Watching The Detectives - Bugs


In a series of articles Susan Omand and Steve Taylor-Bryant are going to remember the policemen, spies and criminal specialists that entertained them over the years. Today Steve looks back at Bugs...

Nick Beckett works for secret government agency The Hive but is expelled when he uncovers a sinister plot by his own bosses and is framed for murder. For help he turns to technology company Gizmos run by Ros Henderson and eventually the whole team becomes the Bugs crew and, under the watchful eye of Bureau 2 chief, the mysterious Jan, they are assigned the cases that no other unit can solve.

Perry Mason and Highlander II scribe, Brian Clemens, and Brian Eastman, from Jeeves and Wooster and Poirot fame, jumped on the technology spying bandwagon, or rather helped create the bandwagon if you remember the year Bugs was released was 1995 and we still had analogue phones, and created a show based in the United Kingdom that was supposed to highlight the modernisation occurring in the secret espionage departments of our government at the time. Sadly technology races on, waiting for no man and, watching Bugs now, it's possibly more hideously dated than any other television show. However I still love it today as much as I did then and that's mainly due to a cast that, with all due respect obviously, you never would have picked in a million years!

I'm not a fan of Jesse Birdsall and find that, whatever he is in, he reduces to soap opera level. It's probably the reason why the only titles of his I can think of without looking are Eldarado and Footballers Wives but, in Bugs, there was a glimmer of an actor trying to get out and you have to give him credit for making Nick Beckett watchable for so long. The other cast members I also wouldn't have picked if I was running the show but, alongside Birdsall, they all seemed to act without the shackles of the inferior roles they had played before, none more so than Mr. Aussie soap himself Craig McLachlan. McLachlan was a huge star in both Neighbours and Home and Away and, whilst he did the Aussie soap thing of becoming a pop star, his album was actually pretty good and yes I own it. In Bugs he played Ed (the Russell surname only appears once and was probably a pseudonym and, yes, my friends and I still argue the point now) one of the Gizmos under Ros' leadership. McLachlan was eventually replaced for the final series but I never watched it anyway. Terrorist atrocities and the BBC's scheduling issues meant it was never at a set time and so work forced me to miss it. We didn't have Sky+ or Tivo back then, just unpredictable VCR machines that didn't like time changes. The one thing that did come out of McLachlan though was an obvious ability to act that sadly, on screen anyway, never really did go anywhere, although I've heard great things about The Doctor Blake Mysteries. Ros Henderson herself was played by another actress that I wouldn't have thought of in Jaye Griffiths who, at the time, was relatively unknown but has since gone on to star in Doctor Who and Silent Witness, which shows the soap opera circuits aren't the only ones open to her undoubted ability.

As I write this, I now kind of see that Bugs is actually a soap opera and my lifelong rule of not watching soaps has gone out of the window. I'm out of the soap closet. My name is Steve and I love Bugs.

Image - IMDb

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