New Tricks began as a one-off episode, broadcast on 27 March 2003. This attracted sufficient viewers for the BBC to commission a series of six episodes, which began on 1 April 2004. Eight-episode series were subsequently commissioned for 2005, 2006 and 2007. A fifth series was commissioned by the BBC after the audience share rose week upon week for the previous series. In 2007, an episode from the fourth series received viewing figures of 9.25 million, becoming the second most watched programme on BBC One that week, and the most watched New Tricks episode to that point. The fifth series continued this good run - on two occasions it was the most watched programme in Britain for the week, and the seventh episode gained a new series high rating of 9.36 million - second only to the X Factor that week. The fifth series aired from 7 July to 25 August 2008. The sixth series finished location filming on 8 May 2009 in Central London and began airing on 16 July 2009. The opening episode of series six was watched by 8.07 million, despite clashing with Five's The Mentalist (1.64m) and ITV's Living With Michael Jackson (3.64m). The second episode clashed with The Mentalist and the relaunch of The Bill on ITV, and was watched by 7.59 million.
Series 7 and 8 were commissioned by the BBC in September 2009, ensuring the show would run until 2011. The seventh series began airing on 10 September 2010 and completed its run on 12 November. The eighth series opened on 4 July 2011 with 9.2 million viewers, the show's highest rating for three years, and the first since the fifth series to break the 9 million barrier. The third episode of series 8, "Lost in Translation," was the show's highest rated episode to date with 9.7 million viewers, becoming the most watched television programme of the week in the UK. Episode 7, "The Gentleman Vanishes," surpassed this figure with 9.87 million viewers, and was again the top programme of the week.
The BBC confirmed in September 2011 that a further two series made up of ten episodes each had been commissioned, to be broadcast in 2012 and 2013.James Bolam, who played the part of Jack Halford, has left the show, claiming it had "become stale": he made his final appearance in the first episode of Series 9. In the fourth episode Denis Lawson joined the cast, as the new character of retired DI Steve McAndrew. Prior to the ninth series premiere, both Amanda Redman and Alun Armstrong announced they would be leaving the show after the tenth series. The first programme of series nine was broadcast on 27 August 2012, and gained 8.52 million viewers, which was the highest rating of the week.Only Fools and Horses star Nicholas Lyndhurst and EastEnders star Tamzin Outhwaite have been confirmed for Series 10, which will begin broadcasting in Britain on the 30th July 2013. The opening episode of the tenth series gained an overnight rating of 7.52 million viewers, outperforming all other programs that day.
The series is broadcast in at least twenty-five countries, and is also available on DVD and via online streaming. New Tricks is produced by Wall to Wall Television for the BBC.
DetectiveSuperintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) (2003–2013): Born in 1961, Sandra is the head of the unit. The only currently serving police officer - and the only woman - in UCOS, she is also the youngest member. Sandra was a high flyer in Greater London's Metropolitan Police Service, until the shooting of a dog during a hostage rescue, which is a running joke during the early series. Following the dog incident, her career stalled and she is made to take on the running of UCOS, initially against her will. Ambitious and competitive, she has sacrificed personal life in pursuit of her career and likes to be in control of every situation. She lacks domestic skills. A running sub-plot involves Pullman's unsuccessful love life: a string of adulterous relationships and numerous failed efforts at romance, including an attempt at speed dating. Sandra is often exasperated by her colleagues' eccentricities, and their willingness to bend the rules in pursuit of a result, although she doesn't always play by the rulebook herself. Initially reluctant to lead the squad, she warms to her colleagues and views them as her friends. Her mother Grace is still alive. Her father, Detective Inspector Gordon Arthur Pullman, who was awarded the Queen's Medal for Bravery, committed suicide in 1975 by carbon monoxide poisoning, when Sandra was 14, while under investigation by Jack Halford after attempting to cover up killing a small-time criminal and pimp. Sandra did not find out about this until much later, believing that her father had died of a heart attack. She is occasionally introduced as "Chief Superintendent Sandra Pullman", such as by Strickland at an awards ceremony, and by DCI Melissa Temple to her colleagues, but it appears that these are continuity errors. Amanda Redman left the programme after the filming of the ninth series, although she will film further episodes for the tenth series to provide closure for her character.
John 'Jack' Halford (Ex-DetectiveChief Superintendent) (James Bolam) (2003–2012): The highest-ranking retired officer on the team, and the first to be approached by Sandra when setting up UCOS, Jack Halford is unofficial second-in-command. He is also Sandra's mentor on numerous occasions; she was previously his subordinate on the murder squad. Jack retired from the police force to care for his dearly-loved wife Mary who had been the victim of a hit-and-run. He is still haunted by her death, partly because nobody was charged in connection with it, although it is common knowledge that the person responsible is Ricky Hanson. After being frustrated by Hanson's acquittal in his trial for his attempted murder, Jack briefly disappears, but is found by Brian, and later returns to UCOS. Ricky Hanson is eventually charged and convicted with causing the death of Mary, and sentenced to life in prison. Jack still speaks to his wife's memorial in his garden, often seeking her help and opinion in solving cases. A softly-spoken and gentle man, he nevertheless possesses a quick and sometimes violent temper that he unleashes on suspects. Jack later leaves, giving only a day's notice, claiming he has decided to retire to France and does not want to provide his colleagues with time to talk him out of it. Brian correctly deduces that Jack has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and only has a short time to live, but promises not to tell the others until after Jack's death.
Brian Lane (Ex-DetectiveInspector) (Alun Armstrong) (2003–2013): Born in 1946, Brian 'Memory' Lane is an exceptional detective, possessing a keen attention to detail and a remarkable instant recall memory that allows him to call up obscure details not only regarding cases but also the officers who investigated them. He often gets around by bicycle. He is married to the long-suffering but caring Esther; they have an adult son called Mark. Brian is socially inept and eccentric, a recovering alcoholic with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. He therefore has a tendency to get himself into trouble, despite good intentions. He left the force under a cloud, having been held partly responsible for the death of a prisoner in his custody. Brian maintains it is part of a conspiracy against him, and he is initially consumed with discovering who is behind it; his colleagues believe that he made a mistake and will not admit it. At one point, Brian finds his work with UCOS too stressful and resumes drinking alcohol, and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings again. When she finds out, Esther walks out, leaving Brian confronting the cost of resuming his alcoholism. Brian has his alcoholism treated after this incident, and has not been shown to have suffered lapses since. Brian is an AFC Wimbledon fan, and he once misses a celebratory drink with his UCOS mates to support his team. A keen war-gamer, in one episode he digs out his old war-gaming board and figurines and attends a war-game tournament, which he wins. Actor Alun Armstrong announced he would leave the show after filming the tenth series.
Gerry Standing (Ex-Detective Sergeant) (Dennis Waterman) (2003–): Born Gerard Lestade, the son of Smithfield Market butcher Norman Lestade, Gerry changed his name as he did not get along with his father. He loudly protests against his French Huguenot background, preferring to be known as a Cockney, born and raised in Bermondsey. He is nicknamed "Last Man Standing", because of his refusal to take backhanders while the rest of his squad were all bought out by a gangster. His cousins Sid and Barry were forced to face off against Danny Paye, a gangster Gerry owed money to in 1977. A 'Jack the Lad', Gerry is an old-school police officer. He was a top 'thief-taker', who passionately enjoyed catching criminals - but nevertheless he mixed easily with them. As a result, allegations of corruption arose, which he angrily denies. As a result of the allegations, he once punched his superior officer. These difficulties were among the reasons he left the police force. A ladies' man, he has three ex-wives. He is a devoted father to his four daughters. Gerry's relationships with his ex-wives are amicable: he still occasionally seduces them. Although he is now a grandfather, he maintains his devil-may-care lifestyle, but insists that he is "a naughty boy, not a bastard". Along with his familial commitments, he also has a continuing interest in gambling, and thus joined UCOS for financial reasons. Gerry owns a 1977 Triumph Stag roadster, and has a passion for cooking fine food for his extended family and colleagues. After a tense beginning, he and Sandra share a mutually respectful but barbed friendship. They sometimes pose as husband and wife when undercover.
Steve McAndrew (Ex-DetectiveInspector) (Denis Lawson) (2012–): Retired Detective Inspector Steve McAndrew from Glasgow joins the team after Jack Halford's departure in A Death in the Family, after helping the team with a reopened case involving a missing girl. Described as "a bundle of energetic optimism with a tendency to get personally involved in the cases he's working on", and "the antithesis of Brian Lane's eternal pessimism", McAndrew has a reputation for being a whirlwind, and bringing anarchy to otherwise calm proceedings. During the course of the series he is revealed to have an ex-wife called Trisha, who got custody of their son Stuart when the two of them divorced. She and a corrupt detective from Glasgow - Frank McNair - had an affair which has left Steve bitter, and since then he has become desperate to reunite with his son. He is in a relationship with girlfriend Charley.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland (Anthony Calf) (2004–): Deputy Assistant Commissioner Robert Strickland is the team's boss. A political animal who enjoys basking in reflected glory of UCOS's clean up rate, his choice of cases is influenced by a desire to make his department look good. Despite this, he is a strong supporter of the UCOS team, and has used his influence to protect them when necessary. He also has two children from a past marriage - but they are never seen. Although always interested in the activities of the agents at Whitehall, Strickland is always very defensive when Whitehall attempts to manipulate him into securing evidence or information in cases which are socially sensitive.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Donald Bevan (Nicholas Day) (2003–2004): Deputy Assistant Commissioner Donald Bevan is the founder of UCOS, originally intending it as a public relations gesture, to prevent an ex-convict from suing the Met for wrongful arrest. In contrast to the team, he is stereotypically obsessed with modern bureaucracy and buzzwords. Relations between him and the team are strained: UCOS's successes anger him as they are achieved in the 'wrong' way. He knows both Jack Halford and Gerry Standing personally, and strongly opposes Standing's inclusion in the team, mainly because of history between them. In his final appearance, he tries to get Sandra Pullman hired by SO10 (covert operations), and suffers politically as a result.
PC Izzy Clark (Chiké Okonkwo) (2003–2004): PC Izzy Clark is assigned to the team to help them with their IT needs and administration, though he soon becomes a valued member of the team. Unlike the retired members of the team, Izzy relies completely on modern policing techniques, an asset valued highly by DAC Donald Bevan. When Bevan's attempt to hire Sandra Pullman onto S010 fails, he pulls Izzy out of UCOS and instead offers him a place training with a firearms unit.
Esther Lane (Susan Jameson) (2003–2013): Esther is Brian Lane's long-suffering wife: they have been married for nearly thirty years. Esther and Brian met when he arrested her for attempting to steal a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover from a library. Brian once suspected Esther of being a spy sent to report on his activities, when he discovered a link between her and a high-profile protest group. They have an adult son, Mark, who is rarely spoken about, but who often attends AFC Wimbledon football matches with his father. Esther often offers Brian advice and help with the cases he is working on. Susan Jameson, who plays Esther, is married to co-star James Bolam.
Grace Pullman (Sheila Hancock) (2007–2011): Grace is Sandra Pullman's mother, and the widow of Sandra's father, Gordon, who committed suicide by carbon monoxide inhalation. She is reunited with Sandra when she asks her to help choose a care home, due to her recent battle with Ménière's disease. Their decision uncovers a murder which prevents Grace from moving into her desired home. She later suffers a stroke, causing her to reveal to Sandra the truth about her father's death after Sandra looks into a closed file.
Emily Driscoll (Hannah Waterman) (2006–2010): Emily Driscoll is a trainee police officer who turns up at Gerry's house saying that she thinks he is her father. Unbeknown to her, he performs a DNA test which proves he is not her biological father. He doesn't have the heart to tell her, and she continues to believe he is her dad. She realises that he has lied to her when he gives evidence in court relating to Ricky Hanson, and when he hesitates before claiming that Emily is his daughter. She later ignores his phone calls when he tries to apologise to her. Emily is eager to be an excellent police officer like Gerry, and proves successful. Hannah Waterman, who plays Emily, is Dennis Waterman's daughter.
Ricky Hanson (David Troughton) (2006–2009): Ricky Hanson is a career criminal, and the man responsible for the death of Jack's wife, Mary. When he confesses this to Jack, Jack attempts to run him over, as Hanson did to Mary, but is prevented from doing so. Hanson later attempts to murder Jack in hospital, but is stopped by Brian, who strikes him on the back of the head with an oxygen cylinder. After being found not guilty on the charge of attempted murder, Hanson is linked to the disappearance of two Anti-Fascist activists. UCOS discover from a former adversary that Hanson's son, Luke, was in the car that ran down Mary. Luke admits this when it is revealed that Ricky has had an incestuous relationship with his secret daughter. Ricky is arrested for Mary's murder, and he is sent to prison.
Frank Patterson (Phil Daniels) (2009–2010): Patterson is a short-tempered, old fashioned copper, a former police colleague of Gerry's. He and Gerry fell out over a woman. They reunite when Frank is interviewed over an investigation of the murder of two student activists. The investigation leads to old rival Ricky Hanson. Frank gives the team some insights on how to get Hanson behind bars, which are crucial in Hanson's arrest for the murder of Mary Halford. Frank returns to get the team to re-investigate an armed robbery and murder in the 1980s - he suspects that a senior officer might have tipped off the robbery's ringleader for a small cut, and then conspired to cover it up.
Stephen Fisher (Tim McInnerny) (2011-): Fisher is a high-ranking Whitehall intelligence operative and old acquaintance of DAC Strickland. He first appears in "The Gentleman Vanishes", ostensibly as a supporter of UCOS advising Strickland of a professional hitman. Fisher manoeuvres the team through a series of tasks and exercises for his own ends, to the benefit of shady Government deals. In "A Death in the Family", he blackmails the reluctant ex-cops into helping by unearthing their personal secrets, and consolidates his minimal respect for the UCOS team with jibes about the detectives' weaknesses, particularly Brian Lane's alcoholism. However, he shows some regard for Jack Halford, calling him 'faithful to the last'.
One of the original writers, Roy Mitchell, a supporter of the English football teamWest Bromwich Albion, named numerous guest characters after past and then-current players for the club in the first season. The three male characters of the programme, Halford, Lane and Standing, were named after the oldest stand, "The Halfords Lane Stand", at The Hawthorns football ground in West Bromwich.
The theme tune of the programme is a song called "It's All Right", written by Mike Moran and sung by cast member Dennis Waterman, whose penchant for singing the theme tune of productions in which he stars is the subject of a famous caricature in the BBC comedy show Little Britain. In the pilot for the series, Waterman sang the Traveling Wilburys song, "End of the Line". A full version of the song has since been released on YouTube. Production music was composed by father and son team Brian and Warren Bennett. The British release of the first season DVD contains "End of the Line" at the end of the pilot episode. The American version however, does not. Instead, "It's Alright" was dubbed over the end credits and the credits themselves were changed because "End of the Line" was omitted.