Saturday, 2 January 2021


Though never crossing over to the American television market as perhaps ahead of its time with its franker portrayal of the consequences of crime and its toll on law enforcement in police procedurals, Z Cars—premiering on BBC1 on this day in 1962—ran for an impressive twelve seasons, clocking just over eight hundred episodes (though sadly fewer than half are believed to have been preserved) and launched a few spin-offs.
Inspired by a childhood convalescence imposed on the script-writer spent monitoring the radio bandwidth reserved for patrols (hence the title) and set in a badly ageing seaport, fictionalised but based on any number of real places in the North, one of the first series with a regional flavour, it starred Stratford Johns as chief inspector with deputies Frank Windsor, Brian Blessed and James Ellis with numerous guest stars joining the cast and notable cameo-appearances. The theme music heard in the opening below is inspired from the traditional Liverpudlian folk song called “Johnny Todd” and was arranged by Bridget Fry and then-husband Fritz Spiegl.