TV Week: “I teach the actors to be good cops!” Blue Heelers 9th December 2000

TV Week
9th December 2000

Blue Heelers’ police adviser Sgt Geoff Stiles makes sure the boys and girls of Mount Thomas do everything by the book!

FOR most cop shows, drama takes precedence over reality, but for Blue Heelers its a different story.

With the actors wearing the real Victorian Police uniform, every effort is made to ensure that the Mount Thomas coppers are following exact procedure. And the man responsible for making sure these part-time police look like the real thing is the show’s police adviser Sgt Geoff Stiles.

To be employed as an adviser, officers have to attain the rank of sergeant. Originally, the job was for 12 months. However, Geoff, a police officer with 24 years experience, has recently been made permanent – something he says is a bit of a disappointment to other officers interested in such an unusual job.

“It’s an interesting job and I really enjoy it,” Geoff says. “I advise on current procedure and make sure the guidelines that the Victoria Police follow are in use during the show.

“I attend all the story, production and director’s meetings and go on the set. I read the draft of the script and make notes on things like police slang. But you have to be mindful that it’s a TV show and you’ve got to allow for a little dramatic licence.”

While Geoff overlooks some things for the sake of dramatic licence, he also gives each new Blue Heelers cast member some police training in the form of an orientation fortnight.

“During those two weeks, they’ll attend training where they learn how to use firearms, capsicum spray and a little bit of self-defence. They also go to the police academy and detective school and, of course, talk to a lot of real-life police officers.” He explains.

Aside from making sure the actors know how to handcuff their “criminals”, Geoff also offers suggestions for upcoming episodes.

“Some of the things that have been on the show are things that have happened to me. I’ve been a policeman for 24 years and you see a lot of things. Some of my tales end up as part of an episode,” he says.

Geoff has to keep his hands-on policing skills honed, too, and part of his job is to complete six weeks active service a year.

“It’s to keep up-to date with procedure and to make sure I don’t miss the small things you would miss if you were away too long.”

Even though Geoff says the Mount Thomas police station is a good example of life in a small-town “nick”, he admits if he was in charge of running it he would be volunteering for early retirement.

“It’s a pretty busy place and a pretty scary place, but as far as the day-to-day running of a police station goes, it’s exactly how it is,” he ays. “It’s pretty realistic, and the cast do a good job at being country coppers.

“But I wouldn’t have their job as an actor a million dollar. It’s a very hard job!”

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