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Series / Burnside

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A short-lived spin-off series from The Bill, which originally aired in the UK between 7 July and 11 August, 2000. It concerned the exploits of no-nonsense Detective Chief Inspector Frank Burnside (Christopher Ellison), as he joined the NCS (National Crime Squad), a kind of UK equivalent of America's FBI. Teamed with moody Glaswegian Detective Constable Samantha Philips (Zoe Eeles), and Detective Sergeant Dave Summer (Justin Pierre), the son of a former friend and mentor, Frank investigates the darker, seedier side of crime in inner city London.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of the Burnside character in the parent series, this spin-off only lasted for six episodes (which were further divided into three separate stories of two 'parts' each). A second series of six episodes was anticipated, but it never happened. Ellison himself attributed the series' lack of success to it being a case of "too little, too late", and felt that the production team should have launched the spin-off while the iron was still hot following his original departure from The Bill seven years earlier.


This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: An overarching plot across all six episodes of the series seen Burnside determined to take down a villain named Ronnie Buchan, who had been responsible for the death of a friend when Frank had been a lowly constable many decades ago. But this storyline was never resolved due to the cancellation of the series.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The basic format of the series. Of the three stories, "Back With A Vengeance" focused entirely on Burnside, "Exposed" revolved around Sam's attempts to catch a serial killer (putting herself in the firing line in the process), and "Trial By Fire" was all about Dave and his dad's dodgy past.
  • British Brevity: Unlike its parent series, this one didn't last the distance.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Bill could be plenty dark and edgy when it really wanted to be, but Burnside attempted to turn it up to eleven.
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  • Deadpan Snarker: Burnside himself was never lacking a witty remark. DC Sam Philips held her own in this department too.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Frank receives one in the form of the death of a former colleague at the hands of Ronnie Buchan, broadly suggested as the main reason why he has always kept everybody he works with at an arm's length all these years. This new piece of character building was never mentioned during his stint on The Bill, but it doesn't flatly contradict anything that we already knew about him either.
  • Follow-Up Failure: The Bill lasted for 2400 episodes over a whopping 26 years. Burnside barely lasted 6 episodes before vanishing without trace.
  • Moody Glaswegian: Sam Philips seldom raised a smile, and her patter was often downright caustic even about her own colleagues.
  • Selling the Show: Averted. Chris Ellison was fairly disparaging of the production while he was doing "promotional" interviews for it down in Australia. But then again, everybody expects Christopher Ellison to speak his mind...
  • Serial Killer: In the storyline "Exposed". The killer's trademark was that he always shaves the girls that he kills.
  • Transplant: Frank Burnside himself, of course.
  • Twofer Token Minority: DC Summers is both black and gay. Much plot mileage is gained out of both points.

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