A tough, working-class upbringing and research in the haunts of London’s gangland bosses informed the gritty, hard-hitting drama that the writer Trevor Preston brought to television in two standout series, Out (1978) and Fox (1980). Preston, who has died aged 79, was given his own programmes after writing episodes of The Sweeney (1975-80), which starred John Thaw and Dennis Waterman as officers with the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, tackling robbery and violent crime.
If Z-Cars had signalled a switch away from the homely image of the police depicted in Dixon of Dock Green, The Sweeney left no doubt about brutality and bending of the law within the force. Preston wrote the first episode of the series, after a pilot scripted by its creator, Ian Kennedy Martin. The programme was the first popular success from Euston Films, set up by