The Sweeney

I just finished watching the first season of a Brit TV cop show called The Sweeney, that I used to watch years ago with my Dad when I was a kid. It’s available on DVD from Netflix.

The name of the show derives from Cockney rhyming slang; “Sweeney” is a contraction of “Sweeney Todd,” which was Cockney rhyming slang for the Flying Squad, an armed rapid-response division of London’s Metropolitan Police set up to combat the upsurge of violent armed crime in London during the seventies.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that, in addition to providing a greater than expected nostalgia hit, the show had actually aged very well; although the acting from some of the supporting characters (especially some of the villains) was often a bit dodgy, the scripts and production are generally solid, and the acting of the three main characters — John Thaw as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, Dennis Waterman as Sergeant George Carter and Garfield Morgan as Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins — is excellent.

The original titles (the first opening and closing titles in this compilation video) are still for me some of the most memorable TV cop show titles ever; I still love the way that the opening titles are exciting and action-packed, whereas the closing titles are slower and more moody:

Another reason that I loved The Sweeney as a kid was the tyre-squealing car chases — the bad guys would invariably drive an old Jag, whereas The Sweeney always drove a Ford Granada. This had extra resonance for me as a child, because my Dad had several Ford Granada company cars at the same time the show was airing.

Here’s another video of an archetypical Sweeney car chase from the first series (from an episode called Stoppo Driver):

“Shut it!”

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