TV’s TOP COP TOOK A KNOCK-BACK

POLICE SAID NO TO DETECTIVE BANNER
TV Week
24th October 1970

GERARD KENNEDY, Division 4’s top cop, has – revealed that he was refused permission to join the police force.

In a frank interview with TV WEEK he admitted being turned down by the Queensland Police Force because of what he thought was “employment instability”.

He said that before he became a television crimebuster he tried to join the force in 1958.

He passed all the required tests, but was then asked by an examining board for a more detailed list of his previous jobs.

He told the board that he’d held about 40 different jobs, ranging from cane cutting to scenic art.

His application was turned down, but no official reason was given.

Gerard seems to think the idea of having so many jobs staggered them.

He said: “I had no trouble with the tests but when I gave the board my employment list, my career as a Police officer was doomed.

“The list had a bit of everything on it, bus conducting, cane cutting,

“I started out in life as a telephone mechanic.”

Even though Gerard was turned down he doesn’t seem to mind very much.

He said: “I applied to be a cop because I thought you could do some good in the community.

“I would like to have been a good cop—a social worker type in an area where you could have an influence on budding criminals other than threatening them.

“T believe there’s a move in South Australia to have a higher education requirement to get on to the force.

“This will mean that police will be able to advance their studies to include psychology.

“This was the sort of cop I would like to have been,

“I don’t mind not being a policeman now; in fact, it’s rather ironical playing a leading role in a series like Division 4.

“In fact. I don’t think I would like to be on the force now.

“Admittedly, it’s a bit late to start, specially if I wanted to get to the top.

“Tt’s not a pleasant job, Some hardening must take place, I think it’s a matter of being really tough on the outside and soft on the inside,

“I don’t know how many police are like this,

“Unfortunately it’s the type of profession where you can’t afford to have people who are bad natured or who have even the slightest psychological kink,

“Just about everyone has little kinks about them, but in the force it is far more damaging and has a far worse effect.”

Was being a cop Gerard’s only burning ambition?

Gerard: “I didn’t really have a burning ambition to be on the force. My real desire was to get into space research.

“I wanted to get in on the ground floor and be there when everything like moon-shots and things were happening.

“Unfortunately I couldn’t get to university to do an advanced course, so I tried to join the Fleet Air Arm.

“I wanted to become a test pilot and get in on the space program that way, seeing I couldn’t get the educational requirements.

“They turned me down, too, so I decided to become an actor and here I am.”

Gerard began his acting career on his arrival in Melbourne from Queensland with bit parts in Homicide.

He was always being cast in “heavy” roles and when the Hunter series began he played the part of top spy,

When Kragg decided to become a goodie, Gerard’s stocks skyrocketed.

He auditioned for the lead in Division 4 and was considered a natural for the part of Detective Frank Banner.

Today he’s one of the most popular actors on Australian television. His attitude of the psychological type of cop is evident in his mild-mannered method of detection.

Has he at last realised an ambition, or does he feel that being a television hero is another flash in the pan?

Gerard: “My only real ambition now is to dabble in all the things I like doing.

“I would like to get more time to sketch and would also like to do a lot more sailing.

“T think sailing is my release of frustration. It satisfies my adventurous spirit.”

Gerard has a 20-foot sailing boat which has been idly anchored at the St. Kilda pier for six months.

He says the reason he would like to spend more time sailing, “getting away from it all”, is because he’s a compulsive escapist.

He would eventually like to buy a large vessel — perhaps a 36-foot yacht — and sail up the coast.

“I think I would need a fairly large boat to go on a lengthy trip. One which can accommodate you without cramping.”

Gerard is even considering building the vessel himself, that’s if he can get enough time.

He sees himself as essentially a cruising man, so his ideal craft will have to be comfortable and fast.

He says he’s still very interested in space programs, and all the other things he’s had a go at, but they’re all in the past.

“These days I’m purely an observer.”

Does he think that his role on television helps to deter criminals as effectively as it may have been if he’d been allowed to join the force?

“I don’t know that my role does much more than entertain people,

“People often think that I’m really a policeman, and a lot of people rib me about it.

“Fortunately I don’t get involved in the show to the degree that I think I really am one. That would be very dangerous,

“The hardened criminal is not really the type to be discouraged by a TV program. If he’s going to commit a crime he’s going to do it, despite shows like Division 4.

“I don’t think he really cares whether or not we show how easy it is to get caught.

“I certainly don’t think Division 4- increases or decreases the crime rate. The only thing that worries me is that hardened criminals may get their ideas from crime shows. This sort of thing has. worried me for a long time.

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