|Created by||Miles Tredinnick (Writer)|
Alan J. W. Bell (Director, Producer)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Running time||30 minutes per episode|
|Original release||17 October– 21 November 1988|
Wyatt's Watchdogs is a 30-minute BBC1 situation comedy that starred Brian Wilde and Trevor Bannister. Created and written by Miles Tredinnick, the six-episode series was transmitted in the autumn of 1988. Alan J. W. Bell directed and the music was composed by Ronnie Hazlehurst. The series was primarily devised as a vehicle for Wilde after he had left the cast of Last of the Summer Wine three years prior. Although initially getting passable ratings, the BBC felt that the sitcom had not really caught on, and it was dropped after one series; Wilde returned to Last of the Summer Wine in 1990.
The show was set in the fictional commuter village of Bradly Bush although actually filmed on location in Claygate, Surrey, England.
Retired soldier Major John Wyatt (Brian Wilde) is spurred into action after his sister Edwina’s (Anne Ridler) home is burgled in broad daylight. Ignoring correct police procedures, he forms his own Neighbourhood Watch group of incompetents and patrols the streets in his Range Rover known locally as the ‘Dogmobile’. The Watch members are a hopeless bunch drawn together to fight crime, and bungling and personality clashes are highly evident. Brian Wilde as Major Wyatt clashes worst of all with Peter Pitt (Trevor Bannister), a smooth-talking womaniser and burglar-alarm salesman. He only has two things in mind - to flog his alarms and meet women! Other regular characters include the glamorous man-eater Virginia (April Walker), an interfering Vicar (David Jackson), and a frustrated police sergeant, Springer (James Warrior).
The show actually had the working title of Every Street Should Have One but this was changed at the last minute to Wyatt's Watchdogs. The reason being that the BBC were transmitting the programme on Monday evenings straight after ITV's Coronation Street but before another BBC show called Streets Apart.
Much of the series was devised to act as a vehicle for Wilde, who had left his role as Foggy Dewhurst in Last of the Summer Wine in 1985 over creative differences with Alan J. W. Bell. The character of Wyatt shared a number of similarities with Foggy, particularly with them both having a military background, although Wyatt was far more assertive and not afraid of conflict as Foggy was.
Although it performed moderately in its time-slot, the BBC felt - who had hoped that, starring Wilde, it would have gained much of Last of the Summer Wines viewing figures - that the programme had not really caught on with viewers, and it was dropped after its initial series.
However, with the production of this series, Wilde and Bell managed to settle their differences regarding Last of the Summer Wine, and the following year in 1989, when the next series of Summer Wine was due to start filming and actor Michael Aldridge having to leave the show for personal reasons, the character of Seymour Utterthwaite had to be replaced and Brian agreed to return as Foggy Dewhurst, staying with the series for seven more years.
Episodes and cast
Episode One: One Big, One Not So Big.
Brian Wilde, Trevor Bannister, Anne Ridler, April Walker, James Warrior, David Jackson, Tom Radcliffe, Peter O'Sullevan (voice only), Julia Binstead and Sarah Whitlock.
Episode Two: Getting Out And Spreading The Word.
Brian Wilde, Trevor Bannister, Anne Ridler, April Walker, James Warrior, David Jackson, Noel Johnson, Lisa Bloor, Deborah Lavin, Frank Tregear, Richard Kane, Mary Blatchford, Ian Redford, Margaret Ashley, Helena McCarthy, Gabrielle Blunt and Aimée Delamain.
Episode Three: Mark It Or Bust! (Directed by Andy Smith).
Brian Wilde, Trevor Bannister, Anne Ridler, April Walker, James Warrior, David Jackson, Eva Stuart, Timothy Carlton and Andrew Reardon.
Episode Four: There Are Fairy Cakes At The Bottom Of My Garden.
Brian Wilde, Trevor Bannister, Anne Ridler, April Walker, James Warrior, David Jackson, Robin Parkinson, Julie Morgan and Diana Fulker.
Episode Five: Just Act Natural.
Brian Wilde, Trevor Bannister, Anne Ridler, April Walker, James Warrior, David Jackson, Frederick Treves, Keith Smith, Russell Wootton, Richard Davies, Belinda Lee, Pamela Dale, Charles Appleby and Frank Tregear.
To date, the series has not yet been released on DVD.