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Real cops' favourite; The secret of New Tricks' success.

FORGET all the others - over the last six years New Tricks has become "the" crime show to watch. Viewing figures for repeats of the BBC1 show regularly leave prime-time programmes trailing in the dust and New Tricks star Amanda Redman thinks she knows why.

Redman, who turns 50 in August, explains: "We get really positive feedback from real officers, saying that out of all the police dramas on television, we're the most true to what they know happens in real life.

"They say the banter and the humour is absolutely correct as well as the police procedure - we're really strict on that."

She's right about the quality of the banter. The chemistry between the four main characters - DS Sandra Pullman (Redman) and retired police officers Jack Halford (James Bolam), Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) and Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong) keeps viewers entertained.

"It's weirdly happy, it is honestly!" she says. "You even get crew members coming in saying, 'We love this, it's Monday again and we're at work'. How weird is that? It just doesn't happen normally, we must sound like the Waltons!" New Tricks is back for a sixth series with what the cast describe as some of the most gritty cases yet, touching on racism, wife beating, UFOs and Brian's alcoholism.

"The viewers are more comfortable and familiar with New Tricks now, so that allows you to go into a darker place without them feeling threatened," says Redman.

At the end of series five, Brian was back on the bottle and his colleagues now have to deal with the effects of his alcoholism.

"This series looks at the truth of how people cope with somebody, either colleagues or family, who drinks too much - and it's very lonely. There are some very heavy emotional episodes in this series."

All the characters have a few skeletons lurking in their closets, none more so than Jack, who Amanda describes as the "darkest of all".

As for DS Pullman, she's torn between following strict police procedure and the boys' rulebending tendencies.

An ambitious officer, she was sidelined into UCOS, the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad, after an incident in her former highflying Scotland Yard career.

"The strength of New Tricks is that sometimes we can do some quite light stuff, so the whole tone of the episode is quite light, but the next episode we can go really quite dark," says Redman.

"It's one of those rare series where you can go anywhere, there is no ceiling on it."

And for that reason, we may well see a seventh series next year.

NEW TRICKS BBC1, Thursday, 9pm


Amanda Redman as DS Sandra Pullman, and left, with James Bolam as Jack Halford, Dennis Waterman as Gerry Standing and Alun Armstrong as Brian Lane
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2009
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