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Series: Police, Camera, Action!

Police Camera Action! is an ITV documentary series that started airing in November 1994 and continues to the present day. 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.

Reruns

The show currently airs on ITV 4 and on ITV 1 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 ITV 1, with repeats on ITV 4.

DVD versions

There was a vogue in The Nineties 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 that is the main focus of the 1994-1996 series. In 1998, 2000 and 2008, 2011 it went into Very Special Episode territory.
  • 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.
  • Author Tract: With the exception of the 2010 special When Lorries Become Lethal, this is basically the crux of 2010's Very Special Episodes
  • Black Comedy: If you consider driving and road rage as black humour...
  • 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.
    • But for the 2010 series airing 29th July, there are only 4 episodes.
  • Broken Aesop: Well, sometimes...
  • Celebrity 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 beonscreen.com). Subverted by Don't Look Back In Anger and Learning The Hard Way.
  • Clueless Aesop: The episodes Rust Buckets from 1998.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: Footage from a 1995 episode is referred to in the 2008 episode Ultimate Bad Drivers as "As we've seen before on Police, Camera, Action!"..." but the original episode has had the clips removed for legal reasons.
    • Other "edited" episodes aired have clips removed for legal reasons, and/or replaced with an alternative clip/piece of footage, new narration, but then they sometimes alternate and reshow the full unedited episode.
    • Happens to the episodes:
    • Danger Drivers Ahead (two versions)
    • Tales of the Unexpected (footage cut-out, but shown in book accompanying the show!)
    • Road to Nowhere (end music changed)
    • Enough's Enough (footage removed)
    • A Lorry Load of Trouble (4 pieces of footage cut)
    • On The Buses
    • The Unprotected
    • Crash Test Racers (split into Part 1/Part 2, sometimes also shown as 60-minute episode with part of Title Sequence cut off)
    • Getting Their Man
    • Deathwish Drivers (sometimes has alternate footage used)
  • Christmas Episode: The 2008 episode Drink Driving Special presented by Gethin Jones.
  • 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.
  • Edited for Syndication:
    • Recently, the 2007 series has done this - the episode Deathwish Drivers has not one, but two edited versions - the first one having a crash sequence from the United States of America involving a Toyota Prius, whilst the second edited version that sequence is replaced by a chase of a stolen red car in Bedfordshire. Apparently, the two clips are together in the same episode, but the original version of Deathwish Drivers is considered a Missing Episode.
    • Also the same for the 2007 episode Less Lethal Weapons, although it should really be unedited and In Memoriam instead.
    • The 1994 episode Danger! Drivers Ahead has two edited versions; one full-length, the other is edited. Plus the original version, entitled Police Stop! which is considered a Missing Episode.
    • The 1995 episode Tales of the Unexpected has been edited from original version, with 4 - 6 clips of footage removed for some unexplained reason. However, these survive in the published version of the show.
    • The 1996 episode Road to Nowhere gets the end music changed - it is normally "The Magic Roundabout"'s theme tune but it gets changed to generic orchestra music for re-broadcasts
    • The 1997 episode Enough's Enough also gets re-edited, with footage cut out, and a different version of the end music (Martha and the Vandellas Nowhere to Run is replaced by a Cover Version.)
    • The 1997 episode A Lorry Load of Trouble has 4 pieces of footage cut out in re-airings.
    • The 1998 episode On The Buses (no relation to On The Buses the TV show) has 4 pieces of footage removed in recent repeats. No explanation is ever given for this, but fans of the show have noticed the re-edited episodes.
    • The 1998 episode The Unprotected has the very last bit of footage cut out before the end.
    • The 2000 Very Special Episode Crash Test Racers actually cut off part of the Title Sequence. Some fans consider this Executive Meddling.
    • The episode Getting Their Man from the 2000 series had the music changed from Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" to "The Stripper" by Joe Loss and his Orchestra.
    • However, the rest of the episodes seem to be unchanged, no trimmed-down versions.
    • This is apparently done for legal reasons.
  • Eyecatch: Plain and simple, but despite a DVD campaign for this show, fans still want these retained. (the Part 1/Part 2 bits before the ad break)
  • Follow the Leader: Encouraged The World's Wildest Police Videos with Sheriff John Bunnell!
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Not deliberate. Mostly bleeped out.
  • Green Aesop: The 2007 episode Eco Unfriendly is basically this.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Not gratuitous, but rather more of an Aesop on drink-driving for women. The episode Drink Driving Special in December 2008 is an example.
  • Impossible Task / Crowning Moment of Awesome: The Liver Run. Two Metropolitan Police Units must travel 29 miles in 35 minutes, thru heavy London traffic (in 1985) to deliver a liver to a hospital for transplanting. They make it with 5 minutes to spare, and the recipient of the liver survives the operation.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Unfortunately, it can be downloaded off torrent sites... due to no DVD version being in existence.
    • There are, according to fansites, arguments for it being on DVD.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Often does this, with lines like "Despite what you see in the movies...", "Despite what you see on TV" or variants.
  • Long Runner: 16 years and still going...
  • Lost Aesop: As seen in the episodes Nowhere to Hide, Under Surveillance and Speed. Well, so the fan sites were claiming.
  • Missing Episode: Mainly the following episodes (year of episode in brackets, much to fans' chagrin:
    • Police Stop! (also full unedited version of Danger Drivers Ahead! from 1994 pilot version of series)
    • Helicops (1995, but the unrelated 2007 episode of the same title does get aired. Never happens to the episode Safety Last which was part of the 1995 series, and the original 1995 episode does get aired, as well as the unrelated 2007 series episode).
    • Don't Look Back In Anger - uncontroversial road-safety episode from November 1997, rarely if-ever aired.
    • Learning the Hard Way - series finale of 1998 series, last-seen on ITV 17th January 1999, but not aired since then.
    • Danger Ahead - from the 2000 series, but bizarrely never aired in syndication. Last aired on ITV 7th August 2000
    • Ford (alternate title The Fords) - last seen on ITV 7 January 2002 but it hasn't been aired since then.
      • Fans still want these episodes aired.
  • Mushroom Samba: The guy in the 2007 episode Bad Influences who thinks he's a CIA agent.
    • Not to mention the DUI tests in the 1995 episode International, 1996 episode International Patrol, 2002 episode Under the Influence.
  • Non-Appearing Title: For the second episode of the 1994 series and the 2008 episode Drink Driving Special.
  • Oop North: The 2007 series, when the show went out on patrol with Greater Manchester Police and South Yorkshire Police.
  • Out of Order: The episodes have been aired out of order for the past three or four years now on ITV and its sister channel ITV 4.
  • Pixellation: Wasn't used in the first series (1994-1996). Used from 1997 onwards though.
    • Always done to license plates.
  • Pimped-Out Car: The 2007 episode Street Illegal and then 2008 episode Ultimate Boy Racers. Yes, really. Up to Eleven.
  • Pun-Based Title: On more than a few occasions.
  • Railroad Tracksof Doom: Used in a 1996 episode entitled Driven to Distraction.
  • 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.
  • Screwed by the Network: On more than one occasion. Shown in the graveyard slot but now is on daytime on ITV 4.
    • Now back on ITV 1 for 4 episodes = 4 weeks worth!
  • Shout-Out: "And next time, let's be careful out there..." - a nod to Hill Street Blues
  • Something Completely Different: This trope is used with increasing regularity, namely:
    • 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.]]
  • Space Whale Aesop: Shown in the episode Helicops in 1995, and Death Wish Drivers in 2007, where the consequences of stealing an ambulance result in crashing into a pedestrian footway on a housing estate with the police dog unit after you.
  • Stand Alone Episode: The 2008 episode Drink Driving Special with Gethin Jones.
  • Stock Footage: Used extensively from 1998 onwards.
    • Play a drinking game during the episodes Speed (1998 series) and Crash Test Racers (2000 series) with this.
    • 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 Mountains of Illinois: Since when were Cheadle, the A6144 near Sale in Lancashire? (OK, so place-name books do mention Sale in Lancashire, but not since 1975!)
    • It's made in London by London-based hacks who know bugger all about anything on the wrong side of the M25 except that it's Oop North somewhere. What can you expect?
  • The Nth Doctor: OK, so it's a documentary, but Adrian Simpson's style is sort of similar to Alastair Stewart's presentation of the show during the 1999-2000 series.
  • 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
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