The Guardians (TV series)

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The Guardians
The Guardians title card
Genre Science Fiction
Created by Rex Firkin
Vincent Tilsley
Written by John Bowen
Jonathan Hales
Directed by Robert Tronson
Derek Bailey
Starring Gwyneth Powell
Cyril Luckham
David Burke
Derek Smith
Edward Petherbridge
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 13
Producer(s) Andrew Brown
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) London Weekend Television
Original release 10 July – 2 October 1971

The Guardians is a television drama series of 13 60-minute episodes made by London Weekend Television and broadcast in the UK on the ITV network (with the exception of Northern Ireland) between 10 July 1971 and 2 October 1971.


The Guardians is a dystopian political thriller set in the 1980s. Following economic chaos, democratic government has been overthrown in a bloodless coup, the Royal Family have fled into self-imposed exile and the United Kingdom is ruled autocratically by Prime Minister Sir Timothy Hobson. Hobson is initially a pawn of 'the General': a military officer by the name of Roger, who later becomes Minister of Defence. Hobson subscribes to an outwardly benevolent paternalistic fascism, based on the principle that "democracy is a form of group suicide". Political opposition is suppressed by a uniformed paramilitary force recruited from former policemen, soldiers and security guards and called "The Guardians of the Realm" (known for short as "The Guardians" or simply "The Gs"). Each episode begins with a column of Guardians marching through central London to a memorable theme tune composed by Wilfred Josephs.

The government, nominally headed by Hobson, is opposed by a fragmented resistance movement collectively named "Quarmby". The dominant group within Quarmby favours a strategy of provoking increased oppression by the state through the use of assassination and other forms of terrorism. The series avoided black and white scenarios by portraying moderate and extreme factions jostling within both government and resistance. Hobson represents the liberal element within government, attempting to outmanoeuvre the seldom-seen General and the polished Cabinet Secretary Norman.

Main cast[edit]

Edward Petherbridge, Derek Smith, John Collin, Cyril Luckham, Lynn Farleigh, David Burke, Gwyneth Powell, Robin Ellis

Episode list[edit]

Original UK transmission dates are shown below.

The State of England

Broadcast: 10 July 1971

After a period of mass unemployment, chaos and a complete failure of the government, order has been restored in the United Kingdom. However the price of this new stability is personal liberty. Dissenters soon appear, dedicated to the overthrow of the new regime.


Broadcast: 17 July 1971

An attempt has been made on the Prime Minister’s life, and an agent planted to root out communists within The Guardians is shot dead.

Head of State

Broadcast: 24 July 1971

A delicate situation develops when the French President, due in London for talks refuses to attend. He demands to meet the real head of state. With the Queen in self-imposed exile and the Prime Minister little more than a pawn of the General, who is the real head of state?

The Logical Approach

Broadcast: 31 July 1971

The new Home Secretary is perturbed to find out that in a supposedly humane measure, prisoners under sentence of death are sedated and painlessly euthanised 24 hours before their scheduled executions.


Broadcast: 7 August 1971

The search continues for a sniper and the Prime Minister has had enough. He decides to disband the Guardians but does he have the power?


Broadcast: 14 August 1971

Having killed a detective in cold blood, the state psychiatrist and Quarmby activist Benedict returns to the routine of causing chaos for the Guardians and the government. Is it time for action to be taken?

This is Quarmby

Broadcast: 21 August 1971

There have been many strikes against the regime, but now the resistance launches a new campaign to persuade public opinion of the innate brutality of government.

The Dirtiest Man in the World

Broadcast: 28 August 1971

An officer of the Guardians is being held at the rehabilitation centre and is making no effort to leave; Benedict does not underestimate the officer’s value as a pawn in the struggle against the Guardians.

I Want You to Understand Me

Broadcast: 4 September 1971

When a kidnapped member of the Guardians is assassinated, the Prime Minister is sent an ultimatum; restore democracy or face more kidnappings and chaos.

The Nature of the Beast

Broadcast: 11 September 1971

Psychiatrist Benedict has problems when a man calling himself Quarmby drops into his office without an appointment, while Clare has her own problems with her drug addicted husband.

The Roman Empire

Broadcast: 18 September 1971

The Prime Minister fearing for his career, rigs a show trial when a Guardian commander kills three workers during a protest.

The Killing Trade

Broadcast: 25 September 1971

Weston is alone after Clare reveals her love for Chris; any escape plan will now be difficult with such limited support.

End in Dust

Broadcast: 2 October 1971

Benedict embarks on a high-risk mission. Unaware that he is under surveillance and with anger growing in England, the time to take sides has come.

Northern Ireland[edit]

The Independent Television Authority decided that the series was unsuitable to be broadcast in Northern Ireland because of its political content such as depictions of terrorist activity from the terrorist's point of view.

DVD release[edit]

The Guardians was released on DVD in the UK on 1 February 2010 by Network DVD.[1] The full 13-part series was released as a 4-disc set.


External links[edit]