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Thursday, October 07, 2010

TV Tie-ins: Dixon of Dock Green

Dixon of Dock Green by Rex Edwards
Pan 0330-23870-1, 1974, 165pp, 35p. Cover photo by John Green
Severn House 07278-0143-0, 1976, 165pp, £2.95 (h/c). Cover photo by John Green
The police were nobody's pin-up in Dock Green, a zestful, colourful ever-changing slice of East London.
__But, despite the increasing hazards of their job, men like George Dixon, Andy Crawford and 'Laudie' Lauderdale were always at hand to deal with anything from stolen bicycles to murder...
__Seven exciting stories from BBC-TV's longest-running series trace the progress of George Dixon from constable to station-sergeant.
__In a way Dock Green is Dixon, and Dixon is Dock Green.
Rex Edwards was, for many years, the script associate on Dixon of Dock Green. According to Ted Willis (Radio Times, 17 September 1964):
Ronnie Waldman, Jack Warner and I met at the BBC Club to discuss an idea I had put up for a new television series. A couple of drinks and a couple of hours later I was on my way home with a firm commission from Ronnie to write six scripts for the proposed series, which would have Jack playing the leading role as a London bobby. And as I traveled home, the delight I felt at having sold the idea began to dissolve and was replaced by a little nagging doubt about the project. How, I wondered, how would I be able to find six good stories? Well, I managed it and I thought that would be the end of Dixon as far as I was concerned. But when the series was screened in June, 1955, it was an immediate success with the public and Ronnie came back at me with a request first for twelve, and then for thirteen more scripts! I called in a script associate, Rex Edwards, to help me. I searched the newspapers for suitable themes and plots and, eventually, I wrote a letter to the Police Review asking policemen to send me stories. They responded magnificently, and my story worries were at an end, or so I thought! I had a stock of material which would last the series for three or four years. But as the programme ran on and on the time came when even this well ran dry. Somehow I managed to survive until I handed over the writing of the series in 1963 to Eric Paice, Gerald Kelsey and David Ellis.
Willis noted, in his introduction to Edwards' collection of Dixon of Dock Green stories in 1974, that Edwards left the series when he did, namely at the end of season 9; Willis' last show, notching up 200 episodes, was broadcast on 23 March 1963.

In 1968, Edwards play The Goblet Game was performed at the Mermaid Theatre, reviewed by The Times (30 October 1968) as "a very rough and rowdy play by an author who has written copiously for radio and television. What surprises one most about it, bearing in mind the author's own Lambeth upbringing, is its grossly caricatured picture of London working-class life." The review isn't very complimentary, mainly complaining about the dialogue ("the characters speak almost entirely in tabloid-paper prose laced with schoolboy malapropisms and outrageous puns") and the "unmistakable implication that the modern poor are basically service, conformist, disloyal to their own kind and interested only in telly and bingo."

There were no such complaints from readers of Edwards scripts for 'Dixon of Dock Green' when it appeared in Swift between 1957 and 1961, with George Dixon's adventures drawn for the colour cover by Harry Lindfield and Roland Davies. Edwards also scripted an episode for Swift Annual 8 (1961).

A letter from Edwards (then living in Bushey, Herts.) to The Guardian in August 1978 reveals that, "at the age of 49 I sustained a massive coronary and was given 48 hours to live. I left hospital after a month, researched into my case (the doctors had told me very little), made some small adjustments in my way of life and got back to normal living ... That was 16 years ago. Today, aged 65, I still do an arduous full-time job, often working till 11 p.m., and am looking forward to an active retirement."

Update: (11 November 2015)
The latest update to Al Hubin's Crime Bibliography reveals that Rex Edwards was the pen-name of Walter Frederick Edwards (1912-1983).

PUBLICATIONS

Novels
The Dales: The Story of a Family, based on the BBC radio serial. London, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1969.
Dixon of Dock Green, based on the television scripts by Ted Willis; introduced by Ted Willis. London, Pan Books, 1974.
Arthur of the Britons, based on the Harlech Television series. London, Universal-Tandem (Target Books), 1975.

Non-fiction
Coronary Case: A Personal Report. London, Faber & Faber, 1964.

Plays
The Goblet Game (produced, Mermaid Theatre, London, 29 Oct 1968).

Teleplays
Dixon of Dock Green:
__Eleven Plus
, with Ted Willis (7 Jul 1956)
__Postman's Knock, with Ted Willis (4 Aug 1956)
The Avengers:
__The Grandeur That Was Rome
(19 Jul 1963)
Six Days of Justice:
__Suddenly... You're In It
(17 Apr 1972)
__The Counsellor (1 May 1973)
__The China Lady (19 Nov 1973)
__Case for Committal (26 Nov 1973)
The Man Outside:
__A Glass of Snake Wine (7 Jul 1972)

Radio Plays
The Spindle (Light, Dec 1963)

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