Martin Shaw returns to Sixties Northumberland in Inspector George Gently in four feature-length films written by Peter Flannery (The Devil’s Whore, Our Friends In The North) and Mick Ford (William and Mary) – the first two films to be shown on BBC One in May 2009.
The series throws Chief Inspector Gently into a maelstrom of murders and mayhem, whilst lovingly recreating the Swinging Sixties as it finally hits the North-East of England, in perfect and nostalgic detail.
Chief Inspector George Gently is the classic unsung hero of detective fiction and in Martin Shaw’s expert hands he becomes a passionate, growling, ex-army boxer.
With his sidekick, the ambitious and undisciplined Detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby – Place Of Execution), they make the perfect police partnership, full of warmth and humour.
But even the closest partners can come to blows when Gently and Bacchus enter the boxing ring, to raise monies for the police widow’s fund – but who will be knocked out for the count of ten?
In the England of the early Sixties, society is on the cusp of change: homosexuality, abortion, and even prescribing the pill to unmarried women are all illegal, and hanging for murder is still the law.
But the first strip clubs are just opening, teenagers, drugs and The Beatles are just round the corner, and Gently has to police a society where old values clash with new, and generations are at war with each other.
The series also gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties that the police had to face in the Sixties to investigate and solve their crimes – without the help of modern technology.
Gently and Bacchus have to tackle, amongst others, cases involving prostitution and rape in a time when the argument “she was up for it” was acceptable; local corruption, when it was the norm to sweep it under the carpet; racism in a world before political correctness; and paedophilia in a children’s home, when the notion of organised sexual abuse was unheard of.
In the first two films Shaw and Ingleby are joined by a strong cast of guest stars including: Sharon Maughan (Holby City), Jill Halfpenny (EastEnders), Mark Williams (The Fast Show, Harry Potter), Paul Copley (The Lakes), Mary Jo Randle (EastEnders), Tracey Wilkinson (Bad Girls), Nicola Burley (Souled Out) and Brendan Coyle (Lark Rise To Candleford) as suspects and victims.
Guest stars in the second two films include: Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval), Tariq Jordan (Law And Order), Tim McInnerny (The Devil’s Whore, Blackadder), Tom Goodman-Hill (The Devil’s Whore) – and, at last, we meet Mrs John Bacchus played by Melanie Clark Pullen (EastEnders, A Dinner Of Herbs).
Peter Flannery says: “The joy of writing the Gently stories lies in the period and the place. The place because it’s where I grew up; the period for the same reason, plus it gives me a chance to write about a country on the cusp of change.
“Each issue I look at the heart of a crime – abortion, sexuality, youth gangs, child abuse, race, terrorism – was seen differently in the early Sixties compared to today. As LP Hartley said, ‘The past is another country. They do things differently there’.”
BBC Commissioning Editor, Polly Hill, says: “I’m delighted that Inspector George Gently is returning to BBC One for four more films. Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby have created a unique partnership and I know that drama fans will welcome their return.”