(1987 – 2002)
“Michael Jardine died as he had lived – a brave and honest man.” These words were spoken by his colleague, Detective Sergeant Jackie Reid, at Jardine’s funeral. I would have also said that he was an honourable man.
According to the plaque on his gravestone, Michael Jardine was born in 1961.
Taggart fans first met him in 1987, as a lowly Detective Constable, in the Taggart episode The Killing Philosophy, and watched him move up the ranks to become a Detective Chief Inspector. His father was dead, but, at that time his mother was still living. In a conversation with Taggart, he mentioned his brothers but we were not told how many brothers he had.
Michael’s father had been a police sergeant and a friend of Jim Taggart, and Michael had chosen to follow in his footsteps because they ‘seemed to fit.’ When Taggart’s partner, DS Peter Livingstone returned from his holidays to find that Michael was part of the team, his displeasure was evident. While Taggart and Livingstone were from different worlds, and had never really ‘gelled,’ the newcomer was from the same background as his superior, and Taggart commented that he used to bounce Mike on his knee. Obviously jealous of Taggart’s partiality for Michael, Livingstone made the most of every opportunity to give the newcomer a hard time. He appeared to take distinct pleasure in Michael’s mortification when, during stakeout, he left the obviously homophobic young copper alone in a gay bar.
Livingstone moved on and Michael, promoted to Detective Sergeant, replaced him as Taggart’s ‘neighbour.’ However, when Livingstone returned for a brief visit some years later, it was obvious that the dislike was mutual and had not diminished, and neither man lost any opportunity to snipe at the other.
Michael’s father had been an alcoholic, and, after watching him ruin his life and career through drink, Michael had chosen to become be a teetotaller. When he revealed this to his boss, Taggart’s dismay was compounded by the additional the information that his young sidekick was also a practicing Christian. Though Taggart wasted no opportunity to make fun of Michael’s beliefs, he was (for him) amazingly tolerant of them. However, there were times when Michael’s slightly self righteous attitude, and his attempts to lecture Taggart on his eating and drinking habits, became more than the man could bear. In spite of their differences, the two men got along well, and, after Taggart’s death, his widow revealed to Michael that Taggart had thought of him as the son he could never have.
It was not always possible for Michael to reconcile the harshness of his job with his Christian beliefs, and as he moved up through the ranks, and there were times when he spoke or acted in a distinctly UnChristian manner. There were also several occasions when his naivety and compassion led him into trouble, such as when he was accused of rape by a woman whom he had tried to help and who had been hypnotised into believing that he had raped her.
After one disastrous bout in the witness box, when his beliefs were held up as evidence that he had persecuted a suspect, he was described in the press as puritanical and prudish. On another occasion, Jackie Reid described him as rigid and hierarchical, and even starchy Superintendent McVitie ordered him to “unbutton it a little” when his strait-laced attitude threatened the progress of a murder investigation within the gay community. His homophobic attitude was severely challenged when he discovered that DC Stuart Fraser was not only homosexual, but that he had had a relationship with one of the suspects in the case.
Shortly after he was promoted to DCI, Michael began showing the signs of stress. In a moment of frustration, when forced to attend a seminar instead of attending to what he considered the more important task of apprehending criminals, he commented to DC Stuart Fraser that the higher you climbed up the ladder, the more you lost track of the things that had made you want to do the job in the first place. He began to experience chest pains, and was diagnosed with angina.
Throughout his career, Michael had always striven to do what he considered the right thing; aside from a few lapses of judgement, he had always been pretty much a 'by-the-book' man. He was often exasperated by DI Robbie Ross, whose methods were questionable, to say the least. However, with Ross, as with DC Fraser, he did not allow his prejudice to interfere with the way he carried out his job, and eventually he came to respect both men, and in turn to be respected by them. His attitude to his subordinates was best summed up by Jackie Reid, in the episode Death Trap, when she commented to Fraser, “Michael Jardine would walk over glass for you!”
Michael’s relationship with Jackie Reid was enigmatic. They met when Jackie joined the team when she was a DC and Michael was a DS and had been close friends ever since. There were occasional hints that the relationship might be taken further, but neither Michael nor Jackie ever made a move. On one occasion, when another officer made lewd comments about Jackie and vulgar inferences about their relationship, Michael punched him so hard he fell off his chair. It is indicative of his honourable nature that when reprimanded by McVitie, Michael refused to give an explanation for his actions.
On Michael’s part, the reluctance to take their relationship further might have been due to the fact that Jackie was a co-worker and his subordinate, or that he did not want to risk their friendship by making a play for her.
DI Ross, however, held no such scruples, and, when he made advances to Jackie, a quiet rivalry seemed to develop between the two men. When Jackie married Brian Holmes, Michael was genuinely happy for her, but his happiness seemed tempered by a hint of wistfulness.
(Comment: In one interview, James Macpherson, who played the role of Michael Jardine, commented that he felt that Michael did not really want Jackie, but he did not want anyone else to have her…)
A tee toller and non-smoker, women seemed to be Jardine’s only vice – usually with disastrous results for him. Jardine was phenomenally unlucky, romantically. From his first appearances as Jim Taggart's sidekick, he seemed to be notoriously bad at choosing his romantic partners. If not involved in the crime as either victim or perpetrator, the women eventually let him down in other ways. Only two women seemed to be as loyal and caring as he. Jackie Reid and WPC Heather McIntyre, with whom he seemed to be about to start a relationship, shortly before his death. At first, Michael seemed reluctant to initiate a relationship with Heather, possibly for some very good reasons – he was her superior, and he had been badly ‘burned’ by women several times in the past. However, with a little ‘nudge’ from DI Ross (or perhaps in spite of his interference) the pair finally seemed to be getting it together …
Michael had always been loyal to both his superiors and to his subordinates, and assumed that this loyalty would be returned. When he was removed from a murder investigation for political reasons, at the request of an old enemy, and relegated to checking files, he was furious. Disillusioned by the lack of support from his superiors and convinced that his replacement, DCI Burke, was leading the investigation in the wrong direction, he decided to follow his own line of inquiry. Warned by Reid that he should wait before taking any action that could ruin his career, he commented, bitterly, that he had been waiting all his career, and “look where it got me!” His actions brought him into conflict with Burke, and with his superior, Detective Superintendent Val Patterson, and put him on a path that lead first to suspension and then to his death. One of the very few times he went against the establishment, he paid with his life.
This profile was written by Teresa who is the founder of www.jamesmacpherson.com.