1 9 5 4 – 1 9 5 6 (UK)
39 x 30 minute episodes
This legendary British police show from the 1950s – the BBC’s first ongoing police serial – fictionalised the cases of Scotland Yard’s real-life Detective Inspector Fabian.
Originally transmitted after the ‘toddler’s truce’ in the popular Saturday night slot, Fabian of the Yard was later moved to Wednesday evenings and repeated on weekday afternoons.
Shot on film (rather than transmitted live from the studio as was the norm at the time) with Bruce Seton, stiff upper lip clamped on a pipe, as the consummately dedicated Fabian, it cast a giant TV shadow.
Robert Fabian presented each case and then explained precisely how he cracked it, using “routine, detailed, science and tenacity” – the best weapons available at the “brain of Great Britain’s manhunting machine”, the Metropolitan Police Service’s headquarters, Scotland Yard.
At the end of each episode, the fictional Fabian was replaced by the real thing. This quirk reinforced the factual accuracy of the production, even if the real Fabian was more than a little wooden in his delivery.
For the post-war generation, Fabian was not just the first British police hero of the small screen, but also the best.
The show sold to America where it was screened as Inspector Fabian of Scotland Yard or – in reference to the hero’s black Humber Hawk – Patrol Car.
A few episodes were edited together to make feature-length productions released in cinemas; Fabian Of The Yard (1954) and Handcuffs, London (1955).
Bruce Seton died, aged 60, in September 1969 at his home in London after a period of ill health.
The real Fabian retired from the force to become ‘Guardian of the Questions’ on quiz show The 64,000 Question. He died in 1978, aged 77.
DI Robert Fabian
DS Wyatt/Detective Sims