CLASSIC AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION

MATLOCK POLICE
SOLO ONE

Part 1


Copyright © 2013 Don Storey.  All rights reserved.


MATLOCK POLICE
SOLO ONE
FEATURE ARTICLE
Part 2

 

MATLOCK POLICE
EPISODE DETAILS
Part 1: Eps 1 - 50
Part 2: Eps 51 - 100
Part 3: Eps 101 - 150

Part 4: Eps 151 - 200
Part 5: Eps 201 - 228
 

SOLO ONE
EPISODE DETAILS

 

 

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INTERVIEWS

 

CHRONOLOGICAL
OVERVIEW

 

F.A.Q.

 

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By 1970, the 0-Ten Network was in the unenviable position of not having a top-rating local drama. Seven had been enjoying a ratings bonanza with Crawford Productions’ Homicide since 1964, and the Nine Network had similar success first with Hunter then with Division 4, also from the Crawfords stable. Even the ABC achieved good results with their in-house local drama series Contrabandits and Delta.

The 0-Ten Network was a relative newcomer on the scene, having commenced operations in 1964-65 when the government approved a third commercial station for the capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. From the start, they seemed condemned to a perennial third place in the ratings. As one ATV-0 Melbourne executive told a television columnist: "We must have a programme which will rate in the 40’s."1

Thinking that they should have their own version of the successful crime show formula, ATV-0 initially approached Crawfords in 1969 for a police series. At that stage Division 4 had just gone to air, and Crawfords were not interested in producing another police show. ATV-0 decided to make their own cop show in-house, and came up with The Long Arm. Production commenced in January 1970, the series went to air in April, and by July ATV-0 announced it was cancelling the series after 19 episodes. The Long Arm was an ambitious attempt at a drama series, but it lacked the finesse of the Crawford cop shows. Low ratings, financial problems and production difficulties ensured the demise of the series.

ATV-0 once again approached Crawfords for a police show. Crawfords tried hard to interest ATV-0 in all sorts of concepts for a TV series other than a cop show, but ATV-0 were adamant that they wanted a police series like Seven and Nine had. Crawfords finally agreed, and in August 1970 there were press reports that ATV-0 had bought a series based on the Vice Squad. Hector Crawford, head of Crawford Productions, played down the reports: “I’m afraid this news release is a bit premature. It seems there was a leak somewhere and we had to show our hands. We originally had four ideas to choose from. We settled on ‘Vice Squad’ because it will be one programme that will be able to compete with overseas competition.”2

By late September 1970 it was announced that Crawfords would be producing a police series for ATV-0 titled Matlock. So what happened to the 'Vice Squad' concept?  There were press reports to the effect that 'Vice Squad' was dropped because the Victoria Police were not happy about a series drawing attention to that squad, but David Lee, a long-time director with Crawfords, thought that it didn’t even get that far: “I don't think that ever got off the ground. There was always the question of what was the third show going to be about, obviously it was going to be about cops because 0-Ten were the only ones who didn't have a cop show, but I don't think the Vice Squad concept even got to the network. I think that happened somewhere between Crawfords and TV Week.”3

Matlock was sold to ATV-0, as distinct from the 0-Ten Network, and Sydney’s TEN-10 initially showed no interest in it. “Matlock is strictly a Melbourne project,” said an ATV-0 representative. “TEN-10 never wanted to be involved with it.”4  It was reported that TEN-10 was reluctant because they “burnt their fingers” with The Long Arm and did not want to become “two-time losers”.5

As much as ATV-0 were desirous of having a series similar to Homicide and Division 4, Matlock added a different element to the police show genre by being set in a country town in Victoria. Ian Jones and Terry Stapleton, who had previously played a large part in the development of Homicide, Hunter and Division 4, devised Matlock. In addition to their creative input, they were both prolific scriptwriters, and Ian Jones also worked as a director on all three series.

“This will be a police series with a difference,” said Terry Stapleton. “We’ll be able to use our experience with Homicide and Division 4, but apply it in a different dimension. It’s desirable - and quite valid - that in a small community, the police should be part of the day-to-day life of the town. Apart from the hard-core police aspect, the bush setting should make Matlock the most validly Australian series yet made by Crawfords. We’re not setting out to make the series another Bellbird (an ABC soap set in a country town), but there will be recurring characters, and we will have more scope to delve into the private lives of the main characters.”6

Matlock would obviously steer clear of big city organised crime gangs, but the series would cover the full gamut of provincial police work, including larceny, domestics, crime amongst itinerant workers, brawls, assisting Melbourne police with crims on the run, accidents, even cattle-rustling and the occasional homicide. The pressures, causes and effects of crime can be different in the small community of a country town with its lack of ‘big-city’ anonymity, and the police work would reflect this.

Defending the decision to make another crime series, Stapleton said, “We’ve considered other drama series, and we’ve offered at least five shows to Australian television networks, but all they are interested in are police shows.”7

The cast was selected by the end of October, and filming commenced in November 1970. By this time the series title was expanded to Matlock Police, and it was intended to have about ten episodes ‘in the can’ before the series went to air early in 1971. The cast was chosen after several weeks of an intensive selection period that included dozens of auditions. “We had the characters in mind,” said Hector Crawford, “and set out to find actors who would fit into the image and yet be able to develop the roles.”8

The Matlock police station is typical of a Victorian country town, with a Uniform Branch and a C.I. (Criminal Investigation) Branch. The C.I.B. is headed by Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern, who grew up in the Matlock district and is an accomplished bushman. Aged in his forties, Maddern is divorced, and has two children. Dedicated, with an authoritative personality and a direct approach to his work, Maddern is well respected in the town.

Maddern was played by Michael Pate, who was an actor, writer and producer in Australian film and theatre before moving to America in 1950. He returned to Australia in 1968 after a successful career in Hollywood. Pate was a producer on The Long Arm for a short period before accepting the Matlock role. “Matlock will be quite different to Division 4 and Homicide,” he said. “This is an exciting departure in police drama.”9

Maddern’s off-sider is Detective Allan Curtis, aged in his mid-20’s, who has just arrived in Matlock. He is from Melbourne and is essentially a city boy, sent to his first country posting against his will. Curtis is adapting to country life, and his character and abilities develop as he becomes more experienced in his new situation. Curtis is staying at the Matlock Hotel, and a romance develops between him and Maureen, the hotel receptionist/barmaid, however the pressures of being a country cop take their strain and the relationship eventually ends. Curtis was played by Grigor Taylor, a virtually unknown actor who had just graduated from NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art).

Head of the Uniform Branch is Sergeant Bert Kennedy, an Englishman who migrated to Australia in 1950. Kennedy is thorough but also easy-going with a good sense of humour. Kennedy is married to Nell, and enjoys the country life in Matlock - so much so that he has knocked back promotion to avoid moving to Melbourne. Kennedy was played by Vic Gordon, a veteran actor of television, stage, variety and stand-up comedy. Amongst many other things, Vic was well known as ‘Funnyface’ Gordon for his work in children’s television.

There are several Constables attached to the Uniform Branch, but the most prominent is a motorcycle cop, Constable Gary Hogan, who performs a wide variety of duties. Hogan is about 30, a friendly, easy-going person who grew up in the country, and is always willing to help in whatever work is going. Gary Hogan was played by Paul Cronin, another relatively unknown actor who had previously appeared in a few minor guest spots in Homicide and Division 4. Cronin actually auditioned for the role of Det. Curtis, but it soon became clear that he was more suited to the role of Gary Hogan. Ian Jones: “Terry Stapleton and I had created Gary Hogan and we had a very clear picture of Gary as a 19-20-year-old motorbike cop, very young, very country. Paul Cronin arrived to audition for the detective role, which Grigor Taylor ended up getting, and Terry and I took one look at Paul and said, 'We were wrong about Gary Hogan, Gary Hogan isn't 19 or 20, this is what Gary Hogan is like'. Paul just fitted it, he fitted it like a dream.”10

Const. Hogan’s motorcycle had a radio attached to it, and he used the call sign ‘Solo One’. Generally, Crawford cop shows were very faithful to police procedure, but in this instance the producers took some dramatic licence, as police motorbikes at the time were not equipped with radios. In a classic case of life imitating art, the popularity of the Hogan character raised the profile of motorcycle cops so much that the Victoria Police ended up fitting radios to their bikes. “The impact of that character was extraordinary,” said Ian Jones. “Motorcycle cops at that point didn't have a terribly good image. They were regarded as heavies and storm-trooper types, and the impact of Paul Cronin's performance as Gary Hogan was to make people look at motorcycle cops in a different way. Guys wanted to join the police force saying they want to be a motorcycle cop like Gary Hogan, and perhaps some motorcycle cops even started behaving like Gary Hogan - it was extraordinary. And of course motorcycle cops didn't have radios on their bikes when we did Matlock, that was a mock-up, and subsequently it became part of the equipment so they started to look more like Gary Hogan.”11

In line with actual changes in the Victoria Police, in later episodes Sgt. Kennedy and Det. Sgt. Maddern were reclassified as Senior Sergeant and Detective Senior Sergeant respectively.

There is actually a real town called Matlock, located way off the beaten track in the ranges east of Melbourne. It is only a tiny settlement that is almost a ghost town, with a population of about seven people and a dog. The Matlock of the series, however, is a fictitious town, being loosely based on Shepparton in Victoria. A great deal of thought went into creating Matlock, and a ‘manual’ was issued to scriptwriters giving full details of the town’s geography, amenities, social structure, etc., as well as that of the surrounding area. Matlock was even given a full and colourful history, including Aboriginals (the ‘Bangerang’ tribe), the town founder (George Matlock), a gold rush, a bushranger (‘Holy’ Joe Cooper) and a town patriarchy (the Falconers).

The population of Matlock is 17,300; however, this increases to 75,000 when the population within a 30-kilometre radius of the town is included. Matlock is situated inland on the Central Highway, approximately 160 kilometres north of Melbourne. The town has residential areas that range from prosperity to poverty, and there is also an industrial area. The local radio station is 3ML, the local television station is MNV-12 and the local newspaper is the ‘Matlock Advertiser’. A rail connection to Melbourne provides Matlock with a regular train service. Close by are the Candowie Ranges, a branch off the Great Dividing Range, and the small ‘satellite’ settlements of Wilga, Burribri, Tarragoa, Chinaman’s Creek, Ringtail, Millbank and Borrayallock. The surrounding countryside is undulating, rising up to the Candowies, and a wide range of agricultural and pastoral pursuits are followed.  The Lonergan River runs near the town, and nearby Lake Matlock caters for all manner of water recreation. It seems the only physical features that Matlock lacked as potential dramatic devices were beaches and a snowfield.

A variety of locations were sought out to depict the town and surrounds, with most filming being done around the Lilydale / Yarra Valley area to the east of Melbourne, which afforded a vast range of country that could be used to faithfully re-create almost any rural setting. Some suburban locations were also used, with Whitehorse Road in Box Hill depicting the main street of Matlock in early episodes, and the Ringwood police station doubled as the Matlock police station for the entire series. The country atmosphere was captured nicely, and the locations chosen were very convincing. Occasionally there would be a slip-up, such as a street scene with a sign on a bank reading ‘Healesville branch’, but these lapses were rare. Interior scenes utilised the studios of ATV-0.

As with their previous series, Crawfords made Matlock Police in black and white using the film/video integration method. Film was used for exteriors, and interior studio scenes were taped on video. The series remained in production for five years, and commencing with the 163rd episode it was made in colour, still using the film/video integration process. In all, 229 episodes were made. (The discrepancy in episode numbers, i.e. the first colour episode being No. 162 and the final episode being No. 228, is due to one episode being numbered with an 'A' suffix).

Michael Pate was enthusiastic about his Matlock role: “There is just so much of me in that character (Vic Maddern) that it’s a role in which I can draw on almost unlimited resources.” Pate also said he thought finance was a prime obstacle for local drama: “It is obvious that with more money to spend you are going to come out with a better production. But money alone won’t give you a good show. Sure, there’s been more money spent on Matlock, but there have also been good scripts and realism in the acting.”12  Hector Crawford said Matlock Police had a budget of $24,000 an episode, which was “a substantial increase” on its stable-mates Homicide and Division 4.13

Matlock is populated by a variety of characters, and there were quite a few recurring support roles. Luigi Villani played Tony Angelini, proprietor of a ‘roadhouse’ that was actually a service station with a glorified hamburger joint attached. He was introduced in episode 9 (with an 'over-the-top' Italian accent that was dropped in all subsequent appearances), and appeared with fair regularity until episode 74. His role would vary in importance - usually it consisted of one or two scenes but sometimes it could be quite prominent. The character received a positive viewer response, and Villani was not too surprised: “I guessed the personality of the character would get recognition,” he said. “It’s the human interest feeling I guess. Tony just treats everyone nicely. He’s a good man.”14  Tony Angelini ‘hibernated’ in the Matlock scene while Luigi Villani played a character with the same name in the Crawfords private-eye series Ryan. Tony and his roadhouse returned for one more appearance in episode 178.

The town drunk was played by Roy Day. At first the character appeared spasmodically, then the role gradually increased in prominence, and he was soon christened Edgar (although in one early episode he is called Ned). In fact, one of the later colour episodes was even written around him (No. 171, ‘No Place Like Home’), and he played a major role in the last episode. His character could be used to good effect for drama or comic relief, although the writers could not seem to agree on his surname - it was variously given as Berry or Harper, but for the most part he was simply called Edgar.

Sue Walker played a minor role as Maureen Buchanan, a receptionist at the hotel where Det. Curtis stays, and the two had a limited romance. The relationship did not last, and Maureen is only seen in the first 40-odd episodes.  Natalie Raine made occasional appearances as Nell Kennedy, Sgt. Bert Kennedy’s wife, and her character became more prominent and appeared more regularly in the later colour episodes. The Medical Superintendent of the Matlock & District Hospital, Dr. Ian Sutherland, would often find himself dealing with aspects of police work, and appeared frequently in minor parts. He was played by Edward Howell.

The town patriarchies, the Falconers, were often mentioned throughout the series. Sheila Florance appeared in a couple of early episodes as town matriarch Grace Falconer, and turned up again in episode 128. Tony Bazell played George Falconer, a pompous solicitor and local councillor who is related to Grace, and made only four appearances spanning 170 episodes (Nos. 1, 54, 128 and 170). Bazell also played different guest characters in other episodes during this period.

Three other characters each appeared in about three or four of the first twenty-odd episodes. They were intended to appear on a regular basis, but soon faded into obscurity. They were Queenie Ashton as Mrs. McIntyre, an elderly widow with whom Maddern was boarding; Anne Morgan as Jeannie McIntyre, Mrs. Mac’s daughter who works in Melbourne and occasionally visits; and Loriel Smart as Mrs. Eve Templar, a wealthy local society figure aged about 40, who was often involved in town affairs.

Mrs. Templar's husband is mentally and physically disabled as a result of an accident, and is permanently in a care facility. She became friendly with Maddern, and there was potential for a romantic interest, but it was considered inappropriate for someone in Maddern’s position. “Although it never got to the stage of being a terribly obvious romance, it appeared to be developing,” said Loriel Smart, “but because it was a small town, and people talk in small towns, it had to end. Maddern had to be careful of his reputation.”15  Mrs. Mac’s daughter Jeannie seemed a better proposition as a romantic interest for Maddern, but that too faded away almost as soon as it started.

A character that appeared frequently in bit parts throughout the series was Alf the barman, usually played by Les James. In later episodes Keith Kaye occasionally appeared as Horace, a colourful personality from the outlying settlement of Chinaman's Creek, who was usually trying to avoid Const. Hogan serving him with yet another summons for minor misdemeanours.

Another character who is heard throughout the series, but never seen (except for the last episode), is the VKC radio operator, Shirl. Unlike formal city practice, the police address her by her first name over the air, and her calls of ‘VKC Matlock to Solo One’ would become very familiar to viewers over the years.

Matlock Police premiered in Melbourne on February 25, 1971, in an 8:30 PM Thursday timeslot. The first episode, ‘Twenty Six Hours’, made a big impact, and was warmly received by viewers and the critics. A spectacular car chase drew much favourable comment, although the more dramatic aspects of it happened by accident - literally. The scene, filmed near Warrandyte, involved a chase through the bush. The pursued Falcon skidded and hit a tree at speed, damaging the front right hand side - and the sequence was written into the episode. The pursuing Monaro police car hit a small tree that was caught in the car’s bonnet and stayed there - that sequence was also retained in the episode. The final scene called for the Falcon to miss a bend, but stop short of rolling the vehicle. When it came to filming, the stunt driver lost control and the car bounced over an embankment and nose-dived into a tree stump halfway down a drop to a dry creek bed. That, too, was retained in the episode.

The episode also featured guest actor Diane Lewis in a brief nude scene depicting some hippies swimming in a river. The scene caused a minor controversy, but it was not gratuitous and was handled very discreetly. An ATV-0 representative said: “Everyone agreed that it should be left in, because it’s an adult series and the scene is important to the story.”16  Matlock did not make a habit of nude scenes - only two other episodes would feature very brief scenes, and in a similar context. (Nudity purely for sensationalism did not become a regular occurrence on Australian television until the advent of the soap operas Number 96 and The Box.)

Matlock Police was a success right from the start, and enjoyed healthy ratings for the whole of its five-year run. In fact, so well received was the series, that commencing with the second episode ATV-0 decided to screen an 'encore' on Saturday at 7:30 PM. That practice lasted two weeks, and then the Australian Broadcasting Control Board stepped in and ruled that Matlock Police was not suitable for children and that it could not be shown before 8:30 PM. The reasons given were the nude scene in episode one, and bad language generally. (Bad language back in the early 70’s consisted of a few too many utterances of ‘bloody’ - hardly noticeable by today’s standards). A similar situation occurred in Brisbane when TVQ-0 were forced to move the series from 7:30 to 8:30.

The reluctance of Sydney’s TEN-10 to acquire Matlock saw the programme offered to rival channel ATN-7. Hector Crawford said he had no knowledge of a proposed Sydney sale, nor was he concerned by it: “We have sold the programme as a package deal, so the subject of Sydney stations taking the programme rests with ATV-0.”17 After proving itself in Melbourne, TEN-10 finally bought the show, and Matlock Police premiered in Sydney on the 13th of May, 1971. Previously, TVQ-0 in Brisbane commenced screening the series on March 3, 1971, while SAS-10 in Adelaide followed later on July 14, 1971.

TEN-10 approached the Control Board for permission to show the series at 7:30 PM, but the request was refused. “We based our argument to the Board on the fact that Homicide is screened at 7:30,” said a TEN-10 representative. “Ironically if this series were imported from overseas it would be classified by the Commonwealth Film Censor and we could possibly get an ‘A’ rating for it. It usually happens with a show like Ironside, for instance, that the Commonwealth censors will rate twenty shows ‘A’ and, say, six ‘AO’. The station can then programme the series for 7:30, giving it a major rating advantage, and slip in half a dozen specials to pre-empt the 7:30 hour for the six ‘AO’ programmes. Because Matlock is a local programme, we are bound to self-censorship and the Board’s discriminatory ruling that no episode can be shown before 8:30.”18

By April 1971, ATV-0 had asked Crawfords to reduce swearing in the series. A channel spokesman said this was a result of viewer feedback, not the Control Board ruling. “Language was the sole problem,” said the spokesman. “We had a definite viewer reaction to the language used. It has been enough to warrant us doing something about it. We watched a new episode this week, it was very fast and there were only two ‘bloodies’. It proved that the show really doesn’t need them.”19  Hector Crawford confirmed he had issued a ‘tone it down’ order. “The language used in the early episodes and the nude bathing scene in the first programme overstepped the bounds,” he said. “Even if children did see the programme, the violence in cartoons far exceeds that in Matlock Police. The intention was not to come out with a lily-white, colourless programme. The purpose was to achieve a great degree of realism. Our writers spent time studying various large rural communities so they could reflect the right attitudes and I believe in this they succeeded.”20

Matlock Police did not shy away from exploring social issues and attitudes, and many subjects were dealt with over the course of the series. Episode 16, ‘Heroes’ Day’, was one example, looking at differing attitudes to war and Anzac Day, and the script (by Ian Jones) was used in a textbook for students, ‘In Focus’.21

Episode 18, ‘A Second Opinion’, concerned an autistic child and his treatment by his mother, and ATV-0 considered deleting some scenes. An ATV-0 representative, who described the portrayal of the child as “frighteningly realistic”, said they were undecided about scenes that depicted the child’s mother tying him to his bed at night to prevent him wandering away: “The child in the programme comes from a sub-standard home and his parents don’t take as much care as they should. It was thought that parents of autistic children could become upset if they watched scenes like that.”22

The following episode, No. 19 ‘Hideaway’, was scheduled for screening on July 1, 1971, but was dropped at the last minute because the case that the story was based on was still being heard in court. The episode was re-scheduled for August 26. The same episode saw a last-minute change during production because of a dispute over fees. John Fegan (previously Inspector Connolly in Homicide) was originally cast in a guest role, but declined the part because he considered his fee was not high enough. He was replaced by Fred Betts.

Sue Donovan, hostess of ABC children's fantasy series Adventure Island, made a guest appearance in ep. 31 'Still Life' as Policewoman Irene Bishop, who was called in from a neighbouring police district to assist with the investigation into a case of carnal knowledge. "I am really looking forward to the part," said Sue. "Crawfords have sent me a couple of scripts recently but until this Matlock episode I have had to knock them back. The parts I was offered were playing tarty girls and naturally unsuitable. I can't afford to be seen in this light because of my Adventure Island audience."23 There was some speculation that the role of Policewoman Bishop could become a recurring role. Casting director Henry Crawford said: "It is not usual for a small district such as Matlock to have a regular policewoman on duty. But if the scripts call for it Policewoman Bishop could play an occasional role in the series."24 It was not to be. Although Sue Donovan would appear in the series again, this episode was the only time Policewoman Bishop was seen.

Tragedy struck during filming of a car chase scene for ep. 36, ‘End Of The Road’, when young cameraman Colin Enor was accidentally killed. Enor, 21, was part of a crew filming the scene when the car hit an embankment. Three of the crew were able to jump clear, but Colin was pinned against the embankment. The car was driven by Grigor Taylor, with Michael Pate as a passenger. A written tribute to Colin was featured at the end of the episode.

In December 1971, the Broadcasting Control Board revised its ruling on Matlock Police and approved the series for screening in the earlier 7:30 PM timeslot. The series went into recess on ATV-0 for the summer non-ratings period, and returned on January 20, 1972, with ep. 42, ‘Natural Loser’, in a new 7:30 Thursday timeslot. The same episode saw the introduction of a new support character, Dr. Bedi, the new Medical Superintendent of the Matlock & District Hospital. Dr. Bedi is Ceylonese, London-trained, skilled and shrewd at his job, and quite sensitive about his colour. Dr. Bedi was played by Beverley Roberts, replacing Edward Howell as Dr. Sutherland, who last appeared in episode 27.

Episode 48, ‘Brother & Sister’, featured another nude swimming scene, but it did not stir up anywhere near the controversy as the similar scene from the first episode. The ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ scene featured Elli Maclure, who previously had a major role in Barrier Reef. “It wasn’t sexy in the slightest degree,” said Elli. “It wasn’t intended to be. I played a 16-year-old girl who decided to go for a dip in the raw. She was miles away in the middle of the country and in real life she would have swum naked. It looks right and it felt fine when I was filming it.”25 The Broadcasting Control Board was not worried about it either, as they permitted it to screen at 7:30.

Guest actor Helen Morse had a challenging role as a blind girl in episode 56, ‘What The Eye Doesn’t See’. Helen visited a doctor to research behaviour of blind people for the part, in which she plays a character who has been at home for only a few weeks after a car accident has left her blind. “She’s a strongly independent person,” said Helen. “She’s determined to cope, and isn’t able to. That in itself was a challenge from the acting point of view - presenting these two conflicting things in the same person. But getting across her blindness was much harder. Always the problem was that what I should have been doing for authenticity, I wasn’t able to do because it was wrong for TV.”26

The original opening titles were intended to depict the ‘big country’ feel of the series. A helicopter was used for aerial views of Matlock (which was actually a town in Gippsland), and other scenes depicted the police car, the motorbike, and the cops outside the police station. The end credits showed an aerial view of the motorbike, the C.I. Monaro, and the police station-wagon travelling along a country road (actually the Princes Highway in Gippsland). From episode 64, ‘Sir’, the opening titles were changed to a series of action shots (similar changes were made to the other Crawford shows Homicide and Division 4 at this time). The end credits were shown over a single still shot taken from the episode. And, of course, each episode had the ubiquitous preview scenes (as did Homicide, Division 4 and the earlier Hunter). The theme tune was library music, titled either ‘Project In Operation’ or ‘Industry On The Move’ - the discrepancy comes from a misprint on the record, the label having the former title and the cover having the latter.

In September 1972, ATV-0 started screening a Best Of Matlock Police repeat series on Sunday at 7:30 PM, in addition to the first run episodes on Thursdays. An ATV-0 spokesman said the repeat series was introduced because of the success of the Homicide and Division 4 repeat series on Seven and Nine respectively.27 Other states soon followed suit.

Beverley Roberts as Dr. Bedi was axed from the series, making his final appearance in ep. 79, ‘Ghosts’. Roberts was baffled by the move: “I can’t understand what is going on. I was just beginning to establish the character of Dr. Bedi and now I learn I am to be replaced.”28 Hector Crawford explained the move, saying, “It was necessary from time to time to have fresh character changes in the support roles.”29 The move was hardly surprising, given that Roberts gave a fairly wooden performance in the part. Roberts was replaced by Jeffrey Hodgson as Dr. John Mitchell, who made his first appearance in episode 84. He appeared regularly until ep. 158, although his character was sometimes mentioned in later episodes for the remainder of the series.

Singer and Happening 70 compere Ross D. Wylie made his acting debut in ep. 84, ‘The Rising Cost Of Giving’, in a part specially written for him by George Mallaby (Det. Barnes in Homicide). “The Matlock part was an exciting and rewarding experience,” said Wylie. “I enjoyed working on the series and regarded it as a challenge. Acting is a totally new field for me and I went into it knowing nothing about it at all. People gave me a lot of help. The regulars, Michael Pate, Grigor Taylor, Paul Cronin and Vic Gordon, all tutored me during the two weeks I was involved in the episode.”30 Wylie auditioned at Crawfords after discussing the possibility of acting with George Mallaby, and the audition went so well that Mallaby wrote the lead role with him in mind. “Ross was just right for the role,” said Mallaby. “He played it with a lot of sensitivity. It’s hard to believe this was his first acting role.”31 Producer Rita Tanno concurred: “It was quite a departure - even something of a gamble - to cast Ross as Thomkin in ‘The Rising Cost Of Giving’. No one had ever thought of Ross as a character actor, but I believe that when the show is aired many people will be surprised at this, and at this facet of Ross’s ability.”32

The script was based on an actual case, and involved a girl being raped, and the results that such a violent crime can have. Mallaby said he was not trying to be sensational, but wanted to show the effect of the crime on the victim, on people around her, and the unreal attitudes that some people adopted towards her. “She was treated as something vile, as something distinctly unseemly,” said Mallaby. “I was trying to demonstrate that there was nothing she could have done to avoid it, so why should she be blamed? Yet she had been written off by her family. How were they justified in treating her as an outcast? It was the individual which this crime had defiled and dishonoured. Admittedly, when you write for TV your aim is to entertain. But there should be more to it than that. You try to inspire people to question, to ask the classic question, ‘Why?’ If you can do that you have got a person thinking.”33

Episode 90, ‘Terror On The Loose’, brought down the wrath of the Broadcasting Control Board over what it considered to be excessive violence for a 7:30 timeslot. The episode had already been screened by ATV-0 in Melbourne, and the Board ordered three fight scenes to be cut from all subsequent screenings. Hector Crawford fought the decision, but to no avail: “I think they have unjustly demanded the cuts,” he said. “The scenes in question are no more violent than thousands of others shown on TV in this country every week.”34 The chairman of the Broadcasting Control Board, Myles Wright, said: “The Board has no objection to the episode being shown at 8:30 or later, but we find it completely unsuitable for a younger audience in the early timeslot. We don’t intend to take any further action against ATV-0 for showing the episode, but we will use our powers to enforce the cuts in all other States.”35

At the end of 1972, Grigor Taylor announced that he would not be renewing his contract for 1973 and would leave the series. Taylor wanted his role expanded to give him more opportunity to utilise his acting ability: “I had some very worthwhile discussions with Mr. Hector Crawford over my proposals, but in the end they didn’t quite work out,” said Taylor. “What I asked for was 13 episodes in the year to be written around Det. Curtis. Not to get me a star billing, but merely to increase my workload. I felt I was not getting enough to do. It is as simple as that.”36 Hector Crawford said they were still on friendly terms and parted amicably: “Grigor wanted changes which we felt would be detrimental to the series. We couldn’t agree on these changes so we parted.”37 Taylor’s last appearance was in episode 99, ‘Dingo Hunter’, in which Det. Curtis is promoted to Sergeant and transferred to Melbourne.

 

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

 

1. Veritas, Melbourne Truth, Nov 15, 1969.
2. TV Week, Aug 22, 1970.
3. TV Eye No. 8, May 1996.
4. TV Times, Sep 23, 1970.
5. TV Week, Sep 19, 1970.
6. TV Week, Oct 17, 1970.
7. Ibid.
8. TV Week, June 5, 1971.
9. TV Times, Nov 18, 1970.
10. TV Eye No. 5, June 1995.
11. Ibid.
12. TV Times, March 17, 1971.
13. Ibid.
14. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Aug 5, 1972.
15. TV Times, March 11, 1972.
16. Melbourne Truth, Feb 13, 1971.
17. TV Times, March 17, 1971.
18. TV Times, May 19, 1971. At that time, the Commonwealth Censor classified imported material for television. There were three classifications: G, for General exhibition (can be screened at anytime); A, Not suitable for children (can be screened after 7:30 PM and at limited times during the day); and AO, Adults Only (not to be screened before 8:30 PM). Local productions were not subject to this system; instead, they came under direct regulation by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
19. TV Times, April 14, 1971.
20. Ibid.
21. Don Reid, Frank Bladwell, In Focus - Scripts From Commercial Television's Second Decade, (Macmillan Australia 1972).
22. TV Week, June 26, 1971.
23. TV Times, Aug 21, 1971.
24. Ibid.
25. TV Week, March 11, 1972.
26. TV Times, April 29, 1972.
27. TV Times, Sept 9, 1972.
28. Melbourne Listener In-TV, Aug 5, 1972.
29. Ibid.
30. TV Week, Oct 21, 1972.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. South Australian TV Guide, Nov 3, 1973.
34. TV Week, March 24, 1973.
35. Ibid.
36. TV Week, Dec 16, 1972.
37. Ibid.



The original Matlock Police cast: Vic Gordon, Grigor Taylor, Michael Pate and Paul Cronin.


Michael Pate as Det. Sgt. Vic Maddern, head of the Matlock CIB.


Grigor Taylor as Det. Allan Curtis.


Paul Cronin as Const. Gary Hogan.


Vic Gordon as Sgt. Bert Kennedy, head of the Uniform Branch.


A publicity shot of the Matlock cast: Grigor Taylor, Michael Pate, Paul Cronin and Vic Gordon.


An advertisement for Matlock Police that appeared in Melbourne newspapers and magazines.


Car enthusiasts were impressed by the two-door Monaro used as the CI car in early episodes of Matlock.


Buster Fiddess, John Fegan and Michael Pate in a fight scene from ep. 33, 'The Champ'.


Owen Weingott and Michael Pate during filming of ep. 35, 'Compassionate Leave'.


Paul Cronin as Const. Gary Hogan on his motorbike. The character had an extraordinary effect on both the public and the police - lifting the image of motorcycle cops, inspiring people to join the police force, and the real police motorbikes had radios fitted in imitation of Hogan's 'Solo One' set-up.


Michael Pate and Producer Edward Ogden looking over a script.


Publicity shots often featured the cast grouped around the motorbike: Grigor Taylor, Michael Pate, Paul Cronin and Vic Gordon.


Penny Ramsay and Grigor Taylor in a scene from ep. 87, 'A Little Celebration'.


Luigi Villani as Tony Angelini, proprietor of a local service station / roadhouse.


Vic Gordon as Sgt. Kennedy and Paul Cronin as Const. Hogan with Edgar, the town drunk, played by Roy Day.


Sue Walker as Maureen, receptionist at the Matlock Hotel and a romantic interest for Det. Curtis.


Vic Gordon as Bert Kennedy with Natalie Raine as his wife Nell.


Edward Howell as Dr. Sutherland.


Loriel Smart as Mrs. Eve Templar.


Scenes of the car chase from the first episode.


The aftermath of the first episode car chase - Michael Pate as Sgt. Maddern pulls a defiant criminal played by Rod Mullinar from the wreck.


On a trip to Australia, Bob Crane, of the U.S. series Hogan's Heroes, visited the Matlock set and was promptly 'arrested' by Paul Cronin, Michael Pate and Grigor Taylor.


Vic Gordon and Diane Lewis in a scene from ep. 58, 'One Of Those Days'.


A scene from ep. 61, 'A Weekend's Entertainment' with John Hargreaves and Pamela Stephenson.


Anne Haddy, Guy Le Claire and Lynette Curran in a scene from ep. 67, 'Woman Wanted'.


Grigor Taylor as Det. Curtis and Michael Pate as Det. Sgt. Maddern question a suspect played by Alex Porteous in a scene from ep. 68, 'Butcher's Picnic'.


Beverley Roberts in a support role as Dr. Bedi, with Marie Hall as a nurse at the Matlock & District Hospital.


Michael Pate as Sgt. Maddern questions a criminal played by Terry Norris in a scene from ep. 77, 'Ancient History'.


Matlock Police original opening titles.


The later 'action sequence' opening titles. Many action scenes, which are not shown here, were interspersed between the actors credits.


Jeffrey Hodgson in a support role as Dr. Mitchell.


Filming of ep. 84, 'The Rising Cost Of Giving', with Ross D. Wylie.


Grigor Taylor as Det. Curtis talks to a local librarian, played by Barbara Brighton, in a scene from ep. 87, 'A Little Celebration'.


Noel Ferrier, Paul Cronin and Michael Pate in a scene from ep. 93, 'The Recurrence of Brandy MacBain'.


Det. Curtis and Sgt. Maddern conducting an interview in the CIB office.