Police Camera Action! is an ITV Genre-Busting Edutainment Documentary Gearhead Show 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.
The series has Missing Episodes, but not in the way Doctor Who has them, instead 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 versionsThere 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.
Police Camera Action! provides examples of:
- Alter-Ego Acting: Alastair Stewart on the 1995-2002 series was more like an alter-ego than his true self, being somewhat more over-the-top but pulling no punches; Adrian Simpson in the 2007 series was a Lighter and Softer alter ego version, who over-enunciated his vowels and put on the personality for the show, when in reality he was someone who presented on serious topics. This was an Enforced Trope for the target audience.
- 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.
- Anachronic Order: Happens a few times:
- Season 1 in 1995 actually is out of order in terms of timeline; "Tales of the Unexpected" happens before International and Helicops.
- Season 5 has "The Wild Side" aired after "When Did You Last See Your Motor?", but chronologically, "Enough's Enough" is set before those two, and then A Lorry Load Of Trouble happens just after When Did You Last See Your Motor, and then Don't Look Back In Anger (which is set in Season 4).
- Season 6 episode "The Unprotected" takes place before Rust Buckets and Captured, as evidenced by the date on camera.
- 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 Very 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.
- Filler: Zig-zagged; there have been a few episodes in various seasons which were there to pad out episode count:
- "Enough's Enough", which aired January 1998 focused on dangerous driving and was notable for featuring a Chieftain tank.
- The 2007 series had a few episodes that were there as filler, namely "The Crushers".
- 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.
- Foul Waterfowl: The series had this at least three times:
- The original pilot episode "Police Stop!" had a swan on the M25 at Sewardstone Bridge in Essex causing problems for drivers on 9 June 1994, fleeing when a police Range Rover came into view.
- The 1997 episode "Don't Look Back In Anger'' had the same clip, in a Continuity Nod to that episode.
- The 1998 episode "The Wild Side" was about this trope for the first half until the episode's Halfway Plot Switch and it featured two clips of swans on the M25; one from Monday 9 June 1996 where a driver near Staines, Surrey on the M25, in a Ford Granada sedan stops to let a swan pass and the cop take the swan in a blanket, and one from 7 November 1995 set to R Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly."
- Impossible Task: ''The Liver Run.'' Officers in two Rover SD1s of the Metropolitan Police, one of which is carrying a liver transplant bound for the Cromwell Hospital in South Kensington, must travel 29 miles in 35 minutes, thru heavy London traffic (in 1987) to deliver the liver. 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.
- Later-Installment Weirdness: The 1997 episode "On Your Bike" was the only episode with a Smash to Black in-between presenter links, and two episodes covered topics not related to policing.
- 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.
- Re-Cut: From 2006 onwards, some of the old 1994-1998 episodes were edited due to rights issues and legal reasons. There's two versions of most episodes, except for the episodes "International" (1995), "Speed" (1998) and "Round the Bend" (2000).
- 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.
- Speech-Centric Work: Although very heavy on footage, even if the presenter wasn't speaking, there was a lot of dialogue; only very occasionally would the show be silent. In the 2007 Soft Reboot, this was later removed so they could fit in background music over the speech.
- 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.
- Status Quo Is God: A rare example of Edutainment using this in a non-fantasy setting; Alastair Stewart is either arrested or injured, but everything is back to normal next episode; often it was justified by being a training exercise, and this was pointed out to viewers at home.
- 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 "OH! 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.
- 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.