Windsor is one of the most well-known stalwarts of British police
drama serials, having co-starred in several such productions since
the 1960s. His career as a television performer started in radically
different shows from those with which he was destined to become
most closely associated, with appearances in the Shakespearean anthology
An Age of Kings and subsequently in the science-fiction series
A for Andromeda, in which he played scientist Dennis Bridger.
In 1962, however, he made his debut in the role with which he became
virtually synonymous--that of Newtown's Detective Sergeant John
Watt. As one of the crime-busting team crewing Z Cars, Watt
was right-hand man to Detective Inspector Barlow (Stratford Johns)
and was often placed in the role of the "nice one" to Stratford
John's more aggressive, often bullying, senior officer. The two
actors formed a dynamic, absorbing partnership that survived well
beyond their departure from the series in 1965.
two stars resumed the same screen personas in their own follow-up
series, Softly, Softly, a year after leaving the Newtown
force. With Barlow now raised to the rank of Detective Chief Superintendent
and Watt now Detective Chief Inspector, the pair continued to hunt
down criminals in their "nice and nasty" partnership, though now
based in the fictional region of Wyvern, which appeared to be somewhere
near Bristol. Three years into the series the pair were relocated
to Thamesford Constabulary's CID Task Force and the programme itself
was retitled Softly, Softly--Task Force. Barlow disappeared
from the series in 1969, when he left for his own series Barlow
at Large, leaving Watt to continue the battle with new partners
for another seven years.
and Watt were brought together again in 1973, when they disinterred
the case files connected with the real-life "Jack the Ripper" murders
of the 1880s. Together they pored over the various theories that
the unidentified murderer might be a member of the royal family
and so forth, but in the end even television's two most celebrated
police detectives could draw no firm conclusion. Along similar lines
was Second Verdict, another short series in which the two
characters investigated unsolved murder cases from real life.
extent to which Windsor became linked to just one role has subsequently
militated against his taking parts that would challenge public perceptions
of his original persona. He has, however, appeared as a guest in
supporting roles in a number of established series (including
All Creatures Great and Small, Boon, and Casualty) and in quiz
shows and has also accumulated a number of film and stage credits.
Photo courtesy of Frank Windsor
WINDSOR. Born in Walsall, Staffordshire, England, 12 July 1927.
Attended St Mary's School, Walsall. Married: Mary Corbett; children:
Amanda and David. Began career as performer on radio; founding member,
Oxford and Cambridge Players, later the Elizabethan Players; acted
classical roles on British stage; television actor as Detective
Sergeant Watt in the series Z Cars; has since appeared in
further police series, among other productions. Address: Scott Marshall,
44 Perryn Road, London W3 7NA, England.
An Age of Kings
1961 A for Andromeda
1962-65 Z Cars
1966-70, 1970-76 Softly, Softly
1976 Second Verdict
1981 Dangerous Davies--The Last Detective
1982 Coming out of the Ice
Sporting Life, 1963; Spring and Port Wine, 1970; Sunday
Bloody Sunday, 1971; Hands of the Ripper, 1971; The
Dropout, 1973; Barry MacKenzie Holds His Own, 1974; Assassin,
1975; Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?, 1978; The
London Connection, 1979; Night Shift, 1979; Coming
Out Of the Ice, 1982; The Shooting Party, 1984; Revolution,
1985; Oedipus at Colonus, 1986; First Among Equals,
1987; Out of Order, 1987.
and the Lion; Brand; Travesties; Middle-age Spread; Mr Fothergill's
Corner, John, editor. Popular Television in Britain: Studies
in Cultural History. London: British Film Institute, 1991.
also British Programming; Z Cars