The Strangers

Three tough detectives are drafted into the police force of a northern city to infiltrate areas of crime where local officers might be recognised. Working at the sharp end of policing and not always finding favour with their superiors, those in the unit tackle everything from drug smuggling, kidnapping and gangland murder to major fraud and political corruption. Their work will eventually take them across the country, and each assignment is a baptism of fire for the Strangers...

An extraordinary success for ITV (five series over five years and a sequel), Strangers was a tough, quirky police series that was a breed apart from other cop shows of the time. With key shows written by celebrated scriptwriter Murray Smith (Lovejoy, Dempsey and Makepeace), Strangers provided another classic role for Don Henderson as the idiosyncratic D.S. Bulman, who was never to be seen without his trademark string gloves, Vicks inhaler and plastic bag; later series find Bulman and his team taking orders from Det. Chief Supt. Lambie, played by future Taggart star Mark McManus.

For the very first time, this complete-series set brings together every episode of Strangers, along with a wealth of special features:

• New Scotland Yard: A Man of His Word - a 1974 episode of this police series guest-starring Don Henderson (disc two).
• Crown Court - A Place to Stay: a three-part story from 1977 featuring Don Henderson (disc four).
• An episode of Crossroads from 1978 featuring Don Henderson as a private detective (disc five).

The XYY Man

a superior drama combining elements of the crime and spy genres. This four-disc set contains all thirteen episodes from the ITV series and will be available from Network DVD.

Freshly released from prison, reformed cat-burglar Spider Scott (Stephen Yardley - Howard's Way, Holby City) is determined to stay on the straight and narrow this time round. Unfortunately for Spider, his body is working against him - he has an abnormal genetic predisposition towards crimes against property and there are a number of factions willing to take advantage of his skills, including the British government. But carrying out sanctioned burglaries is more dangerous than the normal kind, as Spider soon finds out, and it's not long before he is being hotly pursued by Detective Sergeant Bulman (Don Henderson - Strangers, The Paradise Club).

Special features:

•Crown Court: An Evil Influence parts 1, 2 and 3 - Dr. Thanet is a general practitioner in Thurleigh a residential suburb of Fulchester. He prescribed the contraceptive pill for Linda Phelps, a 15 year old girl without consulting her mother. Mrs Phelps found out and after a family row, Linda ran away from home and hasn't been seen since. Mrs Phelps wrote a petition protesting about the doctor's actions and attempted to obtain the signature of his patients as they arrived for the surgery. Dr Thanet now brings an action for libel in the Crown Court.

This series was a huge success when it was first shown on ITV in 1976/7, THE XYY Man was a strong combination of both the crime and spy genres, with a compelling central performance by Stephen Yardley as cat-burglar Spider Scott. The XYY Man span off into the extraordinarily successful Strangers.


Don Henderson stars as TVs scruffiest ex-cop who plans to spend his retirement mending clocks, but when the daughter of a colleague turns up, ends up with a detective agency on the side.

This is a much awaited series, originally scheduled for release some time ago, and one that I did remember slightly from when it was first broadcast. Having not seen The Strangers isn't a handicap when seeing this and Bulmans idosyncracies, and the stradling of job and ex-job, as Bulman would put it, mark this up a notch from the normal run of the mill detective show, being the best of both worlds.