Hazell Series 2 makes DVD

Monday, 22 November 2010 08:53

The concept of football guru Terry Venables co-creating a Private Eye character may raise the off eyebrow.  However this is what we have in Hazell. Nicholas Ball stars as the streetwise, charismatic detective for hire in this release of the second season of the Thames series. Aired in 1979, it followed the success of the show’s first outing the previous year.

Co-created by journalist and novelist Gordon Williams, the format was in homage of classic film noir while boasting rounded characterisations, witty Cockney dialogue and tough credible action scenes. It was set primarily in London, although we do get a trip to the seaside this season.  Also noticeable is there are a few more topless scenes this time around, and you sense a lot more location filming than in the more studio-bound first series. All of this is to the benefit of the show!

Hazell - Series 2 finally makes it to DVDI remember as a hormone-fuelled teenager watching Hazell with desperate enthusiasm – Mr Hazell was someone whose life was something that would be an acceptable trade-off – the downside would be the almost constant beatings, money troubles, and scamps and rapscallions that you had to encounter. The upside was that there was always a lady worthy of your attention in almost every new case. Indeed, was Lynda Bellingham ever sexier than she was in Hazell?

It was also quite an in-joke to see Ian Marter make a guest appearance – well-known to Doctor Who fans like myself as Harry Sullivan. The fact that Marter’s character gets to say “Daleks” tells you that this was one hell of a wink to the audience.

Some of the locations may seem familiar for those who are fans of Minder, which knew good scouting when they saw it.  Indeed, that series was created by Leon Griffiths following his work on Hazell – he wrote this season’s episode “Hazell and the Deptford Virgin”.

There’s a greater variety of writers for season two, including PJ Hammond (Torchwood, Sapphire and Steel), Trevor Preston (Ace of Wands, The Sweeney), Willis Hall (Budgie, Worzel Gummidge), Dave Humphries (Dempsey and Makepeace, “Quadrophenia”), Murray Smith (Strangers, The Paradise Club) and Richard Harris (Man in a Suitcase, The Avengers, A Touch of Frost). Even actor Brian Glover wrote an episode, which he also starred in, “Hazell and the Greasy Gunners”.

Hazell follows our hero after the end of his police career, when an injury was the trigger to a subsequent slide into alcoholism. Getting a grip on his life, the newly reformed James Hazell sets himself up as a private eye. Utterly ruthless when he needs to be, Hazell is also blessed with a breezy charm, effortless style, robust sense of humour and the ability to think on his feet - vital when tackling blackmail, missing persons’ cases, organised crime and the drugs trade.

He often has to play games with dour Scottish CID adversary ‘Choc’ Minty’, an iconic television character played by Roddy McMillan, who died just four days after the final episode aired, at the age of 56. He had played Roy Johnson in Coronation Street, was Para Handy in The Vital Spark, and guest-starred in such series as Doomwatch, Sutherland’s Law, Shirley’s World, Mogul, and Mystery and Imagination.

Desmond McNamara appears as Hazell's cousin and begrudging assistant, Tel.  Having guest roles in Kinvig, Charles Endell Esq, Only Fools and Horses, The Gentle Touch, Dempsey and Makepeace, CATS Eyes, Minder, Birds of a Feather, and Bergerac, Desmond has had one more shot as a series regular - John Bannister, in the BBC’s Jury (1983).

For Nicholas Ball, the lead role in Hazell defined his career. Major recurring roles since have included Garry Ryan in Footballers’ Wives, and recently Terry in Eastenders. You can also spot him in episodes of The Young Ones, Hustle, Red Dwarf, Boon, Heartbeat, Casualty, New Tricks, Cold Feet, Jonathan Creek, Thief Takers, Urban Gothic, Pie In The Sky, Silk Stalkings, Acapulco HEAT, Bergerac and Hammer House of Horror.

The show begins and ends with a sassy theme composed by Roxy Music's Andy Mackay, which provided a Top 40 hit for singer Maggie Bell.

This long-awaited DVD set, which was advertised a few years ago for release and never appeared, presents all twelve episodes of Season Two, complete and uncut. You also get a DVD extra in the form of an interview with Nicholas Ball, the content of which is excellent, but appears to have been filmed by a domestic video camera!

Hazell – The Complete Second Series is out now from Network. It has a running time of 600 minutes approx, a ‘12’ certificate, and a RRP of £24.99.  There is also Hazell – The Complete Series, including Series One within it, with a running time of 1,100 minutes approx, and a RRP of £49.99. You can get both of these titles for less at www.culttvstore.com



Nicholas Ball as James Hazell

Roddy McMillan as 'Choc' Minty

Desmond McNamara as Cousin Tel

Peter Bourke as Graham Morris


Producer: Tim Aspinall

Created by Gordon Williams and Terry Venables


11. “Hazell and the Baker Street Sleuth

Neville Fitch is a long-in-the-tooth Private Investigator well out of his depth.  He’s trying to get evidence for rich Anne McGeegan against her off the rails hubby Michael. Hazell gets involved in the case, against his better judgement, but benefits big-time from this temporary association.

Guest Starring: Clive Swift (Fitch), Lorna Heilbron (Anne McGeegan), Ken Hutchison (Michael McGeegan), Vivienne Burgess (Miss Frobisher), Jill Melford (Mrs Pargitter), Michael Forrest (Joe Goss), Peter Guinness (Mr Downes), David Neville (Aubrey Buscombe), Dawn Rodrigues (Margo), Alan Chuntz (Heavy), Peter Godfrey (Photographer), David Webb (Heavy).

Writers: Gordon Williams and Terry Venables

Director: Brian Farnham

Original ITV Transmission: 19 April 1979


12. “Hazell and the Deptford Virgin

The Virgin of St Wanda of Cracow is a family antique statuette, wanted back by Fiona Sutton. Hazell takes the job, and finds its being offered for sale – but he’s not the only one who knows its worth.

Guest Starring: Mel Martin (Fiona), Charles Gray (Brownhill), Peter Miles (Heller), Nell Brennan (Mrs McCafferty), Colin Edwynn (Hall Porter), Norman Gregory (Wilkins), Richard McNeff (Cabbie), Steve Plytas (Sandilands), Kevin Sullivan (Kevin), Ralph Watson (Police Inspector).

Writer: Leon Griffiths

Director: Alan Grint

Original ITV Transmission: 26 April 1979


13. “Hazell Bangs the Drum

Dr Patel believes her cousin Raiji is being blackmailed, and her admirer Hazell is hired to investigate. With the help of Tel, they keep tabs on the restaurant where Raiji works, but there’s more to the story.

Guest Starring: Anna Nicholas (Dr Patel), Gavin Brown (Joe Walden), Lois Daine (Sheila), Dino Shafeek (Raiji), Kenneth Watson (Bert), Bruce White (Johnny Sutch), James Winston (Steve Binns), Alexandra Dane (Woman on Boat), Reggae Ranjhe (Immigrant), Dev Sagoo (Indian Cook), Heronimo Sehmi (Tough).

Writer: Jim Hawkins

Director: Brian Farnham

Original ITV Transmission: 3 May 1979


14. “Hazell Gets the Boot

Is Big Dave a victim or a villain? Hazell takes on the job of looking for his stolen Bentley, but ends up in the middle of a gang war.

Guest Starring:  Cindy O'Callaghan (Patsy Flanagan), Billy Murray (Big Dave), Liz Crowther (Cynthia), Betty Hardy (Mrs Gladys Hazell).

Writer: Willis Hall

Director: Carol Wilks

Original ITV Transmission: 10 May 1979


15. “Hazell Gets the Bird

Collecting a case of Camberwell Butterflies from Hazell, Caroline Bancroft nets our PI as well, but there’s more to these species than meets the eye.

Guest Starring: Carolyn Seymour (Caroline Bancroft), Michael Angelis (Scouse Benny), Maggie Henderson (W Det Insp Palmer), Christopher Asante (Anderson), Jane Bertish (Patti), Greg Hicks (Jonty), Aubrey Woods (High Street Ken).

Writer: Stan Hey & Andrew Nickolds

Director: Baz Taylor

Original ITV Transmission: 17 May 1979


16. “Hazell and the Big Sleep

Far more appealing than sleeping on his office floor is a case that takes Hazell to a plush hotel and encounters with Sheel the Australian. Who can the thief he’s really after be, and what’s all this talk of Daleks?

Guest Starring: Geraldine Gardner (Sheel), Ian Marter (Roper), Glyn Jones (Meltzer), Peter Mayhew (Giant), George Tovey (Webb), Richard Durden (Jeremy Ironside), Blain Fairman (Koch), James Fuller (Sam), Paul Haley (Dave Dunn), Ken Parry (Lugosi), Charles Pemberton (Tony Rycott), John Quarmby (Billy Bush), Irene Sutcliffe (Mrs Lovegood), Martyn Whitby (Danny Scaife), Rosalind Wilson (Girl in Office).

Writer: Trevor Preston

Director: Baz Taylor

Original ITV Transmission: 24 May 1979


17. “Hazell and the Suffolk Ghost

Looking into why a seaside cottage has been left to someone unconnected to the previous owner, Hazell finds a heady cocktail at the local brewery, and events pointing to a haunting at the newly acquired property.

Guest Starring: Meg Davies (Stephanie Harlow), Desmond Llewelyn (Bell), John Woodnutt (Vicar), Peter Woodward (Gregory Summers), Michael Gaunt (Peter Harlow), Richard Simpson (Weaver), Joy Stewart (Mrs Summers).

Writer: Jim Hawkins

Director: Mike Vardy

Original ITV Transmission: 31 May 1979


18. “Hazell and Hyde

On the trail of Mr Clive’s missing daughter, Hazell finds himself at odds with the less-than-friendly occupants of a squat.  But the really violent encounters will come from a totally unexpected source, as Hazell finds himself the hunted.

Guest Starring: Maev Alexander (Claudine), Katherine Stark (Annie), Christopher Godwin (Claw-Hammer), Betty Hardy (Mrs Gladys Hazell), John Rapley (Mr Clive), Michael J Jackson (Squatter), Norman Lumsden (Old Man Singer), Myrtle Devenish (Old Lady Singer), Ronald Mayer (Pianist/Singer), Yvonne Nicholson (Squatter), Mark Penfold (Mortuary Attendant).

Writer: PJ Hammond

Director: Baz Taylor

Original ITV Transmission: 7 June 1979


19. “Hazell and the Happy Couple

Hazell soon regrets taking up the case of finding Helen Bryers for her husband.  Unfortunately he finds the reasons for her departure, and lives to regret crossing his employer, but not as much as his car.

Guest Starring: Ronald Lacey (Bryers), Anna Massey (Helen Bryers), Nell Campbell (Pamela), Steve Morley (Stewart), Vicky Ogden (Eileen).

Writer: Richard Harris

Director: Marek Kanievska

Original ITV Transmission: 14 June 1979


20. “Hazell Gets the Part

Hazell gets into the world of movies, helping an actress locate her stolen emerald necklace. Posing as her replacement driver, he soon finds that another performer thinks he’s got a future in the business.

Guest Starring: Lynda Bellingham (Vanessa), Toby Robins (Jean Curzon), Michael Melia (Miffer), Richard LeParmentier (Mort Berman), Graham Callan (Assistant Director), Brian Gwaspari (Nigel Brayne), Trevor Harrison (Clapper Boy), Jack Lynn (Harry Bloom), Ian Oliver (Kenny), Paul Seed (Dicky Loraine), Gabor Vernon (Nathan Stern), Diana Weston (Marilyn), Serretta Wilson (Lil).

Writer: Dave Humphries

Director: Mike Vardy

Original ITV Transmission: 21 June 1979


21. “Hazell and the Greasy Gunners

Harry The Ear has gained his nickname from his horrific habit of biting adversaries, but what is his link to the rogue officer Captain Baldwin? Hazell has to find out.

Guest Starring:  Christopher Quinten (Tony the Boxer), Cyd Hayman (Samantha), Brian Glover (Harry The Ear), Alex Scott (Captain Baldwin), Riba Akabusi (Winston), John Bardon (Foley), Steve Fletcher (Boy), John Fowler (Sid), Derek Ware (Jackson), Valerie Murray (Floella), Paul Satvendar (Minicab driver), Johnny Shannon (Benny), Oliver Smith (Jerry).

Writer: Brian Glover

Director: Gerry Mill

Original ITV Transmission: 28 June 1979


22. “Hazell and the Public Enemy

Hazell is hired by a newspaper to try and get a confession of murder from a suspected hoodlum. However, bank robber Ned has escaped from jail, and if ‘Choc’ Minty doesn’t find him quickly, it could be tardiness that Hazell doesn’t live to regret.

Guest Starring:  Larry Lamb (Ned Barrow), John Bindon (Jack Horner), Lynne Miller (Rita Green).

Writer: Murray Smith

Director: Marek Kanievska

Original ITV Transmission: 5 July 1979


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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