1 9 5 5 – 1 9 7 6 (UK)
367 x 25/45 minute episodes
PC George Dixon was the first British copper to walk the beat.
The character was first introduced in the Rank movie The Blue Lamp (1950) where he was shot dead by Dirk Bogarde after a mere 21 minutes.
Five years later, on 7 July 1955, Ted Willis revived him and created a series that was to span 21 years and 367 episodes, always opening with Dixon’s matey greeting, “Evenin’ all”.
It was the first television programme to be based on a film, and after being commissioned to write the initial six-part series, Willis was worried. “I didn’t know how I would be able to find six good stories”, he said. But eventually, he had 250 policemen on his payroll who fed incidents and true stories to him for the scripts.
The kindly, tea-drinking Dixon (based on a real bobby from Leman Street in London’s East End) reflected the public image of the police at the time. He was the friendly local bobby with a kind word for everyone – There was very little serious crime in Dock Green.
It would have been wholly inappropriate for George Dixon to rugby-tackle a suspect, spread-eagle him and bellow “you’re nicked” just for riding a bicycle without a rear light . . .
Jack Warner made sure all details were authentic – For example, a policeman was not supposed to remove his helmet when entering a house but should take it off when asking an elderly lady about her dog licence (and the helmet had to be held under the arm when addressing a bishop!).
The emphasis in Dixon of Dock Green was on small everyday police work, not major crimes, as is the case with most cop shows today. The debut episode, “PC Crawford’s First Pinch”, was introduced by the Radio Times with the words, “Murder cases are not so frequent as some crime writers would have us imagine”.
Other characters also transitioned from the movie, such as Andy Crawford (later to become a Detective and to marry Dixon’s daughter, Mary), PC “Laudy” Lauderdale and Desk Sergeant Flint, who lodged with Dixon’s mother.
George Dixon was always a benevolent father figure to the local community, and in 1964 was promoted to Sergeant and became desk-bound, too old to pound the beat anymore.
Jack had the perfect copper’s walk – like a penguin’s – thanks to a back injury sustained while playing a train driver earlier in his career. He finally retired in 1976 as the show seemed out of place now amongst the new breed of TV copper such as The Sweeney.
Jack Warner died five years later at the age of 85. Police officers carried his coffin from Paddington Green – a tribute to the enormous affection in which Jack Warner and George Dixon were, and still are, held – and the show’s theme tune, An Ordinary Copper, played over the church PA.
Sadly, the majority of episodes of Dixon of Dock Green were either destroyed or lost and no longer exist.
PC/Sgt George Dixon
DS Andy Crawford
Billie Whitelaw (1)
Jeanette Hutchinson (2)
Anna Dawson (3)
Desk Sgt Flint
PC Tubb Barrell
Sgt Grace Millard
Cadet Jamie MacPherson
PC Bob Penney
WPC Kay Lauderdale
Stanley Beard (1)
Robert Crawdon (2)
PC Betty Williams
Det Sgt Harvey
Gregory de Polney