TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Off the beat and on the box

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The Independent Culture
What better way to spend a Bank Holiday evening than in the company of BARLOW, REGAN, PYALL AND FANCY (8.55pm BBC2), a police squad of snarling telly 'tecs? This arresting history of 'Cops on the Box' - the centrepiece of an evening of policework - charts the evolution of the television rozzer from the solid reassurance of the bicycle-riding bobby on the beat in Dixon of Dock Green ('Mind how you go') to the picture of complete corruption painted by Law and Order and the moral complexities of the internal affairs department in Between the Lines. Along the way, Brian Blessed recalls how Stratford Johns used to be sick in the hour preceding the live transmission of Z Cars; an officer recounts how popular The Sweeney was at the police training centre in Hendon (trainees would cheer along as Regan and Carter fought endless baseball- bat-wielding villains); and Tony Garnett, producer of Law and Order and Between the Lines, tells of illegally paying police advisers in saloon bars with used notes in brown envelopes. The whole programme is worth watching just for the classic line barked out by a young John Thaw in The Sweeney: 'Get yer trousers on, you're nicked.'

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