Only 14 broadcasts were ever made of The Thin Blue Line, shown over two series in 1995 and 1996.
Written and produced by Ben Elton, it is set in a police station in the fictional English town of Gasforth and stars Rowan Atkinson as Inspector Raymond Fowler, the old-school copper who heads the uniformed staff.
The series has since been released to buy on DVD, and is available at some good prices. Alternatively, some TV channels do repeat the episodes from time to time.
- Inspector Fowler: Keen of eye, swift of thought, and regular of bowel.
- Inspector Fowler: The artful dodger was a thief. And I don’t think he’d have considered himself quite so “at home” in a juvenile detention centre, which is where I’d have put him. Thieving is thieving and no amount of oom-pa-pa or boom-titty-titty will change that.
- Const. Frank Gladstone: I could not tell you why all the women I have ever loved say to me “I’ve got a fat bottom!”, and when I say “Yes, I like it!” they throw the dinner at me!
- Det. Insp. Derek Grim: Ooooh, I hate Christmas! I reckon Scrooge was right, with his bag of Humbugs.
- Det. Insp. Derek Grim: Obstructing CID in their investigations, Raymond? That’s a very serious offence, I’ve half a mind to charge you!
Inspector Fowler: You have half a mind… full stop!
- Inspector Fowler: I doubt Constable Goody would “get it”, if it came in a large bag marked, “IT”.
- Inspector Fowler: [to Inspector Grim] You have all the intelligence of a Pot Noodle.
- Det. Insp. Derek Grim: [on how to deal with persistent offenders] You nick ’em, you lock ’em up and you throw away the door!
- Det. Insp. Derek Grim: [after Inspector Fowler has picked him up on his use of grammar] Is that so! Well rearrange this then: Bugger and Off. I mean Off and Bugger.
- Inspector Fowler: I doubt Patricia will get anything warm and satisfying inside her tonight.
More About The Show
The Thin Blue Line, which draws heavily on Dad’s Army for its character-driven humour, focuses on the rivalry between Fowler’s uniformed staff and CID head Detective Inspector Derek Grim. Played by David Haig, his mangling of the English language provides many of the laughs.
The uniformed branch and CID come to frequent blows over similar or even identical issues while having differing methods of operation. Typically the uniformed section triumphs, although they have their own foibles. Grim’s belief in the superiority of his CID unit is deeply held, though he is more ignorant than he cares to admit.
Other plotlines and humour come from the characters and their peculiarities. For example, Sergeant Patricia Dawkins (Serena Evans) is Inspector Fowler’s partner of 10 years. She is on a constant quest for more sexual attention from Fowler, who is generally reluctant to oblige.
Then there’s the inept, camp Constable Kevin Goody, who admits that “wearing a nice uniform” was his reason for joining the force. (He seems to have little idea of what the job involves.) His colleagues include Constable Gladstone and the brainy Constable Habib.
Regarded as one of the 1990s’ best comedies, The Thin Blue Line is fondly remembered thanks to its clever scripts and brilliant cast.