‘You’re Nicked!’ The Sweeney and Crime Drama in British Film and Television

Printable version Friday 14 September 2012 Last updated at 15:53

Registration is open for ‘You’re Nicked!’ The Sweeney and Crime Drama in British Film and Television a symposium at UEA on Friday 21st September 2012

 

This one-day symposium celebrates a classic British television crime drama just as the new film adaptation arrives in British cinemas. The Sweeney (2012), directed by British enfant terrible auteur Nick Love, and starring Ray Winstone and Ben Drew (Plan B), demonstrates the enduring nostalgia and cultural appeal of the series, almost four decades after its debut.

 

The Sweeney (ITV, 1975-78) has long been hailed as a revision and revitalisation of the British television crime drama. Created by Ian Kennedy Martin, and produced by Euston Films (the film arm of Thames Television), the series focused on the London Metropolitan Police’s ‘Flying Squad’. Despite (or perhaps because of) the series’ brutality and violence, Detective Inspector Jack Regan (John Thaw) and Detective Sergeant George Carter (Dennis Waterman) became part of popular 1970s British culture, appearing in four series and two films (Sweeney!, 1977; Sweeney 2, 1978).

 

Known for its action sequences, extensive location filming, claims to realism, and often brutal portrayal of its central characters, The Sweeney broke away from and responded to safer police procedurals such as Dixon of Dock Green(BBC, 1955-76) and Z-Cars (BBC, 1962-78); while later productions including The Professionals (ITV, 1977-83) and Dempsey and Makepeace (ITV, 1984-86) are a visible response to its success.

 

Although The Sweeney fell out of fashion during the 80s and 90s, the convergence of lad culture and post-feminism in contemporary Britain has renewed its appeal: catchphrases and behaviour are used and cited well into the 21stcentury, while series-based merchandise and newer productions such as Life on Mars (BBC, 2006-07) draw on the nostalgic appeal of the central protagonists.

 

This one-day symposium is the first attempt to celebrate the success of this key television text, assess its legacy, and explore its repeated adventures in cinema, including the new 2012 adaptation. Speakers include Mary Irwin (Warwick), James Zborowski (Hull), Richard Kilborn (Stirling) and Hugh David discussing the digital restoration of the series.

 

The symposium, hosted by The School of Film, Television and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia is free to attend. To register attendance please email s.godfrey@uea.ac.uk.

 

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