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Bulman Series 1 on DVD

Monday, 21 March 2011 12:31

George Kitchener Bulman begins the series that would mark his final televisual escapades with the release of the first season of Bulman.  The character began in The XYY Man, was refined a little more with Strangers, before becoming one of the quirkiest characters in the detective business that has ever been seen on British television.  Don Henderson became one of our national treasures from breathing life into him.

It’s more by pressure from others that Bulman, just retired from the force, finds himself as an enquiry agent, with the strict limitation that he will not tackle divorce cases.  All he really wants to do is run a ‘clock hospital’, where time pieces of all descriptions can be brought back to life by his delicate touch.  That is until Lucy McGinty (Siobhan Redmond), the daughter of another legendary copper, bails from university and wants to use her interest in criminology to become Bulman’s assistant.

Bulman - Series One comes to DVD at long lastSo, the classics-quoting detective is back on the scent, and outs on the streets. He reluctantly returns to the intrigues of the London underworld and international espionage, but this time is free of the police code. The grey, tatty string gloves and the plastic carrier bag ‘briefcase’ are still there. The use of Vick’s Sinex tubes to clear his nostrils, his penchant for Johnnie Walker Black Label and ‘Nigerian Lager’ (Guinness), and paper of choice the Morning Star help define our no-nonsense detective.

He likes his chips soggy, thanks to lots of vinegar, and even dabbles with playing the saxophone. At home he wears a ‘Will Power’ Shakespeare Tee over a denim shirt, and his gold half-moon reading glasses show this is a rough diamond who aspires to cultural highs, even dabbling in taking a philosophy degree with the Open University.

Lucy, meanwhile, comes from Ireland but has a Scottish accent (explained away with an added line in the first episode).  She even brings with her a personal stalker, in the shape of ‘Iron Lung’ (Lloyd Peters), who is the sort of obsessed geek who thinks he’s found the love of his life just because a lady is daft enough to smile at him.  Bulman’s reputation brought her down South, convinced that he must have quit the police, before his time, to set up on his own. 

When Lucy finds that all George wants to do is have a quiet little clock empire, she quickly has to convince him to see things her way. Most people will probably know actress Siobhan Redmond best from her role as Maureen Connell in Between The Lines. She’s also been a regular in the likes of The High Life (‘Shona Spurtle’), Holby City (‘Janice Taylor’), The Smoking Room (‘Sharon’), The Bill (‘CSE Lorna Hart’) and Taggart (‘Chief Supt Karen Campbell’).  Bulman was her breakthrough dramatic role – the previous two years, 1983 and 1984, she had been a performer on the sketch show Alfresco.

With most of the episodes written by Strangers stalwart Murray Smith, the series features dramatic heavyweights Peter Wyngarde (in a rare 1980s TV appearance), George Sewell, Alfred Lynch, Sheila Hancock, Freddie Jones, and Liz Gebhardt (Maureen in Please Sir!).

Mark McManus (who had moved on to his own hit series Taggart) returned to make a few early cameo appearances as former Bulman colleague Lambie, as did Dennis Blanch, who played Willis in both The XYY Man and Strangers.

Meanwhile, Thorley Walters kept cropping up as intelligence kingpin Bill Dugdale, another character carried over from Strangers.


Eagle-eyed viewers will note that the second episode, “The Daughter Was A Dancer” should definitely be screened AFTER the third episode, “Pandora’s Many Boxes”.  The reason is that in “Pandora...” we see that George is still painting his shop sign, whereas in “The Daughter...” this work has been well completed.  No doubt someone somewhere can reveal the production order of the show to confirm this?

Writer Murray Smith and Don Henderson were both ex-policemen, and went on to work together again on the BBC series The Paradise Club (1989-1990). These twenty episodes, all written by Smith, shared much of the same spirit as Bulman. Henderson plays the priest Frank Kane, who is always led astray by his brother Danny (Leslie Grantham, who guest-starred in an episode of Bulman), who just happens to be a big wheel in the underworld.

Don Henderson died in 1997, at the age of just 64, from throat cancer. His wife was Shirley Stelfox, who plays Edna Birch in Emmerdale (she had herself appeared in three episodes of Strangers). Don had an early part in The Protectors ("Disappearing Trick"), before landing the regular role of MAA Heron in the BBC’s Warship. He was Colley in Knights of God (which wife Shirley was also in), and played Gavrok in the Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who story “Delta and the Bannermen”.

Of course, for “Star Wars” fans, Don will always be remembered as General Taggi. He became a regular face across the screen mediums, having guest starred in a huge number of TV episodes and was in a whole host of movies. One of his last roles was as the Rogue Simulant in the Red Dwarf episode “Beyond a Joke”.

Bulman, however, is his career-defining character, and this series has everything you could ever want from a detective show; its sheer depth of character and intriguing scenarios makes it a classic of its genre. More was to come with the shorter season two, just seven episodes, but in more ways than one, that time around the gloves really did come off...

Bulman – The Complete First Series is out now, exclusively from the Network Online Store.  It has a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 650 minutes approx over four discs, and a RRP of £40.84 or less, direct from Network only.



Don Henderson as George Bulman

Siobhan Redmond as Lucy McGinty


A Granada Television Network Production

Producer: Steve Hawes

Executive Producer: Richard Everitt

George Bulman and Willis based on characters created by Kenneth Royce

Music: Dick Walter


1.01. Winds of Change

Bulman has retired from the police force, wanting to repair clocks for a living instead. However, former colleagues Lambie and Willis, and Lucy McGinty, the daughter of another famous policeman, persuade him to take on a case and dip his toes into the world of private detection.

Guest Starring: Mark McManus (Det Chief Supt Lambie), Dennis Blanch (Det Sgt Willis), Valerie Lush (Annie Richards), Gary Holton (Bernard Scroop) John Benfield (Det Insp Holmes), Simon Molloy (Det Sgt McKay), Jeffrey Chiswick (Dave Stone), Jeffrey Piddock (Man In Library), Reg Stewart (Postman), Will Tacey (Police Constable), Louis Raynes (Mortuary Attendant), Vincent Brimble (Vic Crawford),  Kaleen Janjua (Travel Shop Manager), John Albasiny (Youth), Michael Feast (Kevin), Martin Oldfield (Airport Official), Jeremy Gagan (Det Chief Insp Faulkner)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: William Brayne

Original ITV Transmission: 5 June 1985


1.02. The Daughter Was a Dancer

Bulman and Lucy are asked to play bodyguard to a high-flying businessman, which is not exactly what George considers his core business. When they find themselves without a client, what some might call burglary has to be resorted to.

Guest Starring: Mark McManus (Det Chief Supt Lambie), Tony Robinson (Professor Allerton), Shirley Dixon Neil Cunningham (Richard Pelling), David Hargreaves (Martin Borthwaite), Anthony Van Laast (Jacque), Henry Stamper (Murdo McPherson), Paul Angelis (Det Insp Snow), Shirley Dixon (Gwenn Thomas), Linda-Mae Brewer (Fiona McPherson), Henry Moxon (Professor Runcie), Campbell Morrison (Jerry), Diana Mull (Receptionist), Chester Harriott (Pianist), Paul Elsam (Messenger), Stewart Avon Arnold (First Dancer), Claud Paul Henry (Second Dancer), Leslie Ives (Third Dancer), Vernol John (Fourth Dancer)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Ken Grieve

Original ITV Transmission: 12 June 1985


1.03. Pandora's Many Boxes

Dylan Chadwick is perplexed, if not just a little angry, when he fails to land a new job after he fails a security check run by the company’s personnel department. He’s tipped off that Bulman is the best in the business to employ to investigate. However, he has no idea how thorough George and his hive of contacts can be.

Guest Starring: Dennis Blanch (Det Sgt Willis) Clive Francis (Dylan Chadwick), Michael Sheard (Joe Wright), Deborah Grant (Sue Lawson), Jeremy Gagan (Det Chief Insp Faulkner), Lloyd Peters (Henry ‘Iron Lung’), Jack May (Sir Thomas Boycott), Basil Henson (Lord Breconbury), Hugh Dickson (Morton Hughes), Niall Toibin (Dermot O’Casey), Toby Salaman (Arnold Flexner), Richard Ireson (Det Sgt Cooper), Kirstie Pooley (Dusty Waters), Constance Chapman (Mrs Dunbar), Neville Rofaila (Eduardo), John McGregor (Fairweather), Jayne Crayton (‘Bo-Peep’), David J Nicholls (Doorman), Sandra Dugdale (Soprano), Keith Swallow (Pianist)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Christopher King

Original ITV Transmission: 19 June 1985


1.04. Death of a Hitman

Bulman helps a little old lady find out why her son was killed. Unfortunately, she’s an underworld queen, and Lucy and George find themselves embroiled in a turf war between the KGB and Britain’s secret services.

Guest Starring: Thorley Walters (William Dugdale), Alun Armstrong (Sgt Bob Figg), Tommy Boyle (The Vagrant), Phillada Sewell (Ma Gurney), Kathryn George (Joanna), Linda Marchal (Colonel Hernandez), Neil Phillips (Desmond Turner), Peter Kinley (Sean Gurney), Stephen Tomlin (PC Miller), Stephen Mallatratt (Kenyon), Nigel Caliburn (Kenyon’s Aide), Anthony Havering (Constable), Frank Olegario (Greek Pete), Albert Moses (Jamsit Alam), Vivienne Moore (Dr Whiting), Dinah Handley (Hernandez Secretary), John Ryan (Minder)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Bill Gilmour

Original ITV Transmission: 26 June 1985


1.05. The Name of the Game

George and Lucy are contacted by a woman who blames a police officer for her husband's death. Is she simply out for revenge, or there is something a little more going on behind the scenes?

Guest Starring: George Sewell (Harry Scroop), Leslie Grantham (Alan ‘Dodger’ Tait), Lesley Manville (Karen Tait), David Healy (Elias Greenstein), Alec Linstead (Commander Curtis), John Benfield (Det Insp Holmes), Simon Molloy (Det Sgt McKay), Brian Bovell Troy Foster, Peter Brace (Det Sgt Benson), Brian Coburn (Horse Cromwell), Brian Bovell (Car Park Attendant), Troy Foster (Luther), Mervyn Stutter (Scroop’s Minder), Jonathan Barlow (Lawrence Culpepper), Stuart Richman (Auctioneer), Matthew Scurfield (Eddie ‘The Snout’), Bill Croasdale (Priest), Gladys Ambrose (Queenie Tait), Rose Power (Elderly Lady), Chester Harriott (Pianist)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: William Brayne

Original ITV Transmission: 3 July 1985


1.06. One of Our Pigeons Is Missing

George is tempted to go undercover as a homeless person, in order to investigate who killed a tramp. Matters are complicated by carrier pigeons, being used to fly out secrets and information to opposition forces.

Guest Starring: Thorley Walters (Dugdale), Ursula Howells (Dr Scobie Beasley), Peter Settelen (Peter Ripley), Murray Melvin (Jack Sprat), Clive Russell (Green Hat), Patrick Waldron (Desmond O’Dowd), Dlia Corrie (Elizabeth), Maggie Jones (Rosie), Renny Krupinski (Martin Selwyn).  

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Charlie Nairn

Original ITV Transmission: 10 July 1985


1.07. Sins of Omission

With George otherwise engaged, Lucy is recruited by the secret services as bait to expose a female KGB agent. Unfortunately, she may find herself in the firing line for her unusual bullets, which spirits Bulman into taking matters into his own hands.

Guest Starring: George Pravda (Pushkin), Thorley Walters (Dugdale), Christopher Villiers (Alec), Emma Relph (Sandy), Simon Molloy (DS McKay), Katia Tchenko (Irenya Konstantinovna), Chris McCorkindale (Joelle Hiver), William Gaminara (Willie Bruce), Lola Young (Bus Conductress), Alexei Jawdokimov (Rimyans), Sergei Russakov (KGB Agent), Seva Levenstein (Jerry), Roger Heathcott (Commissionaire), Jeremy Clyne (Clerk), Michael Boyd (Secretary 1), Andrew Rzechowski (Secretary 2)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Roger Tucker

Original ITV Transmission: 17 July 1985


1.08. Another Part of the Jungle

Bulman is hired to use his skills to fix a church tower clock in a Yorkshire village. Matters become complicated when a killer starts a spree, and it’s a race against time to identify who the hitman is and bring them to justice.

Guest Starring: Freddie Jones (Victor Garforth), Godfrey James (Dizzie Bowden), Peter Kelly (The Face) Avis Bunnage (Mrs Whitehead), Harold Goodwin (Willie), Ben Benison (Manager), Muriel Rogers (Landlady)

Writer: Henry Livings

Director: Christopher King

Original ITV Transmission: 24 July 1985


1.09. Born into the Purple

George and Lucy are asked to investigate a series of thefts in the in the home of a very aristocratic family. Who to trust though, as family loyalties seem to be worth little, and there’s a suspect on the other side of every door.

Guest Starring: Pauline Jamieson (Lady Springfield), Alan David (Williams), Veronica Smart (Jan), Rupert Vansittart (Jack), Jasper Jacob (Jason Goodchild), Jay Villiers (Nigel), Craig Crosbie (Tim), Miles Richardson (Barratt),  Alan Moore (Hartwell), Jazzer Jeyes (Williams’s Friend), Hope Johnstone (Car Owner)

Writer: Paul Wheeler

Director: Bill Gilmour

Original ITV Transmission: 31 July 1985


1.10. A Cup for the Winner

George is asked by an engaging American to find some priceless property that once belonged to his family.  Unfortunately, the last time it was in their possession was over two hundred years before!

Guest Starring: Bruce Boa (Greenstein), Anthony May (DI Evan Reid), Richard Caldicot (Samuel Lane), Don McCorkindale (Patterson), Terence Wilton (Don Porter), Sue Jones Davies (Singer), Delia Lindsay (Lady Eggar), Sarah Keller (Bonnie Kowalski), Gordon Sterne (Wilbur C McLeod), Caroline Dennis (Beryl), Susanna Page (Sally), Liz Gebhardt (Fiona Lamont), Randolph Herley (Bank Manager), John Barcroft (Auctioneer)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: David Carson

Original ITV Transmission: 07 August 1985


1.11. I Met a Man Who Wasn't There

Bulman and Lucy find themselves on the trail of arch-villain Gallio, who had been deported but has somehow found his way back into the country.  Revenge is on the agenda, so can they foil his plans? They find themselves delving into the seedy world of strip clubs to chase him down.

Guest Starring: Peter Wyngarde (Gallio), Sheila Hancock (Kate), Stephan Kalipha (Neftali), Ken Campbell (Rap), Claire Nielson (Noelle), John Benfield (Inspector), Peter Childs (Commissionare), James Warrior (Martin), David Foxxe (Dando), Lesley Clare O’Neill (Stella), Steve Kligerman (Angel), Jonathan Adams (Tutor), Junior A Walker (Gregory), Simon Wallis (Gregory’s Chum), Mike Kay (Punter), Olive Pendleton (Passing Lady).

Writer: Henry Livings

Director: Ken Grieve

Original ITV Transmission: 14 August 1985


1.12. A Moveable Feast

George and Lucy step in to assist a couple whose catering business is not to everyone’s taste.  There are threats to close them down for good, but who wants to bring the shutters down, and why?

Guest Starring: Tony Anholt (John Fistolari), Carolyn Pickles (Lisa), Simon Chandler (Tim), Colette O'Neil (Dixie West), Peter Brayham (Third Heavy), Sally Edwards (Doctor), Jonathan Elsom (Guiseppe), Keith Woodhams (Young Man), John Michie (Scotsman), Jane Cunliffe (Fistolari’s Secretary), Karen West (Sophia), Linda Lawton (Nurse)

Writer: Paul Wheeler

Director: Bill Gilmour

Original ITV Transmission: 21 August 1985   


1.13. A Man of Conviction

George, with little thought of the risks, is trying to break the exploits of a gang of armed robbers, seemingly from the comfort of jail. He goes undercover, but the big risk is that his notoriety could lead to his cover being blown.

Guest Starring: Mark McManus (Lambie), Alfred Lynch (Joe Revell), Prentis Hancock (Tober McSweeney), Richard Grayson (Doctor), Thorley Walters (Dugdale), Tom Chadbon Niven Boyd (Miller), Tim Wylton (Dai Edwards), Ron Donache (Bill Allison), Isobel Gardner (Woman at Bus-Stop), Drew Dawson (Detective), Michael Irving (Police Inspector), Ronnie Stevens (Holland), Stan Finni (Amos Wright), Carolyn Colquhoun (Arabella), Tom Lawler (Cook), Derry Power (Warty Davies), Derek Lord (Luigi), Norman Rutherford (Judge), Liam Sweeney (Hairdresser), Stuart Organ (Police Sergeant), James Drake (Sir Roger Sullivan)

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Tom Cotter

Original ITV Transmission: 28 August 1985

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37