The Sweeney, 1970 – 1978

Another Police drama, this time it’s cult police drama with The Sweeney.

Produced by Euston Films (Thames Television’s film making division) for ITV, The Sweeney ran for four series spanning fifty three episodes.

The program took it’s title from the phrase Sweeney Todd, which is Cockney rhyming slang for “Flying Squad”.

The series was created by writer Ian Kennedy Martin, brother of the better-known Troy Kennedy Martin who contributed several episodes and wrote the second film. It was born from a one-off drama, entitled Regan, which Ian Kennedy Martin wrote for Thames Television’s Armchair Cinema series of standalone films in 1974. The part of Regan was specifically written for Thaw, by a friend of Kennedy Martin with whom he had worked on Redcap.

After Regan did well in the ratings work began on a full series.  At the outset a difference of opinion lead to the exit of it’s creator.  Ian Kennedy Martin’s idea for the series were for it to be partially studio-based, with more dialogue and less action, however producer Ted Childs disagreed with this, and Ian Kennedy Martin reluctantly parted company with the project. It was filmed almost entirely on location on filmstock (which gave it a startling degree of realism), and had a heavy bias toward action sequences.

The fictional TV series flying squad operated to very high standards, whilst the time of it’s transmission it was  a dark period for the real-life Flying Squad. In the late 1970s, the Flying Squad was publicly censured for being involved in bribery, police corruption and excessively close links with the criminal fraternity.

Such was the popularity of the TV series  in the UK that it spawned two theatrically released feature film spin-offs, Sweeney! and Sweeney 2.  Since then there has been an updated movie released in cinemas.


The series revolved around  two members Detective Inspector Jack Regan and Detective Sergeant George Carter of the Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police specialising in tackling armed robbery and violent crime in London



John Thaw
Dennis Waterman
Garfield Morgan


Channel: ITV
Created By: Ian Kennedy Martin
Produced By: Thames Televsion (Euston Films)
Original Transmission Dates: 2nd January 1975 – 28th December 1978

Comedy Connections

John Thaw as well as staring in many successful TV roles also starred in the popular 1980’s sitcom ‘Home To Roost’  Dennis Waterman famously went on to play Terry in the hit comedy drama ‘Minder’



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