A NEW ERA
For many years, New Tricks was an open and shut case - at least in terms of the central characters, and the various dynamics in place (and by "dynamics" we mean "grumpy bickering between old farts"). But things are now very, very different. Admittedly, the biggest change happened towards the end of season 10, when UCOS boss Sandra Pullman bowed out of proceedings. So we've already got to know her replacement, Sasha Miller, a little bit already.
However, series 11 is Sasha's first full run as the bigwig, so it has its own flavour right from the start. Sasha is still relatively new to the office, and memories of Sandra very fresh - at least among New Tricks fans. It's fascinating to see the subtle differences in her approach to the twin tasks of cracking cold cases and b) being a sort of long-suffering schoolteacher to a class of rebellious OAP detectives. Oh, and in series 11 she'll also be forced to work alongside estranged ex-husband Ned, which should be... interesting.
LAST MAN STANDING
Series 11 has an especially poignant air for Gerry Standing fans (and that's all of us, right?). This is the last full series to feature the gloriously old school, weather-beaten, no-nonsense detective. Not only that, but he's also the last remaining member of the original New Tricks posse, so - despite technically being the longest-serving member of UCOS - he's almost like a fish out of water in his own team.
As well as featuring plenty of vintage Standing moments (just the sight of him rolling his eyes is enough to make anyone smirk), the series also delves into his past a bit more. One episode following him as he returns to his native Bermondsey to attend his daughter's wedding, and also gets embroiled in the murder of an old friend's grandson.
VERY COLD CASES
Amid the soul searching, cheeky banter and trips down memory lane (no pun intended, Brian), series 11 also gives us some suitably juicy cases for the team to get stuck into. One of them stems back to a real-life event in British history: the Greenham Common protests of the early 80s, when thousands of female activists descended on an RAF base to protest nuclear missiles being stationed there. The UCOS boys have to unravel a potential police cover-up relating to the protests, and it'll be fun to see how Gerry Standing copes with swotting up on a landmark moment in feminist history.
The series also features the death of a film critic which may or may not be tied to bizarre, subterranean occult practices in London, and then there's the curious case of a Roman sword which is linked to the discovery of a headless corpse near an airport. Never a dull day with this lot, eh?
In true New Tricks tradition, series 11 also features a number of famous faces. The most important addition is Tracy-Ann Oberman, familiar to most us for her roles in EastEnders and Doctor Who. She's a star who specializes in playing strutting, sharp-tongued types, and she brings all of her usual bite to the role of a forensic pathologist who makes Dan Griffin's eyes do that heart-shaped thing you see in cartoons. Not literally.
Look out as well for veteran star Niamh Cusack, the member of the Cusack acting dynasty who once ruled teatime telly in Heartbeat. And there's also Amy Nuttall, the beautiful and talented star of Emmerdale and Downton Abbey... and Celebrity Shark Bait. But the less said about that the better.