The title and closing sequences were recorded around the Westway urban motorway in inner West London, and the maps shown on the walls of the police station offices are of north Kensington. The slow panning camera in the closing sequence was on the top of Hermes Point, a 20-storey tower block on Chippenham Road, London W9 which later became notorious in a political scandal involving the local council placing homeless families despite knowing it had free asbestos which was a health risk. See more »
Rockliffe's Babies presented an uncompromising view of policing a city sprawl riven with social problems, high unemployment, ostentatious wealth and racial tensions.
The titular 'Babies' were detective trainees in the Metropolitan Police Divisional Crime Squad, a local unit based in West London investigating a grab bag of cases under the supervision of one Alan Rockliffe (superbly played by Ian Hogg, a one time candidate for Dr Who), a crusty, self loathing veteran; the recovering alcoholic usually at odds with his superiors - most of whom he despises for their hypocracy and vacilliation, if not incompetence or outright corruption.
In terms of ability and portryal the Squad are distinctly mixed - a fiesty black woman, a racist hustler and a Scouse maverick are probably the pick. If the series were built around these guys it might have been more streamlined and dynamic; as it is, the other rookies - in terms of ability, and actual portrayal by the actors - are little more than adequate. Their mistakes come from inexperience or poor judgement; and some learn some very hard lessons indeed.
Compared to the likes of The Wire, Law And Order, and The Shield, Rockliffe's Babies must seem quite tame or dated, but in its day it was a hard hitting piece of Friday night cop action, often criticised for violence and gritty storylines (much like its predecessor Juliet Bravo). Cancelled with some acrimony in 1987, Rockliffe's Babies is a window into the harsh world of eighties London - minus the retro gloss. Flawless it is not, but it's an old favourite that I'd recommend.
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