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The Sweeney Before He Was Morse

40 years after Regan and Carter first hit our screens, 'The Sweeney' still bites, kicks and punches like a good 'un

Sat, October 8th, 2016

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Few cop shows have the timeless appeal and swagger of The Sweeney.

A bona fide ITV classic, the show focuses on the infamous Flying Squad, the London-based elite unit tasked with combating armed robbery and violent crime. The show was created by Ian Kennedy Martin, a man with form in police drama and a penchant for gritty realism. The formula he pioneered explored the relationship between the day-to-day work of the Squad and the booze’n’fags-fueled personal lives of its two leads, a pre-Morse John Thaw and his sergeant, an impossibly youthful Dennis Waterman.

“Dreaming spires? Not round ‘ere, mate.” Regan and Carter, still doing it the hard way.

First aired in 1975, the show remained in production for four series. Its popularity gave rise to countless parodies and homages as well as two spin-off movies, ‘Sweeney!’ and ‘Sweeney 2’. Over the intervening decades, it has remained popular both with UK viewers and fans of UK TV abroad.

For some pundits, ‘The Sweeney’ set the agenda for modern British police drama through its depiction of a fallible, all-too-human thin blue line in episodes which introduced primetime viewers to unfamiliar themes of police brutality and rough justice. For others, the show’s potent brew of flapping lapels, dodgy hairstyles and period cars is a kind of time capsule, capable of conjuring the vanished world of the 70s as effectively as any Proustian madeleine. Certainly, contemporary audiences are often astonished — and sometimes thrilled — by the show’s depiction of a grimy, down-at-heel London still showing the scars of WWII.

Animal Vitality in The Sweeney

‘The Sweeney’ has been called both brutal and darkly humorous. The range of both the cast and writers was always evident, with the best episodes displaying an almost Shakespearean facility in their swift changes of dramatic register. Recurring characters helped to flesh out a world of petty crooks, pathetic informers and malevolent gang bosses. Thaw easily dominated this strong cast, his Inspector Jack Regan displaying a combination of quick intelligence and animal vitality which may come as a shock to fans of the cerebral and unworldly Morse.

All four series of ‘The Sweeney’ have been syndicated on several different UK channels, all of which are available via TVMucho. TVMucho offers the best channels with the most popular shows of today and yesterday. Check out TVMucho’s unbeatable channel package and tune in to ITV, Channel 4 and Film 4. TVMucho lets you watch your favorite UK TV — wherever you find yourself. Contact us to learn more.

If you like to watch The Sweeney on TV while living abroad, TVMucho is for you.

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