Matlock Police Volume 7 has just been released in the UK and this box set boasts the first twenty colour episodes of the series.

Matlock Police - colour eps

George Lazenby played the British Secret Service agent James Bond in the movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service but he arrives in the town of Matlock on the wrong side of the law. George stars as an international criminal called David Parkes who is hiding out in the district with detectives from Scotland Yard in close pursuit. Meanwhile another armed and bloodthirsty crim called Max Cooper (played by the late Norman Yemm) leaves Detective Steve York (Tom Richards) and Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern (Michael Pate) for dead following a serious accident in the bush.

Steve then embarks on a crusade to expose corruption at the local council, and a gun wielding maniac decides to take some pot shots at Constable Gary Hogan (Paul Cronin). Sergeant Bert Kennedy (Vic Gordon) and his wife Nell (Natalie Raine) do their best to help three children who are left orphaned following a tragic accident, but another young boy isn’t so fortunate and has to face life with an alcoholic father and a drug addled mother.

Tom Richards - Matlock Police

Elsewhere the detectives have to deal with a mob of trigger happy farmers who go on the rampage following reported sightings of the legendary Burribri Bunyip, a sickening peeping tom is on the prowl, and the boys look into a case of arson at a nearby commune for drop-outs. A father takes the law into his own hands when his retarded son in electrocuted to death, a major flood provides the perfect opportunity for the inmates of a prison farm to stage an escape, and an alcoholic is in the frame for the sickening rape of a girl.

The action doesn’t stop there, dingoes begin savaging the flock at a local sheep farm but are the animals being used to cover the tracks of other killers who have a taste for blood on the outskirts of Matlock? When young girls begin disappearing a white slave trade racket is exposed with the female victims being sold on to pimps for a life of prostitution. There is certainly never a dull moment for the rural coppers in this part of the world who have to deal with a never ending stream of wide boys and low life’s.

A cavalcade of familiar faces crop up in this DVD box set including Tom Oliver from Neighbours; Bartholomew John from The Young Doctors; Tony Bonner from Skyways; and Reg Gorman, Vikki Hammond, Gerry Duggan and Norman Yemm from The Sullivans. Also appearing are Shane Porteous and Syd Heylen from A Country Practice; John Fegan and Lionel Long from Homicide; Peter Flett from Class of ’74; and Julieanne Newbould from The Restless Years. Fans of Prisoner: Cell Block H will spot Patsy King, Sheila Florance and Anne Phelan.

The late Michael Pate starred as Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern in Matlock Police and said of his time working on the series, “I loved it and enjoyed it immensely.”

Matlock Police

Michael enjoyed a seventy year career in the entertainment industry, starting out as a writer and broadcaster for ABC Radio in the 1930s. Whilst serving during the Second World War he joined the first Australian Army Entertainment Unit, but both before and after the war he found regular employment as a radio actor. Michael played the title roles in Poirot, Johnny October, and had leading parts in popular serials such as The Bishop’s Mantle, Escape Me Never and The Shadow.

He also found early big screen success in Australia appearing in 40,000 Horsemen, Sons of Matthew and Bitter Springs. Michael’s international break came in 1950, he had been playing the mentally retarded Willie in Charlotte Hastings play Bonaventure and the American’s were unable to cast the role for a film version which they were planning. Michael was given the part in the movie which was released under the title Thunder on the Hill. He would go on to appear in some 60 movies in the USA including 5 Fingers with James Mason, Ten Tall Men with Burt Lancaster, The Strange Door with Boris Karloff, Julius Caesar with Marlon Brando, McLintock with John Wayne, and The Singing Nun with Greer Garson.

He appeared in over 250 different television productions in America including Zorro, The Frank Sinatra Show, 77 Sunset Strip, Route 66, Rawhide, Perry Mason, Lassie, The Alfred Hitchcock Half Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Batman, Mission: Impossible, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Virginian.

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Michael returned to Australia to produce the movie Age of Consent with James Mason. He decided to remain in his homeland where he directed the movie Tim starring Mel Gibson, and adapted Ronald McKie’s novel The Mango Tree for the big screen. Michael continued to work regularly Down Under appearing in films such as Mad Dog Morgan, The Marsupials: The Howling III, and on television in programmes including The Long Arm and Power Without Glory. He also had the opportunity to return to the stage, starring with his son Christopher Pate, in the comedy drama Mass Appeal by Bill C. Davis. In his later years Michael kept busy as a voice over artist working on commercials and documentaries.

Michael Pate’s fans will be pleased to know that he can be seen in several recent Crawford DVD releases. He appears in Division 4 Volume 3, Homicide Volume 10, and of course Matlock Police Volumes 1-7.

I was very sorry to learn of the recent death of Chris Dunn, the name may not be familiar to fans of Matlock Police but he was a very important part of the production. Chris, who worked for the Victoria Police as a motorbike instructor, was Paul Cronin’s stunt double in this series and in the spin-off programme Solo One. Tom Richards says, “Chris was a top bloke, always ready with a smile, and a gentleman through and through.”

Matlock Police Volume 7 and a wealth of other Australian television classics are available on DVD in the UK exclusively from Eaton Films. Those of you who are based in Australasia can obtain your copies from Crawford DVD.

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Pictures: The cast of Matlock Police. From left are Tom Richards, Vic Gordon, Paul Cronin and Michael Pate. Then: Tom Richards as Detective Steve York.
Next: Paul Cronin as Constable Gary Hogan in street clothes. Then: Bert and Nell Kennedy (Vic Gordon & Natalie Raine) give a home to three orphaned siblings played by Mark, Kerry and Anne-Marie Johnson. Next: Michael Pate as Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern. and Bottom: Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern (Michael Pate) has a filthy crim in his sights.
All photographs copyright Eaton Films/Crawford Productions/WIN Corporation.
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