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New Tricks (TV Series)

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New Tricks (TV Series)

For other uses, see New Tricks (disambiguation).
New Tricks
Genre Comedy-drama
Created by Nigel McCrery
Roy Mitchell
Starring Alun Armstrong (2003–13)
James Bolam (2003–12)
Denis Lawson (2012–)
Nicholas Lyndhurst (2013–)
Tamzin Outhwaite (2013–)
Amanda Redman (2003–13)
Dennis Waterman
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 10
No. of episodes 87 (List of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes
Production companies Wall to Wall
Original channel BBC One
Original run 27 March 2003 – present
External links

New Tricks is a British comedy-drama that follows the work of the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) of the Metropolitan Police Service. Originally 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 proverb "You can't teach an old dog new tricks".


New Tricks began as a one-off episode, broadcast on 27 March 2003. This attracted sufficient viewers for the BBC to commission a series of six episodes, which began on 1 April 2004. Eight-episode series were subsequently 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.[1] 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.[2] The fifth series continued this good run - on two occasions it was the most watched programme in Britain for the week, and the seventh episode gained a new series high rating of 9.36 million - second only to the X Factor that week.[3] The fifth series aired from 7 July to 25 August 2008. The sixth series finished location filming on 8 May 2009 in Central London and began airing on 16 July 2009.[4] The opening episode of series six was watched by 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, and was watched by 7.59 million.

Series 7 and 8 were commissioned by the BBC in September 2009, ensuring the show would run until 2011.[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] Episode 7, "The Gentleman Vanishes," surpassed this figure with 9.87 million viewers, and was again the top programme of the week.[8]

The BBC confirmed in September 2011 that a further two series made up of ten episodes each had been commissioned, to be broadcast in 2012 and 2013.[9] James Bolam, who played the part of Jack Halford, has left the show, claiming it had "become stale":[10] he made his final appearance in the first episode of Series 9. In the fourth episode Denis Lawson joined the cast, as the new character of retired DI Steve McAndrew.[11] Prior to the ninth series premiere, both Amanda Redman[12] and Alun Armstrong[13] announced they would be leaving the show after the tenth series. The first programme of series nine was broadcast on 27 August 2012, and gained 8.52 million viewers, which was the highest rating of the week.[14] Only Fools and Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst and EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite appeared in Series 10, which was broadcast in Britain between 30th July and 1 October 2013.[15] The opening episode of the tenth series gained an audience of 8.86 million viewers, making it the twelfth most watched program of the year.[16]

The series is broadcast in at least twenty-five countries, and is also available on DVD and via online streaming. New Tricks is produced by Wall to Wall Television for the BBC.


Current main characters

  • Gerry Standing (Ex-Detective Sergeant) (Dennis Waterman) (2003–): Born Gerard Lestade, the son of Smithfield Market butcher Norman Lestade, Gerry changed his name as he did not get along with his father. He loudly protests against his French Huguenot background, preferring to be known as a Cockney, born and raised in Bermondsey. He is 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 were forced to face off against Danny Paye, a gangster Gerry owed money to in 1977. A 'Jack the Lad', Gerry is an old-school police officer. He was a top 'thief-taker', who passionately enjoyed catching criminals - but nevertheless he mixed easily with them. As a result, allegations of corruption arose, which he angrily denies. As a result of the allegations, he once punched his superior officer. These difficulties were among the reasons he left the police force. A ladies' man, he has three ex-wives. He is a devoted father to his four daughters. Gerry's relationships with his ex-wives are amicable: he still occasionally seduces them. Although he is now a grandfather, he maintains his devil-may-care lifestyle, but insists that he is "a naughty boy, not a bastard". Along with his familial commitments, he also has a continuing interest in gambling, and thus joined UCOS for financial reasons. Gerry owns a 1977 Triumph Stag roadster, and has a passion for cooking fine food for his extended family and colleagues. After a tense beginning, he and Sandra share a mutually respectful but barbed friendship. They sometimes pose as husband and wife when undercover. As of 2013, Gerry is the only character to have appeared in all New Tricks episodes.
  • Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland (Anthony Calf) (2004–): Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland is the team's boss. A political animal who enjoys basking in reflected glory of UCOS's clean up rate, 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. He also has two children from a past marriage - but they are never seen. Although always interested in the activities of the agents at Whitehall, Strickland is always very defensive when Whitehall attempts to manipulate him into securing evidence or information in cases which are socially sensitive. Despite the fact that he is considered a somewhat self-serving officer, he has nonetheless been quite supportive of their actions. He adamantly refused to allow Fisher to strong arm the team into working for him despite the fact that Fisher could seriously damage his career. Another instance where Sandra and the team made a collar and got a result that wasn't a desirable outcome, that would possibly cause a small political storm, Strickland merely said I wanted you to investigate I always knew such cases would not have gotten a happy ending. Due to the fact that he is higher up on the chain of command he is thus somewhat more politically savvy. He is more level headed when it comes to navigating through the quagmire of political landmines. He even subtly gave Brian a chance to explain his actions something his predecessor would not have done, even though Brian still stood by what he did, thereby forcing his hand.
  • Steve McAndrew (Ex-Detective Inspector) (Denis Lawson) (2012–): Retired Detective Inspector Steve McAndrew from Glasgow joins the team following Jack Halford's departure in A Death in the Family, after helping the team with a reopened case involving a missing girl. Described as "a bundle of energetic optimism with a tendency to get personally involved in the cases he's working on", and "the antithesis of Brian Lane's eternal pessimism", McAndrew has a reputation for being a whirlwind, and bringing anarchy to otherwise calm proceedings.[11] During the course of the series he is revealed to have an ex-wife called Trisha, who got custody of their son Stuart when the two of them divorced. She and a corrupt detective from Glasgow - Frank McNair - had an affair which has left Steve bitter, and since then he has become desperate to reunite with his son. He is in a relationship with girlfriend Charley. Steve is considered to be the polar opposite of Brian, he is prefers a more hands on approach to work. He and Gerry got to bond and became fast friends. He is a lot fitter and healthier than Gerry.
  • Dan Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst) (2013-): A retired Detective Chief Inspector with experience of both the Murder Squad and the Diplomatic Protection Group. He is a reserved character who can nevertheless provide surprising insights. He has a teenage daughter who is a bright student, confined to a wheelchair (and who is also a jazz fanatic). In Series 10, Episode 9 he revealed that his wife is in a secure unit at a mental hospital.
  • Detective Chief Inspector Sasha Miller (Tamzin Outhwaite) (2013-): Fresh from the Kidnap Unit, newly promoted DCI Miller is firm, feisty and fair with an inclusive and modern management style. However, Gerry, Dan and Steve aren’t about to fall in line and she has a challenge on her hands to win their respect as their new leader. Married to a fellow Met officer with two children away at University, this wasn’t exactly the posting she expected in her first role as a DCI - but she’s intrigued by their clear up rate and is determined to work out what makes them tick.

Former main characters

  • John 'Jack' Halford (Ex-Detective Chief Superintendent) (James Bolam) (2003–2012, 2013): The highest-ranking retired officer on the team, and the first to be approached by Sandra when setting up UCOS, Jack Halford is unofficial second-in-command. He is also Sandra's mentor on numerous occasions; she was previously his subordinate on the murder squad. Jack retired from the police force to care for his dearly-loved wife Mary who had been the victim of a hit-and-run. He is still haunted by her death, partly because nobody was charged in connection with it, although it is common knowledge that the person responsible is Ricky Hanson. After being frustrated by Hanson's acquittal in his trial for his attempted murder, Jack briefly disappears, but is found by Brian, and later returns to UCOS. Ricky Hanson is eventually charged and convicted with causing the death of Mary, and sentenced to life in prison. Jack 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 unleashes on suspects. Jack later leaves, giving only a day's notice, claiming he has decided to retire to France and does not want to provide his colleagues with time to talk him out of it. Brian correctly deduces that Jack has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and only has a short time to live, but promises not to tell the others until after Jack's death.[10][17] He returned as a ghost in Series 10, episode 8 in the UCOS office as he tells Sandra to move on from UCOS and broaden her horizons elsewhere, telling her in the process they all have to move on sometime in life.
  • Brian Lane (Ex-Detective Inspector) (Alun Armstrong) (2003–2013): Born in 1946, 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 also the officers who investigated them. He often gets around by bicycle. He is married to the long-suffering but caring Esther; they have an adult son called Mark. Brian is socially inept and eccentric, a recovering alcoholic with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. He therefore has a tendency to get himself into trouble, despite good intentions. He left the force under a cloud, having been held partly responsible for the death of a prisoner in his custody. Brian maintained it was part of a conspiracy against him, and he was initially consumed with discovering who was behind it; his colleagues believed that he made a mistake and would not admit it. At one point, Brian finds his work with UCOS too stressful and resumes drinking alcohol, and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings again. When she finds out, Esther walks out, leaving Brian confronting the cost of resuming his alcoholism. Brian has his alcoholism treated after this incident, and has not been shown to have suffered lapses since. Brian is an AFC Wimbledon fan, and he once misses a celebratory drink with his UCOS mates to support his team. A keen war-gamer, in one episode he digs out his old war-gaming board and figurines and attends a war-game tournament, which he wins. In the second episode of the tenth series, Brian finally learns there was a conspiracy behind his disgrace, and proves that three policemen in charge of the custody suite, whose failure to check on the prisoner allowed the prisoner to die from drug-related complications, had then conspired to cover up their own culpability and pin the blame on the arresting officer, Brian. However, rather than risk the Met covering this up, Brian passes on a taped confession by one of the conspirators to the prisoner's mother, which in turn prompts Strickland to fire Brian from UCOS. Actor Alun Armstrong announced he would leave the show after filming the tenth series.[13]
  • Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) (2003–2013): Born in 1961, Sandra was the head of the unit. The only currently serving police officer - and at the time the only woman - in UCOS, she is also the youngest member. Sandra was a high flyer in Greater London's Metropolitan Police Service, until the shooting of a dog during a hostage rescue, which is a running joke during the early series. Following the dog incident, her career stalled and she is made to take on the running of UCOS, initially against her will. Ambitious and competitive, she has sacrificed personal life in pursuit of her career and likes to be in control of every situation. She lacks domestic skills. A running sub-plot involves Pullman's unsuccessful love life: a string of adulterous relationships and numerous failed efforts at romance, including an attempt at speed dating. Sandra is often exasperated by her colleagues' eccentricities, and their willingness to bend the rules in pursuit of a result, although she doesn't always play by the rulebook herself. Initially reluctant to lead the squad, she warms to her colleagues and views them as her friends. Her mother Grace is still alive. Her father, Detective Inspector Gordon Arthur Pullman, who was awarded the Queen's Medal for Bravery, committed suicide in 1975 by carbon monoxide poisoning, when Sandra was 14, while under investigation by Jack Halford after attempting to cover up killing a small-time criminal and pimp. Sandra did not find out about this until much later, believing that her father had died of a heart attack. She is occasionally introduced as "Chief Superintendent Sandra Pullman", such as by Strickland at an awards ceremony, and by DCI Melissa Temple to her colleagues, but it appears that these are continuity errors. Amanda Redman left the programme after the filming of the ninth series, although she will film further episodes for the tenth series to provide closure for her character. The character of Sandra left UCOS after episode 9 of the 10th series.[12]

Recurring characters

  • Deputy Assistant Commissioner Donald Bevan (Nicholas Day / Tim Woodward in the Pilot) (2003–2004): Deputy Assistant Commissioner Donald Bevan is the founder of UCOS, originally intending it as a public relations gesture, to prevent an ex-convict from suing the Met for wrongful arrest. In contrast to the team, he is stereotypically obsessed with modern bureaucracy and buzzwords. Relations between him and the team are strained: UCOS's successes anger him as they are achieved in the 'wrong' way. He knows both Jack Halford and Gerry Standing personally, and strongly opposes Standing's inclusion in the team, mainly because of history between them. In his final appearance, he tries to get Sandra Pullman hired by SO10 (covert operations), and suffers politically as a result.
  • PC Izzy Clark (Chiké Okonkwo) (2003–2004): 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 DAC Donald Bevan. When Bevan's attempt to hire Sandra Pullman onto S010 fails, he pulls Izzy out of UCOS and instead offers him a place training with a firearms unit.
  • Esther Lane (Susan Jameson) (2003–2013): Esther is Brian Lane's long-suffering wife: they have been married for nearly thirty years. Esther and Brian met when he arrested her for attempting to steal a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover from a library. Brian once suspected Esther of being a spy sent to report on his activities, when he discovered a link between her and a high-profile protest group. They have an adult son, Mark, who is rarely spoken about, but who often attends AFC Wimbledon football matches with his father. Esther often offers Brian advice and help with the cases he is working on. Susan Jameson, who plays Esther, is married to co-star James Bolam.
  • Jayne Standing (Natalie Forbes) (2003-2007) Jayne is Gerry Standing's ex-wife and his most frequent on-off lover. She appears to be good friends with his other two ex-wives, and out of all three of them, she is the one who finds herself seduced by Gerry. She was last seen visiting him in hospital after a car accident at the beginning of the fourth series.
  • Grace Pullman (Sheila Hancock) (2007–2011): Grace is Sandra Pullman's mother, and the widow of Sandra's father, Gordon, who committed suicide by carbon monoxide inhalation. She is reunited with Sandra when she asks her to help choose a care home, due to her recent battle with Ménière's disease. Their decision uncovers a murder which prevents Grace from moving into her desired home. She later suffers a stroke, causing her to reveal to Sandra the truth about her father's death after Sandra looks into a closed file.
  • Emily Driscoll (Hannah Waterman) (2006–2010): Emily Driscoll is a trainee police officer who turns up at Gerry's house saying that she thinks he is her father. Unbeknown to her, he performs 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 realises that he has lied to her when he gives evidence in court relating to Ricky Hanson, and when he hesitates before claiming that Emily is his daughter. She later ignores his phone calls when he tries to apologise to her, although Emily eventually allows Gerry to continue to act as a fatherly figure in her life. Emily is eager to be an excellent police officer like Gerry, and proves successful, although she does become annoyed when Jack and Brian are temporarily placed under her command, and both choose not to follow modern procedure. Hannah Waterman, who plays Emily, is Dennis Waterman's daughter.
  • Ricky Hanson (David Troughton) (2006–2009): Ricky Hanson is a career criminal, and the man responsible for the death of Jack's wife, Mary. When he confesses this to Jack, Jack attempts to run him over, as Hanson did to Mary, but is prevented from doing so. Hanson later attempts to murder Jack in hospital, but is stopped by Brian, who saves Jack from suffocation. When Hanson attempts to strangle Brian, Jack strikes him on the back of the head with an oxygen cylinder. After being found not guilty on the charge of attempted murder, Hanson is linked to the disappearance of two Anti-Fascist activists. UCOS discover from Frank Patterson that Hanson's son, Luke, was in the car that ran down Mary. Luke admits this when it is revealed that Ricky has had an incestuous relationship with his secret daughter. Luke also had a relationship with the girl, although neither knew they were half-siblings at the time. Ricky is arrested for Mary's murder, as well as those of the two activists, and he is sent to prison.
  • Frank Patterson (Phil Daniels) (2009–2010): Patterson is a short-tempered, old fashioned copper, a former police colleague of Gerry's. He and Gerry fell out over a woman. They reunite when Frank is interviewed over an investigation of the murder of two student activists. The investigation leads to old rival Ricky Hanson. Frank gives the team some information on how to get Hanson behind bars, which are crucial in Hanson's arrest for the murder of Mary Halford. Frank returns to get the team to re-investigate an armed robbery and murder in the 1980s - he suspects that a senior officer might have tipped off the robbery's ringleader for a small cut, and then conspired to cover it up.
  • Stephen Fisher (Tim McInnerny) (2011-2012): Fisher is a high-ranking Whitehall intelligence operative and old acquaintance of DAC Strickland. He first appears in "The Gentleman Vanishes", ostensibly as a supporter of UCOS advising Strickland of a professional hitman. Fisher manoeuvres the team through a series of tasks and exercises for his own ends, to the benefit of shady Government deals. However, he does not always follow his orders to the letter, as he gives information that allows the team to attempt to arrest the hitman, although the operation does not go according to plan. In "A Death in the Family", he blackmails the reluctant ex-cops into helping by unearthing their personal secrets, and consolidates his minimal respect for the UCOS team with jibes about the detectives' weaknesses, particularly Brian Lane's alcoholism. However, he shows some regard for Jack Halford, calling him 'faithful to the last', and allows him to hand evidence showing government corruption to a contact, resulting in the information becoming public knowledge. In the final episode of the ninth series, "Part of a Whole" it transpires that Strickland first knew Fisher at Sandhurst, and was part of a covert 'black bag' operation (a robbery) that went awry - a dark secret that places all the former agents in mortal danger; Fisher nearly loses his life when shot by a professional hitman, and was last seen recuperating in hospital, already plotting his revenge against those responsible for the attempt on his life.
  • Holly Griffin (Storme Toolis) (2013-) Dan Griffin's wheelchair-bound, intelligent daughter. She is very close to her father due to her mother's absence and often assists him with his cases or leads him in the right direction to solving a particular case.

Change In Cast

In 2011 James Bolam announced to the producers that he would be leaving the show. In 2012 Alun Armstrong announced to the producers that he would be leaving the show. In 2012 Amanda Redman announced to the producers that she would be leaving the show, leaving Dennis Waterman as the only original cast member

Guest stars

For guest stars listed by episode, see List of New Tricks episodes.


  • Episode count is correct as of Episode 10.10

     – Character will be a major part of the upcoming Series 11

Character Actor Years Series Episode Count
DCI Sacha Miller Tamzin Outhwaite 2013- 10.9- 2
Dan Griffin Nicholas Lyndhurst 2013- 10.5- 6
Steve McAndrew Denis Lawson 2012- 9.4- 17
DAC Robert Strickland1 Anthony Calf 2004- 2.1- 54
Gerry Standing Dennis Waterman 2003- 1.1- 87
DSI Sandra Pullman Amanda Redman 2003-2013 1.1-10.8 84
Brian Lane Alun Armstrong 2003-2013 1.1-10.4 80
Jack Halford James Bolam 2003-2012, 2013 1.1-9.1, 10.8 67

^1 A significant supporting character. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert (sometimes Bob) Strickland is directly responsible for both the operation and actions of UCOS but is not involved in most cases. He does however engage the team in cases with a political aspect, and sometimes becomes involved in other sensitive cases.




One of the original writers, Roy Mitchell, a supporter of the English football team West Bromwich Albion, named numerous guest 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.[18]


The theme tune of the programme is a song called "It's All Right", 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 since been released on YouTube. Production music was composed by father and son team Brian and Warren Bennett. The British release of the first season DVD contains "End of the Line" at the end of the pilot episode. The American version however, does not. Instead, "It's Alright" was dubbed over the end credits and the credits themselves were changed because "End of the Line" was omitted.

DVD and Blu-ray releases

Series One through Nine of New Tricks are available on DVD on Region 2 (UK). 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 20032004 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 24 August 2009 6 August 2009
Complete Series 6 3 2009 8 7 February 2012 11 October 2010 2 December 2010
Complete Series 7 3 2010 10 5 June 2012 1 August 2011 21 April 2011
Complete Series 8 3 2011 10 25 September 2012 21 November 2011 5 July 2012
Complete Series 9 3 2012 10 25 June 2013 5 November 2012
Complete Series 9 Blu-ray 2 2012 10 26 November 2012
Complete Series 10 3 2013 10 7 October 2013[19]
Complete Series 14 12 20032007 31 7 November 2008 Includes 2003 pilot
Complete Series 35 9 20052011 24 22 March 2010
Complete Series 36 12 20052011 32 7 March 2011
Complete Series 38 18 20052011 52 18 June 2012

See also


External links

  • BBC Programmes
  • Internet Movie Database
  • at Wall To Wall, Producers.
  • at BBC Worldwide Americas, Distributor for United States.
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