Wednesday, 3 December 2014

28 November - 4 December 1964

Good evening (or good whatever time of day you're reading this).  Come, take my hand and we'll traipse together through the highlights of another week's televiewing.

Saturday 28 November 

BBC 1's evening programming begins with an edition of Juke Box Jury, the panel this week consisting of Lulu, Jean Metcalfe and Morecambe and Wise.  Sadly I've no more information to give you about this historic meeting of minds; instead, we must pass on to the programme following directly after.

You may recall that last week's episode concluded with the startling vision of a Dalek rising from the waters of the Thames.  Any viewers hoping to find out this week what, precisely, a Dalek was doing in the waters of the river Thames are doomed to be disappointed, however.  In the absence of any other explanation we can only conclude it was just enjoying a dip.

The Doctor and Ian are understandably shocked by the sight of one of the foes they thought they'd defeated in another time and world (though Ian, oddly, only seems to be certain that it's a Dalek when he hears it speak), but, having bested the metal monsters before, the Doctor's all bravado.  Despite the Dalek being obviously able to kill him there and then he scorns its threats to do so, and laughs off its claims that the Daleks now rule the planet.  Considering the character would expend so much energy in future preventing invasions of Earth, it's remarkable that his reaction on encountering one for the first time is complacent disbelief that such a thing would even be possible: "Before you can attempt to conquer the Earth you will have to destroy all living matter!" But conquer they seemingly have, and once the Dalek's bid its Roboman slaves to cart their captives off, it goes off on a little power trip, deliriously chanting "We are the masters of Earth," as its eye dilates furiously.

Susan and Barbara have been appraised of the Daleks' presence by the rebels they share the underground base with.  Solemnly they listen to a radio broadcast from the invaders, entreating any errant humans to surrender (it's not much of a programme, but it's still better than anything you get on Radio 1).

"Obey motorised dustbins? We'll see!" scoffs Dortmun, becoming the first person in the show itself to point out that there's something ever so slightly silly about the Daleks' appearance.  He's just finished work on a bomb which he hopes will see the invaders off.

Barbara and Susan are entrusted to the care of blunt and unsympathetic Jenny (Ann Davies, Mrs Richard Briers), who sets about finding them some work to do.  She's no time for Susan's malingering, and the teenage nuisance's obtuseness seems to be winding up David Campbell (who charmingly refers to the invaders as "Dalliks") as well.  "No, Susan, I've told you, you've got it wrong," he sighs at her inability to understand that it's not the helmets the Daleks' slaves wear that are called Robomen but the men themselves (there really is no hope for her).  Several of these helmets have been salvaged by the rebels from dead Robomen (the poor dears have a tendency to go mad and top themselves).

Ian and the Doctor are brought to a Dalek ship, the Doctor explaining that this is all taking place a million years before their encounter with the Daleks on Skaro, and that these Daleks can move about on non-metallic surfaces thanks to the dish each one wears on its back (he's clearly making most of this stuff up off the top of his head to make Ian think he knows what's going on).

These dishy Daleks are commanded by a fancy one with a black lid and stripes, who sees to the execution of another captive, Thomson (Michael Davis) when he attempts to escape (the creatures' habitual battlecry isn't yet in place).

David's planning an attack on the ship.  Meanwhile, it turns out that part of the reason for Jenny's icy demeanour is as a coping mechanism in the face of the horrors she's experienced (her brother's among the robotised, for example).

Aboard the Dalek craft, the Doctor and Ian are plonked in a cell with the downbeat Larry Craddock (Michael Goldie), who fills in some of the gaps in the tale of how the Daleks came to control Earth (his cellmates having decided to go along with his suggestion that they've missed everything due to being on the moon): he reveals that most of the planet's population were wiped out by a plague sent by the Daleks prior to their arrival (plagues would feature heavily in writer Terry Nation's future works, most vividly in his 70s drama series Survivors).  As Craddock recounts the tale of the invasion, we're shown some members of the remaining population (including a very buxom young blonde extra who I'm sure was in Emergency Ward 10 a couple of weeks back) being rounded up.

Nobody knows exactly what the Daleks want, only that they've started a huge mining operation in Bedfordshire, where the captives not converted into Robomen have been put to work.  The Doctor's noticeably uninterested.

At the rebel base, Dortmun, who clearly sees himself in the combined roles of Barnes-Wallis and Churchill in this conflict, addresses his troops: "One victory will set this country, the whole of Europe, alight!" But the rebels might have a better leader in their midst in the shape of Barbara, who, despite the obviousness of the idea, is the first person to suggest that the Robo helmets be used as disguises.

Noticing a curious apparatus in the corner of the cell, the Doctor deduces that it's an elaborate way of opening the cell door using refracted light beams (he conjectures that this is the way Daleks open doors as they don't have hands, but it still seems a ridiculous amount of faff).

And, indeed, it's meant to be, as it was in fact an intelligence test (notably, the Doctor gets practically everything wrong this week).  The door opens, but the Daleks are waiting right outside to have him removed for robotisation.  It's less than clear why someone would need to be clever to be turned into a robot - maybe the Daleks are trying to get rid of clever people, or maybe they've some way of extracting their knowledge.  Who knows? Either way, things aren't looking good for the old man.  He even finds himself being disrobed in front of his enemies.

Outside, the group of disguised rebels, led by David and Carl Tyler, mount their attack, and despite a few casuaties, manage to infiltrate the ship.  But will it be too late for the Doctor..?

At this point I'd normally take a look at The Arthur Haynes Show, but this week's episode is among the missing, so I'll crack on with tonight's

A very strange one indeed, this: something's clearly wrong in the barracks of a regiment recently returned from Borneo - the privates are running wild, and Graham, the sergeant who normally keeps them in line (Brian Wilde, in a brutish performance very different from the roles he's best known for), can only glower at them from behind bars, having been locked up and demoted to private after drunkenly insulting the CO.

Sergeant John Mann returns disturbed runaway Private Brown (a beautiful young Hywel Bennett) to the camp, and despite his initial determination to head straight off again, finds himself drawn into finding out why the young soldiers are behaving so lawlessly.

The spooky, perpetually Patience-playing CO (Joseph O'Conor) and uptight Major Stokeley (Allan Cuthbertson) are cagey, but an intriguing visual effect links the CO with the psychologically vulnerable Brown.

When Mann departs, the CO tells Stokeley why he's not stepping in to control the men: "Something - or someone - is pushing that platoon.  I'm going to keep that lot together till it bursts, and the pus comes flying out."  The look of distaste on Allan Cuthbertson's face on being treated to this graphic metaphor is wonderful.

It turns out that the troops think they're being haunted by the ghost of an officer killed in an ambush in Borneo, a belief someone's fostering with the use of a sinister dummy.  And the CO thinks there's witchcraft afoot.  The culprit behind both the dummy and the dead officer straying into the dangerous area where he was killed is finally revealed as the frightening, ever-laughing Private Molt (Griffith Davies).  But Mann's not able to stop a party of men, led by Graham, going out to confront the ghost, with the eventual result that the ex-sergeant is carried off, having been driven mad by the ghosts inhabiting his own mind.

Reading my rather incoherent synopsis back I realise how difficult it is to explain what actually happens in this episode: it's primarily a mood piece, the true star of which is Avengers alumnus Bill Bain's stylish direction.

Sunday 29 November

Tonight's Stingray, the most relentlessly bizarre yet. begins by introducing us to Frank and Joe, a pair of alleged hepcats (that's even the name of their ship) who speak in absurd "Daddy-o" type lingo that must have seemed embarrassingly dated even in 1964.  Their plan to search for a legendary underwater jewel forest hits a snag when their sub's denied a certificate of underseaworthiness by Commander Shore.  Troy Tempest thinks it's because he's an old grump who's not with it, but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that the Hepcat doesn't even seem to have a roof, something (and I confess I'm no expert) that seems pretty essential for a submarine.

The daft pair decide to go in search of the jewel forest even without WASP approval, and unsurprisingly they swiftly run into trouble, meaning Stingray's called out to save the gormless twerps.  As it cruises to the rescue, we receive an insight into just what Marina's role aboard ship is: she does the sewing, of course.

Thankfully those ghastly beatniks are sent on their merry way, but after saving their lives, Troy falls down a crevasse and, his air supply dwindling, passes out.

He comes round to discover he's completely out of oxygen - and yet he's still able to breathe! Casting his scuba mask contemptuously aside ("Who needs oxygen?!"), he enjoys floating about unfettered - and eventually stumbles across the very bejewelled grotto that Frank and Joe were looking for, exulting that he's now the richest man in the world.

The next thing we know, he's living beneath the sea in a classically-themed palace, in a sort of menage a Troy with Atlanta and Marina, who act as his more than willing slaves, with Phones as a sort of butler.

Troy voices his longing that Marina could speak, leading in to a premature performance of her theme song (it's still used at the end of the show, for the benefit of anyone not heartily sick of it).  Atlanta seems to now be over her jealousy issues, appearing to quite enjoy the musical interlude.  Once Troy's finished serenading Marina, she reveals that she is actually able to communicate with him mentally (in the unmistakable voice of Sylvia Anderson).

Commander Shore turns up to beg Troy to give up his life of luxury and return to active service but he's laughed to scorn.

There's trouble in paradise, though, in the form of a group of Aquaphibians, who mount a full-scale attack on Troy's palace.  The ensuing chaos sees Troy trapped helplessly beneath a toppled pillar.  I know I said last week that Stingray does explosions well, but this time things are taken a little too far when a perfectly innocuous bowl of fruit blows up on being hit by another pillar.

Just before he blacks out, Troy sees Phones standing before him with an oxygen mask, and he comes round to discover that most of the episode was a fantasy caused by his oxygen starvation, and he's not really the richest man in the world after all.  As he recovers tucked up in bed, we notice that Marina is now wearing a stethoscope round her neck.  Is there anything she can't do?

On reaching the end, the viewer's likely to surmise that they themselves have experienced an especially barmy dream.  You can experience it for yourself below:

Hard as it may be to believe, that episode of Stingray isn't tonight's main TV event: that honour falls to a gala variety performance on BBC 1 to celebrate Sir Winston Churchill's 90th birthday.  The participant list as as good a cross-section of establishment-friendly (and indeed 90 year old-friendly) entertainment in 1964 as you could hope to find:  Arthur Askey, Ian Carmichael, Roy Castle, Alma Cogan, Kenneth Connor, Billy Cotton, Cicely Courtneidge, Jimmy Edwards, Margot Fonteyn, Kathy Kirby, Ted Ray, Harry Secombe, Andy Stewart and Reg Varney and the Cliff Adams Singers to pick just a few names.  Churchill was to die less than two months later, and I'm not convinced that he wasn't hurried on his way by that lot.

Monday 30 November 

It's St Andrew's Day, and to celebrate, BBC 1 shows a special programme of Scottish country dancing (if there's one thing we get a lot less of on the BBC in the 21st century it's Scottish country dancing - unless BBC Alba are hogging it all).

Tuesday 1 December 

Tonight's Danger Man, with a clever and witty script from Philip Broadley, stylish direction from Don Chaffey and a magnificently urbane performance from Patrick McGoohan, sees the show at the top of its game.

Proceedings get under way at a nuclear power facility in France, where a tea lady has an accident.

As she's played by Dawn Addams, whose sole purpose in everything she ever appears in is to be glamorous, we can be sure that she's not really an ordinary tea lady.  And indeed, when she pops off to the loo to straighten herself up we learn that she's a spy who's managed to pilfer a top secret file.

In London, overgrown schoolboy agent 1056 (Patrick Newell) is cock-a-hoop at having been called in by the stony-faced Admiral (this week named in the credits as Hobbs) to fly out to the Cote d'Azur to aid John Drake in his latest mission.  Drake's on the trail of A J A Kent, the man behind the secret theft we saw at the top of the show and others like it, hoping to reel him in using F6, a secret rocket formula, as bait.

Drake's having a high old time, enjoying the sun and spying on his neighbour Martine, the erstwhile tea lady.  He sets about grabbing her attention at a casino - he introduces himself as Peter Simons, but she can tell straight away he's really a John (!) - playing the louche playboy role to the hilt:

"What do you do, John?"
"Yes, what do you do with your life?"
"Nothing, but I do it terribly well."

Drake startles Martine by giving her a note to take to her boss, Kent.  The man himself (Niall McGinnis, like Addams making his second Danger Man appearance in just a few weeks), who wears a Phantom of the Opera-type mask to conceal horrific acid burns (which are left to the viewer's imagination) - "like a Jack of Spades, in profile" is Drake's description - is intrigued by Drake's missive: it's simply a postcard with "F6" on the back.

Kent sends another henchperson, Peter Sellers lookalike Genicot (Frederick Bartman) to raid Drake's hotel room. He's snapped by a camera concealed in an alarm clock.  Drake surreptitiously slips his photo to 1056 to identify.

Turns out Mr Genicot's a local martial arts instructor, and a splendidly-attired Drake pops along to his gym in the hope of a Judo lesson.  The brawl that ensues (Drake ends up on top, natch) is notable chiefly for the hairstyles of the female spectators.

Drake gives the bested Genicot the photos of him searching his room to give to Kent.  In response, Kent sends his own photographer to trail Drake (hence the episode title).  Meeting Martine for a drink, Drake bemuses her by giving the bartender a wodge of cash in exchange for the cute St Bernard statuette behind the bar.

It's the barrel he's after: he ties it round the neck of one of Kent's vicious Alsatians with a reel of film inside that shows a fragment of the F6 formula.  Thoroughly intrigued, Kent decides it may be worth negotiating with Drake -after one last test.

Kent requests the pleasure of Drake's company, and requests that he accompany Martine to a lavish party that night to ensure the safety of the priceless diamond necklace Kent's lent her (he never leaves the house himself due to his disfigurement).

The party's on a private island owned by millionaire Emilio Puzo, and there Drake is set upon by two costumed thugs.  As if the sight of Patrick McGoohan fighting a pair of burly men off with a beach umbrella wasn't amazing enough, he also uses it Mary Poppins-style to float to the ground after jumping off a rock.

Drake leaves the necklace behind on the island to show Kent he's interested in bigger things.  In response, Kent offers him $25,000 and a job in his organisation in exchange for F6.

But suddenly things unravel for Drake.  As he lounges on the beach updating 1056 with his situation (a very funny scene in which Patrick Newell addresses all his lines to the bathing beauty he's lolling against), Kent's personal snapper takes some pictures - and Martine recognises 1056 as a man who was asking questions about Genicot.  Kent decides Drake must die.

Martine invites Drake to her stylish pad, where she intends to give him a drugged drink, but of course he swaps the glasses and she's out like a light.  Enter Genicot, whose attempt at pushing Drake off the balcony ends with him dangling instead.

The police arrive to cart off the crooks, Drake awakening Martine by shoving her (presumably rather pungent) shoe under her nose.  Kent himself is easily taken care of: Drake just threatens him with his own guard dogs (which like Drake a lot better than their owner).

Next tonight, The Plane Makers, and after the emotional wallop packed by last week's episode we're back to the usual tedious wranglings.  At least this instalment is easier to follow than some.

Patrick Wymark's got yet another week off, and the lead role this week goes to Alan Dobie as David Corbett, which was never going to be much fun as the whole point of the character is that he's a pain in the arse.  His quarrel this week is with the firm providing radar equipment for the new fighter jets.  As he's informed by splendidly shabby engineer Mr Lockett (George Waring), it's gone wrong.  Corbett wants to obtain new radar units directly from their American originator rather than the English firm that makes them under licence.

But this move is obstructed by Mr Nightingale from the ministry (Geoffrey Chater, who was in the show last year as Scott-Furlong's PR chief) - in an age when British Industry is still a thing, buying outside it for a government contract is a controversial move, and there are all sorts of hoops that must be jumped through.  By the way, Nightingale's colleague Hunt (John Crocker) has a really marvellous beard).

After James Cameron-Grant and Laura Challis have one of their exposition meetings, Grant's approached by Sir Henry Manning (Michael Collins), MP for the constituency the radar factory's in, with concerns about the loss of work there if Corbett goes directly to the Americans.  In an era of near-full employment any potential loss of jobs on a large scale is seen as a political disaster.  And it could be a personal disaster for Grant too, as his PR firm handles several companies Manning's on the board of.

Anyway, it all proves academic as the American company have got too many orders in their books to fit Corbett in.  However, Grant learns that the the American radar devices came to be used by Scott-Furlong as a favour from John Wilder to the US firm, a major buyer of Sovereign jets.  Happily, Lockett discovers only a minor adjustment needs to be made to the current radar units for them to work.

The highlight of this episode is discovering that Corbett's secretary, Harriet Evans, isn't at all keen on him.  "You know, when I came into this business," he drones at her, "When you hired someone you also hired his loyalty."  "That was before you came into this business." she mutters under her breath.

It's also rather wonderful to see the Minister wafting a cigarette holder about.  We don't see today's politicians using these enough.

Finally, here's some tea and sandwiches.

Also tonight, BBC 2 dusts off the 1931 Marx Brothers comedy Monkey Business for its movie strand The Vintage Years of Hollywood.

Wednesday 2 December 1964

Patrick Wymark's absence from this week's Plane Makers can perhaps be explained by his presence on the other side tonight in BBC 1's Wednesday Play.  The strand's remembered today for its hard-hitting contemporary dramas, but it was actually a lot more diverse than that: tonight's offering is a production of Henry de Montherlant's 1950 play Malatesta, set in the 15th century.

Thursday 3 December 

Like John Drake, Simon Templar's in the south of France this week: Marseilles, to be specific.  There, he nearly runs over a man named Suza (Philo Hauser) as he collapses after being shot by gangster Abdul Osman (Paul Stassino).

Elsewhere, Laura and Toby (Wanda Ventham and Scot Finch), a pair of English youths, row after he tries to impress her with a display of reckless driving.

Laura storms off (once the car's stopped), and is picked up by a passing Simon, with whom, like most women, she falls instantly in love.  She takes him home to meet her father, the wealthy, and curiously named, art collector Galbraith Stride (Brewster Mason).

Local Police chief Colonel Latignant (Arnold Diamond) pops in to see Simon, tells him that Osman and his men are members of a crime syndicate called the Latini, and buggers off with one of the Saint's ties.

At the swanky nightclub which Simon accompanies Laura to that evening, the owner, Dali (Arthur Gomez) is being roughed up by Osman and his heavies (William Marlowe and Alan Curtis) for defaulting on his protection payments (Osman threatens to poison the cream for the clientele's coffee if he doesn't get the money!).

Leaving Toby and Laura together in the hope they'll make up, Simon wades in, getting Osman to back off by telling him he saw him kill Suza.

Osman's next port of call is the home of Galbraith Stride, who, we discover, is in fact the head of the Latini (it's quite nice to have it revealed early on in the episode rather than dumped on us as a last minute twist).  Osman has designs on his position, though, and decides to make Stride uncomfortable by romancing his daughter (who's entirely ignorant of her father's criminal activities).

Meanwhile, Simon narrowly avoids becoming the Latini's latest victim...

...then finds himself offering advice to a lovelorn Toby (whose combined cup and cravat are worth mentioning, especially in conjunction with the bathroom wall behind).  Simon's appalled to hear that Laura's now stepping out with Osman.

The two are getting pretty close - at a party aboard Osman's yacht they even interlock their noses.  Clements, Osman's drunken accountant (Rory MacDermot, who certainly looks the part) tries to warn Laura how dangerous her new feller is, but proves too paralytic to get the words out - and is brutally assaulted by Osman for trying.

Simon goes to see Stride, having worked out that he's the Latini boss.  He announces his intention to bring both Stride and Osman to justice, but easily disarms Stride when he falters after pointing a gun at him.  Simon knows Osman would have no such compunction in pulling the trigger.

Stride tries to get rid of Osman by offering him control of the Latini's African and Middle Eastern divisions, but it's not enough for him.  A briefly-seen maid at the Stride residence is played by an uncredited but instantly recognisable Kate O'Mara.

Osman's keeping Laura captive aboard his yacht, but it's not long before Simon comes to the rescue (punching people seems a lot more civilised if you do it wearing a cravat).  Stride turns up too, only to be shot dead by Osman, who's then shot dead by Clements.  Simon deals with the henchmen.  It's decided that the truth about Laura's father should be kept from her.  We end on the cheery news that poor Clements will be dead of liver damage within a month.

Also tonight:  BBC 2 shows Murder Mistaken, a suspense play by Janet Green (screenwriter of "social problem" thrillers Sapphire and Victim) starring the tantalising pairing of Pamela Brown and Julian Glover, and BBC 1 subjects viewers to Part 3 of The Singing Ringing Tree.

Friday 4 December 1964

Tonight's TV offerings include, on BBC 1, a special Dick Emery Show guest-starring Joan Sims.

This week's full Radio Times listings can be found here.

Outside the box: That power dispute I told you about last week is settled on Monday.  I know it's been troubling you.

And to play us out...

It's the Kinks, at number 2 in the singles chart with "All Day and All of the Night" (the Supremes are still at number 1).  You can find the full chart here.

1 comment:

  1. you could have shown more of the wonderful alan dobie.