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A Copper's Tale 

Four days after the robbery Home Secretary Brooke puts Flying Squad Chief Superintendent Tommy Butler in charge of the case. Though a dour loner and not a popular colleague he assembles an ... See full summary »


James Strong


Chris Chibnall, Rob Ryan (inspired by the book "Signal Red") | 1 more credit »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Broadbent ... Tommy Butler
James Fox ... Henry Brooke
George Costigan ... DCS Ernie Millen
Bradley Snelling Bradley Snelling ... Journalist
Richard Hope ... DCS Malcolm Fewtrell
Alexa Morden ... WPC
Tim Pigott-Smith ... DS Maurice Ray
Robert Glenister ... DI Frank Williams
Tom Chambers ... DS Steve Moore
Nick Moran ... DS Jack Slipper
James McGregor James McGregor ... DC Tommy Thorburn
John Salthouse ... DCI Sid Bradbury
Eric Hulme Eric Hulme ... Jack Mills
James Wilby ... John Wheater
Tommy McDonnell Tommy McDonnell ... DC Keith Milner


Four days after the robbery Home Secretary Brooke puts Flying Squad Chief Superintendent Tommy Butler in charge of the case. Though a dour loner and not a popular colleague he assembles an efficient team including Inspector Frank Williams, who knows Reynolds of old and places him high on his suspect list, and Sergeant Jack Slipper. The discovery of a suitcase containing stolen notes leads to the first arrest whilst a tip-off takes Butler to the farmhouse HQ and a mass of forensic evidence. This begins to yield results despite Butler's superiors' Wanted poster campaign which encourages hoax callers and sends the criminals into hiding. Soon, however, Williams' work with his informants based on his suspect list starts to reel in the robbers and the cash. In January 1964 most of them stand trial and three months later receive sentences of thirty years. The police team celebrates but not Butler who, though due for retirement, stays on until the job is completed and, three years on, arrests... Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

19 December 2013 (UK) See more »

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Did You Know?


Jim Broadbent also played a police inspector in Only Fools and Horses (DI Roy Slater) See more »


Leatherslade Farm has a UHF-only TV aerial, visible as the detectives look up at the farmhouse. UHF broadcasting on BBC2 did not start until 1964. BBC1 and ITV were VHF only until 1969. In 1963, a house in this location would have had a large VHF antenna. See more »


[Butler disagrees very strongly with the decision of DCS Ernie Millen and Commander George Hatherill to name the suspects and issue "wanted" posters]
Tommy Butler: Fancy having my job one day, Frank?
DI Frank Williams: Never thought about it.
Tommy Butler: Bollocks you haven't! Remember this. No matter who you are, how high you go, there's *always* a wanker boss.
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User Reviews

Not a very accurate portrayal of main character
22 December 2013 | by bicesterphotographersSee all my reviews

Det Chief Supt Tommy Butler was my uncle, and as his nephew I can state that although the portrayal of the investigation of the Great Train robbery may or may not have been accurate, though if I were to nit pick, some of the minor details were not factual either, e.g he is shown as using a Jaguar as his car during the investigation, in fact he visited my parents home many times during the period of this investigation and he always turned up driving a black police Wolsey. Also he was depicted as living in a nice middle class type of house, when in fact, right up until he died he lived with his mother (my grandmother) in a shabby council house in Barnes. The way his character was depicted, as a cold, lonely man obsessed with the job was not strictly true, he often visited family and friends and could be good company, while it is true he was the type of high ranking detective that was thorough and took pride in his work, and if that meant treading on toes or being a hard boss so be it, but he was always fair and was respected by fellow coppers and villains alike.

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