Last month marked the 20th anniversary of seminal US drama series The Wire. 

Described by the BBC as “the greatest TV series of the 21st century”, over the course of five seasons it took a forensic look at the people and institutions of Baltimore, Maryland.

The sprawling series delved into the city’s police, drug corners, docks, political systems, schools and journalism.

Despite never being a ratings topper, it found a huge following on DVD and is now considered one of television’s greatest ever accomplishments.

READ MORE: Transport cops warn alcohol is BANNED from trains as variety of booze seized

Creator David Simon went on to achieve further acclaim for the likes of Treme, The Deuce and The Plot Against America, but he seemed destined to never match the seismic cultural impact of The Wire. 

With the release of ‘Transport Polis: Carryout Confiscators’, however, Simon may just have painted his masterpiece.

Hailed by critics as ‘an unflinching look at the reality of briefly leaving your shopping on display on a ScotRail train’, the gritty drama has gripped viewers with such dramatic storylines as the time transport polis confiscated an unopened bottle of Buckfast and the time transport polis confiscated an unopened half bottle of Buckfast.

READ MORE: Huge haul of alcohol seized from Ayrshire beaches as heatwave hits

Who can forget the nail-biting interrogation scene in which a commuter repeatedly denies his offence until being confronted by a WhatsApp screenshot reading: “FIFA night at mine if you fancy it m8. Pick up a couple of cans if you’re coming”? 

And then there are the iconic quotes like “I’ve got my shopping, you’ve got my Buckfast. It’s all in the game though, right?”


In scenes not witnessed since Line of Duty’s finale, the entire nation watched together on Sunday night to find out if the unopened bottle peeking out of that M&S bag on the train was Prosecco (banned) or Nozeco (fine, presumably). 

We sat down with Simon to discuss the show’s origins, his next project and the on/off relationship between ‘Male Polis Who Is Definitely Proud Of Spending His Days Like This’ and ‘Female Polis Who Absolutely Joined The Force To Do This Kind Of Thing’’.

David, what inspired ‘Transport Polis: Carryout Confiscators’?

“Although I had weighty ambitions for The Wire, ultimately it was a piece of entertainment, and so when it came to depicting police work I focused on fairly trivial matters. I’m talking about storylines like Detective Kima Greggs taking two bullets while working undercover to secure arrests within the murderous Barksdale drug gang, or Major Howard ‘Bunny’ Colvin sacrificing his career for the greater good by creating ‘free zones’ within which drugs could legally be sold in order to ensure the safety of the wider community.

“That kind of thing was all fun and games, but as the show’s 20th anniversary approached I started to contemplate my legacy and began seeking out something meatier. 

“One day I was aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, becoming increasingly disillusioned by tweets about the weather, Liz Truss and a bizarre long-haired Scottish comedy character called Neil Oliver, when I stumbled upon a since-deleted tweet from the British Transport Police West Scotland

“It read: ‘We want everyone to enjoy the sunshine, but a reminder if travelling by train that alcohol is currently prohibited on @Scotrail services. Officers across the west coast are working with @Scotrail and @PoliceScotland to ensure you get to where you are going safely’.

“They also added the hashtag #SaferShores and a picture of two transport polis proudly showing off their haul of unopened booze. I thought to myself ‘Why have I never heard of these heroes? Their inspiring stories must be told’. 

“Having spent years as a journalist prior to my TV work, I began investigating and found a tweet from ScotRail which confirmed ‘our alcohol ban remains in place…You can’t carry visible alcohol - open or unopened on ScotRail services’.

“Finally, someone brave enough to tackle the scourge of unopened alcohol abuse”.

What’s your ultimate aim with the show?

“I want to expose the brutal reality of top-level policing and ask the big questions that others are scared to ask”.

Questions like?

“What would happen if a guy brought four bottles of Corona onto a train for a bit?”

Your show is a hit with the public and critics, but have you had any negative feedback?

“Surprisingly, yes. Some people have said ‘this is too far-fetched. Confiscating unopened bevvy is a massive waste of time and not something actual police do’. 

To them I ask, ‘could you relax on a train journey knowing there were not one but EIGHT bottles of Birra Morretti in a Sainsbury’s bag across from you?’”

Will we see that on/off relationship go any further?

“All I’ll say is high-end police need to let off steam after a hard day spent tackling cold cases…of Dark Fruits.”

Can you tell us what you’re working on next?

“It’s another show about Scotland’s trains. This one’s called ‘Sorry To Announce’.”

‘Transport Polis: Carryout Confiscators’ is on Sky Atlantic every Sunday at 9pm

NEXT WEEK: We meet the creator of Succession, the hit HBO drama in which a Scotsman spends decades ruthlessly building a multibillion-dollar media empire in order to afford a pint at TRNSMT.