Monday 18 November 2019


I've rhapsodised more than once about Talking Pictures TV. In addition to bringing back a host of minor but often interesting B-movies, they have screened a number of interesting British TV series from the past. I've enjoyed Scotland Yard and the Edgar Wallace anthology series, while the recent Shadows of Fear series (which I'd never even heard of before) was very good. Now they have started to show Hazell.

Hazell is one of the most interesting of British private eye series. It was co-written by Gordon Williams (best known as the author of the book that was made into Straw Dogs) and the former England footballer and manager Terry Venables. They used the pen-name P.B. Yuill, which Williams had previously adopted for his weird yet intriguing stand-alone novel The Bornless Keeper.

The books were successful, and were published in paperback by Penguin. There were, alas, only three of them, but they spawned a TV series with Nicholas Ball, then quite a big star, as James Hazell, the Cockney answer to Philip Marlowe. There were over 20 episodes, and I saw a few of them at the time, but now I've caught up with the first in the series.

Hazell Plays Solomon is based on the first of the novels, and it benefits from a strong and engaging plot. Our lad is hired by a flash lawyer to trace the daughter of an American client (played by Jane Asher) and gets into personal and professional complications. It's rather snappily done, and I enjoyed it. Whether the rest of the series lives up to the promise of the first remains to be seen, but this one has worn relatively well, despite all the flared trousers and macho 70s attitudes.

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