Ray Winstone in The Sweeney Film

Ray Winstone in The Sweeney Film

With The Sweeney hitting the cinema screens yesterday, FemaleFirst’s looked back at the history of the renegade bobby.

They’ve been on TV for as long as police shows have. From John Thaw’s Jack Regan in The Sweeney to Trevor Eve’s  Peter Boyd in Waking The Dead, we’ve fallen in love time and time again with the detective who won’t let the red tape stop them getting to the truth.

It all really started with The Sweeney, a fantastic forbearer of what police shows were to become. Centring on a pair of officer’s from London’s elite ‘Flying Squad’ unit who only dealt with serious crimes and robberies, the show wasn’t in the market for pulling punches, with its main character Jack Regan rarely coming over as anything but a multitude of grey shades. Disregarding protocol at the drop of a hat and quick with his fists, he was nearly as nasty as the crims he was chasing.

The late seventies also saw The Professionals coming to British TV, again showing us a group of lawmen willing to bend the rules to their breaking point.

Over the years, detective shows have begun to centre on detectives riddled with guilt and dedicated to their jobs to the point of destruction. To hell with the rules, they want results!

From Cracker and Taggart to Life on Mar’s Gene Hunt, TV’s most beloved coppers have smoked, drank and terrified poor suspects for years, all in the name of getting the right person behind bars.

Over the last few years though, they’ve grown even more bonkers, reaching their absolute extreme in the form of BBC’s Luther. Almost constantly shouting, flouting rules at every turn and never giving a damn about anything but the case, he’s an absolute whirlwind.

It’s not just a UK thing either, with the US providing just as brilliant examples of lawmen going outside of the law. They may be just as dirty and corrupt as the criminal’s they’re trying to catch like Vic Mackey in The Shield, maniacal and purposeful like Jack Bauer in 24 or just plain murderers themselves like Dexter’s titular detective, but the US love a bad cop maybe even more than the Brits do.

With another series of Luther planned for next year, we’re not going to be losing those crazed interrogations any time soon.

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith


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