ATV drama Probation Officer comes to DVD
An early hit for ATV, Probation Officer, starring John Paul and Honor Blackman aired on ITV from 1959 through to 1962.
Tony Booth appears in a later episode of Probation Officer from ATV
The saga is described as an ‘absorbing, rigorously researched drama’ which centres on the work of a team of probation officers based in London, and the lives of the men and women of all ages and backgrounds who come under their care.
Probation Officer sadly, like so many ATV programmes of the era, does not exist complete in the archive – this volume contains the twelve earliest surviving episodes from series one which was produced in the last year of the 1950s.
Drawing on the documentary skills of creator Julian Bond and produced by Emergency – Ward 10’s Antony Kearey, Probation Officer was broadcast at a time when the service was increasingly coming into focus as a progressive response to rising crime.
Guests include Alfred Burke of Public Eye fame, Susan Hampshire from Monarch of the Glen, Strange Report’s Charles Lloyd Pack, Richard Vernon as seen in Goldfinger and Peter Vaughan of Porridge fame.
Also in this first volume Earl Cameron and Lloyd Reckord star in a blistering tale of racism and intolerance which features one of the earliest interracial kisses ever broadcast on British television.
Probation Officer – Volume One (12) is released on the 30th of January 2017 with a RRP: £29.99. The three disc set has been complied from the ITV Studios archives by Network Releasing.
A reader has kindly sent me the following from a 1960's publication and quoting the actor Alfie Bass:-
In passing, one may note his praise of another commercial television programme, Probation Officer. John Paul was invited to take the role of a newcomer to probation work whilst working in Emergency Ward 10. If the show is little remembered now, it was one of the best "social reality" dramas produced in the 1950s and 1960s. John Paul had been a prisoner of war and had become interested in drama through involvement in shows produced within the prison camp. On demob, he secured a job with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and there met his wife, Jean Kendall. Probation Officer, made in the days of black-and-white transmissions, showed a team practice, two older colleagues played by David Davies and John Scott. Great care was taken to reflect accurately the day-to-day life of probation work - including the frustrations and "brick walls" encountered in trying to elevate human attitudes and relationships. As with No Hiding Place, actual case-work was used as a basis for the programme. Many wrote to John Paul thanking him for his work; few people seemed to understand the nature of the probation service at that time, nor for that matter the kind of needs that many convicted people had. Alfie Bass complimented the programme for this, adding that he enjoyed seeing the programme "because it shows the background of many ordinary people's lives."