The Guardians was a television series made by London Weekend Television and broadcast in the UK on the ITV network between 10th July 1971 and 2nd October 1971. It ran for 13 episodes.
It is set in a dystopian 1980’s Great Britain and through the series we follow the economic chaos that occurs after the democratic government has been overthrown in a bloodless coup, the Royal Family have fled into self-imposed exile and the United Kingdom is ruled autocratically by Prime Minister Sir Timothy Hobson (Cyril Luckham).
Hobson is initially a pawn of ‘the General’: a military officer by the name of Roger, who later becomes Minister of Defence. Hobson subscribes to an outwardly benevolent paternalistic fascism, based on the principle that “democracy is a form of group suicide”.
Political opposition is suppressed by a uniformed paramilitary force recruited from former policemen, soldiers and security guards and called “The Guardians of the Realm” (known for short as “The Guardians” or simply“The Gs”).
Each episode begins with a column of Guardians marching through central London to a memorable theme tune composed by Wilfred Josephs.
The government, nominally headed by Hobson, is opposed by a fragmented resistance movement collectively named “Quarmby”. The dominant group within Quarmby favours a strategy of provoking increased oppression by the state through the use of assassination and other forms of terrorism.
The series avoided black and white scenarios by portraying moderate and extreme factions jostling within both government and resistance. Hobson represents the liberal element within government, attempting to out-manoeuvre the seldom-seen General and the polished Cabinet Secretary Norman (Derek Smith).