The Sweeney

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ITV (ended 1978)

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7.7
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The Sweeney

Show Summary

Welcome to The Sweeney guide at TV.com. The Sweeney was one of the UK's finest action-drama series of the 1970s and is still talked about today. The Beginning Euston Films, the company behind The Sweeney, was founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thames Television in March 1971, to produce filmed drama for the UK with a view to sales abroad. This project began with a series of 90-minute TV films under the Armchair Cinema banner. The intention was to make 13 films, but only six - "The Prison", "Sea Song", "In Sickness and in Health", "Tully", "When Day is Done" and "Regan" - were made. Success… These films, at £85,000 each to make, were considered very expensive at the time, but this was rewarded when most of the films were sold to other countries, with "The Prison" and "Regan" going to 47 countries alone. "Regan" in particular was seen as having the potential to spawn a series, especially after receiving high TV ratings. Work began immediately on 13 one-hour episodes. Most elements of the original film remained, apart from the title, with "Regan" giving way to The Sweeney. "We're the Sweeney, son, and we haven't had any dinner!" The writers brought in to work on The Sweeney were given a series of strict guidelines. Each episode had to run for 48 minutes and 40 seconds, with a three-minute pre-title sequence, or 'teaser' to be followed by the actual opening credits. Each story was to consist of three parts, each running between eight and 19 minutes. As for the characters, Regan would appear in every episode, whilst his sidekick Carter would feature in at least 10 out of the 13 episodes. The scripts had to be centred around three main speaking roles, leaving up to 10 minor speaking parts. Writers had one month to write each script, but at times were pushed so hard to get them done that one episode was completed in three days. Any second drafts were greatly discouraged and third drafts would literally be unheard of. Each episode would take 10 working days to film and every day there would be five minutes of edited screen time. This led to there being a restriction on how many differing locations there could be, so it was limited to ten - one location per day. On Set The 'Flying Squad offices' had its own standing set, which gave an alternative option if the day's filming was affected by bad weather. Ten minutes of any episode was usually set in the offices and this amounted to two days' filming on the set. Exterior night shooting was expensive, due to filming being in the summer, so it was limited to three external night scenes per episode, despite the fact that the real-life Flying Squad operated primarily at night. Each episode would have an eight-and-a half week production schedule. This consisted of two weeks pre-production - for casting, deciding locations and so on; two weeks' shooting, four weeks' picture editing (the first two weeks of which would overlap the shooting), two weeks' sound editing and finally, two days of dubbing. The Sweeney on the Big Screen The great success of the first two series of The Sweeney led to a spin-off feature film. Sweeney! was filmed over the course of five weeks in the spring of 1976 and on location in London. A third and fourth TV series followed, as well as a second feature film, Sweeney 2, in 1978. "Shut It!" The Sweeney ran to 53 episodes across four series. It has since been shown in more than 51 countries and is still regarded by many people as one of British Television's most successful series ever made.moreless
John Thaw

John Thaw

Detective Inspector Jack Regan

Dennis Waterman

Dennis Waterman

Detective Sergeant George Carter

Garfield Morgan

Garfield Morgan

Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • For a program nearly 40 years old

    9.0
    It's very difficult to judge a program made nearly 40 years ago by todays standards, but like The Beatles it's not always obvious just how influential and just how good "The Sweeney" was back in the day. But what watching it today does tell us is just how important great characters, Regan and Carter, played by great actors, Thaw and Waterman, are a vital ingredient for one of the greatest Tv shows of all time.moreless
  • The original non pc pcs.

    10
    Yes, the Sweeney was somewhat rough and ready, full of car chases and non pc language. It was a product of its time and very fondly remembered by a great swathe of British society. Which is perhaps why Life On Mars has been such a huge hit.



    And, yes, the Sweeney was a bit of a one trick pony, but frankly who cares. The programme, and its modern successor, were part of a more innocent age, where violence was largely something that happened amongst the criminal fraternity and did not despoil the daily lives of the ordinary people.



    John Thaw (a true British Legend) gave Regan substance, and a sort of world weary style which is oft imitated but never quite equalled. It is well worth revisiting.moreless
  • THERE'S NO SHORTAGE OF NEW RELEASES THIS WEEK TO CHOOSE FROM, SO YOU'RE SURE TO FIND SOMETHING THAT SUITS YOUR FANCY. SPEND THIS FIRST WEEK OF JUNE INSIDE CATCHING UP WITH SUCH CLASSICS AS SEINFELD AND CHIPS, OR DELVE INTO SOMETHING DIFFERENT, SUCH AS RESCUE ME OR THE DEAD ZONE. DON'T FORGET TO RELIVE THE FINEST MOMENTS OF CHAPPELLE'S SHOW WITH THIS WEEK'S BEST OF RELEASE.

    June 5, 2007 DVD Releases

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