1 9 7 8 – 1 9 8 0 (UK)
22 x 60 minute episodes
James Hazell (Nicholas Ball) was a former Metropolitan Police officer from ‘Sarf Landan’, with a checkered past, a serious booze problem, and attitude in spades – a kind of cockney Philip Marlowe (“I’ve got a wad of cash ‘ere that could choke a washing machine”) who avoided violence and preferred to disarm people with jokes – while dropping his aitches of course.
So James ‘Azell opens up ‘is own detective agency in a Soho back street – renting office space from acerbic businesswoman Dot Wilmington (Barbara Young) and her partner, the equally caustic secretary Maureen (Maggie Riley) – and manages to stay one step ahead of the bailiffs.
He is also constantly hampered by hard-nosed and sour-faced Inspector ‘Choc’ Minty (Roddy McMillan), a CID officer with a grudge against him.
His pride and joy is ‘is jam-jar – a luvverley Triumph Stag (£2,177 new) which is in perpetual danger of being repossessed.
Other regular characters were the eternally optimistic, dodgy van owning and dodgy dealing Cousin Tel (Desmond McNamara) and Gordon Gregory (James Faulkner), the smooth, upper-class solicitor who gave Hazell a lot of his work – a great deal of it on the wrong side of legal.
Hazell’s sometime girlfriend in the first series, the refined Vinnie Rae (Celia Gregory) was a fellow “inquiry agent” who threatened uncooperative suspects with a Rottweiler.
James Hazell could be a bit of a hard man but had the requisite ‘heart of gold’ which seems to be de rigueur for TV detectives with a drink problem . . . and a leather safari jacket. ‘Kin ‘ell!
There were three Hazell novels (originally published by Penguin paperbacks) written by someone called P B Yuill. This turned out to be the pseudonym of Terry Venables (manager at the time of Crystal Palace FC) and Gordon Williams, the writer and journalist whose previous work included The Siege At Trencher’s Farm, which became Sam Peckinpah’s controversial movie Straw Dogs (1971).
Nicholas Ball was married to Pamela Stephenson at the time. They divorced in 1984, about the time that a chap called Billy Connolly came on the scene.
Inspector ‘Choc’ Minty
Hazell Plays Solomon | Hazell Pays a Debt | Hazell & the Walking Blur | Hazell Settles the Account | Hazell Meets the First Eleven | Hazell & the Rubber-Heel Brigade | Hazell Goes to the Dogs | Hazell & the Weekend Man | Hazell Works for Nothing | Hazell & the Maltese Vulture | Hazell & the Baker Street Sleuth | Hazell & the Deptford Virgin | Hazell Bangs the Drum | Hazell gets the Boot | Hazell gets the Bird | Hazell & the Big Sleep | Hazell & the Suffolk Ghost | Hazell & Hyde | Hazell & the Happy Couple | Hazell Gets the Part | Hazell & the Public Enemy