Telly Favourites #47

Posted by Erik 'The Hat' Bear on
Category: Film & Television44 Comments

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Today we are continuing our series of posts featuring our favourite telly shows. We all love our telly and there is nothing we love more than finding a character we can love to love… or even love to hate. Here at Jammy Toast, we don’t usually go for the clean-cut, heroic types; we are more likely to identify with the slackers of society, people like Frank Gallagher, Jim Royle or Homer Simpson. We like programmes which are “off the wall” although occasionally we enjoy serious drama if it is interesting and well written. Today, we are featuring

Cracker was a crime drama series produced by Granada Television for ITV. It was created and principally written by Jimmy McGovern. Set in Manchester, the series follows a criminal psychologist (or “cracker”), Dr Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald, played by Robbie Coltrane, who works with the Greater Manchester Police to help them solve crimes. The show consists of three series which were originally aired from 1993 to 1995. A 100-minute special set in Hong Kong followed in 1996 and another two-hour story in 2006. In 2000, the series was ranked 39 on the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes compiled by the British Film Institute.

Fitz is a classic antihero: alcoholic, a chain smoker, obese, sedentary, addicted to gambling, manic, foul-mouthed, and sarcastic yet cerebral and brilliant. He is a genius in his speciality: criminal psychology. As Fitz confesses in “Brotherly Love”: “I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much.”

Each case spanned several episodes and cliff-hangers were quite often used, but it was not until the end of the second series that a cliff-hanger was employed to tie off the series. Some of the plotlines in the cases took as their starting point real events such as the Hillsborough disaster, while others were purely fictional with only tangential ties to actual events.

Several different psychotic types were explored during the run of the show with increasingly complex psychological motivations that, as the series entered the middle of the second series, began to expand beyond the criminals being investigated to the regular cast members. As the series moved forward the storylines became as much about the interactions of the regulars as it was about the crimes. In many later episodes, in fact, the crimes often became background to intense, provocative explorations of the police officers’ reactions to the crimes they investigated.

To emphasise how fine a line the police (and Fitz) walk in their close association with criminals, all three series featured several stories in which the police become victims of crime or themselves commit criminal acts like rape, obstruction of justice and assault and battery.

Cracker storylines often begin by showing the crime being committed, a format popularised by Columbo. Both series feature a lead character who solves crimes while masking an intelligent, perceptive nature behind a slobbish exterior, a debt acknowledged by Cracker creator Jimmy McGovern; Fitz delivers his summing-up in “To Say I Love You” while doing a Peter Falk impression.

Cracker’s conception was also partly a reaction against the police procedural approach of fellow Granada crime serial Prime Suspect, placing more emphasis on emotional and psychological truth than on correct police procedure. In an interview with the NME, McGovern dismissed Prime Suspect, noting that “Good TV writing has narrative simplicity and emotional complexity,” and characterising the series as “A narratively complex story going up its own arse.” Gub Neal, who produced the first series of Cracker, is quoted as saying, “That we had adopted the right approach was confirmed for me when Jacky Malton, the senior woman police officer who advised on Prime Suspect, said that although the way things happened in Cracker was sometimes highly improbable, the relationships between the police were in many ways much more credible than they had been in Prime Suspect.”

Archive Posts
This post continues from posts that were on the original version of Jammy Toast. If you wish to read the earlier posts in this series, you can now find them over on our archive website which can be found here at Classic Toast. The previous post in this particular series [Telly Favourites #46] can be found here.
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Posted By

Erik 'The Hat' Bear

I am fairly new to this writing on a Blog malarkey so you will have to forgive me while I continue to get the hang of it. I have asked if I can write about films and television programmes because that is what I know the best. I love watching old films and television series and some more modern ones too. I hope we will like some of the same things. Watch this space, I guess…

44 Comments on “Telly Favourites #47”

  1. What a show Cracker was, fantastic writing by Jimmy McGovern. Totally forgotten about it for some reason and can’t wait to watch it again. Thanks for reminding me. Fantastic.

  2. Barbara seemed a little upset yesterday. When we went for our walk he told me that he wishes he was a black cat like me. I told him that tabby and white is beautiful but I’m not sure he believed me. Barbara is a very sensitive boy and I don’t want him to be sad. What can I do?

  3. “Signs of autumn – the reddening leaf, the chill in the early-morning air, the misty evenings. The summer has been splendid but it has lasted long enough. This morning I welcomed the chill in the air and viewed the falling leaves with cheerfulness.”

  4. Rolf report 15 Oct

    Autumn is a favourite time of year as I love to frolic in the scrunchy fallen leaves. Also, it’s great for play as the wind rustling these leaves makes me think that little creatures are moving around in the undergrowth & I track them enthusiastically.

    Rolf x

  5. It’s a fab day for Hedgewatch 2020 I’m in the big hedge collecting conkers & leaves for the harvest display. I have a bodyguard with me as the baby squirrels scare me.

  6. So I accidentally dyed my hair too dark so um… I need to pretend like I didn’t and this dark red hair is just totally normal?

    Side note: it my be darker than you can even imagine.

  7. Chilly f*ckin’ night ahead for most, with clear f*ckin’ skies expected in the south and west. Patchy mist and f*ckin’ fog could form in the west.

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