When it was first launched in 2003, New Tricks baffled TV executives used to churning out the tried-and-tested formulas of reality TV or soap opera. After a promising pilot and a successful first season, the drama following a bunch of retired cops re-opening cold cases quickly became the most popular programme on British television, regularly pulling in audiences of 10 million.
Following the departures of original cast members James Bolam and Alun Armstrong, a brace of new faces have joined the fold. Denis Lawson stepped on board last year, with this season seeing former EastEnder Tamzin Outhwaite and Only Fools and Horses funnyman Nicholas Lyndhurst added to the cast.
Lyndhurst plays Danny whose background in diplomatic protection ensures he’s got contacts the other officers couldn’t possibly have access to.
“The thing I admire about New Tricks is it’s quietly stayed at the top of the ratings,” he tells the new issue of Radio Times, “taking down the talent shows and the reality shows that are banging their drum about how wonderful they are.
“I think there are TV companies that should remember who their audience is. We don’t all want to pick up an iPad or watch TV on the phone. We like to draw a little ring on Radio Times and go, ‘I’m going to watch that today.’
“Of course, we’re all getting older and, yes, we have to have young actors coming up. There’s a place for beginners, but you don’t necessarily want them filling your favourite soap opera.”
The new issue of Radio Times is out on Tuesday, priced £1.60.