Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Cracker (TV series)

Cracker is the title of a television crime series in the United Kingdom, made by Granada Television for ITV and written by Jimmy McGovern. It ran from 1993-1996 and was about a criminal psychologist, "Fitz", played by Robbie Coltrane.

Fitz is a classic antihero, unfaithful to his wife, alcoholic, addicted to gambling, manic, foulmouthed and sarcastic; and yet cerebral and excellent at his speciality: getting into the head of violent criminals.

As is usual with British television drama, Cracker was flawlessly cast. As well as Coltrane, the show starred Christopher Eccleston as his 'boss', Bilborough, Geraldine Somerville as love interest Jane 'Panhandle' Penhaligon, Lorcan Cranitch as loose cannon Jimmy Beck, Barbara Flynn as Fitz's long suffering wife and Kieran O'Brien as his teenage son. When Eccleston's character was killed off by disturbed soccer fan Albie (memorably played by guest star Robert Carlyle), Ricky Tomlinson took over as the police boss.

Since each case spanned several episodes, cliff-hangers were quite often used.

Some of the plotlines seemed to take as their starting point real events such as the Hillsborough disaster, but to keep the stories about discovery this generally did not lead where one might have thought.

A huge number of psychotic types were explored during the run of the show, but towards the end it may have taken the actors' full abilities to keep the increasingly convoluted psychological motivations believable.

Another problem that stressed the later period of the series was the continually developing overarching storyline between the regular characters. It did not give additional support to the viewers' willing suspension of disbelief. First Fitz had an affair with Penhaligon. Then Penhaligon was raped, and this strand of the plot may have drawn too much attention from the cases. Someone may claim that this stress between the regular characters' work environment and the work itself provided drama. But sometimes too much really is too much.

Also some might argue that toward the end, Fitz's ebullient charisma may have crossed the line into grandstanding.

A U.S remake of the series also called Cracker and starring Robert Pastorelli as Gerry Fitzgerald was created in 1997. The series consisted of 16 hour-long episodes, many of which were almost identical to the original series. Justto confuse matters, Robbie Coltrane appears as a villain in one of the US episodes. When the U.S. show was shown in Britain it was retitled Fitz.

See also other meanings of cracker.