Please help me identify this British detective series

I stumbled across it on the Internet some time ago and can’t remember the name. It looked to me like it was Thatcher-era, i.e., early '80s, around the same time as Dempsey and Makepeace. Almost certainly an ITV production. I think it was set in Northwest England, maybe Manchester. Very “gritty,” crime-wise. In the one episode I watched, a lot of the action took place on board a canal boat; whether that was a standing set (where the protagonist lived and/or worked), I don’t remember. He was, I think, maybe a retired cop—an older guy with not much hair but a short beard, sandy or ginger. I don’t think he was Trevor Howard, but he might qualify as a Trevor Howard–type.

Oh, and I think they were looking for a kidnapper in the episode I watched.

Ring any bells? :dubious: :confused:

Was it Bulman?

No, don’t think so. This one looks like it was shot on videotape, and mine was definitely on film.

The beard on the protagonist was scruffy rather than nicely groomed, as I recall.

Do you remember the theme music?

Was it Travelling Man? The protagonist is rather younger than your memory suggests, but might that have been the antagonist?

It could be this one, I honestly don’t know. At least this one definitely has a canal boat, judging from the photo.

I had a look at some websites about Bulman. Their descriptions sound a lot more like the show I remember, but I don’t recognize any of the actors. Could be the guy with the beard was not a regular member of the cast, but he did play a pretty important role in the episode I saw. He was dressed in tweed and a bow tie, as I recall.

The website where I watched the show seems to have been taken down, which is too bad. It had a lot of old and very obscure series to choose from.

Did Bulman actually live on a canal boat? I do seem to remember the protagonist having some kind of workshop there, maybe one with clocks.

Could also be I remember film being used for location shots. I guess videotape could have been used in the studio.

I remember the guy with the beard being something of a curmudgeon. Maybe he didn’t like the guy on the boat—felt he was interfering in police affairs, something like that. That would fit in with a retired cop turned PI.

Theme music was apparently nothing particularly memorable, though there were dramatic “Dum-dum-DUM!” riffs at every station break.

Looks like it is Travelling Man. This clip matches your description of video tape for indoor scenes, including bow tie man (no beard though).

After watching the few clips that are on YouTube, I’m now more of the opinion it was Bulman. The DVDs of both seasons are available on Amazon, so I’m putting in an order for them and will watch them when I’m back in Canada later this month.

I Googled “old British actors with scruffy beards,” and of the images I’ve seen, this guy looks most like the one I remember:

Sir Ian McKellan, though he didn’t look nearly as old back then, of course.

Here’s a favorite British detective series import that featured a retired cop with a beard.

Only it’s a neat beard (not scruffy) and from the early '70s.

I knew it was going to be Strange Report before I clicked on the link! I remember watching it Friday nights on NBC when I was in high school. I quite liked it. I’ve never forgotten the catchy theme music.

Anthony Quayle has always been one of my favorite actors. I grew up watching him in WWII flicks, starting with The Guns of Navarone.

I also had a big thing for Anneke Wills. Yum! :o