**SPOILERS: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FINAL EPISODE OF INSPECTOR GEORGE GENTLY**
Inspector George Gently did not go gently into the night. In fact he died in style, shot in the back on an empty beach just seconds after delivering the evidence that would expose the authorities for their corruption.
Staggering towards the sea, he saw the figure of his dead wife standing at the shoreline and cried out his final word – “Isabella!” – before sinking to his knees. An MI5 sniper shot once more and Gently plunged face-first into the sand.
Well, we weren’t expecting that.
“I did say to them beforehand, I think it’s very important that George doesn’t just fade off into the sunset,” Martin Shaw tells RadioTimes.com, revealing how he asked the team to kill Gently off for good. “I think he needs to go down in a blaze of glory.”
Shaw spent a decade playing the principled policeman, with DI John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) and later Sergeant Rachel Coles (Lisa McGrillis) at his side.
In his final feature-length episode, Gently and the New Age, we saw the Inspector investigate a final case just two weeks before his retirement from the North East Police Constabulary. But as he looked into the brutal murder of this young woman, it became clear he was being used by the authorities for their own ends.
More than ever, he was haunted by the murder of wife Isabella – especially when local MP Michael Clements (Richard Harrington) told him the name of the man who actually killed her: Alan Croxley.
And it was secret service agent Croxley who finally gunned Gently down on the beach.
“We’ve come full circle,” Shaw says. Ten years later, the story is finally complete.
“The series, the pilot, starts with George walking away from the Met in disgust because he believed – in fact, he knew – that there was a great deal of corruption going on in the Met,” he explains.
“But then he found out that the man who had been responsible for killing his wife had moved up north, was moving in on Newcastle, so he decided to go up there and go after him. And because he and his wife never had the chance to have children, he meets this young policeman and he sort of takes him on as if he was his son and the rest, as you know, is history.”
Discussing the final episode, Shaw tells us: “He’s giving evidence against the final bench of senior police officers, and he’s recruited by a security organisation, security department of the police force because of his particular knowledge. And he’s investigating a politician.
“And really they are using George to bring down a politician, and he finds out that it’s not as straight as it might be, he carries on against all the odds, and they come and get him.”
Will people expect such a brutal ending? Perhaps we should have seen it coming all along.
“There’s a horrible sort of fatal inevitability about it,” Shaw explains.
“Along with the fact that George simply cannot come to terms with life without his wife, without the love of his life. And also he’s made justice and truth his life. And having been a very committed soldier during the war where he was used to giving up his life, you know, the prospect, the possibility, of giving up his life for what he believed in – I think it’s just a natural step for him.”
But while this may be the final episode of Inspector George Gently, at least it doesn’t leave us without a sliver of hope.
As John and Rachel pour out the whisky and raise a toast to the “Gov”, they come to a decision: they’ll devote themselves to finding the evidence and exposing the truth. After all – it’s what George Gently would have done.