Cherie Lunghi was last seen on TV telling a bunch of scantily-clad lads what to do to keep her happy. The Manageress is still the boss in a BBC whodunnit, A Question Of Guilt, as Andrew Pulver discovers.

Since the advent of Morse. it’s become accepted ratings-wisdom to serve up feature-length slabs of ultra-civilised murder mystery, featuring winningly left-field types doing the sleuthing. And ifthe mountains ofglossy paperbacks lining the nation’s bookshops are anything to go by, there are plenty of ’tecs eager to follow in the footsteps of Poirot,

Alleyn. Tennison and co.

The latest champion ofjustice to get the nod is someone called Crown Prosecutor Helen West. whose righteous workaholicism and complex love- life are the creations of Frances Fyfteld and underpin a string of bestselling novels. The first in a projected series of long-format thrillers, A Question Of Guilt may sound from the title as if it’s a weighty investigation into state secrets; in fact it‘s a drama about a Bulgarian paid to kill someone’s wife by a mad middle-aged woman. Fyfield is a specialist at the Crown Prosecution Service herself. and presumably amuses herself by taking everything very


The intriguineg glamorous Cherie Lunghi plays Helen West. She‘s best-known for her role as the tough but vulnerable Manageress in the Channel 4 football series. ‘Yes. there is a fundamental similarity between them.‘ says Lunghi. ‘Helen West is a very

independent, very lair-minded woman. What the two characters share is that they're both very capable.’ Clearly Lunghi is perfectly suited to play these woman-in-a-man‘s-world pans. radiating the kind of sensible sensitivity that 90s TV loves. ‘The Manageress tackled that whole issue very well.‘ she

‘The Manageress tackled that whole issue very well. It was also very popular in Europe, and I actually got asked to go out and manage a German Civil Service

team! I didn’t take up the otter.’

says. ‘lt was also very popular in Europe, and i actually got asked to go out and manage a German Civil Service team! I didn‘t take up the offer.’

A Question Of Guilt follows the recent trend of Detective TV by following its heroes through both their public and private lives. in 70s classics like The Sweeney and The Professionals emotions took a poor second place to seedy realism and fist-fights, but now the accent has shifted towards the confrontation of moral and legal issues at an almost abstract level.

i That‘s why not much actually happens in A Question

in hospitals .

at 9pm.

0f Guilt. and why there isn‘t much mystery about the killer’s identity. The story is about making the crime stick to the truly guilty party.

Not that director Stuart Orme is above chucking some fake blood and highly dramatic make-up effects into the mix. There‘s a rather nasty scene towards the end when villainous Ed Darvas (Alex Walkinshaw) decides to get heavy with West. ‘l was very worried about playing that scene.‘ Lunghi admits, ‘and so was Alex. it‘s as frightening to act violence as to actually be part of it. i didn’t want to get hurt, and he didn‘t want to hurt me.‘

But don’t tune in expecting to see street-tough crime-fighting. Everything is very restrained, from the chic Canonbury locations to the tastefully embarrassed doorstep snog between West and her aspirant lover Detective Supt Geoffrey Bailey. ‘l’m sure the romance has something to do with their both being professionals,‘ speculates Lunghi. ‘lt‘s the long, long hours. in real life apparently policeman and nurses get together a lot. All that hanging around

A Question Of Guilt is on BBC 1 on Sunday 23 May

lt’safair cop, guv

In real-lite ot course there’s never a copper around when you need one. in TV terms you lust can’t escape them. Check any evening schedule and you’ll invariably lind wall-to-wall plod, from the beat-pounding cynics of The Bill to the aesthete snobbery ot Morse. And it

it’s not coppers on the trail oi the baddles it's moonlighting academics (Don’t Leave Me This Way) or prosecution lawyers (A Question Cl . Guilt - see above). In TV terms there’s little doubt that crime certainly does


Those BBCZ pranksters take this truth as the starting point tor another one of their all-night specials on Monday 31 May. Cops (in The Box taxes a )oumey down the TV nick to discover how the small screen has treated the rozzers over the years.

It you thought that realistic treatment at a pollceman’s lot is a

recent phenomenon with shows like Between The Lines, a repeated episode at 1 Cars might give you pause tor thought. Created by writers .lohn McGrath and Troy Kennedy as an antidote to anodyne true-blue shows like Dixon ot Dock Green and Fabian Of The Yard (also shown during the evening), it presented an ensemble cast oi believable and often less-than- decent coppers led by Strattord Johns’s menacing bully Charlie Barlow. To an extent, everything that’s happened since in TV cop drama owes a huge debt to 2 Cars, (and no show has ever had a better theme tune).


Other highlights include Trevor Eve as radio detective Shoestring, and the legendary Sweeney, where the really I horrendous crimes were the hairstyles and ‘lashions’ sported by John Thaw and Dennis Waterman. Worryingly, real police officers reveal that, lacking any other role models, they often imitated Thaw’s Jack llegan, a copper with a tendency to bend the rules as well as bits ot a villaln’s anatomy. (Tom tannin)

Cops (in The Box is on BBC2 on Monday 31 May from 7pm.

The List 21 May—3 June I993 53