Not like old-time coppers now
WITH the Sheffield police enquiry in the news, it may be worth considering to what extent TV, in its various series,.mirrors a true picture of the police: to what extent it falsities, and the consequences of untrue representation.
-How true to life are 'Z. Cars'. `Dixon of Dock Green'. and the security men in 'The Sentimental Agent', 'Espionage'. and .The Planernakers'?I asked a fairly high-up personage in security work in the Manchester area. He was once a police constable, but left the Force because he could not tolerate the hostility and suspicion of the public towards his work.
1 Neve no criticism of 'Dixon of Dock Green '." he told me. "This is a fairly accurate dramatisation of a policeman's life. and some effort seems to be made to show the public that it is in their interest to co-operate.
" ' Z Cars' started well, but from the start there were ludicrous inaccuracies about police procedure. This doesn't bother me, but what does, is the picture the series creates of the policeman as a bully. In recent episodes policemen have been blackmailing suspects, twisting arms of witnesses, and so on.
" I think TV should think twice before debasing the policeman's character and distorting his methods for the sake of adding
excitement of tictionalised
accounts. TV writers cannot be aware of the harm this does: apart from undermining the public's confidence in the Force, they do not seem to appreciate that a series about policemen will be carefully watched by police constables.
" It's a moot point whether some constables may not be tempted to live up to the highly-coloured, tough. rough image of the TV policeman.'
Watching TV in the north last week I was impressed by Granada's team of newscasters and reporters, particularly by Pamela Donald. There isn't a woman TV interviewer on the London network to touch her fluency and style.
In her management of Professoi Cohen, a psychiatric consultant (Nov. 6), she demonstrated the art of asking the minimum questions for the maximum result. She was. in fact, an adept at cutting the cackle. and might have rescued the BBC programme " Blueprints and Dreams " (Nov. 8) had she undertaken the interviewing of car designers rather than Christopher Brasher.
This was a marvellous idea for a programme; why people buy the cars they do, but Brasher is addicted to psychologising and let it get out of hand. It was obvious to viewers, if not to him. that both Harry Grylls of Rolls Royce. and Issigoni of B.M.C. were pulling his leg.
The rot set in when Ford's Roy Brown took up. in deadly earnest, Brasher's notions of equating sex and material form. soon both Brown and Brasher were out of their depth. These ideas are, after all. as old as the hills (indeed LA co/line, and LA pornme and LE couteau) and up to a point could have been amusingly applied to the car fetichist.
But they are not the full story. certainls not to humdrum motorists like myself who, disregarding " inner drives," male and female lines." zebra upholstery, status symbols. colour and gadgets, acquire a secondhand car on h.p. and work hard to support it.
Of all the Remembrance programmes, " Thc Way Back" mounted by " Meeting Point " on November 10 was the most affecting. George Scott who introduced this testament of Sue Ryder's work for the survivors of concentration camps. was right to refuse to comment at the end. but to leave it to the pictures and the people to sum it up.
The most inventive programme, however. came from ITV. with " The Two Faces of War." Here one ingenious idea was to coniure up the desolation. but also the courage born of war. through the eyes. mind and words of children.
The camera peered up from a level of about three foot from the ground. the narrative and drawings were those of Algerian children who escaped to Tunis. The idea was perhaps insufficiently carried through. butEmmeline Garnett, the producer, is to be congratulated for getting out of the rut.
Here is a producer in sevenleague boots. How hesitant now appear her first tentative steps in that prodigious bore of a programme. " Box of Birds." If this is a measure of her imagination, we look forward to some good programmes from her in the rut u re.
by Freda Bruce Lockhart