There's something inherently fascinating and chilling about unsolved crimes. Who did it? Why? How did they manage to get away? And where are they now? So when ambitious Sandra Pullman hires three retired cops to become the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS), naturally the squad are faced with an intriguing series of mysteries.
New Tricks isn't just a serial whodunit. The three cops have been retired for some time, and are baffled and amused by the advancements in technology and changes in police protocol that have taken place since they left the force. Since they're not officially police officers anymore, they can break all the rules, and they do.
Slim, blonde and still stunning at 42, Amanda Redman, plays Sandra Pullman, the career woman in charge of UCOS. We know her best from At Home with the Braithwaites and Hope and Glory. She's also earned some impressive credits at the cinema, appearing in Sexy Beast alongside Ben Kingsley and in Mike Bassett: England Manager with the wonderful Ricky Tomlinson.
Dennis Waterman is Gerry Standing, who was asked to leave the force for slugging a superior officer. He's a dedicated policeman, and welcomes the opportunity to get back to cracking cases. Waterman, of The Sweeney and Minders fame is also an accomplished singer and has an exhausting list of theatre credits to his name. He's already written his autobiography Re-Minder, but it looks like he'll have to add a few chapters about New Tricks.
James Bolam plays Jack Halford, forced to retire to care for his wife after she's injured in a hit-and-run accident. She has now passed on, so he welcomes the chance to return to the force. Halford is a far cry from Bolam's most famous role as Terry Collier in The Likely Lads. He has always made challenging choices in his acting career though. He played murderous Dr Harold Shipman in the biopic Shipman and can be heard doing voices and readings in A History of Britain.
Alun Armstrong's character, Brian Lane, was forced to take early retirement when a suspect died on his watch. Armstrong played Adrian Mole's dad in The Cappuccino Years and has been a hit in Hollywood with roles in Proof of Life, Braveheart, Patriot Games and Married with Children. He also made guest appearances on The Sweeney and The Likely Lads. His life-long dedication to Dickens has brought him stage and screen roles in Nicholas Nickleby (twice), Oliver Twist (twice) and David Copperfield. He's also done a stint with the RSC and been nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actor six times. Phew! Not bad for a guy who got his first gig in theatre through his boss on his job as a gravedigger.
The Usual Suspects
As if an all-star lead cast wasn't enough, New Tricks attracts constellations of guest stars for each episode. Keep your eyes peeled for Anthony Head, who's still best known as Buffy's watcher, Giles. David Brent's boss, Patrick Baladi also turns up. As does Cheri Lunghi (Cutting It, Inspector Lynley), Nicholas Day (Daniel Deronda, The Lakes) and Stephen Moore (the teenaged Adrian Mole's dad, and various characters in Harry Enfield's productions).