18th October 1981
BBC broadcasts the first episode of Bergerac
The BBC’s Jersey-set police drama, Bergerac, produced in association with Australia’s Seven Network, followed Jim Bergerac of the fictional Bureau des Etrangers. With 87 episodes across nine series, including six Christmas specials, it ran until boxing day 1991. The first episode was watched by 15 million viewers.
In 2016, The Telegraph placed Jim Bergerac 24th in its list of 50 best TV detectives and sleuths, noting, “there were some splendidly silly supernatural themes and it provided good cameo paydays for British actors such as Beryl Reid, Ray Winstone and Michael Gambon”.
Regular Bergerac characters
Aside from Jim Bergerac, his ex-wife, Deborah, and her father, Charlie Hungerford, were regular characters whose knowledge of the island and inhabitants often helped investigations. Bergerac’s car, a burgundy 1940s Triumph Roadster was itself as recognizable as any of the human characters and was auctioned at the end of the final series. The money raised – £34,000 – was donated to the BBC’s Children in Need appeal.
Three notable locations came to unfortunate ends in real life. The farmhouse that Bergerac lived in was lost when the valley in which it stands was flooded to create the Queen’s Valley Reservoir, and Windward House, overlooking St Brelade’s Bay, which was used as Charlie Hungerford’s home was demolished in 2010 so the land could be used to develop three new homes. The producers used shots of the Haut de la Garenne children’s home as the exterior of the Bureau des Etrangers from series four onwards. This was later investigated by real police when a history of child abuse was uncovered at the site. This interrupted a BBC rerun of the series in 2014. The corporation quoted John Nettles, who played Bergerac, who said of the cancellation, “I am not angry, I am disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing them again, as I haven’t for a few years”.
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