Wednesday, 4 September 2013

G.F.Newman - The Man Whose Tales Were Too Bad To Be True

A long tradition on British television was the image of PC George Dixon reassuring the public that they could rely on the Police to protect them and put the bad guys away.  Alas, that image started changing in the sixties, where some novels cut out the image of Dixon of Dock Green/ Z Cars/ Softly Softly and went for the jugular.  The most notorious was G.F.Newman, writer of the most trail blazing crime drama of them all, Law & Order, who was said by one writer, as "Too bad to be true".  In 1970, Newman released his first novel and created a great but corrupt cop, Terry Sneed in "Sir, You Bastard".  Sneed quickly rose from a PC to a Detective Inspector, by any method possible; violence, bribery, fitting up, intimidation, blackmail.  Critics were horrified about this portrayal of the world famous British Police Officer, but Newman took his pointers from the Policemen who were his friends and used methods that they told him about.  Newman said one of them turned their backs on him.

    Newman then did a further three novels featuring Sneed; You Nice Bastard, You Flash Bastard(Or The Price) & To Set A Thief.  He was asked to do a crime drama featuring the four sides to the criminal justice system, tied to a central story.  This was cops, villains, lawyers and prison. This resulted in the BBC drama series "Law & Order" that had questions raised in Parliament, clean up TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse screaming for everybody involved, BBC, Newman, actors, production staff, to be charged with treason.  It first aired in 1978, then again, two years later.  Then the BBC promised the Metropolitan Police that they will never show it again!

    Newman then went into a series of novels that covered various topics;  3 Professional Ladies(Prostitution), The Player & The Guest(Snooker Hustler) Billy (Child Battering) The Nations Health(The NHS) The Guvnor(The Flying Squad) Charlie & Joanna(Child Abuse) The List (Hoover & the FBI) The Men With the Guns(Kennedy Assassination) The Split(South Africa) The Testing Ground(Based on the Stalker Enquiry).  He is also the man behind the successful Law series "Judge John Deed".  Some of his works have been made into one-offs "Billy" "The Testing Ground" and one that featured cops trying to kill somebody.  Grab some of his books, they are worthwhile.