Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cracker (British television)
Cracker is the title of a television crime series in the United Kingdom, made by Granada Television for ITV and created by Jimmy McGovern. It ran from 1993 to 1995 with a special in 1996 and was about a criminal psychologist, Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, played by Robbie Coltrane. The part was originally offered to Robert Lindsay, who turned it down.
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.
Each case spanned several episodes and cliffhangers were quite often used, but it was not until the end of the second season that a cliffhanger was employed to tie off the season. Some of the plotlines in the cases took as their starting point real events such as the Hillsborough disaster, while others were purely fictional with only tangential ties to actual events.
Several different psychotic types were explored during the run of the show with increasingly complex psychological motivations that, as the series entered the middle of the second season, began to expand beyond the criminals being investigated to the regular cast members. As the series moved forward the storylines became as much about the interactions of the regulars as it was about the crimes. In many later episodes, in fact, the crimes often became background to intense, provocative explorations of the police officers' reactions to the crimes they investigated. For some viewers the series increased focus on the regular characters and their interwoven stories, as opposed to the crimes themselves, detracted from the series story telling. Others, however, believe that the between the regular characters' work environment and the work itself provided drama.
To emphasize how fine a line the police, and Fitz, walk in their close association with criminals the final two seasons featured several stories in which the police themselves become criminals or victims of crime.
Cast and crew
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.
Some of the later episodes of the series were written by Paul Abbott, who later went on to forge a highly successful career as creator of his own high-profile dramas such as Touching Evil (1997), State of Play (2003) and Shameless (2004).
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