Created By Robert Banks Stewart
After wigging out and destroying a £500,000 computer, EDDIE SHOESTRING, a scruffy computer expert (and, it’s hinted, a former asylum inmate) lands a job at a Bristol radio station as a phone-in host, a sort of “private ear”, who solves callers’ problems. It doesn’t sound like much, but Shoestring is generally regarded as one of the best, and one of the most popular, British private eye shows of all time. And having seen a few episoes, I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun, with a sort of Rockfordish quirkiness to the proceedings.
Emotionally unstable, described by his creator as “twitching, maniac and irreverent”, Eddie somehow manages to solve the callers’ problems, everything from missing persons to the most mundane matters.
Eddie’s MO was strictly low-key. A few Columbo-style by-the-ways, a little informal chat or two “round the pub,” and an impression he was barely paying attention, more intent on doodling caricatures of whomever he was speaking with in his notebook. Yet somehow his tossed-off casualness got results.
Not for Eddie the machine-gun toting gangsters and high-speed car chases of most PI shows. In fact, even his car was unpredictable. A second-hand Ford Cortina, it too was no stranger to breakdowns. Yet somehow, Eddie (wonderfully played by Trevor Eve) perseveres, and his radio show becomes a hit, much to the delight of formerly skeptical station boss Don Strachey.
But perhaps the biggest mystery of all was how Eddie, with his nebulous moustache, scruffy manner and carefully tousled doofus haircut, was considered quite sexy back in the day. If he looks familiar, Eve played Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd in the BBC series Waking the Dead. In an unnamed south-western city, former computer programmer Eddie Shoestring is recovering from a breakdown by hosting a show on Radio West and doing some private investigator work. Things begin to look up when he combines the two to offer the services of a ‘Private Ear’ on his radio slot. It’s the cue for a wide range of adventures over two series, in which Eddie always comes up trumps. Here’s the show’s intro.
Creator Stewart, left in the lurch when Trevor Eve left the show after only two seasons, turned around and created the even more successful (but a lot less interesting) Bergerac.
- There were also two spin-off books: Shoestring (1979) and Shoestring’s Finest (1980). Both were by Paul Ableman (1927-2006), and both were initially released in hardcove. The first serves as a sort of “origin story” and adapts the pilot episode and “Stamp Duty.”. The second is an original story. They’re both very enjoyable, and the first book is so well done that if you didn’t know otherwise, you might imagine that it was the inspiration for the TV series! By the way, Paul Ableman was an avant garde novelist and respected screenwriter who wrote novelisations for the BBC in order to supplement his more personal stuff. Unfortunately, he became better known by the public for these works, rather than his original novels.”
— Helen Hughes
21 60 minure episodes
Created by Robert Banks Stewart
Starring Trevor Eve as Eddie Shoestring
with Michael Medwin as Don Satchley
Doran Godwin as Erica Bayliss
Liz Crowther as Sonia
- Series One (1979)
- “Private Ear” (September 30 , 1979)
- “Knock For Knock” (October 7, 1979 )
- “Higher Ground” ( October 14, 1979)
- “An Uncertain Circle” (October 21, 1979 )
- “Listen to Me” (October 28, 1979)
- “Nine Tenths of the Law” (November 4, 1979 )
- “The Link-Up” (11 November 1979)
- “Stamp Duty” (November 18, 1979 )
- “Find the Lady”(December 2, 1979 )
- “The Partnership” (December 9, 1979 )
- “I’m a Believer” (December 12, 1979)
- Series Two (1980)
- “Room With a View” (October 5, 1980 )
- “The Teddy Bears Nightmare” (October 12, 1980)
- “Mocking Bird” (October 19, 1980 )
- “The Mayfly Dance” (October 26, 1980 )
- “The Farmer Had a Wife” (November 2, 1980)
- “Utmost Good Faith” (November 9, 1980 )
- “Looking For Mr. Wright” (November 16, 1980 )
- “Another Man’s Castle” (December 7, 1980)
- “Where Was I?” (December 14, 1980 )
- “The Dangerous Game” (December 21, 1980 )
- Shoestring (1979; by Paul Ableman) | Buy this book
- Shoestring’s Finest (1980; by Paul Ableman) | Buy this book