British television's long standing love affair with period crime fighting added another memorable success to its illustrious stable of Victorian sleuths with Sergeant Cribb.
Very similar in style to ATV's 1963 Sergeant Cork series, Cribb debuted in 1979 as a 90-minute Screenplay from Granada Television in the Midlands. Adapted from Peter Lovesey's 1978 novel and set in Victorian London around the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, Alan Dobbie starred as a the tough and determined Detective Sergeant who worked for the newly formed Criminal Investigation Department, designed to clean up the streets of London using the latest detection methods.
The series admirably caught the flavour of the era in its depiction of Victorian life and included many historical events such as the publication of Jerome K. Jerome's 'Three Men in a Boat' and the sale of London Zoo's most famous elephant, Jumbo, to Barnum and Bailey's Circus. The imaginative plots revolved around such diverse subjects as bare-knuckle prize fighting, spiritualism and Irish terrorism and were set against a backdrop of the Victorians at work and play. Aiding and abetting Cribb was his trusty stout assistant Detective Constable Thackery (William Simons) -whilst his direct superior Inspector Jowett (David Waller), far from impressed with Cribb's new crime solving techniques, would often turn up to frustrate him.
Intelligent writing, superb production values and an especially intelligent performance by the talented and ever reliable Alan Dobie, ensured that Sgt Cribb became a more than worthwhile addition to the televisual ranks of Victorian detectives who were in many ways direct rivals of the incomparable Sherlock Holmes.
Published on December 5th, 2018. Written by SRH for Television Heaven.