- Softly, Softly (TV series)
show_name = Softly, Softly
caption = "Softly, Softly" opening titles, 1967.
runtime = 50 minutes
Troy Kennedy Martin
Stratford Johns Frank Windsor
country = UK
January 5, 1966
November 13, 1969
imdb_id = 0129717
"Softly, Softly" was a British
televisiondrama series, produced by the BBCand screened on BBC 1 from January 1966. It centred around the work of regional crime squads, plain-clothes CID officers based in the fictional region of Wyvern - supposedly in the Bristoland Chepstowarea of the UK. The series (which took its name from the proverb'softly, softly, catchee monkey') was designed as a vehicle for Detective Chief Inspector Charles Barlow and Detective Inspector John Watt (played by Stratford Johnsand Frank Windsorrespectively) from the popular police series " Z Cars", which had just finished its original run. Also joining them in the early series was Robert Keegan as Blackitt, the police station sergeant from " Z Cars", now retired and acting as a freelance helper. The series introduced characters like Sgt. Harry Hawkins ( Norman Bowler) who would become very popular and well known. Promoted over the years to Detective Chief Inspector, Hawkins stayed with the show for its entire run.
Other shorter-lived regular characters in the series early years included
Alexis Kanneras DC Matt Stone. Although popular with audiences, Kanner appears to have alienated cast and crew with erratic behaviour during live recordingsFact|date=December 2007, and the character was dropped suddenly after only 9 episodes. He later played the recalcitrant Number 48 in " The Prisoner".
Although not transmitted live, the producers of the early series were eager to keep the atmosphere of its "
Z Cars" precursor, so recorded the shows in (where possible) one take, as if they were being broadcast live. This way of recording the shows had ceased by the end of its run in 1969.
The original theme music was, like "
Z Cars", a folk-song arrangement by Fritz Spiegl. It was released as a single (credited to the London Waits) on Andrew Loog Oldham's " Immediate" record label in 1966.
In 1969, to co-incide with the BBC's move to colour broadcasting on BBC 1, the series changed again. Barlow, Watt and Hawkins were promoted and moved to the South East of England, to the (again) fictitious Thamesford, where they were in charge of Taskforces, groupings of police expertise and manpower drawn together for special operations. The series was to have changed its name to "Taskforce", but the BBC were reluctant to drop a popular brand, and so it became "".
Johns left the 'Taskforce' series in 1972 (Barlow had his own spin-off series "
Barlow at Large") but it continued until 1976 with Watt in command. During the 70s Windsor also appeared as Watt in "Jack the Ripper", in which he and Barlow reopened the Jack the Rippermurder casebook, and a similar series " Second Verdict" in which they looked into unsolved mysteries and miscarriages of justice from history.
All episodes of "Taskforce" survive, but much of the original "Softly, Softly" is lost, especially the first 2 seasons.
*DCS Charlie Barlow —
*DI/DCI/DS/DCS John Watt —
*DS/DI/CI/DCI 'Harry' Hawkins —
*Mr. Blackitt — Robert Keegan (1966-1967)
*DS Matt Stone —
*DC Reg Dwyer —
*DCI Gwyn Lewis —
*ACC Calderwood — John Welsh (1966-1967)
*DC Box —
*ACC Gilbert — John Barron (1967-1969)
*PC Tanner —
*DS Allin —
*DC Digby —
*DI Jim Cook —
*DC Morgan —
*Jean Morrow —
* [http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/softly.htm "Softly, Softly"] at Television Heaven
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