There’s nobody here but us chickens

Not so long ago I read about the death of ‘Nightingales’ scriptwriter Paul Makin, who I would find out was from the Black Country. It reminded me that I’d been meaning to get hold of the programme on DVD, I have and it’s still brilliant.

It stars Robert Lindsay (pre ‘My Family’, when he was good), David Threlfall and James Ellis (‘Z Cars’, but I remember him better for ‘One by One‘ the everyday detective drama of a vet in a zoo) as night security guards in a nondescript office building. It’s better than it sounds, and much more surreal — the first episode has them dealing with a werewolf.

What the building was used for in the day isn’t ever established, theirs is a very nocturnal existence. Nor is where it is based. There are a few external shots, but more in the ‘Friends’ style of establishing that they’re in the big city — can you see where I’m going with this?

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Any clearer? Concentrate on the building to the bottom left behind the office block:

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Yes, it turns out that the Nightingales were guarding the offices above Snobs — you can see the Town Hall in the background and the light on in the kebab shop. “Can I have chilli sauce?”

Somehow it makes me understand the show a lot better now I know it was set in Brum. It makes be feel good to know that when I was snorting vodka at 50p a shot and lusting after the cute DJ in the back room of a Friday night, that Wolfie Smith was fictionally looking after my welfare. In a comedy way.

Best of all the closing titles are over film of the city at night, you can not only spot Snobs, the Rotunda in the background, but also the fantastic red cage metal car park and the sadly missed swirly bridge thing. And it has been pissing down with rain, so should be just how you remember it.  Top flight early nineties nostalgia:

  • Thanks for the memory jog.
    I’d just started my first job on a paper when this was broadcast and shared a desk with a guy (a Brummie no less) who was a dead ringer David Thelfall’s character.
    Nightingales was fanatstic, sharing a desk with someone who seemed to have stepped out of the show was a little unnerving.

  • Nightingales, wonderful brilliantly original sitcom, made by the same crowd who made the poor-in-comparison but quite good Birds of a Feather. I met one of the producers at the Hacienda, unfortunately not at Barbarellas, which would have been perfect. Hat Trick, iirc? Great detective work there, Bounder.