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Z Cars

Finding 25 New TV ‘Faces' Every Week

New Zealand TV WeeklyOctober 9, 1967

x_cars_logo.jpg - 31.2 KBZ Cars is a programme with an insatiable appetite for actors. Each week producer David E. Rose has to find an average of 25 new faces to join the regulars of the Newtown police force.

By the time that Z Cars reached its 100th programme nearly 1,000 actors and actresses had appeared in speaking parts on the programme, nearly 300 of them more than once. That's over 10 percent of the mem- bership of British Equity.

Each week makes the casting search just that much harder. Youngster are easily come by, and so too are old people. But the num- ber of good middle-aged character actors who are not too well-known for the show, are scarce and getting scarcer, says Elwyn Jones, who brought the show to the screen.

But the search for new faces has top priority. In a semi-documentary like Z Cars, freshness is of prime importance, says David Rose. Each week We must have fresh faces, fresh performances, fresh camerawork.

Characters in this programme are always there for a specific purpose. Our regular characters don't' just appear every Week and go through their lines. We try for a certain fresh- ness of human behaviour.

Rose endeavours to find his new faces in the North of England if he can. We start from Lancashire first - and a high percentage of our actors come from there. I visit Manchester frequently to audition new people for the programme.

z_cars_cop+boy.jpg - 109.2 KB
David Daker as P.C. Owen Culshaw and Jack Wild as Jimmy Fulton in a recent Z Cars episode.

Actors are also recruited from London, but they must, as Elwyn Jones says, be capable of producing a Northern accent.

Just how well they succeed was summed up recently by the London Daily Mirror critic, Richard Seear, who said: This is where the series excels - by picking the right characters, putting the right Words in their mouths, and photographing them with imagination....