Cracker is a British crime drama series produced by Granada Television for ITV and created and principally written by Jimmy McGovern. The series concerned a criminal psychologist (or "cracker"), Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, played by Robbie Coltrane. Set in Manchester, it consisted of three series which ran from 1993 to 1995. A 100-minute special set in Hong Kong followed in 1996, and another two-hour story in 2006.
Fitz is a classic antihero, unfaithful to his wife, alcoholic, a chain smoker, overweight, addicted to gambling, manic, foul-mouthed and sarcastic, and yet cerebral and brilliant. He is a genius in his specialty: Criminal Psychology. As Fitz confesses in "Brotherly Love": "I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much."
Each case spanned several episodes and cliffhangers were quite often used, but it was not until the end of the second series that a cliffhanger was employed to tie off the series. 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 series, 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.
To emphasize how fine a line the police (and Fitz) walk in their close association with criminals, all three series 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 Detective Chief Inspector David Bilborough, Geraldine Somerville as love interest Detective Sergeant Jane "Panhandle" Penhaligon, Lorcan Cranitch as loose cannon DS Jimmy Beck, Barbara Flynn as Fitz's long-suffering wife Judith and Kieran O'Brien as his teenage son Mark. By the time of the second season, Eccleston had stated his intention to leave the show, and so his character was killed off by disturbed football fan Albie Kinsella (played by guest star Robert Carlyle) in the episode To Be a Somebody. He was replaced in the series by DCI Charlie Wise, played by Ricky Tomlinson. At the start of the third series, Cranitch also desired to leave the show, and so his character was killed off in a suicide in the episode Brotherly Love.
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