The Sweeney to start filming
It seems an age ago we started talking about the film adaptation of The Sweeney television series, and equally ages have passed since I posted those publicity shots of the two actors set to replace the fantastic pairing of John Thaw and Dennis Waterman from the original series.
Now though news is that Embargo Films has joined Vertigo Films behind Nick Love's film adaptation of the seventies television show that changed the face of police shows on British television, taking a much harder, grittier and realistic view of a team of police who were tasked with fighting organised crime and armed robbery, the Flying Squad.
The original show saw the team using heavy handed tactics and bending, as well as breaking, the rules in order to bring down the criminals. It was a big change of direction for police dramas and The Sweeney was a huge success.Now Nick Love, who wrote the script with Alex Garland (originally the first script was with John Hodge), has his version set to start filming next week with Ray Winstone and Ben Drew replacing John Thaw's Jack Regan and Dennis Waterman's George Carter, in fact I'll post those publicity shots again for you to see.
In September of 2006 the first story appeared about the original television series The Sweeney being made into a film, and back then it told us that Love had teamed up with the original creator of the show Ian Kennedy Martin for the production.
We want to make it as a contemporary police story, not a period piece, but just as violent and sweary as the original. It's about an older cop who's in the second half of a career that he has spent in relentless pursuit of the job, grappling with how the world has changed.
Was what Andrew McDonald of DNA films said about the production.
August 2007 and Ray Winstone was on board to play the lead character that Thaw played so well.
Out of interest, back then I grabbed some video clips of the original series to give you a feel for what to expect, I'll include them at the end of the article.
August 2008 held the news that the production had halted on the film, there was uncertainty about appeal for the film abroad and who would be playing the roles, and it also seemed that Winstone was still on for the part, just that he was a bit too busy.
July 2010 brought even more wild casting rumours for the film.
August 2010 brought the story that Love was rewriting the script and Winstone was on for the film, although it seemed he might be playing Carter and not Regan, which didn't make much sense.
Finally in April 2011 we heard that the casting for the leads was finalised, and we had confirmation that Winstone was to play Regan and Ben Drew was set to play Carter. You might not be sure of who he is, but Drew is the lead singer of Plan B and has appeared in Adulthood, Harry Brown and 18.104.22.168...
At the time Love said of the casting:
"I'm very excited about Ben playing Carter - he brings an intelligence and sensitivity that is crucial for The Sweeney. Ben is also one of the most promising and multi-talented young performers around. For me, Ray (Winstone) and Ben are the ultimate casting for a character driven action thriller set in London today."
So it seemed as though it was all set, and that's the way it has been right up until today when we hear from Variety that the filming for The Sweeney will begin next week. Superb news, but how are they going to modernise that story for today? How will the story of a hard team of law breaking police willing to do as much as they can to bring down organised crime members and armed criminals work today? I think I just answered my own question.
Here are some of those clips of the show from back in the seventies, hard stuff for the time.
Regan threatens a man
Regan threatans a woman