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Before (and in some cases after) Bergerac BBC dramas were pathetically low
budget and often set in over-lit and wobbly studio-sets that were a
throwback to a theatre tradition that television needed to take a step, a
cinematic step indeed, away from.
Bergerac was instrumental in changing that. What makes it take this leap is that every scene is outside broadcast. If the scene is in an office in a police station, then it is filmed in an office. It may seem a small thing, but compare it to other BBC dramas of the time, like Juliet Bravo, and you will see how Bergerac stands the test of time and they fail.
John Nettles is superb in the lead role, but as ever, for a series like this to work, it is the supporting actors that make the difference and these are in two categories. Firstly, the regulars who are good and fun, especially Charlie Hungerford, a more subtle and plausible Arthur Daley character, and Barney Crozier, one of the world's most grumpy men, but one who you still are able to have a little time for. Secondly, the guest actors, and these read like a checklist of British dramatic talent, either classic stars making guest appearances (Beryl Reid, Sir Norman Wisdom, Richard Griffiths) or a host of younger actors who were on the cusp of being household names (Ray Winston, Resse Dinsdale, Louise Jameson, Lisa Goddard).
A decade is a long time, but the quality of Bergerac never failed throughout its ten years (which almost mirrored Mrs Thatcher's term as PM; it makes the series interesting social history for that golden decade as well as drama). Outstanding.
Bergerac is one of the few shows which, on many occasions, had unique
or plots that had unique twists. It resisted the temptation to jump on
particular bandwagon. The 'hero', Bergerac, was neither hero nor the
still-popular anti-hero. The writers often back-referenced with regard to
the ongoing arc which took Bergerac from recovering alcoholic to lucky in
love, unlucky in love, lucky in his job, unlucky in his job, and
back to the bottle again, without twisting him out of character to do
In my opinion, this show still stands the test of time and is more watchable than too many of the newer shows on TV today.
I really love watching old episodes of this and think it's a shame that UKTV are not showing every episode. I think the first series was great and although the show lost its way a bit for the next few series, it did pick up again in the late 1980s with a few standout shows. I agree with a previous reader that the episode with the mercenary is good, as is the flashback one to WW2, and the one where he goes to London and has a great scene in St paul's cathedral with that Scottish actor who used to be in everything. Also good are the later episodes in France. Strange to see Bergerac's girlfriend from series 1 turning up nearly 20 years later with Sean Bean in Sharpe! Also the production values in the later series were so much higher. All in all great nostalgia and interesting social history of the 1980s, Jim always wakes up with Terry Wogan's breakfast show for example, possibly the only detective to do this. But the fact remains that John Nettles as Jim Bergerac was and is a surprising success story. I like it and so do millions of others but i feel that no one has really ever explained quite why.
I felt, after reading the ONE other review that I had to stick up for
I remember reading that this show was coming to our screens and really wanting to watch it and absolutely adored it from the first moment, the beautiful locations, the gorgeous car (Triumph Roadster) and totally fell in love with John Nettles! (I was only 13) I even begged my folks to take me to Jersey - and we found a good deal and went! I read about other reviewers commenting on the ridiculously high body count but please remember that Jim worked for the Bureau Of Strangers, and most of the fatalities were visitors, course, he also appeared to investigate a lot of local crime...
Anyway, I loved this show and happily watch it during UKTV Gold re-runs and yes, its dated, but for me it brings back the old magic. Wonderful stuff.
This is probably the last comment I'll write from England, as I'm flying back home to America after a year here in a couple of days. Unfortunately, that also means I'll be flying away from Bergerac on the BBC. I discovered this marvelous old detective show a short time ago, and since then I've enjoyed every episode of the programme I've seen. John Nettles is so cool and calm in the title role, and the cast of regulars is fun to watch and full of life. The plots are interesting, though not overly contrived. As much as I enjoy reading Agatha Christie books (and watching BBC adaptations of them), I sometimes find her plots a little too twisty for their own good. Bergerac's plots don't suffer this [ever-so-slight] malady. The scenery on the island of Jersey is beautiful, though I don't know whether it was filmed there or not. One might suspect (and hope!) that the crime-rate is somewhat less than represented in the show, but since watching Bergerac, I seriously want to visit the island and find out for myself. Also, if I do manage to visit Jersey sometime down the road, I have reason to believe I'll be able to pick up the BBC signal and watch re-runs of Bergerac to my heart's content! I recommend this police detective show to anyone who enjoys British television drama or detective shows. One last thing: I really love the tune they play at the end of the show. Hope I can get a recording of that sometime!
Nowadays most younger television viewers would think of DCI Barnaby
solving murders in the fictional yet dangerous Midsommer whenever the
name John Nettles is mentioned. However his rise to fame came in the
1980's series Bergerac. Nettles played Detective Seargeant Jim
Bergerac, a detective with Jersey's Bureau Des Etrangers. The
background to this character was that he was a recovering alcoholic who
had returned to his native Jersey following a serious accident whilst
on duty and the breakdown of his marriage.
The background to Jim Bergerac was complex but was skillfully played by Nettles. His appearance was as a charismatic generally amiable character. His hardness usually came out when dealing with criminals or attempting to get information. His approach to solving crime is often unorthodox and usually against the wishes and orders of his superiors.
The most notable supporting character of the series is the cigar toting Charlie Hungerford played by Terence Alexander. The initial sniping between the two characters and the later friendship that develops between them is a nice diversion. Alexander also provided a slight comedic element to the show due to his money making schemes and other slightly shady dealings.
Bergerac was a good series for the 1980's and is still of a high quality today. It portrayed a seedy world under the glamour of tax exiles living in Jersey. It was filmed in a 50 minute format popular until 2000 which allowed it to be easily sold to commercial channels and as such it lacks a bit of substance compared to modern dramas. This does make it easy to watch as the crimes are easy to solve for the armchair detective. One thing that is grating though is the lack of conclusion to each episode or recrimination afterwards.
In general the series is still well worth watching even after nearly 30 years of debuting on television.
At 16 years old, I am probably the youngest serious Bergerac fan currently
in existence. I used to watch it when I was really young, and have
the repeats ever since. I have recently been enjoying the selected
being repeated on BBC 1 which ended today with the penultimate Christmas
Episode and will miss watching it after coming home from a morning GCSE,
especially since I break up in four days and do not have Bergerac to look
forward to. I think that the series' strong points are many but there are
some which really made it the great Laviathan of a programme that it was,
the predominant example being its guest appearances.
Over the course of the entire saga, celebrities were made and broken, and most appeared in Bergerac. The guest stars made each and every episode immediately watchable and different from the rest, the most memorable episodes being 'Almost like a Holiday' starring the ineffable Norman Wisdom (who bumps his knee on a table within the first two minutes of the episode) and 'My Name is Sgt. Bergerac' with none other than Frank from the Vicar of Dibley, and Tony Robinson, sporting a hilarious perm and chest wig. However, on a personal level, my favourite episode was the one where Bergerac investigates a drug smuggling ring where the main villain is played by none other than Jack Galloway, father of my brother's best friend!
Watching Bergerac, it is easy to let yourself believe that it is a stereotypical police drama, but the beauty of it is, that Bergerac MADE this stereotype. The fact that one knows who the crook is almost from the start may seem to make the show pointless, yet, conversely, it does in fact raise the enjoyment as you shout 'NO, IT'S NOT HIM, IT'S THE OTHER ONE' frantically at Le Crozier.
If anyone can name a better police drama, or indeed, a better BBC drama than Bergerac, post it here and I will happily disagree.
Bergerac established John Nettles as one of the most famous television
actors in the 1980s, something that he has continued to this day,
although more recently in the considerably more pedestrian Midsomer
Bergarac certainly benefited from some excellent input from a remarkably broad range of quality TV figures like Robert Banks Stewart, Robert Holmes, Tristan DeVere Cole, Chris Boucher, Dennis Spooner, Tony Dow, Matthew Robinson, Bob Baker and Geoffrey Sax etc, and location filming on Jersey was regarded as rather exotic at the time.
I think I ought to correct Scooby-57's comment that this show made Louise Jameson famous. She was already very famous from her regular role in Doctor Who when the show regularly attracted about 13 million viewers and also her role in Tenko.
as a long time bergerac fan i am pleased to find this site and would like to add to the previous comments.it was painfully obvious in the first series that it was shot out of season as at times the light is appalling.it was a very well written series from the creator of shoestring robert banks stewart the choice of jersey being a master stroke, it was responsible for the increase in holiday business once established .it was a bit long in the tooth and making bergerac a private detective was a bit lame.characters were good and bad charlie being longest running ,debs his wife/charlies daughter was exceptional but was not in every series.his first girlfriend francine was a bit wooden,how could a travel rep know so much.celia imrie was superb and well replaced by louise jameson who was sadly killed off at the start of a new series .to sum up , a well written adult series with picturesque locations good cast a very rare car but went on to long series wise.>
I agree with other readers who felt that Bergerac outlived his shelf life, but isn't this typical of the BBC when they realise they've got a hit on their hands? instead of letting a good idea run its natural course they flog it to death, detracting from the originality, which the earlier series certainly had. for all that, Bergerac is a well-crafted piece of TV. there was only one episode which I found truly awful, centring on a faded singer with a drink problem who meets up with his old duet-partner. cue jealous husband, dreadful singing, tragic demise and weak twist to the plot.the rest were either good or outstanding. I have no problem in recommending bergerac. watch, regardlessof the weather. bergerac is available on DVD from may 06 from the bbc shop.
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