TV Cream

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Dempsey and Makepeace

“A GOLDEN EAGLE Production for London Weekend Television” Ah dear. That ace theme couldn’t paper over the flakiness of this one-eye-on-flogging-it-to-the-Yanks effort, wherein New York cop MICHAEL BRANDON teams up with landed gentry LADY GLYNIS BARBER to fight crime on the bonechilling streets of Bloomsbury. Scouse boss Gordon Spikings (RAY SMITH) always acted like he didn’t give a shit.



  1. Glenn A

    July 5, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Oh come on, what would you sooner have on a Saturday night, a rigged talent contest that is like watching paint dry or a pair of crimefighters taking on gangsters and terrorists in London. 14 million people seemed to think Dempsey and Makepeace were worth it.

  2. Richard16378

    July 6, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I was just thinking today how ITV seem to make OK programmes only when they really try, & normally just make the minimum effort, even when ratings & ad revenue is really low.

  3. THX 1139

    July 26, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Ray Smith was Welsh, not Scouse, hence the Welsh accent. This series appeared to have been designed for those who believe Brannigan is the best John Wayne movie. Which it is, of course. Only joking. Or am I?

  4. Joanne Gray

    February 10, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    I loved this show (well, I spent a lot of time fantasising about Michael Brandon – but what red blooded teenage girl didn’t back then?) and found it an adequate replacement for The Professionals.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    July 25, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Re runs on ITV 4 have proven how good this series was, and being made on location, hasn’t dated it as badly as BBC dramas of this era. Also the car chases, brusque boss in the form of Spikings and daft plots owe quite a lot to The Professionals.

  6. Sidney Balmoral James

    August 5, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    THX 1139 is spot-on with the Brannigan vibe. Although this looks a bit naff when viewed today, to youngsters in the 80s this was absolutely bloody fantastic, with some quite dark stories (the one with Suzi Quatro is particularly good).

    • Glenn Aylett

      August 7, 2022 at 12:57 pm

      @ Sidney Balmoral James, Brannigan was class, the best John Wayne film ever( miles better than his tedious westerns). Tony Booth, the Capri jumping Tower Bridge, the killer in the clapped out E Type Jaguar and a booby trap with a shotgun, it’s so seventies, but with an American slant. Also worth checking out is Wayne’s other cop film, Mc Q, his second best film ever with the memorable chase through seventies Seattle and the car chase on the beach.

      • Sidney Balmoral James

        November 12, 2022 at 1:12 pm

        I bloody love Brannigan- and I would actually get my parents to rent it from the video shop we used to go to in about 1986 (the other regular hiring was The Warlords of Atlantis). Most people are a bit sniffy about it, and the Duke does look a little done in, but it is well paced, and has, as Glenn notes, a load of classic moments. Has a standout performance also from Mel Ferrer as the definitive crooked mob lawyer.

        • Glenn Aylett

          November 12, 2022 at 1:22 pm

          Brannigan is so seventies, Brannigan driving a Sweeney style Ford Granada, a car chase in a Capri, and two villains using clapped out Jaguars. Quite like the killer at the end in the shades with the machine pistol who chases after Brannigan in a rust ridden old Jag and gets a bullet between the eyes.

      • Adrian

        January 9, 2023 at 1:25 pm

        I think Brannigan may have been JW’s last film – he died of cancer in 1979.

        Brannigan also featured a young Tony Robinson being thrown into the Thames by JW when he played the role of a despatch rider (remember them?) in the film.

    • Richardpd

      November 12, 2022 at 10:07 pm

      I’ll have to keep an eye out for Brannigan in case it turns up on the film channels.

  7. Droogie

    August 6, 2022 at 1:40 am

    The only episode of this I remember seeing was one where Glynis Barber goes undercover as a high class escort girl and briefly appears in sexy underwear ( well I was 14.)
    I wouldn’t mind watching some old episodes of this – just for the shots of 80’s deserted Docklands London before gentrification happened. They’d nearly always have a scene on Bankside by The Thames – usually for a car chase. They wouldn’t be able to film that now – there’d be a Starbucks in shot every 50 feet.

    • Sidney Balmoral James

      August 6, 2022 at 8:53 am

      The credits had a prominent shot of Barber in some sort of very 80s teddy but the programme was arguably quite restrained in not flaunting her indubitable charms. It was all lost on me anyway, as I was about 9 when it started. This sort of programme – which really belonged in the 1970s – took a long time to die out – think Virtual Murder, Bugs (1999 incredibly).

      • Richardpd

        August 6, 2022 at 10:47 am

        Virtual Murder was a weird show, especially the one with Tony Robinson & the skeletons!

        Bugs was an mixed bag, trying to be an Avengers for the cyberpunk era on the same budget per minute as McCoy era Dr Who. The first series was OK with mostly self contained episodes, especially as the BBC had been loathe to make science fiction drama for years.

        Shame the later episodes gradually phased in a near-future setting just made everything even more cheap & embarrassing.

  8. David Smith

    August 6, 2022 at 7:49 am

    There was at least one episode of this which featured the LWT building standing in as some villain’s HQ.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    January 8, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    Looking back, it seems like LWT wanted to replace The Professionals with something more suited to the yuppie mid eighties, hence Dempsey in his Mercedes sports car and Makepiece in her Escort convertible, but with plenty of bullets flying, car chases and an abrasive boss played by Ray Smith. Sometimes it worked, but other times Dempsey and Makepeace could be drawn out and dull. I think CATS Eyes was more fun and unintentionally funny at times.

  10. Sidney Balmoral James

    January 8, 2023 at 7:12 pm

    Yes, CATS Eyes was excellent I seem to recall – I once saw Rosalyn Landor buying a coffee at Waterloo Station when I was a child, and was very excited by this brush with celebrity, but my father was much more excited by the fact that minutes before he had seen Arthur English coming out of the gents!

  11. Glenn Aylett

    January 8, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    CATS Eyes was so mad it had the restrained female detective Maggie Forbes from The Gentle Touch transformed into some Avengers style crime fighter with two hot female companions.

  12. George White

    January 9, 2023 at 7:19 pm

    There were a few Americanized series of this type, the BBC’s Pulaski, but LWT’s followup, the ABC copro A Fine Romance (renamed Ticket to Ride on ITV, thanks to the LWT sitcom) with Margaret Whitton and Christopher Cazenove as divorced TV travel hosts didn’t click plus the failure of Murder on the Moon (Brigitte Nielsen/Julian Sands Starcops-meets-Acorn Antiques-meets-the-Professionals) and the 1995 pilot Bermuda Grace (William Sadler is a US cop, David Harewood’s a Windrush Generation Brit copper – together they solve crimes)

  13. Richardpd

    January 9, 2023 at 10:43 pm

    I remember Murder on the Moon, with some odd near future ideas, like red wine served in plastic squash bottles.

  14. George White

    January 10, 2023 at 9:54 am

    It also had a video library on the moon, that rented 80s BBFC-cert vids. And American Celia Imrie (hence the Acorn Antiques comparison). Although a frightfully transphobic villain character (esp. with Ger McRaney realising in horror love interest Jane Lapotaire is actually a sub-Professionals German-Latino terrorist who has seemingly changed sex only to avoid capture, and is constantly misgendered).

  15. Glenn Aylett

    January 10, 2023 at 11:10 am

    @ George White, these shows sound mad as a box of frogs, but more proof broadcasters then were prepared to innovate and see which series would succeed and get a recommission. These days, it’s play it safe on Saturdays with zeleb versions of boring game shows that are shown every day of the week, singing contests and Ant and Dec trying to be funny.

  16. Richardpd

    January 10, 2023 at 10:34 pm

    While Celia Imrie is normally high on the list for upper middle England types, she’s been in a few science fiction works, Doctor Who, The Nightmare Man & Star Wars come to mind.

    David Yip also appears, & probably a few other Creamy actors.

    Setting it in 2015 but having a Cold War feel didn’t help things either. It was also known as Murder by Moonlight in some markets.

  17. George White

    January 11, 2023 at 9:48 am

    And her debut was in House of Whipcord (which she has unfairly called a ‘softcore porn’).

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