Solid Copper from the Outback
by Jim Preston
man with a round face and a balding head is John Warwick. He lives
off Haverstock Hill in the London borough of Hampstead, and in
working hours he is Inspector Landon in Police Surgeon.
In the television series, he gives the impression of being a
stickler for authority, a policeman who knows all the answers as
they are written in the rule-book. But in real life John Warwick is
anything but austere—especially when he tells stories from his days
as an actor in Australia's barren outback.
"I was born in Never-Never," he told me in accents as
English as roast-beef-and-two-veg. "And I got my first job with
the Swastika Costume Company. Of course, that was some time before
Hitler used the sign as his gimmick."
Knowing that touring theaters in the outback are as rare as
icebergs in the Sahara, Warwick decided to take a chance with the
"Swastika was led by an old man who always wore an
ankle-length coat, regardless of the heat," he said. "We
also had a girl dancer and a shell-shocked driver for the antediluvian
'Tin Lizzie' which carried our stage props. They comprised a
miniature piano and a young English lad who played it. He always
wore pin-striped trousers and a sports jacket. That was
Swastika—all of it."
Now, such outback adventures are only nostalgic memories. For
Warwick graduated through Australian films through repertory
theaters in this country. And from there he moved again into
"There's an odd point about my current series," he
said. "Inspector Landon is specially written to appear slightly
inhuman. But the part is as authentic as possible. Police Surgeon
scripts are vetted by Scotland Yard to prevent us giving a wrong
impression of the force.
My part is written to contrast Ian Hendry's. I must never forget
that a police surgeon is not, in fact, a policeman, and therefore he
can allow his emotions to govern his actions to a certain extent.
For my part, I am a policeman, for whom the law is always the law.
However much I might sympathise with a wrongdoer, I have to perform
my duty," he said ponderously, imitating the popular idea of a
Don Leaver, one of the Police Surgeon directors, confirmed
Warwick's opinion. "Warwick takes his part exactly as it is
written. He does not try to gain the sympathy of his audience, but I
don't really think he is inhuman. His script depicts a very well
Warwick has a personal theory about surgeons who work with the
police. "As they are not policemen, they can even hate the
police. To them, it might just be another bread-and-butter job, so
they can work against police interests if they feel inclined. There
is a lot of difference between public duty and the professional
honor of a doctor's calling. Which is well worth remembering."
He agrees that Police Surgeon gives a sincere insight into a side
of the law which has received little attention so far.
"We aim at sincerity before high drama," he said.
"There is much more interest in creating a true picture of the
police at work than just an exaggerated story."
From "Looking Around with John Gough," TV Times
#257, 2-8 October 1960
As the good ship Monica foundered on the rocks of the South
Island of New Zealand in 1930, romance blossomed for John Warwick,
Inspector Landon of Police Surgeon.
"I scrambled into a lifeboat and found myself sitting next
to the woman who was to become my wife," he told me. "We
were in the same touring company, but we didn't get to know one
another until we spent those several hours together in an open
Warwick, I feel, looks like a police inspector. "From
playing this sort of part so often," he said smilingly. Ian
Hendry, who plays the police surgeon and is pictured on this week's
front cover, has that bedside manner. Even if the bed is a hard one
and there are bars on the window.