Sunday, 18 February 2018

"He says they've all got shooters.."

"He says they've all got shooters.."

Episode Ten saw us finally getting around to 'Dixon Of Dock Green' and it wasn't difficult to select the episode we wanted to concentrate on...

'Firearms Were Issued' was a story I knew quite well as it had been repeated in 1986 as part of the BBC's 'TV50' celebrations, sandwiched between 'The Goodies: Kitten Kong' and 'The Best Of Dick Emery'.

Additionally, Warren had taped it offair with his old Betamax machine, which we later connected up to my VHS via the aerial socket to make a second copy. I still can't get used to seeing this one without snow all over the picture.

The recent DVD releases of 'Dixon' have concentrated on the colour years (though a B&W volume would be very welcome, too!) and finally let me get a better feel for the series. But with less than 10% of the original run surviving in the BBC archives, it will always feel a little elusive. Only the final  Series (22) exists complete, and 'Doctor Who' fans might like to look at the vast sea of red that represents the 60s and early 70s if they're feeling brave!

If you want to know the plot, ask a policeman as Warren was able to bring a valuable perspective to the way the events of this episode were portrayed. Actor Nicholas Donnelly in particular was praised for his depiction of Sergeant Wills, exuding an air of down-to-earth professionalism.

Any show always benefits from a turn by Cyril Shaps (who should have had his own range of Brandy Snaps) and he's got a memorably lairy dressing gown on.

'Dixon' is sometimes dismissed as being a poor relative to 'Z Cars', but this episode deals with some interesting material and watching it a month or so after 'The Sweeney' makes for a useful contrast. As we say in our article, director Vere Lorrimer adopts an understated style of direction which at times comes across as more realistic than the knowingly played-up gung-ho of Carter and Regan. Both approaches have their merits, of course; they provide different flavours to the menu of crime drama.

Writer N.J. Crisp was an old hand at 'Dixon' and is rightly confident in what he's doing. The phrase "they've all got shooters" raises a smile these days, but that only adds to the fun. It's a thoughtful episode that doesn't go they way you'd expect and that can only be a good thing.

There's an impressive amount of film work on the episodes that survive, which now document areas of London that have long since changed beyond recognition. But 'Dixon' for me is at its best when mixing film and studio work in that grand old BBC tradition.

The DVDs are still available, so why not take a visit to Dock Green nick?

(By Andrew Trowbridge)

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