Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Thrill of the Chase

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Thrill of the Chase

Article excerpt

Byline: By Will Mapplebeck

It looks rather bland compared to today's brutal cop shows, like The Shield or CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But when it was first aired in the 1970s, Starsky and Hutch caused quite a stir.

This pair of crime-fighters were not your average TV cops. David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, who played the title roles, sported the latest 1970s fashions, drove a rather funky red Torino sports car dubbed The Striped Tomato, and used unorthodox methods to get their man.

They had a black streetwise informant, the famous Huggy Bear, and spent time in strip joints and seedy bars pursuing their investigations.

From the prolifically successful stable of Aaron Spelling, Starsky and Hutch was initially inspired by a brief 1975 newspaper article in the New York Times by Spelling's production partner, Leonard Goldberg, relating the story of two cops hand-picked by the residents of a crime-ridden area to clean up their streets.

Goldberg went to writer William Blinn and charged him with developing a series from the basic premise. Blinn set to work and fashioned an idea that was tentatively titled Nightwork. Due to the prohibitive cost of night-time shooting, the idea was reworked and what emerged was the ratings-busting exploits of two young chalk-and-cheese undercover cops working a particularly tough inner-city beat - Starsky and Hutch.

The show's gritty subject matter made it controversial and the BBC refused to broadcast an episode called The Fix which dealt with drugs.

Each programme would inevitably feature a car chase in which the pair would drive at top speed through the back alleys of Bay City (a fictional locale based on Los Angeles), crashing through piles of cardboard boxes as frightened pedestrians dived for cover.

At the time, police chief Kenneth Oxford complained that the example of Starsky and Hutch had caused British police to begin "driving like bloody maniacs". But the show's mixture of action and adventure was loved at Sarah Martin's home in Gosforth, Newcastle. …

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