Bergerac: Picking It Up (BBC-1 18 Oct 1981, with David Savile)

From it’s opening title sequence, excellent theme tune and glossy sheen it’s clear that Bergerac is a cut above the average 1981 crime drama. When Picking It Up begins Detective Sergeant Jim Bergerac is arriving back on the island of Jersey (after having spent time in hospital on the mainland getting a gammy leg fixed up) and gets caught up in an incident involving an attempted plane theft that results in the death of one his best friends – fellow policeman Tom Draycott.

There is then some handy plot exposition in a conversation Jim has with a fellow cop. The Bereau Des Etrangers is newly formed to look after crime involving tourists as well as the very wealthy (including Jim’s ex father-in-law Charlie Hungerford) who have made tax haven Jersey their home.

Jim is keen to get right back to work but his boss says his latest medical has him unfit for duty. Even though he is now officially still on sick leave Jim is determined to get to the bottom of Draycott’s death. Jim also meets Draycott’s French girl friend Francine for the first time. By the end of the episode he has moved into the basement flat attached to the studio she rents on a rather nice vineyard.

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In more key plot exposition Jim picks his daughter Kim up from school, he is divorced and only sees her occasionally but he takes her home to mum Deborah at the luxury mansion owned by her millionaire businessman father. There is quite a lot of antagonism between Jim and Deborah as befitting a newly divorced couple.

Meanwhile as Jim investigates he discovers a link to a South African gun dealer leading to a quick solving of the case. Of course that means Jim’s sick leave is cancelled and he is officially back on the force.

An excellent opener that not only provides a strong plot but also introduces all the major characters and a chunk of Jim’s back story. The only bum note is the fact that Children’s TV presenter Floella Benjamin has her voice dubbed with a very dodgy American accent for her role as singer Juniper.

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classic quote
“She’s got the eyes perfectly. Warm as lasers.” – Jim looking at a portrait of Charlie.

production details
UK / BBC One / 1×55 minute episode / Sunday 18 October 1981 at 9.00pm

Writer: Robert Banks Stewart / Production Design: Antony Thorpe / Director: Martyn Friend

Series: Bergerac Season 1 Episode 1

John Nettles as Jim Bergerac
Cecile Paoli as Francine
Terence Alexander as Hungerford
Sean Arnold as Crozier
Mela White as Diamante Lil
Annette Badland as Charlotte
Danny Schiller as Gulliver
Tony Melody as Chief
David Savile as Gurney
Floella Benjamin as Juniper
Deborah Grant as Deborah
Lindsay Heath as Kim
Alan Thompson as Mr Pollender
Elizabeth Choice as Mrs Pollender
Raymond Adamson as Senator
Lindsay Campbell as Chairman
James Greene as Alcoholic
Michael Bott as Constable
Graeme Eton as Sergeant
Sally Harrison as Air stewardess
Joyce Irvine as Medical clerk
Carole Walker as Theatre sister
Sandra Miller as Nurse
Michael Chesden as French inspector
Frank Tregear as Businessman
Harold Messias as Asian
Judith Byfield as Mary
Roland Oliver as Flying instructor
Stephen Bent as CID man
Lesley Murray as Hire-car receptionist
Brian Tully as Vicar

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.