Crime Traveller – Why I like it, in 5 minutes or less

Crime Traveller - Jeff Slade and Holly TurnerWelcome to the Staggering Stories Audio Musings.  I’m Adam Purcell, and I’ll be your host for this musing.

This is my second in a group of three musings about Herd Nurdles – things I like that make other people think I’m mad.

So I present to you my justification for liking the 1997 BBC1 Sci-Fi/detective series Crime Traveller…

My two favourite genres are Science Fiction and Detective series.  Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, Columbo!  How can I not like Star Cops and Crime Traveller?

Crime Traveller wasn’t the best series ever, I won’t pretend otherwise.  It was designed as a lightweight Saturday teatime programme but it was more than that.  What would a detective want more than a Time Machine?  They could travel back and witness the crime!  Okay, they’d probably prefer doughnuts but let’s pretend! Anyway, that’s the premise of the series.  It is set in 1997, when the series aired and is about a regular CID… department (and they carry guns – lets gloss over that, too).  Their science officer (yes, played by second Kochanski, Chloë Annett) owns a time machine her father built into their living room.  None of that matters, though.

The point is – there are two theories of time travel, as I’m sure you all know.  There’s branching timelines – when you go back your arrival creates a new timeline.  You can then happily murder your own grandfather and have fun like you won’t believe – it doesn’t matter because you’ve come from a different timeline where this didn’t happen, so no paradox.

Then there is the single timeline theory.  When you go back, you aren’t actually changing anything because you always went back – it is part of established history already.  It is impossible to kill your own grandfather when he is still a child, for example – fate will always conspire to stop you, no matter how hard you try – your attempts and failures are set in historical stone.  You don’t see many time travel stories like this.  Crime Traveller is one of the few.

They go back a few hours, no more than a day, to observe the crime.  The viewer is shown the crime taking place.  Every now and then you might catch a glimpse of someone watching the events or something bizarre might happen.  Then our heroes are called in.  They are stumped, jump in their time machine and now you see the crime again from their perspective – they were the ones we saw the first time around hiding in the bushes, or whatever.  Events unfold exactly as they did the first time but now they have the evidence and can arrest the evil doers.

It a great premise.  The execution wasn’t always as great but they played it pretty light and I think it’s highly underrated.  Don’t expect too much and you might be pleasantly surprised.  Again, sadly the DVDs are deleted but a determined search might bring the episodes up from somewhere.

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