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Juliet Bravo (1980-85)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Juliet Bravo (1980-85)
88x50 min episodes in 6 series, colour
ProducersTerence Williams
 Peter Cregeen
 Geraint Morris
Created byIan Kennedy Martin

Cast: Stephanie Turner (Inspector Jean Darblay); Anna Carteret (Inspector Kate Longton); David Ellison (Sgt Joseph Beck); David Hargreaves (Tom Darblay); Mark Botham (PC Danny Sparks); Noel Collins (Sgt George Parrish)

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The professional and personal struggles of a female inspector who takes charge of an all-male police station in Lancashire.

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Juliet Bravo (BBC, 1980-85) was the last in the long line of hugely successful BBC police dramas that descended from Z Cars (1962-78), an honourable genealogy that also includes Softly, Softly (1966-69), and its spin-offs Barlow (1971-75) and Softly, Softly: Task Force (1969-76).

The series was the creation of Ian Kennedy Martin (whose brother Troy Kennedy Martin was responsible for Z Cars), also the man behind The Sweeney (ITV, 1974-78) and The Chinese Detective (BBC, 1981-82). At the suggestion of Billy Cotton, Controller of BBC1, the main difference between this new series and all those mentioned above was its emphasis on a female protagonist. Although the first British women police officers were introduced in 1949, UK drama had been slow in the extreme in reflecting this. Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister in 1979 may have had had something to do with it, but the following TV season tuned out to be something of a banner year, first with the arrival in April of Jill Gascoine as DI Maggie Forbes in ITV's The Gentle Touch (1980-84) and shortly afterwards Juliet Bravo, which debuted on BBC1 on 30 August 1980.

'Juliet Bravo' was the call sign for a female police Inspector in the (fictitious) town of Harltey in Lancashire. The first officer to use it was Jean D'Arblay, played by Stephanie Turner between 1980 and 1982. Upon arriving in the northern town (location filming actually took place in Bacup in the Rossendale Valley), the newly promoted D'Arblay not only had to juggle her home life with social worker husband Tom (David Hargreaves) but also the ingrained sexism of her all male colleagues on the force.

In 'Shotgun', Ian Kennedy Martin's opening episode, she not only had to overcome the hostility of her new colleagues and gain their trust but also deal with a case involving a father holding his daughter hostage. Later episodes would tackle such diverse if well-trodden topics as police corruption and international counterfeiters as well as more down to earth cases of robbery and teenage crime.

Among the actors making guest appearances were such new faces as Brenda Fricker, Joanne Whalley, Neil Morrissey, Janet McTeer, Eric Richard (later of The Bill) and a young Kevin Whateley.

Eventually, after 44 episodes, D'Arblay was promoted and replaced in 1983 by Anna Carteret as Inspector Kate Longton, an even tougher character than D'Arblay. She would go on to play the part for an equal number of episodes before the series came to a close in December 1985.

Sergio Angelini

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Video Clips
1. Insp.Longton and DCI Perrin (2:14)
2. Difficult conversations (3:13)
3. Four old miners (3:06)
4. Final roundup (2:53)
Complete episode: 'Backtrack' (49:33)
Martin, Ian Kennedy (1936- )
Milne, Paula (1947-)
TV Police Drama