Clydeside cops with murdah on their minds
Taggart 8.30pm, ABC
WELL, what do you know, ‘‘ there’s been a murdah’’ in Taggart, as in all the 85- odd other episodes of this Glaswegian police drama, in which the accents are as thick as the dialogue is thin.
Clydeside homicide is such a staple of this series that the Glencoe massacre would have to be an annual event to match its body count. And it’s likely the loyalists would not have it any other way. Taggart was first screened in 1983 and although the cast has changed the murdering has continued. This episode starts with a particularly graphic shooting, followed quickly by news of a killing that may be connected, and the story develops as good cops try to work out what is going on and whether there are any bad cops trying to stop them.
It’s not especially hard to work out who the baddies are ( indeed, it’s easier than understanding what some of the characters are saying). Fans who know the tricks of the Taggart trade will probably work out who dunnit as soon as they see all the characters. But that is not the point: this series is an institution with an existence independent of the actors and probably the people who write it.
For a start, there is no Taggart in Taggart . Mark McManus, who played the show’s eponymous character, died in 1994, but rather than change the show’s name or explain his absence by, say, sending him off to Australia to investigate a murdah on Ramsay Street, the writers have ploughed on, keeping up the quota of killings. The series’ other signature is Glasgow, in all its grimy glory.
The external action occurs in locations that locals will recognise and that don’t do much for Scotland’s tourism trade. Brigadoon it is not.
But for all its consistency Taggart is no mere McBill. While The Bill is a serial about the coppers in the Sun Hill station, in the Maryhill CID, where the Taggart team works, what matters most is solving the crime. Anybody watching the show for the first time will realise that these coppers have a great deal of shared history, which is hardly surprising given that some characters have been around for more than a decade. Yet the series stands on each episode’s script rather than relying on what rusted- on fans know about who fancies whom.
Taggart does pretty well by sticking to a formula that works: actors who look and sound like real people, a script that relies on ordinary people doing idiotic things. And murdahs.
For people who want more in their cops and killers on TV than the Blue Hills that is The Bill, or the moralising of the Law & Order stable, Taggart is the go, Jimmie.
Corpse for a copper: Blythe Duff as DS Jackie Reid in Taggart