20. Grandpa in My Pocket
Despite having the creepiest title of any television programme ever made (not that pocket, grandson. The other pocket) Grandpa in My Pocket is largely trauma free television. It’s a bit too silly for my taste, but I’m not a four-year-old child, so you know, that’s not really my call to make.
The reason Grandpa in My Pocket makes the list is because it ruined New Tricks. Allow me to explain.
New Tricks, the popular BBC crime drama in which a trio of ex-policemen and their boss re-investigate cold cases, started off with a dream cast – Alun Armstrong, Amanda Redman, Dennis Waterman, James Bolan. Solid gold. Not a weak link among them. However, when Bolan, admittedly approaching eighty, decided to lighten his workload, he decided to quit New Tricks and concentrate on Grandpa in My Pocket. Bolan’s replacement, Denis Lawson, was fine in New Tricks but his character traits overlapped too much with Dennis Waterman’s character, Gerry Standing, which meant that Gerry got rewritten somewhat. Gerry was always, outwardly, a bit of a rogue but his character had hidden depths (for example his love of fine food). Unfortunately, most of these depths were expunged when it was decided that Lawson’s character would be the new ‘ladies man’ of the series. Gerry increasingly became relegated to the, ‘it wouldn’t have happened in my day’ character, which was a betrayal of the more subtle writing of the earlier series, and the sterling work Dennis Waterman had done fleshing out the character. The balance of the show shifted, the magic faded, and it wouldn’t be long before the rest of the cast called it a day.
Of course, James Bolan is free to be, or not be, in whatever he wants, (and there is an argument that his character arc in New Tricks came to a natural conclusion with the arrest and conviction of Ricky Hanson, the notorious gangster who had murdered his wife) but there is no escaping the fact that Grandpa in My Pocket had, however unintentionally, an adverse effect on the quality of New Tricks. For that, I can never forgive it