Series Title: The Sweeney

Series: 4

Episodes: 53

Channel: Thames Television (ITV)

Screened: January 1975 – 28 December 1978

Main cast: John Thaw (DI Jack Regan); Dennis Waterman (DS George Carter); Garfield Morgan (DCI Haskins); Morris Perry (Chief Superintendent Maynon); John Alkin (DS Daniels); Martin Read (Thorpe).

Note: The series ended in 1978 when John Thaw could see nowhere left for the storylines to go and he departed.

Spinoff films

1977 Sweeney
A crime leads to a deadly political scandal when a prostitute (Linda Bellingham) is murdered. It’s becomes apparent that a government minister and his press secretary are involved.

1978 Sweeney 2
A violent gang of armed robbers have been robbing banks across the UK and killing anyone that stands in their way. They are eventually tracked to Malta.

2012 The Sweeney
Featured Ray Winstone (Regan) and Ben Drew (Carter). Set in contemporary times, a gold robbery is stumbled upon and robberies continue until eventually the Flying Squad is suspended and Regan goes it alone.

Synopsis

The Sweeney was an ITN television series screened in the 1970s. it focused on two members of the Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police, specialising in armed robbery and violent crime in London. The sound of the theme tune meant it was time for bed for me as a boy, but I caught up with it later on and then one day I spotted the box set in Asda for £30.

Before the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act it was common for police and thugs to treat each other heavy handedly, as another series Life on Mars demonstrates also the police around the same time. There was also plenty of corruption as well as brutality as a copper’s life brought him/her close into the criminal world and a bung here and there was the norm until it was stamped out in the 1980s, at which time many officers resigned.

Episode Reviews: 1

S1E1 — Ringer

Regan loses his girlfriend’s car with surveillance photos from a stakeout that were in the boot. He catches up with a memorabilia thief after first dealing with the car thief.

Guest stars: Brian Blessed

S1E2 — Jackpot

Following the apprehension of a gang of hijackers, a bag goes missing with £35,000 and Regan’s team come under suspicion.

Guest stars: Ed Devereaux (Head Ranger in Skippy)

S1E3 — Thin Ice

A crime kingpin Bishop is allowed to leave the country and go to France. Regan lures him back using Bishop’s dog as bait.

Guest stars: Alfred Marks (The Good Old Days)

S1E4  — Queen’s Pawn

When three thugs are released from a murder charge, Regan pushes Johnny Lyon after he is given just five days to do whatever necessary to bring in major villain Lyon and his thugs.

Guest stars: Tony Selby (Johnny Lyon – Get Some In!)

S1E5 — Jigsaw 

Recently released criminal Eddie Boyse is involved in a robbery but appears to have a valid alibi as he was with Regan at the time of the crime. In his attempts to break the alibi Regan meets opposition from an MP and is accused of police harassment.

Guest stars: Del Henney (character actor)

S1E6 — Night Out

The Superintendent learns of a planned bank job and assigns Regan to revisit an ex girlfriend Iris Long whose apartment is conveniently adjacent. The Sweeney attempt to locate a radio transmitter being used to co-ordinate the robbers movements.

Guest stars: Mitzi Rogers (Iris Long), Peter Childs (Jim)

S1E7 — The Placer

Regan goes under cover as an ex convict lorry driver to expose a hijacking ring. There’s slight romance between Regan and a woman he picks up and he uses her to worm himself into the ring.

Guest stars: Susan Tracy (Fran)

S1E8 — Cover Story

There’s romance when Regan falls for crime reporter Sandy Williams but how far is she involved with a criminal gang that Regan is after.

Guest stars: Prunella Gee (Sandy)

S1E9 — Golden Boy

A chance meeting happens in a pub between Regan and informant Harry Fuller who is throwing plenty of money about. It leads to the unravelling of a gold bullion heist.

Guest stars: Dudley Sutton (Lovejoy)

S1E10 — Stoppo Driver

When a getaway driver gets killed on a job, the gang kidnap a Flying Squad’s wife and blackmail him to be the getaway driver for their next job.

Guest stars : Nicola Pagett, Billy Murray

S1E11 — Big Spender

The Smith brothers start running a parking ticket scam and regan is attracted by the large sums of money being spent by the mobsters.

Guest stars : Warren Mitchell, Catherine Schell

S1E12  — Contact Breaker

Regan works to clear convict on parole Danny Keever after he is framed in a bank heist.

Guest stars : Warren Clarke (Poldark, A clockwork orange)

S1E13 — Abduction

We learn that Regan has an ex-wife and a young daughter. A gang kidnapps the daughter and blackmail Regan to do nothing regarding an up-coming robbery.

Guest stars : Stuart Wilson (DI Ken Knowles also Jimmy Knox in episode Latin Lady S4E12)

Season 2

S2E1 — Chalk & Cheese

Toffs Giles and Carrie rope in an accomplice of a lower class, Tommy who is in love with Carrie. They plan and commit highway robberies in quiet lanes. Carter knows Tommy from the past and suspects but once Regan catches with Carrie and she refuses to co-operate, Giles and Tommy are on a job that ends in the death of the victim.

Guest stars: Lesley-Anne Down (Caroline Selhurst), David Lodge (Pop Garett)

S2E2 — Faces

A gang are robbing wages vans and Carter’s informant names Tober. Tober in turn is working for a German terrorist who is raising funds. Regan and the Superintendant want to nick the gang but the Secret Service wants to catch bigger fish.

Guest stars: Colin Welland (Z Cars)

S2E3 — Supersnout

Haskins is in Toronto and stand-in Quirk wants to round off a long career with the capture of what he believes is a gang that have been robbing Post Offices over the years. Quirk relies on his informant but Regan’s snitch Joey Stickley is more involved than given credit for and feeds Quirk’s informant false info to settle an old score and the sting therefore is a failure.

Guest stars: Bill Maynard (Quirk), Carl Duering (A Clockwork Orange)

S2E4  — Big Brother

The younger brother of criminal Phil Deacon is arrested and ends up in hospital with renal damage. Phil puts a contract on Regan and the clock is ticking for Regan to clear his name. Michael Robbins unfortunately contributes little more than a cameo.

Guest stars: Michael Robbins (On the buses), John Clive

S2E5 — Hit & Run

Straightforward story. Carter’s wife is killed in a hit and run which Carter learns was a case of mistaken identity. When the French teacher goes on the run, the Sweeney close down the guilty mob.

Guest stars: Michael Sheard (Auf Wiedershen Pet)

S2E6 — Trap

Regan is set up for corruption for the Golden Maid dairy robbery years back. The accuser Noah is one time aquaintance of Reagan’s who is framing him for money to look after his mother. Regan works to clear his name and finds answers from mini-cab boss Manny Bellow.

Guest stars: Bernard Kay (Doctor Zhivago)

S2E7 — Golden Fleece

Two Australian louts and a woman from New Zealand set up cover jobs. The woman is working for a gold dealer and over six months has provided the louts with client information of who has bought Kruger Rands, leading to eleven home robberies. Part of the process was to set up Haskins who is temporarily suspended.

Guest stars: Nicholas Smith (Are you being served)

S2E8 — Poppy

Introduction of a Mark1 Triumph 2000 and the best car chasing yet across an airfield. A robber Vic Labbett stowed the cash from a robbery and fled the country. He returns for the money, but Regan catches up with him at the airfield.

Guest stars:

S2E9 — Stay Lucky. Eh?

In the background is an invitation to leave the force, meanwhile a group of villains are themselves robbed following a job and the hunt is on to find the unknown thief and a shoot out finale in a theatre.

Guest stars: Peter Vaughan (Jamaica Inn), John Challis (Boycie)

S2E10 — Trojan Bus

The Australian Kruger Rand villains that escaped in Golden Fleece return to London for an art theft, again using a female accomplice. They steal a bus to entrap an art dealer carrying a Goya painting. A river chase leads to a shoot out near the Tower of London.

Guest stars: Lynds Bellingham (Nancy King, also in the movie Sweeney! (1977))

S2E11 — I Want The Man!

Villain Frankie Little wants to go straight but is blackmailed into compliance by Maynard under threat of harming Frankie’s daughter and grandson. Reagan latches on to Frankie through informant Popeye, but when Popeye is taken hostage by Maynard, Regan pushes Frankie to be in on the next robbery but Frankie is himself kept on a leash and the only clue he can get to Regan is ‘Old Readies’.

Guest stars: Roy Kinnear (Frankie Little), Michael Coles (Maynard – also in the movie Sweeney! (1977))

S2E12  — Country Boy

Police telephony expert DS. David Keel is brought from Bristol to aid Regan’s team when multiple bank alarms are triggered but nothing happens. They learn it is a dry run for the real thing from a forced accomplice Ronald Peters and leave him in situ awaiting the gang’s return on the day of the actual robbery.

Guest stars: Christine Shaw (Kathy Peters – was also in a previous episode Money, Money, Money as Mrs Norris.)

S2E13 — Thou Shalt Not Kill

Regan’s team arrive at an active bank robbery where a shootout takes several on each side. Killers Wands and Monks are inside with hostages. Haskins turns up to take control but his hesitation allows the robbers to get away with their hostages, to Regan’s disgust.

Guest stars: Ronald Lacey (Zuly Dawn, Firefox),Harriet Philpin (Dr Who)

Season 3

S3E1 — Selected Target

Two cell mates Oates and Kibber plan a robbery for when they are released. They appear to be enemies on the outside and Regan suspects Kibber may have killed Oates, but the diversion is all part of the plan. The sky blue Triumph 2000 returns from episode ‘poppy’ but it appears to have changed from a mark 1 to a mark 2.

Guest stars: Lee Montague, Maureen Lipman, Bill Treacher

S3E2 — In From The Cold

Regan is confronted once more with one of the gang responsible for a past shooting of a police officer, Billy Medhurst. Haskins attempts to get Regan not to make it personal. Medhurst fakes his death but his corrupt lawyer eventually gives the game away.

Guest stars: Maureen Sweeney, Lewis Fiander (Sweeney 2 (1978) Gorran)

S3E3 — Visiting Fireman

A Turkish policeman Captain Shebbeq, a friend of Regan, comes to England following a case of gold-smuggling connected to an insurance broker Regan takes Shebbeg’s car and narrowly escapes a car bomb planted for Shebbeg.

Guest stars: Nadim Sawalha (Shebbeg – Murphy’s Law), Katya Wyeth (Clockwork Orange)

S3E4  — Tomorrow Man

Regan comes up against a computer programmer Tony Gray and enlists a female agent. Gray wants to ruin former business partner Dennis Longfield and rob gold bullion by diverting the courier. Regan is confused by a doppleganger but eventually the squad get to the bottom of things.

Guest stars: John Hurt (character actor), George Cole (Minder), Keith Ashton (Massey – also in Sweeney (1974))

S3E5 — Taste Of Fear

A new DS from Bristol, Robert Hargreaves, joins Regan’s team. Hargreaves has a problem with confrontation and bails out on a couple of assignments forcing Regan to tell Haskins. In the meantime a robber and murderer is caught.

Guest stars: Arthur English (Tug), George Sweeney (Citizen Smith (Speed)), Norman Eshley (George & Mildred)

S3E6 — Bad Apple

Haskins, Regan and Carter move to another jurisdiction to trap two coppers on the take. Regan poses as an ex-con and gets bar work at a pub paying £50 a week to the bent coppers. The team use marked notes to set them up.

Guest stars: John Lyons (A touch of Frost -also in Sweeney 2 (1978) Mead)

S3E7 — May

An acquantance of Regan’s, May calls him when her son gets into bother and goes on the run. Regan must find him and unravel the mess he’s got himself into with some nasty characters.

Guest stars: Karl Howman (Brush strokes)

S3E8 — Sweet Smell Of Succession

When Joe Castle dies suddenly the neighbouring mobs fight for control of his protection racket. However they do not count on Castles estranged son Steven to take over the family business. Steven demonstrates remarkable skill in setting the mob and the Flying Squad at each other.

Guest stars: Hywel Bennett (Shelley (James Shelley)

S3E9 — Down To You. Brother!

Regan stands in at a stag party for Haskins and bumps into ex-criminal Raymond Meadows, seemingly on the straight. He attempts to lead Regan into investigating his daughter’s criminal boyfriend Dougie Owen, but Dougie messes up when he tries to incriminate daughter Debbie a robbery.

Guest stars: Simon Callow (character actor)

S3E10 — Pay Off

Carter meets a girl at a club, Shirley Glass, but it turns out she is more interested in using his policing to locate her ex-partner Eddie, who has been missing for a year and she suspects may have been murdered. Shirley’s gangster boss Arnold Drake is drawn out into the open for the Flying Squad to catch before they kill Carter and Shirley.

Guest stars: David Allison (also plays Dutchman in episode Nightmare (1978))

S3E11 — Loving Arms

Engineer Fred Booth has a sick wife and needs cash fast. He comes across villain Artie Ward who pays him to make toy replica guns, but they are not replicas and the local youths are using them in robberies. When a policeman is killed, Reagan and the team shift up gears to locate the maker and seller.

Guest stars: Clifford Kershaw (also in Sweeney 2 (1978) – Gloria’s father)

S3E12  — Lady Luck

In a chance encounter Marcia Edmunds finds Regan and uses him to put away her criminal husband by supplying Regan with details of the robbers. The petty romance between Regan and Marcia is never convincing and this episode relies on support from Carter and Haskins and a common plot of a manhunt leading to a shoot out.

Guest stars: Moira Redmond (Marcia (A shot in the dark (1964) – Simone)), Peggy Bullock (old lady, also the old lady in episode Hard Men (1978))

S3E13 — On The Run

Violent criminal Tim Cook is sprung from custody by ex-cellmate Ian Pinder. Pinder houses him in the house of a former Justice of the Peace who has taken Pinder under his wing. But Cook is crazy, beats up the JP and goes on the run leading to another predictable manhunt with a shoot out.

Guest stars: George Sweeney (Tim Cook – also played Tim Cook in previous episode Taste of Fear (1976))

Season 4

S4E1 — Messenger oF The Gods

The Sweeney investigate a haul of missing mercury which leads to a minor criminal Lukey Sparrow, but Sparrow has an alibi until Regan breaks it. Regan apprehends him on Sparrow’s wedding day just in the nick of time before the mercury robbers get to him suspecting Sparrow of grassing them.

Guest stars: Diana Dors (Mrs Rix), Michael Tarn (A clockwork orange (1971) – Pete)

S4E2 — Hard Men

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S4E3 — Drag Act

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S4E4  — Trust Red

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S4E5 — Nightmare

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S4E6 — Money, Money, Money

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S4E7 — Bait

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S4E8 — Sweet Smell Of Succession

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S4E9 — Feet Of Clay

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S4E10 — One Of Your Own

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S4E11 — Hearts And Minds

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S4E12  — Latin Lady

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S4E13 — Victims

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S4E12  — Jack Or Knave

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