A look Back at the Z-Cars Boardgame


David Boxall hunts down the criminals, as he remembers the classic Z-Cars boardgame. ...

The 'Z-Cars' board game was manufactured by John Waddington Ltd in the 1960s. Like so many of the games of this period, the cover artwork is excellent, with vibrant and contrasting colours. The box lid also advertises the worldwide nature of the Waddington empire with London, Paris, Leeds and Newcastle, printed after the company name.

The game contains a very well presented board, with four different cars, which are blue, white, black and grey, together with a dice and a dice shaker. The box has very little packaging and is quite simple, with a recess in the centre of the base to store all the necessary contents. The board folds out double to reveal a variety of colourful pictures, scattered between the numerous roadways.


The object of the game is to make a journey from a 'start' square in one of the corners of the board to the Police Headquarters in the centre. There are, of course, various distractions on the way for the Ford Zephyr police cars. The rules are clearly written on the inside of the box, and some of the features of the game include:

Moving
• road junction
• any direction along a street
• one-way streets
• roundabout

Hazard squares
• compulsory turns
• missed turns
• 'turn round' instruction

Passing, overtaking and crashing
• 'jump over' rule

One of the most frustrating rules is surely when you land on a square 'by the exact throw of the dice', which is already occupied, as the car in the square must return to its starting space! No two cars can ever occupy the same space at the same time.

Next to the set of rules is a brief history of the programme and how it came about - this is particularly interesting. The script writers for the series were Troy Kennedy-Martin and Allan Prior, who according to the text must take the credit for this successful BBC programme – combining exciting drama with 'down-to-earth reality'.

Troy Kennedy-Martin was born in Scotland, educated in Dublin, was sent to Cyprus with the Gordon Highlanders in 1956. He apparently lived in France while the series was televised, and flew back to this country every week during its production. Allan Prior was born in Newcastle and has had many successes as a novelist and TV writer. It is thought that much of the background for the Z-Cars series derives from his experiences in Newcastle, though this is not the city that the drama depicted.

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