New Tricks Series 10 Episode 4: Alun Armstrong and Susan Jameson shine in Brian’s final instalment

by Matt D


For the past three weeks, I’ve marvelled at the acting of Alun Armstrong in New Tricks. In tonight’s episode, Armstrong’s last as Brian Lane, he is given the floor once again as Brian’s story takes centre stage. Despite being let go from UCOS last week, it appears as if Brian’s abilities are still in great supply though they are continuing to get him in trouble.

It appears as if Brian isn’t enjoying his second retirement as much as he possibly should be and he isn’t exercising his brain cells in the way he once was. Esther presents him with a way of continuing the work he was doing for UCOS, by helping her book club acquaintance Margaret Kirby find her long lost brother. Margaret’s accountant brother Peter Sale was wrapped up in the murder case of Florence Epstein, one of his clients who was murdered by her husband Jonathan in order to get all of her life savings. While attempting to solve the case, Brian is continued to be harassed by a journalist who has been sent to him by Embelton’s men in an attempt to discredit any statement Brian brings against him. An angry Brian visits Strickland who tells him that there’s nothing he can do and that Brian will have to keep a low profile. Of course he does the exact opposite and goes to visit Jonathan Epstein in jail who informs him that he was introduced to Peter Sale through another of his dental clients Lawrence Archer, as Sale himself needed a lot of work done due to a degenerative bone condition. Epstein also informs him that he’s still desperately in love with Annabel Skinner, his mistress who presumably took off with all of the money he stole from his wife. Epstein is able to give Brian enough information to track down Archer and later Brian arrives at Archer’s office. However, he finds a dead Archer on the floor and he himself is soon knocked out by an anonymous assailant. He is later revived by his former UCOS colleagues who have also come to talk to Archer following a mystery call. It is revealed that Archer is simply an alias for conman Larry Gofton who was involved in some way with both Annabel Skinner and Peter Sale.

After he is questioned by Sandra and the tea, Brian meets up with Margaret who claims that she didn’t realise that her brother was involved in anything dangerous. She tells him that she did meet both Archer and Skinner, at one of Peter’s Christmas parties, and didn’t like the look of either of them. Brian then remembers that, just before he was knocked out, he saw a notebook with a phone number on it. The number is for the Longbow Cleaning Company, an organisation set up by Archer who would use his employees to scope out the houses of their wealthy clients. It is revealed that the company was once investigated for its part in a number of high-profile burglaries, but nothing was ever proved. As Brian gets to the former offices of the company, he sees the UCOS gang just leaving and bides his time till they’ve departed. Once inside the offices, he hears somebody skulking about and then answers a ringing phone only to discover that it’s Steve on the other end of the line. Brian then confronts the other person in the building, who turns out to be Esther, before they are forced to hide once again as the UCOS mob return. On leaving the offices themselves, Esther spots a business card belonging to building contractors Ennis and McRae, which was a front for two renowned gangsters in the world of organised crime.

Meanwhile, Sandra is unsure why Brian was put on the missing persons case on the same day that they got an anonymous tip-off about Archer. They learn nothing new after questioning Margaret; however it later transpires that Archer and Sale may have been scamming money away from Ennis and McRae, before using the money stolen from the Epsteins to pay it back. Elsewhere, Brian connects the numbers on the back of the Ennis McRae business card to that of a storage unit company however when he and Esther find the unit in question, they’re in for a nasty surprise. As Brian begins to connect the dots, with help from his now enthused wife, he discovers that not all is as it seems. While the UCOS team finally track down Peter Sale, Brian finds out they may be heading into a trap set up for them by an unlikely source.


In some ways I found Brian’s final edition of New Tricks to be a fitting tribute to the character. It showcased his ability to connect the dots between seemingly random pieces of evidence and his awkwardness in social situations. In addition it highlighted the strong bond that exists between he and his wife, with Esther becoming more involved in tonight’s case as it went on. At the same time I would’ve like to have seen a bit more resolution, especially when it came to the Embleton case. Though the journalists finally left the Lane alone, I personally would’ve like to have known what happened between Brian and Embleton. I’d also like to have seen more with Brian and his son together to see how their relationship is coming along. Though there were a few mentions of Brian’s grandchild, it would’ve been nice to have seen father and son together once again. As regards the central mystery, I found it quite engaging, but at the same time I’d worked out the twist a long time before UCOS had.

It’s a shame that this is Brian and Esther’s final appearance as both Alun Armstrong and Susan Jameson shone as the loveable Lanes. Armstrong and Jameson make such a fantastic double act and I feel it was right to get Esther involved in the case, seeing as she’s leaving the series too. Their husband and wife crime-solving antics almost seemed like a set-up for a spin-off in which they go around the country to help more people with their problems. I feel that Armstrong will be missed greatly and I hope the show doesn’t suffer too much moving forward.

As a whole, I found this episode of New Tricks to be an enjoyable instalment though most of that was down to the involvement of Brian and Esther and the actors who play them. Indeed Gerry, Sandra and Steve almost felt like they were surplus to requirements here as they played second fiddle to the Lanes. It will then be interesting to see how the new look UCOS team functions when they return next week with a brand new member in tow.

What did you think to this episode of New Tricks? Will you miss Alun Armstrong?

Leave Your Comments Below.


  1. nataliavich on August 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I loved that episode and will miss Brian and Esther. I would like to know where that pub is at the end. I was Turville but am not sure now. Can you help?

  2. Fred Graham on August 20, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Well. It won’t be the last time we see Alun on TV,what a record as a actor. I have lost count of how many films and tv shows he has been in ( Bridge to Far) to name but one. He should get a SIRhood, if you can give it to someone who rides a bike or runs (I can do that) give it to Alun A great actor.

  3. sullivan on August 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Please, tell me Brian and Esther get their own series.

  4. trevorD on August 20, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Where is the village location at the end of the episode transmitted on 20/8/13?

  5. jeff on August 20, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Turville is in bucks but its not that village, however there is a water pump in middle of the green. So i googled village water pumps buckinghamshire and up popped Hambledon. Google street view confirms. I was trying to locate this village 2 months ago after seeing photo from 1944 with no caption and wondered if it had changed. Could not believe seeing it on new tricks. Its just the same!

  6. jeff on August 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Ps the photo was newly discovered color pics from ww2 taken by famous photographer . There were gi’s in the village. Other pics were taken in Henley which happens tb be nearby. Now i cant find where i saw the pics!!!!

  7. Jay Anthony on August 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I agree totally with comments Brain and Esther where excellent , would love to see them in there own series,

  8. Margaret on August 20, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I totally agree with the comments Brian and Ester were excellent – i too would love to see them in a spin off series

  9. Mike on August 21, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Last nights show was a stopper – they need – deserve their own show – I for one would be an avid watcher….

  10. nataliavich on August 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Thanks everyone for the name of the village. I agree that Brian and Esther were fantastic – but I would not like to see a spin off show – the idea sounds better than the actual show would be. I like how it was left – to your imagination. Not happy about Brian leaving though he is one of the reasons I continued watching the show as never liked Sandra but will prove to be difficult to replace her as she has an argumentative tone constantly and not sure if it would work without that. Look forward to the next show.

  11. Kate on August 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I will miss Brian and Esther terribly – they were quite my favourites! I would love to see them in their own series.

  12. Christine Clayton on August 21, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    I really enjoyed the last episode with ‘Brian’. It will not be the same without him. Brian and Esther are such a great couple, I shall miss them.

  13. Kevin on August 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I was upset when James Bolam left the series but continued watching as my favourite character ‘Brian’ was still involved. As he’s now left, the dynamics of the group will suffer, I believe for the worse. The remaining characters seem so bland in comparison to those created by Bolam and Armstrong. I do not have the heart to watch it degenerate from my previous favourite into…

  14. Sue on August 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Best wishes to Brian and Esther, miss you.

  15. geeny on August 22, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    So sad,loved them

  16. rebecca lane on August 22, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    I think this series will just quietly die now that so many great characters have left. I will very much miss watching Brian and Esther, and although I would like to see them in a spin off, I would be worried that the producers will turn them into parodies of themselves, and try to bring a funny element into it, and spoil the whole thing they have going. I could see where they might want to have a spin off with Dennis Waterman and Lawson, but I dont think it would be one I would really want to watch. Bye bye Brian and Esther, looking forward to seeing Alun on his next filming

  17. Branwen on August 23, 2013 at 7:35 am


    Very sad and disappointed that Brian is leaving. It will not be the same without him. Why oh Why do the BBC decide to change programmes and actors when something obviously works so well. We look forward to watching New Tricks. I hope it does not disappoint in the Next series.

  18. Karen on August 24, 2013 at 12:04 am

    So gutted that was the last of Brian & Esther in New Tricks. Love that show & hope it does continue but can’t see how it’ll be as good without them. It did look set up for a spin off for Brian & Esther & I sincerely hope so. I for one would definately be watching. C’mon beeb when will ‘The Lanes’ be starting!

  19. Brita on August 24, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Last nights episode was the best.
    I’ve always liked Brian & Esther & I wondered whether they were being set up for a spin off. I would enjoy that as I read that this was the last ever series of New Tricks. If the latter is correct I need another easy watching show to replace it. A Brian & Esther series would do the trick.

  20. Theresa on August 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Brian and Esther what a team more please

  21. Doug McArthur on August 28, 2013 at 12:25 am

    One of the best detective series ever on Brit TV. the depth, the humor, the writing, the charm, do I need to go on?
    I watched the episode with Brian and Esther at full animation and I thought Oh OH, spin off! or series Ender. Either way, not good for New Tricks.
    We can all write about, who was the be best character, or, who, had the best impact in the stories, etc. etc. The bottom line is this, They all made a great and funny show for us to love. They can continue, but should they?

  22. Scott Family on August 28, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    WE THINK IT IS A SHAME THAT ALL THESE GOOD ACTORS ARE LEAVING THIS SERIES, THESE GREAT ACTORS HAVE MADE THIS SERIES SO POPULAR OVER THE YEARS. Maybe the script writer should go and stick his head in the sand and leave it to the professional actors who have played the characters for years. Good luck to Alun Armstron Susan Jameson also James Bolam and Amanda Redman for the future.
    But no disrespect for the new actors that have joined.

  23. Wendy on August 29, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    Brilliant acting, Brian and Esther will be missed.
    What a shame.
    Good luck to Alun Armstrong, Susan Jameson and James Bolam

  24. katy on August 31, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Episode with Brian & Esther was excellent, please please please BBC give them their own show.

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