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.
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Jess Cully writes, “Nicki French was certainly our singer the last time the Contest was held in Sweden, but the host city then was Stockholm. The Contest is huge in Sweden and none of its major cities would be allowed to hog the Contest by hosting it twice in a row, hence the choice of Malmo this year. If Sweden wins it again in the near future, expect us to be either back in Stockholm or in Gothenburg.” Indeed, but even though we’ve not enjoyed it quite so much since the Beeb stopped making the scoreboard and got its logo on it every few minutes, we’re still there ready to enjoy the spectacle, and it seems like Graham Norton, for our money probably the best light entertainment presenter on TV at the moment, has been doing this forever.
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Points of View
- In 'Knowing Me, Knowing You… With Alan Partridge', Applemask says: "It’s happening. Deal with it."
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