The Sweeney (1975–1978)

TV Series  |   |  Action, Comedy, Crime
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British police TV series which revolutionized the genre on UK television in the mid-1970s starring John Thaw as a hard-edged detective in the Flying Squad of London's Metropolitan Police.

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Title: The Sweeney (1975–1978)

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4   3   2   1  
1978   1976   1975  
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
 Det. Insp. Jack Regan (53 episodes, 1975-1978)
 Det. Sgt. George Carter (53 episodes, 1975-1978)
Garfield Morgan ...
 Det. Chief Insp. Frank Haskins (45 episodes, 1975-1978)


British police series which revolutionised the genre on UK television in the mid 1970s. Jack Regan (see also 'Regan' (1974)) played by John Thaw is a hard edged detective in the Flying Squad of London's Metropolitan police (called 'the Sweeney' from the Cockney rhyming slang 'Sweeney Todd' = 'Flying Squad"). He pursues villains by methods which are underhand, often illegal themselves, frequently violent and more often than not successful. The series was made on film a preserves a gritty realism inherited from such films as 'Get Carter' (1971) Written by D.Giddings <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Comedy | Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

2 January 1975 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Deckname Sweeney  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(53 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In several episodes, an ambulance featured in the plot. It was always the same vehicle, carrying the fictitious registration number SJA 374R, SJA 374S (The Sweeney: Loving Arms (1976)) or SJA 374T (The Sweeney: Bait (1978)), with the suffix letter changing according to the year of filming because it denotes the year of registration. SJA stands for St John Ambulance, who owned the vehicle, and 374 is 374 Division, based at Kingston Upon Thames. See more »


Followed by Sweeney 2 (1978) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

TV genius -- one of those shows that becomes part of your DNA.
4 November 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The rough, tough and downright dirty world of New Scotland Yard's heavy mob - The Sweeney.

So-called because the Cockney rhyming slang for Flying Squad is The Sweeney (Sweeney Todd -- famous murderous London barber -- Flying Squad). The term "flying" because they came on the scene quickly after bank robberies or other "serious" crimes.

It doesn't get much better than this. It really doesn't. Around 1975 we didn't have video recorders so you made sure that you were sat down with your coffee for the ITV 9pm showing! The show's genus is in the acting and script -- as well as the real locations of South London. Tatty high rises, breakers yards (ideal for fighting!), smoky clubs/pubs and "the factory" the office that they worked from with its grey walls, round dial phones and worn out office equipment.

(This was actually modelled on the real Flying Squad office!)

Occasionally this would contrast with the middle class splendour of the super villain or mastermind who planned the central crime like a chess game.

John Thaw (as Jack Regan) was a genius of an actor, but always a tough guy at heart. Even when he put on a posh accent. In his younger days he was a bit of a bully and a tearaway, being a kind of "king of the teds" character. How he ever got in to acting is a long and unlikely story.

(I won't bore you with it.)

Dennis Waterman (as George Carter) was originally going to be only an occasional character and the whole show was going to focus on Regan - but the writers noticed that they made a team and the script was changed. The final line in the triangle was the (mostly) office bound Garfield Morgan (as Chief Insp. Frank Haskins) ) who was the voice of the reason that generally wanted "to go by the book."

(Regan never wanted to go by the book -- he "wanted results" any way he could get them!)

As the series progressed it got more adventurous and sometimes things went badly wrong. There was sometimes odd-ball comedy episodes. Unlike any other cop show before or since it was suggested that some of the criminals were behind bars for things they didn't do -- and the methods of Regan himself were bound to get him in to serious trouble (with the "brass") sooner rather than later.

Naturally The Sweeney did have its limits. Regan rarely was on the wrong track (even when evidence pointed another way - he always "had a hunch") and rarely did the cons lay down their weapons readily. Which I am sure they would in real life -- especially when the police had attack dogs and guns. It wasn't a show that was in full flight from a cheap thrill.

This show went all around Europe (I saw one episode in Spanish) but I doubt it would do well in America. Too sour and not enough happy endings.Happy memories which were not bountiful in the 1970's.

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