Liam Rudden: If you want a funny show ask a policeman

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AS George Gently prepares to return to our screens, there is no getting away from the fact that we love a good cop show.

We just can’t get enough of them it appears, which is probably why Channel Four jumps on the bandwagon, this weekend with Danny Boyle’s Babylon.

James Nesbitt as Richard Miller and Jonny Sweet as Tom Oliver in Babylon. Pic: Comp

James Nesbitt as Richard Miller and Jonny Sweet as Tom Oliver in Babylon. Pic: Comp

But while shows like Z Cars, Dixon of Dock Green and The Bill concentrated on the grittier side of policing, Babylon (Sunday 9pm) is a comedy drama.

Of course, there is a tradition of poking fun at our law enforcers. Just look at any Punch and Judy show.

And who, of a certain age, can forget the affable Deryck Guyler as bumbling Constable ‘Corky’ Turnbull, in the sixties and seventies TV series Sykes? Or Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey camping it up under-cover in Carry On Constable, in 1960.

Long before that, it was Will Hay raising laughs at the expense of the boys in blue in the 1939 film, Ask A Policeman - remade, bizarrely, in 1982 by comedy duo Canon and Ball.

The seventies and eighties saw the sitcom The Growing Pains of PC Penrose morph into Rosie, with Paul Greenwood as the hapless PC of the title, while the nineties gave us the slightly more acerbic The Thin Blue Line, which found Rowan Atkinson leading a dysfunctional force in farcical investigations, written by Ben Elton.

The same decade gave us Operation Good Guys, a mockumentary series about another useless elite police unit. And let’s not forget Simon Pegg’s Hot Fuzz.

Some, of course, were more successful than others, so it will be interesting to see how Babylon fares.

Starring James Nesbitt as Met Commissioner Richard Miller, it promises to mix the grittier aspects of modern policing with humour... a fine balancing act indeed.

War Horse visit was thrilling spectacle

Elsewhere, it was great to see the magical effect a puppet, albeit a lifesize one, can have on an office full of adults.

Namely, reducing them to a babble of excited school children.

That’s what happened when Joey the War Horse made a surprise visit to the Evening News office earlier this week.

It never ceases to amaze me just how lifelike this creation is . . in fact it’s not a puppet, it’s real, or so you would think from the excitement its appearance created.