Most whodunnit lovers have no clue about what they are watching. Sure, we probably think it’s odd that the sleepy villages of Midsomer should have quite such a brutally high body count. But we are not yelling at our TVs when a Scottish detective reads a suspect his English rights or a forensic scientist examines a crime scene with no gloves.

So what do real police officers think of the crime dramas that choke British channels?

“Most crime dramas aren’t realistic and can be frustrating to watch,” admits one serving constable, Ayleigh Kirk. However, like several colleagues she picked out hit BBC2 'procedural' show Line of Duty, starring Martin Compston. "It's actually rather realistic to our jobs, with good story lines that are believable, and great acting."

READ MORE: Why Scottish police see crime writers as a way to tackle crime

Chief Superintendent Mark Hargreaves agrees. "I’m not sure that there is a TV show covering policing that accurately portrays the job.

"However, for pure entertainment value only, I like Line of Duty. While nothing like real policing, nevertheless the issues raised can be related to some of the things we look at."

Some officers strongly dislike some of Britain and Scotland's classic sleuthing series, and not just because they see enough blood and guts at work. Veteran detective, the now retired John Carnochan says he hated Taggart, The Bill and The Sweeney as "stereotypical nonsense". But Mr Carnochan loved America's The Wire for "great observation on crime and the causes of crime that is applicable everywhere". His appreciation for the cult series about Baltimore is not unusual among officers.


The Wire

But not everybody who catches killers and crooks wants realism on their screens. Some like telly which shows a drive to get the bad guy, such as ITV's Prime Suspect and Frost. “It’s going back a bit but (Helen Mirren) or Jack Frost (David Jason) were big favourites," confesses Detective Inspector Allan Elderbrant, "just for their determination and how personal they took their investigations."

HeraldScotland: Helen Mirren in her role as DSI Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect

Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect

Det Supt Gordon McCreadie, who heads Police Scotland's domestic abuse taskforce, feels the same way about the BBC's Luther: "In addition to some questionable techniques, he has real tenacity and a dogged determination to ?solve the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice."

They can take a ribbing, police officers. Mr Hargreaves is one of many who like BBC Scotland mockumentary Scot Squad. "It highlights in a very light hearted way some of the actual issues faced in policing,' he says.

HeraldScotland: scot squad.jpg

Scot Squad

Former cop - and current Green MSP - John Finnie thought another comedy, Rowan Atkinson's Thin Blue Line was "a good reflection of policing values". The politician also loved the "real earthiness" of Z Cars. But Mr Finnie, like thousands of youngsters, was "traumatised" by the shooting of Inky, the police dog in a 1970 episode of Softly, Softly. He went on to be a police dog handler.

Retired chief super, Niven Rennie, like so many, prefers US shows. "UK ones turn me off as I spend the majority of the time saying 'that would never happen', he explains. (Mr Rennie admits, however, a soft spot BBC Scotland's Shetland).

Tom Nelson, Scotland's head of forensic services, adored Quincy, ME, as a youngster while Detective Superintendent Gail Johnston, who now heads the National Offender Management Unit, prefers Cagney and Lacey. "It made me want to join the police," she says.

Just one more thing: The man ultimately in charge of Scottish policing, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, also loves a US classic: Columbo.