I always forget that Pie in the Sky is a BBC production, because it’s repeated so often on ITV3 (or 4).
I quite like this show, partly because it’s a nice, non-gritty police drama, partly because it stars the always marvellous Richard Griffiths, but mostly because the exteriors for his restaurant were filmed in my home town.
The first episode opens with detective Henry Crabbe (Griffiths) and team on a stakeout. When their supposed target goes haring off in a car, Griffiths stays on site, and confronts the bad guy, Dudley Hooperman (played by Michael Kitchen) alone.
They have a very civilised conversation over some wine and prosciutto. Kitchen offers him some treasury bonds to let him go, but Henry is an honest man, so Kitchen shoots him in the leg and leaves on a small plane.
Crabbe decides to resign and open a pie restaurant, and he buys a failed restaurant for the purpose – this is a shop in the Old High Street of Hemel Hempstead. It’s been various things over the years – for a long time it was a shop selling doll’s houses, and at the moment it’s a hairdresser’s but they’ve also rebranded very recently with a Pie in the Sky sign. I’m not sure if that means they’re serving pies along with their perms, though.
Henry finds it harder than he thought to resign. They think there was something dodgy about Hooperman’s escape, and when a dodgy policeman plants an apparent bribe on him, his superior officer, who doesn’t want him to resign because he’s the best detective on the force, uses the uncertainty as leverage to keep him on call while still opening the restaurant.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 13th March 1994 – 19:30
The next episode is missing the very start, so the recording opens just after the main titles, as the episode titles are starting.
Henry is tasked to find a police officer, Shipley, who has gone missing, with some sensitive information. Henry, working with PC Cambridge (Bella Enahoro) tracks him to a hotel, where he’s staying hidden along with a documentary filmmaker.
Shipley tells a story of a Chief Superintendent who made off with £4m in gold bullion, which Crabbe doesn’t think is a credible story. So he finds the hotel kitchen and makes an omlette, witht he help of the hotel’s waiter, who doesn’t much like the hotel’s policy of using pre-prepared boil in the bag food.
Shipley arrives with a tape, with some voices Crabbe recognises.
They’re interrupted by two men claiming to also be policemen, and a brief fight ensues, during which Shipley absconds again, leaving Crabbe with just the tape. Plus, they’re banned from the hotel for life, and the hotel waiter is sacked, which is handy for Crabbe as Pie in the Sky needs a second waiter.
The two voices on the tape were Crabbe’s superintendent, and the superintendant from Shipley’s station, discussing moving money from swiss bank accounts.
Shipley’s wife is played by Gillian Bevan, who was the paranormal expert Lin Pascoe in Ghostwatch.
Crabbe finds Shipley and listens to another tape. The first tape was a fake, made up of several different phone conversations. Shipley has an alcohol problem, and has fabricated this whole story.
In the meantime, the restaurant launches, and has a successful first service.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 20th March 1994 – 19:30
The next episode is An Innocent Man. Another police team, represented by Robert Glenister, want to use Henry’s restaurant as the location of a covert surveillance operation.
After a shopping trip to London, he bumps into one of his regular customers, Duncan Speller, who is, it turns out, a train fanatic, and wants to get the franchise to run the local railway.
He thinks he’s being followed, and Henry thinks he might be right. Then he learns that it’s Speller who’s under investigation by Glenister and his fraud squad. Henry thinks it’s because the local Conservative MP hates Speller, because he’s rich and left wing, and he’s had a word in influential ears to get the fraud squad to investigate him.
I’m sensing a thematic thread throughout this series – the low level corruption of the ‘old boy’s network’ making people’s lives difficult.
Here’s another gratuitous shot of Hemel Old Town, with Wagons Art Supplies, run by local artist Peter Wagon. It’s been gone for a long time now, after Mr Wagon died. It’s a restaurant now – as are many of the shops there.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th March 1994 – 19:30
In Once a Copper, Henry looks forward to a whole week without superintendent Fisher bothering him, but when he spots a strangely familiar face, he’s distracted from concentrating on the restaurant.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd April 1994 – 19:30
After this episode there’s trailers for Masterchef, 999 and Wildlife on One Special.
Then there’s the start of an episode of Ain’t Misbehavin’, a Roy Clarke sitcom starring Peter Davison. That recording stops, and underneath, there’s Clive James talking to Joan Collins, talking about her iconic role in Star Trek, and she dishes the dirt about whether she had an affair with Captain Kirk. She’s a tiny bit indiscreet.
This is from Saturday Night Clive. BBC One – 27th March 1994 – 21:05
After this there’s a long trailer for various sports, then there’s the start of Mastermind. Specialist subjects include The Second Boer War, and the life and career of cricketer K S Ranjitsinhji.
The tape ends during this programme.