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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1974   1973   1970   1969  


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Series cast summary:
...  Det. Chief Insp. Jordan 27 episodes, 1969-1970
...  Det. Chief Insp. Alan Craven / ... 26 episodes, 1973-1974
...  Charles Moxon 21 episodes, 1969-1970
...  Det. Chief Supt. Inman / ... 18 episodes, 1969-1970
...  Det. Chief Insp. Tom Haggerty / ... 16 episodes, 1973-1974
...  Det. Sgt. Bill North / ... 15 episodes, 1969-1974
Keith Washington ...  Det. Con. Morrissey / ... 14 episodes, 1969-1970
...  Strand 11 episodes, 1974


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) »


Action | Crime





Release Date:

17 September 1969 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Brigada especial  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(53 episodes)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first nine episodes of Season 1 were made in black and white, and used a different titles/credits sequence compared with the later colour episodes in this season; even for the colour episodes, the introductory Thames caption (the iconic London skyline and river montage) was in black and white. 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 »


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

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User Reviews

The early episodes are very good, the later ones are average.

A television series like "Special Branch" existed at different times and in two different programmes. The early episodes - broadcast in 1969 and 1970 - were filmed on video, with location filming added into the episode. The leading man of this particular series was Derren Nesbitt, a popular actor from the 50s til the early 70s. He played the tough but honest police officer Detective Inspector Elliott Jordan. This character specialised in cases of investigating security leaks, drug trafficking,people smuggling, political activists etc. He had a whole team of officers who worked alongside him. On frequent occasions, a rather shadowy civil servant by the name of Moxon would liason with Special Branch but usually hindered them in their investigations. The character was played by Morris Perry. The series was produced by "Thames Television" and was popular in the ratings. You had the usual modest studio production values but I always overlook that if a series has good storytelling. By the time "Special Branch" began being broadcast in colour in 1970, Derren Nesbitt and Morris Perry were about the only actors remaining from the black and white series but they were joined by Fulton MacKay, who played Jordan's superior at New Scotland Yard. All kinds of cases are investigated and they are very good. Altogether, 27 episodes were made by "Thames Television" and they are the best in my opinion, compared to the later ones. For many years, the early episodes were considerably hard to obtain. Then when the "Euston Films" episodes were first issued on DVD, on each set was an episode with Derren Nesbitt. I was delighted as he is an actor I always enjoy watching. Then in 2007 and 2008, all 27 episodes from 1969 and 1970 were finally released on DVD. The series was laid to rest for a while. Then in 1972, "Euston Films" began producing their own version of "Special Branch." These were all shot entirely on film and technically, was the new look for British television. This wasn't the very first British television series to be made on film. A programme like "I.T.V Play of the Week" was making episodes on film as far back as 1969. But "Euston Films" was the company that really introduced a new kind of television. George Sewell and Patrick Mower were cast for this series as characters Detective Inspector Alan Craven and Detective Inspector Tom Haggerty respectively. The plots of these later episodes cover the same kind of stories pretty much as before. The episodes were broadcast in 1973 and 1974. Personally, most of these episodes are a disappointment. There are 26 altogether and I would say 7 are pretty good but the majority feel rather half-baked and boring. The problem is, is that the opening credit sequence gives a strong impression of "Special Branch" being an action series. This is shown via a car chase, Craven punching someone and of his firing a gun at a target range. Now, taking all this into account, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a "Sweeney" type series before that show came along. However, "Special Branch" isn't and never was an action series. It is motivated by drama and by character. So "Euston Films" were slightly guilty of misleading their viewers by advertising their series incorrectly. I didn't really take to Craven as a character. I know his job calls for him to be tough and even ruthless on occasion but I found him to be a rather unpleasant, obstinate, unreasonable and bullying character. Just watching the 1973 episode "Inquisition" and this is confirmed for me. I thought Patrick Mowers character was much more affable and sympathetic. Paul Eddington was cast as the civil servant, Strand. Just like with Moxon, Strand was a bit of a thorn in the side of Craven and Haggerty. "Special Branch" could have been a bigger series than it was. The storytelling side and the writing are both routine and just about watchable. It was the series of "Sweeney" that really brought British television up to date in how that series was made. In addition, it is also a far more exciting and entertaining show in ways that "Special Branch" could only dream of.

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