1 9 7 9 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
21 x 50 minute episodes
Eddie Shoestring (Trevor Eve) is a scruffbag computer programmer who suffers a nervous breakdown and is institutionalised after destroying valuable electronic equipment. After a period of convalescence, he decides to try his hand at detective work.
His landlady (and sometimes lover), barrister Erica Bayliss (Doran Godwin), arranges for him to investigate a potential scandal involving an entertainer who works for the local Radio West in Bristol.
After sorting the matter out, Shoestring visits Radio West to brief his client, Don Satchley (Michael Medwin) who has just chaired an unsuccessful planning meeting to come up with new programme ideas.
Inspired by a sketch of herself made by Shoestring, Radio West’s enthusiastic receptionist Sonia (Liz Crowther) proposes that he is hired as the station’s “private ear” to present a weekly broadcast entitled ‘The Private Ear of Eddie Shoestring’.
Members of the public are offered his services in order to investigate cases affecting them, such as disappearances or the unsolved deaths of loved ones.
The series – stylishly produced by Robert Banks Stewart – became a Sunday evening institution with viewing figures reaching 23 million at times. A second season was commissioned after stellar ratings for the first, and a long, high-rating run seemed on the cards.
Shoestring made Eve an overnight star and unlikely sex symbol. Fearing typecasting, however, he opted not to return for a third season. The final episode was a Christmas special and Banks Stewart and many of the production team duly developed a new BBC detective drama, Bergerac.