The Hot Seat – Dixon of Dock Green

It’s been well over a month since Talking Pictures’ reruns of Dixon of Dock Green started, and I must say I have loved it. Dropping in on these familiar characters each week has been a joy, and I’ve developed quite an attachment to them. When I first heard they were repeating the existing 30-odd episodes out of 432, I didn’t think there would be much chance to gain a fondness for anything. The first five episodes of this run have been taken from the second series in 1956, and have followed a consistent path; Each one originally following on from the previous.

This week marked the first time jump, in which the audience was potentially going to experience a change in cast or tone much faster than the original audience. I was worried it was going to taint my love for what I’ve seen so far, a sentimental but honest portrayal of the police force with a dash of humor. This episode, entitled The Hot Seat, was first broadcast in 1960. Safe to say, I needn’t have worried.

This episode follows George, Andy, Mary and Grace as they fly to Paris for a holiday. While there, they become embroiled with a group of confidence tricksters who try to pull off a con trick known as the hot seat. George, who is never off duty in his head, realizes what’s happening straight away and plots with Andy to put a stop to it. It is a story that is treated with the same level of seriousness as the previous episodes but has a lot of funny remarks injected into it.

This is when the team at Dock Green Police Station is called into action, to help provide extra information on the fraudsters. The Comedic sequences that occur as a result of this are a joy to behold. Sgt Flint, played by Arthur Rigby, has an amazing rant about Andy reversing the call charges. The station plays a minimal role in this episode, but the team, who appears to have an additional member or two from the last one, helps to direct the plot where it needs to go.

Being an episode of a TV show from this era, I assumed that Paris would only be implied rather than seen. It seemed like merely a device to show a type of crime with no other significance. The show went beyond my expectations and flew the cast out to the famous French city. The result is a beautiful visual record of Paris in 1960. We see the cast visit several sites, including the Eiffel Tower! While much of the roaming video footage could have been stock footage, it seems much too consistent to be.

While it would seem like folly for an ongoing BBC drama to go abroad for one episode in 1960, I couldn’t help but consider the context of the time. This was a highly viewed series in a time when the BBC only had one TV channel. Add to that the fact it was shown on a Saturday night, a further indication of the amount of importance that would have been placed upon it. The scenes showing the scenery seemingly distract from the story for modern viewers, but would have been seen as glamourous, exotic, and exciting to an audience in 1960. I found it quite moving to see Dixon enjoying some time away from the force.

The conclusion to this story felt a little rushed, but it all made sense in the end. I’m used to seeing Dixon come down hard on wrongdoers in a confrontation, but that wasn’t needed here. You simply saw George and Andy see their predictions put into motion, and then the resolution involving the French police. Perhaps they could have expanded it a little more, but then the gorgeous footage of Paris would have been on the cutting room floor. Overall I enjoyed this episode. Despite being 4 years on, the high level of quality has been maintained. The writing is as witty as ever, with excellent performances from the main cast. Dixon of Dock Green is broadcast on Talking Pictures TV each Saturday.

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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