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Rockcliffe’s Babies: Complete DVD

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 07:35
Rockliffe's Babies - out now on DVD

Seven trainee CID officers based in London tackle some tough cases and an even tougher boss in this BBC police drama series from the 1980s. Sgt Alan Rockcliffe (Ian Hogg – “Hitler: The Rise of Evil”, Doctor Who “Ghost Light”) can be the most charming and supportive leader, but if you make a mistake or catch him on a bad day, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks! Can the rookies solve enough cases to win promotion, or will they crack in the process?

Running for just two seasons (three if you include the spin-off series Rockcliffe’s Folly, not included here), Rockcliffe’s Babies quickly introduces us to the trainees, though interestingly we do not meet Rockcliffe himself until the end of episode one. They are a real mixed bag, with varied backgrounds and skillsets that - when pulled together - make a great team; sometimes, however, the PCs bicker and fragment, and that is when things do not run quite as smoothly, much to their skipper’s chagrin.

Making up the ragtag team are Gerry O’Dowd (Joe McGann – The Upper Hand, Harry Enfield’s Television Programme), David Adams (Bill Champion – “Blitz”), Janice Hargreaves (Alphonsia Emmanuel – the BBC’s original House of Cards, The Demon Headmaster), Steve Hood (Brett Fancy – “Outpost”, EastEnders), Paul Georgiou (Martyn Ellis – The New Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sarah Jane Adventures), Karen Walsh (Susanna Shelling – Coronation Street) and Keith Chitty (John Blakely).

The series has a buoyant, fast-paced feel to it, and the plots generally connect a few seemingly unrelated incidents into one, nicely inter-connected whole. There is a lot of sitting around in stakeout operations, but the sparky chat between the characters keeps things fun, and their goofing around often sees them come humorously a cropper mid-sting. These constables are by no means the finished article!

The theme tune by Joe Campbell and Paul Hart sets the scene perfectly, starting with a police siren, then some school kids chanting a miserable nursery rhyme about impoverished, malfunctioning families struggling make ends meet, then it breaks out into a very catchy soft rock number.

One other aspect of the series that stands out is the rampant racism amongst many of the coppers, especially Steve Hood. They want to help protect the innocent and catch the criminals, but if the latter are black then it does not matter if they get a bit ruffed up on their way to the police cells! Many of the episodes deal with the tensions amongst different communities and their volatility. A softly-softly approach might be best but some of these inexperienced, opinionated PCs cannot help lighting the touch paper every so often.

It is a shame that the series only ran for 18 episodes. Today’s police dramas are typically miserable, depressingly gritty affairs. Rockcliffe’s Babies is a delightfully retro, bubbly alternative that should be savoured and viewed as a product very much of its era.

Rockcliffe’s Babies: The Complete Series (1987-8) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Network. The five-disc set has a running time of 908 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £49.99, or less from BY CLICKING HERE.


Last modified on Monday, 18 September 2017 08:06