Last Laugh" - "The Fourth Man" (2 Episodes)

A short-tempered, old fashioned copper, who was a colleague of Gerry when he was still in the force. He and Gerry had a falling-out over a woman. They reunite when Patterson is interviewed over an investigation of the murder of two student activists. The investigation leads on to old rival Ricky Hanson and Patterson gives the team some off-hand insights on how to get Hanson behind bars. These become crucial in Hanson's arrest for the murder of Jack's beloved wife Mary. Patterson returns to get the team to re-investigate an armed robbery and murder in the 80s, with a suspicion that a senior officer might have been tipping off the ringleader of the robbery for a small cut, and conspiring to cover it up. The senior officer is arrested, and Gerry and Frank go out for an old fashioned 'wild' night out on the town.

Guest Stars

Guest stars have included:

Series 1

Series 2

Series 3

Series 4

Series 5

Series 6

Series 7

Series 8

Character Naming

One of the original writers, Roy Mitchell, a supporter of the English football team West Bromwich Albion, named numerous characters after past and then-current players for the club in the first season. The three male characters of the programme, Halford, Lane and Standing, were named after the oldest stand ("The Halfords Lane Stand") at The Hawthorns football ground in West Bromwich.[2]


New Tricks began as a one-off episode, broadcast on 27 March 2003. This attracted a sufficient number of viewers for the BBC to commission a series of six episodes, which began on 1 April 2004. Subsequently eight-episode series were commissioned for 2005, 2006 and 2007. A fifth series was commissioned by the BBC after the audience share rose week upon week for the previous series.[3] In 2007 an episode from the fourth series received viewing figures of 9.25 million, becoming the second most watched programme on BBC One that week, and the most watched New Tricks episode to that point.[4] The fifth series continued this good run - it was the most watched programme in Britain for the week twice, and the seventh episode gained a new series high rating to that point of 9.36 million - second only to the X Factor that week.[5] The fifth series began airing on 7 July 2008 and completed its run on 25 August. The sixth series finished location filming on 8 May 2009 in Central London and began airing on 16 July 2009.[6] The opening episode of series six pulled in 8.07 million, despite clashing with Five's The Mentalist (1.64m) and ITV's Living With Michael Jackson (3.64m). The second episode clashed with The Mentalist and the relaunch of The Bill on ITV, pulling in 7.59 million.

Series 7 and 8 were commissioned by the BBC in September 2009, ensuring the show would run until 2011.[7] The seventh series began airing on 10 September 2010 and completed its run on 12 November. The eighth series opened on 4 July 2011 with 9.2 million viewers, the show's highest rating for three years, and the first since the fifth series to break the 9 million barrier.[8] The third episode of series 8, "Lost in Translation," was the show's highest rated episode to date with 9.7 million viewers, becoming the most watched television programme of the week in the UK.[9] Episode 7, "The Gentleman Vanishes," superseded this figure with 9.87 million viewers, and was again the top programme of the week.[10]

The BBC announced that New Tricks will return for a ninth series in 2012 and a tenth series in 2013. Both will be ten episodes.[11] On 19 September 2011, it was announced that James Bolam who plays the part of Jack Halford was quitting the show, saying it had "become stale".[1]

The series is currently broadcast in at least 18 other countries (see below). New Tricks is produced by Wall to Wall Television for the BBC.



The theme tune is a song called "It's Alright", written by Mike Moran and sung by cast member Dennis Waterman, whose penchant for singing the theme tune of productions in which he stars is the subject of a famous caricature in the BBC comedy show Little Britain. In the pilot for the series, Waterman sang the Traveling Wilburys song, "End of the Line". A full version of the song has been released on YouTube. Production music was composed by father and son team Brian and Warren Bennett.

International broadcasters

Country TV Network(s)
Argentina Argentina Film&Arts
Australia Australia ABC1 and UK.TV
Canada Canada TVOntario
Denmark Denmark TV 2 Charlie
Estonia Estonia ETV
Finland Finland YLE TV1
France France France 3
Germany Germany ZDF
India India BBC Entertainment
Iran Iran Channel 4 (Iran)
Republic of Ireland Ireland Raidió Teilifís Éireann
Israel Israel yes stars 2
Italy Italy La7
Japan Japan Channel Ginga
Netherlands Netherlands KRO
New Zealand New Zealand TV1 from Series 6 on Prime
Norway Norway NRK
Singapore Singapore BBC Entertainment
South Africa South Africa BBC Entertainment
Sweden Sweden Kanal 9
Thailand Thailand BBC Entertainment
United States United States KAET Phoenix, Arizona
KCET Los Angeles, California
KCTS-TV Seattle, Washington
KERA-TV Dallas, Texas
KETC St. Louis, Missouri
KFTS Klamath Falls, Oregon
KOPB-TV Portland, Oregon
KSYS Medford, Oregon
KQEH San Jose, California
WDSC-TV Daytona Beach, Florida
WEAO Akron, OH
WFYI Indianapolis, IN
WLIW Long Island, New York
WMPT Annapolis, Maryland
WNED-TV Buffalo, New York
WNJN (TV) Montclair, New Jersey
WPBA Atlanta, Georgia
UNC-TV Chapel Hill, NC
Uruguay Uruguay TNU Televisión Nacional Uruguay

DVD Releases

Series One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven of New Tricks are available on DVD on Region 2 (UK) and Region 4 (Aus). Series Eight is to be available on DVD in November 2011. These titles are distributed by Acorn Media UK.

DVD Title Discs Year Episodes DVD release Notes
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
Complete Series 1 3 2003–2004 7 25 August 2009 23 May 2005 1 September 2005 Includes 2003 pilot
Complete Series 2 3 2005 8 19 January 2010 24 April 2006 6 July 2006
Complete Series 3 3 2006 8 22 February 2011 14 May 2007 7 November 2007
Complete Series 4 3 2007 8 7 June 2011 1 September 2008 3 April 2008
Complete Series 5 3 2008 8 27 September 2011[12] 24 August 2009 6 August 2009
Complete Series 6 3 2009 8 11 October 2010 2 December 2010
Complete Series 7 3 2010 10 1 August 2011[13] 21 April 2011
Complete Series 8 3 2011 10 21 November 2011[14]
Complete Series 14 12 2003–2007 31 7 November 2008 Includes 2003 pilot


  1. ^ a b Eden, Richard, "BBC drama as actor James Bolam tires of New Tricks", The Telegraph, 19 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  2. ^ A fan possessed by Adrian Chiles, 25 July 2007, The Guardian
  3. ^ Oatts, Joanne (1 June 2011). "'New Tricks' gets a fifth series". Digital Spy. Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary" (Select 27/05/07 from dropdown - BARB Website)
  5. ^ "Weekly Viewing Summary" (Select 24/08/08 from dropdown - BARB Website)
  6. ^ "Sixth run of 'New Tricks' confirmed" Digital Spy website
  7. ^
  8. ^ "BARB Weekly Top 30 Programmes" (Select week of July 04 - July 10, 2011)
  9. ^ "BARB Weekly Top 30 Programmes" (Select week of July 18 - July 24, 2011)
  10. ^ "BARB Weekly Top 30 Programmes" (Select week of Aug. 15 - Aug. 21, 2011)
  11. ^ "New Tricks commissioned for another two series on BBC One", BBC Press Office, 6 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
  12. ^ "New Tricks: Season 5 (2008)". Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "New Tricks: Series 7". Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  14. ^ "New Tricks: Series 8". Retrieved 15 July 2011. 

External links

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