Saturday, 18 February 2012
Sun Hill's Finest - Remembering Tosh Lines!
I loved The Bill and make no apologies for it and I loved the wonderful, legendary Tosh Lines played by the equally wonderful Kevin Lloyd. Amiable DC Alfred Lines, known simply as 'Tosh', was the heroic failure of Sun Hill. He was an instinctual copper, a decent man who understood human weakness because his home life was a happy, difficult, muddle-and-make-do existence. But no superintendent would ever dream of transferring him. He could smell a liar, and his clear-up rate was the best in CID.
When Tosh arrived at Sun Hill in 1988 from a station in Essex he already had problems that weighed him down. He was in his late thirties, unlikely to be promoted because he never seemed to care that much about his career progress. He didn’t look like a tough crime-buster. He stood at just 5 feet 7 inches tall, was a little on the chubby side – probably because he was always munching snacks on the job. And he was, frankly, scruffy. He seemed to have one suit, one shirt (which he wore Monday to Friday), one tatty old raincoat. It all matched his car, an ancient Volvo which kept breaking down. More to the point, he had a wife, Muriel, too large a mortgage, caused by too many children – three girls and two boys – for a constable’s pay.
He was however a good copper - and always had a ready smile that went right up into his eyes. He was second to none when it came to solving cases, which was why the likes of Burnside were happy to overlook his sartorial shortcomings and to protect him from any flak from above. He reacted strongly when accused of lacking ambition: he did care about his work - but he also cared deeply about his family. He was once offered the chance to go work in Northern Ireland. Burnside had put him up for it because he thought Tosh needed the money. Tosh turned it down – it would have put him at risk and then where would his family have been?
At one stage, to ease his money problems, Tosh took in a student lodger, which was against Met. rules. The young man got into trouble. Sergeant Penny, Custody Officer at the time, discovered this and, rather than turn a blind eye to it, sent a report ‘upstairs’ as a result of which Tosh was carpeted. He survived, of course. He was far too good at sniffing out villains for a sniffy little man like Penny to put down. In the end, Tosh left Sun Hill in 1998, accepting a position in the Coroner's Office.