The Body Farm – Dr Eve Lockhart and other TV characters gone solo


Tara Fitzgerald as Dr Eve Lockhart The Body Farm

Tara Fitzgerald as Dr Eve Lockhart

The Body Farm, the new forensic crime series from BBC Drama Production, currently airing on BBC One, also has as one of its co-executive producers Waking The Dead actor Trevor Eve and his company Projector Productions. It is written by Declan Croghan who also wrote for Waking The Dead. And one of the belated characters of that series was Dr Eve Lockhart, played by Tara Fitzgerald. Tara Fitzgerald stars in The Body Farm as well – but it is not just producers writers and actors that have moved onto The Body Farm, but the Tara Fitzgerald character too.

This time pathologist Dr Eve Lockhart leads a team of forensic scientists in a private sector facility. In Silent Witness Emilia Fox as Dr Nikki Alexander resides in the public sector – will this make any difference to the forensic science work? To the crime detection? And most importantly the TV drama?! Only two episodes in and too early to say. I am under Tara Fitzgerald’s spell but other viewers may not be so patient with the show.

Doctor Bones Brennan and Special Agent Booth

Doctor Bones Brennan and Special Agent Booth

As Waking The Dead was a British version of the USA Cold Case, The Body Farm is the British equivalent of Bones – or is that Silent Witness? – is Tara Fitzgerald or Emilia Fox the British Emily Deschanel?!

This set me to wondering how often does a TV character from one show end up as the lead character in another TV show?

In the 1970’s The Six Million Dollar Man’s Bionic Man Steve Austin played by Lee Majors had a female love interest who also amazingly succumbed to a life-threatening accident needing bionic surgery to make her whole again – or better than whole again.

This was Jaime Sommers played by Lindsay Wagner and she became both The Bionic Woman the character and The Bionic Woman the TV series – just three years in duration and it felt longer but remember time was speeded up! – and which incidentally was reprised with Michelle Ryan in the role and which due to a strike by The Writers Guild of America this remake was remaindered – alas a super-woman Michelle Ryan is what TV dreams are made of. Okay my TV dreams!

Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Smith

Doctor Who and Sarah Jane Smith

On our side of the Atlantic our long running sci-fi adventure Doctor Who belatedly saw one of the Doctor’s earlier side-kicks Sarah Jane Smith, played by Elisabeth Sladen, have her own Sarah Jane Adventures – I think too there were other Doctor Who spin-offs, one involving the robot dog K-9 but let’s not go there!

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s we had the Boston-based bar-room comedy Cheers and one of its relatively peripheral if constant characters Dr Frasier Crane found his way to Seattle as a Radio Psychiatrist with Frasier, a show whose success far eclipsed that of the seminal Cheers.

Detective Robert Goren

Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren

Later in the 1990’s there was Buffy The Vampire Slayer whose character Angel, played by David Boreanaz, span off to Angel – his eponymous show – though span-back, as Angel was a prequel to a time prior to him knowing Buffy.

(And David Boreanaz incidentally is a Bones stalwart as Special Agent Seeley Booth alongside Dr. Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan showing that in TV there are but Three Degrees of Separation). Though if The Body Farm is our Bones, then the USA get David Boreanaz, we Brits get Keith Allen!

Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson The Closer

Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson

Can you think of any more recent examples?

Dr Eve Lockhart’s new deal also set me to thinking about other shows where one of the characters could cut loose from its script and start up a new life and show of its own.

Detective Robert Goren of Law and Order: Criminal Intent – gone solo from the management constraints of Captain James Deakins with his own Private Detective Agency? Perhaps a US North meets South seeing him teamed up with The Closer ex-cop Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson herself tired of having her proverbial hands handcuffed by boss Assistant Chief Will Pope.

Jack Bauer in ‘9 to 5’ – life after 24 – can he settle down to civilian pace and domestic tranquillity?!

Or Sue Sylvester from Glee? She already has a show within a show with ‘As Sue Sees It’ – does it have legs as a series in its own right?

Any current TV characters you would like to see go it alone?

Charlie is Dead, Long Live Charly!

I have recently been watching the first TV series of Charlie’s Angels from 1976 downloaded an episode at a time to my Apple TV – how would they live it up to my adolescent memory of them?

Those motives for watching Charlie’s Angels were not sophisticated!  – three beautiful women and I loved the blond ones the most – first Farrah Fawcett then Cheryl Ladd – because they were blond – shame on me! My other program of choice was The Bionic Woman which I had been introduced too via The Six Million Dollar Man such were my eleven year old tastes in television!

Watching them again was as much then a nostalgia exercise and I enjoy watching television from past decades as much for what is being revealed ‘off-camera’ – the styles of the time in cars, clothes, music, its home interiors and technology – as much as the on screen action.

I have not been disappointed with the on-screen action so far – I am only three episodes in so it could become formulaic and I will update this post again if so – but so far the plots are good and acted well.

The writing is good too but the dialogue is bedevilled by male-chauvinism – that was reflective of its time – all four decades ago! – so the dialogue is going to reflect that I think if unintentionally. The BBC crime drama Ashes to Ashes better relived this a few years back with its more knowing ironic revamp with the compelling Keeley Hawes at the helm as Alex Drake coming face to face with the Seventies in the guise of Gene Hunt played with zest by Philip Glenister as the unreconstructed male chauvinist.

Kate Jackson as Sabrina

Kate Jackson as Sabrina

Time has also changed my impressions of the Angels themselves – I no longer judge a woman by the colour of her hair!   My favourite angels now are Sabrina Duncan and Kelly Garrett – not a blond hair in sight!

Charlie’s Angels I believe was quite a progressive program for its time – Cagney & Lacey was still not upon our screens and not one, not two but three female crime fighting agents was of precedent – though they were still overseen by men – their boss Charlie and his public face Bosley – the opening sequence opines with a wink in its voice ‘once upon a time there were three little girls that went to the police academy’…much of the dialogue between them and Charlie proceeds along those lines – what a loveable rogue middle-aged Charlie is with his extra-marital activities!

Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett

Then there is the way the Angels and other female cast members are sometimes treated – the episode I most recently watched – The Mexican Connection – they were expected to infiltrate the male drug gang it seemed by making themselves available to be kissed, groped and if required bedded – clearly not a progressive message there.

A new series is being made in the US and I am looking forward to seeing how it will be updated for this decade. The Bionic Woman was itself remodelled a few years back with the excellent Michelle Ryan in the shoes of bionic Jamie Sommers – that series alas did not get beyond one series of eight episodes.  I hope this remake proves more enduring.

And that Charlie too is better served – perhaps it would be better if he were retired and that Charlie became Charly – perhaps played by Kate Jackson or Jaclyn Smith! – with no need for the angels to run it by the boys first before they put the world to right!