Debate: Starsky and Hutch are back for a Channel 4 special. So for the last time, which one's better? Starsky! says Brian Viner - real men eat pizza, not yoghurt. But Hutch was the one who was husband material, says Hester Lacey



IN THE north of England, in the Seventies, there were a few key debates which divided friends, families, if not entire communities. Never mind Harold Wilson and Ted Heath. The really important cultural contests were between Donny and David, Slade and the Rollers, Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner, Fabs and Zooms, Hilda Ogden and Elsie Tanner. And in 1976 we began to wrestle with another problem. Who was cooler, Dave Starsky or Ken Hutchinson?

You couldn't sit on the fence and say you liked both of them equally. That was wimping out, big time. The preference of girlie girls - the kind of girls who favoured Donny Osmond over David Cassidy - was for the blond one, Hutch. And when he went on Top of the Pops singing "Don't Give Up On Us, Baby", they went potty. But we lads weren't impressed to find a cop on Top of the Pops. After all, Kojak had beaten him to it, with his unforgettable rendering of "If". No, you had to do better than that to gain our respect. You had to be able to execute a perfect handbrake turn, then vault the bonnet of your red 1974 Ford Torino, while simultaneously whipping out a .45 automatic from beneath your chunky belted cardigan and yelling "freeze!". Now that was class. Starsky, not Hutch, was top of the cops.

Starsky was an all-American dude at a time when anything American was glamorous. There was even something faintly glamorous about the junk food Americans ate, and Starsky was a junk food junkie. He pigged out on burgers, popcorn and gooey pizza. We didn't come across much gooey pizza in west Lancashire in the mid-Seventies. There was one Wimpy bar in our town, which was best avoided. But Starsky's junk food looked delicious. Hutch, meanwhile, ate yoghurt and cereal bars. He even did yoga. The wuss.

Starsky, moreover, was the funny one. He had a twinkle in his eye. He was great at bantering with Huggy Bear, and could be ever so cheeky to Captain Dobey. Hutch was straighter, more earnest, in truth a little dull. He even carried a more earnest sort of gun, a .357 Magnum. They needed each other, though, to be fair. And Kenneth Oxford, the chief constable of Merseyside Police, had both of them in mind when he complained that his patrolmen, captivated by the series, had taken to wearing sunglasses. Fair enough in Los Angeles, but a bit daft in Bootle.

For the likes of Kenneth Oxford, Starsky and Hutch were interchangeable. Not for me and my mates. There was one all-important difference between them: Starsky did the driving, and Hutch was the passenger. I'm sorry, but there was no cred in being a passenger. Boy, Starsky could handle that Ford Torino. And watching him do so compensated for the fact that, while our testicles had long since dropped, we still weren't old enough to hang out at the Snooty Fox with the 17-year-olds, getting slaughtered on three pints and throwing up on the last bus home. That came later, by which time we were into The Professionals anyway.


MOST OF my class at school had a weekly date with those "rough and tough but likable and friendly" American cops Starsky and Hutch, and most of my friends preferred Starsky. One of my best chums even obliterated the cover of her notebook with the magic words "Paul Michael Glaser", written obsessively over and over again, which led our form teacher to comment that she hoped that whoever he was, Paul Michael Glaser was going to foot the bill for a new book.

I never went for the obvious heart-throb: I preferred Merrill Osmond to his younger brother Donny on the grounds that the competition for Donny was a little too steep. On the rough/tough/ likable/friendly front I always felt Hutch was the more cerebral choice. Starsky tried a bit too hard. So he had a nice line in wisecracks and backchat. So what? Mature beyond my years, I already had the feeling that this wasn't what you really wanted in a man. (Time has proved that I was absolutely correct.) Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson was obviously the real brains behind the team: concerned, sensible, responsible, somehow much more solid than his superficial partner.

Starsky might have been twinkly-eyed - but he had the kind of lascivious gleam that told you he would leap on anything in a skirt, and that if you turned your back for a second he'd be off like a shot with whichever cute cocktail waitress they'd saved from gangsters that week. Any bubble- permed, blue-eye-shadowed, high-heeled piece of white trash could have Starsky just by fluttering her lashes. Hutch, you could tell, was more discerning. He'd have been more interested in a girl's mind - a comforting thought for any lumpenly puppy-fatted teenager.

Hutch you could probably rely on to turn up on time for his tofu and soy milk dinner - a fabulously incomprehensible transatlantic diet compared with boring meat and two veg, which was what was on the menu at home most nights. Plus Starsky was a one-trick pony. Take away his gun and car and what was he? A bit of rough of the kind you'd expect to meet outside the local garage with a spanner in his back pocket and oil on his hands. Hutch, on the other hand, could sing. He did it as his alter-ego David Soul, but it was Hutch on Top of the Pops really, pleading soulfully with whatever nasty American minxette was breaking his heart, leaving him in the lurch and generally making him miserable (the bitch).

And my choice has been sanctioned by time. David Soul is still doggedly touring places like the Aylesbury Civic Centre. What a trouper. He emerged as surprise champion of Martin Bell in the Tatton by-election, and entertained the residents of a young people's shelter to an impromptu rendition of "Don't Give Up On Us, Baby". He publicly confesses his favourite singer is Charles Aznavour. Still fighting for right and good and able to send himself up too: what a guy.

Channel 4's Starsky and Hutch Night, including two classic episodes, is on Monday 31 May.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.


ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

    £13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent