Dixon, Bogarde and Forsyth, My Week in Vintage

Hello and welcome to another edition of My Week in Vintage. I haven’t done one of these blogs for at least a couple of years, let me refresh your memory of the format. For this blog, I discuss vintage-related media I have consumed recently. For this edition, I touch upon Dixon, Bogarde and Forsyth.

Discovering The Origins of George Dixon

During the last few months, I have thoroughly enjoyed reruns of the BBC police procedural Dixon of Dock Green. Although only 33 out of 432 episodes have survived, they have introduced me to a world of characters I have grown close to. Jack Warner’s portrayal of George Dixon hit so hard that I was intrigued by his origins. I sat down to watch The Blue Lamp a few nights ago.

This was the film in which the character of Dixon first appeared, It struck me that pieces were there for a later adaptation, encapsulated in this gritty crime drama sprinkled with moments of lightness. His big scene with Dirk Bogarde is one of the most harrowing scenes I’ve ever seen, possibly heightened by my affinity to Dixon. The film could feel weighted down and branded irrelevant given Dixon’s future as a TV star, but I think it enhanced it.

From Warner to Bogarde

As well as catching glimpses of Warner in this early incarnation of his iconic character, the film features Dirk Bogarde in a pivotal role. He has many moments to shine in this film, including one or two memorable sequences. I have watched him in a few films now, and I am always impressed with how serious he can be. Shortly after watching The Blue Lamp, my wife put on one of his next films; Hunted from 1952.

In this film he plays a murderer on the run, accompanied by a child who witnessed the event. It is both thrilling and heartwarming in equal measure. Bogarde exhibited heavy frustration in such a way, that I personally felt it in my gut. He has a way of looking equally scared, dangerous yet vulnerable in equal measure. Although not in the same circumstances, I identified with this character; I loved watching him slowly reveal himself as human, with an ending that left not a dry eye in the house. Hunted is available to buy on DVD.

Meanwhile… It was nice to see him, to see him nice!

As I have written in an upcoming opinion piece, I have started to drift back towards physical media in an attempt to discover classic productions ignored by streaming. After much deliberation, I finally picked up a copy of The Bruce Forsyth Show, a box set featuring the surviving episodes of the legendary British entertainer’s mid-60s ABC variety show. It was released by the much missed Network Distribtuing, and is a three disc set.

I haven’t had a chance to watch a lot yet, but I have watched the first 25 minutes of the earliest episode in the set. It’s a Christmas special from 1965 featuring Cilla Black as the special guest. From the moment the lights, spelling Bruce, come on it is show time. Fresh from the Palladium, Bruce is at the peak of his light entertainment powers and gets a chance to showcase his versatility.

We see comedy banter alongside a musical number with Cilla Black, who appears quite nervous during the whole thing. There is also a sketch involving dogs, and a fun solo dance routine performed by Forsyth. The material, written by Dick Hills and Sydney Green, is a bit of its time but delightful nonetheless.

One thing I noticed during the sketches of this pilot, is that mistakes were mostly kept in. While it is clear that routines are being followed, Bruce will often throw in an adlib to balance it out. This adds a level of realism to the proceedings and makes the show all the more entertaining.

I look forward to seeing what else the show offers in further episodes. Other stars featured on the set include Dudley Moore, Diana Dors, Harry Secombe and Tom Jones. The Bruce Forsyth Show is available to buy on DVD from Amazon.

Thank you for reading this edition of My Week In Vintage. If you have any thoughts on the content above, please leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can email Jame@OldTimeReview.co.uk with the subject line VMM.

Jamie Dyer

Jamie Dyer is an experienced writer, broadcaster, musician and social media marketer. He enjoys Old Time Radio, vintage TV, collecting vinyl and supporting the New York Knicks.

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