This Review was Written By Helen Taylor from Australia

Episode 52 - DEATH TRAP

Writer - Director - Producer

Writer - Stuart Hepburn

Director - Ian Madden

Producer - Eric Coulter

Additional Information

More pictures in the special 'Death Trap' Gallery


Regular Cast

Principle Characters

DCI Michael Jardine - James Macpherson

DS Jackie Reid - Blythe Duff

DI Robbie Ross - John Michie

DC Stuart Fraser - Colin McCredie

DCI Matt Burke - Alex Norton

DSI Valerie Patterson - Anne-Marie Timoney

Malcolm Innes - Lewes Howden

Penny Langham - Emma Currie

Finlay Maclean - Paul Blair

Johnny Innes - John Keilty

Sheenagh Bailey - Coral Preston

Liam Kennedy - Andrew Byatt

Marina Blackwood - Gowan Calder

ACC Benson - Stuart Hepburn

Bill Dawson - John Comerford


One of the most significant episodes in the history of the ‘Taggart’ series, this sees the death of one of the longest serving and popular characters and the arrival of a new lead.

Opening scene. Night time. A public meeting – local residents are protesting against an industrial development proposed by Councillor Malcolm Innes. Innes is chairing the meeting and advocating the development. As the meeting breaks up with much yelling from the local people who risk losing housing in the area to make way for the road and development, a petition is presented.

When one member comments that the petition is of little use – what they need is action – the man questions the speaker’s genuine belief in the opposition. ‘Johnny’ then hits him and is then restrained by others.

Johnny heads off home on his bike, watched by the earlier speaker. At home he checks his e-mails which include one from ‘A Friend’. This includes information which clearly excites him; plans of ‘the Armadillo’ – the venue for the launch of the development the following week.

As he shows his flatmate, she receives a phone call advising that Johnny should go to the window. Bemused, he does so… and is shot.

Next morning, DCI Michael Jardine arrives at the crime scene and is met by DC Stuart Fraser who tells him what they’ve established so far – the weapon was a high velocity rifle.

Michael enters the flat where DI Robbie Ross is with the body. Robbie tells him that the victim is Johnny Innes, a student.

The flatmate, Sheenagh, is at a neighbour’s down the hall. DS Jackie Reid is with her, trying to question her and is having some difficulty. Sheenagh is in shock and the neighbour is protective.

Jackie sends the neighbour out of the room and Michael tries. Sheenagh states that she doesn’t like the police. Michael turns on the charm, telling her that she’s not dealing with the police; ‘…you’re dealing with me and my name’s Michael’. It works; she softens a little and cooperates as best she can.

In the next scene, Malcolm Innes is showing the proposed site to what appear to be potential investors. He mentions that they’ve probably heard about protests ".. but that’s all been dealt with". His assistant, Penny, receives a call on the mobile phone and, looking very concerned, interrupts.

Back at the station, Michael is in the office of DSI Valerie Patterson. She is lecturing him about the sensitive nature of the case – the son of a powerful local politician being killed. The investigation must be done quickly and well.

On leaving the DSI’s office, Michael briefs the team and asks what they’ve found so far. Jackie notes that Johnny was heavily involved in the Community Defence League in direct opposition to his father, Malcolm Innes. Robbie advises that Johnny was thrown out of the meeting for fighting with another member, Finlay Maclean. Stuart advises that a car seen outside Innes’ flat was registered to a Finlay Maclean.

As the rest of the team get back to work, Jackie speaks with Michael at the evidence board. She asks him if he knows Malcolm Innes. "Yeah, I know him alright".

Robbie locate Finlay Maclean who denies being near the flat but admits to a difference if opinion on tactics. Robbie leaves and Maclean receives a call.

Jackie and Michael visit Malcolm Innes. Innes disputes any link between the shooting and opposition to his proposed development. As he moves to leave on further business, Michael makes a comment which infuriates him. "I never liked you, Mike. I remember why now".

Michael and Jackie then visit the street near the scene of the shooting where Stuart and a team are combing for evidence of a weapon etc. Michael is angry when Stuart tells him there has been a holdup with the ballistics testing; other cases given priority.

Michael then receives a call on his mobile phone "Watch your back, Mike".

Michael and Jackie meet up with Robbie who has been watching Finlay Maclean. Robbie advises that ‘the branch’ won’t release the files on the Community Defence League. Michael is angry at this. As Maclean leave his flat, Michael tells Robbie to tail him and "leave the branch to me".

Robbie tries to tail McLean but loses him.

When Jackie returns to the station, a man at the front counter, A Mr. Dawson, complains that he is getting no help from the police regarding a break in. She fobs him off; it is not her area – a job for uniform.

Also back at the station, Michael is in the Superintendent’s office protesting that "Special Branch won’t even release the files. He is furious about the lack of help from all quarters. The Superintendent says little.

Michael asks "Is there something I should know about,Val?"

"Leave it with me, Mike, please"

Later. A team briefing. Michael names Findlay McLean as the main suspect. Stuart advises that the report on the bullet isn’t being released to him and that he was referred to a DCI Burke.

"Who the hell’s DCI Burke? asks Michael

"I am" answers a man who has just entered the office with DSI Patterson.

"Mike, can we have a word please" says the DSI

In her office she advises Michael that she is replacing him as senior investigating officer – with Burke – due to what is viewed as his past relationship with Malcolm Innes. Michael is furious as it is clear that Innes, an influential councilor, is behind this.

Burke takes over, issuing orders and dismissing many of the theories they raise.

He tells Michael to check all the old files of Malcolm Innes to see what enemies he may have made. Michael is not impressed at being sent to sort through files.

Jackie goes to check on Michael and asks what’s going on. Michael explains that he and Malcolm Innes had clashed when they worked together many years earlier. Innes had made a file disappear – a psychiatric report which could have made a difference in a trial. Instead the man, Kennedy, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Jackie tells Michael that the team are ready to walk out but Michael tells her to give Burke a chance.

Back on the street near the murder, Stuart tells Burke that the type of weapon used was a sniper rifle used by NATO.

Jackie has discovered that Johnny Innes did have a girlfriend – the wife of an army officer.

Michael makes enquiries and is told that Liam Kennedy is still in jail.

A mobile phone is found during the search of the crime scene area. (It is later found that the last call made from the phone was to Johnny Innes)

Michael receives a call on his mobile from Sheenagh who tells him that she has something for him and arranges to meet in George Square.

Robbie interviews, Mrs. Blackwood, the soldier’s wife, who was involved with Johnny Innes. She advises that her husband is in Kosovo with the NATO peacekeeping force.

In George Square, waiting for Sheenagh, Michael receives another call. "Still watching your back, Mike?"

"Who is this?" asks Michael

"Trust no-one"

The call ends as Sheenagh arrives. She gives him a disk she’d taken from the flat before the police arrived at the time of the murder. She wonders if it has anything to do with why Johnny was killed. Michael asks about the CR written on the dick but Sheenagh doesn’t know and has no idea what is going on. She does say that Johnny didn’t trust McLean. As Michael examines the disk again, Sheenagh disappears. Michael tries to chase her but looses her.

Jackie advises Burke that Blackwood is still in Kosovo and is a chef in the army – hardly a suspect. She also says that Findlay McLean looks suspicious. All the referees listed in his application for his job at the centre are false. Burke takes the file from her, saying "Leave it with me"

Burke goes looking for Michael but he is not down in the basement checking files as expected.

Michael is up on the balcony with Jackie and Robbie who are complaining about Burke. Burke overhears and later when the team are in his office, Robbie and Jackie both tell him that they think he is wrong - they should be looking at McLean. Burke asks Stuart what he thinks. "A matter for your judgement, Sir". Burke basically tells them that he is in charge and they’ll do what he says.

Later an angry Jackie confronts Stuart about his response to Burke, seeing it as a lack of support for Michael . "Michael Jardine would walk over glass for you". Stuart tells her he thinks Burke is doing a good job. Jackie is NOT impressed.

Stuart is advised that the computer experts have established that the last email received by Johnny was from Findlay McLean. Before reporting it, Stuart tells Michael.

Michael, frustrated by sifting through files and seeing the investigation going what he sees as the wrong way, decides to do some investigating of his own. He goes to the community centre to find McLean. He is told that McLean is not there. He appears to drive away but pulls into another position further down the road and waits. When McLean leaves, he tails him. McLean pulls up at a deserted building and goes inside. Michael follows him in and is stunned to see that the person McLean is meeting is Burke.

Back at the station, Michael tells Jackie what he saw. He tells her he is reporting it to management. Concerned for him, she urges him to wait. He says he’s waited all of his career and "look where it’s got me – pushing files".

Michael does go to see the Assistant Chief Constable but when he is in the waiting area he hears Burke’s voice in the office. Furious, he bursts in to accuse Burke. He is surprised to find McLean there also. "McLean" is actually a police officer working undercover.

Later with Burke and McLean, Michael learns that they knew about his meeting with Sheenagh – there is a photo – as she was being watched.

At the station, Michael shows Burke the disk. Detailed plans of the Armadillo, where the project launch is to be, and information about the site – a former foundry.

DSI Paterson who is very annoyed with his recent activities sends Michael home. "What the bloody hell do you expect me to do with you?!"

Burke tells the team that McLean is not a suspect.

At home, Michael is bored and unhappy, listening to music. He lives his job and is not used to having time to himself.

At the community centre, McLean makes a discovery and leaves a message on Burke’s voice mail telling him that they need to meet - he’s discovered what CR stands for. He hears a noise and goes to see what is was.

He is confronted by a gray haired man – who knocks him out, takes the laptop and disk, and drags the body of McLean out.

Next morning, Burke gets the voice message and is alarmed when he can’t track down McLean.

Stuart has a call. There is a breakthrough – DNA on the mobile phone shows the caller, and the probable killer of Johnny Innes, is Liam Kennedy, a trained army sniper, formerly in jail but released two months ago. Robbie knows the name – Kennedy’s son died while he was in jail.

Burke decides that this is their big lead and he tells Stuart to get Kennedy’s file. Stuart tells him it’s not there – it was last signed out to Mike Jardine. The team search the office downstairs where Michael was working. Jackie finds the file in the desk drawer. It shows the investigating officer was Michael Jardine and the officer from the Fiscal’s office was Malcolm Innes. Kennedy had pleaded mitigation but a report got lost. Jackie recalls that Michael had told her this and that Kennedy blamed him and Innes.

Robbie reads the description, ‘long silver gray hair, 5 ft 6’, and says it matches the description of the missing man from the meeting – the one they hadn’t found to interview.

They quickly realise that Kennedy is probably still after Michael and Innes. Burke sends Robbie to Michael’s flat and he and Jackie will head for Innes.

Michael has been sleeping on the sofa and is woken by the phone. There is silence when he picks it up. His doorbell rings. Squinting and looking a little crumpled, he answers the door with "What are you doing here?"

Meanwhile, Innes is meeting with a constituent who wants to complain about the police (It is Dawson – the man who visited the police station some time ago).

Back at Michael’s flat Robbie, with Stuart, explains that Kennedy is out and probably looking for him. He also tells him that Burke thinks that he pulled Kennedy’s file and suppressed it. Michael is being suspended – Burke has sent Robbie to take his warrant card.

Burke and Jackie burst in on Innes’ meeting. They are there to see that he is okay – Kennedy hadn’t go to him yet. "We need to talk", Burke tells him.

As Jackie leaves, she sees Kennedy across the road. He pulls a gun from his jacket and shows it clearly, waving it in her direction, then gets into a car and speeds away just as Burke emerges from the building. A chase ensues.

Michael hands over his card to Robbie. Stuart comes in and advises of a call from Jackie; "a code 21". Michael throws on his jacket, determined to be part of it. There is much yelling but the suspended Michael is left behind as Stuart and Robbie join the pursuit of Kennedy. After a high-speed chase and much frustration as they are cut off, meet red lights and slow vehicles, the chase ends in the grounds of the old granary as Kennedy’s car hits a brick wall and bursts into flame.

Later, Jackie returns from the post mortem; ‘death from multiple trauma’ and just waiting on dental records for the final ID. Burke is not in a good mood – Innes is making complaints about his life being in danger.

Michael arrives for a meeting with Burke and they talk about the Kennedy case. They argue about recent events. Burke tells him that McLean is missing. Stuart comes in to tell Burke that the dental records show positive ID on Kennedy.

Burke calls a briefing, saying "All of you"

"I thought I was suspended" says Michael

"I’ve suspended it" is the reply

Burke explains to the team that Findlay McLean is an undercover officer and that he appears to be missing, as is the disk.

Michael and Burke go in search of Sheenagh and finally locate her. Sheenagh’s boyfriend is hostile but Michael manages to speak with Sheenagh and persuades her to give them the copy of the disk that she’d hidden. They leave and Burke sends Michael home, despite his protests.

Back at his flat, Michael, a well-known non-drinker, attempts to get drunk, but ends up pouring the contents of the bottle down the sink.

Robbie and Jackie look at the disk but are unable to find a link to Innes. Jackie starts "If Michael was here…" but Burke cuts her off, saying they should be able to work it out.

Michael, back in the basement going through the files, works out what CR stands for; ‘chromium’. He heads off to Innes’ place and the cleaner, thinking he is the new security person, lets him through. He doesn’t enlighten her. He rifles through the desk but is confronted by Innes and his assistant, Penny. Michael tells him that he knows about the chromium but Innes insists that the site has been cleared – and orders him out.

Michael visits a contact at a bank with bank statements he found at Innes’ office.. She confirms payments from Morrisons, the foundry people.

As Michael leaves the bank, he calls Jackie but gets her voicemail. He leaves a message; "I’ve got the good on Innes so phone me now". He immediately gets a call but it’s not Jackie. It’s a very distressed Sheenagh, wanting to meet. He’s reluctant but she hangs up. When he gets to the usual meeting place, his phone rings again, a male voice – his anonymous caller. "Hi Mike. It’s nearly time". He’s directed to a meeting under the railway bridge.

At the designated meeting place Michael paces in the dark. Sheenagh doesn’t arrive. Instead, when he turns at the sound of footsteps, he is hit and knocked over the railing into the dark water below.

The next morning Jackie arrives and checks her messages. She hears Michael’s message and tries to call. When she can’t reach him, she foes to his flat and is alarmed when she finds the door ajar, Michael not there, mirror smashed, and a bottle on the sink.

She calls Robbie. When he arrives, he doesn’t share her concern "So he went on a bender".

Jackie is disgusted "Oh, listen to yourself!"

Robbie is not convinced, putting this down to Michael’s reaction to being suspended. Jackie, however, goes to Burke and they take the taped message to the Superintendent. Burke wants to bring Innes in for questioning but she refuses "…. But you can go and see him at his place".

Burke, Jackie and Robbie go to Innes’ place and are surprised to learn that Michael has been there the previous evening. After arguments, Innes orders them to leave.

As they walk away from the apartment, they are met by a tearful Stuart who tells them he’s had a call from Langbank.

Down on the mudflats near the river, silhouettes against the gray sky, Robbie, Jackie and Stuart walk towards a body covered in a blue sheet. Jackie bends and peels the sheet back. In tears, she gently pulls leaves from Michael’s muddy face and strokes his hair as the others watch, also devastated.

Later they sit, hand in hand, on a riverside bench and watch as a van takes Michael’s body away. Burke starts to question them; "were there any signs". Clearly he thinks this was suicide.

Next morning, the Superintendent addresses the team briefly, mentioning how sorry she is and urging the team to continue working to find Findlay McLean but treading carefully in relation to Innes.

Jackie is distressed that it seems they are to just carry on. Burke tells her they have a job to do.

Innes’ assistant hears him on the phone and wonders if he is being completely truthful with her.

Down under the railway bridge, uniformed police are checking Michael’s car. Jackie is there and looks around the area. She questions the attendant in the fast-food van across the road. The woman remembers seeing a man near the river, walking up and down, but when Jackie shows her Michael’s photo, she doesn’t recognise him. The man she saw had long gray hair.

Jackie takes photofit to Burke but he isn’t interested and puts her concern down to being upset at Michael’s death.

Jackie has checked the video footage of the crash which ended the chase with Kennedy. She shows Robbie what she’s notice – a brief flash before the car hits the wall. But why?

They go through Michael’s desk and discover in the file on McLean, that he lived in the same area as the dentist who provided the record that ‘proved’ Kennedy’s identity. They visit the dentist and learn that his office was broken into. Both McLean and Kennedy were patients – were the files swapped?

Later, at an old building where McLean had been held, Jackie and Robbie explain their findings to Matt. The dental records were swapped, McLean was kidnapped and used in the crash to make it look like Kennedy was killed. Matt is upset – he feels responsible. He is determined to get Kennedy.

The team attends Johnny Innes’ funeral. The Superintendent and Matt try to convince Malcolm Innes to postpone the press conference to launch the development. He refuses.

Jackie visits Michael’s home. She finds the bank statements and his notes.

We see a tabloid newspaper front page with the headline ‘Death leap cop in drink binge – Secret double life of suspended detective’.

Jackie asks Stuart to find out who was the last person to call Michael’s phone.

Matt and Robbie visit the Armadillo to check on security for Innes’ press conference. They notice that one of the staff is the wife of the soldier they looked into earlier in relation to the gun used to kill Johnny Innes. She sees them and runs but is caught.

It emerges that she was in a relationship with Johnny Innes but realised that all he wanted was security code and details for the centre.

Jackie shows Burke what Michael had found – the building site was contaminated with chromium (CR) and it had been covered up.

Stuart receives a call – the last number to call Michael’s phone was Sheenagh. Jackie goes to see Sheenagh and finds that a man shoved his way into the flat, held a gun to her head and forced her to call Michael.

At the team briefing about the arrangements for the event at the Armadillo, it is clear that the intention is for Kennedy to be shot. Jackie doesn’t want this – if he is killed they will never know what actually happened to Michael. Superintendent Paterson tells her "Saving lives is more important than saving Mike’s reputation". Jackie is upset – she knows Michael didn’t suicide, that he was lured to the bridge and killed, and wants this proved. She walks out.

On the day of the press conference, the venue is surrounded by armed police. Matt accompanies Innes and Penny into the building via a rear entrance. Once there, Matt and Jackie tell Innes their plan for catching Kennedy. Innes isn’t willing to be the bait in the trap (but isn’t given much option).

At an entrance a workman in overalls arrives, is searched and let through by security staff (but we know it is Kennedy).

Kennedy makes his way to a toilet where he has hidden a gun in the back storage area. He then heads for the area where Innes is rehearsing the speech.

As he arrives, however, it is Jackie in the chair which swings around, not Innes. Kennedy, waving the gun, demands to know where Innes is but Jackie simply asks "Did you kill Michael Jardine?".

Kennedy comes closer, pointing the gun straight at her, and again asks her where Innes is.

Jackie is unmoved, "Tell me and I’ll give you Innes; what happened to Michael".

"He fitted me up and he paid for it!"

Jackie then tells him that it was Innes, not Michael, but Kennedy is not impressed. His son died and he is angry.

"Did you kill Michael"

"Yeah, I threw him in the Clyde"

Again Kennedy asks where Innes is and Jackie tells him Innes is on level three. He nods then cocks the gun, gesturing for her to go with him. She refuses, he threatens her with the gun, and forces her down the stairs and into the area where Burke and Innes wait. Burke steps in front of Kennedy and orders him to put the gun down. Kennedy pulls the trigger but the gun doesn’t fire. He’s grabbed by Robbie and arrested.

Innes is angry at being used and put in danger but Burke tells him the gun had been found earlier and the firing pin removed. He is still furious and tells Matt and Jackie that they are finished…..but Penny, the assistant and partner, tells him that it is he who is finished. (She has had enough of the dishonesty).

The episode ends in the cemetery at Michael’s funeral with Jackie addressing the assembled mourners. She tells them that Michael Jardine died as he had lived "a brave and honest man".

She describes him as the best friend she ever had; "I miss him more than I can say. The world seems just that wee bit darker somehow"

"So, Michael, wherever you are now, above or below, we loved you"

Then, as she dissolves in tears, "I loved you".

The final shot is of the plaque on the coffin –

Detective Chief Inspector

Michael Jardine

1961 – 2001


The cast and crew arranged a farewell party for James Macpherson following filming of this, his final episode. Blythe arranged for his favorite singer, John Martin, to be there. They sneaked John onto the set as James was filming a scene. He got quite a surprise when he turned around.

Blythe Duff admits to crying through most of the shooting of ‘Deathtrap’, sad at the prospect of having her friend and colleague of many years no longer part of the team. In one interview she is quoted as saying "We had Jardine's funeral to film which was terrible and I was quite emotional generally because I was organising James' send off and wanted to get it right".

In the documentary, ‘There’s Been a Murder’, screened around the 20th anniversary of Taggart, she describes the experience of shooting the episode as "Really, really emotional", and that there was "No acting required" when it came to the scenes where Michael’s body is found and at the graveside. She says there were around 14 takes of the burial scene, to get angles etc right, and she genuinely cried each time. The

make-up crew also comment on Blythe crying all the way through the episode.

‘Deathtrap’ was also the first episode for Alex Norton as Matt Burke. In the documentary, Alex says that he wondered if there may be some difficulty going into such a well established team but was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming everyone was.

The Armadillo - where Jardine's killer is finally captured

Langbank - where Jardine's Body is found on the mud flats

George Square - Where Jardine met Sheenagh

Railway Bridge over the Clyde - for further details visit the Locations Guide

This is a copy of the promotional postcard issued by SMG to advertise 'Death Trap'