Created and initially produced by the prolific Robert Banks Stewart, Bergerac came into being as a result of actor Trevor Eve's refusal to continue in the immensely popular BBC One series Shoestring.
In its place Banks Stewart turned to an idea he had been developing for a detective/thriller series set on the offshore millionaire's paradise of Jersey in the Channel Islands -and in the process created one of British Television's most popular TV detective's of the 1980's. Following in the long standing tradition of maverick cops, the series introduced us to Det. Sgt. Jim Bergerac (ex Liver Birds co-star and noted Shakespearian actor, John Nettles) as the divorced, recovering alcoholic, injured in-the-line-of-duty policeman, who helped maintain law and order working for the Bureau des Etrangers whilst investigating the often dubious affairs of non-island folk, which more often than not involved the activities of the super-rich inhabitants of the isolated, self-absorbed, millionaire community of the island.
Ably supporting Nettles was veteran character actor Terence Alexander, as Bergerac's former father-in-law Charlie Hungerford (played delightfully against type as a gruff, self-made Yorkshire millionaire), while former Howard's Way star Deborah Grant was Jim's ex-wife (and Hungerford's spoilt daughter), Deborah Bergerac. Other regular recurring characters included season one girlfriend Francine Leland (Cecile Paoli), Sean Arnold as Bergerac's long suffering superior officer Barney Crozier, Annette Badland (Charlotte), Mela White (Diamante Lil), Lindsay Heath (as Jim's teen-aged daughter, Kim) and former Doctor Who companion and future Eastenders star Louise Jameson. On several occasions Bergerac sailed pretty close to the wrong side of the law himself as he dallied with beautiful jewel thief Philippa Vale (Liza Goddard).
Towards the end of the show's life, the format underwent a slight retooling which saw Jim retired from the police force and move to Provence to take up the role of Private Investigator, acquiring a new girlfriend in the comely form of French actress Therese Liotard as Danielle Aubry. George Fenton composed the instantly recognisable theme music, while the series boasted excellent scripts from the likes of Robert Holmes and Ian Kennedy-Martin, amongst others. A firm favourite with the viewing public, Bergerac was a solidly crafted, dependably acted example of the British detective series which benefited from an interestingly believable central character given substance by a gifted and likeable actor. In the process, Jim Bergerac did for Jersey what Steve McGarrett did for Hawaii, sparking a whole new tourist industry. On completing Bergerac, John Nettles made his home there.
Published on November 29th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus (2001) for Television Heaven.