"My name is James Hazell and I'm the biggest bastard who ever pushed your bell-button."
When cocky, Cockney private eye JAMES HAZELL first showed up in 1974, it opened up a whole new era in British crime fiction. No more tea-sipping Inspector Inbred-Jones inquiring into a wee spot of nastiness at the manor, or Millicient Teathorp discovering a body in the rose bushes. Nope, Hazell was the real goods, an "American"-style hardboiled dick prowling the meaner streets of London, the "biggest bastard who ever pushed your doorbell."
But he was more than a mere transplanted version of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. He was a well-rounded, believable character more than capable of holding his own. Hazell was crude, rude, and not afraid to mix it up with whoever stood in his way, be it cops or robbers, and wasn't shy about taking the law into his own hands, either. As an ex-cop, this didn't exactly endear him to his former colleagues, particularly dour Scot CID man "Choc" Minty, who was always trying to get Hazell's license yanked.
You see, Hazell was booted off the force because of a "dodgy" ankle (coutesy of a wages gang who smashed it three or four times in a car door). The loss of employment, not to mention pride, lead to a bout with the bottle and a divorce. "That bloody ankle! It cost me my career, my marriage and almost my sanity" is the way Hazell puts it. Left to his own devices, he set up shop as a gumshoe with his cousin Tel, visions of Chandler no doubt dancing in his head. But the tawdriness of his new career, not to mention the regular beatings he went through, soon wore the glamour off. And it didn't help that the .44 Magnum he bought to play with the big boys scared him to death.
When Hazell arrived on television a few years later, another medium's status quo was shattered. The show was quite popular, despite the usual gripes about violence, disrespect for the British police, etc.
Creator P.B. Yuill was the pen name for the corrobative efforts of journalist and novelist Gordon Williams, who's probably best-known for penning the book that the controversial 1971 film The Straw Dogs was based on, and Terry Venables, popular British footballer and club manager. Hazell made his debut in a minor role in their first collaboration, 1974's The Bornless Keeper.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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