The episodes have now been newly transferred into HD from the original film elements for this long overdue release.
Co-writer Patrick Carroll notes: "At the inception of the project there were no black officers in the Met C.I.D. By the time the programme aired we were told that there were three, all of whom were involved in undercover work relating to drug dealing." The series' unflinching and controversial approach to race and policing at the time captured something of the deprivation, distrust of the police and authority, and inequalities of the period that culminated in the inner city riots in Brixton, Birmingham and Liverpool.
Wolcott made for uncomfortable viewing judging by the mixed critical reaction at the time but it gained impressive viewing figures of 13 million. ATV lost its franchise to Central in the summer of 1981, and when producers Barry Hanson and Jacky Stoller approached Central "with a view to developing a follow-up series they were told that, despite the original serial’s impressive viewing figures, the project was simply too much of a political hot potato. When Barry and Jacky brought their proposal to the BBC they were given much the same answer."
mise-en-scène of filmed British crime dramas of the period.
The cast also includes an early appearance by Hugh Quarshie, as a youth worker in conflict with his friend who is now a police officer, and straight roles for Rik Mayall, as a racist policeman, Alexei Sayle as a Socialist Worker orator and Keith Allen as the National Front yob heckling him on the street. There are also appearances from the late, great Warren Clarke as an East End villain and Christopher Ellison, foreshadowing his role as DI Burnside in The Bill, as a corrupt detective. The inclusion of American actor Christine Lahti and playwright Howard Schuman also upped the export potential of the proposed series which sadly did not materialise.
Despite Wolcott's mixed reception, and that it has never been repeated or released commercially, writer Patrick Carroll acknowledges that "other critics and commentators approved of the show, recognizing it as gripping, pacey popular television, and as an honest attempt to place the police drama genre in a relatively unexplored context."
Many thanks to the following sources:
Sergio Angelini - BFI Screenonline: Wolcott http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/536787/ (accessed 11/08/2015)
Patrick Carroll: Wolcott Revisited http://www.patrickcarroll.co.uk/?p=117 (accessed 11/08/2015)
Newly transferred into HD from the original film elements for this much awaited release, a copy of Wolcott on Blu-Ray is up for grabs in our latest competition.
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