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No Hiding Place (1959-67)

Courtesy of Archbuild ltd

Main image of No Hiding Place (1959-67)
Associated Rediffusion for ITV, tx. (London) 16/9/1959-12/6/1967
236 x 60 min episodes in 10 series, black & white
ProducersRay Dicks
 Richard Matthews
 Jonathan Goodman
 Geoffrey Nugus
 Peter Willes
 Michael Currer-Briggs

Cast: Raymond Francis (DCS Tom Lockhart); Eric Lander (DS/DI Harry Baxter); Johnny Briggs (DS Russell); Michael McStay (DS Perryman); Sean Caffrey (DS Gregg); Michael Oxley (DS Edwards / Sgt/DS Barnes)

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The cases of Scotland Yard's Chief Detective Superintendent Tom Lockhart.

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From the birth of ITV in 1955 there were various 'cops and robbers' programmes, like Dial 999 (1958-62), filmed with an eye on the American market, but No Hiding Place was the first detective series produced for the commercial network that was 'live' and totally British in flavour. Each week a black police limousine would emerge from the New Scotland Yard building onto Whitehall, to the accompaniment of Laurie Johnson's pounding title music, with Raymond Francis as Chief Detective Superintendent Tom Lockhart and Eric Lander as Detective Sergeant Harry Baxter in the back passenger seat, on their way to investigate a major crime.

The snuff-taking, courteous Lockhart was the first 'telly tec' to become a household name, and had originally appeared in Murder Bag (1957-58), a semi-documentary format which emphasised the forensic aspect of homicide investigations. Barry Baker wrote and produced, with retired Scotland Yard officer Glyn Davies providing storylines based on actual cases, and ensuring accuracy in the procedural details. Crime Sheet (1959) extended Lockhart's duties to cover incidents other than murder, and became No Hiding Place, which soared to No. 1 in 1960's audience ratings, attracting more than 7 million viewers. Baxter 'retired' at the peak of the show's popularity, and in 1964 Lockhart welcomed two new assistants, Johnny Briggs and Michael McStay as Detective Sergeants Russell and Perryman.

Lockhart was ITV's plain-clothes equivalent of the BBC's uniformed George Dixon, with a traditionally judgemental attitude towards miscreants. This narrow perspective was becoming 'old hat', especially after the arrival of Z Cars (BBC, 1962-78), and in 1965 producer Peter Willes and script editor Louis Marks brought in an ex-criminal, Colin Holder, to 'vet' the scripts for authenticity in the language and behaviour of professional lawbreakers, complementing ex-Flying Squad officer George Kelly's advice on police routine. Hence, the first episode under this regime sympathetically considered the problems of adjustment facing a man just released from prison.

Ironically, this 'new look' No Hiding Place series could have been the last. After 188 episodes Associated Rediffusion decided that Lockhart was due for retirement - but the public disagreed, and the show would continue until 1967. For his tenth and final season, Francis was joined by another young 'leg man', Detective Sergeant James Gregg, played by Sean Caffrey.

Of the 236 episodes, only 25 failed to make the Top Twenty, thanks to a meticulous regard for detail and Raymond Francis's believable characterisation.

Cy Young

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Video Clips
Complete episode: 'Home Posting' (45:46)
Associated Rediffusion / Rediffusion Television
TV Police Drama