The Detectives (1993 TV series)

The Detectives is a British comedy television series, starring Jasper Carrott, Robert Powell, and George Sewell. It aired on BBC One from 1993 to 1997, and was a spoof of police dramas. It was written by Mike Whitehill and Steve Knight.[1]

The Detectives
Created byJasper Carrott
StarringJasper Carrott
Robert Powell
George Sewell
Composer(s)Keith Strachan
Matthew Strachan
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series5
No. of episodes31
Running time31 mins
Production company(s)Celador Productions
Original networkBBC One
Picture format4:3
Original release27 January 1993 (1993-01-27) 
28 December 1997 (1997-12-28)


The Detectives originated from a five-minute sketch that first appeared on Jasper Carrott's sketch/stand-up show Canned Carrott. Because of its success, it was turned into a television series. There were a few differences from the sketch to the TV series, such as Dave Briggs being married in the sketch (to Brenda), yet both he and Louis are single and hopeless at romance in the series, and according to one plotline both virgins.

Jasper Carrott and Robert Powell play the bumbling detective constables Bob Louis and David Briggs. They were hopeless at their job, to the despair of their "super" Frank Cottam (played by Sewell). However, they usually ended up solving their cases and retaining their jobs, though they came close to being fired on occasion. Louis was more downbeat, whereas Briggs tried to emulate the gung-ho cops shown on TV and in film.

The BBC itself compared it to the series Special Branch (1969–74), mostly because George Sewell "clearly enjoyed the chance to hark back to his old police role" in that series. Mark Lewisohn compared it to The Sweeney (1975–78) Sewells role being "a deadpan spin on that series' Chief Inspector Haskins (Garfield Morgan)". Moreover, the original sketches were introduced by a blue-tinted sequence and musical score that parodied The Sweeney's opening titles.

Each episode showcased different guest stars, and some of them played the same characters they played in other television series. An example is Leslie Grantham's appearance as Danny Kane from The Paradise Club – in another episode, John Nettles and Terence Alexander reprised their roles from Bergerac.

All of the episodes have been released on DVD.

In 2012, BBC1 broadcast a one-off sketch show The One Jasper Carrott (part of a series showcasing various comedians) which included an extended sketch about Briggs and Louis having formed an incompetent private detective agency, Sherlock and Holmes.


David Briggs (Robert Powell)

Briggs usually spoofs the leader of a crime-fighting duo that takes all the risks, leads the cases and comes up with the ideas, but is always unluckier in flirting with girls.[2] He always thinks Bob a "pessimist". His hobbies include eating pilchards and Quavers, watching football, art, trying to impress girls and watching Manchester United (like Powell himself). His name is a reference to the creators' real life friend of the same name, who went on to develop Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? with them.

Bob Louis (Jasper Carrott)

Though being the cynic and the voice of reason, Bob Louis is as hopeless as Briggs at flirting with girls. Louis is usually better than Briggs in some ways. For instance Bob can play the guitar, while Briggs can only play Feelings on the mouth-organ. In the Canned Carrott sketches, he turned out to be already married, despite rumours to the contrary stating that they could have divorced. Like Jasper Carrott, he also supports Birmingham City. He likes doing the same things as Briggs (except for eating pilchards).

Superintendent Cottam (George Sewell)

Frank Cottam is a parody of George Sewell's earlier character in Euston Films drama Special Branch. Cottam usually gives Briggs and Louis dangerous assignments to get rid of them, but as the series progressed, he learnt that he was going to need them, one way or another. His judgements about them can change rapidly; for instance in the episode, "Sparring partners", he gave them a dangerous job out of a "perverted desire for revenge", but at the end, he said that they were "damn fine officers", although he was under the influence of a powerful natural steroid at the time.

Nozzer (Tony Selby)

Nozzer is a desk sergeant at West End Central police station. A colleague of Briggs and Louis he turns up periodically in the series. His first episode was in "Rear Window", although in this episode, Nozzer was a dog handler rather than a desk sergeant. He also appeared in DC of Love and Curse of the Comanches.


Crusher Collins is a police officer who is friends with Briggs and Louis. He hasn't been shown, but recurring references were made about him: the first was the episode "Hostage" when apparently, he was driving a police van that dropped them off. In "Acting constables" we hear his voice for the first time, but the voice is unknown.


Series 1

No.TitleOriginal air date
1"What the Butler Saw"27 January 1993 (1993-01-27)
The Earl of Lisson is cruelly slain at his country hotel, Louis and Briggs are called in to investigate. The murderer is obviously one of the weird assortment of staff and guests. But, whoddunnit? The Detectives probe their suspects, including the mysterious Jerry Palmer (Jerry Hall).
2"Hostage"3 February 1993 (1993-02-03)
It's F.A. Cup Final day and as Louis and Briggs settle in front of the telly with two crates of lager, another fanatic – of the killing kind – escapes from prison. As a dangerous situation develops the detectives are brought on as substitutes to play their part in a potentially dangerous game... With guest star Michael Melia.
3"Teed Off"10 February 1993 (1993-02-10)
The Detectives take to the fairway to investigate suspected arms dealer and keen golfer Johnny McKenna (Jimmy Tarbuck). With a promotion up for grabs, the pair are keen to impress their boss, but when McKenna turns nasty, they find themselves in a whole new – and much more painful ballgame. Tony Jacklin makes a guest appearance.
4"Acting Constables"17 February 1993 (1993-02-17)
Louis and Briggs take centre stage when they join the cast and crew of a TV drama as technical advisers. Intoxicated by a whiff of the greasepaint they fail to notice the real-life drama being acted out behind the scenes. Guest starring Anthony Head.
5"Studs"24 February 1993 (1993-02-24)
The dim duo are in holiday mood as they sail for Jersey to investigate an international smuggling ring. Eager to bump up their expenses, Louis and Briggs put the investigation on hold while they soak up the sun, only to be brought firmly down to earth by local detective Jim Bergerac (John Nettles).
6"Strangers in Paradise"3 March 1993 (1993-03-03)
When crime boss Tony Mazola is gunned down by mystery assassins, it seems that nothing can prevent all-out gang warfare. The killers have to be caught – and quickly. Specially selected for this dangerous mission, Louis and Briggs are sent undercover to a notorious East End club to keep an eye on prime suspect Danny Kane (Leslie Grantham). Also starring Barry Cryer.

Series 2

No. Episode First broadcast
7"Collared"2 March 1994 (1994-03-02)
Suspended after an unfortunate incident involving the Queen, Briggs and Louis decide to regain favour by nicking some serious East End villains.
8"Witness"9 March 1994 (1994-03-09)
Two tough detectives are required to go undercover at a monastery. Unable to find any, the Super employs Briggs and Louis. Guest starring Christopher Ellison.
9"Never Without Protection"16 March 1994 (1994-03-16)
A Duchess keeps appearing in the tabloids canoodling with her police bodyguards. What the Super needs are two completely unappealing detectives... Guest starring Rula Lenska.
10"Dutch Cops"23 March 1994 (1994-03-23)
On Customs and Excise duty in Felixstowe, Bob and Dave manage to get themselves trapped in the back of a pilchard lorry – and Bob hates pilchards. A tenuous line of reasoning brings Dave to the conclusion that they must be in Venice – when in fact they're in Amsterdam. Unbeknownst to them, they are also in possession of a large quantity of diamonds that had been smuggled there in the lorry – attracting the attention of the "wrongful owners"... Guest starring Herbert Lom.
11"Sparring Partners"30 March 1994 (1994-03-30)
A natural steroid that promotes raw aggression has been developed, and the British Boxing Board of Control is worried that a certain trainer may be using it on his boxers. Briggs and Louis masquerade as the manager and trainer of a more athletically built policeman, working undercover at said trainer's gym. However, they are rather more interested in the drug's side effects, which include enhanced sexual prowess and drive... Guest starring Tim Healy.
12"Rear Window"6 April 1994 (1994-04-06)
While Louis is comfined to a wheelchair, he witnesses a brutal crime of passion, but has trouble convincing Briggs that it wasn't all in his mind.

Series 3

No. Episode First broadcast
13"D.C. of Love"9 January 1995 (1995-01-09)
As a lonely and meaningless retirement beckons after 25 years on the force, the boys are given the task of finding "The Black Widow" after a series of gruesome lonely hearts murders.
14"Flash"16 January 1995 (1995-01-16)
After mixing their drinks at the policemen's ball, Louis and Briggs confront a new horror involving a flasher, a marquess and the commissioner's wife.
15"Art Attack"23 January 1995 (1995-01-23)
When forced to transfer into the Fine Arts Squad, our heroes are despatched to recover the latest artistic creation of "enfant terrible" Hadyn Smailes – a pair of maracas, a tin of peaches and a fish tank of the artist's own urine.
16"On Thin Ice"30 January 1995 (1995-01-30)
When Briggs and Louis investigate an attack on a top figure skater, the pair wind up on ice but fail to gain marks for artistic interpretation.
17"Between A Rock and A Hard Place"6 February 1995 (1995-02-06)
After 30 years of watching and waiting, Superintendent Cottam ropes the boys into helping him catch notorious bullion thief, Ronnie Richardson. Guest starring Mike Reid.
18"Twitchers"13 February 1995 (1995-02-13)
Briggs and Louis are assigned a case protecting the eggs of a newly discovered breeding pair of red kites. Their unenthusiasm turns to panic as the eggs are stolen. Guest starring Bill Oddie.

Special (1995)

No. Episode First broadcast
19"Thicker Than Water"23 December 1995 (1995-12-23)
'Tis the season to be jolly! And whilst others may be celebrating, our plucky detective duo can only think of one thing – avoiding the dreaded Christmas duty. As Briggs and Louis settle down for Christmas dinner, a renowned criminal attempts to break in. But will a Christmas mugging turn into a family reunion for Louis?

Series 4

No. Episode First broadcast
20"The Great Escaper"15 February 1996 (1996-02-15)
Louis and Briggs are cuffed to a notoriously slippery customer as they escort him to his latest prison by train. So how do they end up crossing the Yorkshire moors carrying a toilet door?
21"Fur Coat, No Knickers"22 February 1996 (1996-02-22)
Louis and Briggs are called in to investigate a murder that has taken place during the re-creation of a medieval battle scene. However, they are more concerned with the police football quiz.
22"Back to Class"29 February 1996 (1996-02-29)
Drugs are found in the locker of a girl at a private school. In an appeal against her expulsion, she claims they have been planted by her socialite classmates. Bob and Dave are assigned to the case, but they can't keep their minds off the fact that Myrtle the Turtle, the last female member of a very rare species, has just died while under their supposed protection.
23"Sacked"7 March 1996 (1996-03-07)
A new female superintendent takes over the department. She decides a clean sweep is needed and Briggs & Louis are useless so it's time for them to go. Surely this isn't the end for the bumbling duo?
24"The Wembley Stadium Mystery"14 March 1996 (1996-03-14)
D.C. Boyle, the son of the commissioner, has joined the police force and his father has ordered that he not be treated any different from the others. So Frank puts him with Briggs and Louis, who are assigned to guard Wembley Stadium that weekend. However, they have their minds on winning the police table football tournament.

Series 5

No. Episode First broadcast
25"Special Branch"14 January 1997 (1997-01-14)
The Superintendent selects the duo for a particularly sensitive assignment. His granddaughter has become involved in an anti-road protest and he needs Louis and Briggs to "rescue" her.
26"Cardiac Arrest"21 January 1997 (1997-01-21)
A gang member is shot by police during a getaway and is unconscious in hospital. The gang leader wants to ensure that he doesn't turn King's Evidence by killing him before he comes round. Briggs and Louis are assigned to protect the unconscious gang member while he is in hospital – giving Bob all sorts of opportunities to express his hypochondria.
27"The Beast of Hackney Marshes"28 January 1997 (1997-01-28)
A night patrolling the marshes, on the lookout for an escaped bear, is really not what our heroes had in mind – particularly when their umbrella act for the Super's variety show is really coming together.
28"The Curse of the Comanches"4 February 1997 (1997-02-04)
When Briggs and Louis, helped by a mysterious Comanche Chief, go on the hunt for a sacred Indian carving, they soon find themselves on the trail of tragedy, death and disaster.
29"Best Man"11 February 1997 (1997-02-11)
Much to his and everybody else's astonishment, Briggs is chosen to be best man at a colleague's wedding. When he discovers just who the bride's father is, Briggs isn't exactly keen either...
30"Mine's A Large One"18 February 1997 (1997-02-18)
Briggs and Louis have found their true vocation during a job swap scheme – the river police. With peace, quiet and the total absence of any kind of crime, it seems like paradise. Then the boat runs into an unexploded World War II river mine...

Special (1997)

No. Episode First broadcast
31"Go West, Old Man"28 December 1997 (1997-12-28)

After years of stress due to being responsible for useless bungling detectives, Chief Superintendent Cottam suddenly disappears. Bob and Dave follow his trail all the way to Canada to try to get him to come back to England but will he be easily persuaded?

The episode ends with all three protagnists leaving the police force, Spt. Cottam on medical grounds, Briggs and Louis to take over a pub in Canada, thus bringing the series to an organic end

DVD releases

  • Series 1 – June 2006
  • Series 2 – September 2006
  • Series 3 – October 2006
  • Series 4 and "Thicker Than Water" – February 2007
  • Series 5 and "Go West, Old Man" – April 2007
  • The Complete Collection – 12 November 2007


  1. "BBC – Comedy Guide – The Detectives". Archived from the original on 17 December 2004. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  2. "BBC – Comedy – The Detectives". Retrieved 27 August 2014.
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