By Charlie Kimber
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Sherwood—can drama of the Miners’ Strike carry this cop show?

BBC police drama Sherwood is set against the legacy of the great Miners’ Strike
Issue 2811
Two police with batons grab a bleeding miner, in a still from BBC drama Sherwood

There are scenes of picket line battles in Sherwood (Picture: BBC)

I loved the BBC drama Sherwood when it started, but halfway through I wasn’t so sure. It’s set in Nottingham where, decades after the great Miners’ Strike of 1984-5, the divisions of the time have not gone away.

Some miners struck, some scabbed and nobody forgets. Sherwood has spycops, trade unionists and scenes of picket lines battles against the police. What’s not to like? Gary Jackson (Alun Armstrong), a former striking miner is still “NUM until I die”. He’s the target of those who broke away to join the UDM fake union. Then he’s murdered with an arrow. The killing draws police chief Ian St Clair (David Morrissey) back to his home town.

He’s “good cop” in Sherwood who was seen as a traitor by strikers but was then himself shocked by the brutal behaviour of the Met. St Clair discovers Gary’s arrest records from 1984 are redacted, even though the charges were dropped.

That was thanks to the intervention of Kevin Salisbury (Robert Glenister). He was one of the cops sent by the Met to smash the strikers. Salisbury now re-appears, with his own motives for coming back and his own past to hide.

Sherwood has a good cast and a real sense of menace at points. But I’m going off it a bit and I don’t know how good it will be by the end. Unusually Sherwood wasn’t all on iPlayer straight way and you had to wait each Monday and Tuesday for the episodes.

At the beginning the feeling of tension and foreboding came from the legacy of the strike and the state assaults on workers. As Sherwood went on it became more like a traditional police series. But I will be watching to the end.

  • The final episodes of Sherwood are on BBC 1, 9pm Mon 21 and Tues 28 Jun. All preceding episodes are now on BBC Iplayer

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