Treebeard: How did you manage to work (as a journalist) within the Vice Squad at 27 Savile Row? I presume that you followed their progress in cases they were dealing with and were fed details as and when they thought it was permissible? Or did you personally go after leads as a journalist and then take them to the Vice Squad?
Tony: The story I did with the Vice Squad – which is no longer called the Vice Squad, although that name tells you exactly what they do so it is the name I still use – was an assignment for Elle, the women’s magazine, who were interested in seeing what happens at the front line of the pornography industry. This is of course before the Internet when it was largely about books and seedy men in Soho. I was embedded with the Vice Squad – plain-clothes detectives, all young men and women – and I hung out with them and went on raids with them. This is 30 years ago and I think there was a greater bond between the police and journalist then, than there is today, although I still get on with the police very well personally. But I am not sure a young unknown journalist would get the kind of access I had back then with the Vice Squad of West End Central. But I liked them, and it was fun.
Treebeard: Max Wolf is a wonderful caring man not only a devoted family man but also very empathic with his colleagues. Is he based on any one person or a combination of different officers? Or have you found working with the police that they are normally a fairly “normal” group having to deal with some pretty horrible examples of humans?
Tony: I think that the police are unique people and one of the things that I have been struck by as I got to know them was that they never truly know what is waiting for them in any working day. They never really know if they are going to come home, and, they can never know. They see the worst of humanity and never get the respect they deserve. It is an incredibly dangerous profession but they get through it with stoicism, humour and bravery – and they also feel like a family. The character of Max – as a father – is largely based on my own experience of fatherhood. I liked the balance that Ian Fleming had with James Bond. Bond is not Fleming, but you know that many of the thoughts and feelings of Fleming sometimes appear in Bond. Max Wolfe is me but he is not me – he is my shadow brother, the better me, the man I would aspire to be. But I always recognize him.