The Sweeney

Season 1 Episode 10

Stoppo Driver

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Mar 06, 1975 on ITV
out of 10
User Rating
10 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stoppo Driver
Bill, the regular driver is off so Regan and Carter get recently transferred driver Cooney. His hot-shot driving during a car chase leads to a key member of a gang being killed in a car crash. The gang need a new driver and decide that they can influence Cooney by snatching his new wife and holding her to ransom. Regan and Carter soon suspect that something is wrong.moreless

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  • Regan and Carter's stand in driver, Cooney's dare-devil driving sees a crime ring's wheelman killed. With the villains needing a new driver for their next job, they force Cooney into helping them. Slightly less believable plot, but an iconic episode...moreless

    This review contains spoilers.

    In many ways, 'Stoppo Driver' has become an iconic episode of 'The Sweeney'. In one respect that's due to its plot with harrowing scenes, but more prominently because of its chase scenes, at the beginning and end of the episode, of the Flying Squad after the Jaguar.

    As such, this episode, or clips from it, have been used in a number of retrospective programmes of both the 1970s / TV crime dramas, not only but ITV, but by the BBC, Channel 4 and 5, and $ky (BBC Four even ran the entire episode a couple of years back – much better presented than the hacked up versions ITV4 play ad nausea, but anyway...!)

    But whatever the status, it is certainly a good episode. The aforementioned chases with the Jag are incredibly well filmed, of near cinematic quality in places for the era, and on par with many of the U.S.'s more glossy equivalents of the era ('Starsky & Hutch', etc., which I also love, but often filled chase sequences with stock shots and suchlike). The Jag even ploughs through a pile of boxes at one point, an image lovingly spoofed in many sources ever since.

    The guest cast does well. Billy Murray (future corrupt 'Bill' copper Beech, as well as a fixture in 'Eastenders' I believe – I never watch the soaps) is in form as the cocky Cooney who soon finds himself in a living nightmare. Nicola Pagett is perfectly b*tchy as Sara, at the heart of the criminal family, and even Benny from 'Crossroads' is in there, as the family's henchman.

    For all of its good points, 'Stoppo Driver' does have feeling of being a slightly more far-fetched offering of the series. It just doesn't seem that believable that the criminals would go to the very driver who nearly caught them and caused the death of one of their cohorts in the process (even if they do reason that he must be the best driver around), and moments such as the ridiculously camp hotel porter (and, to a slightly lesser extent, the foreign card player from goodness-knows-where) feel to be leftover from a 'Carry On' film.

    There is also the rather convenient plot device of George moving Cooney's coat, to which the bank statement with Cooney's bribery money just happens to fall out, to which George just happens to open and look at! I suppose this was needed to move the plot on though, so I can forgive this.

    But on the whole, this is a solid episode, and even if one of the series' slightly less believable plots, certainly delivers the goods in terms of telling an engaging story. The scenes of Cooney's new bride, Marie, who has her hair chopped off after being kidnapped by the villainous Price family, are quite harrowing (according to the lead in from Billy Murray on the DVD release, an even more harrowing scene, with Cooney having a gun in his mouth and breaking down, was shot, but was forced to be reworked and reshot after fears of complaints from Mary Whitehouse!). The climax, with Cooney tricking two of the gang into another job, before deliberately crashing and wiping the crooks out, in revenge of what they put his new wife through, is also very satisfying.

    At times when watching, I had this one pegged as a 9, but I think, considering the expertly filmed – and iconic – Jag chases, and a number of other great scenes, I can push my rating for this episode to a very respectable 9.5.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


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    • With its iconic chase sequences between the Sweeney and the Jaguar (complete with crash through boxes) as well as its harrowing plot, this episode has often been used as an example of the series in retrospectives of both 1970s TV, and TV crime drama in general, not only by ITV, but also by the BBC, Channels 4 and 5, and Sky. BBC Four have shown the entire episode as part of a themed season.


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