Home Blog Well ‘Ard Darlin’ – Glam Cop Shows of the 1970s

Well ‘Ard Darlin’ – Glam Cop Shows of the 1970s

The problem with hippies was that they were all a bit soft. All of that putting flowers in rifle barrels wasn’t going to stop people getting hurt, was it?

Glam might have looked on the surface as if it was a lot of blokes poncing about on high heels in makeup but look a little closer and you’ll more often than not see that it isn’t eye makeup, it’s a black eye.

Men wanted to look Glam but remain masculine and hard, and The Sweeney offered two perfect male role models in the shape of Jack Regan (John Thaw) and George Carter (Dennis Waterman), pictured below left.

An eternally celebrated self-parodying blast of screaming tyres and blasting shotguns, The Sweeney started life as an Armchair Theatre entry called Regan, in 1974. For the next four years, no other series so successfully captured the inelegance of mid-Seventies man, filled as it was with vast triangular jacket collars, tie knots like beer barrels and criminals garbed in ill-fitting bomber jackets, all trying their hardest to look like Jason King if he shopped at C&A.

The fact that each episode would have at least one car chase involving those Glam chariots the Ford Granada and Morris Marina just added to the Glam appeal.

Where Regan and Carter led, others followed. The Professionals down-scaled The Sweeney‘s element of menace into genuine farce in a futile attempt to put a high gloss on their Glam.

sweeney_ard  professionals_ard

The two lead characters were ex-SAS hard cases Bodie and Doyle (Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw), pictured above right, whose rugby club, bitter-drinking machismo attempted rather more refinement than Regan and Carter.

This was, by comparison, sophisto-Glam. These two, while hardly being ‘new men’ – which wouldn’t be Glam at all – knew a thing or two about good wines, gourmet food and, one always presumed, exotic sex.

Regan and Carter, on the other hand, preferred beans on toast, two cans of lager and a quickie with some long-suffering, mistreated wife of an old lag who had been put away by our unholy heroes. Bodie and Doyle had more Glam cars: a Ford Capri Mk II 3.0, a 3.5 Rover P6 and Range Rover, but if it had ever come to a punch-up between the casts of the two shows, the smart money was always on Jack and George.

Both The Sweeney and The Professionals were British versions of what was, essentially, an American genre: the cop show. Since they had been making TV series for longer than the Brits, the Americans had the edge in terms of sheer numbers. By the early 1970s there was a whole slew of American cop shows on telly in the UK.

Some were too worthy to watch – Ironside (dull and grey, featured a man in a wheelchair), Cannon (some car chases, but come on, a fat cop?). But some were too groovy not to watch – Kojak featured the brilliant, weird-looking, lollipop sucking baldy Telly Savalas (and his fat brother) and normally involved a shooting or two.

Starsky And Hutch were the American version of The Professionals (or rather, vice-versa), and was un-missable not for the asinine plots, but the ridiculous clothes worn by the lead characters (played by Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul).

Starsky And Hutch was also un-missable for those Glam fans hip enough to recognise in one Huggy Bear the presence of a very real street-style icon. Huggy was the epitome of street chic which his floor-length leather coat, tam-o’-shanter knitted hat, huge platforms and flared white suit.

Like The Chi-Lites, Fat Back Band, Barry WhiteOhio PlayersMarvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, Huggy Bear looked cool in clothes that made the average Brit Glam fashion victim look exactly what he was: a building labourer done up like an extra from a cheap skin-flick.

Glam wasn’t all about men looking like big girls’ blouses, though. There were plenty of female Glam role models, too.

Well, to be exact there were three – and naturally they were American: Charlie’s Angels were all gorgeous women who, for some vague reason, were working for an unseen authority (Charlie), to solve various crimes and mysteries.

None of which mattered a jot, as the whole point of the show was to showcase the trio of awesome girls, who all lived together, shopped together and were forever striking alarming Vogue-ish poses with guns in hand.

It was Glam because it simply had no pretensions whatsoever except to look good, and provided the world with its first glimpse of Farrah Fawcett (she was later to add Majors to her name when she married Lee, the world’s first bionic man, star of The Six Million Dollar Man).

Once known as an Angel, Farrah’s remarkable hair, teeth and legs would adorn more bedroom walls than any other poster icon in the world, ever, and flash a smile on a million TV commercials.