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Cracker Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Why is it called Cracker?


A:  Because Fitz "cracks" cases and people. In the past there has been plenty of Cracker related banter on the internet newsgroups giving different suggestions as to the show's title but the truth is the title really does speak for itself. It's also referred to twice during the series in 'The Big Crunch' when Fitz says to DCI Wise "I'll crack him....I know I can" and Penhaligon asks Fitz "What made you so sure? That he'd crack?" after they finally catch Kenneth Trant out.


Q: How many Cracker stories were actually made?


A: A total of eleven Cracker stories have now been made between 1993 and 2006. The majority of the stories were made up of either two or three individual episodes (each individual episode lasted on average 50 minutes), with the exception of the 'White Ghost' and 'Nine Eleven' movie length specials. Seven of the stories were written by series creator Jimmy McGovern, three written by Paul Abbott (who also produced Series Two) and one was written by Ted Whitehead. 


Q: When was Cracker first screened?


A: The first ever episode of Cracker ('The Mad Woman In The Attic' Part 1) hit British telvision screens on the 27th September 1993 and was made by Granada Television. It ran as a series up until 1995, with a one-off special screened in late 1996.


Q: Why did Jimmy McGovern stop writing Cracker during the third series?


A: His reason was that he felt Cracker was driven by "big issues" and that there wasn't enough of those left to write. Understandably, he probably also wanted to work on other film and television projects. 


Q: Which actor was the original choice for the role of Fitz?


A: It was actor Robert Lindsey. Jimmy McGovern's original description of Fitz was of a "thin, wiry man" so it made perfect sense that they then offered the role to Robbie Coltrane! But it is now impossible to imagine anyone else in the role other than Coltrane. He IS Fitz. 


Q: Is Cracker available to buy on DVD yet?


A: Yes. The full series was finally released on DVD (Region 2 format) on May 12th 2003, available to buy as a box set or you can purchase each story individually. The Region 1 release quickly followed - but not as a box set. Each series has been released individually. Sadly, neither the Region 1 or Region 2 formats include any extras, deleted scenes or commentaries. Cracker is also still widely available on VHS format.


Q: Are the Cracker novelisations still available to buy?


A: Yes, and no. I don't think they have been fully deleted but I think they are now out of print by the original publishers Virgin, but are still obtainable through various bookshops and websites or the ever reliable eBay! The novels, if you can obtain them, are a definite must for any Cracker fan. They are based on the original scripts and in some of them it definitely does show. 'Mad Woman In The Attic',  'Men Should Weep' and 'Brotherly Love' are in particular quite different from the final televised versions and in some respects are actually better - lots of extra dialogue in places, a lot of extra scenes involving Fitz and Penhaligon and Fitz and his family and a few slightly different endings (such as the final scenes in 'Brotherly Love'). 


Q: Why does Fitz call Penhaligon "Panhandle"?


A: I don't really know the exact answer to this - believe it or not it's never really explained in any of the episodes or the novelisations. Half way through 'Mad Woman In The Attic' he just starts calling her Panhandle. I have always presumed it was Fitz making a play on her surname because I cannot think of any other reason for it, but i may well be wrong. But he does use the nickname continuously throughout the series and rarely ever calls her Penhaligon or Jane. 


Q: Why doesn't Fitz drive?


A: This is an interesting one. Fitz tends to just get driven about everywhere by Penhaligon but his reasons for never getting behind the wheel? In the book 'The Truth Behind The Fiction' by John Crace (a book charting the making the series) there is a outline of the character of Fitz by McGovern who says this about him - "He doesn't drive. When people ask him why he says it's because he's never been sober enough but the truth is he's never trusted himself behind the wheel of a car - its just too tempting to put your foot down and close your eyes and gamble that you won't hit anything before you've counted to twenty".


Q: Did Penhaligon actually ever resign?


A: No she didn't. Or so we're lead to believe in 'White Ghost' by DCI Wise's announcement that she's been promoted to an Inspector, which is what she always wanted from the beginning. 


Q: Who killed Timothy Lang in 'One Day A Lemming Will Fly?'


A: Unfortunately, we never do find out. But that's the great thing about that Cracker story because in many ways it was very different from the other stories. We're use to knowing who the criminal is from the very beginning of their respective stories, whereas 'One Day A Lemming Will Fly' leaves you wondering just who the killer was. It was also the perfect example in that for all Fitz is great at his job and he's super-intelligent, even he gets it all very wrong sometimes.


The Unofficial Guide To Cracker 1999-2006