Monday, June 1, 2015


 For several years I toyed with the idea of inducting British detectives Barlow and Watt into the Television Crossover Hall of Fame in June, as they were the perfect example of a pair, like the Gemini twins. But there were two reasons why I kept putting it off. One - something always came along that intrigued me more when it came to writing up that particular month's entries. But now that I'm dedicating this year to British nominees, I no longer have any excuse.

The second reason is that I really don't know very much about these two detectives, having never seen any of the shows in which they appeared. So if you'll please forgive me, the following list of the reasons why they deserve entry into the TVXOHOF is a compilation of Wikipedia articles about each show.

'Z-Cars' or 'Z Cars' was a British television drama series centred on the work of mobile uniformed police in the fictional town of Newtown, based on Kirkby, Merseyside. Produced by the BBC, it debuted in January 1962 and ran until September 1978.

The series differed sharply from earlier police procedurals. With its less-usual Northern setting, it injected a new element of harsh realism into the image of the police, which some found unwelcome.

'Z-Cars' ran for a total of 803 episodes, of which fewer than half have survived. Regular stars included Stratford Johns (Detective Inspector Barlow), Frank Windsor (Det. Sgt Watt), James Ellis (Bert Lynch) and Brian Blessed ("Fancy" Smith). Barlow and Watt were later spun into a separate series Softly, Softly.

The spin-off 'Softly, Softly' focused on the regional crime squad, and ran until 1969, when it was again revised and became 'Softly, Softly: Taskforce', running until 1976. The character of Barlow (Stratford Johns) was one of the best-known figures in British television in the 1960s and 1970s, and was given several seasons of his own "solo" series, 'Barlow at Large' (later just 'Barlow') between 1971–75. He also joined Watt (Frank Windsor) to re-investigate the Jack the Ripper murders for a six-part series in 1973. This led to another spin-off, 'Second Verdict' in which Barlow and Watt looked into unsolved cases and unsafe convictions.

'Softly, Softly: Taskforce' is a police based drama series which ran on BBC 1 from 1969 to 1976. A revamp of 'Softly, Softly', itself a spin-off from 'Z-Cars', the change was partly made to coincide with the coming of colour broadcasting to the BBC's main channel. The main characters, Detective Chief Inspector Barlow (Stratford Johns) and Detective Inspector Watt (Frank Windsor) were promoted to control of 'taskforces', a new (at the time) development in regional police divisions wherein expertise and manpower could be drawn together when needed for special operations. Joining them from 'Softly, Softly' would be DS Harry Hawkins (Norman Bowler), also on promotion. The stories were set in the fictional south-eastern English borough of Thamesford (played by the City of Rochester and the Medway area), where the team were under the baleful eye of Chief Constable Cullen (Walter Gotell).

The programme was due to be called 'Taskforce', but the BBC were reluctant to sacrifice a much-loved brand and so a compromise was reached; it became 'Softly, Softly: Taskforce'.

The continuing storyline of the series saw Barlow widowed in 1972, after which he was headhunted by the Home Office to work on special cases (this became the series Barlow at Large). This left the way clear for Watt to come out of Barlow's shadow and take command in his own right, with the reliable assistance of Hawkins. Regulars included Terence Rigby as PC Snow (the dog handler, with his dogs Inky and Radar), David Lloyd Meredith (Sgt Evans) and Walter Gotell (Chief Con. Cullen).

'Barlow at Large' is a British television programme broadcast in the 1970s, starring Stratford Johns in the title role.

Johns had previously played Barlow in the 'Z-Cars', 'Softly, Softly' and 'Softly, Softly: Taskforce' series on BBC television during the 1960s and early 1970s. 'Barlow at Large' began as a three-part self-contained spin-off from 'Softly, Softly: Taskforce' in 1971 with Barlow co-opted by the home office to investigate police corruption in Wales. Johns left 'Softly, Softly' for good in 1972, but returned for a further series of 'Barlow at Large' in the following year, Barlow having gone on full-time secondment to the Home Office. This second series, rather than telling one story in serial form, as the 1971 series had, was instead ten 50-minute episodes, each with a self-contained story (this would be the format of all subsequent series). In this series, Barlow was supported by Norman Comer as Detective Sergeant Rees, who had been helpful to him during the first series. He also had to deal with the political machinations of the senior civil servant Fenton (Neil Stacy).

In 1974 the series was renamed 'Barlow' and a further two series of eight episodes each followed, introducing the character of Detective Inspector Tucker, played by Derek Newark. The final episode was transmitted in February 1975. The Barlow character was seen again in the series 'Second Verdict' in which he, along with his former colleague John Watt (Frank Windsor), looked into unsolved cases and unsafe convictions from history.

'Second Verdict' is a six-part BBC television series from 1976, of dramatised documentaries in which classic criminal cases and unsolved crimes from history were re-appraised by fictional police officers. In Second Verdict, Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor reprised for a final time their double-act as Detective Chief Superintendents Barlow and Watt, hugely popular with TV audiences from the long-running series 'Z-Cars', 'Softly, Softly' and 'Barlow at Large'. 'Second Verdict' built on the formula of their 1973 series 'Jack the Ripper' in which dramatised documentary was drawn together with a discussion between the two police officers which formed the narrative. 'Second Verdict' also allowed for some location filming and, when the case being re-appraised was within living memory, interviews with real witnesses.

'Jack the Ripper' is a six-part BBC television drama made in 1973, in which the case of the Jack the Ripper murders is reopened and analysed by Detective Chief Superintendents Barlow and Watt (Stratford Johns and Frank Windsor, respectively). These characters were hugely popular with UK TV viewers at the time from their appearances on the long-running police series 'Z-Cars' and its sequels 'Softly, Softly' and 'Barlow at Large'. The programme was presented partly as a discussion between the two principals in the present day, interspersed with dramatised-documentary scenes set in the 19th century. The experiment was seen to be a success, and the formula was repeated in 1976 with 'Second Verdict', in which Barlow and Watt cast their gaze over miscarriages of justice and unsolved mysteries from the past.

  • 'Z Cars'
  • 'Softly, Softly'
  • 'Softly, Softly: Taskforce'
  • 'Barlow At Large'
  • 'Barlow'
  • 'Second Verdict'
  • 'Jack The Ripper'

Not a bad run for a couple of coppers......

Welcome to the Hall, Gents!

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