Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Wednesday 18 September 1963

The formidable jowls of Stratford Johns are in full wobble as Inspector Barlow, his wife away, enjoys the fine fare on offer at the Rose, a pub on Newtown's rural outskirts.

Leslie Dwyer plays the obsequious landlord Malcolm Wright, overjoyed to be back in Barlow's good books after a bust-up some years before.  The Inspector's so impressed by the charcoal grilled steak that Wright introduces him to Henry the Chef (Peter Sallis). Henry turns out to be another old acquaintance of Barlow's - in the detective's professional capacity.

Henry insists that after a spell behind bars he's a reformed character, having put himself through catering college to make something of himself.  He promises he'll tell Wright about his criminal past, and to prove his good intentions he draws Barlow's attention to some unsavoury characters who've been hanging around the bar lately.  What they're up to is unclear, but it seems to centre around the aristocratic but dodgy Peter Pennington of Pennington Hall (Robert Morris, probably best remembered for having his soul transplanted into his girlfriend's body in Hammer's Frankenstein Created Woman).  Barlow's been on Pennington's trail for a while, as have his men, including an extremely young John Thaw as probationary DC Elliot.

Barlow calls on Constables Lynch and Graham of Z Victor 2, who collar Pennington (along with his equally posh girlfriend, played by Anna Palk).  He's not terribly cooperative.

Pennington escapes with a caution, and a now rather tipsy Barlow uses Lynch and Graham as his own personal chauffeurs.  Lynch, especially, is less than impressed.  The close-ups of the always rather scary-looking Stratford Johns in this scene are especially disturbing.

Next day, Barlow pays Pennington a visit, and the young toff's refusal to believe he's who he says he is ("I'm a police officer" "I doubt it") ends up driving the Inspector berserk.

I'm not quite sure what's meant to be going on in this shot of Pennington, but I like it.

The next attempt to nab Pennington involves DC Elliot and fresh-faced young PC Sweet (Terence Edmond) going undercover at the Rose.  Sweet takes the rather unusual step of ordering a créme de menthe at the bar, and after five of them requires Lynch and Graham to drive him home (Lynch suggests he claim the drinks back as expenses).

Pennington and his cronies are exposed as jewel thieves, and it appears Wright's far from ignorant of what's been going on in his bar.

The fate of the Rose uncertain, the episode ends with the newly virtuous Henry, not wishing to associate with criminal types, departing to find a new job elsewhere.

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