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King and Castle

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Thames Methuen, London, 1986
(price: 2.50; 192 pages)

The blurb on the back:

Ronald King is a bent copper whose dirty dealings are catching up with him, and who has to quit the Met before it quits him.
David Castle is a gentle but tough akido teacher and part-time genealogist, with debts to pay, a custody case to fight ... and no steady income.
Thrown together by circumstance and desperation, these two join forces as King & Castle, Debt Collectors. From the East End to Wimbledon, the pair tread the fine line dividing law from disorder. They're the most diverting duo since Arthur Daley and Terry McCann.

opening lines:
Detective Sergeant Ronald King had pushed a lot of folk around in his time. He had used people, leaned on them here and hustled them there. There were few dark tricks that he wouldn't apply when necessary.

Back in the mid-1980s the Thames TV programme Storyboard provided a leaping-off point for various series pilots that did quite well. 'Woodentop' (which became The Bill) was aired here, as were the first excursions by Inspector Ghote, Mr Palfrey of Westminster and Ray Connolly's series Lytton's Diary. In amongst this lot was a pilot for King and Castle, an ex-cop show written by Ian Kennedy Martin and starring Derek Martin and Nigel Planer.

For some reason, writers aren't as celebrated and cherished as they should be when it comes to TV and movies, so it's possible that Ian Kennedy Martin may not be the household name he ought to be round your house. If this is the case, then here's a quick crash course: Mr Martin created The Chinese Detective, Juliet Bravo and The Sweeney, so he kinda knew his stuff when it came to British TV 'tecs. (In his spare time, he wrote episodes of Colditz and The Onedin Line and was the kid brother of Troy Kennedy Martin, who created Z Cars.)

With this kind of pedigree, you'd hope that King and Castle might be a strong show. It wasn't, really. Although the set-up was okay (not inspired but okay), the whole thing never really amounted to a hill of beans. Derek Martin had earlier proved he was a very decent actor - he was in GF Newman's Law and Order and played David Yip's boss in The Chinese Detective - but, as the former cop nearly nicked for being a bad apple, he lacked sufficient charisma as the hard man to carry the show. Meanwhile, Nigel Planer's new age character (a hippy martial arts instructor) left less impression on viewers than Alan Davies in Jonathan Creek. Bit of a missed opportunity, then, and the sleeve blurb reference to Minder is a fair indication of where it all went wrong: the London odd couple theme might have made a decent pitch to TV executives, but that ain't enough.

And, despite the best efforts of John Burke, it ain't enough for a novel either. Sorry, but no.


from the maker of...

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Dr Terror's House of Horrors
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Hammer Horror Film Omnibus
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Till Death Us Do Part

t.v. spin-offs