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The Thin Blue Line

Updated on June 3, 2010

The Thin Blue Line, starring Rowan Atkinson, is one of my favourite comedies. It's a BBC sitcom which ran for two series in 1995 and 1996. I enjoyed it right from the start and was disappointed that only fourteen episodes were broadcast. Strangely, it was not popular with TV critics and is even panned by the BBC itself on their website.

The series starred Rowan Atkinson and was written and produced by Ben Elton, who also co-wrote Blackadder.

Thin Blue Line Theme Tune

The Theme Tune

This has got to be one of the best theme tunes ever.

I love the chirpy whistling and it sets the tone perfectly for the show. Trouble is, every time I hear it I can't get it out of my head for days.

Listen at your peril.

Inspector Raymond Fowler

Played by Rowan Atkinson, Inspector Fowler presides over the uniformed section of a police station in the fictional English town of Gasforth (slogan: "Gasforth - It's not as bad as you think"). He is devoted to serving Queen and country, despairs of the youth of today and is a stickler for following rules.

Fowler lives with his desk sergeant Patricia, but it's not the steamy romance that she'd like. He prefers a cup of cocoa and a good book at bedtime (preferably Biggles).

Sergeant Patricia Dawkins

Played by Serena Evans, Sergeant Dawkins ("Darling" or "Cabbage" when off duty) has been in a 10-year relationship with Fowler which is going nowhere. She despairs of his old-fashioned attitude to life and his lack of sensitivity to other people's feelings, particularly hers.

Patricia speaks her mind, which usually involves criticising the irritating men around her.

Detective Inspector Derek Grim

Grim is played brilliantly by David Haig. As a plain clothes CID officer, Grim feels vastly superior to the "uniform mob". His self-image seems to come from watching too many 70s TV cop shows.

Grim exists in an almost permanent state of seething frustration and whinging misery, not least when anything reminds him of his wife Tina (whom we never actually see). His bitter, rambling rants and mangled use of the English language have me in stitches.

The video contains a compilation of Grim moments, including one of his classic rants where he ties himself in verbal knots, "Goody goody, lah-di-dah-di, namby hoity wishy pamby toity washy, dah-di-la-di, know-it-all, public school, stiff upper lip, stiff upper house master, prim and proper, Rule Brittannia..."

Constable Kevin Goody

Goody is a somewhat confusing character until you get to know him. He comes across as highly camp and effeminate but is actually besotted with Constable Maggie Habib, who does not return the attraction. One episode features confusion brought about by Goody worrying about whether he should "come out" or not (he means to a pub lock-in, but everyone assumes something else).

Played by James Dreyfus, Goody is the bane of Inspector Fowler's life, due to his constant chocolate and crisp munching, stupidity and general ineptitude. Obviously not cut out to be a police officer, Goody admits that he joined because he liked the uniform.

This video is a compilation of some of those "Goody" moments.

Constable Maggie Habib

Maggie is the brainiest of the bunch (which is not difficult considering she's only got Goody and Gladstone for competition). She's also the object of Goody's desires, much to her annoyance.

Habib, an Asian feminist, believes in plain speaking, which often embarrasses Inspector Fowler, but she can hold her own in any argument. She is played by Mina Anwar.

Constable Frank Gladstone

Gladstone, a weird but lovable character played by Trinidad-born Rudolph Walker, lives mostly in his own little world, which seems not on this planet. Most of the time he sits quietly in the corner minding his own business, but every so often he delivers a nugget of his own very special brand of wisdom, which is best ignored.

Gladstone is divorced, and seems bemused and befuddled as to the reasons behind this, but he still likes to give Goody advice on his love life.

Detective Constable Robert Kray

Kray (played by Kevin Allen) was Grim's sidekick in Series One. He doesn't contribute very much to police operations apart from the odd sneer and annoying laugh, and he spends most of his time eating pizzas and kebabs. Knowing which side his bread is buttered, he always laughs at Grim's jokes and backs up his boss. Here he is on the phone ordering "Tango, Tango, Diet Lilt and a Fanta".

Detective Constable Gary Boyle

Boyle (played by Mark Addy) is Grim's sidekick in Series Two. He's more intelligent than his boss and covers up for him. Boyle also enjoys winding up Constable Habib with his sexist remarks and laddish behaviour.

Boyle is quite happy to bend the rules whenever it suits him and he even tries to corrupt the naïve Goody to help him bring down a villain.

One of my favourite Thin Blue Line clips

This is one of my favourite clips from the Thin Blue Line. The first part gives a good insight to Inspector Fowler's relationship with Patricia. Next we move on to a role play exercise where Fowler attempts to prepare the hapless Goody for a forthcoming trial.

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Let me know what you think about the Thin Blue Line - Hit or Miss?

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      lordburnden 6 years ago

      I agree with caspar TTBL is a really underrated gem.

      Grim is the laugh out loud character - but the whole balance is really good.

      Maybe the critics didn't like it because, superficially, it appears to based on old fashioned stereotypes however, those of us who invest a little time, find these characters have some depth.

    • profile image

      neil 6 years ago

      Surely James Dreyfus was a comedic find as PC Goody who then went on to extend the characteristics for Gimme. Gimme, Gimme. Where is he now I wonder haven't seen him on TV recently

    • profile image

      Nasir 7 years ago

      Hi constable habib i love very much i like your actions i wish i could marry you

    • Shinkicker profile image

      Shinkicker 8 years ago from Scotland

      Enjoyed your Hub. The show was no classic but a pretty good comedy well served by a quality cast. Didn't deserve the criticism it got.

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      Andrew 8 years ago

      One of the funniest (but admittedly below the belt) series the world over, the world needs more series like this where we can all laugh our socks off and not worry about the people who might be offended (lets be frank, if it cant offend anyone, well then its just slapstick humour, and that's not funny IMHO). Critics and insecure people spoil the fun for everyone...

    • i8manu profile image

      i8manu 9 years ago from OLDHAM

      loved this show,great comedy is a shame is still not on

    • caspar profile image

      caspar 10 years ago from UK

      I love this show and it always makes me laugh, but I think you're right, it's not quite in the same league as Blackadder. It was made on a low budget I think.

    • chabrenas profile image

      chabrenas 10 years ago from middle of France

      I've never seen this series. Judging from the clips, Atkinson and the girls are pretty good, but it doesn't come anyway near Blackadder. 'Goody' is funny - reminds me of Kenneth Williams.