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Cops, private eyes and criminals on UK TV: realism, grit and 'noir'

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  • Cops, private eyes and criminals on UK TV: realism, grit and 'noir'

    Earlier this year I started the topic Spies and camp melodrama: the James Bond meme on British TV:

    https://www.britmovie.co.uk/forum/li...-on-british-tv

    Now I would like to move away from the Bond meme and look at other less flashy crime shows. It seemed to me as the 1970s advanced the Bond meme, with its fantasy and glamour, was over, and the crime series became more gritty and realistic, and sometimes more sinister and 'noir'. I only have vague memories of some of the 1960s shows, so I invite you to join in and describe and maybe categorise the programmes you remember.
    Last edited by garth; 11th August 2019, 09:18 AM.

  • #2
    One series I briefly remember from 1968 was Spindoe. Ray McAnally was suitably chilling and amoral in the role. I can't find any excerpts on YouTube or anywhere else, unfortunately. I just have this vague memory of Spindoe climbing some high place and either falling to his death or being shot - presumably by the police - and then falling to his death. That I found quite satisfying, as I regarded the character as cold, cynical and evil. Do any of our members remember this series?

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    • #3
      I used to enjoy Bergerac in the 1980s, particularly for its Jersey scenery. This I find hard to categorise. Often it veered on the fantastic or even very occasionally slightly Bondy side. Other times it was somewhat grittier. John Nettles played Bergerac beautifully, though, and I always thought of him as a fully rounded character.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by garth View Post
        I used to enjoy Bergerac in the 1980s, particularly for its Jersey scenery. This I find hard to categorise. Often it veered on the fantastic or even very occasionally slightly Bondy side. Other times it was somewhat grittier. John Nettles played Bergerac beautifully, though, and I always thought of him as a fully rounded character.
        I used to like watching Bergerac myself. I don't really remember that many shows from the 60's, but the 70's had their fair few cop shows - in particular I loved The Professionals and The Sweeney. I'm trying to think of some more obscure police-based shows I liked - I'm sure some will come to mind eventually.

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        • #5
          I must admit I liked neither The Professionals nor The Sweeney. Each to his own, of course, but they were good examples of the trend towards grittier realism and away from glamorous types such as Jason King.

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          • #6
            I remember Shoestring (dating back to the late 70's) with Trevor Eve about a cop who also had a radio show. For some reason, I don't have much recollection of any individual episodes, but I just remember it being on at the time.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-I1QqM29pg

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            • #7
              I only vaguely remember it. I think it was played as low-key and realistic. I do remember that the girls at the time fancied Trevor Eve!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by garth View Post
                I only vaguely remember it. I think it was played as low-key and realistic. I do remember that the girls at the time fancied Trevor Eve!
                To be honest Garth, I don't think it was around for very long anyway - maybe a couple of years. But it's quite a contrast talking about the grittier stuff like The Professionals and something less so like Bergerac. I think the latter was originally shown on a Sunday evening, which I guess would have been a nice way to wind down the weekend.

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                • #9
                  That's true. I was looking at all the non-Bondy stuff, but maybe Bergerac doesn't quite fit my topic title here.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by garth View Post
                    That's true. I was looking at all the non-Bondy stuff, but maybe Bergerac doesn't quite fit my topic title here.
                    I think Bergerac sits well in this thread. It might not be very gritty stuff, but I wouldn't label it as being 'flashy' as the Bond films or any of the other 60's spy movies.

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                    • #11
                      On the realistic but also 'soapy' side was The Bill. My father, who was from Newcastle, used to love this programme. When I moved away from Newcastle to Croydon, and my father first visited me, I wondered how he would manage outside his usual locality. I forgot that he had done his National Service in Dover in the late 1940s. He had been in the RAF but drove lorries, etc., all over the South-East. He was always chuffed to see parts of Croydon that he recognised from The Bill. On one occasion he abruptly ended a phone call to me with 'Aye, whatever!', explaining that The Bill was about to start. I wondered where he'd picked up the Americanism 'Whatever!' at the age of 76, but apparently it was from his 6-year-old granddaughter.

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                      • #12
                        I quite liked The Bill for the first few years, but somehow I just gradually went off it and in the end I stopped watching it altogether - as you say, it seemed to be turning more and more into a soap. It's great that your father recognises some of the locations used in the show. As for saying "Whatever".......kids these days, eh. I guess I'd find it just as funny if my father suddenly came out with that, as I've never heard him ever say it.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Carl V View Post
                          I remember Shoestring (dating back to the late 70's) with Trevor Eve about a cop who also had a radio show. For some reason, I don't have much recollection of any individual episodes, but I just remember it being on at the time.

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-I1QqM29pg
                          Shoestring ended because Trevor Eve wanted to move on to other things so its creator, Robert Banks Stewart, came up with Bergerac as a replacement.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Odeonman View Post

                            Shoestring ended because Trevor Eve wanted to move on to other things so its creator, Robert Banks Stewart, came up with Bergerac as a replacement.
                            So Mr Stewart created both. They are very different in feel. Bergerac I always enjoyed, Shoestring never did it for me.

                            I have some vague memory of Trevor Eve playing a baddie - maybe a murderer or serial killer - in a one-off programme, I believe.

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                            • #15
                              John Nettles was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with so many different actors in each episode of Bergerac (and later Midsommer Murders). He played his part brilliantly.

                              But there is one episode of Bergerac that always haunts me. It was a supernatural themed story in which Barrie Inghams character is visited by the Grim Reaper. It was broadcast way before the watershed and to my mind was really quite scary. His character was trapped inside his car and burned alive.

                              Margaretta Scott and Ron Pember were in the same episode.

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