In three part crime drama He Kill’s Coppers it’s London, 1966 and the country is gripped by World Cup fever.
DC Frank Taylor is an ambitious police officer fresh from the advanced course in Bramshill and only weeks away from his dream job with the Flying Squad.
His temporary secondment to the clean-up Soho squad is a brief detour on his rapid career path. His old mate Jon Young is on the team too and they‘ll have a laugh, just like the old days.
Posing as gullible punters they meet the beautiful clip joint hostess Jeannie. Both men have a powerful, unspoken sexual attraction to her but getting involved with a “tart” is a sure way to mess up your career. Why? Because the club regularly pays bribes to West End officers.
Frank suspects that Jon and Jeannie have slept together and a potent mix of jealousy and self-interest make him determined to sort this mess out on his own terms. He gets Jon transferred out of Soho and away from Jeannie, much to Jon’s disgust.
But a horrifying crime is set to change Frank Taylor’s life. He will have to live with guilt for the rest of his life…
Episode two begins just after the killing of three police officers by the ruthless psychopath Billy Porter. The country is in uproar. Calls for the return of the death penalty follow and Porter goes on the run.
“Don’t worry Frank, we’ll get him,” says the officer in charge of the hunt. But Frank is obsessed and his grief and guilt merge into cold hatred.
Meanwhile tabloid reporter Tony Meehan is suddenly in demand. His reports on the shootings have made him the acknowledged expert on “Billy Porter – Cop Killer.” At last he has achieved some of the success and recognition he craves.
Billy, meanwhile, has gone on the run. He spends weeks on his own in his hideout in Thorley Woods. When he hears his tearful mother on the radio appealing for him to give himself up his resolve falters slightly. The lessons of the Malay jungle return to him but this time Billy is the prey and the police are the hunters.
After Jon’s death, Frank and Jeannie become closer. Jeannie seems like the last remaining link to Jon and this just about keeps Frank afloat.
By episode three it’s the mid 1980s and Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher and miners’ leader Arthur Scargill hector the British public nightly from the TV. Battle lines are being drawn all over the country.
Reporter Tony Meehan’s career is on the skids. He has been exiled from Fleet Street and now edits a tawdry magazine called Murder Monthly.
When a publisher shows interest in his unfinished manuscript on Billy Porter, Tony knows this could be his final chance for genuine success.
But the book needs an ending – he has to find Billy. Over the years he has continued his relationship with Lily Porter, pretending to care for her, all the while clinging to the hope she will reveal something new about her son.
When he discovers she has been receiving letters from Billy, Meehan finally cracks and all his pent-up rage and anger spills over at being deceived.
Meanwhile Frank has managed to keep climbing the greasy pole and is now a DCI. But the rank doesn’t bring the satisfaction he had anticipated.
Director Adrian Shergold on the difficulties of recreating sixties Soho, “one of the hardest things was not so much shooting in 1985 or even in the 1970s but shooting Soho 1966. That proved the most problematic era because there is very little of 60s London left.
“We did actually think about using bits of Soho but all those old streets have changed beyond recognition now. When you look at black and white footage of that part of London in the 60s, there is no-one sitting outside cafés, there is no café society at all.
“The whole world seemed much grubbier and scuffy then. It had a slightly 50s feel to it actually, so in order to try and re-create that, we had to go and find some streets we could make look like 50s / 60s London. We found those in Spitalfields (central London) which we dressed and made our very own Soho in the 60s.
UK / ITV – Ecosse / 3×50 minute episode / Broadcast 23 March – 6 April 2008
Writer: Ed Whitmore / Novel: Jake Arnott / Executive Producers: Robert Bernstein, Douglas Rae / Producer: David Boulter / Director: Adrian Shergold
Mel Raido as Billy Porter
Liam Garrigan as Jonathan Young
Rafe Spall as Frank Taylor
Steven Robertson as Tony Meehan
Tim Woodward as Nipper Reid
Kelly Reilly as Jeannie
Paul Ritter as Sid Franks
Cameron Jack as Jimmy
Cavan Clerkin as Stan
Lucy Holt as Sandra
James Dreyfus as Julian
Frank Harper as DI Ernie Franklin
Maureen Lipman as Lily Porter
Ben Cartwright as DC Mickey Parks
Simon Snashall as DS Reg Wilson
Arthur Darvill as PC Wallis
TV, Period Drama, Crime and Mystery, Ed Whitmore, ITV, Rafe Spall, Tim Woodward, Arthur Darvill, Maureen Lipman,