After a couple of days of shocking premature obituaries, I thought it was time to bring a bit of cheeriness back to the blog, so what better theme to celebrate than the incredibly upbeat, pumping score to the cheerily naff 80s ITV actioneer, Dempsey and Makepeace
Running for three series from 1985 to 1986 Dempsey and Makepeace certainly ranks as one of the strangest cop shows ever to appear on our screens. It's influences seemed to range from The Persuaders! and The Professionals and it appealed to children, but occasionally its content would attempt to veer into harder edged, more cynical territory like The Sweeney, whilst at the same time hoping to emulate the cop shows from the US that were becoming increasingly popular in that period, shows like Miami Vice, Cagney and Lacey and Moonlighting. Needless to say it wasn't always a successful marriage of ideas, though lead actors Michael Brandon and Glynis Barber would have a successful marriage; falling in love on set, they wed in 1989 and remain together to this day.
The premise of the show was the oddball pairing of two police detectives: an elegant British noblewoman, Sgt (Lady) Harriet Makepeace, and a streetwise blue collar New Yorker, Lt James Dempsey, both working for SI 10, an elite and armed unit of London's Metropolitan Police. The initial stages of the feature length pilot for the series was a bit Serpico in that Dempsey's partner was killed during a drugs operation and, uncovering high level corruption in New York and in fear of his life, Dempsey is forced to flee to the UK on the pretence of an international police exchange programme. Landing in Gordon Spikings' (that excellent bluff Welsh actor Ray Smith) SI 10, Dempsey is forced to partner with Lady 'Harry' Makepeace, the daughter of the stately home owning Lord Winfield. This chalk and cheese pairing eventually bond over their own unique differences to the rest of the squad around them and make a good team as they fight crime on the streets of London.
As I mentioned earlier, the show had an appeal for kids; I know I enjoyed it and I seem to recall merchandise like annuals, comic strips, Jigsaws, toy replica cars and transfer sets (see below) from that time.
My dad hated it (and I don't think he's ever quite got on board with Brandon, who he viewed as a cocky yank) though he would still watch it, either for me, or because with only 4 channels back then there wasn't anything else on. To the 6 or 7 year old me however, Glynis Barber was the epitome of a pretty lady and probably one of the reasons I enjoyed the show so much.
When the series was repeated by cable channel Granada Plus in the late 90s I remember trying to watch it, but only really enjoying it for its nostalgia. It was a cheery yet corny affair that never seemed to pull its intentions off. Still, cracking theme by Alan Parker - not, the Alan Parker, the director, but the man responsible for, amongst others, the theme to Angels and the soundtrack to Jaws 3, as well as being the uncredited electric guitarist on such tracks as The Walker Brothers No Regrets, Bowie's 1984 and Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man!