Liam Rudden: Our love affair with cop shows as strong as ever

Liam Rudden. Picture: Kenny Smith
Liam Rudden. Picture: Kenny Smith
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EVENIN’ all! From Dixon of Dock Green to Z Cars, The Bill to Cuffs, nothing beats a good old-fashioned cop show, the grittier the better.

The outcry when the BBC axed Cuffs, their recent well-recieved Brighton-set crime drama, after just one series, pays testament to that. There was even a #BringBackCuffs campaign on Twitter.

Red Rock

Red Rock

Fans embarked upon a similar crusade following the demise of The Bill, the long-running ITV series that made household names of characters like Sgt Bob Cryer, Sgt June Ackland and PC Reg Hollis as they trod the Sun Hill beat for 26 action-packed years.

Despite that, British TV has a love hate relationship with police procedurals.

Cuffs may have been banged up for good after just six episodes, but Glenn Chandler’s Glasgow set Taggart ran for 30 years - a world record - and even visited the Capital on occasion.

Likewise, The Bill might have boasted an astounding 2400 episodes, but the ill-fated Holby Blue lasted just two series and 20 episodes.

The BBC’s 1998 Liverpool 1, which starred EastEnders’ favourite Samantha Womack, Scot Williams, Mark Womack and Carry On legend Leslie Phillips, also lasted two series, but chalked up just 12 episodes - all of which are set to be released on DVD on 25 July - such is our craving for a good cop show, it would seem.

Next week, a new relief of coppers comes to BBC One, or guards to be exact - Irish police officers.

Red Rock, Ireland’s answer to The Bill, is now in its third series in its homeland.

Made by TV3, it’s billed as ‘a continuing drama based around a busy Garda station, charting the life and dramas of a community through the eyes of those who police it.’

Sound familiar?

The series debuts on BBC One on Monday, running weekdays at 1.45pm, and thinking about it, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover the BBC had Red Rock on its radar when Cuffs was dropped from schedules - it’s cheaper to buy in drama than to make it, after all.

That said, a sneak preview of the first two episodes reveals Red Rock to be compelling stuff.

Set in the fictional Dublin seaside suburb of Red Rock, the action centres around the local Garda Station and two feuding families, The Kielys and the Hennessys.

Like Cuffs, the mix of police work and private lives is a winner that manages to err on this side of being a soap.

The drama opens with the discovery of Darren, one of the Kiely boys, badly injured after an assault, and it’s not long before warring families are up in arms with the cops trying to keep the peace as tensions grow.

Like all good cop shows, those upholding the law are as troubled, and at times as downright dysfunctional as the criminals they’re charged with bringing to justice.

With no punches pulled, and dark, gritty story lines ahead Red Rock is set to be compulsive viewing.

Don’t be surprised if, before long, Garda Paudge Brennan and Garda Sharon Cleere are right up there with Dixon and Cryer.