Sweeney Legend Was a Mancunian!
It’s amusing to reflect that one of London’s most famous TV characters was a Mancunian.
For John Thaw, who played Flying Squad Detective Jack Regan in The Sweeney, was actually born in Longsight, Manchester.
The Sweeney became a symbol for 1970s London –savvy, smart and uncompromising with a large dash of dark Cockney humour.
Who could forget Regan bursting into a building and menacing villains with the line: ‘We’re the Sweeney, son – and we haven’t had any dinner!’
It’s a tribute to Thaw’s great acting ability that he could slot into the role so well.
The son of a long-distance lorry driver, Thaw grew up in Gorton and Burnage and attended the Ducie Technical High School for Boys. He then won a place at RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) where he was a contemporary of Tom Courtenay.
He played alongside Courtenay in his first film role in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner in 1962. He also acted with Sir Laurence Olivier in the film Semi-Detached in the same year.
The long association with TV crime drama that was to flourish in The Sweeney, Morse and Kavanagh QC started with appearances in Z-Cars in 1963 and a stint playing military policeman John Mann in the ITV production Redcap.
Thaw was only 32 when he started playing gruff detective Jack Regan in The Sweeney. He played the part so well that people thought he was much older!