On this day in history : 9th July 1955 – Dixon of Dock Green is shown on British television for the first time…. With Jack Warner playing the part of George Dixon the series ran for 21 years….
The programme, created by Ted Willis, ran on the BBC between 1955 and 1976 for 22 series with 367 episodes….and centred on everyday life in an East End of London police station…. It dealt with petty crime in a reasonable and human way….
Jack Warner had been a comedian on the radio and continued to play comic characters in his early film career…. However, in the early 1940s he began to extend his range, becoming a character actor….displaying warmth and maturity…. ‘George Dixon’ made his first appearance in the film ‘The Blue Lamp’ in 1950….
As a TV programme Dixon of Dock Green aired at 6.30pm on a Saturday evening….and always started with one of its famous lines….”Evening, all”…. In 1961 it was voted the second most popular TV show, with an estimated 13.85 million viewers…. Dixon was popular among the police themselves; Warner was made an honorary member of both the Margate and Ramsgate police forces…. On a visit to the studios, where the series was made, HM The Queen said she thought Dixon of Dock Green had become part of the British way of life….
However, towards the end of the 1960s ratings had begun to decline – faster paced cop shows, such as Z Cars and then later The Sweeney, were becoming increasingly popular…. Loyal fans stuck with Dixon though; in one episode when the character was shot over 4,000 letters were received by the BBC inquiring of his well-being…. An announcement had to be made on TV to say he was alright….
But by the mid 1970s Jack Warner’s own health was beginning to suffer….he was looking frail and no longer looked the part in a police uniform…. The series came to an end with the last episode being shown on the 1st of May 1976…. “Goodnight, all”….