The Guardians - TV series, remember it from the early 70s?

I remember it vaguely...

Did anyone read the book 'The Guardians' which described a split society? The Southerners (IIRC) were all rammed in to cities, watched gladitorial sports and were rationed food and what not.

The Northerners (IIRC) were living in an almost 18th century manner, of luxery and sport. They were the leaders and rich.

The Guardians were a sinister group who ensured the Status Quo, on occaision it was neccesary to exterminate Southerners who rose up, whilst Northerners were in some way tampered with in hte head to remove violent or rebelious traits.
Bizarre! I was only thinking about that book as I was walking the dog yesterday. Remember reading it at school.
Didn't some young lad escape from the industrial part into the rural area?
HueyRat said:
Bizarre! I was only thinking about that book as I was walking the dog yesterday. Remember reading it at school.
Didn't some young lad escape from the industrial part into the rural area?
I looked it up on Amazon about 3 weeks ago for some unknown reason. It just popped into my head. I haven't read the book nor thought of it for at least 30 years. Weird.
Oil_Slick said:
Well, after being sat on for nearly 40 years without a rerun, (Governments allegedly didn't approve of it's themes), it's going to be released on DVD in February 2010

Funny how fiction is now rather close to fact the way the countries heading.
Many thanks indeed Oil_slick,

Excellent news for those of us who were fascinated by the series back in the early 1970s. It was most prescient.

For those interested, it is released a little earlier and for slightly less expense here.

A product of the new pessimism of the early 1970s, and reflecting that decade's key concerns - mass unemployment, spiralling inflation, chronic industrial unrest - The Guardians (ITV, 1971) is now largely forgotten, perhaps because relatively few viewers had the patience to see this lengthy, talky drama to its conclusion. For all its faults, however, the series is fascinating for its insights into the political ferment of its times, and for what now appears an unusual and bold attempt to present a drama of moral philosophy for a mainstream television audience.

Although it calls to mind Orwell's 1984, the series is far from the straightforward warning it first appears. Carefully avoiding black and white moralising, The Guardians creates a complex ethical universe in which oppressors and resistance alike are plagued by conscience and self-doubt, and the use of force is never without disturbing consequences, however apparently just the cause.

The figurehead of this repressive Britain is Prime Minister Sir Timothy Hobson (Cyril Luckham). Real power, however, is exercised by the Guardians, the gestapo-style force presided over by the shadowy General and his ruthless representative, Norman (Derek Smith). Hobson's dictatorship is a paternalistic fascism, based on the premise that 'democracy is a form of group suicide'. The calculation behind its mask of benevolence is exemplified by the use of cannabis to keep prison inmates in a state of happy passivity, and by its 'humane' method of capital punishment, in which the condemned are unknowingly sedated then executed by lethal injection, while a bogus ritual - including an actor as hangman - is presented to satisfy public bloodlust.

Opposing this apparatus is an array of competing factions, chief among them the Communists and a non-ideological, deliberately fragmented structure whose members adopt the name Quarmby. Unlikely revolutionaries - one stated objective is to restore the monarchy - Quarmby's strategy is a classical terrorist one: to drive the state to greater and greater repression, forcing it to reveal 'the nature of the beast'. But its members must face the risk that by adopting violence they become a mirror image of their enemy.

Ambitious in scope, if not in budget, The Guardians was marred by uneven performances and a shortage of real action. It was, nevertheless, a serious, thorough and highly intelligent examination of both totalitarianism and the ethics of violent resistance to totalitarianism, which convincingly showed how an apparently gentle man might almost unwittingly become a dictator.

Mark Duguid

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