1 9 6 1 (UK)
4 x 50 minute episodes
This short BBC comedy/drama series was based around the exploits of retired real-life Liverpool CID Detective Sergeant William Prendergast.
TV writer Colin Morris had previously met Prendergast when he went to Liverpool in search of material for Tearaway, a dramatised documentary about the intimidation of witnesses.
Morris described Prendergast as “a big beefy, granite-faced man” with a formidable air of authority, and as tough as they come.
In 28 years with the Liverpool CID, Prendergast became a specialist in interrogation – so successfully that two years after his retirement the files on his cases were still being used to train young detectives.
Prendergast was embodied in the series by Detective Sergeant Tom Hitchin (John Barrie), a master interrogator with a photographic memory (like Prendergast himself). The dialogue Colin Morris wrote for John Barrie attempted to catch the authentic flavour of Prendergast in action.
The title Jacks and Knaves was inspired by the fact that, in the early 1960s, Liverpudlians branded police officers as “Jacks” whilst officers referred to criminals as “Knaves.” The programme is notable for being the forerunner to the highly successful Z Cars which debuted the following year and is sometimes cited as the inspiration for it.
DS Tom Hitchin
The Master Mind | The Interrogation | The Great Art Robbery | It Was Doing Nothing