McLevy is a British radio crime drama series, written by David Ashton, about the 19th century Edinburgh police detective James McLevy. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as part of its Afternoon Drama slot, the drama stars Brian Cox and Siobhan Redmond, with Michael Perceval-Maxwell and David Ashton.

GenreCrime drama
Running time45 mins
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
SyndicatesBBC Radio 4 Extra
Written byDavid Ashton
Directed byBruce Young
Produced byBruce Young
Recording studioBBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow
Original release26 July 1999 (1999-07-26) –
1 February 2024 (2024-02-01)
No. of series14
No. of episodes54 Edit this at Wikidata

Main cast


In the 1999 pilot play, Phyllis Logan played Jean and John Paul Hurley played Mulholland. Lieutenant Roach was not introduced until the actual first episode of Series One; in the pilot play, McLevy's superior was Lieutenant Moxey, with the change in command explained as Moxey having been "elevated" to The Haymarket (in the novel Shadow of the Serpent, the explanation is that Moxey "had left somewhat under a cloud and Roach had been swiftly drafted in from Haymarket to fill the gap ...").

Supporting cast

  • Jessie Nairn (2000–2002, played by Tracey Wiles), Jean Brash's right-hand woman and "Keeper of Keys" of "The Happy Land" and "The Just Land" until she was stabbed to death by a hired killer.
  • Hannah Semple (2003–2012, 2015–2016, played by Collette O'Neil), who took over as Jean's "Keeper of Keys"; in Series 9, she had to flee Leith after killing a deranged sword-wielding "client" to protect Jean but returned in Series 11.[1]
  • Constable Miller (2000–2003, played by Tom Smith), a rather inept constable who was killed in the line of duty preventing an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria; unfortunately, to McLevy's fury, because of the would-be assassin's identity, higher authorities swept the attempt under the carpet and the "official" version of Miller's death was that he had been stabbed to death by "a sneak thief". His stationhouse duties were taken over after his death by Constable Ballantyne, played by Finlay McLean.
  • "The Countess" (2002, played by Maureen Beattie, later 2024 by Nicole Ansari), Jean Brash's chief rival in the brothel trade. During a power struggle between herself and Jean, she tried to have Jean framed for murder but was ultimately jailed herself as an accomplice to that murder; it was revealed in Series 5 that she died in prison; however, in Series 2 of McLevy in the New World, she appeared in San Francisco after having escaped from Perth Penitentiary.
  • Donald McIver (played by Andrew Neil), Hannah Semple's former boyfriend and an inveterate gambler who married Hannah in Series 5, but sadly was later shot and killed when a high-stakes card game he was playing in was held up by two men with a pistol.
  • Inspector Adam Dunsmore of the Haymarket district (played by Simon Tait in Series 5, later Forbes Masson in Series 11), later transferred to Princes Street; McLevy despises him as both an inefficient investigator and being more interested in furthering his own career than in solving crimes.
  • Chief Constable Murray Craddock (introduced in Series 10, played in Series 10 and 12 by Paul Young and by David Robb in Series 11), a self-righteous and intolerant man who is determined to purge Edinburgh (and especially Leith) of what he considers immorality (McLevy finally demonstrates how he feels about Craddock in the final episode of Series 12, "The Last Goodbye").[2]



While some of the series contain a thread connecting all of that series' stories into one storyline, the elements of each of the stories remain constant:

  • McLevy's single-minded pursuit of and for justice on his beat (the parish of Leith in the city of Edinburgh) no matter which class of people are involved;
  • His frustration with and contempt for "respectability" and its hypocrisy, especially when the truth about a crime is covered up to protect upper-class people involved but a crime committed by lower-class people is severely punished;
  • His often-stormy but complex (and in Series 10 "intimate" following events at the end of Series 7) relationship with Jean Brash, the owner and operator of "The Happy Land" (until it was burned down by vigilantes) and later "The Just Land" (so named to annoy McLevy), the "best bawdy-hoose" (brothel) in Edinburgh;
  • His equally complex working relationship (and friendship, although neither would ever admit to it) with Irish-born Constable Mulholland, McLevy's partner in investigations;
  • His clashes with his long-suffering, class- and politically-conscious and wife-dominated superior Lieutenant Roach (who nevertheless realized that McLevy's methods produced the desired results and therefore was not above turning a blind eye and occasionally even backing McLevy).

The historicity of the series is not always faultless. For example, an episode on 24 March 2015 involved a robbery of the British Linen Bank, although that bank did not obtain that title until 1906.

List of episodes


Series 1

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[3]
1 21/12/2000 For Unto Us
2 28/12/2000 The Trophy Club
3 04/01/2001 The Second Shadow
4 11/01/2001 The Burning Question

Series 2

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[4]
1 19/06/2002 A Good Walk Spoilt
2 26/06/2002 Wild Justice
3 03/07/2002 The Wild Spark
4 10/07/2002 Stab in the Back

Series 3

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[5]
1 01/12/2003 Behind the Curtain
2 08/12/2003 A Voice from the Grave
3 15/12/2003 The Dark Shadow
4 22/12/2003 Servant of the Crown

Series 4

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[6]
1 03/04/2006 A Piece of Cake
2 10/04/2006 The Sea Change
3 17/04/2006 Sins of the Fathers
4 24/04/2006 The Devil's Disguise

Series 5

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[7]
1 27/01/2009 To Keep Him Honest
2 03/02/2009 Picture of Innocence
3 10/02/2009 The Chosen One
4 17/02/2009 The Reckoning

Series 6

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[8]
1 21/12/2009 A Bolt From the Blue
2 28/12/2009 End of the Line
3 04/01/2010 Jack O'Diamonds
4 11/01/2010 Queen of Spades

Series 7

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[9]
1 02/03/2011 The Firebrand
2 09/03/2011 Dead Reckoning
3 16/03/2011 Prince of Darkness
4 23/03/2011 A Distant Death

Series 8

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[10]
1 29/11/2011 The Blue Gown
2 06/12/2011 Flesh and Blood
3 13/12/2011 A Fine Deception
4 20/12/2011 The Last Illusion

Series 9

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[11]
1 26/11/2012 A Dangerous Remedy
2 03/12/2012 No Looking Back
3 10/12/2012 A Pearl in the Oyster
4 17/12/2012 The Cross-Roads

Series 10

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[12]
1 18/02/2014 A Different Path
2 25/02/2014 The Cat's Claw
3 04/03/2014 A Sore Convulsion
4 11/03/2014 A Secret Life

Series 11

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[13]
1 15/12/2015 A Price to Pay
2 22/12/2015 The Seventh Veil
3 29/12/2015 The Night Walker
4 05/01/2016 The Devil Makes a Move

Series 12

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[14]
1 10/10/2016 A Matter of Balance
2 11/10/2016 A Man of Honour
3 12/10/2016 He Who Waits
4 13/10/2016 The Last Goodbye

McLevy in the New World - Series 1

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[15]
1 21/04/2022 Shake Hands With The Devil
2 28/04/2022 A Stirring In The Blood

McLevy in the New World - Series 2

Episode no. Broadcast date Episode title[16]
1 25/01/2024 Fate Takes A Hand
2 01/02/2024 Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble


Broadcast date Episode title Notes
26/07/1999 Pilot episode Originally titled 'McLevy', it was retitled 'Happy Land' for subsequent repeats.
25/12/2006 Christmas Special 90-minute feature-length episode.
08/10/2016 Meet James McLevy 60-minute re-make of the pilot episode, with "Lieutenant Roach" taking the place of "Lieutenant Moxey" and "Hannah Semple" taking a more prominent role in the story.[17]

In other media


All episodes of series 1-12 are currently available on both CD, audio download[18] and with the exception of the pilot episode can be listened to for free on BBC Sounds. [19]


  1. ^ "McLevy: The Night Walker". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  2. ^ "McLevy, The Last Goodbye". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  3. ^ "McLevy - Series 1". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  4. ^ "McLevy - Series 2". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  5. ^ "McLevy - Series 3". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  6. ^ "McLevy - Series 4". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  7. ^ "McLevy - Series 5". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  8. ^ "McLevy - Series 6". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  9. ^ "McLevy - Series 7". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  10. ^ "McLevy - Series 8". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  11. ^ "McLevy - Series 9". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  12. ^ "McLevy - Series 10". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  13. ^ "McLevy - Series 11". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  14. ^ "McLevy - Series 12". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  15. ^ "McLevy in the New World". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 28 April 2022.
  16. ^ "McLevy in the New World (Series 2)". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 2 February 2024.
  17. ^ "Meet James McLevy". BBC Programmes. BBC. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  18. ^ "David Ashton". Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  19. ^ "BBC Sounds".