Orwell & Huxley in The Streets of Northamptonshire

Anglia television’s short lived police procedural retains cult status among UK drama aficionados

Damien Walter
2 min readNov 11, 2023

Anglia television’s short lived police procedural retains cult status among UK drama aficionados.

Originally pitched as a vehicle for rising star Robert Powell, the series came close to not happening after the surprise success of Jesus of Nazareth. But Powell eventually committed to two seasons in the role of Detective Inspector Orwell.

Edward Fox was, against protests, cast as Detective Sergeant Huxley. Rumours suggest the two leading men clashed repeatedly over issues including screen credits and which of them would leap over the bonnet of the show’s iconic Ford Cortina before a bank robbery scene.

Writer John Sullivan is widely credited for the lasting appeal of The Streets of Northamptonshire. DI Orwell’s meandering monologues about the nature of political power, interrupted by Sergeant Huxley’s ill tempered commentary on drug use and hedonism, as the two circle the Northampton ringroad in their police issue Cortina, remain as classics.

Cameos from Jenny Agutter as a young streetwalker with a penchant for existential philosophers, and Michael York hamming up the role of local crime boss O’Brien, did not save the show from cancellation in early 1983.

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Damien Walter

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.