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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

Not so long ago, a beleaguered and, no doubt, overworked copper was sorting through evidence (who knows why – maybe Walt and Jesse had been up to their old tricks) and came across a bunch of cash marked with the tag PC World. Naturally, they immediately put out a call to see if Police Constable World could get in touch… the genius response was that he might be found through his supervisor, Dixons of Dock Green.

All of which isn’t amusing if you don’t know that there used to be electrical shops called Dixons, and before they stopped using the name, they shared space with PC World shops. And that Dixon of Dock Green ran for 21 years on the BBC – from 1955 to 1976.
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image: WikipediaRight, let’s start with a trivia question: what was the first British film to be legally shown in communist China? If, having read the title of this post, you said “The Sweeney”, you would be wrong. Mainly because, for some weird reason, they decided to title the spin-off movie “Sweeney!”. I know, weird, right? Still, if that wins you the next pub quiz it’ll all be worth it I’m sure.

But that’s what you did in the 70s with TV shows. Dire adaptations of Steptoe and Son (a jolly TV show turned into 90 minutes of heart-rending misery… twice), Dad’s Army drawn out at such length you could visibly see the paint drying on the sets, Sweeney! did much the same, stitching two episodes together and ramping up the violence and nudity.
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Little Voice” was on last night (if you’re in the UK, you can watch it on iPlayer for about a week). I mention this simply because the wonderful Annette Badland is in it. She’s never really been a star, never a household name, but she is one of those supporting cast players of whom I think “she’s never in a bad movie”. As Mrs Fezziwig, she’s one of the best things about the Patrick Stewart version of “A Christmas Carol” (I know it’s Hallmark, but it’s still my favourite version.)


I mention her specifically because she played Charlotte, a recurring character in the BBC’s detective series “Bergerac“.
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An interesting question on Twitter the other day got me thinking. Would I agree that Jack Frost is the British Columbo? Well, maybe, but then again, there are a few dissimilarities too.

But what is it that makes Columbo so good in the first place?
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