Fabian of Scotland Yard

1954 | United Kingdom

The first ever British made filmed series, shot by Trinity Productions for the BBC and consisting of 39 black and white episodes, Fabian of Scotland Yard has been described as Britain's first generation of the TV detective. 

To give it credibility, the series was based on real crimes, or stories from police files from Scotland Yard and in particular (or so it was alleged) on the investigations of former celebrated Yard detective Robert Fabian. Fabian was played in each episode by Bruce Seton but the real-life Fabian turned up at the end of each episode to round it off in the style of George Dixon in Dixon of Dock Green although, according to Susan Sydney-Smith, author of "Beyond Dixon of Dock Green," his appearance was "jarring and awkward." Robert Fabian may have been an accomplished investigator but he was far less of a broadcaster. 

Inspector Fabian
The real Robert Fabian

The series was made for export and several episodes were never actually transmitted in the UK. 

London's familiar landmarks were used in a somewhat travelogue style and, being shot on film rather than live in the studio like many contemporary BBC shows, the Corporation had much more freedom in broadcasting it at different times of the week. Originally shown on Saturday night it later moved to Wednesday evenings with a repeat on weekday afternoons. Among the contributors was Arthur La Bern whose novel "Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square" was later adapted by Alfred Hitchcock as the movie 'Frenzy.' The series was also known as Patrol Car in the USA where it enjoyed success on the CBS Network, as well as Inspector Fabian of Scotland Yard and Fabian of the Yard in other countries, but as Fabian of Scotland Yard on the BBC. To confuse matters even more there was a BBC radio series in 1959 called Fabian of the Yard (billed as "A series of programmes in which ex - Detective Superintendent Robert Fabian talks about some of his experiences in the Metropolitan Police Force").

Two B-feature films made up of re-edited episodes were released in 1954 and 1955; Fabian of the Yard and Handcuffs, London.

Published on December 11th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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