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Crime Traveller
Crime Traveller opening sequence
Format Crime, science fiction
Created by Anthony Horowitz
Starring Michael French
Chloë Annett
Sue Johnston
Paul Trussell
Richard Dempsey
Bob Goody
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 8
Producer(s) Brian Eastman
Running time 50 minutes
Original channel BBC One
Original run 1 March 1997 – 19 April 1997

Crime Traveller is a 1997 science fiction detective television series produced by Carnival Films for the BBC based around the premise of using time travel for the purpose of solving crimes.

Anthony Horowitz created the series and wrote every episode. He got the idea while writing an episode of Poirot. Despite having over eight million viewers on a regular basis, Crime Traveller was not renewed after its first series, because according to Horowitz, "The show wasn't exactly cut. There was a chasm at the BBC, created by the arrival of a new Head of Drama and our run ended at that time. There was no-one around to commission a new series...and so it just didn't happen." Other sources cited at the time that the BBC was concerned by a steady decrease in viewing figures from 11m to 7m by the end of the show's run, and feared viewing figures would continue to decline if the series was recommissioned.



Jeff Slade is a detective with the CID department of the local police force led by Kate Grisham, although unusually for such a position he is an armed officer; carrying a handgun as routine. Slade is a good detective who gets results although his approach is somewhat maverick and his methods do leave a lot to be desired and have more than once landed him in trouble. Amongst Slade's colleagues at the department is science officer Holly Turner who has a secret that Slade manages to uncover. Holly owns a working Time Machine that was built by her late father. The machine is able to take Slade and Holly back far enough in time to witness a crime as it happens and discover who committed it. As a result Slade's track record with crime solving goes through the roof with case after case being solved in record time.

Rules of time travel

The rules of time travel in the series are as follows:

  1. The time machine sends the traveller back in time by a random interval. Usually this is about a day but it may be as little as a few minutes or as much as a week. (N.B. In the final episode of the series it is found that the length of time travelled back can be controlled by altering the length of the photon rods; this is discovered by the research company Webb Biotech, who have also invented a time machine). However long you go back for, you must live through that time again (see rule 6).
  2. You must not meet yourself in the past. It is not clear what would result if you did, but it is presumed the consequences would be dire.
  3. You cannot change the past. One of the results of this restriction is that the effects of the time traveller's journey back in time are already visible "before" the journey is made.
  4. You cannot exist more than twice in the same time frame. If you try to go back a second time, the machine will simply fail to operate.
  5. When "in the past", you must get back to the time machine by the time you "left". Otherwise, you will be trapped in a "loop of infinity". This is what happened to Holly Turner's father.
  6. The time machine never travels into the future. Holly tells Jeff in the first episode "You can't travel into something that doesn't exist."


Character Artist Role
Jeff Slade Michael French Detective and the only person other than Holly who knows about the time machine.
Holly Turner Chloë Annett Forensic scientist whose father invented the time machine, which she keeps and adjusts in her apartment.
Kate Grisham Sue Johnston Slade's irritable boss whom, thanks to his methods, he is constantly getting on the wrong side of.
Morris Paul Trussell Slade's slow-witted colleague, who usually takes the credit for his success.
Nicky Robson Richard Dempsey Posh, intelligent but naive trainee detective, too helpful and trusting for his own good.
Danny Bob Goody Janitor at Holly's apartment block, who is constantly having to deal with the power outages caused by Holly and Slade's use of the time machine.


# Title Director Original Airdate
1 "Jeff Slade and the Loop of Infinity" Brian Farnham 1 March 1997 (1997-03-01)
Jeff Slade's world is turned upside down when he discovers his friend Holly has a secret. She can travel in time. 
2 "Death in the Family" Rick Stroud 8 March 1997 (1997-03-08)
When Holly's Aunt Mary is murdered, she and Slade travel back to find out who is responsible, only to be arrested for the crime herself. 
3 "Fashion Shoot" Brian Farnham 15 March 1997 (1997-03-15)
Fashion designer Sonia Duvall has been receiving death threats and despite all the efforts of Slade and the team, is shot on the catwalk, but Slade and Holly soon discover all is not what it seems. 
4 "The Revenge of the Chronology Protection Hypothesis" Rick Stroud 22 March 1997 (1997-03-22)
When Slade is shot during an investigation Holly goes against everything she's ever believed, and goes back in time on a seemingly hopeless quest to save him. 
5 "Sins of the Father" Rick Stroud 29 March 1997 (1997-03-29)
Slade's father's former partner is leading the departments latest case and both Slade and his father find their pasts coming back to haunt them. 
6 "Death Minister" Brian Farnham 5 April 1997 (1997-04-05)
Holly takes Slade to task over his dependency on the machine and begs him to try and solve his latest case in the normal way. Temptation proves to much for Slade however and he uses the machine without Holly's knowledge. 
7 "The Lottery Experiment" Brian Farnham 12 April 1997 (1997-04-12)
To apologise for using the machine without asking Slade hatches a way to win the lottery for Holly to finish the machine. He goes back in time, gives the numbers to Holly, she buys the ticket and bingo. The ticket can't fade away as Slade, the time traveller didn't buy the ticket. However straight forward it sounds in theory putting it into practice proves much harder. 
8 "The Broken Crystal" Rick Stroud 19 April 1997 (1997-04-19)
The most expensive and most vital part of the machine breaks meaning Holly and Slade's time travelling escapades are over, permanently. Slade however has more pressing worries when an old boyfriend of Holly's appears on the scene. 

Jeff Slade

(Played by Michael French) Slade is not what could be described as a conventional detective. His style is maverick to say the least and he is more prone to go on instinct rather than cold hard facts. This approach invariably gets him in trouble with his superiors but nine times out of ten they will result in an arrest. Slade clearly enjoys his job and is very dedicated to it even though his attitude sometimes suggests otherwise. He was inspired to join the police because of his father Jack who was a highly respected detective himself until his false arrest and imprisonment for theft in 1992. Jeff took this very hard as he had always admired his father and refused to believe he was capable of such a thing following such a distinguished 30 year career. Slade was once married but very little is known about how long he was married and indeed how the marriage ended but it is thought that his wife died as he keeps a picture in his flat of a girl he tells Holly is now dead. Outside work Slade tends to keep himself to himself and rarely if ever socialises with colleagues such as Morris and Nicky. His only real friend at work is science officer Holly Turner. They have clearly always been on friendly terms but it is suggested that before her telling him about the machine they didn't socialise outside of work. Since his finding out about the machine the two have become a lot closer and spend a lot of time together outside work. It is hinted throughout the series that Slade is attracted to Holly but for whatever reason he has never seen fit to tell her how he feels. As well as making them closer personally their use of the machine has also shown that professionally they are a very good team and together they have solved several crimes including who set up Slade's father five years before and getting him released.

Holly Turner

(Played by Chloe Annett) Holly is the daughter of Professor Frederick Turner a prominent physicist whose specialist field was that of time travel. After years of research and work, Turner was able to develop a working time machine. Turner used the machine to carry out experiments on time and the laws and rules by which it abides, such as 'you can't change the past' and 'time won't allow paradoxes'. The only other person Turner ever told about the machine was his daughter Holly. When Turner failed to return to the machine in time on his last trip and was trapped in a loop of infinity, Holly took over work on the machine and continued to maintain and perfect it to continue his experiments. In order to do this Holly needed money and as she didn't dare apply for a grant for fear of someone discovering the machine. So she went to work for the CID as a science officer and it was here that she met detective Jeff Slade. The two were friendly from the start but when Holly used the machine to help Slade out after a case had gone badly wrong and got Slade in trouble, Slade found out about the machine. This resulted in their relationship becoming closer and they began spending time together outside work. Holly is clearly attracted to Slade as he is to her but like him she chooses to not to reveal this to him, probably because she thinks that if the machine were not around then Slade wouldn't give her a second glance. Like Slade, Holly tends to keep herself to herself, possibly more so than he does because she is so terrified that someone may find out about the machine. Whilst she feels that Slade relies to much on the machine to solve his cases, she does seem to like the fact that she now has someone to talk to about the machine and she no longer has to keep all the financial worries that it's upkeep brings completely to herself.

The Machine

The Time Machine was invented by Professor Frederick Turner. The machine has been cobbled together from various different pieces of electronic equipment over the years and has a distinctly home-made look about it. Turner built the machine in the living room of his flat in Sundown Court where he lived with his daughter Holly and presumably at some stage his wife. Holly is the only other person he ever told about the machine. The most vital component for the machine is the electro-magnetic crystal which is in the heart of the machine, unfortunately it is also the single most expensive part of the machine, Turner had to sell his house in order to buy his. The machine can only travel backwards in time as it is not possible to travel into the future which doesn't exist and it can only go back as far as few hours into the past, though it could in theory take you back a week. Attached to the machine is a time piece which has a small analogue clock and a digital countdown display. This indicates how far back the machine has taken you and how much time remains until you are back at the time you left. This time piece can be removed from the machine and placed in a watch which the time traveller can use to carry it round with to remind them of how much time is left. The time piece must be replaced in the machine before the countdown reaches zero otherwise the traveller or travellers will be caught in a loop of infinity constantly living out the same few hours that they travelled back in time. This is what happened to Frederick Turner. The machine is now maintained by Holly and she is the only person to know about it until she tells her friend and colleague Jeff Slade.

See also

  • Quantum Leap, an American science fiction show involving time travel to fix the past; this often involves crime solving.
  • Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd century, an American cartoon featuring a revived Sherlock Holmes and a robotic Dr. Watson.
  • Life on Mars, a BBC crime drama in which through an accident a police detective goes back in time to the 1970s.
  • Seven Days, an American science fiction show in which a government-controlled machine can send one man a week back in time, though the expense means that it is only used to avert serious disasters; this can involve stopping criminals or terrorists.
  • Timecop, a 1994 science-fiction film starring Jean Claude Van Damme as a time-travelling police officer.

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