7.7/10
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2 user 1 critic

Special Branch 

Ground-breaking British police drama series following the exploits of the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police. An elite group of officers tasked with protecting London from spies, terrorists and subversives.
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Episodes

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Years



4   3   2   1  
1974   1973   1970   1969  

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Derren Nesbitt ...  Det. Chief Insp. Jordan 27 episodes, 1969-1970
George Sewell ...  Detective Chief Inspector Alan Craven 26 episodes, 1973-1974
Morris Perry ...  Charles Moxon 21 episodes, 1969-1970
Fulton Mackay ...  Det. Chief Supt. Inman / ... 18 episodes, 1969-1970
Patrick Mower ...  Detective Chief Inspector Tom Haggerty / ... 16 episodes, 1973-1974
Roger Rowland ...  Detective Sergeant Bill North / ... 15 episodes, 1969-1974
Keith Washington Keith Washington ...  Det. Con. Morrissey / ... 14 episodes, 1969-1970
Paul Eddington ...  Strand 11 episodes, 1974
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Storyline

Ground-breaking British police drama series following the exploits of the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police. An elite group of officers tasked with protecting London from spies, terrorists and subversives.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | See All (1) »

Genres:

Action | Crime

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 September 1969 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Brigada especial See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(53 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Unlike a good deal of British television from the 1950s to the 1970s, every single episode of "Special Branch" has been preserved in the archives. See more »

Crazy Credits

The credit lists for many episode in Season 3 only listed the character names for the main characters; a lot of minor parts were listed as actor names with no corresponding character names. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Man About the House: It's Only Money (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Two programmes for the price of one
27 August 2009 | by kmoh-1See all my reviews

This cop show about Britain's police force which fights crime with a national security angle is actually two almost completely different series, each of which ran for two seasons.

The first is a studio-made production from the late 1960s starring Derren Nesbitt (Jordan), with Wensley Pithey (Eden) and then Fulton Mackay (Inman) as his superiors, all three putting in excellent performances. Nesbitt in particular, looking immensely trendy, is magnificent, characteristically twitchy.

This Special Branch is in a state of perpetual tension with MI5, Britain's spy service, represented by the wily Moxon, who makes Machiavelli look naive. The first season contains a running thread following a failed case in the first episode, 'Troika', which puts Eden under pressure from his mysterious superiors.

The quality of script and acting of these two seasons is marvellous, but the productions mix studio-bound scenes, with the painted 'view' from Eden/Inman's window particularly obvious, with location-filmed inserts. Excellent, and very much of its time.

The third and fourth seasons are totally different under the same brand or banner, with virtually no overlap in cast with the first two seasons. These were entirely filmed by Euston, and intended to look gritty and realistic - and so it seemed at the time, but it looks a bit pedestrian in comparison with, say, The Sweeney, never mind The Wire. Compared with the first two seasons, it shifted the focus from talk to action, from internal politics to enemy action, and was much less cerebral and concerned with character. Not quite dumbed down, but the last two seasons were certainly inferior to the first two.

The star of the show was George Sewell. He had a posh sidekick, Roger Rowland who proved extremely boring (he was one of the very few cast overlaps with the first two seasons, having appeared in a small part in an early show), so while the third season was being filmed they pepped up the cast with the addition of Patrick Mower, who quickly added a bit of tension and his peculiar brand of sleazy glam.

All four seasons are available on DVD in the UK, but make sure you know what you are buying. Seasons 1 & 2 are traditional, talky and studio set, so comparable with something like the Sandbaggers (not as good, I should add, but not unlike in style). Seasons 3 & 4 are location-filmed, gritty and action-oriented, so more like The Sweeney (not as good either).


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