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Keith James Hetherington has written commercial fiction in most categories, radio plays, and scripts for television. Today , he writes for Black Horse Western. He started writing after a work accident: 'One day I filled my boot with boiling water. When I took off the sock, the skin came, too. I had a week off and bought a book of locally published western stories.' Keith thought, "Hell, I can write as good as that! and penned The Texan. Ten pages in an exercise book. I submitted to Jack Atkins of Cleveland Publishing Co...They eventually asked for regular contributions, one a month, then they began publishing 15,000 and later 48,000 word novelettes and I got into that. When I wanted something, like a motorbike or a trip to England, I'd write like hell and save the same way, until I had enough, then ease off. I soon realized I could make more writing at my fast rate than I could working for a boss. I took the plunge just before I got married in 1957 and began churning them out: westerns, a couple of Larry Kent crime thillers, and the Carl Dekker series, which was about a world-weary adventurer, each yarn set in a different city or country.' Markets multiplied.
Hetherington also wrote short stories that separated pin-ups in Man magazine and the digest-sized Pocket Man, and for a similar New Zealand magazine called Stag. During the 1960s a boys' adventure book, Scuba Buccaneers by James Keith, was published by Angus and Robertson in Australia, and during the 1970s, two Keith Conway thrillers were published as hardcovers by Hale in Britain: Naked Nemesis and Hammerhead Reef. 'One of the thrillers went to paperback but I didn't find out for something like 14 years when I picked up a copy at a book exchange,' Hetherington has said. 'I'd forgotten to notify Hale's of change of address so they wouldn't pay me interest on the fees due!' Earlier, Hetherington had taken a job as a journalist in the Queensland Health Department.
'This involved writing short radio plays as well as articles. I became editor, and a Yank who worked for me went to work for the television series maker Crawford Productions in Melbourne. He kept pestering me to write for TV. There was big money there at the time, so I gave it a go. When I got tired of flying back and forth between Melbourne and Brisbane at weekends for editing of scripts, I moved to Melbourne in 1971 and got to work for Crawfords full-time, though I worked as a freelance from home.'
Hetherington sometimes wrote as Carl Dekker, with John Laffin (qv).
Awards for Works
form yMatlock Police( dir. Colin Egglestonet. al. )agent1971MelbourneAustralia:Crawford ProductionsNetwork Ten,1971-1976Z16385631971series - publisher film/TV detective crime
The Matlock Police series (originally simply titled Matlock) was commissioned from Crawford Productions by ATV-0, in response to the popularity of rival-network police dramas such as Homicide and Division 4. Crawford's was initially reluctant to create another police series, but ATV-0 pressured the company for some time. Eventually, Ian Jones and Terry Stapleton devised the concept of a regional (Victorian) police series to provide viewers with something different. The more relaxed atmosphere of the country-town setting also allowed the writers to delve into the private lives of the main characters, rather than focusing heavily on big-city organised crime. In this respect, the series was situated somewhere between Homicide/Division 4 and Bellbird. The series did, however, cover typical rural policing, including such issues as break and enters, domestic issues, itinerant workers, brawls, petty crime and robberies, road accidents, the occasional homicide, and cattle rustling. On other occasions, the Matlock police also assisted Melbourne police in locating criminals on the run (among other problems). The idea behind the show was to reflect the causes of crime in a small community and show the effects on both the community and the officers themselves.
The fictional town of Matlock (loosely based on Shepparton in Victoria) is situated inland on the Central Highway, approximately 160 kilometres north of Melbourne. Although the town's population is only seventeen thousand, this increases to around seventy-five thousand when the district is included. The Matlock Police Station is typical of a Victorian country town, with a Uniform Branch and a Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB). The CIB is headed by Detective Sergeant Vic Maddern, who grew up in the Matlock district and is an accomplished bushman. Second in command is Detective Allan Curtis, aged in his mid-twenties. Previously from Melbourne, Curtis has just been sent to his first country posting (against his will) when the series begins. Head of the Uniform Branch is Sergeant Bert Kennedy, an Englishman who migrated to Australia in 1950. A thorough but also easy-going man with a good sense of humour, Kennedy is married to Nell and enjoys the country life in Matlock, so much so that he has knocked back promotion to avoid moving to Melbourne. Several constables are attached to the Uniform Branch, but the most prominent is a motorcycle cop, Constable Gary Hogan, who performs a wide variety of duties. Hogan is about thirty, a friendly, easy-going person who grew up in the country and is always willing to help in whatever work is going.
form yDivision 4( dir. Gary Conwayet. al. )agentMelbourne:Crawford Productions,1969Z18147171969series - publisher film/TV detective crime
Division 4, which Don Storey notes in Classic Australian Television was 'the only drama series on Australian television to rival the popularity of Homicide', was created as a vehicle for Gerard Kennedy, who had risen to popularity playing the complicated enemy agent Kragg in spy-show Hunter, after Tony Ward's departure left Hunter's future in doubt.
The series differed from Homicide in being more oriented to the situation and milieu of a suburban police station staffed by a mixture of plainclothes detectives and uniformed policemen. This kind of situation allowed Division 4 to concentrate on a range of crimes, from major ones such as murder to minor ones such as larceny.
Though set in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Yarra Central, 'Sets were constructed that were replicas of the actual St Kilda police station charge counter and CIB room, with an attention to detail that extended to having the same picture hanging on the wall', according to Storey.
Division 4 ended in 1976. Storey adds:
Division 4's axing was a dark day for Australian television, as within months the other two Crawford cop shows on rival networks, Matlock Police and Homicide, were also axed. It was widely believed, and still is, that the cancellation of the three programs was an attempt by the three commercial networks--acting in collusion--to wipe out Crawford Productions, and consequently cripple the local production industry.
form yHomicide( dir. Bruce Ross-Smithet. al. )agentMelbourne:Crawford Productions,1964-1975Z18130761964series - publisher film/TV crime detective
Running for twelve years and a total of 510 episodes, Homicide was a seminal Australian police-procedural program, set in the homicide squad of the Victoria Police. According to Don Storey in his Classic Australian Television, it represented a turning point for Australian television, prompting the development of local productions over the purchase of relatively inexpensive American dramas. Indeed, Storey quotes Hector Crawford as saying that his production company intended three outcomes from Homicide: demonstrating that it was possible to make a high-quality local drama series, counteracting criticism of local performers, and showing that Australian audiences would watch Australian-made dramas.
As Moran notes in his Guide to Australian TV Series, the program adopted a narrative structure focusing on crime, detection, and capture, rather than on character studies of the lead detectives. The early episodes were produced by a small crew (Storey notes that the crew was frequently limited to four people: cameraman, grip, director, and assistant director), requiring some degree of ingenuity to achieve a polished result (including, in some cases, the actors performing their own stunts). However, the program received extensive support from the Victoria Police (who recognised, in its positive portrayal of police officers, a valuable public-relations exercise) and, as its popularity grew, from the public.
The program's cast changed extensively over its twelve years on the air, though it remained focused on a small group of male detectives, with the inclusion of irregular characters such as Policewoman Helen Hopgood (played by Derani Scarr), written on an as-required basis to reflect the involvement of women in the police force. In Moran's words, 'The other star of Homicide was the location film work. These ordinary, everyday familiar urban locations were what gave the series a gritty realism and familiarised audiences with the shock of recognition at seeing themselves and their milieus on air'.