Backup (TV series)

Backup is a British television police procedural crime drama series, focusing on the work of a police Operational Support Unit, similar to the Territorial Support Group. Created by Nigel McCrery and Roy Mitchell, who famous co-created Silent Witness and New Tricks, the series ran for a total of fourteen episodes across two series, and was broadcast on BBC One between 1995 and 1997.[1] Martin Troakes, Christopher John Hall and Nick Miles star as the main protagonists of the series, Bill Parkin, Eric Warren and John Barrett.[2] Initial press releases for the series stated, "When things get too much for the officers on the front line, they call for Backup, the Operational Support Unit (OSU)."[3]

GenrePolice procedural
Created byNigel McCrery
Written byNigel McCrery
Roy Mitchell
Directed byJan Sargent
Bob Blagden
StarringMartin Troakes
Christopher John Hall
Nick Miles
Katrina Levon
Calum MacPherson
William Tapley
Composer(s)John Lunn
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes14 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Caroline Oulton
Chris Parr
Producer(s)Hilary Salmon
CinematographySteve Saunderson
Editor(s)John Rosser
Running time50 minutes
Production company(s)BBC Studios
Original networkBBC1
Picture format4:3
Audio formatStereo
Original release7 September 1995 –
2 July 1997

Devised by Nigel McCrery, who was a former police officer himself, the series based on the operations of the nine officers of Charlie Van, an OSU squad of the West Midlands Police, and with a strong focus on the personal lives of the officers. Critical acclaim for the series was mixed, with many viewers stating that despite the high quality of the opening episodes, the standard and pace of the overall story arc began to decline, and that the last episode of the second series does not tie up all of the loose ends previously suggested during the first series.[4] A third series of the show was not commissioned due to declining viewing figures. Notably, the series has never been released on DVD.


  • Martin Troakes as Sgt. Bill 'Sarge' Parkin (Series 1–2)
  • Christopher John Hall as PC Eric 'Token' Warren (Series 1–2)
  • Nick Miles as PC John 'Thug' Barrett (Series 1–2)
  • Katrina Levon as PC Gill 'Dippy' Copson (Series 1–2)
  • Calum MacPherson as PC Roger 'Flub' Tennant (Series 1–2)
  • William Tapley as PC Lionel 'Oz' Adams (Series 1–2)
  • Alex Norton as PC Iain 'Jock' MacRae (Series 1)
  • Colette Koo as PC Susan 'Bruce' Li (Series 1)
  • Oliver Milburn as PC Wayne 'Bog' Cheetham (Series 1)
  • James Gaddas as PC Jim 'Grim' Reaper (Series 2)
  • Matthew Rhys as PC Steve 'Hiccup' Higson (Series 2)
  • Adam Morris as Inspector 'Jean' Harlow (Series 1–2)
  • Peter Sullivan as DI Ken Overton (Series 1–2)
  • Christopher Quinn as PC Richard Goole (Series 1–2)
  • Suzan Crowley as DCI Helen Chivers (Series 1)
  • Sam Cox as Superintendent Alec Hallsworth (Series 1)
  • Kate Gartside as DS Kath Reaper (Series 2)
  • Annie Miles as Tracy Collins (Series 1–2)
  • Amelda Brown as Brenda Parkin (Series 1–2)
  • Beverly Hills as Kate Warren (Series 1)


Series 1 (1995)Edit

EpisodeTitleWritten byDirected byOriginal airdate
1"Not All There"Roy MitchellJan Sargeant7 September 1995 (1995-09-07)
After assisting DI Overton on a bungled drugs raid, the members of Charlie Serial are assigned to look for the body of a missing teenage girl, a suspected victim of former sex offender John Kerridge. The investigation proves emotional for Token, as he struggles to deal with the memories of his teenage sister's disappearance some years earlier. The search is wound up when a body is found, but it is later discovered not to be the victim the team are looking for. During interview, Kerridge confesses to another five murders and the team are sent back to his farm to dig for more bodies. Whilst escorting Kerridge to and from the farm to identify the locations of the further victims, Charlie Serial come under attack from a group of emotionally distraught parents of Kerridge's victims. And when the body of Token's missing sister is discovered, the team are left in shellshock.
2"Tender Loving Care"Steve TraffordJan Sargeant14 September 1995 (1995-09-14)
Charlie Serial's performance comes into question after a string of errors during a riot training exercise. Meanwhile, ex-soldier Tony Deeley returns from Bosnia with plans to prevent his sister getting married, and traumatised by his experiences of war, barricades himself into her house. Thug is furious when his riot shield shatters in the face of heavy fire and Bruce is given a warning by Inspector Morris for failing to check the equipment correctly. Supt. Hallsworth orders Token to take a week's leave as the press coverage of his sister's murder continues to trouble him. Sarge finds himself on the brink of divorce after Brenda's father Ted, who suffers from advanced dementia, moves into the family home. Charlie Serial finally catch up with Tony on his sister's wedding day, and Sarge has to use all of his powers of persuasion to prevent the ceremony from being disturbed.
3"Toleration Zone"Steve TraffordJan Sargeant21 September 1995 (1995-09-21)
Charlie Serial are assigned to keep the peace when hostilities erupt between the residents of Wood Vale and local prostitutes, who are using residential streets to ply their trade. Meanwhile, Flub tries to help out young mum Joyce, whose son David has been taken away by social services following reports of violence in the family home. With money tight and little chance of securing a safe home for David, Joyce ends up on the game under the care of notorious pimp Ralf Johnson. DI Overton is angered when Supt. Hallsworth interrupts a live drugs squad operation by ordering Charlie Serial to clear the streets of prostitutes in order to please the local residents. However, their actions are less than well received, and a group of vigilantes decide to take drastic action, involving members of the local Asian community to stage a silent protest in the middle of the red light district.
4"Mouth and Trousers"Avril E. RussellDouglas Mackinnon28 September 1995 (1995-09-28)
Li's first day as acting sergeant ends in disaster when Charlie Serial run a fifteen-year-old boy and his girlfriend driving a stolen car off the road into a local river. Meanwhile, Ch. Insp. Best of the Organised Crime Squad assigns Charlie Serial to assist with policing an upcoming UEFA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Aston Villa. They are warned to keep an eye out for a number of Liverpool supporters who have exclusion orders banning them from every football stadium in the country. However, Shane Levey, a Liverpool supporter holding a lifetime exclusion order, has another score to settle with Pez, the new boyfriend of his former partner. When Shane and his friends meet Pez for a pre-match scuffle, events take a tragic turn and Shane is stabbed, later succumbing to injuries in hospital. Events provoke Thug into making a decision about his love life.
5"Badlands"Simon StirlingDouglas Mackinnon5 October 1995 (1995-10-05)
Charlie Serial are assigned to patrol the inner-city housing estate from hell when events threaten to spiral out of control following an attack on an elderly couple during a burglary. Suspicion initially falls on three youths that DI Overton suspects may be dealing drugs on the estate. But after Thug makes a less an ambiguous arrest, attentions turn towards a female gang, a member of whom Flub tries to take under his wing. Meanwhile, as Sarge returns to duty, Li is given both praise and criticism by Insp. Harlow for her stint as acting sergeant. When the team discover that knowledge of a childish prank carried out against Bog has reached the ears of the station bigwigs, Thug is quick to brand him a grass, unaware that Charlie Serial may have another leak in their ranks. Jealous of Token's relationship with Dippy, Thug makes an anonymous phone call to his wife.
6"Happy That Way"Roy MitchellDouglas Mackinnon12 October 1995 (1995-10-12)
Charlie Serial are assigned to go undercover as prostitutes, drug dealers and rent boys in order to stamp out crime on a local common, while attempting to catch a flasher who has been targeting underage children. Bog's first arrest happens to be a local councillor with connections to Supt. Hallsworth. Token and Bruce caution a man who appears to have trained his Pitbull to be racist. Oz is left stunned when his estranged wife turns up, having travelled from Adelaide to introduce him to his ten-year-old son, Nick, that he never knew he had. Sarge and Jock catch a drugs squad detective having sex with an underage girl in his car, and Sarge has no choice but to arrest him. Meanwhile, Chivers and Overton are spearheading an operation to catch a major drug dealer operating out of a local club, unaware that Sarge's arrest could compromise the entire operation.
7"Clubbing – Part 1"Roy MitchellBob Blagden19 October 1995 (1995-10-19)
Acting upon information provided to DCI Chivers, Charlie Serial assist with closing down a city nightclub run by ex-con Linton McLinton, which is notorious for the flow of narcotics through its doors. A planned raid on the premises seems a dead cert to provide the evidence required to nail Linton once and for all, but Chivers and Overton are furious to discover that Linton appears to have been warned of their arrival. However, Charlie Serial make a number of arrests, including small time dealer Eamonn Vernon, who informs Jock and Bog that Terry Stoppard did not take his own life. Meanwhile, tensions amongst the officers of Charlie Serial continue to grow as both Bruce and Thug are reprimanded by Insp. Harlow. Supt. Hallsworth confronts DCI Chivers over suspected corruption involving her team, and finds he may have more to lose than he thought.
8"Cut and Dried – Part 2"Roy MitchellBob Blagden26 October 1995 (1995-10-26)
Tensions among the officers of Charlie Serial remain at all an time-high, as Sarge works out that Jock is the grass and sets about confronting him. Meanwhile, Supt. Hallsworth plans an operation to expose DCI Chivers and DI Overton's corrupt activities. Token is sent undercover to stake out a hairdressers suspected of being the base where Beckwith and his henchmen are operating from. Charlie Serial lie in wait as DCI Chivers and DI Overton arrive slap bang in the middle of a planned drug deal between Beckwith and Eamonn Vernon, his last before leaving the country before a new life in Spain. However, Beckworth's plan to ensure Chivers and Overton's silence following his escape attracts the attention of Charlie Serial, who burst in all guns blazing to a hail of gunfire. Chivers and Oz are both shot in the ensuing commotion, while Dippy faces heartache of her own.

Series 2 (1997)Edit

EpisodeTitleWritten byDirected byOriginal airdate
1"A Night Out with the Lads"Roy MitchellBob Blagden28 May 1997 (1997-05-28)
The team investigate illegal boxing matches and find the body of a teenage boy.
2"Partners"Susan WilkinsBob Blagden4 June 1997 (1997-06-04)
Three convicts have escaped from prison. One is recaptured, and the team is called on to locate the others. However, as the operation intensifies, the crew find themselves under siege.
3"Touched"Avril E. RussellJan Sargeant11 June 1997 (1997-06-11)
A call to a horrific train crash has lasting repercussions for Sergeant Parkin and WPC Copson. Charlie Serial face an inquest following a rescue attempt where two people died.
4"Presence"Robin MukherjeeJan Sargeant18 June 1997 (1997-06-18)
Community policing provides headaches for Charlie Serial when a fight flares up on a pub on a local housing estate being ruled by a protection racket.
5"Not Cricket"Robin MukherjeeJan Sargeant25 June 1997 (1997-06-25)
A worker at a local factory is sacked, leading to unrest in the local community. The team is called to attend the picket lines. Tennant investigates when he suspects the factory of using child labour.
6"Something for the Weekend, Sir?"Roy MitchellBob Blagden2 July 1997 (1997-07-02)
Copson becomes convinced that Overton is involved with a child sex ring after she sees him with a suspected paedophile, and decides to break into his house to find evidence. Meanwhile, Parkin's loyalties are put to the test when his wife goes into labour while he is on duty.


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