EVEN though we like to think that television programmes made and produced in this country are far superior to those made elsewhere, TV programmes imported from the US have always occupied the bulk of our general television viewing, ever since the goggle box became an integral part of family life.
Bearing this in mind Alan Keeling has resurrected two more classic American shows from the archives which those of us long enough in the tooth may well remember. Alan writes:
"Hogan's Heroes was a US sitcom that took place in a German P.O.W. camp (Stalag 13) during World War Two. The series made its debut on US TV in the autumn of 1965 and ran successfully until mid 1971, a total of 168 half-hour shows shot in colour. The camp was run by the inept Colonel Wilhelm Klink (Werner Klemperor) and his obese, bumbling side-kick sergeant Hans Schultz (John Banner). Leader of the prisoners was US army air corps colonel Robert Hogan (Bob Crane), assisted by French corporal Louis Le Beau (Robert Clary), English corporal Peter Newkirk (Richard Dawson), sergeant Andrew Carter (Larry Hovis), sergeant Baker (Kenneth Washington) and corporal James Kinchloe (Ivan Dixon).
Under their code name 'Papa Bear' and with an extensive knowledge, they conducted vital missions for the Allies including phone-tapping, underground escape routes, radio contacts, excellent customised tailoring, and a little gambling on the side. They often succeeded in assisting Allied fugitives and securing top secret information for their superiors. For some strange reason Midlands ATV screened only 13 episodes from January 1969, but further broadcasts followed seven years later in 1976.
At the beginning of every half-hour episode of Slattery's People, the show's narrator said:
"Democracy is a very bad form of government, but I ask you never to forget it, for all the others are so much worse."
The series presented the cases of James Slattery (Richard Crenna), a state investigator, politician and lawyer who crusaded against the injustices of government.
During the run of 36 episodes shot in black and white, all kinds of subjects such as abortion, surveillance of citizens and political slurring were explored. Filmed at the Desilu Studios in California the series was created by James Moser and ran on US TV for just over a year in the mid '60s. BBC 1 finally broadcast the show during a mid-evening slot in 1966. The programme's star Richard Crenna received two Emmy nominations as well as a Golden Globe award for his performance. Guest stars during the series run included Ed Wynn, Lloyd Nolan, James Whitmore, Barbara Eden, Ricardo Montalban and Fred Clark."