Series / Police, Camera, Action!

Police Camera Action! is an ITV documentary series that started airing in November 1994 and continues to the present day. The show depicts police video footage of bad driving and road crime. Originally hosted by Alastair Stewart, Adrian Simpson became co-presenter in 2008, and Gethin Jones presented a special episode in 2008, before doing four Very Special Episodes in 2011.

The show was initially produced by Carlton Television, but Optomen now hold international production and distribution rights, plus the Copyright to the show.

Missing Episodes

Well, technically, not so much missing episodes in the way Doctor Who has them, but rather rarely-broadcast ones. There are a lot of episodes that don't get broadcast. (See the section below). When they do air them, the episodes are usually cut for timing reasons, or to make room for commercials, and rarely, if ever broadcast in their original form. Only a select few do get aired uncut. Some episodes have footage replaced due to clearance issues concerning the police forces who supply them - obtaining the footage is expensive, and legally it can't be shown for entertainment purposes (which is why the show needs to have An Aesop every episode, because this show is a semi-educational show, not an entertainment one.


The show currently airs on ITV 4 and on ITV1 for some episodes. On ITV 4 the reruns are of Series 1 - 4 (1994-2002) in the morning, usually between 6:25am - 10:25am (hours vary) and also of Series 5 from 6:00pm onwards (London time, GMT). However, the episodes are often shown Out of Order, and some episodes are not shown, many rarely in their original form.The show is on hiatus at the moment in terms of new episodes, but some Very Special Episodes are to air later in 2010 on ITV1, with repeats on ITV 4.

DVD versions

There was a vogue in The '90s for police camera car shows on VHS; namely Police Stop! between 1994 and 1995 on VHS, before it became a fully-blown TV show in 1996.

Although (it is believed) ITV have no plans to release this on DVD, the show exists on torrent sites, leading to a mass influx of the web version of Keep Circulating the Tapes. Releasing it on DVD would stop this trade, and give fans a legal outlet for acquiring it. However, it would have to be a Boxed Setfor obvious reasons - they did this with The Wire.

Getting music rights clearance for DVD is possibly an issue (but other shows have managed to get the music intact on their DVD releases) and police footage clearance as well. However, the 2007 series is made up of a lot of British footage, so that argument is somewhat unclear.

There is an argument, however, for releasing this on DVD; given the success of CSI, NCIS, The Wire on DVD, there is possibly enough Fandom for this to be released.

Police Camera Action! provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: This is rather more of an Enforced Trope for the show.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: From 2007, Alastair Stewart, and in the 2008 drink-driving Very Special Episode, there is always be some discussion of the moral of the episode.
  • British Brevity::
    • The 1994 series had two episodes (or four if you count the Edited for Syndication episodes.
    • The 1995 series had five episodes.
    • The 1996 series had seven episodes.
    • The 1997 series had six episodes (or eight if you count Edited for Syndication versions).
    • The 1998 series had seven episodes.
    • Series 3 (1999-2000) had 27 episodes (but maybe 30 if you count the edited versions of the Special Episodes Crash Test Racers and "Highway of Tomorrow".
    • Series 4 (2002) had only six episodes.
      • Subverted in Series 5 (2007-2009), which had 38 episodes in all.
    • In the 2010 series, there are only 4 episodes.
  • The Cameo: The (sadly missed) Robbie Burns makes an appearance.
  • Clip Show: Seen in Crash Test Racers, Highway of Tomorrow, Ultimate Pursuits and Britain's Most Dangerous Roads, Ultimate Bad Drivers, Ultimate Boy Racers, Ultimate Car Crimes and Car Tech Maniacs. Possibly the new 2010 series as well (mentioned at Subverted by Don't Look Back In Anger and Learning The Hard Way.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of the Reality Show genre.
  • Docusoap: In the 2007 and 2008 series, where they went out 'on patrol' with the Greater Manchester, Devon and Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Cambridgeshire, City of London, Sussex, South Yorkshire and Thames Valley police.
  • Drunk Driver: In the 2002 episode Under the Influence and 2007 episode Bad Influences.
  • Follow the Leader: Encouraged The World's Wildest Police Videos with Sheriff John Bunnell in 1997 as a sort of competitor
  • Green Aesop: The 2007 episode Eco Unfriendly is basically this with a police documentary twist to it.
  • Impossible Task: ''The Liver Run.'' Two Metropolitan Police Units must travel 29 miles in 35 minutes, thru heavy London traffic (in 1987) to deliver a liver to a hospital for transplanting. If they fail to reach the hospital in time, they are told to abort the run. They make it with 5 minutes to spare, and the recipient of the liver survives the operation.
  • Long Runner: The show has been around for 22 years now, which is a long time for a documentary show. Panorama and Dispatches are longer-running than this show.
  • Lost Aesop: As seen in the episodes Nowhere to Hide, Under Surveillance and Speed. Well, so the fan sites were claiming.

  • Pimped-Out Car: The 2007 episode Street Illegal and then 2008 episode Ultimate Boy Racers. Yes, really. Some of the cars were taken Up to Eleven.
  • Railroad Tracksof Doom: Used in a 1996 episode entitled Driven to Distraction when they were showing footage of drivers racing across railway tacks.
  • Refuge in Audacity: One of the show's reasons for its existence, or so a fansite would have you believe!
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Later subverted.
  • Run for the Border: The 1997 series episode The Wild Side and the 2000 series episode Getting Their Man. Do not scroll over if you don't want to know what episodes.
  • Scare 'em Straight: Well, from watching the episodes Rogue's Roadshow, Too Close to Comfort, Life in the Fast Lane, Nicked! and Under Surveillance, it would appear that could be the intention.
  • Something Completely Different: This trope is used:
    • The 1995 episode Helicops (which had no in-car camera footage).
    • The 1996 episode The Man Who Shot OJ was totally helicopter-based, featured Talking Head interviews and was mainly A Day in the Limelight for Bob Tur (although Alastair remained as presenter, he was Out of Focus and Demoted to Extra for this two-parter).
    • The 1997 episode Don't Look Back in Anger (a sort of Very Special Episode and a subverted Clip Show).
    • The 2007 episode Search and Rescue (virtually no car chases, apart from one set in Texas)
    • The 2007 episode Under Surveillance (Big Brother in real life with closed-circuit television.]]
    • More recently, AP Archive and Conus Archive supply this.
  • Stripperific: The 2002 episode Diversion Ahead!, if the "And finally" sequence is anything to go by.
  • Surreal Theme Tune: The theme tune is a mix-up of various police commentaries. Not to mention the line "He's crashed, he's crashed at Junction 23!" at the end.
    • For those not in the know, Junction is a British road-signing convention, where "Exit" is normally used in the rest of the world. Used on freeways/dual carriageways.
  • The Nth Doctor: OK, so it's a documentary and not a genre you would expect this trope, but Adrian Simpson is one such example.
  • The Other Darrin: Used twice. First of all, Gethin Jones in the 2008 Very Special Episode Drink Driving Special, and possibly for the new 2010 series too.
    • Gethin Jones is doing a series of 4 episodes again.
    • Also, Adrian Simpson from the 2007-2008 series is himself an Other Darrin.
  • The Tag: Played for Laughs (in the "classic" season) and referred to as "And finally..." on every episode 1995-2002 except for Very Special Episode The Liver Run. Does not appear from 2007 onwards when the show was Un-Cancelled. The most famous one features a drunken cyclist and the single "Leader Of The Pack" by The Shangri Las.
  • Trainwreck Episode: 2007 episode Search and Rescue.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: The show's presenters, Alastair Stewart, Adrian Simpson and Gethin Jones seem to have an almost unlimited wardrobe of suits similar to Doctor Who 's Tenth Doctor.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Sometimes occurs in this show, but not to the level of dramas such as Hustle.
  • Vanity License Plate: As seen in the 2007 episode Street Illegal, and this is Truth in Television, as they are illegal in the United Kingdom, since there are laws on standard fonts.
  • Very Special Episode: Used frequently, making this an Undead Horse Trope, however, the episodes are NOT advertised as such.
    • First of all, in 1997 with the episode Don't Look Back In Anger, then the 1998 episode Learning the Hard Way.
    • Then, in 2000, the episodes Crash Test Racers and Highway of Tomorrow.
    • Also, in 2008, the episodes Britain's Most Dangerous Roads (which was Stock Footage, Narm and Whole Episode Flashback in one), Ultimate Bad Drivers, Ultimate Car Crimes, Ultimate Boy Racers and Car Tech Maniacs
    • The Drink Driving special in late 2008 with Gethin Jones, The Other Darrin of the show.
    • The new 2010 series change the format significantly enough that every episode of the new series could be considered a Very Special Episode in itself. (Well, if the description on Digiguide is anything to go by).
    • This show can be credited with making this trope no longer a Discredited Trope or a Dead Horse Trope.
  • Voiceover Clip Show: Subverted, in the fact there are actual links between footage.
  • Watershed: Sometimes airs after the British watershed.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess

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Alternative Title(s): Police Camera Action