Friday, 8 March 2013


Hollywood glamour, big name guest stars, slick patter and a murder every week - it’s Burke’s Law!

When TV Century 21 launched in January 1965 it was quite obviously a vehicle for comic strip adaptations of  Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation  puppet shows. But as at that point it only covered Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray along with  pre- Thunderbird Lady Penelope stories  it needed some additional strips.  The Daleks on the back cover fitted nicely into the science fiction bias of the comic, as did the comedic ‘My Favourite Martian’ strip with the mischievous alien, Uncle Martin.

But one strip seemed to me to be out of step with the fantasy element of the comic. A strip adaptation based on the glossy TV cop show, Burke’s Law featuring the glossy Gene Barry as Captain Amos Burke.

These are some lines taken from an article I wrote some years back for the Programme Preservation Society magazine which was subsequently reprinted on the Gene Barry Fan Page

Burke’s Law was a typical formula show. Each episode had the title ‘Who Killed...?’ followed by the victims name. The teaser revealed the murder, but not the murderer.

With a blend of comedy and drama, the regular cast would sift through an assortment of star-studded eccentrics. Each suspect was individually questioned by Burke and his fellow detectives, Rookie Tim Tilson (played by Gary Conway) and grizzled veteran Sergeant Lester Hart (played by Regis Toomey), until the guilty party was identified. And in case you hadn’t guessed, the privilege of revealing the guilty party was solely the Captain’s. 

 Once the sultry and sensuous feminine tones had announced the title and the laid back glitzy theme played along to the scene of Burke’s speeding Rolls Royce, you were in no doubt that this show had it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek. Almost every week Captain of Homicide, Amos Burke (played by Gene Barry) would have to leave some gorgeous fawning female, or an exclusive Hollywood party, to be driven in his Silver Cloud II to the murder scene. Why a Rolls Royce? Because he was a millionaire! Why a cop? Because that’s what he did best! 

The Burke’s Law strip was given a two page black and white spread and stayed on board until the following year ending in TV Century 21, issue 51.  During that time the strip appeared in the 1965 TV Century 21 summer extra  and featured on the front cover on the comic’s first annual.

Now, being a big fan of Burke’s Law at the time  I never had a problem with this incongruous strip and enjoyed it just as much as the others. However, these days I do wonder why the editors of TV Century 21 chose to run a strip based on  a glossy Hollywood melodramatic  cop show rather than favour a contemporary British series like  Danger Man with secret agent John Drake which did turn up as a comic strip a year or so later in Lion and Champion comic , or maybe adapt something with a  sci-fi element like The Avengers, which turned up in TV Comic and girls' magazine Diana.

 Even after all this time I still have nostalgic fondness for Burke’s Law and still pick up the odd Burke’s Law collectable that occasionally comes my way.

Some examples are this Burke’s Law jigsaw from 1964. Produced in Britain, the artwork is more than likely another piece done by the prolific artist, Walt Howarth.

This Primrose sweet cigarette wrapper from 1965 clearly shows Captain Burke with Tim Tilson in the background, however it’s using the updated title for the less than successful third series of Burke’s Law, which following the spy craze changed it’s title and format to ‘Amos Burke - Secret Agent’

The Burke’s Law annual from 1964/65. A mixture of text stories and two of the three Dell comic reprints - ‘Who Killed The Curious Crew’ and' Who Killed Harry Dare’.

The Burke’s Law story book from 1965 and another example of Walt Howarth's work perhaps?. A smaller page count than the annual, this has a couple of text stories and the final Dell comic reprint -’Who Killed The Hollywood Hopefuls’.

The original Dell comics.

Two paperbacks. 

The original soundtrack album.

Gene Barry released his own album featuring a vocal version of the ‘Burke’s Law’ theme - priceless!

Finally from 2005, a  CD release of the original soundtrack. The sleeve notes in the accompanying booklet were quite familiar. Unbeknown to me the publishers had simply copied my article that had been reprinted on the Gene Barry Fan Page.

I suppose I should be flattered really.

Put something on the web and don’t be surprised if it turns up were you least expect it - that’s Burke’s Law!


  1. my, my, my, ya just never know what's gonna show up on this blog :-)
    Glossy Gene was a favorite of mine as well and I enjoyed him as Bat Masterson in the '50s. It seems like nearly every star of that era was 'glossy'. The best example in my opinion? - Robert Conrad and Ross Martin of 'Wild Wild West' fame - it don't get no slicker than that. You wonder about Burke's Law appearance over a contemporary British show and if I may be allowed an observation: During the time I spent over in Germany it had become clear that Germany, and Europe in general, had a big love affair with not only American cinema but American television as well. I would imagine too that, given the prolific output of American product AND because it's cheaper to rent programming, dub over in another language when necessary, and televise it than it is to create original content, that American shows became pervasive and quite frankly much enjoyed in Europe as a whole. I guess one would have to research the ratings Burke's Law held back then to see just how popular it was in the UK.

  2. I do think it Burke's Law was a very popular show here in Britain at the time not least because of the many well known guest stars.

    I must say I agree with you on Britain's appetite for American TV. I for one loved it - Voyage.., Lost in Space, UNCLE etc. I imagine that TV 21 being a glossy publication might have felt a glossy American series would fit the bill . Lady Penelope comic, TV21 for girls , featured a The Man from UNCLE strip and The Monkees!

  3. As a youngster, could never understand why Burke's Law was in TV21; for some reason I never saw it on TV, which probably didn't help.

    1. It was usually shown at 8 in the evening in 1965 so I would have been around 7 years old. I remember having to use a lot of persuasion on my parents to let me watch it as bedtime was usually an hour earlier!

  4. yes -me too, I think thats one of the reasons I shied away from the later years of TV21 and never bothered with Eagle, I could never understand why non-scifi stuff was included in space comics! Im a purist!

    and dont get me started on the Persuaders!!

    1. I'll be doing my next bloglet on The Persuaders! : D

  5. Never saw Burkes Law. I have since found the annual and all the jigsaws in Oxfam about ten years ago. Beautiful artwork like you say Scoop. Sadly I think I've sold them but I still have all the Man From Uncle Jigsaws somewhere. As for other US detective shows, I loved The Persuaders [what's not to like! It may have been a UK production, not sure], Hawaii Five- O, Canon, Ironside, Police Woman, Cagney and Lacey, Harry O, Kojak, Columbo, Edgar Wallace, Sunset Strip, Streets of San Francisco - cripes, the list is endless! We only had three channels so US cop shows must have been on every night! Book 'Em Danno, Who Loves Ya Baby!

  6. I'm with Bill - there were so many British and American sci-fi shows available that it's just really odd that a traditional type cop show should be in an otherwise sci-fi publication.

  7. Ahh persuaders! Andersons 'grumpy' period when he turned his back on those "damn puppets" and courted real life actors kike Tony 'camp as christmas Curtis and Roger 'emotional range of a fencepist' Moore! Cant wait...

    1. You're not confusing The Persuaders! with The Protectors are you Bill? . That's the series that Gerry produced.

  8. Yes! I always do, but thats on my hitlist too! Im a grumpy old astronaut wannabe!

  9. Ha, ha! You grumpy old spaceman, you.


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