George Gently star Martin Shaw: ‘If people are offended, so what?’

(Image credit: BBC/Company Pictures/Mark Bourdillon)

The new series of Inspector George Gently deals with hard-hitting issues without sugar-coating the attitudes of the time.

Respected vetran actor, Martin Shaw, explained to What’s on TV why George Gently hits the mark when it comes to capturing 1960s issues such as rape, prostitution and women in the force.

“We have very good scripts for the new series. It’s growing because we all know each other better as the years go by, so we trust each other more and more."

He added: “There are lots of whodunits out there. And there’s always an element of that about our show, because it’s about the police, but more and more it’s really about the relationships between the characters.”

Set specifically in 1969, the big theme of the new series is the changing place of women at home, at work, and – in the form of Lisa McGrillis, who plays WPC Rachel Cole – in the police force. Established characters like Lee Ingleby’s DS John Bacchus give voice to the attitudes of many policemen of the time. Attitudes, which some modern viewers, may find shocking!

Martin said: “Because Inspector George Gently starts before the 9 o’clock watershed we are always, to a certain extent, constrained as to what we can say and do. Anything that might be shocking has to go through the BBC’s Compliance Department. Over the years, as people realise we’re not out to shock, we’re just out to inform and entertain, we have more leeway.”

“In any case, when people get offended, so what? What’s happened? Nothing. They’re just being offended.”

He also said: “Even though the mass consciousness at the time was very much against women, George has a natural compassionate intellect. It’s really useful to see the difference in attitudes between Gently and Bacchus!

The four-part series of Inspector George Gently continues on Wednesday at 8pm on BBC1

For more from Martin, read our interview

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.