Look up "old school copper" in the dictionary, and you may well see Jim Taggart's grizzled, unsmiling face glaring back at you. He might not win any points for warmth and charm, but that's what makes Taggart perfectly suited to his environment. After all, when you're dealing with vicious serial killers, brutal gangsters and corrupt politicians, you need to give as good as you get. Having worked his way up from being a beat copper, Jim has taken his lumps and developed a hide like a rhinoceros. And, while he might be hard to work with, his fierce sense of justice means he's one man you can always count on in the darkest times.
As Taggart's right hand man, Peter Livingstone has one of the toughest jobs in the force. And we're not referring to the grisly cases he works on. No, he also has to deal with his boss's grumpy demeanor and belligerent attitude, because this is a pairing that doesn't exactly see eye to eye. Peter is a product of university education, with a degree in History and Economics no less, and - unsurprisingly - Jim Taggart doesn't have much time for his smooth, smart, fast-tracked, clever clogs underling. The fact that Peter likes to wear his university scarf while on duty probably doesn't help things either...
Softly spoken, sweet natured and boyishly charming, Stuart Fraser is a bit of an odd-one-out in Taggart-land. On top of that, he also happens to be gay, which is no easy thing in the macho, sometimes prehistoric-seeming world around him. Fortunately, most of his colleagues are breezily accepting of his sexuality, particularly Jackie Reid, who is fiercely protective of Stuart and is a bit like his big sister. Even the time they both fancy the same bloke doesn't tarnish their burgeoning friendship. Stuart also has an unlikely, banter-filled bromance with suave ladykiller Robbie Ross. More on him in a moment.
Criminals should beware whenever Jackie Reid's on the scene. Not only is she a brilliant cop who doesn't rest before cracking a case, but she also knows how to handle herself in a fight. Trained in close combat, she's been known to re-arrange the shape of bad guys' faces if they get too close. She also has a tender side, as you can see when she has to help the victims of crime, or whenever she's hanging out with Stuart. And then of course there's her intense friendship with Mike Jardine, which keeps us on tenterhooks with every knowing look they exchange.
After Taggart's tenure, it's Mike Jardine who steps up to fill his shoes. He's quite a different proposition to his predecessor. Young, handsome, dashing... Yet just as fiercely dedicated to his job as Jim ever was. There's something of the haunted romantic about Jardine - a kind of angst you can just see in his eyes - and that makes us worry about his wellbeing as he gets obsessively entangled in some very nasty cases indeed. Luckily, Jackie Reid is there to keep him grounded, and the two have a beautifully touching friendship. It's just a shame Jardine takes a bit of time to get used to Stuart's sexuality.
Ah, Robbie Ross. The ladykiller of Glasgow (not literally - those are the ones he catches). Tall, dark and always clad in sharp suits - much to the mocking amusement of some fellow coppers - Robbie is the James Bond of the team. Unfortunately, his appetites for seduction and sex can get him into hot water, especially when he cavorts with women involved in various criminal cases. His vices also include gambling and drinking, and he even gets suspected of being a crooked copper. On the plus side, Robbie is a decent, good-hearted, if flawed detective, and even the level-headed Jackie Reid can't help falling a bit for his charms.
Years after Jim Taggart went off to that big police station in the sky, we get a virtual reincarnation of the great man in the form of Matt Burke. Unlike Robbie, Jardine and the like, Burke is a gruff old dog of a cop - the kind of hard-bitten detective Jim Taggart would have respected. That being said, Burke has a refreshingly liberated outlook and treats everyone fairly - even if he is a little too fond of taking the mickey out of Robbie's flashy suits.