Monday, 3 November 2014

Tuesday 3 November 1964

Time now for our first visit this week to Oxbridge General Hospital, and viewers unfamiliar with Emergency Ward 10's lackadaisical approach to cliffhangers may be a bit surprised to find that rather than following up on Pat Lyle being attacked by a psychotic patient tonight's episode starts by switching back to the far more exciting matter of Sister MacNab being huffy about the new shift system.

It's Guy Marshall's last day at the hospital before upping sticks to Texas, and he's busy inviting people to his leaving do.  Rex Lane-Russell advises him to avoid Sisters MacNab and Doughty, both in foul moods at present.

Lena Hyde and Amanda Brown have now become quite close, and Lena pleads with Amanda to be honest with the doctors about how bad her condition is.  She's now having trouble breathing, and the codeine's no longer having an effect.

Discussing the burning topic of the new shift system with Guy, Les notes that "I'd like to have a microphone in the sister's home," after quite a few tries at the line.  He's doing some very odd things with his hands.  The attack on Staff Nurse Lyle is only mentioned in passing.  Apparently she's fine, but has been given a day off.  Her attacker's been heavily sedated.  Les is more worried about Gerald Frobisher's action against him for dangerous driving.  Lena admits to Amanda that she's attracted to Les, but she thinks he's too young for her.

Leon Dorsey puts Dr Chalmers' plan to split Barbara Dodge's donation between departments to Grant and Arnott.  Arnott's relieved to have the matter sorted. and apparently the other consultants are too.  Grant, as always, isn't happy.  He admits it's a good solution, he's just annoyed that Chalmers came up with it.

It's Lena's last day in hospital and she gets on with packing her things, sorry to be leaving the ailing Amanda behind - particularly when Amanda reveals another chapter in her life of tragedy, the death of her husband in a plane crash.  Lena promises to come back and visit (enabling her own storyline to carry on for a bit longer).

Grant berates a furious Sister MacNab over the shortage of nurses that has resulted from the new shift pattern.  The next person to suffer his ire is poor Amanda Brown for not revealing the full extent of her suffering.

The next person to be shouted at is Michaela Davis, but this time it's by Les Large, who's fed up with her hanging around him like a lovesick puppy (especially as his amorous intentions are now focused squarely on Lena).

The latest patient in casualty is a jolly gent named Mr Springer, played by the always welcome Ronald Radd (one of the few actors on the show to bother with a Midlands accent).  He's got jaundice thanks to a cyst he's had for years but never bothered to do anything else.  Mr Springer runs a hire car firm, but Les's interest is piqued on learning that he's a bookmaker on the side.

Here, for anyone interested, is a shot of Ronald Radd's stomach.

It's not Michaela's day.  She now finds herself being taken to task by her best friend Jane Beattie in her new role as Staff Nurse.

Poor Amanda's bereft at losing her bed neighbour, who seems to have been just about her only friend in the world: "I think she liked me too, you now," she sighs, pathetically.

Lena returns to the hospital to see Les, who reassures her that the penalty for his dangerous driving won't be as bad as he initially thought.  She tells him she's just been to the police to tell them she remembers everything about the accident, exonerating him of any blame.  He's worried the police will find out she's lying, but she assures him she's not: her memory really has come back - she proves it by identifying the kind of dog that ran out into the street.

Giles and Louise are larking about in the path lab.  Louise gives her surprised fiancĂ© a kiss, but they're interrupted by a rather pervy-seeming extra.

Dorsey announces that he intends to return to work the following week.  Arnott is appalled.

As the young doctors head off to the pub, Les tells the others he can't stay late as he's got a date with Lena.  Guy insists he's not getting back together with Barbara as he can't bear her running his life.  But then Sister Ransome takes a call from her...

It's another episode ending that's left dangling, I'm afraid: this is the last we see of Guy Marshall, and whether he and Barbara resumed their relationship remains a mystery.  Actor Tom Adams was off to star as a bargain basement Bond, Charles Vine, in Lindsay Shonteff's Licensed to Kill (aka The 2nd Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World), which spawned a sequel but failed to make him into a star.  He remained a familiar presence on British TV, though, eventually fronting an interminable series of adverts for DFS.

Next tonight, John Drake travels, as most TV secret agents and crimefighters of the era would at some point, to a  fictional African nation recently granted independence (this one's not even named).

The country is counting down to its first general election, and Drake is in town in response to a recent attempt to kill the Prime Minister (William Marshall, a distinguished thespian whose future roles included the titular African vampire in the Blacula films).  As he makes a speech live on air, Drake arrives at the TV studio, which, as it happens, is also the top secret HQ of the country's security organisation, of which producer Mr Kassawari (Earl Cameron) is the head.  He doesn't think Drake's presence is necessary, but in the wake of the assassination attempt the PM's become convinced that Dr Manudu, the leader of the opposition, is trying to have him killed.  Manudu's focus on improving the people's material comforts is proving popular, and he stands a good chance of winning, so Drake's curious as to why he might want to resort to violent means to remove his opponent.

Drake has this week taken the guise of a Major Sullivan, who's looking for a suitable place to use as a training ground.  He's put up by Mrs Manningham (Nora Nicholson), a dotty old lush left over from colonial days.  Pouring herself a very large gin (and taken aback by her guest's request for a mixer with his), she reflects on how her late husband would have viewed the changes that have taken place in the country:

"How he would have hated this country today.  Africans everywhere!"
"They were here first."
"Oh yes, living in mud huts and doing their funny little dances.  We brought them civilisation, Major.  And now they turn round and bite the hand that fed them!"

Mrs Manningham's abode is conveniently situated across the street from the home of Dr Manudu.  Well, convenient for Drake; not so convenient for Mrs Manningham:

"I never feel at ease living near Socialists."
"But he's not a Socialist, is he? He's just the leader of the opposition."
"Oh, Henry always said they were the same thing."

Mrs Manningham's a witty portrait of a colonial mentality that was a barmy anachronism in a country like this, but far less cuddly in places like Rhodesia and South Africa where it still held sway.

Drake meets up with General Powers (Geoffrey Lumsden), English head of the country's army, who encourages him to come to a cocktail party that evening held by Belgian fiancier Pierre Lasalle (Arnold Diamond).  At the party Drake also meets Lasalle's glamorous English wife Suzanne (the wonderful Jill Melford, sadly wasted in an underwritten part).

Suzanne's immediately taken with Drake, and pops by Mrs Manningham's the next day, with the excuse of returning a book.  If you can't recall this Agatha Christie novel it may be because it's actually a John Christopher novel that's had its cover altered.  Presumably there were rights problems with using an actual Christie title, but it does make one wonder why they used her name at all.

Drake pops over the road to see Manudu (Edric Connor), who he's surprised to see is entertaining Colonel Nyboto (Errol John), the apple of General Powers' eye.  Manudu is confident of winning the election, but fears that if the current PM were to win he'd soon become a dictator.

Drake goes out into the bush to see Nyboto's crack regiment, ready to be called up at a moment's notice.  But he's beginning to wonder whether they'll be called on to defend the PM or to overthrow him.

Over a game of billiards with Lasalle, Drake asks the financier whose side he's on.  Lasalle makes it clear that he favours whoever best suits his business interests - and in this case it's Manudu.

Leaving Lasalle's house, Drake is attacked by an unknown assailant.  Drake gives him a good kicking, but the man gets away.

Drake's surprised to find Suzanne Lasalle in his room, looking for some company.  He gives her very short shrift, but she casually mentions that she thinks her husband's offering Manudu more than money.

Drake sounds General Powers out about whether Colonel Nyboto could use the army to force an uprising against the government.  Powers is adamant that his men are loyal to him, and besides, he's due to retire and doesn't think Nyboto would throw away the chance to succeed him.

Drake goes to report to Kassawari, but finds that the security chief has been murdered.  The PM thinks Manudu was behind the killing.

Drake goes to see Manudu again.  He denies having anything to do with Kassawari's killing, but admits he is planning an uprising - though it is to be a bloodless one.

Suspicious of just how bloodless, Drake goes to investigate Nyboto's camp again, but a stony-faced sergeant refuses to let him in.  He's played by Willie Payne, who we're used to seeing be much more friendly as Henry, regular customer at The Larkins' caff.

Drake ends up fighting with Nyboto, before making a daring escape from his men.

Manudu's beginning to have second thoughts about the coup, but it's too late: Drake and Powers arrive at his door to arrest him along with Lasalle and Nyboto.

But Drake's alerted by Suzanne Lasalle to the fact that her husband's been having a lot of meetings with the PM and Nyboto.  His suspicions are further piqued when he learns that, while Manudu languishes in a military jail, Nyboto and Lasalle were passed over to the civilian police and are now walking free.  Drake goes to visit Manudu in prison, offering to get him out and help him to overthrow the PM in return for a large sum of money.  Manudu angrily kicks him out:

"One word and you're a free man."
"I'm afraid the only word I can think of might offend your ears."

Satisfied that Manudu is an honourable man, Drake goes to see the PM, finding him in cahoots with Lasalle and Nyboto: the whole Manudu coup was cooked up in order to strengthen the PM's position.

Threatening to expose the matter, Drake forces the PM into sharing a platform with Manudu on television, with both men facing the vote in proper democratic fashion.  But, as ever, Drake remains cynical about how long-lasting the new situation will be.

Next tonight, it's The Plane Makers at its most impenetrable - for me, at any rate.  All these big business shenanigans do very little for me, and in this series it seems the human interest element is being squeezed out in favour of more men in suits blathering on and on about board meetings and what have you. Oh well, I shall run through this as quickly as I can.

Having introduced David Corbett and James Cameron-Grant in the past week as John Wilder's main adversaries this series, tonight the show brings these two together, doing away with Wilder altogether for the week (well, not quite: his presence is still felt even though Patrick Wymark himself is having a week off).

Cameron-Grant comes to see a demonstration of the new military jet's take off and landing.  It wobbles a bit on the way down, and Corbett blames chief test pilot Henry Forbes' lack of experience with planes of this type.  He orders a disgruntled Forbes not to fly the plane again, but admits to Grant that he thinks it needs another year of development before the contract can go ahead - though Wilder wants to press on straight away.

In the hope of getting the extra year he wants, Corbett blabs his misgivings about the plane in its current state to a journalist (Garfield Morgan).  The story's in the paper the next day, with Corbett referred to as "an anonymous aviation expert".  Grant suspects Corbett straight away.

Grant manoeuvres against Corbett by giving Eric Styles, a fellow MP and aviation expert who has voiced severe misgivings about the Scott-Furlong contract, the full file on the new plane so he can see for himself what its strengths and weaknesses.

Corbett's frustrated by Wilder's insistence that Forbes continue to fly the plane and the arrival of Styles to have a nosey at it.

The press about the plane means Corbett's inundated with phone calls, even though he keeps refusing to comment on the matter.  We get to see inside his home, but his family remain off stage.

Grant insists that Corbett release a statement of full confidence in the plane, particularly as the Parliamentary Secretary from the Ministry of Aviation has decided to visit and see it for himself.  What's more, Wilder has now sent word that unless Corbett proclaims his confidence in the plane he will have to resign.

At the test in front of the Parliamentary Secretary, Malone (Clement McCullam), Forbes swaps with Bradley, who has more experience of military jets, at the last minute, and it goes without a hitch.  Grant talks a chastened Corbett into releasing the statement he's prepared for him, and Corbett tells Malone he has full confidence in the plane.

Oh well, at least Miss Evans sports a couple of nice outfits.

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