5 TV Series Set in South London

Kings A & E

Plenty of TV series have used South London locations for filming, the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich is a favourite for period dramas for example, but not so many have had South London as their setting. Here are some you’ll know and others less well-known.

Citizen Smith
Che Guevara wannabee, Wolfie Smith, is on a mission to change the world and Tooting is as good a place as any to make a start. This popular BBC sitcom, written by John Sullivan, ran from 1977 to 1980 and starred Robert Lindsay as the hapless idealist, leader of the Tooting Popular Front and serial loser, and also features the ubiquitous Peter Vaughan. Citizen Smith – Series 1 & 2 [DVD] [1977]

Only Fools and Horses
Sullivan’s next project for the BBC turned out to be one of the most successful TV series ever produced in this country. The scriptwriter from Balham continued his theme of the South London loser, with Peckham’s Del Boy and Rodney Trotter fitting perfectly into that niche. Sir David John White (aka David Jason) and Nicholas Lyndhurst, ably assisted by a strong cast, including the late Roger Lloyd-Pack, helped the show to many awards including several BAFTAs. Will we ever truly say goodbye to Hooky Street? Not any time soon – OFAH, which ran from 1982 to 2003, is likely to be repeated for many years to come. Only Fools and Horses – The Complete Collection [DVD] [1981]

Frank Ross is out after an eight year stretch and he’s after the snout that grassed him up for a bank robbery. BAFTA award-winning ‘Out’ is a dark and brooding drama set in Tulse Hill and tells the tale of Ross’s quest for vengeance in the South London underworld of the late 70s. Frank Ross is brilliantly played by the now-departed Tom Bell, who surprisingly turned down the offer of a sequel. The series of only six episodes was one of many (Minder, The Sweeney) produced by Euston Films, a subsidiary of Thames Television, both now sadly defunct. Out – The Complete Series – Special Edition [1978] [DVD]

Another product from the Euston Films stable, ‘Fox’ is the story of a Clapham-based family on the fringes of the criminal underworld. It had a very strong cast including Peter Vaughan, Ray Winstone, Bernard Hill and Larry Lamb and is a complex drama developing each of the family’s characters and weaving them into its narrative. Made in 1980, it ran for one series of thirteen episodes.
Fox – Complete Series [1980] [DVD]

24 Hours in A & E
Coming right up to date and set in our very own Kings College Hospital, this fly-on-the-wall documentary shows life, death and everything in between as we follow the progress (in most cases) of patients through one of the biggest Accident and Emergency Departments in the world. It’s not quite no-holds-barred, there are other similar programmes which are much more graphic, but it is a fascinating insight into the real-life drama that is played out every day. Whenever I’ve watched this I just think ‘thank God for the NHS!’

Seen any or all of the above? Which is your favourite?

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