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Stay Connected to PBS Subscribe to our Previews newsletter for a sneak peek at your favorite programs. Check Out PBS Video Watch local and national programs from anywhere at anytime. Not to be confused with the 1989 New Zealand TV series written by Margaret Mahy, or the 1996 French-Canadian anthology TV series, both of the same name. Strangers is a UK police drama that appeared on ITV between 5 June 1978 and 20 October 1982. The series began as a fairly standard police drama series with Bulman as its eccentric lead. Its premise was that a group of police officers have been brought together from different parts of the country to the north of England. There, the fact that they are not known locally gives them the opportunity to infiltrate where a more familiar local detective could not.
Series two, shown in early 1979, introduced the character of Detective Constable Vanessa Bennett who was played by Fiona Mollison. The same series would be the last to feature the characters Linda Doran and Chief Inspector Rainbow. The first series was made primarily on videotape, with location footage shot on film. Series two would feature even more film: with the opening episode The Wheeler Dealers being made entirely on film and the season closer, Marriages, Deaths And Births, being entirely on film bar the standard series title sequence and a few scenes at the police station. From series three onwards, the entire production moved to film. The first series used a mixture of writers with only one – Leslie Duxbury – writing more than one episode. He would contribute one further script, for series two, and it was during the second season that Murray Smith came to the fore as the series’ main writer.
The basic premise was similar, but rather than covering just the north west of England, the team’s remit now extended to the whole country. Bulman had also gained promotion – to Detective Chief Inspector. The character of Chief Inspector Bulman, still played by Don Henderson, appeared in a subsequent series Bulman by which point he had retired from the police but was still involved in detective work. Arriving in Manchester to work on their new patch as ‘strangers’ to the local underworld, Bulman and Willis investigate a jewel robbery.
A routine assignment to follow up muggings of a local postman lead Bulman and Willis to a much bigger case, much to Rainbow’s annoyance. Bulman becomes a bookie and Doran gets a job in a tipster’s office to uncover a case of race fixing. When a prominent local journalist is murdered, Doran goes undercover as a reporter on his old desk, and Willis becomes a coroner’s officer. Bulman is assigned to establish whether the suspicious practices of a uniform branch sergeant point to him being crooked. This is the first of two episodes to feature the character of Briscoe. This episode does not feature any regular cast apart from Bulman.