To mark the 100th anniversary of the first British policewoman being given the power of arrest (Edith Smith, in case you were curious), BBC4 aired a feature-length documentary titled Fair Cop: A Century of British Policewomen, which explored “the individual careers and ambitions of women police officers who, through their bravery and guile, were determined to succeed in a profession that never wanted them.” It was a fascinating film, with a lot of eye-opening anecdotes and old-timey “newsreel” clips… including one of a resourceful officer rescuing a baby from the arms of its suicidal father on a roof ledge!

Stephanie Turner as ‘Inspector Jean Darblay’ in “Juliet Bravo” (S1)The doc was followed by a rerun of the very first episode of Juliet Bravo (1980), a classic crime drama centred on a female police inspector, who has just been promoted to run a small station in Lancashire. Unusually, we’re introduced to ‘Insp. Jean Darblay’ (Stephanie Turner) a couple days into her new appointment, after she’s already moved into her new office and gotten to know her colleagues a little… so we didn’t have to sit through a lot of tiresome “The new boss is a WOMAN!?” misunderstandings and spit-takes. Phew! The actual case-of-the-week was a bit lame-brained (the kidnapper they’re chasing was always in the very first place they looked, so they didn’t have to do much sleuthing to keep track him down… and apparently no one in his tightly-packed terraced street bothered reporting the fact he’d fired off a shotgun in his back yard earlier that morning… tch!), the camera-work was quite creaky, and the picture was rather scratched and scuffed… but the premise had potential, the performances were solid, the characters were quickly/vividly established, and the jokes held up pretty well too. If this were a new series, I’d definitely tune in to watch the next episode… but sadly, it was just a one-off “theme night” nostalgia blast, and the DVD boxsets are out-of-print (and prohibitively expensive) at the moment! Sigh…

P.S. Forgot to mention that the teenage girl who gets kidnapped (by her unhinged, gun-toting father) was played by a young Joanne Whalley… though she’d already been in the biz for five years by that point, and racked up plenty credits, so it was far from her acting debut!

About Dee CrowSeer

A comic book writer with an interest in feminism, philosophy, and affirmative action. He/him.
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