The Cops (British TV series)

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The Cops
Also known asStanton Blues
GenrePolice procedural
Created by
  • Jimmy Gardner
  • Robert Jones
  • Anita J. Pandolfo
Directed by
  • Harry Bradbeer
  • Alrick Riley
  • Kenneth Glenaan
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes24 (list of episodes)
Executive producerTony Garnett
ProducerEric Coulter
Production locationsBolton, Greater Manchester, England
CinematographyMark Waters
  • Paul Endacott
  • Colin Monie
  • Liana Del Giudice
Running time50 minutes
Production companyWorld Productions
DistributorContender Entertainment
Original networkBBC Two
Picture format14:9 (576i)
Audio formatStereo
Original release19 October 1998 (1998-10-19) –

11 April 2001 (2001-04-11)

The Cops is a British television police procedural drama series created by Jimmy Gardner, Robert Jones, and Anita J. Pandolfo, that first broadcast on BBC Two on 19 October 1998.[1] Produced by World Productions, the series follows the lives of one shift of uniform officers based at Christie Road Police Station in the fictional town of Stanton, Greater Manchester. Billed as another attempt by the BBC to rival The Bill,[2] the series was notable for its documentary-style camerawork and uncompromising portrayal of the police force. Although the series featured a number of notable actors across three series, Katy Cavanagh, Rob Dixon, and John Henshaw remained as the principal cast throughout.[3]

The series was primarily filmed in Bolton, Greater Manchester. The first series was so controversial in its depiction of the police force that official police advice was withdrawn before the second series went into production.[4] A total of twenty-four episodes were broadcast across three series, although the third series saw a slight change in the series format, featuring three two-part episodes each loosely tied together with an ongoing story arc.[5] Although the second series attracted strong viewing figures and critical acclaim, resulting in the commission of a third series, creator Robert Jones later confirmed that the third series was written as a way of 'bringing The Cops to a close', with the final episode broadcast on 11 April 2001.[6]

The first series was released on VHS on 24 January 2000, available as four individual volumes or as a complete box set.[2] Both the second and third series remain commercially unreleased. All three series received a single re-run on UKTV Drama in the early 2000s, although have not been repeated since.


The programme won back-to-back British Academy Television Awards in the Best Drama Series category in 1999 and 2000, and was nominated for a third time in 2001, narrowly losing out to Clocking Off.[4] Gordon Beverage, writing for the official 2000 BAFTA magazine, wrote; "All it took was a line of coke and the nation was hooked. It was a masterstroke from one of British television’s most successful directors, but then that’s what we’ve come to expect from Tony Garnett."[4]

"Who else would have the nerve and ingenuity to kick-off a new police drama with a WPC snorting Class A in a toilet cubicle? Dixon of Dock Green it definitely isn’t, much to the chagrin of the duty office, not to mention the numerous members of the force who had hoped for something a little less provocative with The Cops. But pulling punches is not Tony’s style."[4]

Critical reception was also extremely positive, with Mark Walker for Amazon writing; "It's grim up North for the cops in The Cops. Bolton, Lancashire (sic) doubles for the fictional Northern town of Stanton; Bolton's not such a bad place in reality, but here it looks like war-torn Beirut. Unlike their soft Southern counterparts, the cops in Stanton swear copiously, get involved in fistfights and generally behave badly. Little wonder when you contemplate the grim reality of their daily round among all the "dirty, thieving, lying scumbags" they have to deal with."[2]

"This is soap opera masquerading as documentary, shot in subjective fly-on-the-wall fashion and with semi-improvised dialogue that enhances the documentary feel. There's no hummable theme tune and every episode leaps without preamble in media res into the thick of the action. The result is a show with all the character-driven tension of a soap combined with the voyeurism and unpredictability of docudrama. It's an original combination that makes for compulsive viewing."[2]


  • Katy Cavanagh as PC Mel Draper
  • Rob Dixon as Sgt. Edward Giffen
  • John Henshaw as PC Roy Brammell
  • Clare McGlinn as PC Natalie Metcalf
  • Steve Jackson as PC Mike Thompson (Series 1—2)
  • Jack Mardsen as PC Danny Rylands (Series 1—2)
  • Danny Seward as PC Dean Wishaw
  • Parvez Qadir as PC Jaz Shundara
  • Steve Garti as PC Colin Jellicoe
  • Mark Chatterton as Ch. Insp. Newland
  • David Crellin as DS Alan Wakefield
  • Ken Kitson as Insp. Stowe
  • Paulette Williams as PC Amanda Kennett (Series 2)
  • Kitty Simpson as PC Karen McQuire (Series 3)
  • Michael McNally as PC John Martin (Series 3)
  • Sue Cleaver as Duty Sgt. Standish (Series 1)
  • David Prosho as Duty Sgt. Michaelson (Series 2—3)
  • Margaret Blakemore as Cindy, CAD Operator
  • Mark Benson as SOCO Joe Smail


Series 1 (1998)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Potshots"Jimmy GardnerHarry Bradbeer6.0319 October 1998 (1998-10-19)
PC Draper, hung-over and worse for wear following a night out with her mates, is called to investigate a suspicious death following complaints from a neighbour who notices a foul stench coming from the flat above. PC Bramell is out to catch a local scroat responsible for the death of Stanton's former sergeant, and in the process, turns over a local drug peddler being groomed by PC Rylands to become an informant. PC Shundara investigates a case of criminal damage involving members of the Asian community.
2"Wasted"Robert JonesHarry Bradbeer4.2426 October 1998 (1998-10-26)
Sgt. Giffen attempts to reason with a suicidal man threatening to jump from the roof of a department store. PC Rylands finds himself engaging in a bizarre sex game brought on by the excitement provoked by his police uniform. Whilst on a routine hospital enquiry, PC Draper encounters a former schoolmate who has been beaten by a gang of thugs. PCs Metcalf and Thompson deal with a gang of youths targeting a young boy with learning disabilities, and PC Metcalf discovers the gang leader's father is former associate.
3"Swinging Hammers"Anita J. PandolfoHarry Bradbeer3.532 November 1998 (1998-11-02)
PC Draper is disturbed when she meets some of her friends whilst in uniform - and they are obviously uncomfortable about being seen with her. PC Jellicoe ends up in trouble again after reversing into a minibus full of women on a hen night. PC Wishaw is reprimanded by Sgt. Giffen for losing two radios. Roy tries to help out a young rent boy being mugged off by his punters. PCs Thompson and Metcalf find themselves becoming target practice after being recruited as backup for a sting organised by DS Wakefield.
4"Sticks and Stones"Jimmy GardnerAlrick Riley3.519 November 1998 (1998-11-09)
PCs Rylands and Brammell visit a former burglar on a curfew and find a house full of potential stolen goods. DS Wakefield pressures PCs Thompson and Metcalf into taking part in an ID parade. PC Thompson takes pity on a man accused of beating his wife. PC Shundara takes on a second job as a cab driver but is forced to keep his cool when one of his first fares turns out to be a drunken Stowe and Newland. PC Thompson becomes morose on his stag night when he realises the depth of his feelings for PC Metcalf.
5"Fall Out"Anita J. PandolfoAlrick Riley3.2316 November 1998 (1998-11-16)
PC Metcalf is called to a store selling baby goods where a heavily pregnant woman has been caught on camera stealing a pram. PC Wishaw spends his shift eyeing up pontential new cars. PC Jellicoe becomes the butt of everyone's joke after being bitten by a stray Border Collie outside a local shop. Meanwhile, PC Rylands, distracted by events in his love life, is called to investigate an alleged missing child. The child's father fears that his daughter is in danger after she is not returned by his ex-wife - a suspicion that is later confirmed.
6"Top of the Game"Stephen BradyAlrick Riley3.2923 November 1998 (1998-11-23)
PCs Draper and Shundara are in trouble. Draper has not performed particularly well during her probationary period, and Sgt. Giffen is given the go-ahead to sack her if the need arises. Shundara attends a theft at a corner shop. He recognises the assailant and refuses to chase him down the street. The Asian shopkeeper is not happy and vows to file a complaint. PC Wishaw responds to a disturbance on the Skeetsmoor Estate and gets a serious beating. Despite four radio calls for help, no one goes to his assistance.
7"Culminate"James QuirkHarry Bradbeer3.3730 November 1998 (1998-11-30)
PCs Draper and Shundera are fooled by a burglar who claims they have answered a false alarm. PC Brammell allows a man who defends a shopkeeper by punching a youth to go free. PC Rylands returns to work, but concerns are raised about his welfare. PC Wishaw refuses to speak to PC Jellicoe. PC Thompson is the victim of a vicious burglarly. Sgt. Giffen reprimands PC Brammell for unofficial use of the divisional van. PC Metcalf unknowingly arrests arch nemesis Skillet on an outdated warrant, which ends in tragedy.
8"Walking Disaster"Robert JonesHarry Bradbeer2.827 December 1998 (1998-12-07)
Tensions on the Skeetsmore estate are running high following the death of Brian Skillet. PC Rylands is forced to attend mediation with the father of the young girl he failed to save. Ch. Insp. Newland rebuffs Sgt. Giffen's complaint against PC Brammell and orders the division to pull together. PC Wishaw causes further trouble by winding up mourners heading to Skillet's funeral, leading to an ambush which leaves PC Jellicoe vulnerable. Tensions boil over when a deranged PC Rylands offers his condolences to Skillet's family.

Series 2 (1999)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Viewers
Original airdate
1"Walking the Line"Robert JonesHarry Bradbeer3.1911 October 1999 (1999-10-11)
DS Wakefield decides to wreak havoc with PC Draper's mind after finding a small quantity of dope in her bedroom - and using it as a blackmail tool rather than declaring it.
2"Taking Liberties"Jimmy GardnerHarry Bradbeer2.7518 October 1999 (1999-10-18)
PCs Bramwell and Wishaw have a difficult time trying to track down a youth who has jumped bail.
3"Fallen Angels"Stephen BradyHarry Bradbeer2.2825 October 1999 (1999-10-25)
PC Rylands must face interrogation by psychiatrists to determine whether or not he is fit to return to work. PCs Jellicoe and Thompson disagree over detaining an elderly drunk for his own safety.
4"The Long Game"Steve LawsonAlrick Riley2.471 November 1999 (1999-11-01)
Sgt. Giffen wants to take action against a group of local dealers targeting the Skeetsmoor estate, but Ch. Insp. Newlands refuses him manpower and asks him to play the long game.
5"War of Words"Robert JonesAlrick Riley2.188 November 1999 (1999-11-08)
PC Draper is forced to monitor the situation on the Skeetsmoor estate following Debbie Sharpe's funeral, but when word gets round that Reynolds has been bailed, a full-scale riot threatens to break out.
6"Clifftop"Jane EnglishKenneth Gleenan2.6315 November 1999 (1999-11-15)
PC Draper is accused of 'going native', but has other problems to deal with when she is asked to investigate a known sex offender who has been seen liaising with a 14-year-old girl.
7"Ignorance and Suggestion"Stephen BradyKenneth Gleenan2.5122 November 1999 (1999-11-22)
Sgt. Giffin is forced to deal with an irate ex-inspector whose wallet has been stolen, while PCs Bramwell and Wishaw discover that PC Shundara has been moonlighting as a cab driver.
8"Deep Water"Robert JonesKenneth Gleenan2.5329 November 1999 (1999-11-29)
Sgt. Giffin is suspended following allegations made by PC Kennett. PC Draper goes undercover to catch a flasher that's been seen stalking young women in the local park.
9"Hemorrhage"Jane EnglishAlrick Riley2.756 December 1999 (1999-12-06)
PC Draper is caught out when she arrives, plain-clothed, at the scene of Reynolds' house being trashed, but then tries to cover her tracks to avoid having to identify the culprits.
10"An Act of Revenge"Jimmy GardnerAlrick Riley2.5913 December 1999 (1999-12-13)
PC Bramwell is brutally attacked in an act of revenge. PC Shundara investigates the assault on Karim Ifraz and discovers that one of his fellow colleagues may be involved - or even responsible. Ellen goes into hospital.

Series 3 (2000—2001)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1"Distance (Part 1)"Kath MattockKenneth Gleenan18 September 2000 (2000-09-18)
On the morning after the party celebrating her promotion, Natalie finds herself waking up next to Sergeant Giffen. However, more serious concerns soon come to the fore with the case of a pregnant runaway teenager. Meanwhile, with his wife critical in hospital, Roy has gone without sleep, and finds his career is in tatters.
2"Distance (Part 2)"Kath MattockKenneth Gleenan19 September 2000 (2000-09-19)
Dean and his brother, Colin, are the victims of an unprovoked attack, and Roy is called in to try to find the perpetrators. Metcalf is anxious to find a pregnant fifteen-year-old runaway.
3"All Work and No Play (Part 1)"Stephen BradyAlrick Riley21 March 2001 (2001-03-21)
Mel and Roy are called to an assault at the home of a notorious drug dealer. As it becomes clear that there's a split in the family, Giffen and Wakefield decide to work together to get a result. Giffen also deals with an unusual burglary.
4"All Work and No Play (Part 2)"Stephen BradyAlrick Riley28 March 2001 (2001-03-28)
As Giffen, Wakefield and Newland continue their investigation into a notorious drug-dealing family, they are placed in a tight corner regarding a suicide and its potentially damaging consequences.
5"Small Mercies (Part 1)"Robert JonesKenneth Gleenan4 April 2001 (2001-04-04)
Roy struggles to deal with the death of his wife, but the situation becomes even more complicated when he is forced to assist in the eviction of her first husband's sister. Mel's bravery in a dangerous situation surprises herself.
6"Small Mercies (Part 2)"Robert JonesKenneth Gleenan11 April 2001 (2001-04-11)
Mel gets too involved as she tries to establish the motive behind Shona Molloy's attack on a student. Metcalf deals with a disturbed teenager arrested the day before. Roy investigates a domestic which turns out to be rather unusual, and lays some family ghosts to rest.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "The Cops: Box Set [VHS]". Amazon. 24 January 2000. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c d "The Beat Goes On - BAFTA 2000 Magazine". Tony Garnett. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Weekly Top 30 Programmes". BARB. Retrieved 3 October 2018.

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