Inspector George Gently

8:30pm Sunday 16 September on BBC ONE

It is now four years since George Gently came north, and four long years since the death of his wife. His work for the Met through the Fifties and Sixties made him many enemies – not only among the criminals he put away, but also among some of his ex-colleagues and the criminals whose interests had become synonymous with them.

The seismic forces that displaced him in 1964 are once more active – and have followed him to Durham. Underworld figure, Rattigan, who Gently sent down all those years ago, has been cleared on the grounds that evidence was fabricated by Gently himself, and now he is hell-bent on revenge.

Donald MgHee (Kevin Whately), Gently’s friend and colleague from the Met, appears on the scene – but can Gently trust him?

Bacchus is torn between his loyalty to Gently and his ambition to make it to the Met. Gently finds himself suspended from duty – powerless, unprotected and persecuted. If he is to survive, Gently must confront his deepest fears and fight to the death.

Ep 4/4

8:30pm Sunday 9 September on BBC ONE

The adopted child of a middle-class couple is kidnapped. Suspicion initially falls upon the natural mother – did she ‘steal’ her own baby back?

It’s 1968 and the Abortion Act of 1967 is yet to be implemented. The number of pre-marital pregnancies has rocketed since the end of the war and the number of babies being adopted peaks at 28,000.

?The shame of illegitimacy still burns the cheeks of single mothers and their families who often force their unmarried daughters into ‘Mother and Baby homes’ to conceal their dirty secret. Here, the emphasis is placed on getting the babies adopted into married homes whilst providing a moral education for these fallen women.

For some girls it offers an opportunity to return to their old lives uninterrupted, hopes and dreams intact. For others, the pain of having to give up their child is unbearable; their suffering is a life sentence, and for the childless couples who have long yearned for a baby, it offers them the opportunity to finally become a ‘proper’ family.

Inspector George Gently and his sergeant, John Bacchus, are given an insight into the complexities of this emotionally-wrought world when the adopted child of a middle-class couple is kidnapped.

Suspicion initially falls upon the natural mother – did she ‘steal’ her own baby back? But investigations into the Mother and Baby home itself reveals a much darker side to this hothouse of morality and raises questions as to how far this seemingly perfect couple is prepared to go to get a child.

Ep 3/4

8:30pm Sunday 2 September on BBC ONE

It’s 1968 and the social landscape of the western world is being shaken to its core. In Paris, riots rage as workers and students take to the streets. In the US thousands rally against the Vietnam War, and in England antipathy for the upper class’s outmoded social mores and abuse of privilege is growing by the day.

The indefatigable Chief Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw) and his sidekick, John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) experience the inflated authority of their ‘social betters’ firsthand when a beautiful young girl called Ellen Mallam (Ebony Buckle) is found dead in the passenger seat of an upturned car registered to local aristocrats the Blackstone family.

When it becomes clear that the driver of the car left Ellen to drown in the river in which the car was submerged, Gently and Bacchus must untangle a web of secrets to get to the truth.

Free-spirited Ellen represented a challenge to the Establishment, beguiling the sensitive heir-apparent James Blackstone with promises of a beautiful world outside his gilded cage. But James’ mother, Alethea (Geraldine Somerville) has planned her son’s future from the moment he was born and refuses to be defeated. Only her son’s death can stop her in her tracks.

Bacchus is convinced they are on the brink of a brave new world in which the aristocracy’s days are numbered. But as the investigation takes an astonishing turn, Gently is unsurprised to find the hegemony of the ruling class is as unshaken and as impenetrable as ever.

Ep 2/4

8:30pm Sunday 26 August on BBC ONE

It’s 1968 and the racial unrest sweeping the United States has reached British shores, with the National Front launching a tirade against immigration and “multiculturalists’ policies”.

But racial harmony can be found at the all-nighters, where disillusioned young people, black and white, escape the boredom of factory life to dance the night away to obscure soul music. In Newcastle, the haven of equality found at the Carlton all-nighter is destroyed when a young black girl Dolores Kenny (Pippa Bennett-Warner) is murdered.

Chief Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw) soon uncovers a disturbing and malevolent racist undercurrent lurking both within the local community and his own police force.

Set against the backdrop of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Gently and Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) have their eyes opened to the shocking consequences of casual racism, as racial tension spirals out of control, leaving a path of destroyed friendships, love affairs and families in its wake.

Refusing to let deep-seated prejudices cloud their vision, Gently and Bacchus work tirelessly to unmask how Dolores died.

Ep 1/4

8:30pm Sunday 4 September on BBC ONE

It’s 1966 and the world is changing fast as Martin Shaw returns as one of the unsung heroes of detective fiction

The Beatles took the world and America by storm and Beatlemania went into overdrive as the band released a series of number one hits, including I Want To Hold Your Hand and All My Loving. Their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, is released.

The abolition of the death penalty in the UK.

Easter outbreak of Mods and Rockers fights at British seaside resorts.

The first pirate radio station, Radio Caroline, is established.

Top Of The Pops premieres on BBC television.

General Election: Labour Party defeats the Conservatives, ending 13 years of Conservative Party rule. Harold Wilson becomes Prime Minister, replacing Alec Douglas-Home.

Play School launches the UK’s third television channel, BBC Two.

A missing persons investigation is launched in Fallowfield, Manchester, as police search for 12-year-old Keith Bennett (17/6). Police launch another search after 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey goes missing in Ancoats, Manchester (26/12).

The Sun newspaper is published in the United Kingdom for the first time.

Seven of the Great Train Robbers are sentenced to 30 years each for their role in the 1963 robbery.

Forth Road Bridge opens over the Firth of Forth, linking Fife and Edinburgh.

Nelson Mandela and seven others are sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa.

Cassius Clay won the Boxing World heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston.

Other British groups finding success include The Rolling Stones and The Animals; plus American talent The Supremes and Bob Dylan. Many say this was one of the greatest years for music in the last century.

The British and French Governments announce their commitment to build a tunnel under the English Channel.

Popular films: Mary Poppins, The Carpetbaggers, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, My Fair Lady.

Books include: Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novel A Caribbean Mystery, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel You Only Live Twice and his children’s novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Bubble Wrap is invented in USA by Marc A Chavannes.

Births in 1964 included: Bill Bailey, Prince Edward (Earl of Wessex), Kathy Burke, Christopher Ecclestone, Shane Richie, Bonnie Langford and Armando Iannucci.

As an actor, Lee is a true chameleon. Recent television roles have included: Crooked House, A Place Of Execution, Rapunzel (when he played a female tennis star), Life On Mars, Wind In The Willows as Mole, Early Doors, Nicholas Nickleby as Smike, Spaced and Nature Boy.

Recent films include: Doghouse, Wintering, Hippie Hippie Shake, Harry Potter, Master And Commander, Borstal Boy and Ever After.

“I always thought that Bacchus must have seen Doctor No and thought, ‘I want to be that man – I want to be Sean Connery!’ I think that’s where he stands and that’s why he dresses how he does and drives his MG sports car. He likes the mod look, and sees pictures of The Kinks and the Rolling Stones and says ‘I’m having that hair do!’ Bacchus wants to go down to London where he thinks it’s all happening. He married young: he got together with the boss’s daughter, she got pregnant, they got married – that was just the way it was back then. He’s young and excited by his career.

“I don’t know if Bacchus and Gently are the perfect police partnership; it’s more a conflict of two very different minds and methods that makes them interesting. There are moments when they genuinely despair of each other! Bacchus was originally in awe of Gently as from the Yard and that’s the ladder he is so keen to climb. He wants to impress him and show him he’s capable and a better copper than Gently thinks he is. I do think Bacchus is a good copper but he jumps in feet first, goes on his instinct and is very impatient – and thinks ‘what’s wrong with a bit of a clout?’ With any sort of working relationships, there are moments that are fun, and they respect and look out for each other.

“London was the centre of the Swinging Sixties and by setting the series in the North East, it shows much more of the changes happening as it took time to filter up the country. Certainly attitudes were different, with a lot of small communities still – like the mill community in Gently Through The Mill. I feel that the series is embracing the change – the youth voice rather than the stiff upper-lipped Britain. It’s not that long ago really, but it’s fascinating remembering that (police) interviews weren’t taped, they were written down by hand and forensics, although established, were not what we know today: then it was just finger-print dusting.

“I love everything about the period, the cars are amazing and I love my character’s MG sport! As an actor, I don’t really need to try to recreate the Sixties, as it’s all there for you. Susan Scott (costume designer) has done a fantastic job and seeing the make-up and hair design, especially for the girls, it’s great. I love my costumes, and given the chance I’d buy all of my suits and shoes. The suits have been tailored for me and are really comfortable to wear. I’d be bang up for being able to walk out in a suit – the trouble is people would think I was living that character all the time!

“Some of the furniture on set’s been great. I loved the colourful white bubble chairs with red interior that you can sit cocooned in, on the set of the Rakes office (Gently In The Night). They were very retro and funky and would probably be worth a fortune now. I’m quite into retro-Sixties furniture and have some at home. I’ve still got a record player and still play vinyl; I think it sounds so much better than digital.  I also have an old dialling phone – but dialling 999 would have taken ages!

“I’m a Seventies child but I love the Sixties. I love The Stones, The Beatles and The Kinks. My dad was a Buddy Holly fan and The Beatles were highly influenced by him so guess that they would be my favourite group from the period. My body shape lends itself to the Sixties dress sense. I’d love to have lived back then. It seemed like an exciting time for change, music and fashion. But I couldn’t have lived without my contact lenses! I like the romance of not having computers but I do like the ease of having a mobile phone it’s almost impossible to imagine life without it. Funny isn’t it: it’s your keys, credit card and mobile phone – if you’ve got them you’re fine.

“We filmed Inspector George Gently on location in and around Dublin, which I’ve loved. At weekends I tended to stick around Dublin, it’s a good Saturday night out and there were so many pubs – I was trying to get through them all!”

One of England’s most popular actors for more than two decades, Martin is noted for his versatility. He has starred in more than 100 TV roles, his long TV career beginning in 1967 with Love On The Dole.

His theatrical career has been very distinguished with a string of West End successes, with the first revival of Look Back In Anger, and on Broadway as Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband which won him a Tony nomination and a Drama Desk award for Best Actor.

The Professionals was an international hit and, more recently, Martin has starred in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Always And Everyone, Judge John Deed and Apparitions.

He lives in a beautiful Quaker house (once owned by an ancestor of Abraham Lincoln) in Norfolk, with his wife, Vicky. He is a pilot, and owns and flies two vintage bi-planes.

“Bacchus and Gently’s relationship works, I guess, because we like each other as people, Lee and me – but I don’t know so much about Bacchus and Gently though! It comes out of who we are as people and a natural chemistry. So they then start writing the scripts with that in mind. Even though Gently comes from London, criminals are criminals wherever they are – just in a smaller place, with a slower pace of life.

“Setting the films in 1964, it’s nice to be driving the old cars again. You forget how much cars have changed and every place and set we’re in takes me back. I was 18 and at drama school in swinging London in ’64. My grant was £6 a week and there’s not a lot you can do to ‘swing around London’ with that! It paid rent for my bedsit, and at the end of the week I had to decide ‘do I have a pint or a pork pie?’ Entertainment or nourishment!

“Growing up in the Sixties, I think my main memory was obviously the Kennedy assassination. I heard it on the next-door neighbour’s radio, through the wall of my bedsit. I remember very distinctly, ‘First Abraham Lincoln, then President McKinley and now John F Kennedy’. Outside, the streets felt very different, and a lot of American students at my drama school were shell-shocked and wearing suits and black tie. It was a very shocking day.

“I was definitely a Beatles fan. In the Sixties you were either the Rolling Stones or The Beatles. In retrospect the Rolling Stones were the harder of the two but I liked the originality and narrative of The Beatles. For me the greatest year for music around then was about ’69 or ’70 when music was coming away from pure rock ‘n’ roll and blues and was becoming more experimental for singer-songwriters.

“My style back then was definitely the hip student style. A t-shirt, either plain white or black (no patterns), Levi jeans and desert boots – all very James Dean! It was before mods and rockers which hadn’t been thought of in ’64. I remember I did actually have a suit made for me by Burtons: it was an Edwardian gentleman’s suit, but not the teddy boy suit, and I wore it with Chelsea boots. It was this wonderful new material, which cost a bit more than the classic Royal Worsted – it was called Terolene! Costume-wise in Gently I want that green suit of Lee’s (Ingleby) that he wears as Bacchus! He looks great in it but I don’t think I’ll be wearing any of Gently’s again!

“Film-wise it was Lawrence Of Arabia (released in 1963) that made a big impression on me because it was a move away from the old-fashioned movies. I remember being absolutely enthralled when Omar Sharif came along on his camel and shoots Peter O’Toole’s guide through the head. It all happened in one shot: they talked while the dead man in the corner had blood seeping through his turban and down into the sand. I had a sense that that was what I’d been waiting to see: realism.

“Something that was ahead of its time in ’64 was the full-faced motorcycle helmet. Because I was riding a motorbike then, the coolest thing that you could aspire to was a motor-bike helmet that came down over your ears and had a visor! The guys on the track were starting to wear full-face masks and you just wished for one of them on the streets!

“And if I were to take something back to ’64 it would have to be one of my aeroplanes! I own two – so which one would I take? It would have to be my Boeing Stearman. Mainly because I’d be able to sell it and buy half of Chelsea!

“Policing doesn’t change that much. If there was such a thing as a police force in ancient Rome you’d find the same issues as 45 years ago and today. But social conventions have definitely changed. It was certainly more acceptable for a policeman to give someone a clip over the ear in ’64. The biggest difference is DNA profiling – now you can nab someone and there’s a billion-to-one chance of being wrong through DNA: but that depends on the crime scene not being contaminated.

“1964 saw the abolition of the death penalty and I don’t believe it should ever be re-introduced – for me it would be wrong. The problem and the judicial argument with the death penalty is that it gives us the same energy and identifies us as the same as the person who committed the crime in the first place. Every voter and every individual played a part in the killing. Secondly, I believe it was just not safe, with the number of mistakes that were made.

“The set and costume designs are so accurate it’s like being in a time machine whilst making the series. We filmed a scene in a road side cafe and the art department had put sweets in jars and unwrapped cakes on stands and things under Perspex covers on the counter, which I’d completely forgotten about. Stuff like that takes you right back. Memories come flooding back mostly when seeing products like cigarette cartons, bottles, adverts – things gone from your consciousness, it’s quite nostalgic. Everything now is pre-packed. These days you need to carry a knife around with you to open a pack of cheese!

“In the film Gently In The Night we have a boxing match that was a lot of fun to do. I’d done kick boxing before so was not a total stranger to dancing around but not for a few years – anno domini and the passage of time! After filming I was aching for the rest of the week! The boxing itself wasn’t too hard but to be hammering away at a punch bag on the same day – even the professionals only hammer for 30 minutes, and I was doing it for four to five hours, and trying to time it with script both intellectually and mentally as well – and the shoulder joints were painful! Plus the stress that Gently had been a boxer in the Army. My sense of inadequacy when the pro boxer (the guy who runs the boxing club where we filmed) showed me how hit the punch bag and he made it sound like a shot gun firing – I felt such a ‘wuss’!… and now I’m in the hands of the editor!”

Rinton, a small town in the North East of England, is shocked and outraged when, in the run up to the general election, the local mill manager, Patrick Fuller, is found hanging from the rafters. It looks like suicide, but Chief Inspector George Gently (Martin Shaw) and his side-kick Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) suspect foul play when Julie (Kate Heppell), the mill’s dolly-bird secretary (who catches Bacchus’ eye) confirms that there is money missing from the office safe.

With missing money, no suicide note and the rope tied off to a hoist, Gently speculates that it could be a murder, made to look like a suicide, and he quickly lines up several suspects amongst the mill workers: the lazy, insolent foreman Draper (Tom Goodman-Hill), who seems to have a massive chip on his shoulder about authority; his bete noir at the mill, the wayward, jittery mod, Jed Jimpson (Justin McDonald), who has his own personal demons to deal with; the miller, and best friend of the dead man, Henry Blythely (Nicholas Jones); and his much younger, fragile wife (Anne Hornby). Also, the strangely withdrawn Mrs Fuller (Julia Ford), the bitter widow, who accuses her husband of having a sordid affair.

And when forensics discover a lost earring and a snagged pieced of material that matches the dead man’s jacket, it seems as if the mill was indeed a hotbed of passion and intrigue.

The local Labour candidate for the election, Geoffrey Pershore (Tim McInnerny), and owner of the mill, seems particularly concerned about the missing contents of the safe; and when Bacchus discovers that the dead man was a Mason, Gently and Bacchus realize there is more to this case than meets the eye.

Bacchus suspects corruption, and that the Masons may be responsible for Fuller’s death. Gently thinks it’s a waste of time and tells him the Masons are impenetrable. But Bacchus goes against his orders, and tries to secretly infiltrate them. This puts further pressure on the already strained relationship between Gently and Bacchus, and, as Gently is unexpectedly drawn into Bacchus’ personal life, when Lisa Bacchus (Melanie Clark Pullen) turns up, it looks as if the partnership may not recover.

Blackmail, affairs, hush money, jealousy, politics and more murders are to come – before Gently and Bacchus can solve the case of Gently Through The Mill.

Behind the scenes on Gently Through The Mill:

This is the first time in Inspector George Gently that we actually get to meet Mrs John Bacchus, played by Melanie Clark Pullen. No stranger to BBC One, Melanie played Mary Flaherty in EastEnders for two years. This is not the young Irish actress’ first role playing a Geordie character: she played the lead in Dinner Of Herbs – opposite another guest star in this Inspector George Gently film, Tim Goodman-Hill.

The location for Gently Through The Mill is the disused Shackleton’s Mill just outside Dublin city in Lucan, on the banks of Dublin’s famous River Liffey.

Gently (Martin Shaw) and Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) are investigating a consignment of stolen passports. The case takes an unexpected turn when a young woman who worked at the passport office is found dead on the seashore. Maggie Alderton (Robyn Addison) was raped and strangled and her mixed race baby son had been left freezing, near to death, in his Moses basket next to the body.

When Gently and Bacchus speak to Maggie’s colleagues and family they learn of Maggie’s supposed affair with an unknown Arab man, whom they believed to be the baby’s father. Her family were already disappointed that she had a baby out of wedlock, but when they realised the father was an Arab, they disowned her out of disgust. Her colleagues seem to share the same view; and in her last months of her life Maggie was rejected by those closest to her.

Maggie was dating her childhood-sweetheart Jimmy Cochran (Andrew Lee Potts) at the time of the birth of her son. Maggie had always claimed Jimmy was the father of her child – and Gently discovers that the white Geordie lad was heart broken when he assumed Maggie’s mixed race child could not be his. Jimmy is the leader of a local gang and Gently suspects him of being involved in the passport scam.

The investigation takes Gently and Bacchus into the underground world of turf gangs, where Westernised Arab gang members Hamed (Tariq Jordan) and Rand (Jonathan Bonnici) oppose Jimmy’s gang for the monopoly on the fake passport business.

Gently In The Blood sees a disintegrating Arab community and a society where racism is fervent on both sides, in a country on the cusp of social change in the Sixties.

Sexual jealousy and racial hatred led to the death of this young woman, whose innocence and tolerance could not save her from the forces that surrounded her.

Behind the scenes on Gently In The Blood:

One stunt had to be re-scheduled due to the bad snowy weather and, by the time production could film it, the tide was out and the actors Andrew Lee Potts (Jimmy Cochran) and Tariq Jordan (Hamed) had to wrestle in the mud and not in the sea.

The exterior of the Shoreline club was a local dinghy sailing club – redressed to look like a Sixties bar and pool hall.

Jimmy’s gang (Andrew Lee Potts) are dressed as hard mods – pre-skinheads. Historically, their jeans had one inch turn-ups and were worn one inch above their shoes so that their favoured football team socks could be seen. Writer Peter Flannery is a life-long supporter of Sunderland FC, so the costume department ensured that Jimmy’s Gang wore Sunderland’s strip football socks – as a special surprise for Peter.

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