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
For the first time in a while, two consecutive episodes, so it’s a completely different line-up to the last time and some belated debuts for Ian Dury and Sham 69 who we’d have otherwise seen two weeks ago, in a classic Pops juxtaposition with another Cilla flop and the first appearance of a record that, even skipping all the Savile and Travis episodes, you’re going to hear a hell of lot over the next few months.
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Points of View
- In 'Sixty Minutes', Applemask says: "Complete failure on the graphic designers’ part to make the letter S look like the number 60."
- In 'Xerxes', Applemask says: "Xerxes himself is now the founding leader of the pro-prohibition Liquor Party, who came thirteenth in the last Swedish General Election. Good fact."
- In 'Jonny Briggs', Applemask says: "Could never understand a word these Northern people were saying. Nothing to do with Mike Baldwin either."
- In 'Jimmy Will Fix It', Applemask says: "Jim’ll Fuck It"
- In 'PICK OF THE DAY', Gerry Dorrian says: "He was a classic on TotP with the girls, wasn’t he?"