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TV: B is for...

Black and Blue Lamp, The

TIME-MEDDLING POLICE-THEMED one-off BBC play by Arthur Ellis (not the It’s a Knockout scoremaster, sadly) with a premise you may have seen elsewhere. The scene opens in black-and-white on a technically nifty recreation of the finale of 1950 black-and-white “just good coppering” celluloid chestnut The Blue Lamp (the one which ushered George “Evening all” Dixon into the world – and promptly killed him off); but then, after a few minutes, the action switches mid-sentence to colour and the present day, with both Dixon’s murderer and his by-the-book escorting constable somehow transported forward in time into Bill-style 1980s cop drama ‘The Filth’, replete with bent pigs, foul mouths and knuckle sandwiches. Much confusion ensues, understandably. Someone, somewhere, may have been taking notes.

One of the best of the Beeb’s Screenplay offerings, not least for how, after roughing up a suspect using items of office equipment, one proto-Burnside detective delivers the immortal line: “Wipe that in-tray off your face”. Comic coda shows the time travellers’ ’80s counterparts likewise thrown back into a lovely old ’50s tea-and-jam-buns-in-the-cells cop shop, culminating in the vintage final exchange: “The DCI’ll want to give you a grilling!” “What does he think I am, a fackin’ sausage?”



  1. Arthur Nibble

    May 24, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    That’s six months in the clink, you played your joker, double it up to a year!

  2. pessoa

    May 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Yes I remember this-1980s postmodernism in action. Featuring the admirable Kenneth Cranham, then appearing in Shine On Harvey Moon. But has this ever been broadcast since? What chance of a re-release? A BBC4 replay perhaps?

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