2 FEBRUARY 1974, Page 18


Bad time Charlie

Clive Gammon

Charlie's back, then, with nasty, disbelieving gaze and b!' Mussolini chins, more the old-stYle headmaster than any policeman I've met, the kind of man 'Oa° could terrify you and yet induce wiggling, sycophantic desire t° please, the real school bullY. 1.11.e other week my colleague Chruisetopher Hudson was deploring ti`i implications of Mfignzun Force:. reckon, though, that Charlie Spectator February 2, 1974 8arlow is a good deal more „rnenacing to civilised values than uirtY Harry in the film. No one could conceivably take Harry _seriously, let alone those ex Marine traffic cops. But Charlie, !ben he shoves his awful fascist 'Itg two inches from, the face of some bedraggled adolescent, is all teo genuine-looking and what is ore I think we are meant to ad mire Most of the time, 'nYway. And, if not entirely adMire everything that he does, then dismiss his little lapses into PSYchic (never physical) violence illerelY as occasional foibles. Vou can see the effect he has: writing about him as if he were a real person even though I °nee saw Stratford Johns drinking 1'v/tat looked like a small gin-andrlic with every appearance of ",errnality at the Osborne Hotel, ansea, one memorable Saturt'aY evening, so I know he's only j0;king. But I don't make the same pstake with, let's say, Chi Ho in atvaii Five-O. 11,AnYway, there he was again last dnesday at the start of a new C 1 series entitled, starkly, ,arlow. Not even Barlow at Large lnY longer, notice. The two "lenacing syllables suffice. I t\vhender if he has really survived we translation from the urban

ks that were once his native ngle? Last week he was using rases like, "politically unwise"

“my superiors at the Home 'ice." Big B was always a bit of climber, though. I'll always frecall, shortly after his promotion, 1;°,111 the Newtown of Z-Cars to suatever they called Bristol in th°ftlY, Softly, the moment when si-4e camera caught him alone outthe a mellow West Country pub,

kind you don't encounter on South Lancashire plain. He

snuffing the air voluptuously, 30S Snuffing the cocktail bar, the 1,statirant already. That novelty's the'rh off, now. He savours power Nese days and the occasional i',.ass of good malt. Just like tneone else one could name.

indeed, Barlow has surwled and is alive and glowering in ii,flitehall. Last week's episode, itte Deal, did him only fair justice, Oed up as he was against a 19'perannuated rock singer of the 4,5%, disinterred for a European 474r, who unbelievably addressed 4:'11 as "Chiefy Boy." It seemed a 41„t Of a mis-match really. Some 1.1"111 was scratched up about the sttelne Office having been prestred by the US Embassy to pro the pop star and a riot being threatened at an open-air festival ‘1/hen the star took off to Bir

agh hto find his long-lost wife ead of singing, but Charlie all the exotica in his stride. A t

-weight challenge for him LI,gh, and there wasn't much he 'd do about it except indicate at he might batter (not that he eQii you 'Y would, naturally) some th he thought was hiding pr?hetamines in the heels of his form boots.

ellt never mind. More brutish toings are promised. There's going pr be a new recruit to the

ramme, a Det. Insp. Tucker chews gum and needs his rough edges planed off. This task has been entrusted to sweettalking Charles Barlow so we have some delectable moments ahead.