The series suffered from the BBC's lack of a proper archiving policy until 1978. It was BBC policy before 1978 to wipe master tapes and re-use them for other programs, hence saving money and storage space. From a full tally of seven hundred ninety-nine episodes, four hundred sixty-six (broadcast between 1962 and 1974) are thought to no longer exist. Additionally, some color videotaped episodes only survive as monochrome film copies. The final four seasons, broadcast between September 1974 and September 1978, exist in their entirety. See more »
Whilst taping 'moving vehicle' shots in studio, as technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is currently, it was so much simpler to use a 'stripped' version of the vehicles involved. Many such were missing their entire front ends and windscreens to facilitate both filming and sound recording. Continuous film was played on the screen behind, to give the impression that the vehicle was actually on the move during recording. Immediately after one such shot, actor Brian Blessed (PC 'Fancy' Smith) stepped out of the Z-car, and, having left his cap on the dashboard, reached in through the vacant windscreen space to retrieve it. Blessed himself spoke of this during a talk show some years later, but apparently neither the film crew nor the director noticed. See more »
Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »
In many respects, a landmark TV series - changing the image of police as seen on TV, changes in real policing (from bobby-on-the-beat to patrol cars), bringing serious social problems to the screen for the first time - this series captured a time and place with clarity, making these episodes a very valuable treasure - I hope they haven't been dumped or let rot somewhere! The series was also valuable in the opportunities it gave many brilliant writers to develop their skills.
The show succeeded in its two goals, exciting police action drama, and gritty social drama (with just a drop of humour when needed); the best of the police action thread followed Barlow (played by Stratford Johns) into the spin-off series Softly, Softly - Task Force, and later: Barlow at Large. Unforgettable music. The forgettable bit was why the car numbers all started Z - V; I think Zed (not Zee; this was British) was for (Ford) Zephyr.
(With apologies to Toody and Muldoon) I wonder: Zed Victor One, where are you, now? I suspect few episodes survive.
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