Inspector George Gently returns to BBC One

by Lisa McGarry

Martin Shaw returns as the classic unsung hero detective in Inspector George Gently, with two feature-length films written by Peter Flannery (The Devil’s Whore, Our Friends In The North) and Jimmy Gardner (The Cops, This Life) for BBC One.

With his sidekick, the un-pc and undisciplined Detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby), they make the perfect police partnership, full of warmth and humour.

The year is 1966, and the football World Cup has come to England, Blow Up and Born Free are playing in the cinemas, the Labour Party, under Harold Wilson, wins the General Election and the Beatles begin recording sessions for their landmark Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album – all of which act as the perfect nostalgic and colourful backdrop for Inspector George Gently.

For the first time, Inspector George Gently is to be made on location in the North-East, in and around the beautiful city of Durham – setting the series firmly where Peter Flannery has written it.

Writer Peter Flannery says: “A writer gets a particular thrill from writing about the time and place which formed him. In my case the North East of England in the Sixties. It’s now 15 years since the BBC filmed Our Friends In The North in and around Newcastle, so it’s especially rewarding for me to be back on my home patch.

“Fun though it was to film the earlier series in Dublin, I’ve long wanted the stories to unfold in the landscape in which they are truly set. I’m coming home again – and I’m bringing Inspector George Gently with me.”

The first film, Gently Evil, is set in an idyllic coastal village in Northumberland. When the body of a loose young woman is found murdered Gently and Bacchus find themselves investigating a family with unimaginable secrets. Initially, it appears that the woman’s estranged husband, and father of their young daughter Agnes (introducing Natalie Garner), is responsible for the killing. But as they further investigate this disturbed family they discover a far more alarming truth.

In the second film, Peace And Love, tensions are running high as the USSR are due to play at Roker Park, and the fear of the “Reds Under the Bed” is exemplified by the upcoming Polaris submarine landing at the nearby Jarrow docks. CND protestors, lead by radical students from Durham University, are the last thing the police need when the world media is on their doorstep awaiting the upcoming football match. But the murder of a well-known left wing academic, Fraser Barratt (Emun Elliott, Paradox, Lip Service), found dead in the docks after a CND rally, takes Gently and Bacchus onto the Durham University campus – an ancient temple of learning struggling to come to terms with the novel influx of students from the working class and brash, radical, academics. Sexual and Social rebellion is everywhere in the air and to the young and optimistic these forces seem inevitable and unstoppable. Bacchus is horrified yet fascinated by the promiscuity and “free love” on display. Gently, a war veteran, more shrewdly recognises that liberation is not always an unmixed blessing.

Melanie Pullen Clark (East Enders) returns as Bacchus’s long suffering wife, Lisa – who could well be looking for a divorce, not to mention spending too much time with Gently. Guest stars in the two films include: Sarah Lancashire (All The Small Things, Rose & Maloney, Clocking Off), Warren Clarke (The Invisibles, Red Riding, Dalziel & Pascoe), Shaun Dooley (Married.Single.Other, Mark Of Cain), Daniel Casey (Midsomer Murders, Our Friends In The North), Paul Kaye (It’s All Gone Pete Tong, Two Thousand Acres Of Sky), Neve McIntosh (Gormenghast, Bodies), Myanna Buring (The Descent, The Descent 2) and Emun Elliott (Paradox, Lip Service).

The BBC’s Kate Evans says: “Inspector George Gently continues to attract an audience who relish its unique blend of strong story telling, a period setting and a contemporary resonance. At the heart of the show, as ever, is the complex and enjoyable relationship between Gently and Bacchus which will continue to delight in these two new films.”