The Standard, a BBC Scotland produced drama series about a struggling Scottish newspaper and the efforts to revitalize it ran for one series in 1978 on BBC One. Patrick Malahide played (brash?) reporter Colin Anderson who sounds something of a bad boy! Judging by the lovely Radio Times cover (which I wish was bigger), he sure dresses like one; that is a very stylish look for 1978!
Action TV, which is archived on the Star Trader: Online Store for Gerry Anderson, Doctor Who, and Cult TV Items site, has an excellent set of synopses detailing each episode. I’ve bolded all references to Colin Anderson and put my own thoughts in italics.
- Golden Boy
The Scottish Daily Standard has big problems: it is losing money fast, so the Lockwood Newspaper Group send one of their troubleshooters, Peter Dawson, to Glasgow to investigate – and he is not welcome…
- Houseparty at Kildun
Colin Anderson teams up with a rival reporter to investigate a mysterious country mansion and discovers most of the intrigue is on his own doorstep.
Already it sounds like something I’d enjoy: Rival reporter , mysterious (oooh) mansion! There will be witty ripostes and a bit of creepiness?
- Come to the Revolution
Against Felicity’s wishes, Colin Anderson uses his own unorthodox methods to counteract a sinister outside influence which threatens the future of The Standard.
Yep, total bad boy. He does things his way. Sinister outside influences are usually entertaining.
- De Mortuis
Alex Forsyth and Colin Anderson each uncover flaws in the façade of one of the Editor’s closest friends, who is dying, and Kendal has to decide where his loyalties lie.
- Death of a Pink Elephant
Colin Anderson and Peter Dawson go to investigate an illegal seal-cull on a remote Scottish island, but find themselves threatened with the same fate as the seals.
What, a clubbing? A remote Scottish island has all sorts of Wicker Man potential, but at least we know Colin won’t suffer the same fate as Sergeant Howie.
- Win a Few, Lose a Few
Anderson’s private and professional lives get entangled when he snatches a “hot property” from under the noses of the national press.
- The Name of the Game
Peter Dawson fights a battle with the London Board of Directors, but this time it’s his own survival which is at stake.
- Strictly Confidential
A young trainee reporter finds himself in big trouble when he leaks an “exclusive” to a rival newspaper – but discovers who his friends are.
- Two Birds, One Stone
Colin Anderson goes to investigate a rumoured oil leak in the North Sea and finds himself threatened on all sides.
Colin Anderson is an environmental crusader, and he’s willing to take big risks to get to the truth!!
- Bread and Circuses
A woman recounting the harrowing details of a murder makes Anderson wonder if the policy of “giving the people what they want” is justified.
This episode sounds depressing 🙁 Taking the press to task for the way they often treat victims of crime (“if it bleeds, it leads”) is something that still resonates today. I’m guessing it is one where Anderson learns a lot about empathy.
- Silence is Golden
Colin Anderson’s refusal to reveal his sources in Court leads to friction within The Standard – and a loss of freedom for him!
Awww, poor Colin Anderson visits the slammer 🙁 That’s what he gets for being stubborn!
- A Fair Exchange
Colin Anderson tries to help an East German footballer to defect – and finds himself being used as a pawn in a political game.
More intrigue — this time with a Cold War flavor!
- New Standards
Colin Anderson goes to West Berlin to follow up a story and Peter Dawson goes to Norway to ensure that there will be something for it to be printed on!
Huh, has Scotland ran out of paper or something? More East/West German shenanigans for Colin, though, which sounds good to me!
There is a lot more information concerning the filming, cast and broadcast of this series available at Action TV. This specific quote, however, grabbed my attention:
The series was a determined effort to present something other than the standard medical-police-period drama series, and this in part succeeded as the series sustained modest ratings figures throughout its duration. However, the series was never exported nor commercially released.
Honestly, it sounds like this series was ahead of its time. It certainly appears to take on challenging topics. Colin sounds very brash and willing to take risks for glory but willing to take even bigger risks for justice. I suspect part of the reason for the modest ratings, although the above quote implies consistent ones which is positive, was that it went up against the very well established and loved Rising Damp.
Perhaps the series is still in the BBC vaults somewhere. If so, maybe, just maybe, they’d be willing to dust them off and give this obscure but potentially very intriguing series a nice DVD release. I really want to see it!