You’ll know Philip Martin for writing Vengeance on Varos and Parts 5 to 8 of The Trial of a Time Lord, better known as Mindwarp, but he’s also widely known for creating the hit TV show, Gangsters – and the two novelisations are being reissued by Candy Jar Books.
Initially broadcast as the Play for Today in 1975, Gangsters featured Maurice Colbourne (Resurrection of the Daleks; Attack of the Cybermen). Its graphic violence, its authentic portrayal of contemporary racism, and its depiction of the mean streets of Birmingham provoked controversy, and the critics unfairly dismissed it. Fortunately, audiences loved its mix of shocking realism with daring style of storytelling, and the BBC quickly commissioned two series.
Airing in 1977- 78, these six-part serials prompted a critical reappraisal, and Gangsters is now a certified cult classic.
Gangsters deserves this reputation: featuring one of the first truly multiracial casts to be seen on British screens, depicting both the exploitation of illegal immigrants and the conniving of magical kung-fu assassins, and showing the misery of heroin addiction (with cutaways to Martin himself dictating the script), it’s a truly unique piece of television.
Now, Philip Martin’s take on the crime genre returns with the re-publication of the two novels that accompanied the TV series, together in the same volume for the first time: A Life for a Life and Vendetta, two standalone stories that can be read by even those who have never watched Gangsters. Not only furthering the story of the show’s protagonist, John Kline, but also setting up what will be the first brand new addition in the Gangsters story for almost 30 years – Death Touch, to be published by Candy Jar Books next year – Philip Martin’s Gangsters is just the latest chapter in cult television history. Here’s the synopsis:
John Kline is an ex-SAS officer recently released from prison who finds himself hired by the secretive DI6 police organisation to go undercover in the Birmingham underworld. Infiltrating a violent gangster organisation, Kline soon finds himself making some dangerous enemies, with his loyalties trapped between two opposing forces.
Gangsters is a novel of money, power and violence, the story of racketeers who grow fat on the profits of illegal immigration, drug trafficking – and death.
Candy Jar Books’ editorial coordinator, Will Rees, says:
“With our recent publication of the Dr Strangelove novelisation, and our Lethbridge Stewart range, Candy Jar has an established reputation for publishing quality material from the world of cult film and television. Fans of cult media are real devotees, and it is their fandom that keeps these original and challenging works alive. The Gangsters novels have been collector’s items for far too long, and we will get as much of a thrill from making them available to all the fans as they themselves will get from reading them.”
With these upcoming releases, enthusiasts will finally be able to complete their Gangsters collections, and this iconoclastic blend of the high and the low, the serious and the absurd, the realist, the postmodern and the sheer surreal can finally be enjoyed as its creator always intended it to be.
Philip Martin’s Gangsters is available to pre-order now from Candy Jar Books for £8.99.