Thursday, 21 November 2013

Thursday 21 November 1963

Yes, The Planet of Light.  For the first time ever, Space Patrol takes us beyond the worlds of our solar system (possibly because the show's makers have run out of things to do with them) and into a strange new galaxy.  It all begins when Larry Dart and his crew, on their way home after six months in space, spot a strange spaceship they've never seen before (actually it's the same dog toy-shaped craft the Neptunians were using a couple of weeks ago).

As Galasphere 347 approaches the strange new (ahem) craft, it emits a pair of strange lights, which head toward Captain Dart's ship.  These are its occupants, and Dart prepares to let them aboard.  "Is it safe to let them inside?" cautious Venusian Slim asks.  "The only way to find out is to do it!" Dart exclaims.  I would not like to have this man captaining me.

"Talking lightbulbs!" cries Husky when the strange beings enter, tact never having been his strong point.  "We are not talking, we are communicating telepathically," one of them corrects him, and thereby implies that they are, indeed lightbulbs.  In actual fact they're Luminars, from the planet Lumin in the Sirius system.  This is the first time they've brought their ship, which travels many times faster than light, to our solar system.  They're reluctant to visit Earth as oxygen is deadly to them (they've had to don special armour to come over to the Galasphere.

The Luminars invite the Galasphere crew to come back with them to Lumin.  Travelling aboard the Luminar ship they can be there in a jiffy, and they should have enough oxygen supplies to last them four hours at least - though they'll have to leave before sunrise to avoid being burnt to a crisp by the heat of Sirius (speaking of which, back on Earth Marla marvels "It is strange to think that a star in our sky is a sun for another solar system" before grumpy old Colonel Raeburn slaps her down: "It isn't strange, Marla.  It's FACT.")

Husky is left behind to look after the Galasphere (fortunately he's not all that bothered), while Dart and Slim pop off to Lumin.  Everything there's silicon-based, presumably including the sheets of scrunched-up polythene covering everything.

Of course these are meant to be crystals, and there's a bit of a problem when one of them manages to tear through one of Dart's oxygen tubes.

Slim manages to repair the damage, but Dart's left with only about an hour of oxygen - and there won't be a ship available to take the Luminars' guests back for at least two.  Lumme! The Luminars only just remember the Cave of Death in time.  Death for Luminars, that is: it's full of "blister plants", which burst and release blasts of oxygen.  It sounds the ideal place to go and fill up Dart's oxygen tank, but he very nearly doesn't make it.

When they finally reach the cave, Slim's knocked flying by an exploding plant.  "I find the extra oxygen exhilirating!" he cries.

There's a rather dodgy moment when Slim positions himself behind Dart to fill the Captain's oxygen tank: "Is it coming?" "Not yet."  "Well try knocking it."  "Ahhh, it's getting looser.  We won't be long now!"

Slim and Dart safely make it back from Lumin, and are given a going away present by the Luminars: a Lumin cat.  Which, essentially, is a miaowing rock.

When the Galasphere crew get back to Earth, Dart can't wait to show off this new addition to the ever-expanding Space Patrol menagerie to Colonel Raeburn and Professor Haggerty.  Gabbler the Martian parrot isn't too excited at the prospect, though, as he hates cats (and is also worried the new creature might prove more intelligent than him).  There's a lot of competition for the title of most bizarre episode of Space Patrol, but The Planet of Light has easily the most jaw-droppingly odd ending to date.  Dart excitedly prepares to show off his new pet, only to find that the amount of oxygen it's encountered has killed it stone dead (surely the Luminars must have been aware this would happen? The sadistic bastards).

As Professor Haggerty's set the task of somehow making Earth hospitable for Luminars, Gabbler comes to look at what Dart's brought back.

Gabbler: Is that the cat?
Dart: No, Gabbler.  The cat died.
Gabbler: (heavy sarcasm)What a tragedy! What a shame! What a pity!

Dart's also brought back a blister plant, and happily the episode ends with everybody laughing it explodes in the ghastly bird's face.

Next tonight, we join Simon Templar on his way back to London from a trip to Congo.

While Simon enjoys a first class flight in the company of his friend, industrial diamond merchant Alan Uttershaw (Douglas Wilmer), the security van's heading toward Gatwick to pick up the £100,000 worth of diamonds they're bringing with them.  The guards aboard are played by Frank Jarvis and Geoffrey Palmer, who it's very strange to hear speak with a lower-class accent.

He doesn't speak with it for very long, though: the van's diverted to the scene of a pretend accident, where both men are shot dead by the ruthless Ricco (Paul Stassino).

Ricco's henchmen (one uncredited, the other played by Ray Austin - always a sign there's a good punch-up in the offing) dress up as the guards and make off with the diamonds.  Despite the usual warnings against getting involved of the lugubrious Inspector Teal, Simon offers his assistance to Uttershaw in tracking down the villains.  It's enthusiastically accepted, and Uttershaw offers to take him to dinner with his distributor Milton Ourley (pronounced Orly rather than Hourly, in the unlikely event that you're interested), and warned about Ourley's wife.

Tina Ourley is played by Vanda Godsell, British cinema's finest tarty older woman of the era.  She's obsessed with keeping up with the latest dance crazes and to that end has engaged tutor/gigolo George Stanton (Michael Meacham).  "The twist is out - finished!"

Tina's fiercely jealous where George is concerned, particularly in terms of his meetings with other women (which suggests she's remarkably unobservant).  There's a great deal of domestic angst in the Ourly household, with no love lost between Tina and her husband Milton (that splendid grump George A Cooper). 

Tina's less interested in the loss of £100,000 worth of diamonds than she is in the fact it's brought a new handsome young man into her home in the shape of Simon Templar, who she's unsubtly swooning over in no time.  "I lead a very lonely life," she tells him. "Milton thinks of nothing except his work."  "And what do you think of?" Simon asks.  "Guess!" Tina responds (later she admits to him, "George is a dancer.  I want a man.")

While Simon's nearly being devoured alive, Ourly's business partner Gabriel Linnet (William Dexter - everyone pronounces the character's first name as "Gabrielle" for some reason) is meeting an even worse fate.  He was the inside man in the diamond theft, but having got cold feet after the murder of the guards.  So Ricco decides to silence him for good.

As it happens, Linnet's flat is where Simon's headed to next.  He's met outside by Linnet's beautiful secretary Barbara Sinclair (Jemma Hyde), worried as her employer urgently called her over but isn't responding to his bell.

Breaking into the flat, Simon engages in the expected fisticuffs with Ray Austin, ending with the villain being locked in a kitchen cupboard.

But by the time Inspector Teal turns up, the cupboard is bare.  And what's more, there's a rather crude version of the Saint's trademark clutched in the dead man's hand.  It's an unsubtle attempt at framing Simon, but Teal arrests him anyway just for the fun of it.

On release, Simon meets up once more with Barbara Sinclair, who proves remarkably quick off the mark.

Before they've much of a chance to get acquainted, Barbara's flat's invaded by one of Ricco's heavies, and chaos ensues.  It all ends especially badly for Simon's opponent.

Finding the diamonds concealed in Barbara's flat, Simon gets her to confess that she was Linnet's kept woman, but he's convinced that her lover's someone quite different - the real Mr Big behind the diamond robbery.

The Rough Diamonds is, by some way, the best episode of The Saint I've yet featured here.  Thanks to Ray Austin's fight arrangements and Peter Yates' direction it's amazingly action-packed, and in the scenes at the Ourly household and Barbara's final hysterical protestations of love for the mysterious baddie, it's also dripping with camp.  What more, I ask you, could you want from an instalment of an ITC adventure series?

Sadly George Stanton and the Ourlys turn out to be red herrings, the mastermind behind the theft revealed as Alan Uttershaw, the very man who brought Simon into the whole business.

This sort of thing happens a lot in shows like this.  Presumably the writers think it makes for an unpredictable twist, but instead it leaves us wondering why on Earth the culprit would set someone on their trail who they must have known would have caught them eventually.  They're fools to themselves, you know.


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  3. Thursday November 21st 1963,The Saint Starring Roger Moore as the famous of infamous Simon Templar on the way home just come back from Congo with Alan Uttershaw and the episode The Rough Diamonds Screenplay by the late Bill Strutton and The Director is the late Peter Yates.

    The Van is driven to Gatwick Airport in Sussex to pick up the Diamonds and it is cost £100,000 and stopped by the infamous crooks and shot the guards by Ricco's henchmen and got changed into the uniforms by Joe & Ned Walsh.

    Tina Ourly is teaching George Stanton dancing the twist and listening to the record player when her husband Milton Ourly is in not a happy man indeed when the van guards is killed for the loss worth £100,000 of Diamonds.

    Alan Uttershaw and Simon Templar arriving at The Ourlys House for the drinks and Alan and Milton talking business.

    Gabriel Linnett is talking to the tape recorder when Ricco,Joe & Ned to sort out Linnett and is beaten to death.

    Simon arrives at Bentley Square London and met the lovely Barbara Sinclair played by Jemma Hyde about Linnet's death and Simon breaks in into the house looking for Linnett and Joe points the gun at Simon and he said inside and Simon punched Joe and locked him in the cupboard and Inspector Teal of Scotland Yard Questions Simon about the robbery of the Diamonds and searched the house with The Saint Card on Linnet's Hand.

    Back at Scotland Yard with Simon and Inspector Teal looking the photographs with Alan Uttershaw and when Barbara Sinclair arrives at the Police Station and he takes her home to her flat followed by Ricco and Ned.

    Simon and Barbara with the locked lips when the gun fires at them when Simon is fighting Ned Walsh and slipped and killed on the ground and Ricco is in the car and the music Theme for Larceny by The late Edwin Astley is the great masterpiece.

    Simon's flat with Alan Uttershaw and he is trying to scare The Ourlys when Milton slams his fist on the desk and Simon asks him about the diamonds and he is trying to Simon out of the Milton's Office.

    Barbara Sinclair's flat to find the Diamonds for £100,000 and Simon invites himself in and Simon and Barbara in The Saint's Volvo 1800 ST-1 followed by Ricco and Joe in the streets of London in the chase and Simon gives Barbara his key to his flat and stopped by Ricco and Joe.

    Simon pointing the gun at Ricco is Shot and Joe and Simon fight and Simon punched Joe out cold at Barbara Sinclair's flat has found the diamonds and he calling the police.

    Simon's Flat when Barbara waits for Simon and the cigarette on the ashtray and in the end it was Alan Uttershaw,The Mastermind of The Diamonds and Inspector Teal and His Policemen arrests Uttershaw and Simon and Claude Eustace Teal at the yard when The Rough Diamonds has ended when Simon gave Claude the peppermints for the share of the reward.

    The Saint is The Crime Drama Series Starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar.

    Terry Christie,from Sunderland,Tyne & Wear.