Shoestring (TV Series 1979–1980) Poster

(1979–1980)

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Intense Gripping Crime Show
Powysw26 May 2001
Shoestring was a unique series, a ratings winner for the BBC it was perhaps the most popular thing around at the time and spurned a fashion for loud pyjama style shirts! At the core of the show was Trevor Eve, a superb actor who played Eddie Shoestring with power and frightening intensity. Always on edge, you never knew how Eddie, the former mental patient turned Private Eye would react, and you kind of guessed another breakdown was always on the cards (none more so than in Mocking Bird). There wasnt a bad episode in this show, and Eve quit after two series leaving us with a show whose legacy was untarnished, giving a good lesson to other series that carry on long past their time. The show gave us some superb cameos too. Toyah Wilcox turns up as a wannabe pop star long before she was one and Christopher Biggins, Peter Dean, Michael Elphick, Eric Richard, Sean Arnold not forgetting Bert Kwouk

(better knowk as Peter Seller's sidekick Cato) all turn up in this series. The last episode The Dangerous Game is like a roll call of the future stars of The Bill, Boon, Dear John and I am sure many others besides. Eddie went out on a high and there are rumours that the eagle may fly again, Trevor Eve's wife dropping a less than subtle hint in a recent interview. I must mention Michael Medwin & Liz Crowther as the radio station stalwarts and of course Erica Bayliss, Eddie's long suffering girlfriend without whom this series would have missed something. Despite this, the glory of this show beloged to one man, Trevor Eve.
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One two buckle my shoe...string
Buck Aroo11 October 2003
Why isn't this available on video? So many other series are lauded and repeated over and over (Only Fools and Horses, etc.) and go on forever, turning up at Christmas with so called 'specials'. We could certainly do with some more Eddie as the rumours indicate. But I fear, as the times have now changed, and we have become jaded by the amount of detective dramas that the TV channels pump out as a safe bet to win ratings, some new Shoestring wouldn't look as innovative as it quite clearly was. The Beeb for once has repeated something watchable, as a while back, I was able to see some classic episodes again. Especially good was the one where Eddie loses it with a villain at the end.

Get your arse in gear BBC...Put this thing out on DVD!! Now!!
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Enjoyable - 9/10
Buffy18 August 2003
I've always loved detective stories and this is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I don't remember much of it, because I was only about 6 years old when I saw this serial. I still remember the title music, which, later on I found out was the "Songbird" tune... The private-eye (Trevor eve) was perfect for the "not-normal" character, looked and acted the part well. Quite a thrilling thriller, quite and edge of the seat at the same time! I wish they would re-telecast this series once again so that I could refresh my memory... I'd give it a 9/10.
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A fun series
lje3267717 December 2003
Shoestring, starring: Trevor Eve, Doran Godwin, Michael Medwin and Liz Crowther, is a fun series. Fans, being the resourceful people that we are, share things we enjoy. I would have never gotten to see some of the great British TV series, if I had not met someone on the internet who had introduced me to something that intrigued them. Shoestring is one of those series.

It is the story of a frumpy, private investigator called Eddie Shoestring(Trevor Eve). He had a nervous breakdown while working as a computer analyst and smashed his computer with a hammer. He was instituionalized. After a short period of counseling his psychologist taught him to use art as a stress releaser, so when he begins to get nervous he draws caractures of the object of his stress. Eddie lives in the upper room of a terraced house in Bristol, England. His landlady is the Solicitor Erica Bayliss(Doran Godwin) who works with the police. Eddie is often out of work and owes Erica back rent, but she has a soft spot for him, if not an available g-spot. The fact that these two have a sexual relationship is obvious from the beginning.

Following a widespread British pattern, the local radio station, Radio West, occaisionally invites local people on for interview. The station manager, Don Satchley(Michael Medwin) invites Erica for an interview to help locals with dealing with the police. Radio West is in the process of it's own scandal. It's star Presenter, David Cairn(William Russell), is having a relationship with a young, local prostitute. In the process of visiting one of her clients, she cracks up, steals Cairns Rolls Royce and dies of hypothermia on the beach due to a drug and alcohol overdose. Satchley is at a loss of what to do and asks Erica for help. She introduces Satchley to Shoestring and Eddie solves the mystery. Satchley is impressed with Eddie's abilities and after a suggestion by their receptionist, Sonia(Liz Crowther) hires Eddie to be the station's "Private Ear". Eddie now provides a free service to the public. They write to him and if the need is interesting, he investigates it and the relates the stories on the aire, leaving out the real names, of course to protect the privacy of the listener.

The chemistry between all the actors makes this a fun series. It is lite entertainment that I wish would be available to the general public. There is a large fan base for it and even an unofficial website for fans.

Mr. Eve left the series because of a fear that he would be stereotyped. He had a valid concern. This series would have run for several years. It was that good. But now Mr. Eve has a wider fan base, both in the US and Great Britain, because of his excellant work in film and stage. I hope, now that he has the rights to the show, he might consider releasing it on vhs or dvd.
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10/10
The Private Eye Who Became A Private Ear
ShadeGrenade3 October 2006
'Shoestring' is, in my view, the finest detective series the B.B.C. has ever made. The same production team were responsible for the later ( and vastly inferior ) 'Bergerac', but it had something the Jersey-based show lacked - Trevor Eve. In his pyjama jacket, Beatles-styled mop ( Eve had once played Paul McCartney on stage ) and sporting a fashionable moustache, the character could easily have crossed the line into parody ( he also had a habit of sketching the people he met in the course of cases ), but Eve made Eddie warm and believable.

Shoestring was originally a computer programmer who'd lost his job as the result of a nervous breakdown. His landlady, Erica Bayliss, worked in the police archives, and was a big help to him as she had access to confidential files. After a case involving a dead prostitute, Eddie was offered his own show by Radio West. Nowhere was Eve's acting ability more impressive than the scene in the second episode where Eddie suffers a fit of nerves whilst on air for the first time. Admittedly, his cases were small beer by comparison with U.S. detectives such as 'Philip Marlowe' - religious cults, fake antiques dealers, punk rockers and dangerous Christmas toys - but the scripts were good and the cast performed them excellently. Special mention must go to George Fenton for his wonderful music, and Sid Sutton for his titles.

'Shoestring' was a big hit ( Cary Grant was reputedly a fan ), even though its second season clashed with 'The Professionals' on I.T.V., and should have run for five years at least. But it was not to be. Fearing typecasting, Trevor Eve quit after two. Due to complicated music rights issues, we are unlikely to see 'Shoestring' on D.V.D. for the foreseeable future. A great shame.
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10/10
Excellent- deserves re-visiting
herbertanchovy14 May 2010
Lasting only for 2 seasons in 1979-80, Shoestring follows the adventures of former computer programmer turned private eye, Eddie shoestring. Following a period in a mental institution after he had a breakdown and smashed up computer equipment, he gets recruited to "radio west" a fictional (at the time) local radio station to be a "private ear". People who need detective services call him up and he attempts to solve the case for them, using the story in his radio show. The show is in my opinion much greater than the sum of its parts- and its all due to the wonderful characterisation of Trevor Eve. He really developed Eddie Shoestring as a likable and flawed character, he deliberately isn't a "super cool" type of P.I. He wears pyjama tops instead of shirts, drives an ageing (even then) orange cortina estate (which he managed to get on his expenses from radio west after his own Hillman hunter was smashed up on a case early on in the series) and as a method of stress relief, makes very accurate caricatures of his adversaries in a little doodle pad he carries with him. when this isn't enough he takes time off to potter around on his boat which is permanently moored on dry land. he has an on-off sexual relationship with his landlady, who as a barrister, provides plenty of legal assistance with her many contacts. He is spontaneous, witty, intelligent and has a ready sense of humour. all this makes the show far superior to its successor, Bergerac- No offence to Mr Nettles, but you just didn't give two hoots about the character of Jim Bergerac, a man totally lacking in any charisma whatsoever. The programme is of its time, but this serves as a superb snapshot of late '70s west country locations, which if you are local, you will enjoy spotting. (weston super mare sea front, Aust ferry terminal at Beachley, the old severn bridge, severn beach, etc etc) Older viewers may recognise Michael Medwin from the 1950's show "the army game" who plays the Radio station boss who always seems to have a problem with Eddie, be it expense claims or legal issues, whilst the delectable Liz Crowther is the friendly,efficient and helpful receptionist who seems to be an invaluable character in the running of the station. This deserves to be released on DVD- its far more popular than people might think, so come on and release it!
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9/10
Brilliant series that I would love to see again
liamfromlimerick26 May 2006
One of the great shows that lives on in the memories.

Based in Radio West, Trevor Eve plays Eddie Shoestring, a former cop who, in a plot line with which those familiar with the US series Midnight Caller will identify, proceeds to investigate the crimes off-the-air.

Whereas Midnight Caller worked better when the main character was confined to the studio, Shoestring works best when Shoestring is out and about.

Unfortunately, the absence any reruns or repeats, and the unavailability of a DVD version (apparently due to copyright and licensing problems) means that it will be virtually impossible to ever see this again, while we are subjected to endless repeats of much lesser shows.

A classic - would absolutely love if the BBC would rerun it.
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10/10
An exhilarating BBC Series
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU12 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
This series I had wanted to find on DVD for more than twenty years finally came out in 2017, thirty-eight years after its creation. But here it is and it was sufficiently well reformatted for the image to look normal. The characters are not crushed vertically nor stretched horizontally. So they look normal.

The location of this series is Bristol and around and we cross the toll bridge finally in the last episode, and twice mind you. The people do not have too strong an accent and their English is close to standard. After all, Bristol is a university city with a very famous and good university. They do not insist too much on the past of this city and harbor that is twinned with Bordeaux because they have one past fortune in common: they were both slave-trade ports.

The series concentrates on local cases that require a private eye, in this case, a private ear. The local cases have to do with some social problem most of the time with a background of some trafficking shady people who try to rob other people, to fool other people, to make a profit illegally and on the run, to exploit some categories of people, particularly down on the social scale. These small and even petty criminals are pure self-centered people who do not even want to think of the consequences of their acts on the victims.

We could compare this series with Bergerac which is also on this line of local criminal cases with a local detective. The main difference is that Bristol here is practically the sole location and you do not have some criminals who come from far away, from outside the region, the country, international traffickers. Except for one or two cases. That makes this series rather sweet and cozy for some evening entertainment.

The last remark I will do is that Trevor Eve is perfect for his role. He is cool, easy-going, friendly especially with victims, in a relationship that is in no way permanent or continuous, rather a free relationship. For 179-80 he is also quite open to the lifestyles the people he is dealing with may choose and his palette of characters is quite open as for such orientations and choices. That makes this chap rather sympathetic. Yet he is too often hit on the head. That might have serious consequences for his mental and cerebral health. He should be more careful. The last episode is a Christmas special in a way that is a real gem of empathy and dedication.

Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
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9/10
Brilliant and totally different series
Mark Burden2 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
For my money, the best two episodes of this series are Mocking Bird and Find The Lady - and because the latter is the only story I captured on VHS this is the only one I feel qualified to review. For me, this has everything and everyone: Toyah Willcox as the lead singer of a band managed by Christopher Biggins; Gary Holton as the band's sacked and disgruntled bassist; Peter Dean as a traffic cop and Holton's older brother; Lynda Bellingham and Diana Weston as swimsuit models; and Brian Capron as a seaside smudger. The episode opens with Biggins' entrance in a chauffeur driven Iso Grifo - one of the rarest, iconic and expensive cars ever made - even from a rental point of view I hate to think how much the Beeb paid the owner for its 20 seconds of screen time. Biggins emerges from this vehicle in fine style: clad in a white dinner jacket and making it quite clear he is the Mr Big of the show (yes, pun intended). His scenes are intercut with Toyah Willcox and her band in a live end of the pier performance of a song that easily out shadows everything she would later do when known as Toyah 15 months later when she achieved fame. We are then introduced to Gary Holton as Mole, the sacked bassist drowning his sorrows and next being thrown into the sea to almost drown by Biggins' heavies. The unfolding plot is quite simple; and I shall not give away the gist. Standout performances here are Biggins who does a surprisingly believable crime boss, and the late, great and wonderful Gary Holton - at this time I imagine still navigating his way from his job as lead singer with rock band Heavy Metal Kids and the acting job which would culminate with Auf Widersehen, Pet. Add the late and utterly lovely Lynda Bellingham and Diana Weston in swimsuits; then add Peter Dean many years before he became Pete Beale in Eastenders - who has "a special right" regarding his younger brother Holton. The episode climaxes with Toyah and her band performing the best song she ever made: Danced.
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8/10
Somerset in LA (via London, England)
HarryHart5 June 2010
This series was absolutely great fun, intelligent, and much enjoyed by me when I was living in the Bristol/Bath area.

I remember a critic saying that it made "Somerset look like California", but despite its so-called Bristol setting it was ravaged by London accents. It was disappointing that they could not find local actors or actors who could produce a feasible Bristol accent (just add an "l" to any word end in a vowel?) Still, great fun.

Sorry, I also wish that Eddie hadn't been eating and simultaneously drinking quite so heavily in the opening sequences, but then I'm very picky.
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Currently being repeated...
kippax31 August 2005
on UKTVDrama on a daily basis.

Watching now it appears a repetitive.

In each episode....

You they (Eddie & Erica) are jumping each others bones.... but its never really revealed.

He always ends up in a car chase in TV's dullest motor. An orange, Mk3 Cortina estate.

He's guaranteed a good kicking at some point.

He gets a bollocking off his boss.

His fellow DJ's will have a pop at him.

DESPITE all that I am still actually quite enjoying the repeat of the series. He's quite a relaxed, yet you sense "not quite right" character. He seems to be bluffing his way through.
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Great Laidback Detective Series
ALIZEEBUM5 March 2005
About a year ago I got one of the VHS tapes of Shoestring featuring Toyah Wilcox.I used to enjoy Trevor Eve as the chilled out gumshoe who solved murders & mysteries on the West Coast of England when I was a teenager.

Shoestring is now very dated, it seems to be from an era further back than the late 70's but I don't hold that against it.It is charming and witty and Trevor Eve is excellent.

As far as I know only 2 VHS compilations were ever made and the other one is rare & expensive to buy.Why can't ITV or whoever release this great series on DVD? It really is very good and has that great quirky 'English' style that still holds up today.

Check a famous online auction site for the tape.
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