Follow TV Tropes


Series / Police, Camera, Action!

Go To

Police Camera Action! is an ITV Genre-Busting Reality TV 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).

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 Set for obvious reasons - they did this with other series.

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 because it is partially a documentary, and the show's subject matter of dangerous driving and law enforcement saving lives in emergencies.
  • 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.
  • Bottle Episode: This show liked to use this trope a lot, not just as a cost-saving measure, mixed with Clip Show.
  • British Brevity::
    • The 1994 series had two episodes (or four if you count the Re-Cut 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.
  • 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.
  • Heist Episode:
    • "Smash And Grab" focused on a gang who broke into a cash-and-carry warehouse and committed a heist in 10 minutes (turned into an Extremely Short Timespan on the show) using two cars. This episode overlaps with Road Trip Episode as the criminals went through Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands in a three-hour pursuit before they were caught.
    • A more downplayed example occurred in the episode "Crime Cars", which showed a group of thieves in Kansas attempting a heist on an ATM at a gas station - but at Stupid Crooks levels, unlike the above example.
  • 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 26 years now, which is a long time for a documentary show. Panorama and Dispatches are longer-running than this show.
  • Pimped-Out Car: The 2007 episode Street Illegal and then 2008 episode Ultimate Boy Racers featured automobile modifications that could have been highly dangerous to others.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Used in a 1996 episode entitled Driven to Distraction when they were showing footage of drivers racing across railway tracks.
  • Re-Cut: From 2006 onwards, some of the old 1994-1998 episodes were edited due to rights issues, mixing this trope with Screwed by the Lawyers. There's two versions of most episodes, except for the episodes "International" (1995), "Speed" (1998) and "Round the Bend" (2000).
  • 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 several times:
    • The 1995 episode Helicops (which had no in-car camera footage).
    • The 1996 episodes 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 2007 episode Search and Rescue (virtually no car chases, apart from one set in Texas in the beginning)
    • The 2007 episode Under Surveillance (Big Brother in real life with closed-circuit television.) was set in Salford and Brighton, and only had one police in-car camera clip.
  • Soft Reboot: Effectively an Enforced Trope from 2007, when Adrian Simpson became the main presenter, clips were zoomed in on with date/timestamps removed, and Alastair Stewart was Out of Focus as main presenter. It still had footage from the old 1995-2002 shows, but was effectively presented as a new show. This wasn't to last though.
  • Special Edition Title: The 1996 Two-Part Episode The Man Who Shot OJ skips the usual opening titles for a Montage of footage shot by Zoey Tur (then Bob Tur) and in Arial font, "THE MAN WHO SHOT OJ PROGRAMME 1", "THE MAN WHO SHOT OJ PROGRAMME 2", and the lower-thirds (names on-screen) are in ITC Franklin Gothic Demi instead of the show's usual Futura Condensed Bold Italic font.
  • Stripperific: The 2002 episode Diversion Ahead!, if the "And finally" sequence which featured Joe Cocker's "You Can Leave Your Hat On".
  • 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 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.
  • 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).
  • Voiceover Clip Show: Averted because there are actual presenter links between footage.

<<|British Series|>><<|Long-Runners|>><<|Crime and Punishment Series|>>

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: