My Favourite Police Series

Z-Cars was a TV drama series centred on the work of mobile uniformed police in the town of Newtown, (based on Kirkby in the outskirts of Liverpool.) Produced by the BBC, it ran from 1962 until September 1978. It was one of the very, very few police series that I ever watched – as, being an ex-cop, I can’t stand the rubbish that purports to resemble real-life policing. Frankly, I loved the programme.

The main characters were Stratford Johns (Inspector Barlow), Frank Windsor (Det.Sgt Watt),

James Ellis, Robert Keegan (Sgt Blackitt), Joseph Brady (PC “Jock” Weir) and Brian Blessed (“Fancy” Smith).

The Police Federation complained bitterly about the content of the programmes, but within two months of the show going on air it was attracting an average audience of 14 million viewers. The Z-Cars theme tune was arranged by Fritz Spiegl from the traditional Liverpool folk song “Johnny Todd” and is also used as the anthem for English football club Everton and is played at every home match as they walk onto the pitch at Goodison Park.

Just like ‘Z Cars’ had made ‘Dixon’ look old and dated so ‘The Sweeney’ had the same effect on a show that had, by the late 1970’s, very much outlived what public taste was now demanding, and in 1978 it became a case of ‘Z-Victor 1, out’.

In a 2000 poll to find the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes of the 20th century conducted by the British Film InstituteZ-Cars was voted 63rd. It was also included in the 40 greatest TV shows published in Radio Times in August 2003.

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