Blue Murder: articles

Neddy Smith drama for ABC

CAREER criminal Neddy Smith has been given the green light to save struggling ABC boss Jonathan Shier.

The Director of Public Prosecutions last night cleared the way for the network to screen its award-winning mini-series Blue Murder in NSW, by no billing an indictment against Smith, 56, for the murder of drug dealer Lewton Shu in 1983.

The decision comes in the nick of time for the ABC with OzTAM figures showing the network has hit rock bottom under Mr Shier.

Blue Murder is based on the exploits of corrupt NSW police and criminals during the '80s.

It stars Tony Martin as Neddy Smith, Gary Sweet as hit man Christopher Dale Flannery and Richard Roxburgh as Roger Rogerson. Since 1995 it has screened in all other Australian states twice, but it could not be shown in NSW because of the charges outstanding against Smith.

According to the ABC, pirate videotapes of the series have been in hot demand around Sydney. Critics consider it one of the best programs ever screened on Australian television.

The head of publicity at the ABC said the program would be scheduled nationally and probably would not go to air for another six weeks.

The decision by the DPP means little to Smith who is serving life for murdering brothel owner Harvey Jones in 1983.

It was the only conviction to arise out of seven murder charges against Smith after a cellmate secretly recorded their conversations and went to the police.

By Peter Lalor And Anthony Peterson
Daily Telegraph
July 13, 2001

Blue Murder: Media Release


The most controversial drama series ever made in Australia, BLUE MURDER, will finally screen in NSW and the ACT six years after it was prevented from broadcast. The two part series will begin Tuesday 31 July at 9.30pm, concluding Wednesday 1 August at 9.30pm.

The highly acclaimed drama that delves into corruption in the NSW police force and crime underworld of the 80's, was legally embargoed from screening in NSW and the ACT because underworld identity Neddy Smith, one of the key characters in the series, was charged with seven counts of murder just before the program was due to be broadcast in 1995.

Earlier this month, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to prosecute Neddy Smith for the murder of Lewton Shu, clearing the way for the first ever screening of BLUE MURDER in NSW and the ACT.

In all other States and Territories, the BBC drama CARE will screen at the same time.

BLUE MURDER begins with Sydney criminal Neddy Smith's activities in the late 1970's, charting his gradual acceptance into a circle of corrupt police officers led by top cop Rogerson and culminates with the shooting of policeman Michael Drury and the crumbling of Rogerson's empire in the late 80's. The series features an outstanding cast including Richard Roxburgh as Dt Sgt Roger Rogerson, Tony Martin as Needy Smith and Steve Bastoni as Michael Drury, with Gary Sweet, Alex Dimitriades, Peter Phelps, Marcus Graham and Bill Hunter.

BLUE MURDER is an ABC / Southern Star Entertainment Production. Written by Ian David. Directed by Michael Jenkins. Produced by Rod Allan.

Screens Tuesday 31 July and Wednesday 1 August at 9.30pm

ABC Media Release
Thursday 26 July 2001

Blue Murder hits ABC next week

The award-winning drama series Blue Murder, which colourfully re-creates Sydney's 1980s underworld, will screen on television in NSW for the first time next week.

The ABC's legal and scheduling departments finally gave Blue Murder the green light to be screened here and in the ACT yesterday, six years after it was shown in the rest of Australia.

Featuring Tony Martin as notorious criminal Neddy Smith and Richard Roxburgh as infamous detective-sergeant Roger Rogerson, it will air in two parts at 9.30pm on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Already widely viewed on bootleg copies by police, lawyers, criminals and anyone else interested in such fare, the program is still expected to be a ratings success for the ABC.

Blue Murder was pulled from screening in NSW in 1995 when Smith was charged with seven 1980s murders, all of which have now been dealt with by courts.

Four of those murder charges were dropped at committal, one led to conviction at trial, one was "no billed" by the Director of Public Prosecutions earlier this month and one, that of Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, ended in acquittal by jury.

Despite that verdict, Blue Murder will still go to air with a scene in which Smith kills Huckstepp.

The first part of the series features Smith being awarded a "green light" to commit crimes by police grateful for Smith's favourable evidence at the inquest into the death of drug dealer Warren Lanfranchi, whom Rogerson shot in 1981.

It culminates with the shooting of drug squad detective Michael Drury by hitman Chris Flannery, in a conspiracy involving Melbourne drug dealer Alan Williams and Rogerson, who in real-life was cleared of involvement. The second part follows the flawed investigation into Drury's shooting, Flannery's and Huckstepp's murders, Rogerson's career downfall and Smith's descent to prison, where he has remained since.

By Stephen Gibbs
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday, July 26, 2001

ABC rushes Blue Murder

THE ABC's controversial award-winning miniseries Blue Murder about Sydney's underworld will be shown nearly a month ahead of schedule in NSW next week.

The program was due to air in late August but an ABC spokeswoman said the threat of legal action forced the network to screen it early.

"We have to move quickly to screen it because there may be charges pending against some other well-known people portrayed in the show which might stop us from screening it," she said.

"We've been given a small window of opportunity and our lawyers have given us clearance to screen it, but we have to do it quickly."

The 1995 production, which has been shown twice in all states except NSW, dramatises police corruption and underworld activities in the 1980s. It could not be shown in NSW because of outstanding charges against Neddy Smith, who is serving a life sentence for murdering brothel owner Harvey Jones in 1983.

Two weeks ago the Director of Public Prosecutions cleared the way for the series to be screened in NSW by no-billing an indictment against Smith, 56, for the murder of drug dealer Lewton Shu in 1983.

Based on Smith's autobiography and the book Line of Fire about the 1984 shooting of drug squad cop Michael Drury, Blue Murder depicts various underworld killings.

It stars Tony Martin as Neddy Smith, Gary Sweet as hit man Christopher Dale Flannery and Richard Roxburgh as Roger Rogerson.

* Blue Murder airs on the ABC next Tuesday and Wednesday at 9.30pm

Better late than never

As Blue Murder gets the all-clear to screen in NSW, Tony Davis takes a personal look at the events covered in the controversial drama.

It is truly odd that one of the best pieces of television drama ever produced in Australia has never screened in NSW, the country's most populous State and the one in which 90 per cent of the story is set. But that's the case with Blue Murder, winner of multiple AFI awards, which screened in the rest of the country in 1995. Now, following a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to pursue Neddy Smith over a 1983 murder, the ABC will air the miniseries over two nights, from Tuesday.

Those who have not managed to beg, borrow or otherwise obtain an interstate video of Blue Murder during the past six years should get ready for an absolutely compelling re-creation of real-life events from the early 1980s.

With brilliant and appalling ferocity, Blue Murder recalls an era unlike any other in Australian criminal history, one in which certain police and crooks formed a partnership to more effectively commit crimes that at least one side of the equation was meant to prevent.

Blue Murder is a masterful piece of scripting, direction and acting. Rapid-fire conversations overlap while cameras follow the action in documentary-style, always giving you the sense you are moving among real and dangerous people rather than having scripted lines delivered to you.

Some of the greatest names of the Sydney underworld are portrayed: Christopher Dale Flannery, the hitman known as Rent-a-kill; Warren Lanfranchi, the heroin dealer who preferred a baseball bat to a well-structured argument when it came to financial negotiations; Lanfranchi's girlfriend, the glamorous and screwed-up Sallie-Anne Huckstepp; and above all others, Neddy and The Dodger.

Neddy was Arthur Stanley Smith, the drug dealer and armed-hold-up specialist given the green light by certain police to commit any crime (except murdering police), as long as he shared the proceeds. Neddy left bank robberies in police cars, while the cops up front radioed headquarters to say they'd lost the trail of the suspects.

The Dodger was Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson, whose name will forever be prefixed by the words "disgraced" and "former". He became a household name in the early 1980s after winning a supposed OK-Corral-style shootout with Warren Lanfranchi in a Chippendale lane.

Generally less mentioned in this whole story but equally important—from this writer's point of view, at least—is me.

Blue Murder, which I watched in one breathless sitting, took me back to Glebe Coroner's Court in 1981 where, as a second-year newspaper cadet, I spent day after day with many of the "cast", sitting just a few steps away from Rogerson, Huckstepp and others, watching their every movement, reporting on each word said.

I was 20 years old. There are a lot of things I was at 20 that I am glad I am not now. Gullible is one of them. Sure, one senior policeman might play with the truth, I thought. But not two, or three, or four… and surely entire events and interviews wouldn't be invented from scratch.

It seemed so clear cut: Detective Sergeant Rogerson was a policeman with bravery commendations and Lanfranchi was a drug dealer. Officer after officer supported the story that Lanfranchi had pulled a gun first. OK, there were no fingerprints on the butt, but police forensic experts said that was not unusual.

Later revelations would change public perceptions of the NSW Police Force. Back then there still was a general sense that even when the police occasionally bent the rules, they were still operating in our best interests.

Anyway, during the Lanfranchi trial the other side overplayed its hand. During the court breaks, a cavalcade of interested parties came to the little windowless press room or stopped me in the corridor to explain that senior police controlled the State's entire heroin trade, had committed bashings, murders and more besides; that Rogerson, in spite of his modest income, leased a Lamborghini.

It seemed too far-fetched to be true, and later events showed it wasn't true. It was a Bentley, for example, and Rogerson owned rather than leased it.

I was reporting for the News Limited newspapers: The Daily Mirror, The Daily Telegraph and The Australian. My court-reporting training had consisted of being shown around Glebe Coroner's Court by the cadet I replaced, and of me asking as many questions as would be tolerated by the other permanent press-room fixture—a young reporter from Fairfax's late and unlamented The Sun.

Being a newspaper cadet in the blokey, beer-soaked atmosphere of early 1980s journalism is the sort of thing you are glad to have done, but would never do again. I spent several months as a graveyard-shift ambulance-chaser and remember it as a time of fires, car crashes, deathknocks and bullet-ventilated bodies face-down in parks.

Some of those bodies, we later learned, belonged to people who had been in the orbit of Lanfranchi, Smith and Rogerson, but for me at the time there was never a sense that any of the criminal goings-on I saw each week were likely to endanger average punters—or involved the police.

There was great camaraderie on police rounds. Senior journos drank with influential cops or chatted about wives and kids while the warehouse fire blazed or Police Rescue unwrapped the car from the pole. Some old-hand reporters could get traffic fines pulled and more. Rogerson received a bouquet of "hero" stories the morning after the Lanfranchi shooting.

The situation served the press and the police well. The only people who lost out were the public.

Glebe Coroner's Court, where I was stationed for several months, was directly above the morgue. A rather strange employee, who kept his lunch in the cold room, delighted in taking young reporters through his domain, leading the way through a field of unclad corpses on steel trolleys parked in neat rows, or through the autopsy rooms where cadavers were being pulled to pieces. "This is a motorcycle accident and this is a drowning," he would explain, but his favourite show-and-tells were the ones in the freezer drawers, the often butchered or burnt corpses being kept as evidence. Warren Lanfranchi's was among these, deteriorating and blighted with some sort of fungus.

Lanfranchi was not much older than I was. His world couldn't have been more different and, as evidence came out, it showed beyond doubt there were two completely separate Sydneys existing at the same time with very little interaction between them.

Blue Murder authentically depicts the amazing things that were happening in unremarkable-looking pubs and restaurants around Glebe, Surry Hills and Chinatown. They were places I had walked past hundreds of times with scarcely a thought that there might be a bashing in progress, a hit being organised, the proceeds of a job being split or police and crims drunkenly engaging in a target-shooting contest in the basement.

Blue Murder does not judge. It merely presents a well-informed view of what happened, and, in showing the charisma, bravery and brutality of Neddy and The Dodger, helps explain the control this unlikely partnership established.

If there's proof of a good historical re-enactment, it's when you become so involved with the characters they become fixed in your mind as the real people. When I see actual footage of Neddy or the Dodger, they don't look quite right—yet when, say, Tony Martin turns up on screen I immediately think of Neddy Smith and even shiver a little.

Writing this story made me go back and look for my old newspaper clippings. The court stories I covered—the Lanfranchi shooting, the Harry M. Miller fraud trial, the notorious severed-head-and-fingers murder of Kim Barry in Wollongong and others—were filed by phone in great haste during adjournments. They became littered with typos and literals as they were quickly shunted through copytakers, sub-editors working with pencils, then compositors shaping the words mirror-wise in hot metal.

Anyone who thinks media standards are slipping ought to search out newspapers from that era and compare. And anyone who harks back to the good old days when the streets were safe and the cops were on our side should watch Blue Murder.

Sydney Morning Herald
Monday, July 30, 2001

The who's who of Blue Murder

Detective Sergeant Roger Rogerson

Once considered among the local constabulary's finest, "The Dodger" was brave enough to stare down the likes of Christopher Dale Flannery and Neddy Smith. Rogerson cultivated friends and allies in high and low places and was ruthless in the way he did business. He shot Warren Lanfranchi in a narrow lane in 1981—supposedly after Lanfranchi drew a gun on him—and watched his empire crash down soon afterwards. Played beautifully by Richard Roxburgh.

Currently A free man (acquitted of conspiring to murder Michael Drury, he served three years in the '90s for conspiring to pervert the course of justice), although the Police Integrity Commission recommended this year he be criminally charged on three counts.

Arthur Stanley "Neddy" Smith

The dangerous and highly intelligent crook with a heart of venom. His frightening autobiography, Neddy, illustrates a man operating on a completely different moral code to the rest of us (though, alas, on the same moral code as several powerful NSW policemen). Tony Martin delivers with chilling authenticity.

Currently Serving a life sentence for murder and suffering from Parkinson's disease. He was acquitted in 1999 of the murder of Sallie-Anne Huckstepp.

Michael Drury

The cop who claimed he wouldn't take a bribe from Rogerson and almost paid for it with his life. Steve Bastoni interviewed Michael Drury to get the role right, and plays him with enough ambiguity to ensure he is not a cliched hero. Bizarrely, Michael Drury and wife Pam came on set to see the scene in which Drury is shot in his Chatswood home.

Currently Retired from the NSW Police Force last year.

Christopher Dale Flannery

The wild hitman known as Rent-a-kill. The unlikely casting of Gary Sweet is a triumph and Blue Murder leaves no doubt about Flannery's much-discussed fate.

Currently Believed dead.

Warren Lanfranchi

Petty crim and drug dealer, shot by Rogerson. It was claimed by Lanfranchi's family he had $10,000 on his person at the time of the shooting. It was not there when the body arrived at the morgue. The Blue Murder account is very different to the one Rogerson detailed under oath. A 21-year-old Alex Dimitriades does the honours.

Currently Dead.

Sallie-Anne Huckstepp

Prostitute, drug addict and girlfriend of heroin dealer Warren Lanfranchi—yet glamorous enough to captivate television cameras and become a household name with her allegations about Rogerson. Before playing the role, Loene Carmen interviewed Huckstepp's daughter, Sasha, who herself turns up as a nurse in Blue Murder.

Currently Dead.

Ian David

The writer of Police Crop, Joh's Jury and other classy TV dramas, David based his Blue Murder script on In the Line of Fire (the story of Michael Drury by Herald journalist Darren Goodsir) and Neddy, by Neddy Smith with Tom Noble. He also met Smith, conducted hundreds of other interviews and suffered real-life threats and burglaries while working on the project.

Currently President of the Screen Writers' Guild; developing a miniseries about the Ivan Milat backpacker murders.

Michael Jenkins

The director of Blue Murder, Jenkins also worked on the controversial '80s miniseries Scales of Justice.

Currently Working on Young Lions, a drama pilot for Nine, and developing a film on the life of Ned Kelly.

Blue Murder screens on the ABC on Tuesday and Wednesday night at 9.30pm.

Real-life drama in TV classic

WHEN Blue Murder screens tonight, NSW viewers will finally be able to make up their own minds on what is fact or just good television.

While the truth may never be known, Blue Murder writer Ian David yesterday admitted he had received threatening phone-calls, had his home broken into and heavy criticism from some of the people portrayed in the confronting drama.

The events depicted in Blue Murder are based on Neddy Smith's autobiography and journalist Darren Goodsir's In the Line of Fire, as well as David's own research and interviews.

But the writer said while the events were necessarily dramatised, he stood by his work saying it was as close to reality as he could make it.

"It was the best we could do for the time," he said.

"When I look back on it I'm quite pleased that it still stands up."

The series centres on the infamous shootings of drug dealer Warren Lanfranchi by detective Roger Rogerson in Dangar Place, Chippendale. It also deals with the shooting of policeman Michael Drury at his home–allegedly by missing hitman Christopher Dale Flannery.

Other incidents shown include Neddy Smith killing Lanfranchi's prostitute girlfriend Sallie-Anne Huckstepp–a murder for which he was later acquitted.

David said he would watch the show with director Michael Jenkins and actor Tony Martin, who portrayed Smith, over a few beers.

The actor on whom the production relies most, Richard Roxburgh, yesterday was filming a movie in London but said his chief fear after playing the role was the reaction of his real life character Roger Rogerson.

While Rogerson, who watched part of the TV show during a 60 Minutes interview, has always maintained he shot Lanfranchi in self-defence, the former detective sergeant is said to have liked Roxburgh's portrayal–apart from his smoking and piano playing.

"It was a very weird hall of mirrors experience as I watched Roger watching me being him," Roxburgh said.

But another of the four former police officers who witnessed the shooting in Dangar Place was yesterday not so forgiving of any dramatic licence.

Retired Detective Sergeant Rodney Moore was driving his white Volvo only metres from Rogerson when he saw the 1981 shooting.

Mr Moore, now working as a labourer, said that while Blue Murder was good entertainment, he was angry at the depiction of the character Mal Rivers.

"They have got this 'Mal Rivers' taking money out of Lanfranchi's strides," he said. "This is just absolute rubbish. What happened was what was in the coroner's court. Lanfranchi pulled out a gun and Rogerson shot him."

July 31, 2001
Daily Telegraph

ABC drama a killer in the ratings

Six years after it was made, Blue Murder has been a triumph for the ABC. On Tuesday night it averaged 379,000 viewers in Sydney. It had been shown in other Australian cities years ago, but legal cases involving the key characters delayed its presentation in its state of origin.

An audience of 379,000, as measured by OzTAM, may not sound huge compared to the 800,000 who watched Thorpie winning gold medals last week, but let's put it in context. Sydney people, in common with the rest of Australia, tend to go to bed early, so it's rare for any program starting at 9.30pm to attract more than 300,000 viewers.

Channel Ten's much publicised youth drama, The Secret Life of Us, which screens at 9.30pm on Mondays, scored 251,000 viewers this week, while Nine's Sex and the City, showing at the same time, scored 310,000. The critically acclaimed The West Wing, which showed at 10.30 on Tuesday night, attracted 150,000.

Blue Murder did surprisingly well with what TV programmers call the "youth demographic", who would have been at primary school when the events in the show happened. About 129,000 Blue Murder viewers were aged between 16 and 39 (while the usual youth favourite, Rove Live on Ten, attracted 143,000 groovers).

Normally the ABC's most watched program of the week is The Bill, which attracted 381,000 Sydney viewers on Tuesday—considerably more than its usual 320,000. This suggests Blue Murder encouraged some eager viewers to tune in early. Perhaps the ABC should show it every night.

By David Dale
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday, August 2, 2001

Almost all the chilling truth

Is Blue Murder an accurate portrayal of events? Or is it racy fiction wrapped around a thin skeleton of facts to make electrifying television? Or a bit of both?

There are doubts about the show's claim of being a true representation of the police and underworld wars. Such reservations are understandable, given the brazen, nonchalant way in which corrupt deals and killings are presented.

But not only are the scenes believable, they are, in more than 90 per cent of the cases, chillingly accurate. And that's what makes Blue Murder all the more terrifying.

Screenwriter Ian David researched the story extensively and interviewed some of the players. He also blended truthfully the themes raised in the two books that provided the platform for the production. So intent was he on accuracy that many scenes were filmed where they took place.

For instance, undercover policeman Michael Drury's shooting was filmed in the home where the event occurred. Roger Rogerson's barbecue with Neddy Smith and other mates was filmed in the real Rogerson's former backyard in Condell Park, and drug dealer Warren Lanfranchi is shot in the Chippendale laneway where the real Lanfranchi was shot.

But for pedants, there are some issues worthy of debate.

Smith is shown murdering Sallie-Anne Huckstepp but he has been acquitted of this crime. He is shown throwing solicitor Brian Alexander off a boat, but he has never been convicted of it.

It is highly unlikely that Smith, or any of Rogerson's colleagues, were privy to the talks about the attempted killing of Drury. And Rogerson never smoked cigarettes.

There are other small errors, but given the body of work that is assembled, and the multitude of events canvassed, they are minor.

However, on the flipside, Smith did confront CIB chief Noel Morey at Morey's boozy farewell, but perhaps not in the manner depicted; Smith did accompany Rogerson to many police functions; and hitman Christopher Dale Flannery visited hospital to see if he could "finish the job" after failing to kill Drury.

Another feature that has intrigued some viewers is the matter-of-fact way in which Drury reacted to the offer of a bribe from Rogerson. It is this author's view that Drury's nonplussed response says more about the state of the police then, rather then anything to do with Drury's integrity.

Darren Goodsir is a Herald journalist and the author of Line of Fire, upon which Blue Murder is partly based.

By Darren Goodsir
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday, August 2, 2001

Our town: the secret of Blue Murder's success

A gutsy cops-and-robbers story shot in our backyard and speaking our language, that's why this drama is a hit. And it should help a few actors' careers, writes David Dale.

It was made six years ago, about events that happened 20 years ago. The photography is grainy at times, and you can't understand a lot of the dialogue. Many of the characters are not clearly identified, and their motives are obscure.

Some of the events are implausible, bordering on preposterous. One of the real people portrayed in it has said: "It's not a bad movie as a drama, but it's all bullshit."

So why did Blue Murder work so well with Sydney viewers, and why will it launch or relaunch so many showbiz careers? A few possible explanations…

It confirms the deepest archetypes of our city. We like to think of ourselves as living in a rough, tough pragmatic town. Sydney's first police officers were criminals, because Governor Phillip appointed 12 of his most trusted convicts as "the Night Watch" in 1790. That interchangeability established a tradition which lasted at least 200 years.

Sydneysiders have always believed their coppers were a bit bent, and haven't been too fussed about it, as long as somebody came around to commiserate about break-ins. If Roger Rogerson dispensed a bit of vigilante justice, that was what those scum needed. If the cops let Neddie Smith bash a few blokes at a two-up game, or helped him throw a crooked lawyer to the sharks, that's what defines us as an exciting metropolis.

We sometimes wondered if the rumours about powerful people we were hearing in the pub were just urban myths. Blue Murder showed they were true. And when Neddie describes the show as "bullshit"—well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

It speaks our language. Thugs and cops don't articulate like trained thespians, and it was a brave move for Blue Murder's director, Michael Jenkins, to let them mumble some of the time, and for the ABC not to censor the f- words and the c- words or tone down the brutality in an attempt to enlarge the audience. It's late-night viewing, designed for people who don't mind a little mental exercise to fill in the gaps.

We want to encourage the ABC to return to its glory days. Once upon a time the ABC had money to spend on dangerous drama that held up a mirror to Australian society. Now the ABC has a boss who thinks The Weakest Link is groundbreaking television.

It has familiar actors at the top of their game. As the moustachioed villain in Moulin Rouge, Richard Roxburgh was just silly (in accordance with the director's instructions). As the South African sidekick to the Scottish sadist in Mission: Impossible II, he was wimpy. For the past six years, we've been underestimating him—because we weren't allowed to see Blue Murder. Finally we know what a charming monster he can be.

If we saw Wildside (also directed by Michael Jenkins) on TV two years ago, we know Tony Martin can do an idealistic cop barely under control, and if we saw The Interview at the movies or on video (or best of all, on DVD), we know Tony Martin can do a cop who might just be crooked. But we never knew he could make us feel sorry for a brutal killer.

We'd gone off Gary Sweet lately, but now that we've finally seen his hyped-up Rent-a-Kill, we look forward to a comeback (even without the fluff-wig). And why haven't we seen anything lately of Loene Carmen, who played Sallie-Anne Huckstepp (after an auspicious start as the love interest in The Year My Voice Broke)? Blue Murder even managed to remind us that Ray Martin was once a subtle interviewer.

It has impeccable period detailing, smart jokes and a car chase. Blue Murder isn't homework, it isn't a sociological duty, it isn't subsidised culture—it is just entertaining. How about Neddie's big-collar shirts and wide lapels, the Dodger's cardigan, the barbie round the pool, the gorgeous sunset on the harbour, and dialogue such as "How many other blokes have got a green light?" "No-one—we shot all the others".

These days every successful Hollywood thriller must contain a car chase, a sex scene, violence treated flippantly, ironic pop culture references, a flawed hero who undergoes a symbolic death-and-resurrection, and an ambiguous ending. Ian David didn't know any of that when he wrote the screenplay, years ahead of David Chase's brilliant work on The Sopranos.

All we need now is for Blue Murder to be released on DVD, on sale at ABC shops with a second disc containing deleted scenes, commentaries by writer, director and actors, and a documentary explaining why it took so long to reach us.

It might just earn enough money to make the ABC feel like doing it all again.

By David Dale
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday, August 2, 2001

Viewers go for Blue Murder, but you'd hardly read about it

Sydney is a town where word of mouth can work wonders. The second night of Blue Murder did even better for the ABC than the first night.

Driven by enthusiastic reports about Tuesday's first episode of the true-crime saga, an extra 54,000 Sydneysiders tuned in to the ABC on Wednesday, bringing the total audience to 433,000—an amazing figure for any 90-minute show starting at 9.30pm.

But, if the ABC can possibly find a way to shoot itself in the foot, it will. If you looked at the Sydney ratings figures released by OzTAM yesterday morning, you would have found no mention of Blue Murder. Instead, the ratings showed that, in Sydney, Foreign Correspondent got 443,000 viewers and Lateline got 412,000—record performances for both shows.

An ABC spokesman explained that the person responsible for notifying OzTAM of changes in the national programming schedule was based in Melbourne and had not known that Blue Murder was running (in Sydney only) over two nights.

Sorry, Jennifer Byrne, but any pay rise you may get for more than doubling your Foreign Correspondent audience will have to be passed on to actors Richard Roxburgh and Tony Martin, writer Ian David and director Michael Jenkins.

By David Dale
Sydney Morning Herald
Friday, August 3, 2001