George Gently back for four new single dramas on BBC One
Martin Shaw returns to Sixties Northumberland as George Gently in four feature length films written by Peter Flannery (The Devil's Whore, Our Friends In The North) and Mick Ford (William And Mary), to be shown on BBC One in 2009.
The series throws Chief Inspector Gently into a maelstrom of murders and mayhem, whilst lovingly recreating the Swinging Sixties as it finally hits the North-East, in perfect and nostalgic detail.
Chief Inspector George Gently is the classic unsung hero of detective fiction and in Martin Shaw's expert hands he becomes a passionate, growling, ex-army boxer.
With his sidekick, the ambitious and undisciplined Detective Sergeant John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby – Place Of Execution), they make the perfect police partnership, full of warmth and humour.
But even the closest partners can come to blows when Gently and Bacchus enter the boxing ring, to raise monies for the police widows' fund – but who will be knocked out for the count of ten?
In the England of the early Sixties, society is on the cusp of change: homosexuality, abortion, and even prescribing the Pill to unmarried women are all illegal, and hanging for murder is still the law.
But the first strip clubs are just opening, teenagers, drugs and The Beatles are just round the corner, and Gently has to police a society where old values clash with new, and generations are at war with each other.
The series also gives a fascinating insight into the difficulties that the police had to face in the Sixties to investigate and solve their crimes – without the help of modern technology.
Gently and Bacchus have to tackle, amongst others, cases involving prostitution and rape in a time when the argument "she was up for it" was acceptable; local corruption, when it was the norm to sweep it under the carpet; racism in a world before political correctness, and paedophilia in a children's home, when the notion of organised sexual abuse was unheard of.
Gently meets up with an old flame Sharon Maughan (Holby) who helps him out on an investigation.
Jill Halfpenny (EastEnders), Mark Williams (The Fast Show, Harry Potter), Paul Copley (The Lakes), Mary Jo Randle (EastEnders), Tracey Wilkinson (Bad Girls) and Brendan Coyle (Lark Rise To Candleford) all guest star as suspects and victims in the first two films.
Peter Flannery says: "The joy of writing the Gently stories lies in the period and the place. The place because it's where I grew up, the period for the same reason – plus it gives me a chance to write about a country on the cusp of change.
"Each issue I look at at the heart of a crime – abortion, sexuality, youth gangs, child abuse, race, terrorism – was seen differently in the early Sixties compared to today.
"As L.P. Hartley said 'The past is another country. They do things differently there'."
Executive Producer Polly Hill says: "I'm delighted that George Gently is returning to BBC One for four more films. Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby have created a unique partnership and I know that drama fans will welcome their return."
George Gently is made by Company Pictures, executive produced by Peter Flannery, George Faber, Suzan Harrison and Charles Pattinson for Company Pictures, Andrew Lowe for Element Films, and Polly Hill for BBC One.
Produced by Johann Knobel (Shameless, Holby), dramas one and two are directed by Daniel O'Hara (Paddywhackery, The Clinic) and three and four by Ciaran Donnelly (The Tudors, Robin Hood).
George Gently is the latest drama commission for BBC One to transmit in 2009.
Other dramas include Small Island, the first screen adaptation of Andrea Levy's best selling novel starring Naomie Harris and David Oyelowo, and Hunter featuring the return of the dynamic partnership of detectives Iain Barclay (Hugh Bonneville) and Amy Foster (Janet McAteer) as seen in 2007's critically acclaimed Five Days, as well as the return of Ashes To Ashes, Waterloo Road and Robin Hood.
Martin Shaw can be seen on BBC One in his new series Apparitions from Thursday 13 November.