‘My brief moment of fame included the long arm of the law’

Mar 14, 2019
A scene from 'The Long Arm' in which a bank is being robbed. Source: YouTube

During the 1970s, I was working on a building site in North Sydney, Australia. On one of my lunch time breaks I took a walk down Miller Street. I had only recently immigrated to Australia and was thinking about how lucky I was to now call this beautiful place home.

Lost in thought, I was completely taken by surprise when two men, masked in balaclavas, carrying two large bags burst through to doors of a nearby bank and started shooting their guns into the air. This might have been a normal occurrence in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where I had come from, but I’d hardly expected such a thing in Australia.

I stopped in my tracks, unsure of what to do. To say I was dumbfounded would have been an understatement.

Then I heard this angry yelling. It seemed to be directed at me. “Cut! Cut! Get that f****** d****** off the set!”

It was only then I saw the cameras, and embarrassingly I hurried off down the street. I returned to work on the opposite side of the road, as I could see they were still filming.

I later found out that the filming was for a television production called The Long Arm. Produced locally by Network Ten, The Long Arm was a cop show designed to rival the successful Homicide police series and Division 4.

The show was said to focus on a department of the Victoria Police, though it wasn’t clear which. The episodes were based on real-life cases. The storylines included robbery, murder and fraud, among others. There were 19 episodes made in all.

Though I never got to see an episode of The Long Arm on television — in fact, I doubt the show even got off the ground, I’m sure my walk on appearance finished on the cutting room floor. My five seconds of fame!

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