'Get your trousers on, you're nicked!': Why I can't wait to see Ray Winstone in 'The Sweeney'

Ray-WinstoneImage Credit: Everett CollectionMy British heart filled with joy today, when I read in the Hollywood Reporter that the big screen revamp of ’70s U.K. cop show The Sweeney is back on track with Ray Winstone attached to star.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Sweeney—which I’m going to assume is pretty much everyone—it starred the late, great John Thaw as Jack Regan, a member of London’s Flying Squad, or “Sweeney,” which specializes in armed robbery and violent crime. Unlike so many of his U.S. TV cop peers, Regan didn’t have a gimmick, unless drinking a lot and throwing around uncooperative perps counts. And while American TV producers liked their buddy cops mismatched—anyone remember Holmes & Yo-Yo? The guy’s partner was an android!—Regan’s sidekick, played by Dennis Waterman, shared most of the character traits of his boss. Best of all, Jack Regan was given to uttering the kind of ripe dialog ideal for repetition in the school playground, such as “Get your trousers on, you’re nicked!” and, most famously, “We’re the Sweeney son, and we haven’t had any dinner!”

The show would later be invoked and lovingly lampooned by the fantastic Brit dramedy Life on Mars, and by extension, its ill-fated U.S. remake. It was also named checked by Squeeze in their evergreen hit “Cool for Cats” (“The Sweeney’s doing ninety/’Cos they’ve got the word to go…”), which I’ve had on repeat play all afternoon.

I’m not a big fan of remakes. But the idea of the thuggish-yet-lovable and just plain terrific Ray Winstone stepping into Regan’s doubtless less-than-sweet-smelling shoes is just too perfect an idea not too happen. As a teenager, the actor actually appeared in an episode of the show and certainly has the heft, in every sense, to tackle the the rule-bending copper. Winstone’s been shouldering his way through a lot of big budget Hollywood movies lately—including the last Indiana Jones film and The Departed—but Ray virgins should check out Sexy Beast, in which his retired robber is savagely terrorized by Gandhi (or Sir Ben Kingsley, as we Brits know him).

You can find out more about the original show by watching a clip that I’ve embedded below (and the first two seasons were recently released on DVD). I’d get a move on, if I were you. Why? Because they’re the Sweeney, son. And they haven’t had any dinner…


Comments (16 total) Add your comment
  • cv

    John THAW, not Shaw. The man who went on to play Inspector Morse.

  • dropper

    This looks kind of awesome.

  • znachki

    Clark Collis wrote” London’s Flying Squad, or “Sweeney,”” – but you forgot the Cockney rhyming slang for “Flying Squad” which was “Sweeney Todd” then shortened to the “Sweeney”. Love this show, saw it when I found out about it through the BBC Life on Mars. Excellent, and Ray Winstone is a great choice for Regan.

  • BritBabe

    As a fellow Brit, Clark, I am with you all the way – CANNOT WAIT!!!

  • Bloke

    Damn. I got too excited and missed the “big screen revamp” part of the article. I was thinking we were about to get a weekly dose of Winstone in a TV remake.
    …I knew it sounded too good to be true.
    Still, I’ll be looking forward to this movie! :)

    • Almond

      Same Here!!

  • Iain

    Nick Love directing kills any excitement.

  • timelord

    its ” gandhi ” and not “ghandi”

  • MacTheMovieguy

    In reference to Ben Kingsley, or as we Americans like to call him, the guy who just can’t say No (Thunderbirds, Bloodrayne, A Sound Of Thunder, Love Guru, Prince Of Persia). Seriously, does he need money? I’d rather start a fund for him than watch most of the movies he’s made in the last 10 years.

  • LAJackie

    I loved The Sweeney but I couldn’t stand Dennis Waterman for some reason. John Thaw was awesome though.

  • redvector

    I’ve never seen The Sweeny but I like Ray Winstone. I wonder if this will be a period piece set in the show’s time frame of the 70’s or set in present day?

  • Peter Popper

    After watching and loving Life on Mars (dramedy, really?), I’ve had The Sweeney on my Netflix saved DVD list for ages.

    Clark, you might explain that the nickname for the London Flying Squad is Cockney rhyming slang, Sweeney Todd = Flying Squad. You drop the word that rhymes. I think I now understand why you didn’t explain. It’s confusing.

  • msd

    Awesome!!! The Sweeney!!! As another expat I cannot wait.

  • msd

    thanks Clark. I had forgotten just how great the Sweeney is!

  • tony, East End bloke.

    John Thaw,god bless him, diamond geezer, and ray winstone, born for it,provided the septics do not nonce it up to satisfy their home audience.

  • BBN

    The Sweeney was probably the very best ever UK Cop Show, John Thaw was brilliant, I like the idea of Ray Winston, I really hope that Carter is well cast and the plot is good, unlike some of the spin off Sweeney films of the past.Otherwise I eagerly await developments.

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