Vague ramblings

Troy Kennedy Martin: “Hang on lads. I’ve got an idea”

Posted in Musing by Ian Cundell on 16 September, 2009

Troy Kennedy Martin died yesterday. With past VWC Vice President the late Allan Prior he co-created Z Cars, one of the most influential British TV dramas ever. Z Cars took policing out of the “nice bobby” school and – based on detailed research in Liverpool – gave it to hard-nose coppers. It looks safe, even cultured these days, but in the 1960s it was a crucial dramatic breakthrough.

Aficionados of the 1960s also, of course, remember The Italian Job and its many, many iconic images (and recognise the quote in the title of this post as the final line of that film).

But for me the crowning achievement is Edge of Darkness, his intelligent and richly evocative meditation on Reagan, Thatcher and nuclear paranoia (with a heavy twist of James Lovelock). It was one of the great moments of 1980s TV. It stands up to repeat viewing thanks to the brilliant Bob Peck, a very young Joanna Whalley, a host of British and American character actors – and a pin sharp script with not a wasted word.

Too much talent from that era is leaving us almost unremarked. But if we forget where we came from and who it was who made the media worth having in the first place, it is a loss to all of us and we will end up with the media we deserve, rather than the media we need.

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