Print this page

Clive Owen as Sharman

Sunday, 27 June 2010 17:57

Clive Owen who had found earlier TV fame with Chancer (as Stephen Crane) brings a 1990s down-at-hill vibe to the role of private detective Nick Sharman in a stylish drama based on the best-selling novels by Marc Timlin. Blending classic film noir elements with hard-hitting realism and explosive action, Sharman helped to further pave the way to Owen’s forthcoming superstardom. The series features rapidly paced storylines from, among others, Tony Hoare (The Sweeney, Minder), Guy Jenkin (Outnumbered, Drop The Dead Donkey) and award-winning Paul Abbott (Shameless, Touching Evil)

Nick Sharman is a disillusioned, down-at-heel private investigator. An instinctive loner with a shady past, he can also be charming, quick-witted, determined and, despite his faults, he has an undeniable attraction for many of the women he encounters, while dealing with the fallout from a failed marriage. For his part, there’s only one ‘woman’ who is a constant in his life - his young daughter Judith. Although his line of work seemed a natural choice after his promising Metropolitan Police career fell apart, it is starting to feel like a dead end.

Clive Owen as Sharman on DVDHowever, in the shadowy world of private investigation there will always be unfinished business, and Nick’s natural ability to blend in with South London’s ‘low life’ – combined with his occasional recklessness – makes him invaluable in cases that less streetwise professionals would normally refuse to touch. For Nick Sharman, there is often very little choice...

Despite a Grammar School education, things started to go wrong for Sharman at an early age. After leaving his South London school for university he became involved with a group manufacturing LSD in the science laboratories and was sent down.

His marriage broke up after three years due to his constant unfaithfulness and the pressures of his job. Sharman, who was now drinking heavily, joined the drugs squad and began to sample the goods himself. He was thrown out when it was discovered that his growing addiction had led him to steal cocaine from the evidence locker at Brixton Police Station. To save the Met any embarrassment, he was allowed to resign on medical grounds without a pension, and spent a short time in a mental facility.

On his discharge, he moved back to South London, bought a flat in Tulse Hill and started his own, one man private enquiry business. This has not gone down well with the police especially as he seems to find trouble whenever he takes on a case. He has one police contact who deals with him and that is Inspector Jack Robber (John Salthouse, ex of The Bill).

Samantha Janus, 23 at the time, co-stars in the first episode proper as ‘Page 3’ model and love interest Jane. She was in great demand at this point in her career – she had just played Mandy in Game On and Nicola in Pie in the Sky. Here, she gives a performance that demonstrates how utterly wasted she is in Eastenders. While filming Sharman she was also playing Sandy in a West End production of “Grease” and it was always a panic at the end of the day to get back to the theatre.

The indomitable Keith Allen, the ageless Gina Bellman, rent-a-thug Ray Winstone and the enigmatic Bill Paterson are among other guest stars in the series. Watch out too for early appearances by Geff Francis (Ashes to Ashes), Julie Graham (Survivors), and Hugo Speer (Echo Beach),

This release from Network DVD contains the complete series, originally aired in 1996, and pilot episode “The Turnaround” from 1995.

The episodes are an unusual length, with a running time of around 75 minutes (therefore fitting an hour and a half with advert breaks). This alone gives them the feel of ‘mini movies’, and certainly the production quality backs this up. They are based on the best-selling novels by former T-Rex and The Who roadie Mark Timlin,

The quartet of episodes followed “The Turnaround” - the pilot for the series from 1995 which attracted more than 10 million viewers. In the publicity blurb for the series, Clive Owen stated: "It’s something I’ve been close to from the beginning as the rights to the book were bought with me in mind for the role.”

Sharman’s creator Mark Timlin approved of Owen’s casting: "When I knew Clive was interested in playing Sharman I went to see him in the theatre and I immediately thought he was right for the role. Now when I’m writing, I see Clive as Sharman."

This three DVD disc set from Network DVD has a running time of 370 minutes approx, and a ‘15’ certificate. The RRP if £24.99, or get it for less at



Clive Owen as Nick Sharman

John Salthouse as DI Jack Robber

Roberta Taylor as Aggie

Isabella Marsh as Judith

Miranda Foster as Laura


Executive Producer: Tony Garnett

Producer: Bill Shapter

Based on the books by Mark Timlin

Music by Mike Moran



00. The Turnaround (Pilot Movie)

Sharman is hired to find out who murdered James Webb's sister and family, and why. The main witness is murdered and Sharman becomes the prime suspect. Aided by DI Robber, Sharman must break the case to clear his name and rescue his daughter Judith and girlfriend Fiona, who have been kidnapped by the villains.

Guest starring: Bill Paterson (James Webb), Rowena King (Fiona), Matthew Marsh (Tony Hagan), Sarah Carpenter (Natalie), Ranjit Krishnamma (Ashok Ali), G Brennan Fox (DS Jackson), Lee Alliston (Lenny), John Alexander (Alf), Peter Corey (Mr Robbins).

Writer: Tony Hoare

Director: Suri Krishnamma

Original ITV Transmission: 5 April 1995


01.  Take the A-Train

Sharman is disillusioned with the life of a private detective and decides to give up the investigation business. But when an ex-copper and old colleague of Sharman’s, John Reed, is found dead and his wife asks Sharman to take the case, he reluctantly agrees. The police believe Reed committed suicide by throwing himself from a tower block but his wife Ann is convinced his death is suspicious. Sharman recruits the help of Ann’s god-daughter Jane, a ‘Page 3’ model and he soon falls for her charms. The only lead that Sharman has is a tip-off from Ann that Reed was investigating former gangland boss Manny Dukakis, who is now a wealthy and seemingly legit businessman. When Sharman starts to investigate Manny, he finds himself at the centre of a gangland war between the Dukakis family and a rival gang who runs the local nightclub scene. While Sharman tries to unravel how Reed’s death and the feuding families are linked, he has the added complication of looking after his young daughter Judith, who is on a weekend visit from ex-wife Laura. He only has one option, and that is to let Judith tag along - despite the dangers...

Guest Starring: Samantha Janus (Jane), Gina Bellman (Kiki), Oscar James (Em), Geff Francis (Teddy), Stefan Gryff (Manny), Anthony Venditti (Stathi), Dimitri Andreas (Taki), Patrick Baladi (Georgi), Clarence Smith (Cedric), Anna Nygh (Ann), Jack Carr (Terry), Anthony Trent (Charlie), Desmond McNamara (Security Guard), Alan Talbot (Businessman), Victoria Willing (Prostitute), John Abbott (Uniformed Sergeant), Jason Round (Constable), Sam Halfpenny (Photographer), Kevin McCurdy (Teddy’s Henchman), Tassia Messimeris (Bride).

Writer: Guy Jenkin

Based on “Take the A-Train” by Mark Timlin

Director: Robert Bierman

Original ITV Transmission: 4 November 1996.


02. Hearts of Stone

When the drugs squad decide they need Sharman’s help to infiltrate a South London gang responsible for the murder of two police officers, they don’t ask him politely. Instead they get his attention by tricking him into handling a murder weapon – giving them enough evidence to put Sharman away for 15 years.

With no other option open to him, Sharman reluctantly agrees to help them by befriending local gangsters Patsy Hughes and Roy Seeley. Sharman’s ability to blend in with South London’s criminal lowlife immediately puts Hughes and Seeley at their ease and they soon begin to think of him as one of ‘them’. Seeley, keen to impress his new friend even offers Sharman the services of Kylie (Julie Graham), one of his favourite prostitutes, on a night out on the town. Sharman’s acceptance into the gang’s inner sanctum means the stakes are becoming much higher if he is rumbled - but he has no choice but to carry on.

While he is building up trust and trying to organise a drugs deal with the gang he also decides to start a relationship with Kylie despite her occupation!

Guest Starring: Keith Allen (Brady), Julie Graham (Kylie), Andrew Woodall (Seeley), John Paul Connolly (Hughes), Steven Hartley (O’Dowd), Gary Powell (JJ), Guy Oliver-Watts (Endesleigh), Grant Masters (Joe), George Yiasoumi (Lasky), Bill Cashmore (Barry), Nicholas Beveney (Billy), Amanda Harries (Jools).

Writer: Paul Abbott

Based on “Hearts of Stone” by Mark Timlin

Director: Robert Bierman

Original ITV Transmission: 11 November 1996.


03. A Good Year for the Roses

When raunchy lesbian dance duo Sandi and Mandi start getting threats from their former manager, the girls turn to Sharman for help. Initially reluctant to act as a ‘minder’, Sharman gets sucked into protecting the girls from ‘Big Des’, but he is insistent the arrangement is only temporary until the heat is off. When Sharman begins to fall for one of the girls his resolve looks like weakening. On the business front, Sharman is recruited by wealthy businessman George Bright to track down his missing 18-year-old daughter. What starts out as a simple job of tracking down a wayward teenager soon turns into a murder trail. Sharman trawls the local clubs for clues and discovers that the missing Sophie had a reputation for giving away free drugs. Acting on an anonymous tip off, he searches a Brixton squat and discovers a dead Sophie with a needle still in her arm.

Guest Starring: Ray Winstone (George Bright), Adie Allen (Dawn), Collette Brown (Tracey), Cliff Parisi (Terry Southall), Mark Moraghan (Dicks), Phillip Bretherton (Sturrock), Anthony Trent (Charlie), Jacqueline Phillips (Bren), Kelly Reilly (Sophie Bright), Hugo Speer (Mayles), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Precious), Stephen Bent (Des), Sasha Hails (Emma), Tat Whalley (Steve), Vincent Franklin (Fat Barman), Richard Bannerman (Drag Act).

Writer: Dusty Hughes

Based on “A Good Year for the Roses” by Mark Timlin

Director: Matthew Evans

Original ITV Transmission: 18 November 1996.


04. (Untitled)

Sharman’s wedding day celebrations are interrupted when David Galillee, a manager from his bank corners him at his reception and asks to hire him. Despite his usual money problems and the tempting offer of having his mortgage paid off in full if he plays ball, Sharman is more interested in going on his honeymoon with Dawn than striking up a deal with Galillee. When Dawn hears of the offer she insists Sharman must break into their honeymoon to do the job. Galillee is involved in a money laundering operation at his bank but is unsure where the money ends up. He starts to get cold feet about his involvement and fearing for his and his young family’s safety he drafts in Sharman to find out who’s behind the money operation.

Guest Starring: Anton Lesser (Galilee), Adie Allen (Dawn), Colette Brown (Tracey), Emma Cunningham (Carol), Danny Webb (Durban), Jeff Rawle (Laing), Nick Dunning (Nice Bloke), Paul Kember (McGrail), Anthony Trent (Charlie), Jacqueline Phillips (Bren), Rupert Proctor (Tommy), Christopher Saul (Relf), Zoe Hilson (Maureen), Nick Frost (Chris), Michael Clarkson (Simon), Ruth Harford (Dinah), Eleanor McCready (Registrar), Rachel Gleaves (Police Constable), Talya Gordon (Maisie Galilee), Alec Gordon (Gabriel Galilee).

Writer: Mick Ford

Based on the characters created by Mark Timlin

Director: Matthew Evans

Original ITV Transmission: 25 November 1996.



Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37