Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Tuesday 3 December 1963
Tuesday Afternoon, as the title suggests, shows us a normal Tuesday afternoon in Newtown, with, as Jock Weir and Fancy Smith discover on their beat, far more going on than the placid surface might suggest. The script's an early one from Alan Plater, who'd go on to be one of British TV's most feted writers. Even at this stage it's easy to see why: the characters, both guest and regular, are all superbly drawn, and although the episode hinges on the most unlikely coincidences it always seems totally real.
Jock and Fancy are called out to a corner shop run by Mrs Marshall (Irene Richmond). She's got terrible doings to report, namely the theft of gobstoppers from the machine outside her shop. Fancy is not particularly whelmed by this case, and steals a couple himself on the way out. As he's taking his leave he collides with a plummy, youngish feller (David Crane), who's wearing the most marvellous jumper.
As he waits in the car outside for his partner, Jock gets to musing on the men you see milling about the streets on a weekday: what they're doing, why they're not at work, and whether they're up to no good. Fancy tries to take his mind off it by shoving a gobstopper down his neck, As he drives. Please don't try this at home. Or, more to the point, in the car.
Sergeant Blackitt's about to send another case their way, as a local builder Mr Farmer (Kenneth Keeling, managing a little better with his lines than he did in Saturday's Avengers) reports the theft of 5000 bricks.
But before the boys can start tracking them down, they pull a chap over for speeding. And who should it be but Jumper Man? He's not especially bothered about being caught - in fact, much to Jock and Fancy's exasperation, he sees it as a feather in his cap.
Then there's the sorry tale of unemployed sheet metal worker Mr Pawson (a beautifully forlorn performance from Eric Barker as a shabby, Scouse-accented figure a long way from the stuffy authority figures he's best known for). Sent out shopping by his wife (Judy Child), he's sadly informed that they can't afford to buy even a little gift for their baby grandson.
On his visit to the local supermarket (itself fascinating for anyone interested in daily life in the 60s), temptation proves too much for Mr Pawson, and he helps himself to a toy car.
Mr Pawson's caught and taken to store manager Mr Smethurst (Frank Pettitt). He used to own the shop himself back in the old days and might have been able to exercise discretion. But of course nowadays everything's controlled in London, and they've got a policy. So here's yet another petty Tuesday afternoon case for Jock and Fancy. There's the requisite bit of 1960s social awareness as Jock expounds to Fancy on the unfortunate economic circumstances which have led Mr Pawson to where he is, though the worthiness is cut through by Fancy's muttered "Vote for Weir."
Lastly, there's the case of Mr Finch (Jimmy Gardner), knocked off his bike by a boy racer (the same jumper-wearing chap who was pulled over earlier), and determined to get revenge.
Mr Finch contacts the police ("I've got a few bruises, but nowhere I could show you"), but seems strangely reluctant to go to the station. When he finally is prevailed upon to give a statement, he's not much use, driving poor PC Sweet to distraction with his useless recollections of the car that hit him: "It was a pale colour." "Well that's a great help!" "Well, tell me some pale colours!" Sweet reels off what colours he can think of ("It's a very popular colour, is cream") eventually scoring success, of a sort: "Lemon?" "Aye, lemon... white!"
And now, these disparate threads are drawn together: Finch, it emerges, is an estate agent who's sold a house in a new development to Pawson's daughter. It's the same development where Farmer's building, and when the builder returns to the station with the embarrassing admission that the bricks weren't stolen after all (just not taken where they should've been), he reveals he's the only person building there, and knows nothing about Finch. Who is, in fact, a conman who's defrauded many young couples. So maybe it wasn't such a boring Tuesday after all. Certainly not for Mr Pawson, though happily he ends the day with a conditional discharge.
There are many things to love about Tuesday Afternoon, but the most lovable of all is Brian Blessed and Joseph Brady's double act as Fancy and Jock. They're simply adorable.