COMPETITION: Wolcott: The Complete Series Blu-Ray (Closed)

Released on Blu-Ray and DVD on Monday 17 August by Network Distributing, Wolcott hails from 1981, a groundbreaking drama made by the ITC subsidiary Black Lion Films for ATV. Broadcast from the 13 to 15 January 1981, it was the first example of a prime time mini-series stripped over three nights in the ITV schedule. The episodes have now been newly transferred into HD from the original film elements for this long overdue release.

Displaying the same rough, streetwise vibe as The Sweeney, Wolcott stars the charismatic George William Harris as a tough, loner detective with a gift for rubbing people up the wrong way. Winning massive viewing figures, its controversially unflinching depiction of racism and crime ensured that it has never been repeated or released in any format until now. With all four episodes now transferred in High Definition from the original film elements, Wolcott includes early roles for Christopher Ellison, Hugh Quarshie, Warren Clarke and Rik Mayall – cast against type as a racist policeman. - See more at: http://networkonair.com/shop/2245-wolcott-the-complete-series-blu-ray--5027626802943.html#sthash.KDHjx9qK.dpuf
Most importantly, it was the first British crime drama with a black actor playing the lead role and it did not shy away from depicting the corruption and villainy in both the black and white communities. Played with great power and charisma by George William Harris, Wolcott is a man in the middle, facing hostility both from the community he polices and his colleagues in the Force. His investigations into the fatal stabbing of an old woman and a journalist soon uncover a brutal drug war being fought between criminal gangs.

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."


Even though its blunt style, language and violence echoed The Sweeney and Law and Order (a series the writers of Wolcott much admired), the series was beautifully shot on location in Hackney by acclaimed Oscar winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, perhaps acknowledging the quality of the glossier dramas produced in the US and with a view to the export potential ITC may have had in mind. This shifts the look of the series away from the grainy, harsher 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)
Displaying the same rough, streetwise vibe as The Sweeney, Wolcott stars the charismatic George William Harris as a tough, loner detective with a gift for rubbing people up the wrong way. Winning massive viewing figures, its controversially unflinching depiction of racism and crime ensured that it has never been repeated or released in any format until now. With all four episodes now transferred in High Definition from the original film elements, Wolcott includes early roles for Christopher Ellison, Hugh Quarshie, Warren Clarke and Rik Mayall – cast against type as a racist policeman. - See more at: http://networkonair.com/shop/2245-wolcott-the-complete-series-blu-ray--5027626802943.html#sthash.KDHjx9qK.dpuf

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.

COMPETITION: WOLCOTT - The Complete Series Blu-Ray NOW CLOSED

Cathode Ray Tube has one Blu-Ray copy of Wolcott to give away to one lucky winner courtesy of Network Distributing. Simply answer the question below and submit your entry via email.

  • - This competition is open to residents of the UK only but not to employees of Network Distributing or their agents. 

  • - Entries must be received by midnight GMT on Sunday 16 August 2015.

  • - This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and no cash alternative is available.

  • - No responsibility will be accepted for delayed, mislaid, lost or damaged entries whether due to system error or otherwise.

  • - Only one entry per visitor per day. No multiple entries allowed. Entries sent using answers posted on competition websites will be deemed void. We know who you are!

  • - The winner will be the first entry with the correct answer drawn at random.

  • - The winner will be contacted by email and their details will be forwarded to Network Distributing. The Blu-Ray will be sent to the winner by Network after the competition closes.

  • - The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

  • - Entrants are deemed to accept and be bound by these rules and entries that are not in accordance with the rules will be disqualified.

  • - By entering the free prize draw, entrants agree to be bound by any other requirements set out on this website. Entry is via email to frank_c_collins@hotmail.com. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received, only partially received or delayed for whatever reason. Paper entries are not valid.
Question: Barry Hanson is also well known as the producer of another film project funded by ITC's subsidiary Black Lion Films, eventually rescued and released by Hand Made Films in 1980. What was the title of the film?

Email your answer to the question above, with your name and address, and we'll enter you into the prize draw.

Good luck!

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