Between the Lines (TV series)

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Between the Lines
Between The Lines.png
Genre Crime drama
Created by J. C. Wilsher
Starring Neil Pearson
Tom Georgeson
Siobhan Redmond
Tony Doyle
Robin Lermitte
Lesley Vickerage
John Shrapnel
Jerome Flynn
David Lyon
Hugh Ross
Theme music composer Hal Lindes
Colin Towns
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes35
Executive producer Tony Garnett
ProducersPeter Norris
Joy Lale
Running time50 minutes
Production companiesIsland World Proudctions
World Productions
Original network BBC1
Original release4 September 1992 (1992-09-04) 
21 December 1994 (1994-12-21)

Between the Lines is a television police drama series created by J. C. Wilsher and produced by World Productions for the BBC. It was first shown on BBC1 between 1992 and 1994, running for three series.


The show centred on the eventful life of Detective Superintendent Tony Clark, played by Neil Pearson. Clark was an ambitious member of the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB), an internal organisation of the Metropolitan Police that investigates complaints against officers as well as claims of corruption inside the police force. Along the way Clark had to overcome strong influence from his superiors and problems in his private life, most notably the break-up of his marriage following an affair with WPC Jenny Dean (Lesley Vickerage). Throughout the series Clark was assisted by colleagues Harry Naylor (Tom Georgeson) and Maureen 'Mo' Connell (Siobhan Redmond).

The show became a surprise hit for the BBC, winning a British Academy Television Award (BAFTA) for Best Drama Series in 1994. In 2000 it was voted into the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes by the British Film Institute. The series was reviewed in an episode of the BBC documentary series Call the Cops, [1] which stated the series had "found a way of getting to grips with the corruption scandals of the 1990s". [2]

Executive producer Tony Garnett had begun his career as an actor before becoming a producer in the late 1960s. His credits included The Wednesday Play and Play for Today . Following Between the Lines, he went on to produce several popular and notable series including This Life (1996–97), Ballykissangel and The Cops (1998–2000). [3]


Clark's work as a lead officer in CIB was the focus of the first two series. In the first series his boss was Deakin, a tough ex-RUC Northern Irish policeman. At the end of the first series, Deakin was revealed to be a corrupt officer himself. He left the force but remained a recurring character, working freelance for the security services and others, sometimes in conflict with Clark and sometimes assisting him. At the start of the third series (after a dramatic shoot-out at the end of the second) Clark, Naylor and Connell leave the police force and work in the murky world of private security, far-right political groups and espionage.

The third series ends with the betrayal of Clark and Naylor who had been masquerading as mercenaries. The betrayal is made by Connell in league with Deakin, their former boss and nemesis. It is unclear whether Clark and Naylor have died as the show ended on a cliffhanger. Rumours of a remake did circulate for some years, but Pearson confirmed in 'Watching the Detectives' that he had wanted a 'final' ending at the time and would never return to the role.

Between The Lines was one of the first British TV dramas to include a bisexual character (whose sexual orientation is incidental rather than central to the plot). Maureen (Mo) Connell (Siobhan Redmond) has two significant romantic partners during the series, a serious boyfriend in season 2, and later on a long-term girlfriend. While some other police officers are briefly shown making disapproving comments (e.g. when she brings her girlfriend as plus-one to a police social), her bisexuality is shown as completely accepted by close colleagues, if a subject of occasional friendly banter (e.g. Mo mentions having a date that night, Tony asks "girl or boy?" and she replies sarcastically "one of each").


Until the 1970s, complaints against the police in Britain were dealt with internally, with no outside oversight, leading to public dissatisfaction amid allegations that misconduct and corruption were not being effectively dealt with. The 1976 Police Act established the Police Complaints Board, an independent review body, but following the Scarman Report in 1982 this was replaced by the more effective Police Complaints Authority, creating the background of the series. [4] [5] However, even today, under the current Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the majority of complaints against the police are dealt with internally. The IPCC investigates the most serious cases and deals with appeals. [6] At the time of the series in the 1990s, the department of the Metropolitan Police responsible for internal investigations was the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB); it has subsequently been replaced by the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).

The two first series of Between the Lines is a dramatisation of the work of the CIB. In the third series focus is shifted more towards the secret services and MI5 in particular. John Deakin, whose shadow is present throughout all three series, has a past in the Ulster police. He is the "fireproof" high rank detective who decides which other high ranked detectives that may use which methods. Tony manages to discover who he really is, but not good enough. Deakin also has contacts in the secret services. And the final two episodes ("The End User" 1 & 2) deals with a story of illegal weapon smuggling to Northern Ireland. Although set primarily in London, one episode was filmed partly in Bolton, with the Town Hall appearing in several scenes. [7]

Guest stars in the series included many well-known British actors who have gone on to star in other major television dramas and/or movies, including Daniel Craig, James Nesbitt, Jerome Flynn, Bernard Hill, David Morrissey, Jaye Griffiths, Paul Brooke, Francesca Annis, Sylvestra Le Touzel, John Hannah, Michael Kitchen, David Hayman, Hermione Norris, Edward Tudor-Pole, Ray Winstone, Larry Lamb, Hugh Bonneville, Marc Warren and Jonny Lee Miller. Most of them were unknown or less known, prior to their appearances in this series.



Series 1 (1992)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date Viewers
1 "Private Enterprise"Charles McDougall J. C. Wilsher 4 September 1992 (1992-09-04)N/A
Ambitious Chief Inspector Tony Clark is head of CID at Mulberry Street police station and has applied for a transfer to the Flying Squad as a Superintendent. After a low-level drug dealer exposes corruption, Clark's office is "locked down" and he discovers that his transfer has been approved – but it's to the Complaints Investigation Bureau – which is not what he wanted.
2 "Out of the Game"Alan Dossor Russell Lewis 11 September 1992 (1992-09-11)N/A
Armed police have shot and killed an apparently armed youth, and Clark is running the investigation. The press make the most of the event to stir up unrest, the investigation is being hindered, and tensions rise, not least between Clark and his new boss, John Deakin.
3 "Words of Advice"Alan DossorSteve Trafford18 September 1992 (1992-09-18)N/A
A white WPC is alleging sexual assault by a black sergeant, however it appears that there is a hidden agenda. Meanwhile, Clark is in difficulty with his first disciplinary case as his main witness is missing.
4 "Lies and Damned Lies"Roy BattersbyMichael Russell25 September 1992 (1992-09-25)N/A
The investigation into an assault of a prostitute by CID officers has reached a dead end, Clark's personal life is getting more complicated and pressure from Deakin is not helping. The assault case seems to be cracked from an unusual quarter, but with the only eyewitness dead, it seems there's only one way out.
5 "A Watch and Chain of Course"Roy BattersbyJ. C. Wilsher2 October 1992 (1992-10-02)N/A
Mike Carswell wins his appeal against conviction for murder but did corrupt officers conspire to convict him? Meanwhile, Mo is undercover investigating missing property and Dunning is looking to move upwards, out of the Met. A major witness in the Carswell investigation, however, turns out to be too close to Clark for comfort.
6 "Lest Ye Be Judged"Charles McDougall Rob Heyland 9 October 1992 (1992-10-09)N/A
Clark and his team visit Liverpool to investigate an armed robbery conviction. A confession may have been beaten out of the robber, and a local reporter has an axe to grind.
7 "Breaking Point"Charles McDougall Rob Heyland 16 October 1992 (1992-10-16)N/A
Tensions rise on a picket line, leaving Clark to discover who is responsible for serious injuries. Hard evidence is in short supply and old loyalties muddy the waters. Meanwhile, Clark's personal life is heading rapidly downhill.
8 "The Only Good Copper"Tom CleggRussell Lewis23 October 1992 (1992-10-23)N/A
A youth stabs Constable Norton to death, and Clark's leave is cancelled to investigate an outstanding complaint against the officer. Was Norton the saint he is portrayed as or can Clark uncover a different picture?
9 "Watching the Detectives"Tom CleggSteve Trafford30 October 1992 (1992-10-30)N/A
Clark and his team investigate an officer who is caught apparently accepting a bribe but must discover whether he's been set up. Meanwhile, officers involved in the Carswell case, including Jenny Dean, are feeling under pressure. Clark has a suspect in the corruption case but politics intervene.
10 "Nothing to Declare"Jenny KillickMichael Russell6 November 1992 (1992-11-06)N/A
When Customs and Excise stages an observation on suspected drugs dealers on the Thames, one of their number, Fisher, goes missing. Huxtable asks Clark to investigate. Relations between all the different parties involved complicate the enquiry. Customs and Excise are convinced Thames Division is collaborating with the drugs squad to sabotage their operation.
11 "Nothing Personal"Jenny KillickRob Heyland13 November 1992 (1992-11-13)N/A
Joey Pearce, a young man, is found hanging in his cell at St. Helen's nick. The arresting officer, DI Gordon, is called to help revive the boy, but he is dead. Clark is called out and starts investigating; one by one Clark interviews everyone in the custody suite. Pearce had been arrested with another man, Dilly, a known dealer, in possession of dealer quantities of crack.
12 "Nobody's Fireproof"Alan DossorJ. C. Wilsher27 November 1992 (1992-11-27)N/A
Supt. Urquhart is arrested behind King's Cross station with a prostitute in his car. Commander Huxtable is pleased; rumours about Urquhart's relationship with porn king Denis Ralston go back years. Urquhart's home is raided, and it is clear to Clark that he is running his life on more than a Super's salary.
13 "The Chill Factor"Alan DossorJ. C. Wilsher4 December 1992 (1992-12-04)N/A
Deputy Chief Constable Dunning has been suspended, following allegations made by the Urquharts. At Jenny Dean's funeral, Clark is rebuffed by her father. Deakin tells Huxtable that he has been sent home on leave pending the Dunning investigation and that he should take some time off himself.

Series 2 (1993)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date Viewers
1 "New Order"Alan Dossor J. C. Wilsher 5 October 1993 (1993-10-05)N/A
Clark is called to investigate the failure of a uniformed constable to arrest a violent racist; it transpires that this is a Special Branch undercover officer, but it isn't clear whether he still has the interests of the law as a priority. Meanwhile, Deakin is on trial and Clark's rival, Graves, is up for promotion. The visit of an American revisionist historian, Deakin's acquittal and Graves's promotion all cause headaches for Clark.
2 "Manslaughter"Alan Dossor Rob Heyland 12 October 1993 (1993-10-12)N/A
Det. Supt. Lindsay has confessed to killing his wife, claiming he did so as a crime of passion; however Clark is sceptical. His suspicions are aroused because of similarities to a case Lindsay investigated five years ago, and as time is running out, he is under pressure to get the right result. It is discovered that Lindsay had been having an affair with his sister-in law, and the post-mortem uncovers crucial evidence.
3 "Crack Up"Robert BiermanRay Brennan19 October 1993 (1993-10-19)N/A
An armed response team is called to the robbery of an off-licence, and one of the robbers is shot dead. Clark, called in to investigate, is given a cassette tape, which indicates that the police have given the robber a gun in exchange for drugs. However, the tape is incomplete and Clark's team must track down the original - but, when it is found, the truth is revealed.
4 "Honourable Men"Robert Bierman Russell Lewis 26 October 1993 (1993-10-26)N/A
A government minister with an axe to grind against the Met is caught in flagrante delicto with his secretary; it is suspected that his movements have been leaked to the press by one of his protection officers, and CIB launch an investigation, if only to clear themselves. Clark is given the case, but it turns out that it may be more political in-fighting than police corruption.
5 "Some Must Watch..."Roy Battersby Rob Heyland 2 November 1993 (1993-11-02)N/A
Special Branch, watching a T.A. centre, witness a potential raid on its weapons store; armed officers shoot a 68-year-old workman by mistake. The intruders claim to be working for MI5 and refuse to assist Clark's investigation. It transpires that MI5 was bugging the centre to entrap an N.C.O. and a Special Branch Inspector suspected of selling arms to terrorists. After a number of machinations, the official position turns out to be a whitewash, and Clark learns that the tentacles of the security services reach into his activities.
6 "Manoeuvre 11"Roy BattersbyRon Rose9 November 1993 (1993-11-09)N/A
Mounted police go in to break up a riot following a demo against public spending cuts; a young girl is injured and later dies. Clark must find out who authorised the police action, and discovers that Chief Superintendent Tattersall, although accepting responsibility, may be covering up for failures in the chain of command.
7 "The Fifth Estate"Peter Smith Rob Heyland 16 November 1993 (1993-11-16)N/A
Bosher, an investigative journalist, prints details of a "royal conversation" allegedly from a tape leaked from GCHQ; when the tape is reported missing, Clark investigates whether Special Branch stole it. Angela Berridge, however, says that the tape has never existed, and this is confirmed by her contact at GCHQ. Mo discovers that MI5 have a plant in the newspaper office and persuades him to dig into Bosher's files; it is found that Bosher has fabricated the story and claimed £20,000 to pay for the non-existent tape, which enables Mo to persuade him to print material to discredit the local Chief Constable and assist ACC Jan Lewis' search for social and sexual justice.
8 "The Great Detective"Peter SmithNicholas Martin23 November 1993 (1993-11-23)N/A
To his surprise, an armed robber is convicted, and confesses to other robberies, for one of which Peter Hoskins has already been sentenced to eighteen years. This raises doubts about the methods of Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Dunn; Hoskins has made a complaint, which lands on Clark's desk. Commander Sparrow pressurises Clark to achieve a quick result, while Hoskins claims to have a videotape of Dunn accepting a bribe. The tape has supposedly been left in a railway station locker and Clark must find it. The tape is found, but Clark finds Naylor trying to remove it to protect Dunn, and it seems that the locker key was not in Hoskins's possession. Meanwhile, it turns out that Sparrow has recently visited Hoskins in prison.
9 "Jumping the Lights"Robert BiermanJulian Jones30 November 1993 (1993-11-30)N/A
Following a vice squad celebration, P.C. Curles knocks over a young boy; chased by Supt. Cullen, a traffic officer, he evades him, changes back into his uniform and returns to the scene, pretending to assist. The car he was driving turns out to be unregistered and, finding only a blank police memo pad in it, Maureen has little to go on. The boy's parents complain and Clark is called in to investigate. The hit and run victim dies, and Clark discovers an ongoing feud between traffic police and the vice squad; evidence of the accident initially points to the wrong officer, but eventually Curles is interviewed. However, since he assisted at the scene, his fingerprints are all over the car.
10 "What's the Strength of This?"Robert Bierman J. C. Wilsher 7 December 1993 (1993-12-07)N/A
Uniformed officers called to a sudden death are accused of stealing property; a local burglar eventually confesses to the crime, but Clark is not sure that he hasn't been coached into an admission. Naylor's boss is seen reporting to Deakin, and Naylor is given extra wages as a "bonus"- or bribe. The following day, Graves suspends Naylor and initiates disciplinary proceedings. Clark traces events back to Deakin and confronts him about the inoperative alarm and burglary of a solicitor's office, which Mo finds has not been reported. After leverage has been applied in the right places, Naylor's job is safe. However, there is a deniable link between Angela Berridge and Deakin.
11 "Big Boys' Rules (Part One)"Richard Standeven J. C. Wilsher 14 December 1993 (1993-12-14)N/A
Declan Harris is found murdered in Epping Forest, with evidence claiming he's been forced into being a Special Branch informer. Clark is tasked with investigating the suspicion that the Branch also killed him. Meanwhile, Naylor has been transferred and takes up an existing murder investigation; his boss, however, is all too keen to get it wrapped up without delay. It transpires that Harris had recently contacted Inspector Dilke, who has him down as a fantasist. Deakin is seen talking to Trevor Bull, an extremely violent armed robber, and Clark is under pressure to get a quick- and convenient- result. Harry's principal suspect in the murder is Simon Bridge, the victim's nephew.
12 "Big Boys' Rules (Part Two)"Richard Standeven J. C. Wilsher 21 December 1993 (1993-12-21)N/A
Clark, Naylor and Dilke attend Harris's funeral, as does Trevor Bull. The official report has exonerated Special Branch of Harris' death and Clark is told to back-pedal on Deakin. It turns out that Deakin has funded works at Bull's house, and Clark puts this to Bull seeking the dirt on Deakin, to no avail. Instead of going to Mo's promotion party, Clark goes round to a safe house to see Angela Berridge, only to find Deakin there. He is told that Deakin has been freelancing for MI5 and if he goes down, so will Angela. Bull meanwhile has dug up a pump-action shotgun and has shot a police officer who came to investigate. Ignorant of Bull's actions, Deakin blackmails Clark into "fixing" him but after Clark has left, realises he may need assistance.

Series 3 (1994)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date Viewers
1 "Foxtrot Oscar"Alan Dossor Rob Heyland 19 October 1994 (1994-10-19)N/A
Having sacrificed his career in the Met, Clark ponders what to do next, until Deakin pays him a visit - and asks him to travel to Tunisia to help a tabloid newspaper substantiate a story about an MP's private life.
2 "A Safe Pair of Hands"Alan Dossor Steve Griffiths 26 October 1994 (1994-10-26)N/A
Naylor struggles to regain his composure following the death of his wife. Meanwhile, Connell's career in the Met hangs in the balance, and Clark accepts his first investigation after delving into the world of espionage.
3 "A Face in the Crowd"Richard StandevenJulian Jones2 November 1994 (1994-11-02)N/A
Deakin asks Naylor and Clark to track down a missing person.
4 "Shoot to Kill"Richard StandevenJ.C. Wilsher9 November 1994 (1994-11-09)N/A
Connell calls upon Clark and Naylor for help after falling into difficulty with a client.
5 "Close Protection"Ian KnoxNicholas Martin16 November 1994 (1994-11-16)N/A
Clark takes on the task of providing protection for a Chilean general, who has been receiving death threats.
6 "Blooded"Ian Knox J. C. Wilsher 23 November 1994 (1994-11-23)N/A
Connell goes undercover to find out who is setting fire to a chain of fur shops, while Clark fears for Naylor's safety after he accepts a job working for a dodgy pharmaceutical company.
7 "Unknown Soldier"Ross DevenishJulian Jones30 November 1994 (1994-11-30)N/A
Clark investigates when a computer engineer from the defence industry is found dead in his garage, and ignores Deakin's warning to steer clear of the investigation.
8 "Free Trade"Ross DevenishGordon Hann7 December 1994 (1994-12-07)N/A
Clark and Naylor set up a profitable arms job, but Connell wants in on the action - but the pair are convinced that it's too dangerous.
9 "The End User (Part One)"Roy Battersby Dusty Hughes 14 December 1994 (1994-12-14)N/A
Clark is asked by Deakin to go undercover as a gun runner for a major neo-fascist rally in Belgium, posing as a right-wing arms dealer.
10 "The End User (Part Two)"Roy Battersby Dusty Hughes 21 December 1994 (1994-12-21)N/A
Clark and Naylor are blamed for failing to stop an arms shipment heading for Northern Ireland, but realise that they have been double-crossed when Connell reveals she is still working for the police - and has offered up her two former colleagues for a promotion. Trapped on a boat that is about to explode, will Clark and Naylor make it out alive?


In Ontario, Canada, the program was retitled Inside the Line because the broadcaster TVOntario already had a current affairs program called Between the Lines and did not want them confused.

DVD release

The complete series of Between The Lines has been released on DVD (Region 2) by 2 Entertain/Cinema Club with music edits.

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  1. Call the Cops at BBC Four
  2. Call the Cops, episode 4: Between the Lines at BBC Four
  3. Tony Garnett at IMDb
  4. History and context, report by Liberty
  5. History
  6. Role of the IPCC
  7. "Between the Lines". Westlake Films. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
  8. Neil Pearson at IMDb
  9. Tom Georgeson at IMDb
  10. Siobhan Redmond at IMDb
  11. Tony Doyle at IMDb