AN episode of Channel 4 drama Shameless descended into chaos when South Wales Police swooped to arrest the lead actor at the wheel of a milkfloat.
Officers pounced when they mistook the comic capers for real life and arrested lead character Frank (Brian) Gallagher – who in the scene was driving a 20 mile per hour milkfloat while over the drink drive limit.
Events turned to farce yesterday, Monday June 20 when the force refused to admit it had made a mistake and Gallagher, a hopeless, work shy, drug dazed alcoholic dad of a feral brood in the show, was convicted of drink driving by a Cardiff court.
The TV crew had been filming in the city’s Pontcanna suburb, used for filming due to its resemblance to Manchester’s notorious Chatsworth Estate where the comic drama is set, as Gallagher swerved through residential streets narrowly avoiding parked cars at around 1am.
But like an increasing amount of the show’s viewers South Wales Police failed to see the funny side and raced to the scene and arrested Gallagher – who was then brought before the court.
Prosecutor Gareth McMahon told the hearing: “The officer followed the milkfloat at a distance. He described the vehicle as swerving from left to right across the road and only narrowly missing parked cars.
“After failing to stop at road markings, Gallagher was stopped by the officer.
“The officer said Gallagher fell from the milkfloat and staggered to the rear of vehicle to pick up a pint of milk.
“As the officer could smell intoxicants and from his observations he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving. When cautioned Gallagher replied, ‘Shit, I’ve forgotten my lines.'”
Gallagher, who defended himself at the hearing as he said he didn’t want to spend his money on expensive lawyers and drawn out legal proceedings, explained to Judge Sir Jeremiah Harman he was an actor filming a comic role and no crime had actually been committed.
But Justice Harman replied: “What is Channel 4?” and instead convicted Gallagher and handed him an 18 month driving ban and fined him £100. An order that he be transported to America for hard labour was revoked when the judge was told the sentence is no longer available to British courts.
After the case South Wales Police defended its actions. A spokesman said: “We don’t make mistakes.”