Case 24: The Death of Dracula

Count Alucard, real name Norman Mattson, a famous illusionist, claimed he couldn’t be killed.  At least, that’s what his publicity said.  Unfortunately it turned out not to be true.  Two members of the audience fired silver bullets at him from real guns.  He’d performed the act thousands of times before, always successfully.  This time one of the silver bullets pierced his chest and passed right through his body.  Norman Mattson died from internal bleeding.  He died before the ambulance could arrive.  The police arrested his assistant Rita, who was also his wife.  She was charged with murder and is appearing in Fulchester Crown Court today.  Police and medical witnesses have been heard, their evidence has not been questioned by the defence.  It’s now the turn of Frank Tyler, manager of the nightclub where Norman Mattson died, to take the stand.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 28 – Friday 30 March 1973

Written by: David Fisher

This is Mr Fisher’s fifth Crown Court script.  His last was Case 19: Infanticide or Murder

Directed by: Mark Cullingham

Case 19: Infanticide or Murder was also Mr Cullingham’s last work on Crown Court.  This is the second episode he’s directed.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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Mr Justice Bragge was last seen in Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons.

The accused: Valerie Bell as Rita Mattson

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Ms Bell’s brassy, hard-bitten looks often saw her cast as barmaids, tarts and criminal’s wives.  She was Harold’s first girlfriend in Steptoe and Son (and made two more appearances in that show as different characters), appeared in Public Eye three times (twice as barmaids), and made appearances in No Hiding PlaceThe Avengers, The Human JungleRedcapThe SaintThe Rivals of Sherlock HolmesBudgieNew Scotland YardSykesWithin These WallsZ CarsThe SweeneyEastEnders and  played “Mrs Green – Whipped Cream and Garters” in the 1973 sex comedy Secrets of a Door-to-Door Salesman.  Her last screen role was in an episode of The Bill in 1991, and I haven’t been able to find any information about what’s happened to her since.  So if you know, please drop me a line!

Also in the image above is Liz Dawn, making one of her frequent uncredited performances.  Viewers also had the chance to see her in a speaking role this week, in Barry Hines’ Speech Day, Monday’s Play for Today on BBC 1.

Appearing for the prosecution: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC

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James Elliot’s last appearance was in Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons.

Assisted by: John Alkin as Barry Deeley

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We last saw Barry Deeley in Case 20: An Act of Vengeance

Appearing for the defence: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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Jonathan Fry last appeared alongside Mr Justice Bragge and James Elliot in Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons.

Assisted by: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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Charles Lotterby was last seen just last week in Case 23: Love Thy Neighbour.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

John Blythe (1921-1993) as Frank Tyler

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Mr Blythe was a cute youngster when he first appeared in films, making his debut in Goodbye Mr Chips in 1939 and then playing Robert Newton and Celia Johnson’s sailor son in This Happy Breed in 1944.  He went on to be a prolific performer in British films of the 40s and 50s, often as low life types.  His TV appearances included roles in Hancock’s Half HourCompactNo Hiding Place, three Wednesday Plays (two directed by Ken Loach, one written by Dennis Potter), Doctor in ChargeDixon of Dock Green (six times), The Fenn Street GangRobert’s Robots, Softly Softly Task ForcePoldarkRock FolliesSykesThe Secret Diary of Adrian MoleDempsey and MakepeaceThe Two Ronnies and The Russ Abbott Show.  Like Valerie Bell he found work in the tide of tawdry sex comedies that dominated British film production in the mid-70s, appearing in Keep It Up Downstairs and The Ups and Downs of a Handyman.  To this child of the 80s, however, his most impressive credit is as Santa in T-Bag’s Christmas Cracker in 1988.

Luan Peters (1946-2017) as Dorothy Greenway

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Probably best known for having her breast mistaken for a light switch by Basil Fawlty, Ms Peters was (quite deservedly) everywhere in the 70s.  She was in the Hammer Horror movies Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil as well as Pete Walker’s The Flesh and Blood Show, the Anglo-Greek horror Land of the Minotaur and the David Niven-starring spoof Vampira and could be seen on TV in Coronation Street (as Lorna Shawcross, a love interest for Billy Walker), Z CarsDear Mother Love AlbertPublic EyeOn the BusesRobin’s NestWhodunnit?Target and The Professionals.  She appeared on stage in a long string of sex comedies throughout the decade, and made various attempts at pop stardom, the most successful a spell fronting the group 5000 Volts (literally a front, as Tina Charles sang on the records).  Her first spell as a recording artist had been in the 60s when she went by the name Karol Keyes.  Under this name she also made appearances in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Strange Report, and notched up one of Doctor Who‘s most unusual acting credits, playing a character in episode 4 of 1967’s The Macra Terror who’d previously been played by another actress, Sandra Bryant, in episode 1.  A couple of weeks before The Death of Dracula was broadcast she could be seen in her second Doctor Who appearance, the mute, one-scene role of Sheila, masseuse to Earth’s glamorous Lady President in the year 2450 in Frontier in Space.  Few things could be more reassuring than the idea that in the 25th century there will still be women called Sheila.

Ann Hamilton (1939- ) as Kathleen Nolan

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A familiar face on TV for years due to her regular appearances with Morecambe and Wise, Ms Hamilton worked with the comedy duo over 100 times on stage and screen.  She also worked with Roy Hudd, Ken Dodd, Bruce Forsyth and the Two Ronnies, and appeared in Dr Finlay’s CasebookThe AvengersSoftly Softly and Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? In the 80s she left showbiz to become a dog trainer, working under the name Annie Clayton.  In 2005 she presented the mind-boggling TV show Bring Your Husband to Heel, which taught women how to use dog training techniques on their husbands and attracted quite a bit of controversy.  It only lasted one series.  She’s also been a judge at Crufts and on Julian Clary’s The Underdog Show.

Witnesses for the defence:

Anthony Sharp (1915-1984) as Brigadier Sir Ferdinand Tennyson-Pusey

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One of the most indispensable character actors of the 70s, Mr Sharp was the British establishment on screen, be it the aristocracy, the government, the military, the church or the judiciary – he played them all.  He’s probably most famous for playing the Minister in A Clockwork Orange and his recurring roles as another Brigadier in To the Manor Born and the vicar in Steptoe and Son.  The list of other popular movies and TV shows he turned up in would just be unwieldy.  His traditional role as a pillar of the establishment is mildly subverted here when the Brigadier announces himself as an atheist (to Mr Justice Bragge’s bewilderment).  There’d be a much bigger subversion in 1976 with his extraordinary performance as a homicidal Catholic priest in the Pete Walker horror movie House of Mortal Sin.

As well as the credited cast, we get some great photos of Count Alucard in action in the opening photo montages (though they do somewhat count against the descriptions of him in the story as a very attractive man):

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The jury:

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My favourites this week are those two elderly ladies on the end up the top, particularly the one dressed as Southern Rail upholstery.  Our foreman this week (the man on the end in the tinted specs) is Alan Starkey (1931-2003), whose most significant role was cowman Daniel Hawkins in Emmerdale Farm in the early 80s.  He was also in Coronation Street, four Play for Todays, Open All HoursJuliet BravoEdge of DarknessThe Two RonniesAll Creatures Great and SmallSingles (as the father of Judy Loe’s character), Inspector Morse and both Last and First of the Summer Wine.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • At the beginning of Part One we get a good look at the oath card witnesses read from every week:

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  • Frank Tyler tells us that Norman Mattson got the name Count Alucard from “these dreadful old films late at night on the box”.  Several ITV regions regularly showed old horror films late at night in the 70s, and this is a reference to Universal’s Son of Dracula (1943), which had most recently been shown on Scottish TV on 1 December 1972.
  • SWEARWATCH: A couple of bloodys and the assertion that Rita secured the role of Norman’s assistant by getting her predecessor too pissed to perform.
  • There’s some particularly “adult” content this week, with Frank Tyler telling all about Norman using his office to “entertain” women, and Kathleen Nolan informing us that Norman “certainly wasn’t queer”.
  • We get a good view of a boom mic in Part Three:

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Summing up:

David Fisher spins a hugely entertaining yarn of backstage shenanigans, and it’s superbly brought to life by a uniformly excellent cast (Ann Hamilton in particular gives the kind of expert comedy performance you’d expect from someone so long associated with the nation’s top comics).  The bulk of Part Three consists of a lengthy explanation of how the gun trick worked and how it went wrong, which could have been laborious if it weren’t performed with the verve Anthony Sharp brings to it.  The characters are given extra depth by a fun little tableau under the end credits, with Frank Tyler giving Rita an enthusiastic thumbs up and Kathleen Nolan sashaying over to chat up James Elliot.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

Sunday sees the start of Seven of One, a series of comedy playlets starring Ronnie Barker, on BBC 2.  The first, Roy Clarke’s Open All Hours, will eventually spin off into its own series, and the next two weeks’ will give rise to Porridge and the not quite so well-remembered My Old Man, made by Yorkshire Television and starring Clive Dunn rather than Barker.

In the charts:

Donny Osmond and Slade swap places at 1 and 2 respectively, and Gilbert O’Sullivan is at number 3 with “Get Down”, as memorably interpreted by Pan’s People.  I think Ann Hamilton would have enjoyed this.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

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Case 23: Love Thy Neighbour

Martin Thornton and his younger brother Gerald live with their mother next door to the house of Alexander Reid on a large council estate.  For some time there’s been a history of petty squabbles between the two families, culminating on the night of Friday December the 15th in an argument, following which Reid was found seriously injured with shotgun wounds.  The Thornton brothers stand charged with his attempted murder and causing grievous bodily harm.  Medical evidence has been brought to show that it is unlikely that Reid, semi-paralysed as a result of his injuries, will ever recover his power of speech. Reid’s employee and lodger, William Johnson, is now being examined by Miss Tate, prosecuting counsel.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 19 – Friday 21 March 1973

Written by: Sean Hignett

This is Mr Hignett’s second Crown Court script.  He previously wrote Case 16: A Public Mischief.

Directed by: Brian Parker (1929- )

Mr Parker’s impressive CV includes five Wednesday Plays and seven Play for Todays (the most recent at the time of Love Thy Neighbour‘s broadcast was Alan Plater’s The Land of Green Ginger – he’d later direct Plater’s The Beiderbecke Tapes) and episodes of MogulDr Finlay’s CasebookSoftly SoftlyHadleighUpstairs DownstairsInspector Morse and The Bill (46 of those).

Presiding: Richard Warner as the Hon. Mr Justice Waddington

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This is our first sighting of Mr Justice Waddington since Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?

The accused:

Tony Doyle (1942-2000) as Martin Thornton

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Best known for his roles in 90s drama series BallykissangelBetween the Lines and Band of Gold, and as the head of the SAS in much-loved action movie Who Dares Wins, when Love Thy Neighbour was broadcast, Mr Doyle had most recently been seen on TV as Concepta Hewitt’s second husband Sean Regan in Coronation Street and a horse thief in an episode of The Adventures of Black Beauty.  He’d made his name in the Irish soap opera The Riordans in the 60s and as well as the above appeared in Z Cars1990Minder (in the show’s very first episode, as “Irishman”, a role he was certainly qualified for), The Gentle Touch, the BBC’s 1983 Macbeth (as Macduff), seven Play for Todays, CATS EyesBulmanBoonThe BillRumpole of the BaileyTaggart and Peak Practice.  And as a change from the Irish characters he usually played he was the British Prime Minister in Louis Malle’s DamageDrop the Dead Donkey star Susannah Doyle is his daughter.  After his tragically early death the BBC instituted the Tony Doyle Bursary for New Writing

Shane Connaughton (1947- ) as Gerald Thornton

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Mr Connaughton appeared in Coronation Street, Tony Allen and Ken Loach’s Play for Today The Rank and File, and played William Butler Yeats in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but has found his greatest success as a screenwriter, most famously for the movie My Left Foot, for which he received an Oscar nomination.  His writing career began with an episode of another courtroom drama, Thames’ Six Days of Justice, later in 1973, Mr Connaughton later wrote two Crown Court cases (Pickets and Winklers, both from 1974), the TV adaptation of Maeve Binchy’s The Lilac Bus and the films The PlayboysThe Run of the Country (based on his own novel) and Tara Road.

Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

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Helen Tate was last seen in Case 19: Infanticide or Murder.

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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Charles Lotterby’s last appearance was in Case 21: Freak-Out.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Warren Clarke (1947-2014) as William Johnson

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Mr Clarke’s highest profile role at this time had been Dim, the aptly named Droog in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.  Though I’m not sure what the crossover between the audience for that film and ITV’s lunchtime viewers would have been. They might have been more likely to have seen him in one of his three roles in Coronation Street or his small parts in The Avengers and Callan.  Later in 1973 they’d have the chance to see him in a few episodes of Softly Softly Task Force as Detective Sergeant Sterling or, if they were so inclined, in Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man! The following year he landed his most significant TV role to date as the young Winston in Thames’ bio-drama on Jennie, Lady Randolph Churchill and from there would go on to become one of British TV’s most popular and distinctive performers, right up until his final role in the hugely popular remake of Poldark (ending his career sadly but suitably with a death bed scene).

Geraldine Moffat (1943- ) as Madge Gorman

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A constant presence on 60s and 70s TV in usually glamorous, often untrustworthy roles, Ms Moffat notched up appearances in many of the glossy ITC shows: Danger ManThe BaronStrange ReportUFODepartment SThe PersuadersJason King and The Protectors, and in a similarly culty vein Adam Adamant Lives!, Out of the UnknownThe New Avengers and The Sweeney – though it’s her role in a cult movie, Get Carter, for which she’s probably best remembered.  She also notched up appearances in Emergency Ward 10, four Wednesday Plays, Paul TempleZ CarsSix Days of JusticeWithin These Walls and Coronation Street.  But her most significant contribution to popular culture is her sons, Sam and Dan Houser, the video game creators behind the phenomenally popular Grand Theft Auto games (Ms Moffat contributed a voice cameo to the fifth in the series).

The jury:

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Some excellent faces this week, not least the extraordinarily careworn countenance of our foreman (bottom left in the top image) whose many screen appearances include bit parts in CrossroadsMr RoseThe Liver BirdsGBHMaking OutHeartbeatCoronation Street, the 1993 movie of The Secret Garden and Peter Greenaway’s Drowning by Numbers, and he later returns to Crown Court as an usher.  My favourites this week are the two ladies at the back with the stratospheric hairdos and imperious demeanour, particularly the one with the streak.  Here’s a better look at her.  Majestic.

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The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty.  Both brothers are sentenced to eight years in prison.

Case notes:

  • Coincidentally, the hugely popular Thames sitcom Love Thy Neighbour began its third series this week.
  • The episodes don’t begin with the usual montage of black and white photos – instead the voiceover plays over muted action in the courtroom.
  • The Thornton brothers are employees of Bakerbuild, a company that was previously featured in Sean Hignett’s Case 16: A Public Mischief.
  • SWEARWATCH: We get an “effing” and three “bloody”s.

Summing up:

Well, the good news is that Sean Hignett’s previous Crown Court is no longer the most boring case to date.  This one has all the ingredients needed to be gripping: Long-simmering resentments leading up to a violent crime, complicated relationships between the characters… and yet it’s utterly flat and lifeless.  The fact that only four people appear in the witness box over the course of the three episodes gives an indication of the glacial pace, and they all seem to have been directed to give the least interesting performance possible.  For some unknown reason Warren Clarke’s saddled with a Scottish accent that he seriously struggles to maintain, and Tony Doyle in particular is completely soporific. Only Dorothy Vernon really brings any life to the proceedings.  And the character who would have been guaranteed to liven things up, domineering Ma Thornton, remains frustratingly offstage (not even existing as a suitably baleful extra in the public gallery).  And the choice to begin each part with scenes in the court we can’t hear (and have Parts 1 and 3 fade out while Mr Justice Waddington is speaking) is just frustrating.  This is one of the few times that Crown Court lives up to its popular reputation of being a complete snooze.

In the charts this week:

Slade are still at number 1 with “Cum on Feel the Noize”, with Donny Osmond nestled beneath them.  Here’s the rather stonking tune at number 3.

Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons

On November the 4th last, 58 year old Arthur Simmons was walking home from his local public house shortly before 9 o’clock.  As he took a shortcut through a narrow alleyway he was attacked by two men.  One of the men held him from behind, while the other man ransacked Mr Simmons’ pockets and found a wallet containing two pounds and some loose change.  The two men made off, leaving Mr Simmons unhurt but badly shocked on the ground.  However, as the attackers ran out of the alley they collided with 63 year old Mrs Winifred Palmer.  After bashing at them several times with her umbrella she chased them up the street some distance before returning to tend to Mr Simmons.  Mrs Palmer accompanied Mr Simmons to the main street of the neighbourhood, where they found Police Constable Kershaw.  PC Kershaw took them along to a local youth club, catering mainly for the black immigrant population of the area.  Mr Simmons and Mrs Palmer identified two youths as the assailants.  The trial of John Harold Dempsey and Colin Clive Langham has just opened in Fulchester Crown Court, where they’re charged with stealing with the use of force.  They’re pleading not guilty.  Arthur Simmons is now in the witness box.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 14 – Friday 16 March 1973

Written by: Paul Wheeler

This is Mr Wheeler’s fourth Crown Court script (including the untransmitted pilot).  His last was Case 9: Conspiracy.

Directed by: Richard Doubleday

This is the second case Mr Doubleday’s directed.  His first was Case 17: Portrait of an Artist.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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We saw Mr Justice Bragge just last week in Case 21: Freak-Out.  At this point in Crown Court‘s production it’s rare to see the same judge or barrister two weeks in a row – in this case it’s because a case made between this and last week’s, Intent to Kill, had its broadcast put back a couple of months.  Any viewers missing Mr Justice Campbell this week could at least see William Mervyn doing a splendid turn as a mad baronet in Monday’s The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.

The accused:

Gregory Munroe (1953-1998) as John Dempsey

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This was the screen debut of Mr Munroe, who’d go on to star in the teen drama The Siege of Golden Hill (and its sequel, Golden Hill), and make appearances in The FostersAngelsReturn of the SaintEmpire Road and Miss Marple, and play a reporter in the infamous hoax documentary Alternative 3.  His mother was actress Carmen Munroe (herself a future Crown Court guest), and he played her son on screen in late 70s interracial marriage sitcom Mixed Blessings.

Christopher Asante (1941-2000) as Colin Langham

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Best known as mature student Matthew in Channel 4’s 90s sitcom Desmond‘s (also starring Gregory Munroe’s mother Carmen) – by which time he was credited as Gyearbour Asante – Mr Asante moved to Britain from Ghana in the late 60s and became a regular presence on the nation’s TV screens, appearing in the usual suspects for a black actor of the time like Love Thy NeighbourMind Your Language and Mixed Blessings as well as Doctor on the GoSpace: 1999StrangersHazellThe Professionals and Rumpole of the Bailey and the films The Dogs of War and Local Hero.  After Desmond’s ended production in 1995 he returned to Ghana, and was made a cultural ambassador.  31 year old Mr Asante is here playing an 18 year old, which is a bit of a stretch.

Appearing for the prosecution: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC

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Our last sighting of James Elliot was in Case 20: An Act of Vengeance.

Appearing for Mr Dempsey: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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Like Mr Justice Bragge, Jonathan Fry was also in last week’s Case 21: Freak-Out

Appearing for Mr Langham: Dennis Burgess (1926-1980) as Walter Sissons QC

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Mr Burgess’ story is inspiring: having spent most of his life as a drama teacher, at the age of 47 he followed his dream to become a professional actor and had a highly successfully career, most notably playing master thief Flambeau in ATV’s 1974 Father Brown series, and also appearing in Public EyeWithin These WallsSpace: 1999FoxThe SandbaggersThe ProfessionalsTriangle and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man.  Of course, being a childhood friend of Richard Burton, who secured his first screen appearance alongside him (in the 1972 Europudding Bluebeard) probably helped.  Sadly Mr Burgess’ acting career was destined to be brief: in 1980, he died after having a heart attack at the wheel of his car.

We’ve already had a barrister in Crown Court called Derek Sissons (played by Michael Johnson), so I’d like to think he and Walter are in some way related.  The character Walter’s gripping in the above image is an instructing solicitor named Mr Williams.  The actor playing him is not credited although he does get a line (“Yes thank you, My Lord”), which it must be said is not delivered in the educated tones one might expect of a solicitor.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Cyril Shaps (1923-2003) as Arthur Simmons

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Totemic.  That’s the word I’d use to describe Cyril Shaps’ place in the world of British TV character actors.  He’s the embodiment of the ultra-reliable performer who represents a particular type (in Shaps’ case, the weedy, slightly seedy, nervous middle-aged/elderly man) so utterly that it becomes a “Cyril Shaps type”, whoever’s actually playing it.  There’s no point me telling you what he was in, because he was in practically everything.  Regular readers will know I always note Doctor Who roles though, and Mr Shaps appeared in four stories: The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967), The Ambassadors of Death (1970) , Planet of the Spiders (1974) and The Androids of Tara (1978).  My own strongest memory of him is in a pivotal role in Russell T Davies’ children’s drama Dark Season.  The week prior to his appearance at Fulchester Crown Court he could be seen camping it up under a ludicrous toupee in one of his best-remembered roles, Frank and Betty’s irritating fellow hotel guest (“Mr Bedford! Mr Bedford!”) in the Some Mothers Do ‘ave ’em episode Have a Break, Take a Husband.

Gabrielle Daye (1911-2005) as Winifred Palmer

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Ms Daye came and went from Coronation Street over 23 years (1961 to 1984) as Albert Tatlock’s daughter Beattie Pearson.  Aside from that she’s probably best remembered as housekeeper to Catholic priest Arthur Lowe in late 70s/early 80s sitcom Bless Me Father.  Other TV appearances include roles in Emergency Ward 10Z CarsPublic EyeFor the Love of AdaI Didn’t Know You Cared (alongside John Comer), SurvivorsAll Creatures Great and SmallAngelsJuliet BravoEver Decreasing Circles and four Playfor Today.  On the big screen she could be seen in small parts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang10 Rillington Place and Sunday Bloody Sunday.

John Comer (1924-1984) as Constable Kershaw

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There’s a lot of Mr Comer about this week: on Saturday (or Sunday, depending on your ITV region) he could be seen (as another policeman) in LWT’s The Adventures of Black Beauty, and on Wednesday nights he could be seen in the (by all accounts terrible) Yorkshire Television sitcom All Our Saturdays, centred on the unlikely situation of Diana Dors managing a football team.  It’s two other sitcom roles he’s remembered for, both for the BBC: patriarch Mr Brandon in I Didn’t Know You Cared and, especially, café owner Sid in Last of the Summer Wine.  Constable Kershaw is just one in a long line of policemen he played: he could also be seen in uniform in It’s Dark Outside, Pardon the Expression (and its sequel, Turn Out the Lights), The Man in Room 17 (and its sequel, The Fellows), Fraud SquadNearest and DearestThe Dustbinmen and Murder Most English.  Non-constabulary TV appearances include roles in Softly SoftlyCoronation StreetZ CarsDixon of Dock GreenThe AvengersDoomwatchA Family at WarFather Dear FatherBless This HouseSurvivors and All Creatures Great and Small.  His films include I’m All Right, Jack (his screen debut), Hell is a CityHeavens Above!The Family WayBattle of BritainVillain and Dr Phibes Rises Again.

Witnesses for the defence:

Elizabeth Adare (1949- ) as Linda Brown

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The year after her Crown Court appearance, Ms Adare would land the role for which she became loved by a generation of children, The Tomorrow People‘s “mum” figure Elizabeth M’Bondo, one of British TV’s few black female (or indeed any sex) role models of the 70s.  Previously she’d appeared in CrossroadsThe Guardians and General Hospital.  During her time on The Tomorrow People she also popped up in Within These WallsAngelsRising Damp and Mind Your Language.  Afterwards she appeared in Enemy at the Door and Rumpole of the Bailey, but gave up acting in the early 80s to become a child psychologist and youth worker.

The jury:

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As we’ve seen very few non-white jury members to date, I suspect the presence of three this week is not an accident.  The bored-looking gentleman is our foreman this week.  His name’s Chris Canavan, and he could boast that he was Coronation Street‘s longest-serving extra, appearing in a multitude of background roles from 1962 until 2013 (the year he died), as well as a few credited bit parts.  Among his other roles (almost all for Granada) is a return appearance as a jury foreman in Crown Court in 1974.

As well as the jury this week, I’d like to note a number of particularly stylish extras watching from the public gallery:

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The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • James Elliot says that Fulchester has 25,000 non-white residents.
  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: “The entire white race is locked on to three clichés,” John Dempsey scathingly observes, “Black Power; Black Is Beautiful; Kill Whitey”.  The Mugging of Arthur Simmons serves as a fascinating snapshot of race relations (to use a ubiquitous phrase of the time) in the early 70s, with the tensions that had been building since Enoch Powell’s speech of 1968 meeting the radical Black politics imported from the USA.  Model Linda Brown sardonically refers to “Radical Chic (she prononces it “chick”) housewives” – a reference to Tom Wolfe’s famous article about the middle class adopting revolutionaries as fashion inspiration, and further notes that black models are beginning to lose work as the Chinese have become the radicals du jour.  James Elliot refers to the “fashionably anti-police” sentiments of young people.  In the early 70s the crime of mugging was considered a relatively new and regrettable import from the US (Mr Justice Campbell previously noted the increase of such crimes in Case 20: An Act of Vengeance).

Summing up:

Paul Wheeler’s have been the most political Crown Court scripts to date, and The Mugging of Arthur Simmons goes further in that direction than any other.  It’s clearly (and justifiably) very angry about the police’s treatment of young black people, but Wheeler stays remarkably even-handed: the elderly residents bewildered by the change in the demographic of the area they’ve lived all their lives are sympathetically portrayed, and even Constable Kershaw, who it would have been easy to make the uncomplicated villain of the piece, gets to deliver a not-a-dry-eye-in-the-house speech about the unhappiness of a policeman’s lot.  The Mugging of Arthur Simmons is an excellent 90 minutes of TV drama that points the way forward to the many more social issues that Crown Court will tackle head on.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

BBC 1’s Play for Today this week is Hard Labour, Mike Leigh’s first work for TV.  It features a former Crown Court jury foreman, Clifford Kershaw (from Case 14: Sunset of Arms) in a lead role.  Tuesday sees the start of fondly remembered BBC 1 children’s series Lizzie Dripping, and, also on BBC 1, the first series of Are You Being Served? kicks off on Wednesday with a repeat of the Comedy Playhouse episode that served as a pilot for the show.

In the charts:

Slade are still exhorting the nation to cum on and feel their noize at the top of the hit parade.  At number 2 here’s quite a different kind of noize.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 21: Freak-Out

The death last year of Peta Best, photographer and fashion world personality, made headlines: one of the few women to succeed in a predominantly male field.  On July the 7th, in the company of Natasha Marlow, a model she often employed and who was a friend, Peta Best attended a party at publisher Alleyn Griffin’s flat.  Miss Marlow had a good deal to drink, and at about 11pm, she was seriously under the influence of alcohol.  Peta Best therefore said she would take her home with her, and the two women left.  The following morning, reporting for work at Peta Best’s studio, Fred Maple discovered Natasha Marlow pressed against the wall.  Her eyes were blank and staring.  When he approached her, she screamed and kept on screaming.  Natasha Marlow seemed unaware of where she was, or of what was going on about her.  She even seemed unaware of the fact that Peta Best was dead.  Today in Fulchester Crown Court, Natasha Marlow stands accused of the murder of Peta Best.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 7 – Friday 9 March 1973

Written by: Bruce Stewart

This is Mr Stewart’s fourth Crown Court script.  His last was Case 14: Sunset of Arms.

Directed by: Alan Gibson (1938-1987)

Mr Gibson is the biggest name director Crown Court‘s attracted so far, having directed three big screen horror films: CrescendoGoodbye Gemini and, most recently and most wonderfully, Dracula AD 1972 for Hammer (he’d also helm its sequel, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, the following year).  A lot of his screen work was in the horror or thriller mode: he first worked for Hammer on their TV anthology series Journey to the Unknown, and later directed episodes of Orson Welles’ Great MysteriesThrillerHammer House of Horror and Tales of the Unexpected.  Viewers in early 1973 might have seen his work recently in six episodes of The Adventures of Black Beauty.  Other notable work includes episodes of BudgieRaffles1990 and Z Cars, the acclaimed TV movie Churchill and the Generals and the fondly remembered sci-fi themed Playfor Today The Flipside of Dominick Hyde and its sequel Another Flip for Dominick (which he also co-wrote).  His last work was the Nigel Havers-starring Patrick Hamilton adaptation The Charmer.

I’m going to take this opportunity to plug reviews I wrote a few years ago of Mr Gibson’s Goodbye Gemini and Dracula AD 1972.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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Mr Justice Bragge was last seen in  Case 19: Infanticide or Murder.

The accused: Susan Tracy (1945- ) as Natasha Marlow

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Looking up what Ms Tracy’s been up to lately, I find that her most recent TV work was Channel 4’s 2017 series The Trial, in which the verdict in a fictional trial was decided by a jury of members of the public.  It must all have seemed a bit familiar to her (though The Trial actually went a couple of steps further than Crown Court – the judge and counsel were real too).  She’s been on TV in mostly smallish roles since an Armchair Theatre in 1964, and has popped up in No Hiding PlaceNew Scotland YardThrillerWithin These WallsThe SweeneyThe Gentle Touch,Tales of the UnexpectedBulmanMinderLovejoyPoirot and Holby City, plus, of course, multiple appearances in The BillMidsomer MurdersDoctors and Casualty.  She’s had a very decent stage career too, and was nominated for Olivier awards for two different roles in 1980.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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Jonathan Fry’s last appearance was also in Case 19: Infanticide or Murder.

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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Charles Lotterby last appeared in Case 18: Crime in Prison.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Sidney Livingstone as Fred Maple

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Mr Livingstone has two impressive claims to TV fame.  In 1976 he played the married man to whom Gail Potter lost her virginity (in the stockroom at Sylvia’s Separates) in Coronation Street, and in the 90s he played Arthur Daley’s brother in Minder.  This Crown Court role was only his second screen appearance (his first was in the film adaptation of Alan Sillitoe’s The Ragman’s Daughter, which was in cinemas a couple of months before Freak-Out was broadcast).  He’s also been in FoxShine on Harvey MoonAngelsHart to HartJohnny JarvisMiss MarpleRockliffe’s BabiesLondon’s BurningAll Creatures Great and SmallSpace PrecinctCasualtyAs Time Goes ByA Touch of Frost (and – yes! – multiple Bills, Midsomers, Doctors and Holbys).  He also had tiny roles in three movies I’d certainly be pleased to have on my CV – LifeforceClockwise and Wilt, and has most recently appeared in a 2018 episode of Call the Midwife and in a lead role as one of the elderly crooks in a straight-to-DVD account of the Hatton Garden job.

John Bennett (1928-2005) as Dr Martin Stanislaus

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From the 60s up until the year he died Mr Bennett was one of the most inescapable of British character actors.  But why would you want to? He was always superb.  That extraordinary face of his meant that he was often cast as sinister foreigners (most famously, and these days controversially, as a nefarious Chinese ventriloquist in one of the most beloved of all Doctor Who stories 1977’s The Talons of Weng-Chiang).  But he was simply too good and too versatile to get stuck in that kind of role (his other Doctor Who assignment was as a British army general in 1974’s Invasion of the Dinosaurs).  A few other major roles from his incredible CV: leads in the ITV drama series Front Page Story and Market in Honey Lane, the ill-fated Philip Bosinney in The Forsyte Saga, Xenophon in I, Claudius, the impressively collared inventor of the ultimate weapon in Blake’s 7, Sigmund Freud in TV movie Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (with Christopher Lee as Holmes and Patrick Macnee as Watson – Mr Bennett also appeared alongside Mr Macnee in two episodes of The Avengers), the Grim Reaper in Mulberry.

Douglas Lambert (1936-1986) as Alleyn Griffin

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The early part of Mr Lambert’s career was spent in his native USA, where he appeared in some of the top shows of the 60s, including The Donna Reed ShowDr KildareBonanzaMy Three SonsWagon Train77 Sunset StripRawhide, The Littlest HoboThe Twilight ZoneVoyage to the Bottom of the SeaPerry MasonLassie and The Big Valley.  At the end of that decade he moved to Britain and made a good living as a rent-a-Yank in TV, appearing in the likes of Softly Softly Task ForceMogulSecret Army and Tales of the Unexpected.  His film work includes Sunday Bloody SundayMoonrakerThe Hunger and Spies Like Us.  He was an out gay man, and opened the nightclub Heaven in 1979 with the words “In the beginning there was darkness, and God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God created Man and Man created Heaven.”  In the 80s he contracted AIDS and in his last few months the Daily Mirror published his diary of life with the disease.

Witnesses for the defence:

Eileen Colgan (1934-2014) as Sister Joanna Forbush

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In the 90s and 2000s, Ms Colgan would become well known in her native Ireland for roles in two soap operas, Glenroe and Fair City.  Prior to that she was a familiar face in international films set in Ireland, including My Left Foot, Far and AwayWidow’s PeakThe Secret of Roan InishAngela’s Ashes and Tara Road.  In the earlier part of her career she did quite a lot of British TV, including No Hiding PlaceThe Newcomers, four Wednesday Plays, Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width and Dixon of Dock Green.  There were quite a few nuns among those roles.

The jury:

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Quite the cross-section of grey-faced British 70s masculinity (and indeed moustaches) there.  Our foreman (chap bottom left in the top pic) is Jim Whelan, who’s still working away as a bit-part player, having most recently been seen in the TV series based on Guy Ritchie’s Snatch.  He’s also been in Last of the Summer Wine (in four different roles, the last 35 years after the first), The Liver Birds (three different roles), Cracker (as another jury foreman), Velvet Goldmine, The Royle FamilyHeartbeat, Blackpool and Emmerdale.  He’s played five speaking roles (including two vicars) in Coronation Street, and worked on the show as an extra since 1965, meaning he’s made an appearance on the soap in every decade it’s run for.  He’s even written a book about his years in the business, which you can buy here.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • There’s a great bit where Bernard Gallagher very nearly calls the wrong witness.
  • There’s painful feedback noise whenever one of the cameras is cut to.
  • To date we’ve been led to believe that Fulchester is a town or city, but, confusingly, Dr Stanislaus is said to work for Fulchester County forensic department.
  • Fulchester (as opposed to, say, London) seems a strange place for a top fashion photographer and a girly magazine publisher to be based (we’ll have to get used to this sort of thing).

Summing up:

As even the title suggests, Freak-Out is the most wildly (and entertainingly) dated Crown Court case to date.  Its cautionary tale of the dangers of LSD must have seemed pretty old hat even in 1973 – though I suppose the housewives, elderly people and invalids who made up the bulk of Crown Court‘s audience might not have been up to date on drug culture.  Anyway, I love old hats.  The best things about the production are a mesmeric performance from John Bennett (doing wonders with the reams of dry expert witness educational dialogue about drugs he’s been given), some memorably grim details (the nature of Peta’s death – and the horrible pictures of her corpse we see in the episode openings, the black slugs Natasha witnessed by Natasha on her bad trip), and Alan Gibson’s interesting direction (the long tracking shot from over Charles Lotterby’s shoulder to a tight close-up on Natasha’s face that ends Part Two is the most technically impressive thing seen so far on a show that’s necessarily often pretty static).  One final thing: I don’t claim to be any kind of expert, but I would request any TV writers out there not to write about female characters called Peta.  It’s just confusing.

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Elsewhere on TV this week:

Yet again I must mention Yorkshire Television’s Justice, which this week features appearances from two (yes, two!) of Crown Court‘s regular extras – one of the male prison officers (also playing a prison officer here – presumably in the same uniform), and the silver-haired gentleman often seen as an instructing solicitor.  Here they are sharing the screen (with Geoffrey Whitehead, himself a future Crown Court guest).

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I don’t know either of these gentlemen’s names but if you do I would love to know (I’m sure they probably appear in many other shows of the same vintage).  You really don’t want to know how excited I was when they turned up.

In the charts:

Slade are at number 1 for a second week.  The below is this week’s number 2.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 20: An Act of Vengeance

The case starting today in Fulchester Crown Court is the Queen versus Collings, which might more aptly be called Collings versus Collings, because a young man is charged with causing grievous bodily harm to his first cousin.  It is alleged by the prosecution that the savage attack which took place was the culmination of a long-standing feud between the two sides of the family.  The crime was committed in front of a house in the expensive residential area of Hayley, the home of Mr Clifford Collings, estate agent and property developer.  The man charged with the crime is Mr Collings’ nephew Brian Collings, aged 21, a garage mechanic.  The victim of the attack was Mr Collings’ son Alan, and he is the witness who’s just been called by the prosecution.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 28 February – Friday 2 March 1973

Written by: C Scott Forbes (1920-1997)

Mr Forbes is the only person who could claim to be a Hollywood star before writing for Crown Court (though there is an example of the opposite trajectory, with future Cheers and Pixar star John Ratzenberger co-scripting a 1978 case).  Born in High Wycombe, he appeared in a few British films of the 40s before heading to the US, where he found his greatest success playing the title role in TV western The Adventures of Jim Bowie from 1956 to 1958.  In 1960 he returned to Britain to star in an edition of Armchair Theatre and ended up staying, working steadily on TV in guest roles in shows including The AvengersCompactThe Man in Room 17Emergency Ward 10 and Dixon of Dock Green, and playing Captain Smollett in the BBC’s 1968 adaptation of Treasure Island (alongside Peter Vaughn as Long John Silver).  Encouraged by Harold Pinter, he moved into writing in the 60s, writing plays that were adapted into the films The Penthouse and Perfect Friday, and providing scripts for The SaintSpecial Branch and Arthur of the Britons as well as Crown Court.

Directed by: Howard Baker

This is Mr Baker’s second and final directing assignment on Crown Court (his first was Case 7: The Medium), but he’ll later return to the show as producer.

Presiding: William Mervyn as the Hon. Mr Justice Campbell

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Mr Justice Campbell previously appeared in Case 18: Crime in Prison.

The accused: Anthony May (1946- ) as Brian Collings

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Mr May has an extremely thorough (presumably self-penned) Wikipedia entry that you can read if you want to know all the ins and outs of his career.  Highlights I would pick out include the lead role in the charming swinging 60s short Les Bicyclettes des Belsize, an uncredited role as a soldier in Carry On Up the Khyber, Richard Cromwell in the 1970 movie Cromwell (he certainly looks a bit like Richard Harris), and pop singer The Cool Cavalier in Here Come the Double Deckers! In more recent years he’s voiced the King of the Dead in The Lord of the Rngs: Return of the King and appeared in Maleficent and the obligatory Doctors.

Appearing for the prosecution: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC

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James Elliot was last seen in Case 17: Portrait of an Artist.

Appearing for the defence: John Alkin as Barry Deeley

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Barry Deeley’s last appearance was in Case 18: Crime in Prison.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Michael Cashman (1950- ) as Alan Collings

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Yes, we’ve come to the first (and likely only) Crown Court actor to have been elevated to the House of Lords.  Not for his acting, of course, but for his decades of campaigning for gay rights.  His most famous acting role is connected to that fight: EastEnders‘ Colin Russell, one half of the first gay couple in a British soap opera.  Prior to that he’d been on screen since he was 14, making his debut in an episode of Gideon’s Way and appearing in the films I’ve Gotta HorseUnmann, Wittering and Zigo, X, Y and ZeeMade and Murder by Decree and on TV as a regular in The Sandbaggers as well as guesting in The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, The Strauss FamilyAngels and the 1982 Doctor Who story Time-Flight.

David De Keyser (1927- ) as Clifford Collings

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Mr De Keyser’s face may be familiar, but his voice is certainly more so.  One of Britain’s most prolific voiceover artists, he was the narrator for Pathé Pictorial in the 60s and his distinctively rich tones have been heard in countless adverts and trailers ever since.  In the cinema, he dubbed James Bond’s father-in-law Marc-Ange Draco in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (he also appeared on screen in another Bond movie, Diamonds Are Forever) and voiced the godhead in John Boorman’s barmy cult favourite Zardoz and the Holy Grail in the same director’s Excalibur, and he provided the voice of the Count in Hammer’s last Dracula movie (minus Christopher Lee), The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires.  He also narrated the children’s series Oscar’s Orchestra and provided the voice of Dumbledore in the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone video game.  In 2010 he provided the voice of an alien in Matt Smith’s first Doctor Who episode, The Eleventh Hour, and has also played Doctor Who himself.  Well, sort of.  He dubbed voices on the English soundtrack for the 1967 Japanese movie King Kong Escapes, including the villain, who goes by the name of… Doctor Who! Entirely coincidental, I’m sure, as is his costume’s odd similarity to that worn by original Doctor William Hartnell.

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Occasions where Mr De Keyser’s body accompanies his voice include appearances in The Strauss FamilyThe New AvengersDisraeliThe ProfessionalsDick TurpinThe Far PavilionsYes, Prime Minister, BergeracThe House of EliottPoirotWaking the DeadNew TricksHolby City and, most recently, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.  Later in 1973 he was extremely scary in the memorable Thriller episode Someone at the Top of the Stairs (which also featured An Act of Vengeance‘s writer, Scott Forbes, in one of his last acting roles).

Angharad Rees (1944-2012) as Pauline Ellis

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By 1973 Ms Rees had already been one of the leads in a Hammer horror movie (1971’s excellent Hands of the Ripper) and appeared with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Under Milk Wood, but she’d find her greatest fame later in the 70s as Demelza, love interest to Poldark.  When An Act of Vengeance was broadcast she’d recently appeared in The Fenn Street Gang, The Protectors and Doctor in Charge and would soon be seen in the TV pilot Baffled!, starring Leonard Nimoy as a psychic racing driver.  She also appeared in The AvengersPaul TempleThrillerWithin These WallsThe Duchess of Duke StreetRobin of Sherwood, and Remington Steele.  At the turn of the 90s she starred alongside Paul Nicholas in the now entirely forgotten veterinary sitcom Close to Home.  Later that decade she gave up acting to design jewellery.

Witnesses for the defence:

Georgine Anderson (1928- ) as Irene Whittaker

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One of those reliable supporting players who are the bedrock of British TV acting, Ms Anderson’s fifty plus years on screen saw her turn up pretty much everywhere, from No Hiding Place to New Tricks.  Stops along the way include Dixon of Dock GreenSpecial BranchThe Main Chance, a recurring role in A Family at WarThriller, the cult BBC play Penda’s FenUpstairs DownstairsTake the High RoadAngelsBlott on the LandscapeAuf Wiedersehen, PetMiss Marple, Never the TwainCampion, Taggart, Coronation Street (as Curly Watts’ mother), Murder Most HorridJonathan Creek and Midsomer Murders (twice).  In 1993 she was in Russell T Davies’ Century Falls.  Davies later reused her character’s surname, Harkness, for John Barrowman’s character in Doctor Who, and Ms Anderson herself in the Who episode Gridlock in 2007.

Margaret Anderson (1925-2016) as Janet Collings

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No relation to Georgine Anderson, Margaret was another actress with a TV career of mostly popping up in things.  In her case this included No Hiding PlaceOut of the UnknownZ CarsSix Days of JusticeNew Scotland Yard, seven Armchair Theatres, four Dixon of Dock Greens, Whodunnit?Special BranchPublic EyeCrossroadsShoestring and Hammer House of Horror.  Big films she had small roles in include The Happiest Days of Your LifeReach for the Sky and Revenge of the Pink Panther.

Also:

This lady, who isn’t credited, despite getting a big (and ridiculous) dramatic moment.

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The jury:

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That remarkable green and orange ensemble (almost the exact hues favoured by Spider-Man’s nemesis Dr Octopus) are obviously the standout this week, though the pair on the end with the matching his and hers hairdos are certainly pulling their weight too.  Our foreman this week is Rex Arundel, who previously played a witness in the unaired Crown Court pilot, Case 0: Doctor’s Neglect?

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The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: There are lots of references to the property boom of the early 70s.
  • At the beginning of Part Two we get a good look at this, which is presumably the crest of Fulchester or whatever county it’s in.

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  • Pauline Ellis is listed in the credits of Part Three as “Pauline Elli”
  • There’s some damage to the existing tape of Part One, leading to picture distortion in the first half of the episode.
  • Mrs Whittaker lives in the district of Medley Green, which was home to the Holt-Matthews family in Case 11: Criminal Libel.
  • Last week’s case was centred on the Collins family, and this week’s is centred on the Collings family, which is a bit odd.

Summing up:

Unfortunately the conflict between the two sides of the Collings family isn’t sufficiently scandalous to be interesting, and there are a few quite aggravating moments – the ludicrous “masked lady” interlude, the girlfriend of Alan Collings being allowed to sketch in the history of the Collings conflict unchallenged, the utter pointlessness of Mrs Collings taking the stand, and the complete lack of explanation of why a picture of Pauline Ellis in a bikini would appear in a newspaper.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

Monday sees the broadcast of the famed John Betjeman documentary Metro-Land.  On Friday, Terrence Hardiman, Crown Court‘s Stephen Harvesty, makes an appearance as a barrister in Yorkshire Television’s Margaret Lockwood vehicle Justice.  I’m going to ignore the fact that his character’s called Higson and declare this  a crossover (we’ll later see Harvesty with the same extensive facial foliage Mr Hardiman sports here).

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In the charts:

Slade stomp straight in to the number one slot (a rare and impressive feat back in the 70s) with this:

You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 19: Infanticide or Murder

On October the 28th last, 15 year old Mary Collins gave birth to an illegitimate and premature baby.  A few days later police exhumed the body of a baby boy from the back garden of this house.

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The Home Office pathologist, Professor Stone, revealed that prior to burial the child had been strangled.  Two days later, Dominic Collins, Mary’s father, was arrested and charged with murdering the child.  His trial by jury begins today in Fulchester Crown Court before Mr Justice Bragge.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 21 – Friday 23 February 1973

Written by: David Fisher

This is Mr Fisher’s fourth Crown Court script.  His last was Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers.

Directed by: Mark Cullingham (1941-1995)

All of Mr Cullingham’s previous TV work had been for the BBC, including episodes of Z CarsTake Three Girls and Dennis Potter’s Casanova.  For ITV he directed episodes of another couple of courtroom dramas, Justice and Six Days of Justice, as well as a few Hadleighs.  Prestigious future assignments included the original Play for Today production of 84 Charing Cross Road, the BBC’s 1978 adaptation of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and ATV’s Will Shakespeare.  In the early 80s he moved to the US and directed, among other things, an Afterschool Special, a couple of episodes of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, Disney TV movie Sunday Drive starring Carrie Fisher and an episode of Thirtysomething.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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Mr Justice Bragge was last seen in Case 17: Portrait of an Artist.

The accused: Robert Hartley (1915-1998) as Dominic Collins

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Mr Hartley is known to kids of the late 70s and early 80s as Grange Hill maths teacher Mr Keating.  That was his only long-running TV role, but his distinctive face regularly popped up in shows like The AvengersDixon of Dock GreenCoronation StreetThe Main ChanceThe Six Wives of Henry VIIIA Family at WarNew Scotland YardThe Onedin LineThe Rivals of Sherlock HolmesHadleighZ Cars (seven times over 12 years), Public EyeUpstairs DownstairsRumpole of the Bailey and London’s Burning (his last screen appearance in 1990).  Rather wonderfully, on the day Infanticide or Murder concluded he could also be seen in another coutroom drama, Yorkshire Television’s Margaret Lockwood vehicle Justice, this time playing the judge.

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Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

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Like Mr Justice Bragge, Helen Tate was last seen in Case 17: Portrait of an Artist.

Appearing for the defence: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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Jonathan Fry’s last appearance was in Case 16: A Public Mischief.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

John Byron (1912-1995) as Professor Stone

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A veteran of TV’s earliest days, having made his screen debut in a 1938 BBC version of Hay Fever, Mr Byron was then a regular in televised versions of Shakespeare’s in the immediate post-war years, playing Oberon in 1946 and Hamlet in 1947 (and then playing them again for live repeats of both).  Later he appeared in The Forsyte SagaMogulZ Cars and Brideshead Revisited, among other things.  And he turns up in the following week’s episode of Justice.

Rosemary Martin (1936-1998) as Elaine Hill

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I know Ms Martin best for her role as the awful Verna Johnson, sweetly smiling but venomous top dog of the prisoner of war camp in the second series of Tenko, but that was just one in a long line of impressive stage and screen credits.  She was library assistant Mrs Partridge in the first series of Last of the Summer Wine and had regular roles in several long-forgotten 70s sitcoms (Second Time AroundHow’s Your Father?Life Begins at Forty) as well as the better-remembered Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggit! and (in the 90s) Outside Edge and the short-running dramas Bill BrandFoxDriving AmbitionChalkfaceGone to the Dogs, Middlemarch (as Mrs Bulstrode), Seaforth and Annie’s Bar.  She also made guest appearances in the likes of Coronation StreetThe SweeneyThe Gentle TouchDramaramaThe Chinese Detective, Bergerac and Cracker, did five Play for Todays and three Screen Twos and played the mothers of both Tess of the d’Urbervilles (in the Roman Polanski movie) and Beatrix Potter (in a 1982 BBC film).

I very much like the hedgehog brooch she sports here, which you can see better in the photo below.

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Witnesses for the defence: Sheila Raynor (1908-1998) as Evelyn Collins

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Ms Raynor’s most-seen roles are small ones in big movies: Alex’s colourfully-coiffured mother in A Clockwork Orange (which was still showing in London when this Crown Court was broadcast) and the Thorn family’s housekeeper in The Omen.  Other major films in which she had tiny parts include Room at the Top and Suddenly, Last Summer, and she was also in the horror movies Die, Monster, Die! and Demons of the Mind (in the flattering role of “Old Crone”).  On TV she played works manager Arthur Sugden’s long-suffering wife in The Plane Makers in the 60s, and later in the 70s was Lizzie Dripping‘s grandma.  She also appeared in Coronation StreetPublic Eye, Dixon of Dock GreenDoomwatchTake Three GirlsAce of WandsZ CarsWithin These WallsAll Creatures Great and SmallJuliet BravoSorry! and Miss Marple.  She was married to actor Keith Pyott, who died in 1968 but had he survived into the 70s would have been a dead cert to play a Crown Court judge.

Brenda Cavendish (1947- ) as Mary Collins

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Viewers of Public Eye would have recognised Ms Cavendish as Nell Holdsworth, antique shop assistant and friend of Frank Marker.  Nowadays she’s probably best known as one of the victims of An American Werewolf in London.  A couple of weeks after Infanticide or Murder was broadcast she could be seen in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, and she’s also been in Doctor in ChargeWithin These WallsThrillerThe SandbaggersThe ProfessionalsCATS EyesThe Brittas EmpireLovejoyGrange HillWycliffe and The Bill.

The jury:

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The stars this week are clearly that gentleman blithely breaking the fourth wall, and his neighbour, who’s making up for an otherwise drably attired group all by herself.  The George Orwell lookalike on the end is our foreman this week.  His name’s Roy Maxwell and he’ll return to deliver another verdict in 1975.  He has a good few TV credits, but his character rarely has a name: his three roles in Coronation Street (Postman in 1963, Taxi Driver in 1967, RAC man in in 1971) give a good idea of his range.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty (a caption at the end of Part Three informs us that Mary Collins was later charged with the murder).

Case notes:

  • There’s no question mark in this case’s title as it appears on screen, but there is in the TV Times listings, and it’s also there for the sleeve and DVD menu of Network’s Crown Court Volume 2 DVD release.
  • Dorothy Vernon and Bernard Gallagher both call Mrs Hill “Mrs Collins” (Bernard Gallagher does it three times.
  • We get a rare bit of background information on one of our regular characters, as Jonathan Fry reveals he comes “from a long line of clergymen”.
  • Unusually, the case for the prosecution is wrapped up before the end of Part 1, with the rest focusing on the defence (and what a defence!)
  • The end credits of Part Three use a slightly different typeface to the one seen on previous episodes.

 

Summing up:

Similar in some ways to Case 11: Criminal Libel, which also featured a domineering father, timid, mentally disturbed mother and teenage daughter whose pregnancy comes to a tragic end, Infanticide or Murder manages to be considerably more disturbing (and a world away from the knockabout comedy of David Fisher’s last script, Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers).  Crown Court has a reputation for being dull (and indeed there are cases, like Case 16: A Public Mischief, that live up to that) but here we have a programme featuring two women each clamouring to take the blame for strangling a newborn baby.  It’s hard to imagine what could be less boring than that.  As coolly played by Brenda Cavendish, Mary Collins, who claims to have planned for months to murder her child after its birth, is a particularly frightening figure.  Sheila Raynor’s utterly distraught performance is heart-wrenching, while Robert Hartley’s is both heart-wrenching and frightening.  And Rosemary Martin provides us with a textbook example of my favourite kind of Crown Court witness, the gossipy neighbour.

The script establishes early on that Dominic Collins has an obsessive love for his daughter, and while it doesn’t explicitly follow the particularly horrible direction this seems to flag up, it still plants some queasy suspicions about what’s been happening in the Collins home in the viewer’s mind.  That Crown Court was able to carry off such dark (to use a word all the rage in the 21st century) subject matter at 1.30pm in an afternoon schedule also featuring the likes of  Sing Out with the Settlers and Whose Baby? seems quite remarkable (and it should be noted that on Monday this week, in the same time slot, Emmerdale Farm featured a mentally disturbed tramp falling out of a window to his death after being suspected of the murder (and possibly rape) of a teenage girl.  Good afternoon!).

In the charts this week:

The Sweet score yet another week at number 1 with “Blockbuster”.  The below is at number 4.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 18: Crime in Prison

Strict security measures are being taken at Fulchester Crown Court on this, the first day of the trial of Robert Ager and George Lanigan.  Both men come from Fulchester’s largest prison, Parkmoor.  This prison has recently attracted a great deal of national publicity on account of rumours of corruption inside the prison.  Ager, one of the accused, is employed as a prison officer at Parkmoor.  The Crown, represented by Mr Steven Harvesty, allege that Lanigan bribed Ager to smuggle forbidden goods into the prison.  Ager is charged with accepting the alleged bribe.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 14 – Friday 16 February 1973

Written by: Tony Hoare

This is Mr Hoare’s second Crown Court.  He previously wrote Case 3: R v Bryant.

Directed by: Bob Hird

This is the third time Mr Hird’s directed a Crown Court case.  His last was Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers.

Presiding: William Mervyn (1912-1976) as Mr Justice Campbell

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What’s that sports term? MVP – Most Valuable Player?  Well Mr Mervyn is Crown Court‘s, so it’s an absolute delight to see him make his debut this week.  The very definition of the word urbane and one of the most cherishable of all British character actors, he was never less than a delight whatever he appears in.  Probably best remembered to the world at large as the Kindly Old Gentleman from the 1970 version of The Railway Children, his longest-running TV role was as Inspector (later retired) Charles Rose in three Granada series, The Odd Man (1960-1963), It’s Dark Outside (1964-1965) and Mr Rose (1967-1968).  During the same period he was also familiar to millions of BBC viewers as the Bishop of St Ogg’s in All Gas and Gaiters, and in 1966 guest starred in The War Machines, the first Doctor Who story to be set entirely in the (then) present day.  In the months before he joined Crown Court he’d appeared in The Persuaders!, the Harry Worth segment of Christmas 1972’s All Star Comedy Carnival and at the cinema in the biting satire The Ruling Class and the Frankie Howerd comedy Up the Front.

The accused:

Maurice O’Connell (1941- ) as George Lanigan

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One of the ubiquitous heavies of 70s and 80s TV, Mr O’Connell did the rounds of those decades’ crime-focused series: Dixon of Dock Green, The ProtectorsThe SweeneySoftly Softly Task ForceVan der ValkThe New AvengersHazell, Z Cars, OutTargetThe Chinese DetectiveWidows.  His occasional appearances outside that genre included a major part in 1981’s The Borgias and a guest role in the 1984 Doctor Who story Frontios.

Glyn Houston (1925- ) as Robert Ager

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Mr Houston first appeared on screen in The Blue Lamp in 1950, and for nearly 50 years rarely seemed to be off it, both big and small.  On TV he had regular roles in Softly SoftlyMy Good Woman, the BBC’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries (though in The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, which was in progress on Thursday nights when Crime in Prison was broadcast he was temporarily replaced in the role of Lord Peter’s manservant Bunter by Derek Newark) and Keep It in the Family, did two Doctor Whos (The Hand of Fear in 1976 and The Awakening in 1984) and popped up in, well, practically everything else.  Films he appeared in include The Cruel Sea (1953), Private’s Progress (1956), The One That Got Away (1957),A Night to Remember (1958), Circus of Horrors (1960) and Invasion (1966).  His brother, Donald Houston, could be seen guest starring in Public Eye on the same day part one of Crime in Prison was broadcast.

Appearing for the prosecution: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty

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We last saw Stephen Harvesty back in Case 6: The Eleventh Commandment.

Appearing for Mr Lanigan: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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Charles Lotterby last appeared in Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers.

Appearing for Mr Ager: John Alkin as Barry Deeley

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And the last time we saw Barry Deeley was in Case 16: A Public Mischief.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Bob Hoskins (1942-2014) as Freddy Dean

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Bob Hoskins is the star of the 1993 film Super Mario Bros.

Stanley Lebor (1934-2014) as Malcolm Lowe

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Remembered above all as lovably odd suburbanite Howard in Ever Decreasing Circles (Geraldine Newman, who played his wife Hilda, previously guested in Case 2: R v Lord), before that Mr Lebor was often cast as considerably more sinister characters, including a psychopathic Cockney gangster in a Tony Hoare-scripted episode of New Scotland Yard a couple of months before Crime in Prison was broadcast.  He got cast in a wide variety of rolesthough, as his other TV appearances in 1973 demonstrate: G I Gurdjieff in A Picture of Katharine Mansfield and the Carpenter in Alice Through the Looking Glass.  His interesting CV also includes Robert Tyrwhit in Elizabeth R, a villainous ancient Roman from a parallel universe in The Tomorrow People, Quentin Crisp’s Polish friend in The Naked Civil Servant,  a gypsy in ‘Allo ‘Allo!, a Mongon doctor in Flash Gordon and a Russian general in Superman IV.

James Donnelly (1930-1992) as Detective Inspector John Barber

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This is the first of three appearances by Inspector Barber.  Mr Donnelly’s other TV work includes episodes of Emergency Ward 10The LarkinsThe AvengersCrossroadsNo Hiding PlaceRandall and Hopkirk (Deceased)Department SJason KingMan at the TopPaul TempleZ CarsRobin of SherwoodTaggart and The Storyteller.  In the unlikely event that any readers would like to see him in a state of undress I’ll direct you toward a pair of especially grotty sexploitation films, The Wife Swappers (1970) and Suburban Wives (1972).

Margaret Nolan (1943- ) as Angela Mercer

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One of the great British glamour girls of the 60s and 70s, Ms Nolan is most famous for her roles in Goldfinger – as James Bond’s masseuse in the film itself, and as the gold-painted girl in the film’s title sequence and publicity.  After that she’s best known for appearing in six Carry On films: CowboyHenry, At Your ConvenienceMatronGirls (her biggest role, as beauty queen Dawn Brakes) and Dick.  Her screen debut was in a 1964 episode of The Saint, and she’s also been in Danger ManAdamant Lives!Nearest and DearestThe Persuaders!Steptoe and SonBudgieNew Scotland YardMy Wife Next DoorWhatever Happened to the Likely LadsLast of the Summer Wine and The Sweeney on telly, and A Hard Day’s NightThe Great St Trinian’s Train RobberyWitchfinder General and No Sex Please, We’re British at the pictures.  Nowadays she’s an artist who uses images of herself from her modelling and acting years as the basis for photo montages.

Witnesses for the defence:

Elizabeth Counsell (1942- ) as Rita Davey

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Best remembered as Veronica, long-suffering wife of the ghastly Lionel in Brush Strokes, Ms Counsell has most recently been on our screens in BBC 2 sitcom Quacks and Channel 4 drama Born to Kill.  She might point to playing leading lady to Michaels Redgrave and Gambon in Shakespeare on stage as highlights of her career.  Myself, I’d probably go for her role in the barmy Fay Weldon-scripted slasher movie Killer’s Moon.

Here’s a lovely shot of Ms Nolan and Ms Counsell for no reason other than that they look  fierce, as the young people would say.

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Also:

Irene Sufrini as Mrs Ager

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Mrs Ager is seen in the public gallery, looking discomfited by revelations about her husband.  This seems to have been Ms Sufrini’s only credited screen appearance.

The jury:

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This week’s jury are shot from some odd angles, and we don’t get a very good look at all of them.  The gent second from left on the bottom row displays the sartorial influence of Jason King on the man in the street.  To his left is our foreman this week, Tom Gowling, who returns for another stint in 1975 and then comes back as an usher in 1977 and a clerk of the court in 1978.  He also played a court usher in The Main Chance and appeared in another courtroom drama, Justice, in 1974.  A couple of weeks after his Crown Court debut he could be seen in the first of a handful of appearances in Emmerdale Farm as squire George Verney’s butler.  My favourite juror this week is the formidable-looking lady in the sleeveless dress with the massive hair.  But the most interesting thing (to me at least) about this week’s jury is that four of them (the ones circled in the pictures below) were on the jury in the untransmitted Case 7a: A Genial Man.  I’m glad they got their chance to be on TV in the end.

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The verdict (highlight to reveal): Lanigan changes his plea to guilty and is sentenced to two years on top of his current sentence.  Ager is found not guilty.

Case notes:

  • The title of this case appears on screen as Crime in Prison, but it was listed in the TV Times as A Crime in Prison, and that title has been used on the sleeve and menu for its DVD release (on Network’s Crown Court Volume Two).
  • The public box, which up to now has been raised at the back of the court, is from now on much lower down.
  • The name of the prison in this case, Parkmoor, is an obvious conflation of the real prisons Parkhurst and Broadmoor.
  • Most of the cast struggle with their lines at some point this week (with David Ashford very nearly corpsing after slipping up on the word “successful”), but Stanley Lebor has the worst time, dropping the oath when it’s handed to him.

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  • Crime in Prison has the most “adult” content of any Crown Court case yet, with frank references to pornography and prostitution and an extremely risqué moment when the court erupts with dirty laughter after assistant prison governor Mr Lowe says that Ager is “responsive to the needs of the inmates.
  • Instead of the usual montage of black and white photographs, the opening narration for each episode is played over action in the court itself.
  • There’s a goof at the end of Part Two, with a man in a very 70s patterned tank top briefly appearing behind the Granada ident.

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Summing up:

The arrival of William Mervyn, whose blend of humour and gravitas is so perfect for the role of Crown Court judge, immediately lifts the show to new heights (and straight away he’s the star of the show).  Tony Hoare’s gift for writing believable low life shines through in the script, and his characters are brought to life by perhaps the most impressive cast yet assembled in the Fulchester courtroom.  It’s clear to see that Bob Hoskins is destined for great things (like most of the best Crown Court actors the best part of his performance comes after  he’s been in the witness box, when we cut back to him for reaction to what happens afterwards), and Glyn Houston does a good job of making the beleaguered Bob Ager a heartbreakingly tragic figure.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

Thursday sees the beginning of a new sitcom on BBC 1, Some Mothers Do ‘ave ’em.

In the charts:

It’s still the Sweet at number 1 with “Blockbuster”.  Here’s this week’s number 4.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 17: Portrait of an Artist

Martin Emsworth, one of Britain’s best known and most controversial painters, was 67 when he died last September.  For many years he’d lived in picturesque Pond Cottage in the village of Kettleworth, near Fulchester.  The inhabitants looked on him as a wayward genius of markedly eccentric habits.  He shared the cottage with two women: his manager, Brenda Kingsley, who arranged the sale of his pictures to the leading art galleries throughout the world, and Rose Messiter, a village girl who became his favourite model.  During the last months of his life, the painter made two wills: the first in August, leaving everything to Brenda, and the second in September, leaving everything to Rose.  Today in the Crown Court, Brenda is bringing a civil action against Rose, seeking to get the second will put aside.  Her counsel is Miss Helen Tate.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 7-Friday 9 February 1973

Written by: Peter Wildeblood

This is Mr Wildeblood’s third Crown Court.  His last was Case 11: Criminal Libel.

Directed by: Richard Doubleday (1924-1975)

Mr Doubleday’s other work for Granada included producing A Family at WarCoronation Street and Adam Smith (all of which he also directed episodes of), and working as a director on Judge Dee and Sam.  Before that he was at Associated-Rediffusion, where he directed CraneNo Hiding Place and Our Man at St Mark’s.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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We last saw Mr Justice Bragge in Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers.

The plaintiff:

Moira Redmond (1928-2006) as Brenda Kingsley

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Ms Redmond started her showbiz career in the 40s as a Windmill girl, and had a first success as an actress after emigrating to Australia with her husband.  When the marriage broke down she returned to the UK, auspiciously starting her stage career as understudy to Vivien Leigh in Peter Brook’s Titus Andronicus.  She also carved out an impressive screen career in glamorous but usually hard-hearted roles, most prestigiously as Alice Keppel in Edward VII and Domitia in I, Claudius.  In the cinema, she appeared in lots of British crime films of the early 60s and had a starring role in the Hammer shocker Nightmare.

The defendant:

Mary Healey (1942- ) as Rose Messiter

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Not only is Ms Healey the sole member of this week’s cast who’s still alive at the time of writing, but she’s still frequently on TV, having most recently appeared in Line of Duty and Houdini and Doyle.  In fact, 2018 is her 50th year of appearing on our screens.  Along the way she’s had regular roles in The Duchess of Duke StreetThe MallensKing & Castle and Mulberry, and been in everything from Z Cars to Gimme Gimme Gimme.  In 1988 she appeared in Doctor Who as the “killjoy” who falls foul of The Happiness Patrol at the beginning of that story.

Appearing for the plaintiff;

Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

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Helen Tate last appeared in Case 14: Sunset of Arms.  Here is a pic of her in the amazing specs she dons for her final speech to the jury:

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Appearing for the defendant: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC

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We last saw James Elliot in Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers.

Witnesses for the plaintiff:

Edward Harvey as Mr Pascoe

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I’ve got most of my information about Mr Harvey from IMDb, which gives him a lifespan of 1895-1975, but I think it’s likely they’ve confused a couple of Edward Harveys, as this one certainly doesn’t look like he’s pushing 80.  In the months prior to his Crown Court appearance he’d been in The Edwardians and Upstairs Downstairs, and in a few weeks would be seen in the children’s thriller serial The Jensen Code.

Charlotte Mitchell (1926-2012) as Heather Wynne

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During the whole of Crown Court‘s run to date, Ms Mitchell could be seen on Saturday (or Sunday, depending on your ITV region) afternoons as housekeeper Amy in The Adventures of Black Beauty.  Her major claim for posterity is probably being the only woman to provide voices for The Goon Show (in the episodes “Ye Bandit of Sherwood Forest” and “Tales of Montmartre).  Other highlights (for me at least) from her long career include roles in the classic horror films Village of the Damned and Blood on Satan’s Claw, regular roles alongside Wendy Craig in both Not in Front of the Children and And Mother Makes Five, and the other wife of Emily Bishop’s bigamous husband Arnold Swain in Coronation Street.  She was also the mother of actors Christopher and Dominic Guard.

Witnesses for the defendant:

Tony Haygarth (1945-2017) as Walter Colley

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An omnipresent TV face from the 70s right through to the early 2010s, Mr Haygarth’s CV covers the whole breadth of TV comedy and drama in those decades – everything from Nigel Kneale’s sitcom misfire Kinvig to Our Friends in the North, from the hastily axed Hardwick House to a brief run as a regular in Emmerdale.  Notable film performances include Renfield in the 1979 Frank Langella Dracula and the voice of the farmer baddie in Chicken Run.

The jury:

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My faves this week are those two prematurely greying young men, who have expressions guiltier than those of anyone I’ve seen in the Crown Court dock.  Our foreman this week is the balding gentleman.  His name’s James Lynch and he later played another jury foreman in an episode of The Main Chance, as well as a Clerk of the Court in in Margaret Lockwood-starring courtroom drama Justice.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): The jury finds for the defendant.

Case notes:

  • As explained to us, the art of Martin Emsworth (religious subjects in modern dress using residents of the village where he lived as models) and his presence in the village as a cherished eccentric, is clearly inspired by Stanley Spencer (who died at 68, where Emsworth was 67).
  • Brenda Kingsley is the first Crown Court witness to have a whole episode devoted to her, with Part One concentrating solely on her testimony and cross-examination.
  • Brenda is supposed to have recognised local plumber Wally Colley in a sketch of Emsworth’s but it certainly doesn’t look anything like Tony Haygarth from what we’re shown.
  • Although it’s been established by now that Fulchester is near Manchester, Rose and Wally, who have supposedly lived all their lives in the nearby village of Kettleworth speak with a generalised “rustic” accent and a mildly Scouse one respectively.

Summing up:

Peter Wildeblood’s best Crown Court script so far.  The characters are all beautifully drawn (even Emsworth, dead before the beginning of the case feels like a fully realised character) and superbly brought to life by the cast, and the unconventional living arrangements at Emsworth’s cottage seem totally real.  Moira Redmond in particular gets the space to build a brilliant characterisation of smug, calculating Brenda Kingsley, and her reaction shots to the rest of the trial are golden (the lack of a shot of her when the verdict is revealed is a glaring omission).

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Charlotte Mitchell is also hugely entertaining as the ludicrously jolly local vet, and this is certainly one of the funniest Crown Courts to date.   Helen Tate’s decidedly bitchy attitude toward Rose Messiter is perhaps not the most progressive portrayal of a female barrister, but Dorothy Vernon certainly plays it to the hilt.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

This week sees the beginning of new children’s animation The Wombles on BBC 1, as well as the end of two popular ITV sitcoms that had been going since the late 60s, Father, Dear Father and Nearest and Dearest.

In the charts:

It’s still the Sweet at number 1 with Blockbuster.  Up to number 3 this week it’s the Strawbs, having it both ways with a song that can be read as either an endorsement of the then-highly prominent militant union representatives or a withering attack on them depending on your particular bent.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 16: A Public Mischief

Carwood High Street is a notorious bottleneck for traffic entering Fulchester.  For some time the council have been considering possible routes for a motorway to bypass it.  Compulsory purchase orders were made some time ago, acquiring for the council land that lay along the proposed motorway route, including the major part of a nursery and market garden owned by Mr James Dobson.  A council survey later revealed, however, that old mine workings beneath the area presented a dangerous subsidence and consequently the council reversed its earlier decision and decided on an alternative route for the motorway.  The council voted to sell back to the former owners all the property compulsorily purchased in the now abandoned area.  It was now discovered that the remaining portion of the nursery was no longer owned by Mr Dobson but by a Miss Margaret Crawley.  It has since transpired that there has been a second change of ownership and that nearly all of the property is now owned by Charles Baker, a well known local builder and a member of the city council, for whom Miss Crawley once worked.  This land, bought cheaply when the motorway plans were in progress, is now obviously worth many times that price since the plans were changed.  The inference is town hall corruption, and Baker and Crawley stand in court today charged with forming a conspiracy to commit a public mischief.  Both have pleaded not guilty.  Mr Jonathan Fry QC is presenting the case for the Crown.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 31 January – Friday 2 February 1973

Written by: Sean Hignett

A novelist, playwright, and biographer of Bloomsbury Group member Dorothy Brett, Mr Hignett’s most significant TV work was probably the famously disturbing 1983 rabies drama The Mad Death.  Before that he wrote a couple of episodes of another nightmare-provoking BBC series, The Omega Factor.  In less frightening mode, he also wrote for Emmerdale Farm and Take the High Road.

Directed by: Gerry Mill

This is Mr Mill’s fourth Crown Court assignment.  His last was Case 13: R v Brewer and Brewer

Presiding: André Van Gysegham as the Hon. Mr Justice Barclay

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We previously saw Mr Justice Barclay in Case 14: Sunset of Arms.

The accused:

Reginald Marsh (1926-2001) as Charles Baker

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Mr Marsh is best remembered as the incarnation of the sitcom boss, playing the irascible employer of both Paul Eddington in The Good Life and Terry Scott in Terry and June.  Before that he’d played works manager Arthur Sugden in The Plane Makers and came and went from Coronation Street over 14 years as bookie Dave Smith.  In early 1973 viewers might have recently seen him making regular appearances in another ITV lunchtime show, Harriet’s Back in Town, and in Nigel Kneale’s scary Christmas Day play The Stone Tape.

Beth Harris (1935-2012) as Margaret Crawley

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Best known as prison welfare officer Miss Clarke in Within These Walls, Miss Harris had worked in rep in Northampton alongside Ian Ogilvy and Nicholas Courtney, and her other TV appearances included roles in Hugh and INo Hiding PlaceShadows of FearCallanDixon of Dock GreenSpecial BranchVan der ValkShadowsRobin’s NestBlake’s 7 and The Gentle Touch.  She played Goneril in Thames’ 1974 King Lear (a rare attempt at serialising Shakespeare) and courtier Mary Seton alongside Vanessa Redgrave as Mary Queen of Scots.  She was married to actor Kenneth Gilbert, who was in Case 4: Euthanasia.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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We last saw Jonathan Fry in Case 14: Sunset of Arms.

Appearing for Mr Baker: John Alkin as Barry Deeley

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Barry Deeley last appeared in Case 13: R v Brewer and Brewer.

Appearing for Miss Crawley: Michael Johnson (1939-2001) as Derek Sissons QC

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Mr Johnson’s best known TV work was playing Herbert Lom’s assistant in the 1960s psychiatry drama The Human Jungle.  He’d also appeared in Compact (as two different Italians), The NewcomersNo Hiding PlacePaul TempleThe Rivals of Sherlock HolmesHadleigh and Juliet Bravo.  His film work included playing Anne Boleyn’s brother George in Anne of the Thousand Days (he later appeared in another Tudor drama, The Shadow of the Tower, on TV) and the hero in Hammer’s Lust for a Vampire.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Julian Somers (1903-1976) as James Dobson

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A veteran of TV’s early days in the 30s, Mr Somers had been appearing steadily on screen ever since.  When A Public Mischief was broadcast he’d been seen a few weeks before in Public Eye and would be seen a few weeks later in Pardon My Genie and Z Cars.  Other shows he popped up in over his long career include usual suspects like The AvengersCoronation StreetDr Finlay’s CasebookCrossroadsNo Hiding Place and The Newcomers.  His many small film roles include appearances in A Night to RememberRoom at the Top and the 1967 Far from the Madding Crowd.

John Bown (1934- ) as Alan Fairley

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Mr Bown had recently been a regular in the final series of BBC eco-disaster drama Doomwatch and made small appearances in the Hammer movies Fear in the Night and Vampire Circus when he appeared in Crown Court.  He was in a fair bit of other cult-attracting stuff as well: The Baron, The AvengersThe SaintThe Champions, Hammer’s The Devil Rides Out and Secret Army.  He’s never been in the telly version of Doctor Who but played Antodus the Thal in the first big screen version, 1965’s Dr. Who and the Daleks.  He also directed one movie, the classy (by British standards) 1969 erotic drama Monique.

Donald Morley (1923-1999) as Samuel Dickson

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One of Crown Court‘s most prolific guest actors (he made a further four appearances as different characters), Mr Morley was the kind of unshowy but reliable workhorse who forms the backbone of British TV acting.  In over 40 years he appeared in, well, practically everything.  At the time of A Public Mischief‘s broadcast he’d most recently been on people’s screens as one of the baddies in the seventh series of Freewheelers.  He was a regular in Compact back in the 60s, was in the 1964 Doctor Who story The Reign of Terror and appeared in an episode of The Plane Makers that also featured Julian Somers (though not series regular Reginald Marsh).

The jury:

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The most interesting jurors this week are everyone in the bottom photo, who look like a pair of families on an outing (mum at the bottom also bears a striking resemblance to Jane Smith, maid at the Crossroads motel).  Our foreman is the bald man with his tongue out.  His name’s Edward Greenhalgh.  IMDb would have us believe that he was also in Robert Altman’s debut movie That Cold Day in the Park and 80s cop show Wiseguy, but I am deeply sceptical.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Both defendants are found Not Guilty.

Case notes:

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: The post-war transformation of Britain of which motorways were a key part was still forging ahead in 1973.  This transformation was now inextricably linked in the public mind to local government corruption thanks to the case of Leeds’ city architect John Poulson, the scandal surrounding whom had already led to the resignation of Home Secretary Reginald Maudling in 1972 after it was revealed Poulson had bribed him to bring his influence to bear in the architect’s favour, and which continued to make the headlines in 1973.

Summing up:

You might think from the particularly lengthy intro to this case quoted above that this doesn’t sound like the most thrilling of Crown Court cases.  Well, you couldn’t be more right.  However, after a fairly dreary first two episodes things pick up in the final instalment when the subject changes to Baker and Crawley’s personal lives, with a lively performance from Reginald Marsh and a downright heartbreaking one from Beth Harris.

In the charts:

The Sweet are still at number one with the aptly named “Blockbuster”.  Up to number 2 this week we have, erm, this 😬 😬 😬 :

You can see the full chart for this week here.

Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers

“You need protection,” said the big fella who called on the club owner.  “I don’t,” replied the club owner.  But two days later, it seems he did need protection after all.  The club was wrecked, and the club owner beaten up.  Next time the big fella called the club owner paid up.  And that’s how the protection racket works, on violence and fear of violence.  In the Fulchester Crown Court today, we have the case of the Queen vs George and Arnold Curl.  The charges are conspiring to commit grievous bodily harm, and conspiring to demand money with menaces.  Are George and Arnold Curl the kings of Fulchester’s protection racket?

Original broadcast: Wednesday 24 – Friday 26 January 1973

Written by: David Fisher

This is Mr Fisher’s third Crown Court script.  His last was Case 7: The Medium.

Directed by: Bob Hird

This is Mr Hird’s second Crown Court assignment.  He previously directed Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?

Presiding:

Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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Mr Justice Bragge was last seen in Case 13: R v Brewer and Brewer.

The accused:

Harry Fowler (1926-2012) as George Curl

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Mr Fowler is probably best known for rivalling George Cole (with whom he starred in his screen debut, Those Kids from Town in 1942) as British cinema’s favourite Cockney youth of the 40s and 50s, appearing in scores of films including Went the Day Well?Champagne CharlieHue and CryDance HallAngels One Five and The Pickwick Papers (as Sam Weller, a role he reprised for TV in the 60s).  He later spent four years as The Army Game‘s Corporal Flogger Hoskins and three as Harry Danvers in another ITV sitcom, Our Man at St Mark‘s.  He continued to appear on TV as Cockneys either chirpy or criminal into the 21st century.  Often they shared his own first name, as in his recurring role of Harry the milkman in In Sickness and in Health in the 80s and early 90s and Harry the café proprietor in the 1988 Doctor Who story Remembrance of the Daleks.  Perhaps his most unusual (and almost certainly his most regrettable) role was as a Chinese spiv in the infamous Spike Milligan sitcom The Melting Pot, only the first episode of which made it to the air.

Harry Landis (1931- ) as Arnold Curl

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Like Mr Fowler, Mr Landis was one of TV and film’s go-to Cockney ne’er-do-wells of the 50s and 60s (he racked up seven appearances in Dixon of Dock Green, where Mr Fowler only managed five), becoming better known as he aged for playing twinkly elderly Jews (most famously barber Felix Kawalski in EastEnders from 1995 to 1997).  Happily he’s still working, and has recently appeared in the inevitable Doctors as well as Friday Night Dinner and the Tom Cruise blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow.

Appearing for the prosecution:

Charles Keating as James Elliot QC

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James Elliot’s last appearance was in Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?

This is the first time we’ve seen him prosecuting.

Appearing for the defence:

David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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And the last time we saw Charles Lotterby was in Case 13: R v Brewer and Brewer.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Michael Turner (1921-2012) as Chief Inspector Norman Crane

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A hugely prolific TV actor from the 50s to the 90s, Mr Turner’s biggest role was as the lead in the fourth and final series of New Scotland Yard (taking over from John Woodvine) in 1974.  Viewers of the original broadcast of Persimmons and Dishwashers could have seen him in recent weeks as Mr Hoggins in a BBC adaptation of Cranford and General Krebs in the LWT play The Death of Adolf Hitler.  A small selection of his many other credits: two more appearances in Crown Court, commander of The Wheel in Space in Doctor Who in 1968 and roles in The Avengers (both original and New), Big Breadwinner HogCallanZ Cars and Richard Attenborough’s Cry Freedom (Mr Turner was South African by birth and had previously appeared in the Albert Finney-directed TV movie on the same subject, The Biko Inquest).

Colin Edwynn (1933- ) as Detective Sergeant David Walsh

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If you type Mr Edwynn’s name into IMDb’s search bar, you get a description of him as “Actor, Crime Traveller (1997)”, which is perhaps not the memorial any actor would choose.  Probably his most significant role was as PC Jimmie Conway, who made various appearances in Coronation Street (most dramatically seeing his fiancee crushed under a collapsing viaduct in 1967) from 1965 to 1976.  Like many other tall actors he played lots of policemen, in his case representing law and order in Pardon the ExpressionThe Man in Room 17Raffles and Emmerdale Farm.  He could also be seen in non-police roles in A Family at WarHadleighThe Cuckoo WaltzMinderGrace and Favour and dinnerladies, among many other things.

Barbara Young (1936- ) as Sheila Telfer

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Ms Young’s vast range can be seen in the huge difference between the brassy Cockney nightclub owner’s wife (despite it being fairly well established by now that Fulchester’s in the north all the figures in its seamy side seem to be Cockney) she plays here and her (then) recent performance as scheming society hostess Anna Scherer in the BBC’s mammoth adaptation of War and Peace (both played to perfection).  Her most celebrated screen role is as Agrippinilla in another prestige BBC production, I, Claudius, though most of her TV appearances have been in less highfalutin fare.  These include regular roles in Coronation Street (as Rita’s old showbiz pal Doreen Fenwick in 2007), Last of the Summer Wine (as Stella, sister of and replacement for Nora Batty in the show’s last years), Family Affairs and Hazell.  The week following Persimmons and Dishwashers‘ broadcast she could be seen as an anxious wife engaging Frank Marker’s services in Public Eye.

Ron Pember (1934- ) as Harry Granger

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Mr Pember is pretty much the emblem of that breed of distinctive, hard working British character actor who’s just in everything (he had a regular role in Secret Army, but other that has mainly had a career of just popping up in things) that a list of credits seems pretty pointless.  It seems remarkable that he’s been off our screens for the best part of 30 years now (having retired in 1992 after a stroke).  Probably my favourite of his many turns is the completely uninterested father of would-be channel swimmer Chrissie in the classic Victoria Wood sketch.  And, as I always like to list  Doctor Who appearances I’ll note with regret that Mr Pember has never appeared in the TV version of the show but was in the 1985 radio serial Slipback.  He’s probably the only Crown Court actor (he comes back another three times, by the way) to have written a musical about Jack the Ripper.

The jury:

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Various items of interest this week: that green eyeshadow! That red polo neck! That pink shirt! Those four gents on the end who look like participants in a mildly boozy late night discussion programme! The foreman is the worried looking chap on the end in the grey suit.  He’s Mike Hayden, who often played priests (must be that troubled countenance) and was also in The DustbinmenA Family at WarCoronation Street, two Playfor Today and The Boys from the Black Stuff and gets called up for jury service at Fulchester again the following year.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Both defendants are found guilty (on both counts) and sentenced to 12 years in prison each.

Case notes:

  • The Curls’ alleged enforcer has been nicknamed “Dangerous Dan” due to his resemblance to a children’s comic character (presumably this is meant to be the Dandy‘s Desperate Dan).

Summing-up:

David Fisher’s Doctor Who stories are celebrated for their comedy, and this is the first of his Crown Court scripts to see this element come to the fore (despite, as James Elliot is at pains to remind us, the savagery of the case at hand).  Among many other choice moments, we have a club called the Bent Banana (“I understand that surrealistic names are in vogue at the moment, my lord, Elliot deadpans),  a bungalow owner claiming to have had an accident on the stairs, Haiku washing machines, persimmons supplied to the clubs and bookies of Fulchester as a cover for the Curls’ protection racket, and Arnie Curl’s declaration that “We’d sell smoked hedgehog if we could sell it.”  And Harry Fowler’s display of  piety as the supposedly devout Georgie Curl is worth the price of admission alone.  The only possible problem with Persimmons and Dishwashers is that the verdict is a given from the off.  But then the whole joke is how flagrant the Curls the are, and there are certainly plenty of open-and shut cases in real life.

In the news this week:

Tuesday 23 January sees Richard Nixon announce a peace deal that will end the Vietnam war.

In the charts:

Little Jimmy Osmond is finally knocked off his perch at the top of the chart by the Sweet.  At number four this week, here’s Carly Simon with a song that’s definitely not about Warren Beatty.  You can see the full chart for the week here.