Monday, 20 October 2014

Tuesday 20 October 1964

Tuesday nights are becoming rather busy at TV Minus 50, and as I'm starting to fall behind a bit, I shall rattle through tonight's offerings as quickly as I can.  First it's off to Oxbridge, where Mrs Cartwright is still determined to remove her son Billy from the hospital.

She's stopped in her tracks by Guy Marshall, who demands to see proof that she's the boy's legal guardian.  She skulks off, promising to return with it.

Leon Dorsey receives a visit from his wife Eleanor, but as all he wants to do is moan about his predicament she doesn't stick around.  He's particularly fed up with his physiotherapist: "She'll have me weaving baskets next!"

"This business of Mrs Dodge's money's becoming quite ludicrous!" complains Mr Arnott to Mr Drummond, and indeed it is - discussions of what's to be done with it have been taking up great chunks of the show for weeks.  Talk of Matron's views on how it should be spent segue into discussion of the consultants' taste in females: "I'm afraid I despise strong women!" snaps Arnott.  "I rather like 'em," Drummond muses.

The conversation takes an even stranger turn as Mr Arnott harks back to 1910: "When the skies were cloudless, the income tax negligible, and the women womanly".  I suppose his nostalgia for a time before he was even born isn't a million miles from my own, and yet... well, let's just say I suddenly noticed he looks a bit like Nigel Farage.

Arnott's reverie's interrupted by Eleanor, who pops in to chat about her truculent husband.  Drummond thinks that Leon's bad temper and refusal to put up with being incapacitated could prove a boon to his recovery (Arnott, who's just voiced his distaste of women swearing, is mortified by Eleanor's use of the phrase "bloody-mindedness").

One person without any hope of recovery is recent admission Mr Preston, who Drummond realises has only hours to live.  Always upset when confronted with a terminal patient, he instinctively reaches into his breast pocket for a comforter: "Oh hell, if only I hadn't given up smoking."

The gloomy atmosphere is dispersed by the arrival of a cablegram from America for Guy.  He's been offered an associate professorship at a prestigious university.  Overwhelmed by the news, Guy soon begins to worry that the offer's only come about through Barbara Dodge's influence.

Drummond receives a visit from a frosty Gerald Frobisher, who wants him to pay a call on Lena Hyde, who's still getting worrying headaches.  Pointing out that Lena chose to discharge herself, the consultant insists she'll have to make her own appointment.  Frobisher's threats to get a Harley Street doctor on the case instead are met with glorious indifference.

One of the non-speaking nurses gets threatened with a tennis ball by the permanently disgruntled Dorsey, prior to him receiving a visit from the hideously unctuous Peter Bacon.

Guy takes a look at Mr Preston (who's mumbling feverishly about playing cricket in Winchester), then goes to see Billy, who's feeling understandably glum about his warring parents.

Mr Preston receives the last rites from a frowny, uncredited priest.

On his way to lend Billy a book on the Wild West (presumably from the same publisher as the generic book on the French Revolution from the first episode of Doctor Who), Guy's interrupted by the boy's father ("I could kill her!" he says of his ex-wife, snapping a pencil).  And then his mother.  Having got the two of them together, Guy insists that they sit down and work out their differences in the boy's interests.  He pointedly informs them that he has to go and see a dying man.

By the time Guy reaches Mr Preston's bedside the old duffer's departed this life.

Guy uses the old man's death to point out to the Cartwrights that life's too short for them to make it miserable for their son.  It's clear that Guy's sympathies are really with the father, and he eventually makes Mrs Cartwright see that he deserves access to his child.

Bacon calls on Leon again, but finds he's collapsed (about 25% of Emergency Ward 10 episodes end with someone finding that someone else has collapsed).

On now to the second episode of the revamped Danger Man.  It's a bit of a disappointment compared to last week's stunning series opener, but that could be because it was made much earlier in the production schedule, so perhaps the show hadn't quite found its feet yet.  Tonight's episode's written by script editor Wilfred Greatorex in collaboration with Louis Marks, a writer whose name you'll be seeing again around these parts.

Our story opens in the British embassy at Prague.  Wonderfully fruity character actress Joan Young appears briefly as a matronly employee greeting glamorous civil servant's wife Joan Pearson (Helen Cherry).

Joan reveals to stony-faced official John Rhodes (John Welsh, last seen in Saturday's Redcap) that her husband has disappeared.  He seems unworried and only casually mentions it to the ambassador (Noel Johnson), who gets on the blower to M9 as soon as Rhodes departs: Desmond Pearson, it seems, is an M9 agent...

John Drake's dropped off in the Czech countryside, where he's picked up by the ever-so-conveniently passing ambassador.  Drake's investigating Pearson's disappearance in the guise of Terence Stewart, a Foreign Office worker well-known to have a problem with the bottle ("One of our horizontal heroes").  The ambassador fears that Pearson, who was getting hold of state secrets via a call girl, has been caught by the opposition and is having his extensive information extracted from him.

As is de rigeur, Drake gets to know the dramatis personae at an embassy do.  As well as Joan Pearson he meets Milos Kaldor (Alex Scott), known to operate a ring of girls who extract information from lust-crazed politicians.  Kaldor "lets it slip" that Desmond Pearson has an "awful reputation" with women, and suggests there could be more to him than meets the eye.  Drake gives nothing away.

Kaldor invites Drake/Stewart to a party at his home (where he wears an extremely short pair of shorts).

Drake's introduced to the beautiful Ira (Nadja Regin), who immediately sets about seducing him by refusing to leave when he tries to change into his trunks.  It turns out she spent rather a lot of time with Desmond Pearson: "He was so full of life," she says, ominously.

Ira teases Drake/Stewart that he's "So dull, so English".  So he hoists her up on his shoulder and swings her around.  When he accepts a drink, everything goes blurry...

Drake awakens in a cell, where he's interrogated by menacing Steve Plytas.  It appears that the previous evening, while drunk, he mowed down a pedestrian who's now fighting for his life.

A seemingly outraged Kaldor and Ira arrive and get Drake out of jail with a phone call.  Deliberately playing into their hands, Drake professes his eternal gratitude, and his terror that he'll lose his job over the supposed accident.

Drake takes tea with Joan Pearson, and she tells him that her husband went curiously off the rails after meeting Kaldor, who she despises, and embarked on an affair with Ira.  She thinks her husband's been corrupted by the "evil" Kaldor.

Kaldor, securing Drake's co-operation, takes him to see Pearson (Jerry Stovin), who's kept under guard in a hotel and subjected to a mysterious "treatment" that involves him being regularly injected.

Drake has a talk with Ira, and satisfies himself that all she's been getting out of her government minister lover is a cushy flat.  He deduces that Pearson has, in fact, gone over to the other side, and determines to forcibly bring him back.  So he grabs him from the hotel, knocking Kaldor out as he goes.

The effects of Pearson's "treatment" mean the pair have to stop at a wayside cafe to get him a drink.  There, their passports are examined by sinister policeman John G Heller, and they discover the cackling, raddled patrons have incapacitated their vehicle.

Drake and Pearson escape from the pursuing police, and their slathering Alsatians, stealing a police car.  When they make it to the border, they distract the guards by rolling the car down a hill with a sandbag in the driver's seat.

Back in the West, Drake prepares to take Pearson for another drink, when his companion pulls a gun on him.  Drake disarms him with the minimum of fuss: "We both need a drink."

Tuesday Night is Wilfred Greatorex Night (not the catchiest of slogans, I admit) with the return of ATV's The Plane Makers.   A new era for the show is heralded by a new title sequence, featuring a military plane.

It's a period of quiet contentment at Scott-Furlong: the company's broken even on its Sovereign jets, and everyone can relax for a couple of years as the profit comes rolling in.  But Managing Director John Wilder's already looking for a new challenge, and sounds his sales director Don Henderson out about the possibility of the company moving into the production of jets for the military.

It so happens that over at Ryan Airframes, a company in the same overall group as Scott-Furlong, brilliant young designer David Corbett (Alan Dobie) has come up with a revolutionary design for a fighter that can take off vertically.  Managing Director Bill Ryan (John Wentworth, who certainly got a lot of telly work in 1964) is concentrating all his efforts on production of the plane, but there's the problem of getting £8 million to finance it.

And if the reaction of Sir Gordon Revidge, chair of the group board, is anything to go by, it's not going to be easy.

But John Wilder has his own beady eye on Corbett's design, and wants it to be his company who puts it into production.  His first move is to cancel a key contract with Ryan to produce parts for the Sovereigns, which will make it even more difficult for the company to fund Corbett's planes.

But the anguished Ryan determines he'll get the money from somewhere...

I admit that I struggle with The Plane Makers when it's all men in suits talking business, and sadly that's what tonight's episode mainly consists of, making it an incredibly tedious way to open the new series.  Happily there's the odd incidental detail to focus on, like the camera that gets a good look at board member Sir Gerald Merle (William Devlin)...

...and can then be seen sneaking out of shot as he gets up.

There's another new hairdo for Wilder's secretary Kay Lingard, and it looks like she might have some competition in the office glamour stakes this series in Ryan secretary Harriet Evans (Elizabeth Wallace), who sports a spectacular blouse.

And there's the welcome presence of future Mr Elsie Tanner (and indeed future Mr Pat Phoenix) Alan Browning as Ryan test pilot Douglas Bradley.  Browning does "pissed off" better than just about any other actor I can think of.

The plot of this week's episode culminates in Wilder convincing the board to force Ryan into retirement and installing Corbett as new MD of Ryan, with Wilder as his boss.  Corbett, a human computer with minimal social graces, is an interesting addition to the show's regular cast, and with troublesome works manager Arthur Sugden having at the end of the last series to embrace his new management role rather than kick against the system, it looks like he'll be providing Wilder with a new adversary to lock horns with.

1 comment: