London's Burning (TV Series 1988–2002) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
9 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Consistently Good Drama But The 2002 Series Was Rubbish
Big Movie Fan16 December 2002
London's Burning was a show about the firefighters of Blue Watch based in London. It was originally a one-off TV movie made in 1986 and this was the series that followed.

London's Burning has provided viewers with some of the best drama/special effects and a fantastic dose of drama in the firefighter's personal lives. From the first series, London's Burning kept topping itself as the firefighters coped with bigger blazes and more and more personal problems. Here in the UK in real life, only one in five calls is for a fire-most firefighters deal with road accidents and rescue operations and London's Burning showed all this.

There have been some memorable characters throughout such as Poison Pearce (nicknamed because of his poisonous tongue) and Sicknote (nicknamed that for obvious reasons). There has been a constant change of characters and senior officers throughout and it has provided many tears at times. It has been a good show.

The 2002 series was rubbish though. Some of the popular characters such as Station Officer Coleman and Divisional Officer Griggs were gone and replaced by some unconvincing characters. There also seemed to be more sex and drama and less fires. The show might as well have been renamed London's Having Love Affairs.

The 2002 series was probably the last and I hope it is. However, videos of the earlier shows are available and worth checking out.
8 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Good Start
TheJiveMaster6 December 2004
London's Burning was a mainstay of ITV's Sunday night scheduling during the late 80's and 90's. The series emerged from the TV film written by the late and great Jack Rosenthal and followed a group of fire fighters belonging to Blue Watch at London's Blackwall fire station.

Initially the series kept a lot of Rosenthal's influence. The humour was lively with station pranks and the loves and lives of the watch being the backbone of the series. In between all this were the fires and other shouts which helped to highlight the diverse work of the fire brigade as their role has changed over the shows lifespan. A few dark moments relating to death or injury of the fire fighters or victims put a dark edge on the show which helped to prevent it from becoming a farce and the whole package made for extremely addictive viewing.

Sadly the last few series beginning in 2000 started the downward spiral. By 2000, most of the original cast had left as they had become disillusioned with the writing or wanted to pursue other opportunities before they became typecast. Their replacements were usually dour characters that had plenty of personal baggage and the humorous aspects were replaced by deep thoughts and crisis in relationships. ITV also tried to increase the number of episodes per year whilst reducing the budget which diminished the number of spectacular fires that the brigade would attend in a series and it became more of a soap rather than the refreshing series that it had been when it first started.

Eventually around 2001 the series was axed and it has now been replaced by Steel River Blues which has all the promise to be like London's Burning was in the early days.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Another victim of 9/11
rainbow-1324 July 2003
After 9/11, the producers thought they could cash in on the hero status of firemen. They junked the episodes already made and remade the 2002 series - and it was rubbish! They alienated the existing fan base and failed to attrach new fans, so that it plumetted in the ratings. Yet another example of a long-running favourite being destroyed by producers who "updated" a successful favourite. ITV has done this so often, you wonder why they don't learn!
11 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
London's Boring
screenman24 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I moved to the capital the year this series began, so it had a particular resonance for me. I'd also had some experience in the fire-fighting game so I was particularly interested to see how well it fared.

The first few episodes were quite decent with a good mix of mostly likable characters. The technical researchers also appeared to have done their homework.

But the trouble is; with all dramas that run for long enough; they just turn into soap-operas, with personal issues gradually eclipsing the raison d'etre. In the end, it doesn't matter what the characters do for a living. Firemen, coppers, soldiers, teachers; we seem to finish-up worrying about marital issues, debts, drink problems, etc. They're good for - say - a 10 or 20-week run and then that's it. Fires become just fires. Now, what's up with yer missus?

This series seemed to outlive the fire engines themselves. And it sure as hell outlived my interest. For the first 10 programmes I'd have given 8 or 9 stars, but by the time it was finally extinguished I couldn't give a damn.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dated limp drama
ian100018 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I watched LB from the movie to almost the bitter end and if you'd asked me six months ago I would have been hugely complimentary.

However time plays tricks with the memory, and I've recently had the chance to view the early episodes again.

I was shocked at how empty and limp the stories were, though punctuated by increasingly spectacular yet predictable 'shouts' with associated danger, drama and of course death. Death was a major player in LB, and 'Blue Watch' would surely have been renamed 'Death Watch' and would have come to national media attention due to their high attrition rate.

Some of the drama between 'shouts' is incredibly wet, and usually punctuated by sax background music. The stereotyped characters that I had enjoyed any years ago only annoy now, and Josie's lines when she returned to the show during the big 'shout' made a roomful of viewers laugh with embarrassment.

Best remembered and not re-watched - you may spoil your memories.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
As good as "Third Watch"... and came first
x-lechard18 November 2003
It took fifteen years for "London's Burning" to be shown in France, but it was worth-waiting. Though it may seem a little outdated in comparison with its more cinematic American equivalent "Third Watch", it still is a very good show with its own strong virtues. No excessive pyrotechnics, no frenetic rhythm, but solid plotlines and convincing, realistic characters. Actors have a great part in success of this series, with a special mention to the excellent Richard "Sicknote" Walsh. A must-see for viewers enjoying stories about heroes that happen to be also human beings.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Britain's Best Firefighting Drama.
thetokenbrit6 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
As a child in early 1990's Britain, London's Burning was a staple of Sunday night TV. I have just been re-watching the show on DVD and it's still as relevant today as it was 20 years ago when the show was at it's peak.

I highly recommend this show to Firefighting/Fire Brigade enthusiasts around the world as it showed Blue Watch of Blackwall Fire Station dealing with work and personal triumphs and tragedies. The realism of the show was what made it so successful with a big budget being spent on the spectacular, well crafted and well produced "Shouts" that Blue Watch were called to (A "Shout" is a Brigade term for an Emergency call) in the days before Computer Generated Imagery which the later seasons of LB had to suffer from as the budget was cut.

Here's to the crew of Blackwall!
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One Of The All Time Greats
Sometimes19862 January 2007
As it says in the title, London's Burning was one of the greatest drama's to appear on British television. It's mixture of gritty realism and humour made it one of the staples of ITV and was compulsive Sunday night viewing. Action packed story lines and superb acting ensured, in it's heyday, that viewing ratings were in excess of 18-19 million each episode. There were some bad points about the show, namely characters being alive and well at the end of a series, and in the next one not being there at all with no mention of them or explanation to where they went. E:g Carole Webb (Zoé Heyes), Rob Sharpe (Connor Lee). This was reinforced in 1998 when the show had it's first revamp with new opening titles and theme tune. Oh and Jim Alexander joined as well :P (!) Story lines changed and the programme was more focused on the personal lives of the characters (Chris Hammond's gambling debts, Jack's divorce and mental breakdown) Added to that in 2001 Richard Walsh (Sicknote) who was the only original character from the movie/pilot episode was killed off and that left Glen Murphy (George Green) as the only original character from the 1988 series when it first started. 2002 was the final straw as story lines were more sexual and unbelievable (A satellite was going to fall from Outer Space and crush London (!) (!) ) London's Burning was promptly axed and lets be honest, it was ITV/LWT that killed it off with it's new direction. But the show still deserves a 10/10 for the enjoyment and legacy it left behind. Oh and Jim Alexander was in the show as well...... Oh yeah I already mentioned that!! :P
3 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great series
M@rko7727 August 2000
I like the series very much.. Especially the great actors and the great stunts, of course! Here in Finland we follow the series 96-97 season (after Bayleaf´s leaving and Hallam´s death)
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews