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Michael J Bird's Contribution to
Special Branch

With acknowledgement to Mediagems excellent tribute site.

Special Branch
Thames-Euston / 52x60m-e / 1969-74
Executive Producers: Lloyd Shirley, George Taylor / Music: Robert Earley

During its first two years Special Branch was a taped show, its leading actors being Derren Nesbitt, Wensley Pithey and Fulton Mackay. Screencap of the title card In 1973 the series was re-cast, none of the original leads surviving, with George Sewell as DCI Alan Craven and Patrick Mower as DCI Tom Haggerty. Both were experienced series actors.

Special Branch was selected as a "known quantity" by Euston, its moderate success of the early years taken as an indication that "there was some sort of audience for it". Sewell appeared in all 13 episodes of season 3, Mower, who was following in Pithey's footsteps, appeared in about ten of them, always billed as "guest artist" in the main credits.

The end titles to season 3, during which Sewell walks down a straight path through a park, clearly indicate that it was his show at that point. The balance shifted in season 4 when Mower and Sewell were more on a par, though Mower still didn't appear in all episodes.
DI Jordan (69-70) (DERREN NESBITT)
Det Supt Inman (FULTON MACKAY)
Script Editor Max Goodleff
Music Robert Earley
Designer William Alexander
Producer Ted Childs
Michael Bird's contributions were all to the Fourth Season in 1974

TV times entry - click for larger image TV times entry - click for larger image

Click any image for a larger version

Video cover

Two commercial videos were released in 1994 with two episodes on each, and three out of the four episodes chosen for release were Bird's.

The full Special Branch Series was subsequently released on DVD. Search the website of
Network DVD to find a copy.


Bird scripted at least one other story, entitled "One of the Family", in which he killed off semi-regular character Det Sergeant Maguire (Paul Antrim) but the story was not produced. It would have made a great final episode.

We will never get the chance to see it on our screens but thanks to Olive Bird I have been able to copy Michael's script for "One of the Family" and it can be downloaded here as a PDF file.

Download a copy of the script for the unproduced episode
"One of the Family"

Download a copy of the script

On 1st August 1973 Bird received a letter from Special Branch producer Ted Childs which said:

"Lloyd Shirley, George Taylor and I viewed the final cut of 'Double Exposure' today. They were very impressed, as I was, by the quality of the end product. The general conscensus is that it is one of the best films so far made under the Euston Films baner."

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The part of Don Tierney in The Dark Side of the Sun was written specifically for Patrick Mower. Here was Bird writing for Mower nearly ten years before.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read it. Acrobat Reader is free software that lets you view and print Adobe PDF files.

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Michael J Bird Tribute Website

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