The Chief (UK TV series)

The Chief
Genre Crime drama
Written by Jeffrey Caine
Directed by
  • A.J. Quinn
  • Tom Cotter
  • Rick Stroud
  • Brian Farnham
  • Desmond Davis
  • Roger Gartland
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 35 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Brenda Reid
  • Chris Pye
  • Ruth Boswell
  • John Davies
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor ITV Studios
Original network ITV
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Mono (1990–91)
Stereo (1993–95)
Original release 20 April 1990 (1990-04-20) – 16 June 1995 (1995-06-16)

The Chief is a British television crime drama series that aired on ITV from 20 April 1990 until 16 June 1995. A total of five series and thirty-five episodes were produced. The series followed the work of the fictitious "Eastland Constabulary", particularly focusing on Chief Constable John Stafford (Tim Pigott-Smith), and his efforts to restore order within his volatile team. Later, focus shifted towards Stafford's replacement, Alan Cade (Martin Shaw). The series was produced by Anglia Television and is primarily filmed and set in East Anglia.

The series was notable for containing a high percentage political content, in particular battles with the Home Office and local politicians.[1][2] Former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police James Anderton was an adviser on the show, allowing it to be portrayed as close to real life as possible.

In 2010, Network DVD released the first two series of The Chief on DVD in the UK with a "12" certificate. The content has not been modified from the original broadcasts, and every episode contains the title cards for the commercial breaks.[3] There are no special features. The third series was released by Network on April 18, 2011. Series four, which was due for release on August 18, 2011, was eventually released in September 2011, following an extensive delay caused by the loss of stock in a fire at the Sony Distribution Centre, caused by rioters in the 2011 England riots.[4]



Series 1 (1990)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air date
1"Crash Course"Brian FarnhamJeffrey Caine20 April 1990 (1990-04-20)
John Stafford (Tim Pigott-Smith) takes up duty as the new Chief Constable for Eastland Police.
2"Daydreamer"Brian FarnhamJeffrey Caine27 April 1990 (1990-04-27)
Stafford is accused of being overly soft on the weeding of Special Branch files.
3"Call Sign Bravo"Brian FarnhamJeffrey Caine4 May 1990 (1990-05-04)
Stafford intercepts Special Branch papers on their way to MI5. ACC Stewart (Karen Archer) is determined to clear her husband's name following their son's arrest.
4"The Great Escape"Brian FarnhamJeffrey Caine11 May 1990 (1990-05-11)
Stafford has to contend with vigilante groups formed in response to the arrival of crack cocaine in the force area.
5"Ring O' Ring O' Roses"Brian FarnhamJames Fielding18 May 1990 (1990-05-18)
When a drugs raid goes badly wrong, a group of militant university students challenges Stafford's authority.
6"For Whom the Bell Tolls"Brian FarnhamJames Fielding25 May 1990 (1990-05-25)
Stafford's ongoing battles with the Home Office reach crisis point.

Series 2 (1991)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air date
1"A Sudden Cause for Demonstration"Desmond DavisJeffrey Caine5 April 1991 (1991-04-05)
Stafford returns from suspension and is immediately called upon to deal with a series of bomb hoaxes by animal rights activists.
2"Walk Home"Desmond DavisJeffrey Caine12 April 1991 (1991-04-12)
A hitchhiker is kidnapped, and Stafford has to deal with an ensuing siege. Stewart contends with vigilante security guards working on a private estate.
3"Jack and Jill"Desmond DavisJeffrey Caine19 April 1991 (1991-04-19)
Stafford continues to deal with the siege at the hospital. A female officer resigns from the force, citing sexual harassment. Stewart's husband Martin walks out on her.
4"Take Care"Desmond DavisJeffrey Caine26 April 1991 (1991-04-26)
Stafford considers whether to allow the screening of a controversial documentary about B.S.E. Stewart gets into hot water.
5"Deep Breath"Desmond DavisPeter Pallister3 May 1991 (1991-05-03)
Two youths throw bricks from a motorway bridge and hit a police car, killing an officer. Stafford deals with the subsequent unrest on a housing estate.
6"The Thunder and the Lightning"Desmond DavisPeter Pallister10 May 1991 (1991-05-10)
A child playing on a beach is poisoned by spillage from an oil tanker. Stafford is ordered to evict a group of environmental protesters from a ship carrying toxic waste.

Series 3 (1993)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air date
1"The Time for Change"A.J. QuinnPeter Jukes16 April 1993 (1993-04-16)
Stafford becomes Head of Europol, but the position gives him plenty of free time, so the Home Office ask him to tackle corruption within the Metropolitan Police Force as Alan Cade arrives.
2"Songbird"A.J. QuinnPeter Jukes23 April 1993 (1993-04-23)
Stafford's corruption enquiry reaches a successful conclusion and the officer who assisted him with the case is appointed as Eastland's new Chief Constable.
3"A Long Cold Lonely Winter"A.J. QuinnRay Jenkins30 April 1993 (1993-04-30)
An American gas rig is hijacked on Alan Cade (Martin Shaw)'s first day, but will his choice of negotiator pay off?
4"Seeing Red"A.J. QuinnRay Jenkins7 May 1993 (1993-05-07)
A hospital laboratory technician implicates a local councillor in illegal working practices. When he believes his accusations are being ignored, he dramatically breaks through the cordons during a Royal visit to a school concert.
5"The Trust of Justice"A.J. QuinnPeter Jukes14 May 1993 (1993-05-14)
Cade allows a police informant to orchestrate a drug deal while investigating a smuggling ring, only to find it leads to his death.
6"Dealbreaker"A.J. QuinnRay Jenkins21 May 1993 (1993-05-21)
When Cade is threatened with an investigation over the death of a drugs informer, his team closes ranks. The Home Office, preferring to have a hold on its maverick chief constable, decides not to act.

Series 4 (1994)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air date
1"In the Wake of Terror"A.J. QuinnRay Jenkins7 January 1994 (1994-01-07)
Cade is the subject of public outrage after two terrorist bomb blasts, and as if that wasn't enough, his girlfriend leaves him.
2"The Magician's Key"A.J. QuinnRay Jenkins14 January 1994 (1994-01-14)
3"Hammer and Tongs"Roger GartlandRay Jenkins21 January 1994 (1994-01-21)
Stewart is disillusioned and frustrated when she fails to win the promotion she has been fighting for.
4"A Pretty Face"Roger GartlandMichael Russell28 January 1994 (1994-01-28)
Impressed by her diligence, Cade agrees to employ pushy public relations executive Alison Dell in an attempt to boost the force's image. However, they soon find that their working relationship spills over into their private lives.
5"Extreme Delegation"A.J. QuinnMichael Russell4 February 1994 (1994-02-04)
Hilary Scott is attacked by anti-abortionists on her way to the clinic. Terrified by their campaign, she goes home to rethink her decision.
6"Forger's Gamble"A.J. QuinnMichael Russell11 February 1994 (1994-02-11)
Cade causes controversy when he announces a radical plan to decriminalise certain drugs for an experimental trial.
7"Four and Twenty Blackbirds"Roger GartlandPeter Jukes18 February 1994 (1994-02-18)
Cade's life is put in jeopardy when a visiting Italian judge is the victim of an assassination attempt.
8"Strained Relations"A.J. QuinnPeter Jukes25 February 1994 (1994-02-25)
Tensions between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service mount following the acquittal of a child murderer.
9"The Right Wing"A.J. QuinnPeter Jukes4 March 1994 (1994-03-04)
A group of Neo-Nazis plan to raid the home of a local councillor.
10"Appropriate Force"A.J. QuinnPeter Jukes11 March 1994 (1994-03-11)
Cade is forced to defend his team when an illegal immigrant dies while officers attempt to restrain him.

Series 5 (1995)

No.TitleDirected byWritten byBritish air date
1"Gunfire"Tom CotterMaggie Allen5 May 1995 (1995-05-05)
Cade's attitude to firearms is challenged after an armed robbery on a countryside mansion.
2"Public Outcry"Tom CotterLen Collin12 May 1995 (1995-05-12)
Cade faces a dilemma after a child is killed by joyriders on a local estate.
3"Written in History"Rick StroudAnthony Read19 May 1995 (1995-05-19)
Two deadly incidents of racial hatred, more than 20 years apart, cause problems for Cade.
4"Nuclear"Tom CotterSteve Griffiths26 May 1995 (1995-05-26)
A large demonstration takes place at a nuclear plant while Cade is away investigating a member of the force.
5"Running Out of Friends"Tom CotterIan Kennedy Martin2 June 1995 (1995-06-02)
Cade leans on an old friend when he suspects the others are conspiring against him.
6"Internal Affairs"Tom CotterSusan Wilkins9 June 1995 (1995-06-09)
Emotions run high when charges of harassment are brought within the Eastland force - and against it.
7"The End of the Line"Rick StroudIan Kennedy Martin16 June 1995 (1995-06-16)
Cade's future is in doubt when he comes under fire from the tabloid press.


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