Home Television Drama Jacks and Knaves

Jacks and Knaves

1 9 6 1 (UK)
4 x 50 minute episodes

This short BBC series was based around the exploits of retired Liverpool CID Detective Sergeant William Prendergast.

TV writer Colin Morris had previously met the DS 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.

The dialogue Colin Morris wrote for John Barrie who played Detective Sergeant Tom Hitchin in the TV series 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 and is sometimes cited as the inspiration for it.

DS Tom Hitchin
John Barrie
Chief Inspector
Wensley Pithey
DC Syd
James Beck
DS David
Simon Merrick
DC John
Peter Sugden