Shoestring (TV series)

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DVD cover
GenreDetective fiction
Created by
Written bySee list of episodes
Directed bySee list of episodes
ComposerGeorge Fenton
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series2
No. of episodes21 (list of episodes)
ProducerRobert Banks Stewart
  • John Baker
  • Peter Burton
  • Keith Champan
Running time50 minutes
Production companyBBC Studios
Original release
Release30 September 1979 (1979-09-30) –
21 December 1980 (1980-12-21)

Shoestring is a British detective fiction drama series, set in an unnamed city in the West of England and filmed in Bristol, featuring the down-at-heel private detective Eddie Shoestring (Trevor Eve), who presents his own show on Radio West, a local radio station. Broadcast on BBC1, the programme lasted for two series, between 30 September 1979 and 21 December 1980, featuring a total of 21 episodes. After the second series was broadcast Eve decided not to return to the role, as he "wanted to diversify into theatre roles". Subsequently, the production team began taking popular elements of the series and revising them for a new series, Bergerac, set in Jersey and first shown in 1981. BBC Books published two novels written by Paul Ableman, Shoestring (1979) and Shoestring's Finest Hour (1980).

Shoestring was repeated on terrestrial television in January 2002, with 14 of the 21 episodes being shown airing back to back on daytime BBC One. However, due to scheduling, between six and eight minutes of footage was cut from every episode.

The first series was originally scheduled to be released on DVD in its entirety by DD Home Entertainment in 2005, but the idea was abandoned because of the high cost of music rights licensing. In 2011 2|Entertain confirmed that it had picked up the rights to release the series on DVD and announced that the first series would be released on 17 October 2011.[1] They announced that all 11 episodes would be uncut except for one minor music replacement, meaning that it would be the first time the series had been seen uncut since UK Gold repeats of the series in the early 1990s. This DVD was later deleted.

In June 2017, Network Distribution announced that a DVD box set of both series was planned for release on 16 October 2017 and would contain a book on the series written by Andrew Pixley.


Eddie Shoestring is a former computer expert who has resigned after suffering a nervous breakdown.[2] In those days computers were large bulky machines with open reel tape drives creating considerable noise. In one episode Shoestring visits such a computer room and finds it mentally distressing. Following a period of convalescence, Shoestring has turned his hand to private detective work.[3] His landlady, barrister Erica Bayliss, arranges for him to investigate a potential scandal involving an entertainer who works for the local Radio West.[4]

After sorting the matter out, Shoestring visits Radio West to brief his client 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 receptionist Sonia proposes that he is hired as the station's "private ear"[5] to present a weekly broadcast entitled 'The Private Ear of Eddie Shoestring', in which 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. At first, Shoestring drives an old Hillman Hunter, but when this is destroyed, he purchases a bright orange Ford Cortina estate. The final episode was a Christmas special. The episode "Find The Lady" featured singer Toyah Willcox and allowed her to perform some of her own material in character. The building used to portray the Radio West premises is actually a multi storey car park between Queen Charlotte Street and Welsh Back.

Almost a year after the show finished, Bristol's first independent radio station was started under the name of Radio West on 27 October 1981.[6] In 2022, Shoestring was the subject of 'Eddie Shoestring's Bristol', a documentary presented by Xander Brett for Burst Radio.[7]


  • Trevor Eve as Eddie Shoestring – A "Private Ear" for Radio West, who investigates cases for the public free of charge. He is sometimes called "Bootlace", and is nearly always scruffy and dishevelled in his appearance.
  • Michael Medwin as Don Satchley – The owner of Radio West. He sometimes finds that Shoestring's cases conflict with his commercial interests.
  • Doran Godwin as Erica Bayliss – Shoestring's landlady. As a barrister, she sometimes provides legal advice for the cases he is investigating. There are also some hints of a romance between the pair.
  • Liz Crowther as Sonia – The receptionist at Radio West.

Supporting cast[edit]

  • Colin Maitland as Pete – A sound engineer and studio assistant at Radio West (eight episodes)
  • Jeanna L'Etsy as Liz (four episodes)
  • Julian Littman as Vincent Dinsdale (four episodes)
  • John Vine as Karl Winning – A DJ and announcer at Radio West (three episodes)
  • Stewart Bevan as Paul – A DJ and presenter at Radio West (three episodes)
  • Alan David as Ben Fischer (two episodes)
  • Toyah Wilcox as Toola (one episode, December 1979)


Series 1 (1979)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1"Private Ear"Robert Banks Stewart and Richard HarrisDouglas Camfield30 September 1979 (1979-09-30)
Call-girl Sarah Marshall kills herself on a beach, after stealing the car belonging to a man she had tried to contact – David Carn, a popular DJ with Bristol radio station Radio West.
2"Knock for Knock"Bob BakerRoger Tucker7 October 1979 (1979-10-07)
Eddie assists Claire Stevens, whose husband was killed in a hit and run by drivers of a white van. A tip-off leads Eddie to a duo of young fraudsters who go 'on the knock', buying antique furniture from gullible elderly people at less than the real value.
3"Higher Ground"Dave HumphriesMarek Kanievska14 October 1979 (1979-10-14)
Higher Ground, a boarding school run by strict ex-Army major Hansford and his wife Jean, is being plagued by sadistic, sick stunts – but Hansford refuses to call in the police, so Jean employs Eddie.
4"An Uncertain Circle""Robert Bennett" (pseudonym for Robert Banks Stewart)Mike Vardy21 October 1979 (1979-10-21)
Marion Cutler asks Eddie to trace her boyfriend, Nick Forrest, who has disappeared from the coastal caravan park where he was staying, though Steve the owner denies all knowledge of Forrest.
5"Listen to Me"Terence FeelyPeter Smith28 October 1979 (1979-10-28)
Adamant that her husband Harry was wrongly jailed for killing a shop assistant during a jeweller's shop robbery, Mel Shepherd threatens to jump from Radio West's roof – unless Eddie finds the real murderer.
6"Nine Tenths of the Law"Peter MillerMarek Kanievska4 November 1979 (1979-11-04)
Mary Phillips asks for Eddie's help after her ex-husband Dennis snatches their little daughter June, a ward of court, with a view to taking her back to Australia with him.
7"The Link-Up"Peter KingDouglas Camfield11 November 1979 (1979-11-11)
After Molly Tasker, director of a local women's refuge, accuses Radio West of ignoring domestic violence, Eddie investigates why the late Jackie Craig, whose wife is in the hostel, was unaccountably wealthy when he drowned.
8"Stamp Duty"John KruseMartyn Friend18 November 1979 (1979-11-18)
A stamp dealer, Joss Hargreaves, collapses and dies while he is being bundled into a car by heavies working for Strickland, a corrupt businessman whom Eddie is trying to expose.
9"Find the Lady"Philip Martin and Sarah LeighMarek Kanievska2 December 1979 (1979-12-02)
Rock singer Toola asks Eddie to dissuade her sacked bass player Mole from his belief that his beauty queen girlfriend Chrissie was killed out of jealousy by the band's manager Malcolm Kenrick.
10"The Partnership"Michael ArmstrongPaul Ciappessoni9 December 1979 (1979-12-09)
Sonia, the Radio West receptionist, is concerned for her friend, travel agent Jenny Kelson, whom she sees apparently being threatened by a young man. Eddie photographs and follows him, leading to a remote country house owned by a couple of dog breeders.
11"I’m a Believer"Jim HawkinsMike Vardy16 December 1979 (1979-12-16)
When Maddy Hopkins joins religious cult the Starshiners, her anxious mother, convinced that the group is out to get her trust fund money from her twenty-first birthday, asks Eddie to investigate.

Series 2 (1980)[edit]

Episode Title Written by Directed by Original airdate
1"Room with a View""Robert Bennett" (Robert Banks Stewart)Henry Herbert5 October 1980 (1980-10-05)
Retired music hall singer Lettie Ross witnesses a murder in the empty house opposite her flat but, when the police and her daughter are dismissive, she calls in Eddie.
2"The Teddy Bears’ Nightmare"Leslie DarbonMartin Campbell12 October 1980 (1980-10-12)
Out fishing, Don sees a thief rob a young couple of the woman's handbag, but the couple themselves flee and fail to report the theft. Don retrieves the bag and Eddie traces it to Christine Page, who says that she and her married lover Ken Bailey, are being blackmailed.
3"Mocking Bird""William Hood" (pseudonym for Robert Holmes[citation needed])Ben Bolt19 October 1980 (1980-10-19)
Young women are being mugged around the city and the perpetrator, a caller with an Ulster accent, keeps ringing Eddie and taunting him for his inability to catch him. The police are called in but smug inspector Healey is little help.
4"The Mayfly Dance"Bill CraigHenry Herbert26 October 1980 (1980-10-26)
Don asks Eddie to locate Jody Brent, a once popular singer whose big hit 'Lazy Daisy' is enjoying a revival on Radio West's easy listening show. Though Miriam, Jody's manager, claims he is in America, Eddie hears that he is living in Wales in seclusion.
5"The Farmer Had a Wife""William Hood" (Robert Holmes)Paul Ciappessoni2 November 1980 (1980-11-02)
To encourage more human interest stories, Don persuades Eddie to help a watercress farmer, David Mortimer, whose wife Rosemary has disappeared for a second time and is being accused by other villagers of murdering her, to try to locate her.
6"Utmost Good Faith"Andrew PayneMarek Kanievska9 November 1980 (1980-11-09)
After her debt-ridden husband Tim kills himself, Mary Reynolds asks Eddie's help in discovering why her credit facilities have been stopped when the debt concerned was twelve years earlier and apparently cancelled.
7"Looking for Mr Wright""Robert Bennett" (Paula Milne & Robert Banks Stewart)Laurence Moody16 November 1980 (1980-11-16)
Erica's secretary Lois meets the charming Clive Wright through a dating agency, but he disappears while they are in a restaurant, and the restaurant staff and dating agency workers are equally unhelpful as to whether he even existed.
8"Another Man’s Castle"Dave HumphriesDouglas Camfield7 December 1980 (1980-12-07)
While Philip and Diana Hoskens are moving house, the van containing all their furniture is stolen by a shady landlord, Terry Bowen, to furnish a property he is letting to a young couple.
9"Where Was I?"Peter MillerJeremy Summers14 December 1980 (1980-12-14)
Family man Keith Amery goes camping on the moors alone and sees a helicopter land, but then he falls and hits his head, bringing on amnesia. On the advice of Eddie's old psychiatrist Keith's wife asks Eddie to help Keith to recall events.
10"The Dangerous Game"Chris BoucherBen Bolt21 December 1980 (1980-12-21)
Pete Johnson, a market trader who deals in stolen goods, gives his little son Mike an early Christmas present, an electric racing game called Lunar Race 2000, but it is faulty and blows up, leading to the boy's admission to hospital.


  1. ^ "Shoestring – Series 1 [DVD] [1979]". Amazon. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Trevor Eve on Front Row". BBC. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  3. ^ "Shoestring (1979–80)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  4. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials, Volume 2. VNR AG. p. 376. ISBN 9780918432612.
  5. ^ Turnbull, Sue (2014). The Crime Drama. Edinburgh University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780748678204.
  6. ^ "RW + WR = GWR". Radiomusications. Archived from the original on 28 August 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  7. ^ "Looking back at Eddie Shoestring's Bristol". Epigram. 7 February 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.

External links[edit]