New Tricks (2003–2015)
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It Smells of Books 

In 2007 lecturer Richard Symes fell off a roof at the university where he taught and died. An open verdict was recorded but Brian feels that suicide was unlikely as Symes had just taken a ... See full summary »


Martyn Friend


J.C. Wilsher (as J .C. Wilsher), Roy Mitchell (creator) | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Alun Armstrong ... Brian Lane
James Bolam ... Jack Halford
Amanda Redman ... Det. Supt. Sandra Pullman
Dennis Waterman ... Gerry Standing
Susan Jameson Susan Jameson ... Esther Lane
Joshua Osei ... Oaf in Library
Goran Kostic ... Pavel Illich
Sasha Behar Sasha Behar ... Emma Woodford
David Ryall ... Jasper Urquhart
Anne Reid ... Sophie Urquhart
Jonathan Cullen Jonathan Cullen ... Jeremy Ventham
Beth Goddard ... Paula Symes
Tom Mison ... Tim Mortimer
Rick Bacon Rick Bacon ... Auctioneer
Scott Hazell Scott Hazell ... Student


In 2007 lecturer Richard Symes fell off a roof at the university where he taught and died. An open verdict was recorded but Brian feels that suicide was unlikely as Symes had just taken a whole load of books out of the London Library. Brian loves going undercover at the library ("It smells of books") where he is befriended by the Urquharts, a couple of elderly lecturers who knew the dead man. Symes' widow Paula tells Sandra her husband was regarded as a dinosaur and sacked by vice-chancellor Ventham,but he claims that Symes was stealing books from the university library to sell in Paula's shop,which Paula admits. Her young lover Tim was also part of the racket. Brian works out that the Urquharts are trying to locate one of the books Symes stole,a priceless first edition which he hid somewhere in the London Library. But several other interested parties are also after it - including the murderer. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Release Date:

17 September 2010 (UK) See more »

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[last lines]
Gerry Standing: Well, I'm going for a pint. You going to the library?
Brian Lane: I've had it with libraries.
Gerry Standing: Eh?
Brian Lane: They're full of weirdos.
Gerry Standing: I thought that's why you felt so at home.
Jack Halford: Anyway, they're a thing of the past.
Det. Supt. Sandra Pullman: Mm, really?
Brian Lane: [holding up ereader] This is the way forward. Linked to the Internet it allows me to access the world's literary culture from the comfort of my own armchair.
Gerry Standing: Cor, let's have a go. Can you play football manager on it?
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Row Row Row Your Boat
Nursery Rhyme
Performed by Children in Library
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User Reviews

Deadly literature
4 February 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always been a big fan of detective/mystery shows from a fairly young age, well since starting secondary school.

'Inspector Morse', 'A Touch of Frost', 'Midsomer Murders' (in its prime), 'Law and Order', 'Inspector George Gently', 'Criminal Minds', 'Murder She Wrote', you name them to name a few. 'New Tricks' has also been a favourite from the start (despite not being the same without the original cast in recent years). Although it can be corny at times (in an endearing sort of way) it has always been perfect for helping me relax in the evenings. Something that was needed during all the hard times endured in school.

"It Smells of Books" is an even better episode than the very promising season opener "Dead Man Talking". The case compels and surprises the entire time, and it is very difficult to not love Brian's role in the episode.

Visually, "It Smells of Books" is slick and stylish as ever. The music is a good fit and the theme song (sung with gusto by none other by Dennis Waterman himself) is one of the catchiest for any detective/mystery show and of any show in the past fifteen years or so.

Writing is intelligent, thought-provoking and classy, while also being very funny and high up in the entertainment value. This is all mixed adeptly with a seriousness without being overly so that it doesn't feel like 'New Tricks'.

A huge part of 'New Tricks' appeal is the chemistry between the four leads and their performances. The chemistry is so easy going and charming with a little tension.

One of the show's biggest delights is Alun Armstrong, achieves a perfect balance of funny comic timing and touching pathos which was maintained all the way up to his final episode. It is also lovely here to see his role in the team and skills appreciated more all the time. James Bolam's Jack is the quietest, most sensible (mostly) and most composed of the team, with a tragic personal life that Bolam portrays very touchingly without any overwrought-ness.

The only woman on the team, Amanda Redman more than holds her own in what is essentially the boss role of the four. Dennis Waterman brings some nice levity without unbalancing things.

Can't fault any of the supporting performances either.

In summary, wonderful. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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