COLOSSUS OF small screen blue light institutions, dreamed up by the great TROY KENNEDY MARTIN as a response to “tame” DIXON OF DOCK GREEN, only to see it drag on right through to, incredibly, a post-SWEENEY late 70s graveyard. Early years the best, with crazy “live” transmission policy meaning tense, rough and ready edge to scenes and dialogue, plus plentiful reliance on the old “out the rear window” back projections. DCI Charlie Barlow, aka STRATFORD JOHNS, was number one bad bastard cop, aided by “nice” FRANK WINDSOR (DS John Watt) and BRIAN BLESSED (PC William “Fancy” Smith), with PCs John Weir (JOSEPH BRADY) and Herbert Lynch (JAMES ELLIS) completing unique titular patrol combo. Much acclaimed depiction of force as “real people”, i.e. drunks, gamblers, wife-beaters, but inevitably tame compared with later decade displays of rank-filled vice and corruption. Switched from 50 minute eps to twice weekly 25 minute doses in 1967, when Johns and Windsor left for SOFTLY SOFTLY and were replaced by JOHN BARRIE (DI Sam Hudson) and JOHN SLATER (DS Stone). Proto-soap format didn’t work, however, so it was back to the 50 minute affairs from ’71. Passing through Newtown Station over the years were COLIN WELLAND (PC Graham), STEPHEN YARDLEY (PC May), GEOFFREY WHITEHEAD (DS Miller), ALISON STEADMAN (WPC Bayliss), GEORGE SEWELL (DI Brogan), JUNE WATSON (WP Cameron), JOSS ACKLAND (DI Todd) and several constabularies’ worth of extras. JOHN THAW was a trainee copper; JUDI DENCH a teenage runaway; TERENCE EDMOND drowned while saving a young boy; LEONARD ROSSITER was a foul-mouthed temporary boss; KENNETH COPE and IAIN GREGORY hammed it up as “the notorious Hancock brothers”; PATRICK TROUGHTON served as a local councillor; PAUL DARROW thieved and PATSY KENSIT blubbed. All crowned with peerless whistle-along theme “Johnny Todd” by Johnny Keating.
Z is for…
POST-NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE drama, but then they all were then. A lone girl survivor (PIPPA HINCHLEY) in the Welsh middle-of-nowhere finds ANTHONY “SEBASTIAN” ANDREWS as symbolic stranger. Then not a lot happens. Apart from numerous shots of Andrews dragging his survival kit behind him. Again, only those unlucky enough to be taught it at school had read the original book.
TV CREAM SAYS: Z FOR WHAT?
The genesis of SWAP SHOP, according to Noel, in the shape of a weekly half-hour live phone-in discussion for kids every Wednesday throughout June and July of 1975, concentrating on a different topic each week. They were: Appearance, Friends, Parents, Pocket Money, School, Fears, Fashions, Brothers & Sisters, Pets, and, er, Friends again. Already with an eye for a recyclable format, the man Edmonds was soon fashioning the chattiness and discussion elements into a “What’s your question for Toyah?” and “What have you got to swap?” agenda. Cheers Noel!
TV CREAM SAYS: "REMEMBER THESE? PRE-DECIMAL COINS!"
EDUCATIONAL KIDS’ pot pourri presented by SHEELAGH “DO IT” GILBEY with a different subject each “term” – Eskimos, “the future”, knights, and so on. Top “All right class, get your topic books out!” school project-based, pre-National Curriculum craziness.
TV CREAM SAYS: ZAPPY METALLIC TITLES ALONG WITH RADIOPHONIC WORKSHOP-BASED VOCODER THEME WAS BEST BIT
DON’T WORRY, we’ve nearly finished. TOM O’CONNOR fronted this none-more-pointless 5.15 weekday ITV quiz, based around signs of the zodiac, predictably enough. Even more predictably, RUSSELL GRANT was on hand, but not even he could see that the whole thing was doomed from the start. There was also a Through The Keyhole-style mystery guest, who would be sitting round the back, but superimposed into the studio utilising the worst CSO process outside the BBC sci-fi department.
TV CREAM SAYS: YOUR FORECAST: DISMAL
SATURDAY MORNING cartoon linking device featuring a talking pinball machine of that name which played pinball, showed film clips and cartoons, including the home grown (and barely animated) space serial Skayne, Bevis and Sabor. The Radiophonic Workshop supplied the voice, Janet Ellis’ dad made the pinball machine, and ALI BONGO provided the magic salt. Either inspired, or insipid.
You might also want to see... Saturday Mornings.
TV CREAM SAYS: "ZOKKO - SCORE - ELEVEN...SERIAL." DING!
ROLLOCKING RESISTANCE capery wherein four French veterans reunite 30 years on to sweep the Riviera streets clean of loitering Nazi war criminality. Casting of the kind only capable by Lord Lew found none other than JOHN MILLS leading the charge as Tommy Devon, codename Elephant, aided by BRIAN KEITH, BARRY MORSE and LILLI PALMER. Eponymous moniker was their old World War Two “handle”, revived for contemporary do-goodery and subsequent other “acts” of, well, social justice. Only lasted six episodes. Theme tune, thanks again to the golden Grade touch, by Macca. And his missus, officially.
TV CREAM SAYS: BAND ON THE RUN
SHORT-TROUSERED LOOK-AT-THIS be-caged business initially hosted by fearsome anthropological fellow DESMOND MORRIS. Kids shielded from all naked apery, however. Later helmsman CHRIS KELLY oversaw regionally-tactful switch from London Zoo to Chester Zoo, conveniently just in time for the latest franchise renewal round.
TV CREAM SAYS: "THIS...IS A FLAMINGO...AND THERE...IS ANOTHER ONE..."
HMMMM, WELL, yes. Hawaiian dolphin research labs, complete with absent-minded professor and his lil’ daughter, have adventures with headset-enhanced dolphin of title. Mischevious monkey also featured. Filmation effort. Overtaken rapidly by animal welfare attitudes.