Case 42: Beggar on Horseback

On the surface the case is straightforward: was an overcoat stolen from the directors’ cloakroom at the factory of Wright Samkins Metals Ltd by Graham Erringburn, employed there as personnel manager? What starts with a whimper, however can often end in a bang.  Erringburn has pleaded not guilty, and has elected to be tried by jury in Fulchester Crown Court.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 25 – Friday 27 July 1973

Written by: Stuart Douglass

A very prolific TV writer at this time, Mr Douglass had penned the previous week’s edition of the BBC’s Warship, and the day after Beggar on Horseback finished viewers would be able to see an episode of LWT’s New Scotland Yard written him too.  He also contributed scripts to (among others) Armchair Theatre, Sergeant Cork, Emergency Ward 10Fraud SquadThe Flaxton BoysDoomwatch (the banned episode Sex and Violence) and Within These Walls, and scripted the cult 1962 juvenile delinquent movie The Boys.

Directed by: Bob Hird

This is Mr Hird’s fifth Crown Court case.  His last was Case 39: The Inner Circle.

Presiding: William Mervyn as Mr Justice Campbell

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Mr Justice Campbell was last seen in Case 40: The Black Poplar.

The accused: James Cossins (1933-1997) as Graham Erringburn

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The embodiment of frosty, stiff upper-lipped Englishness in countless (by which I mean I can’t be bothered to count them) films and TV shows, Mr Cossins’ roles occasionally came with an edge of sleaze (Bette Davis’ knicker-stealing son in The Anniversary, the civil servant in Death Line who leaves a strip club and falls prey to a cannibal in the London underground).  But he’s probably most familiar from being fawned all over by Basil Fawlty in the mistaken belief that he’s a hotel inspector.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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Jonathan Fry  last appeared along with Mr Justice Campbell in Case 40: The Black Poplar.

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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We last saw Charles Lotterby in Case 38: A Right to Life.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

James Donnelly as Detective Inspector John Barber

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This is the third and final appearance of Inspector Barber, who previously appeared in Case 18: Crime in Prison and Case 31: Intent to Kill.

Donald Hewlett (1920-2011) as Phillip Samkins

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The year after his first appearance at Fulchester Crown Court Mr Hewlett would find his greatest fame as Colonel Reynolds in the BBC’s It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, and would continue to work with producer/writer David Croft in the infamous Mollie Sugden vehicle Come Back Mrs Noah and the considerably more successful You Rang, M’Lord? In all three shows he formed a double act with Michael Knowles, and the two were also paired in radio sitcom Anything Legal.  He also appeared in an episode of Croft’s Are You Being Served?, acted as a stooge for the likes of Les Dawson and Russ Abbott, and appeared in the 1971 Doctor Who story The Claws of Axos.

Brian Miller (1941- ) as Peter Drake

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Prolific on screen since debuting in Compact in 1964, Mr Miller has been seen in the likes of Two’s CompanyBlake’s 7ShoestringAngels, The Professionals, Grange HillWaiting for God, 2point4 ChildrenLine of Duty and old reliables EastEndersThe BillCasualty and Coronation Street.  He’s probably best known for his association with Doctor Who, having appeared in 1983’s Snakedance, voiced Daleks in Resurrection of the Daleks(1984) and Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) and more recently appeared in Peter Capaldi’s debut story Deep Breath in 2014.  He was also married to the late Elisabeth Sladen, who played the much-loved Sarah Jane Smith, and appeared alongside her in The Sarah Jane Adventures.

The jury:

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A pretty dull lot this week, with only that white-bearded foreman really being of any interested, not least because of the strangely strangulated way he delivers the verdict.  His name’s Reg Passingham, and his only other credited screen appearances were in an episode of Here’s Harry in 1961 and an episode of Coronation Street in 1962.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty.

Case notes:

  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: The kind of industrial action central to this case was front page news on an almost daily basis throughout the 70s.
  • The cast have a major struggle with the name ‘Erringburn’, delivering it at various times as Errington, Erringham and Erringbourne.
  • The mysterious geography of Fulchester gets even stranger this week.  Eventually it’ll be settled that it’s somewhere in the North Westbut this week it appears to be down south: we’re informed that Graham Erringburn lives in Kent, and that the Wright Samkins factory is located in somewhere called Headingham, yet Inspector Barber is long established as belonging to the Fulchester force, and Mr Erringburn mentions that he’s found it hard to get a job because there’s a lot of unemployment in Fulchester…

Summing up:

The minutiae of industrial relations in the 1970s are not the most exciting, or indeed intelligible, subject at the best of times, and when allied with mind-numbingly detailed discussions of the location of particular coat hooks they become positively deadly.  And it doesn’t help that Mr Justice Campbell signals his own impatience and frustration with this particular case throughout.  James Cossins delivers a characteristically excellent performance of wounded dignity, but on the whole it’s a very long three episodes.

Case 41: The Open Invitation

Did Maureen Sellars kidnap Karen Bascombe? While the child’s mother Mrs Olivia Bascombe was shopping, Karen was left sleeping in a pram by the shop door.  When she came out, pram and baby were gone.  An hour later Karen was found safe and unharmed with Maureen Sellars at her home.  Miss Sellars claims that Mrs Bascombe, with whom she was friendly, had given her a standing invitation to help look after baby Karen and take her for walks in the park.  But Mrs Bascombe says she gave no invitation of any kind.  As a result, Maureen Sellars appears before Fulchester Crown Court on a charge of kidnapping.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 18 – Thursday 20 July 1973

Written by: Paul Wheeler

Mr Wheeler was the very first Crown Court writer, having penned the original unscreened pilot Case 0: Doctor’s Neglect?.  The Open Invitation is the sixth case he wrote for the show, and also the last.

Directed by: Richard Doubleday

Mr Doubleday also ends his association with Crown Court this week, having previously directed Case 17: Portrait of an Artist and Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons.  He also directed the episode of another Granada drama series, Sam, that was broadcast this week.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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Mr Justice Bragge was last seen in Case 39: The Inner Circle.

The accused: Jane Carr as Maureen Sellars

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Ms Carr previously appeared in the untransmitted Case 7a: A Genial Man.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC

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Appearing for the defence: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty

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Like Mr Justice Bragge, Logan and Harvesty both last appeared in Case 39: The Inner Circle.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Carole Nimmons (1942- ) as WPC Jenkins

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There’s a long-standing joke about every British actor having an episode of Casualty on their CV, and Ms Nimmons managed to be cast in no less than six instalments of the Saturday night disaster soap over 15 years.  She was one of the leads (alongside Richard Griffiths) in 80s techno-thriller Bird of Prey and made several appearances in Coronation Street as Sarah Ridley of brewers Newton & Ridley.

Anne Kristen (1937-1996) as Olivia Bascombe

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Talking of Casualty, Ms Kristen is best known for her role as receptionist Norma Sullivan in that series in the early 90s.  Her Wikipedia entry is so thorough yet so bizarrely written that I feel I must direct you towards it.  Though I feel they perhaps make too much of her role in Coronation Street, which simply amounted to four episodes in 1971 as a teacher who fancied Ken Barlow.  From 1964 to 1988 she was married to actor Iain Cuthbertson, who at this time was starring in BBC 1’s Scottish crime drama Sutherland’s Law every Wednesday.

Peter Miles (1928-2018) as Dr Richard Whatmore

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Mr Miles is particularly cherished by Doctor Who fans for his guest roles in the serials Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970), Invasion of the Dinosaurs (1974) and especially Genesis of the Daleks (1975), in which he played Davros’s Himmleresque henchman Nyder.  He was also reunited with Jon Pertwee for the 1993 Doctor Who radio drama The Paradise of Death, and in a similar vein made two appearances in Blakes 7  The week prior to his appearance in Crown Court he’d been seen very briefly in an episode of New Scotland Yard (getting shot in the head within the first five minutes).  He also belongs to the club of screen Hitlers, having been briefly seen as the fuehrer in 1976’s The Eagle Has Landed.

Witnesses for the defence:

Maggie Hanley (1931-2015) as Hilda Day

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Best known as a regular cast member of the BBC’s early 70s medical drama Owen, MD, Ms Hanley started out in the 50s as a winsome juvenile in films like A Boy, a Girl and a Bike and Curtain Up under the name Margaret Avery.  She also turned up in CrossroadsZ Cars and Disney’s Diamonds on Wheels.

Adrian Shergold (1948- ) as Michael Brayne

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Mr Shergold had a middlingly successful acting career: one of the leads in long-forgotten kids’ sci-fi series Mandog, regular roles in A Bunch of Fives and Rock Follies, appearances in New Scotland YardThrillerThe Naked Civil ServantPoldarkThe SweeneyStar Maidens and The Cedar Tree.  But it was when he moved into directing (beginning with two episodes of Juliet Bravo in 1984) that he came into his own.  For TV he’s directed episodes of Inspector MorseA Touch of FrostEarly DoorsVeraMad Dogs and acclaimed  dramas like Holding On, Births, Marriages and DeathsThe Second ComingPersuasionDirty Filthy LoveHe Kills Coppers and Lucan.  His prestige movie projects include Pierrepoint and Funny Cow.

The jury

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We get a very good look at the jurors this week, and the highlight is undoubtedly the rakish young man in the cravat at the back, who had I any hair, would immediately become my style icon.  Our foreman is the man with the extraordinary thatch of ginger hair.  He’s Bernard Atha, and he’s worked several times with Ken Loach, his best known role being the employment officer in Kes. He’s also appeared in DoomwatchJuliet BravoThe Adventures of Sherlock HolmesThe Beiderbecke AffairAll Creatures Great and SmallCoronation StreetLast of the Summer Wine and Emmerdale.  He was also a Labour councillor in Leeds for nearly 60 years, and served as the city’s lord mayor from 2000 to 2001.  He’s also received an OBE for services to sport for disabled people, and a CBE for services to the arts and community in Leeds.  He’s now in his 90s, and I’m happy to report that his hair is still just as impressive.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • FACTS ABOUT FULCHESTER: AWS is a “huge” supermarket in the town.
  • In Part 3, when Andrew Logan is cross-examining probation officer Mrs Day, there’s a loud crash off screen.  Bernard Brown carries on unperturbed, by the extra behind him surreptitiously looks off to see what it was.

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Summing up:

The kind of slow-paced, almost gentle case that Crown Court seems to be mostly remembered for (when even the key witness for the prosecution is sympathetic toward the defendant you know you’re not in for a thrill-ride), The Open Invitation suffers a bit from its similarities to last week’s case (a defendant whose sympathetic nature wins out over a dodgy defence case, the central importance of the loss of a child), and it’s not quite as full-blooded.

Case 40: The Black Poplar

On April the 12th this year, a council workman was wounded by shotgun pellets whilst lopping down a black poplar tree in the garden of Mrs Pauline Tressman.  She, until this moment, has led a totally blameless life, but she is now charged with causing grievous bodily harm and with attempted murder.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 11 – Friday 13 July 1973

Written by: Donald Bull (1913-1993)

Mr Bull’s screenwriting career began back in the 30s, when he scripted such thoroughly 30s Britain sounding titles as Storm in a TeacupCheer Boys Cheer and The Arsenal Stadium Mystery.  In the 50s he moved into telly, writing for early hits like Fabian of the Yard.  In the 60s and 70s he wrote a startling 21 episodes of Dr Finlay’s Casebook (I mean the number was startling, rather than the content), and also fitted in episodes of MaigretR3Z Cars and Out of the Unknown.  Later in the 70s he would create the short-lived merchant banking drama The Venturers.

Directed by: Alan Gibson

This is Mr Gibson’s third and final Crown Court.  He previously directed Case 21: Freak-Out and Case 37: Who Was Kate Greer?

Presiding: William Mervyn as Mr Justice Campbell

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Mr Justice Campbell was last seen in Case 38: A Right to Life.

The accused: Pauline Letts (1917-2001) as Pauline Tressman

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Debuting in Ealing Studios’ Pink String and Sealing Wax in 1945, Ms Letts went on to a long screen career including appearances in Danger Man, CompactZ CarsSpecial BranchVan der ValkPublic EyeSecret ArmyEmmerdale FarmTinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyAngelsTales of the UnexpectedCoronation Street (as Don Brennan’s mother), MinderThe Bill and On the Up, in which she had a recurring role as Dennis Waterman’s mother.  She was the sister of Barry Letts, who at the time The Black Poplar was broadcast was coming to the end of his hugely successful stint as producer of Doctor Who.

Appearing for the prosecution: Richard Wilson as Jeremy Parsons QC

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Jeremy Parsons previously appeared in Case 35: To Catch a Thief.

Appearing for the defence: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC

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This is our first sighting of Jonathan Fry for quite a while: his last appearance was back in Case 24: The Death of Dracula.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Joseph Brady (1928-2001) as Graham McKellar

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Best known for playing PC Jock Weir in 176 episodes of Z Cars from 1962 to 1968.  He was also a regular in the BBC costume drama The Borderers and the final series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and, inevitably for a Scottish actor of the time, turned up in Dr Finlay’s Casebook (as well as that series’ 90s revival).  He also appeared in four Playfor TodayThe Main ChanceAngelsThe Famous FiveBrideshead RevisitedBoonTaggartCasualtyRab C Nesbitt and The Bill.

Peter Sproule (1947-2010) as PC Alan Pringle

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Mr Sproule was one of the schoolboys in Lindsay Anderson’s If…, then went on to appear in TimeslipHadleighUpstairs DownstairsColditzSpecial BranchThe Naked Civil ServantMinderDempsey and MakepeaceLondon’s Burning and The Bill.  And I’m afraid that’s all I have to say about him.

Charles Hyatt (1931-2007) as Dr Reginald Thursley

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Probably most familiar worldwide for his role as the father of one of the Jamaican bobsled team in Cool Runnings, Mr Hyatt was regarded as a national treasure in his native Jamaica.  His time in Britain in the 60s and 70s saw him appear in the likes of John Hopkins’ classic Wednesday Play Fable, Public EyeThe Power GameThe SaintNew Scotland YardLove Thy Neighbour (as well as playing a friend of Rudolph Walker in the TV series he played his father in the movie spin-off) and Within These Walls.  He also had two stints on Jackanory telling African legends.

This is a rare, and welcome, appearance in Crown Court of a black actor playing a character whose ethnicity is not relevant to the case.

John Ringham (1928-2008) as John Butters

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A thoroughly ubiquitous TV presence for over 50 years, Mr Ringham is probably best remembered for his role as Jan Francis’ father in Just Good Friends, but there’s no point even attempting to list the extent of his other roles.  Though, as it’s sort of my thing, I’ll point out that he appeared in Doctor Who three times: most memorably taking off Laurence Olivier’s Richard III as a bloodthirsty priest in 1964’s The Aztecs, but also in The Smugglers (1966) and Colony in Space (1971).

Witnesses for the defence:

Laurence Hardy (1911-1982) as Arnold Tressman

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The first Crown Court appearance of an actor who later on in the 70s will make prolific appearances as a judge.  A prolific TV actor, viewers could have seen him the week before in Whodunnit? and the same year could be seen in Harriet’s Back in Town and Dennis Potter’s play Only Make Believe.

Jan Holden (1931-2005) as Dr Mary Ryden

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It seems wrong to reduce an actor’s career to its campest elements, but one of Jan Holden’s first screen roles was as one of the title characters in ludicrous 1956 b-movie Fire Maidens of Outer Space, and her last was as a superior of children’s TV sorceress T-Bag.  She started out in mostly decorative roles in 1950s movies but came into her own later on playing sophisticated middle aged women, perhaps most famously Maureen Lipman’s editor in Agony.  She was married to actor Edwin Richfield (a future Crown Court guest), whose wife she played in 60s crime series The Odd Man, but their 21 year marriage broke up the same year as her Crown Court appearance.  TV’s Amanda Holden is her great niece.

The jury:

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Once again we never really get a properly good look at the jury, but this week they all look quite dull anyway.  Except for the sexy bearded man in blue behind the foreman. And the bloke next to him who seems to be trying to surreptitiously give the fingers on TV.  Said foreman (in the strange safari suit-type jacket) is Keith Clifford, who was apparently one of the leads of Last of the Summer Wine in the early 2000s, though that’s news to me.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Summing up:

If last week’s case gave us defendants it was hard to imagine the jury having any sympathy for, this week’s takes the opposite tack.  As Mr Justice Campbell points out more than once, the defence’s case is weak and contradictory, but Mrs Tressman’s plight (and Pauline Letts’ distressing performance) leaves us in little doubt of the eventual verdict.  In one of the most impressive casts yet assembled for a Crown Court Jan Holden is the standout as Mrs Tressman’s flamboyant psychiatrist, her interaction with Richard Wilson reaching an almost Wildean level of polite bitchiness.

Case 39: The Inner Circle

Three years ago, twin sisters Megan and Janine Watts left their native California to come and live in London, where they set up a psychotherapy group known as the Open Box.  Their methods were aggressive, and controversial.  As their movement grew, they transferred their headquarters to a large country house, Chute Hall near Fulchester.  One of their more recent recruits was Tony Blower, who unknown to them was a journalist on the Sunday Nation.  Having spent some time at Chute Hall, Mr Blower wrote an article on the group, in which he described it as both harmful and fraudulent.  At Fulchester Crown Court, Martin Heywood, a secretary of the Open Box, is suing both Mr Blower and the newspaper proprietors, Nation News, for libel.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 4 – Friday 6 July 1973

Written by: Guy Slater (1941- )

A telly renaissance man (or jack of all trades if you prefer), Mr Slater has written, acted, produced and directed for the medium.  His other writing credits include instalments of Armchair Theatre and Armchair Cinema, and 1976 Southern TV kids’ commune drama Westway, which he also acted in.  As an actor he’s also turned up in No Hiding PlaceEmergency Ward 10Doctor in the HouseTake Three GirlsThe Main ChanceEdward the Seventh and I, Claudius.  He directed episodes of Love Hurts and the BBC’s Miss Marple, which he also produced.  He also served as producer on 80s series NannyJohnny Jarvis and The Cleopatras.

Directed by: Bob Hird

This is the fourth Crown Court case directed by Mr Hird.  His last was Case 18: Crime in Prison.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

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This is our first sighting of Mr Justice Bragge since back in Case 24: The Death of Dracula. On the Wednesday this case began Edward Jewesbury could also be seen in Thames’ Special Branch.  Oh, and here’s some extra trivial trivia for you: in the same episode of Special Branch actress Jean Harvey can be seen wearing the very same outfit she sported in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings.

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The plaintiff: Shane Briant (1946- ) as Martin Heywood

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Mr Briant is best known for his work with Hammer films, who cast him as a standard juvenile lead in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973), but found more unsettling uses for his strange beauty in Demons of the Mind (1972), Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter (1974) and especially Straight on Till Morning (1972), in which he was cast as a Peter Pan-obsessed killer.  He was also ideal casting for the title role in a 1973 TV movie of The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Elsewhere, he was one of Quentin Crisp’s fellow queens in The Naked Civil Servant and has spent his later career in Australia appearing in productions not notable for their quality.

The defendant: Tom Kempinski (1938- ) as Tony Blower

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Perhaps the most remarkable fact about Mr Kempinski is that he has in his time been married to both Frances de la Tour and Carry On star Margaret Nolan.  Ms de la Tour also starred in the original production of his 1980 play Duet for One, which proved a huge success in the West End and on Broadway, and led to a film version starring Julie Andrews and Alan Bates.  As an actor, he also appeared in The Power GameNo Hiding PlaceCallanPublic EyeThe Avengers, Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars, and had a recurring role in Moonbase 3, the disastrous 1973 space drama from the then production team of Doctor Who.  He also wrote an episode of Lovejoy.

There are two defendants in this case,

Appearing for the plaintiff: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC

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We last saw Andrew Logan in Case 37: Who Was Kate Greer?.

Appearing for the defendant: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty

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Stephen Harvesty last appeared in Case 28: The Gilded Cage.  I’m a little bit worried about that extra in front of him, who looks increasingly unwell throughout proceedings.

Witnesses for the plaintiff:

Patricia Lawrence (1925-1993) as Barbara Peacock

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Best known as indomitable Dutch nun Sister Ulrica in Tenko, Ms Lawrence also starred in the popular BBC miniseries To Serve Them All My Days and Dennis Potter’s banned Brimstone and Treacle, and was one of the various Aunt Dahlias in Jeeves and Wooster.  As well as being regularly seen in other TV shows from the 50s to the 90s, she made appearances in many films, including O Lucky Man!A Room with a View and Howards End.

Georgina Ward (1941-2010) as Megan Watts

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With her striking beauty and commanding voice, Georgina Ward should have been a star – but things didn’t quite work out that way.  She made several eye-catching TV appearances in the first half of the 60s, including two alongside Patrick McGoohan in Danger Man, which led to her being cast in Anglia TV’s rural soap Weavers Green in 1964.  That lasted less than a year, though, and after a few more TV appearances (including Caroline Bingley in the 1967 BBC Pride and Prejudice) she ended up starring in a pair of sexploitation movies, Loving Feeling (1968) and With These Hands (aka Sex Clinic, 1971).  In a revealing 1973 interview with the TV Times to promote the TV play Life and Soul, she’s very candid about the lack of work she was getting, and how her plan to move into politics as a Labour parliamentary candidate (contesting the seat formerly held by her father George Ward, air minister in Harold Macmillan’s government) was scuppered by the nude scenes she’d filmed.  In the event, Life and Soul was her final screen appearance.

Witnesses for the defendant:

Desmond Jordan (1922-2009) as Dr Gibbons

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Given his soft Irish accent and reassuring demeanour, it’s no surprise that Mr Jordan was something of a specialist in doctors, including a regular role on Emergency Ward 10 in the early 60s, as well as one off roles in shows like The Human Jungle, Out of the UnknownZ Cars and (a few weeks before this Crown Court was broadcast) The Protectors.  He also notched up a few priests, the last one being in Father Ted in 1996.

Jeremy Anthony as Manubhai Gupta

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One of those actors of, er, flexible ethnicity so often seen in old British TV, Mr Anthony is here playing an Indian, but his repertoire also included Pakistani, Arab, and French.  In 1964 he played the title role in a pioneering National Youth Theatre production of Julius Caesar in modern dress with jazz score, and in more recent years has mainly been providing narration for war documentaries.

The jury:

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Director Bob Hird is extremely stingy with showing us this lot, which is a shame because there are some corkers.  Particular faves are the angry geography teacher, the Julia Davis character, the giant ageing teddy boy, the lady wearing a constellation, the 60s refugee at the back with her lime green trim, and social distancing pioneer Sophia Petrillo on the end there.  The bruiser at the other end is our foreman, who rejoices in the name of Joe Belcher.  This was his first credited screen appearance and he went on to a  pretty impressive  career, appearing in An American Werewolf in London and the 1979 Dracula movie, as well as six Plays for TodayCoronation Street and Emmerdale FarmJuliet BravoOpen All HoursOnly Fools and HorsesAll Creatures Great and SmallLast of the Summer Wine and its prequel series First of the Summer Wine, in which he had a recurring role.  He was also in that totemic 80s nuclear drama Threads.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): The jury find for the defendants.

Case notes:

  • Though Megan Watts claims former Open Box acolyte Manubhai Gupta tried to rape her, there also seems to be a very subtle hint that he was initially attracted to the cult by his attraction to Martin Heywood (I met him) – Crown Court perhaps tentatively approaching the subject of homosexuality for the first time (or the second, depending on your perspective – the case Just Good Friends?, made before The Inner Circle, also broaches the subject, but its broadcast was delayed by a few months).  Mind you the line “He was handing out leaflets, he gave me one,” might make it slightly less subtle to those of us of a puerile turn of mind.
  • The Sunday Nation seems to be inspired by the News of the World, particularly infamous for its salacious content.  Andrew Logan provides a list of recent subjects Tony Blower’s written about for the paper:
    • Housing estate brothels
    • The sex life of male escorts
    • Wife swapping in Folkestone
    • Sex change clinics
  • Stephen Harvesty compares the Open Box to a number of other cults active in California at the time of its founding: the Process, the Family, Lunologists, Immologists and Sons of Satan.  The Family is of course the infamous Charles Manson cult, and while Megan Watts insists the Open Box is nothing like these other organisations, the Process (full name the Process Church of the Final Judgement), founded by Robert and Mary De Grimston, was clearly at the forefront of writer Guy Slater’s mind when he created them: their English base, their black robes, their coffee shop, their glossy magazine, their glamorous frontpeople.  Bizarrely enough, through various permutations, the Process eventually evolved into the Utah-based charity Best Friends Animal Society, so who knows, perhaps in the Crown Court universe something similar happened with the Open Box.

Summing up:

The return of Edward Jewesbury, with his quieter, more earnest style than William Mervyn and Frank Middlemass’ boisterous turns, makes this feel like a return to an earlier era of Crown Court.  But The Inner Circle‘s period detail about the sinister esoteric societies of the time makes it compelling viewing, and Shane Briant and Georgina Ward are especially effective as smug Martin and imperious Megan – though it’s hard to imagine characters less likely to gain the sympathy of the jury.

Case 38: A Right to Life

The plaintiff, Sarah Abbs, now aged 20, was some seven years ago placed in Bosdale Hospital, an institution for the mentally subnormal, by her mother.  While in Bosdale Hospital, Miss Abbs went out to work as a daily domestic.  She formed an association with Michael Penney, a childhood friend who worked locally.  Last year when she was 19, Miss Abbs became pregnant as a result of this association.  Whereupon Dr Richards, the superintendent of Bosdale Hospital, performed a clinical abortion.  As a result of this operation Miss Abbs is today demanding damages for assault and battery against Dr Richards and the Bosdale Hospital management committee.  The plaintiff alleges that Dr Richards performed the operation without her consent.  Further, she alleges that even in the event of the court deciding that Dr Richards did have consent for the operation, that consent was invalid because the operation was not in the end for her benefit or that of the child.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 June 1973

Written by: David Fisher

This is the ninth Crown Court case Mr Fisher’s written.  His last was Case 36: Patch’s Patch

Directed by: Paul Annett (1937-2017)

This was Mr Annett’s only go at directing a Crown Court, but his CV is like an encyclopedia of British TV drama, including (among many others) episodes of New Scotland YardPoldarkWithin These WallsSecret ArmyThe Gentle TouchWidowsThe Adventures of Sherlock HolmesTales of the UnexpectedByker GroveEmmerdaleGrange Hill and EastEnders (a remarkable 87 instalments of the miserabilist soap).  In 1974 he directed his one and only theatrically released film, the Amicus horror The Beast Must Die (famed for its ‘Werewolf Break’ gimmick).

The plaintiff: Lesley Dunlop (1956- ) as Sarah Abbs

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This was only Ms Dunlop’s third TV production, and came hot on the heels of her role as Ermengarde in the BBC’s 1973 version of A Little Princess (the first of many period dramas she’d appear in during the 70s).  She would of course go on to become a hugely familiar TV face, a regular in AngelsMay to December and Where the Heart Is as well as turning up in two Doctor Who stories: Frontios (1988) and The Happiness Patrol (1988).  For the last 12 years she’s been ensconced in Emmerdale, and in 2016 married her co-star Christopher Chittell.

The defendants:

Edward Hardwicke (1932-2011) as Dr Paul Richards

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Son of stage luminary and Universal Horror star Sir Cedric, Mr Hardwicke would have been well known to viewers in 1973 as escape officer Pat Grant in the BBC’s Colditz, though nowadays he’s more likely to be recognised as the second Dr Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes.  Of course these roles only scratch the surface of his long stage and screen career, though just to give you a little trivial titbit, in his later years (like many distinguished thesps) he did a lot of voice work for video games, including the role of games icon Lara Croft’s father in 2007’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Anniversary.

Preston Lockwood (1912-1996) as Sir Stanley Freeman

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I often think these little biography things I do about Crown Court actors are a bit superfluous (and indeed was tweeted so by one charming gent), but in this case it definitely is.  Instead of my nonsense, read this obituary of the legendary Mr Lockwood, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

Witnesses for the plaintiff:

Leo Dolan (1943-2000) as Michael Penney

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Mr Dolan’s screen roles included an unusually large number of postmen and milkmen.  His postal appearances include two episodes of Keeping Up Appearances, while his more lactically-focused ones include a regular role in the reasonably infamous early 80s sitcom Bottle Boys.  Other perhaps-best-forgotten sitcoms he was a regular in include Hylda Baker vehicle Not on Your Nellie and Watch This Space (in the latter case I think the forgetting’s already been done).  The Sunday following his affecting performance as the morally questionable fiancé of Sarah Abbs he appeared in The Fenn Street Gang dressed as a canary.  An actor’s life for me and all that.

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Marianne Stone (1922-2009) as Josephine Havelock

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It wasn’t exactly unusual to see Ms Stone in a TV show (in 1973 she also appeared in Public Eye and Harry Worth’s Thirty Minutes Worth), but most of her work was in films, where she was British cinema’s most prolific bit part actress.  She was rarely on screen for as long as it’ll take you to read this, but she always made her mark. From the late 40s to the early 80s it almost seemed there were fewer British films she wasn’t in than she was.  She was in nine Carry Ons and five Hammer horrors, though probably her most prestigious role was as Vivian Darkbloom in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita.

Peter Jeffrey as Professor Esmond Seagrave

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Mr Jeffrey previously appeared in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings.

The jury:

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Even by Crown Court standards these are a grim bunch, and none grimmer than our foreman for the week, the gent on the end with the seriously unkempt hair.  His name’s Alan Luxton, and this was his first credited screen appearance.  He’d pop up in a few more shows (all Granada) in the 70s, including Sam and Coronation Street.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): The jury are, we’re told, out for four hours, and so told a majority verdict will be accepted.  Thank goodness that, unlike last week’s jury, they’re able to reach one: by 10 to two, they find for the defendants.

Case notes:

  • This week’s episodes begin in unique fashion, with a shot of a television in what appears to be someone’s living room (the first time we’ve been taken outside the court building!), showing an extract (a different one each episode) from an appearance by Dr Richards on the programme Second Opinion (which we’re later given to understand is broadcast on BBC 2).  The intro at the top of this blog post is taken from Barry Deeley’s opening speech on Day One.

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  • There’s a splendid moment that might now be described as post-modern or self-aware, when Mrs Havelock, who’s dyslexic, is asked how she read the oath.  She replies that everybody knows what it says.  “How do they?” asks a puzzled Mr Justice Campbell.  “From the telly, m’lord,” she replies.
  • FACTS ABOUT FULCHESTER: the village of Badgersfield is 20 miles outside of Fulchester, and 120 miles from Corby in Northamptonshire.

Summing up:

The gold standard of Crown Court cases.  Probably the most morally tricky case the show’s handled, and it does it heartrendingly, hilariously (Marianne Stone’s turn as Sarah’s uninvolved mother, plus William Mervyn’s incredulous reactions to her), and it’s all deeply troubling, taking modern viewers in particular far out of their moral comfort zone.  In some ways of course it’s horribly dated, but the discomfort provoked by the many outdated terms for people with learning disabilities (‘subnormal’, ‘defectives’, ‘mental deficiency’, even ‘freaks’ and ‘monsters’) shows how far we’ve come, which can only be a good thing, can’t it? Of course casting a non-learning disabled actress as Sarah would be bound to stir up controversy today, but there’s certainly no faulting of Lesley Dunlop’s extraordinary performance (and casting a 16 year old as 20 year old Sarah is certainly effective in making her seem much younger than her years).  Performances are top notch across the board: the way Peter Jeffrey uses every inch of the limited space he’s given in the witness box is a masterclass.  But Edward Hardwicke’s performance as Dr Richards, making an avowed Marxist atheist (Barry Deeley’s suggestion to him that his atheism might mean he doesn’t have a moral code is now one of the most shocking things in the episode) into a figure of almost saintly belief in his views, which challenges the view we might hold of what a eugenicist is like.  The most important thing is that a case that in its outline seems clear cut ends up truly challenging our beliefs and our sympathies.  That is what Crown Court does best.

 

 

Case 37: Who Was Kate Greer?

Celia Alcott, student and Women’s Lib activist at Fulchester University, was convicted in March of having stolen an antique vase from the quarters of her tutor, Martin Archer, and sentenced to six months in prison.  At her trial damning evidence was given by Professor Archer and also from his wife, Winifred, even though the vase had not been found in Celia’s possession.  For her part, Winifred Archer testified that the vase had been in its usual position just before a tutorial Celia had had with her husband on the day of the theft, and missing afterwards.  Barely three weeks after Celia Alcott had been committed to prison, however, the vase came to light in an auction sale at Market Storley, a town 20 miles from Fulchester, and today in the Crown Court it is Winifred Archer who stands trial.  She is accused of perjury, and of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 20 – Friday 22 June 1973

Written by: Bruce Stewart

This is the seventh Crown Court case Mr Stewart has written.  His last was Case 32: There Was a Little Girl.

Directed by: Alan Gibson

This is Mr Gibson’s second Crown Court.  He previously directed Case 21: Freak-Out.

Presiding: Frank Middlemass as the Hon. Mr Justice Craig

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Mr Justice Craig was last seen in Case 35: To Catch a Thief.

The accused: Ruth Trouncer (1930- ) as Winifred Archer

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Ms Trouncer (what a great name) first became known to the televiewers of Britain as Peggy Mount and David Kossoff’s daughter in popular 50s ATV sitcom The Larkins, and kept busy for the next 30 odd years, turning up in programmes such as No Hiding PlaceAdam Adamant Lives!The AvengersThe ProtectorsDixon of Dock GreenPoldark and The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.  Her films include The Family WayThe Man Who Haunted Himself and There’s a Girl in My Soup.  She will make a further three appearances in Crown Court.

Appearing for the prosecution: John Flanagan as John Lloyd

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Appearing for the defence: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC

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Lloyd and Logan were both last seen in Case 34: Settling a Score.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Paul Grist (1939- ) as Detective Sergeant Alexander Halliday

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Mr Grist’s rich Welsh accent may come as a bit of a surprise to Doctor Who fans who know him as American UNIT agent Bill Filer in the 1971 story The Claws of Axos, though he had been among the legion of Welsh actors assembled for the film of Under Milk Wood released the same year.  He’s also appeared in The AvengersEmergency Ward 10The ChampionsDixon of Dock GreenZ CarsNew Scotland YardSurvivors and Blake’s Seven.

Donald Eccles (1908-1986) as Victor Purbright

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Mr Eccles’ first Crown Court appearance followed hot on the heels of making the film he’s best known for, The Wicker Man, in which he played twinkly Pagan chemist shop proprietor T H Lennox.  He’ll later return to preside over a handful of cases as Justice Hammond, in which role he had the honour of being featured on the cover of the Crown Court tie-in novel released in 1977 (though they could hardly have chosen an actor less like the brawny, action man judge who actually appears in the book).  He also played judges in Rumpole of the BaileyLadykillers and Shine on Harvey Moon, and was a barrister in the BBC’s 1965 Crown Court forerunner Jury Room.  Among his gigantic list of other credits, he donned a ludicrous wig to play an Atlantean priest in the 1972 Doctor Who story The Time Monster, and appeared in such cult items as The AvengersAdam Adamant Lives!DoomwatchThe Protectors and the 1980 Quatermass.  The Sunday following the broadcast of Who Was Kate Greer? BBC 1 began a repeat run of its 1971 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, in which he played the heroine’s father.

Sylvia Brayshay as Celia Alcott

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Ms Brayshay comes to the witness box at Fulchester Crown Court fresh from starring in the excruciating Yorkshire TV sitcom Our Kid.  Her other TV appearances include roles in Upstairs Downstairs, cult Play for Today The Flipside of Dominick Hide, Juliet Bravo and Alan Clarke’s David Bowie-starring production of Bertolt Brecht’s Baal.

Witnesses for the defence:

Denys Hawthorne (1932-2009) as Dr Joseph Ross

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By a splendid coincidence, Mr Hawthorne is our second actor of the week to have played Mr Woodhouse in a screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.  In his case it was the 1996 film version starring Gwyneth Paltrow.  Greatly acclaimed for his work in BBC radio drama, at the time of his appearance in Fulchester he was the Corporation’s producer of radio drama for his native Northern Ireland.  The following year he’d land the role for which he became best known, the prison doctor in Within These Walls.  In 1986 he appeared in the Terror of the Vervoids segment of Doctor Who‘s epic The Trial of a Time Lord and later had a regular role in Thames’ yuppie drama Capital City and, like so many other Irish actors of his age group, played a priest in Father Ted.

Bryan Stanion (1941- ) as John Priest

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Best known for his recurring role as Professor Cawston in The Tomorrow People, Mr Stanion took the unusual trajectory of appearing in Crown Court first as a witness then later (in 1977, his final TV role) as a jury foreman.

The jury:

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Director Alan Gibson doesn’t allow this lot much screen time: these shots were about the best I could manage.  He does, however, give us a big closeup of an especially craggy countenance.

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The suave gent on the end who looks like he could’ve almost starred in an ITC action series is our foreman.  His name’s Alan Robertson, and despite what IMDb has to say I think it’s fairly certain he’s not the same one who was Dean of Fine Arts at the University of Calgary then retired, moved to Vancouver and appeared in a load of American films and TV shows made in that city.  I have no further information on this one, but I would not be at all surprised if he could be seen in various menswear catalogues of the 70s.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): We’re informed that the jury are out for three hours, so are told they can deliver a majority verdict.  However, they fail to reach one.  Mr Justice Craig announces there will be a retrial the following Monday (which of course, we never see or learn the verdict of).  So that was all a waste of time.

Case notes:

  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: The case revolves around the Women’s Liberation movement of the 70s, and its leading lights Kate Millett and Germaine Greer are alleged by Andrew Logan to be the origin of the name of the mysterious ‘Kate Greer’ who sold the Byzantine vase (how it was established that this is without doubt the same vase stolen from the Archers is never quite clear).  And then there’s the non-existent Braburn Road (“bra burn”, geddit?) where she was supposed to live.
  • I regret to say that to quiet the commotion in the court caused by Celia Alcott accusing Winifred Archer of responsibility for her husband’s suicide (a suspiciously loud commotion for the amount of people in the court), Mr Justice Craig bangs a gavel.  Despite their ubiquity in courtroom dramas, gavels have never been used in British courts (perhaps Mr Justice Craig just carries his own personal gavel with him to add a bit of extra drama to his trials).

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  • The action against Mrs Archer is brought by the Fulchester University Student Union, members of whom are seen seated in court.  And goodness they certainly look like 1970s students.

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Summing up:

Women’s Lib comes to Fulchester! Given the feminist themes of his previous script, it seems pretty clear that Bruce Stewart was in favour of the movement, but Sylvia Brayshay’s hugely annoying performance as “The Tigress of Women’s Lib” tends to undermine it a bit.  Mind you, I suppose a lot of people who’ve made big differences to the world probably have been hugely annoying.  Anyway, an excellent script this week, with a lot of genuinely surprising twists and turns.  The ending is immensely frustrating, though.  The highlight is undoubtedly Donald Eccles’ performance as the doddering but belligerent antique dealer.  His response to a question about the ‘”physical conditions” in his shop when the mysterious Ms Greer sold him the vase: “Look, I’m not going to discuss a lady’s physical conditions…”

Case 36: Patch’s Patch

Benjamin Patch, small time Fulchester builder, became a celebrity overnight with his revolutionary new concept in cheap housing: Patch’s Patch, they called it.  On paper, it looked marvellous.  To all those hundreds of young married couples who couldn’t afford mortgages Patch’s housing association seemed the answer to a dream.  £1000 cash they paid, and were promised a house.  But like all dreams, it faded.  Within three years, Patch’s Patch had become a sick joke.  Hundreds of young couples lost their money.  Patch himself went bankrupt.  But by now the fraud squad had started to investigate, and today Benjamin Patch stands trial in Fulchester Crown Court, charged with fraud.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 13 – Friday 15 June 1973

Written by: David Fisher

This is the seventh Crown Court case Mr Fisher’s written.  His last was Case 33: A View to Matrimony.

Directed by: Brian Mills

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

Presiding: William Mervyn as Mr Justice Campbell

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Mr Justice Campbell last appeared in Case 33: A View to Matrimony.

The accused: Norman Rossington (1928-1999) as Benjamin Patch

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Mr Rossington’s role as Private ‘Cupcake’ Cook in The Army Game led to him becoming a mainstay of British comedy, appearing in three Carry On films (SergeantNurse and regardless – plus the 1972 Carry On Christmas TV special) and legions more comedy movies and sitcoms.  In a more serious vein, he was in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), and viewers in 1973 might have recently caught him in one of my own favourites, cannibals in the London underground horror Death Line.  But he’ll always be best remembered as the Beatles’ exasperated manager Norm in A Hard Day’s Night.  In fact, he has the distinction of being the only actor to appear on screen with both the Beatles and Elvis Presley (the latter in 1967’s Double Trouble).

Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

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Helen Tate was last seen in Case 32: There Was a Little Girl.

Appearing for the defence: Mr Patch defends himself

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Witnesses for the prosecution:

John White (1936-1993) as Robert Tarrant

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Mr White’s place in TV history is assured thanks to being one of the participants in one of British TV’s earliest interracial kisses, in a 1964 episode of Emergency Ward 10 (in which he played junior doctor Giles Farmer).  He also appeared in pretty much the full gamut of 60s/70s/80s British TV drama: Dr Finlay’s CasebookZ CarsThe Adventures of Black BeautySoftly Softly: Task ForceWhatever Happened to the Likely Lads?PoldarkWhen the Boat Comes InAngelsSurvivorsThe Onedin LineSecret ArmyHowards’ WayLondon’s Burning and Wish Me Luck.

Richard Simpson as Superintendent Ronald James

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According to IMDb, this is the same Richard Simpson who has voiced a string of monsters in various iterations of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  I suppose it’s possible, but I’m ever so slightly sceptical.  It’s for certain, though, that he appeared in Emergency Ward 10Special BranchPublic EyeVan der ValkMinderThe ProfessionalsYes MinisterThe Bill and Midsomer Murders.

Angela Crow (1935- ) as Rachel Mackintosh

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Ms Crow brought much joy to the early years of Coronation Street as dizzy shopgirl Doreen Lostock.  Before Coronation Street she’d won the Emile Littler award for outstanding talent at RADA and been acclaimed for her stage work, which included the original production of Under Milk Wood.  After leaving the street she remained a regular on the nation’s stages and screens, her TV appearances including roles in Dixon of Dock GreenDoomwatchZ CarsLast of the Summer WineLove Thy NeighbourAngels, Star CopsThe BillGrange HillCasualty and Heartbeat, as well as two further Crown Court cases.

And here’s her outfit for her second day in court:

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Witnesses for the defence:

Mary Larkin as Joyce Graham

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As a huge fan of 1970s British horror movies I know Ms Larkin best for her role as undead biker Nicky Henson’s girlfriend in the truly seen-to-be-believed 1973 movie Psychomania.  Like Angela Crow she also pops up in Crown Court twice more, and she’s also been in The ProtectorsWhen the Boat Comes InIn Loving Memory, Hetty Wainthropp InvestigatesEastEndersDoctors, and Casualty.  She’s married to Jim Norton, himself a future Crown Court guest.

The jury:

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Candidates for juror of the week include that man in the very tight piss-yellow toupee, the cadaverous elderly gent who seems to have come with his wife, and the chap in the rather spiv-like black shirt and white tie combo.  But the winner is undoubtedly the youngster on the end who can’t stop staring straight into the camera (and what he’s doing with his hand in the above image is anyone’s guess.  Look at him, the big lummox:

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Our foreman, the gent clutching his specs in a rather urbane manner, is John Rolls, who later in the 70s will find work as one of the Fulchester Crown Court ushers.  He also appeared in Ken Loach’s Days of HopeRafflesEmmerdale Farm, and All Creatures Great and Small.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty.

Case notes:

  • The stenographer last seen being chatted up by serial bigamist Archie McNeill in Case 33: A View to Matrimony is back this week, so it’s a relief to know she hasn’t been spirited off to Mogadishu.
  • LUNCHTIME SWEARWATCH: Robert Tarrant calls Patch a “bastard”.  Patch also refers to “intercourse” between himself and Rachel Mackintosh, which may have raised some awkward questions from any children off school sick.
  • Day Two has no opening theme music.

Summing up:

A bit of a disappointment from the great David Fisher, with Patch’s continual interruptions as he professes his ignorance of how to conduct himself in court quickly becoming aggravating (though Helen Tate’s exasperated responses are a joy), and most of the witnesses outstaying their welcome.

Case 35: To Catch a Thief

In the boot of a stolen car, a white Jaguar XJ6, a very valuable work of art was found by the police: a 19th century oil painting which had been stolen from the Brabazon art gallery in Fulchester only a few days before the car had been stolen.  It is alleged by the prosecution that the two thefts were quite separate and unconnected.  The man who is now on trial for the theft of the painting is Ronald Halsey, aged 30, a chartered accountant.  The prosecution has called the man who was caught driving the stolen car.  It takes a thief to catch a thief.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 6 – Friday 8 June 1973

Written by: C. Scott Forbes

This is Mr Forbes’ second Crown Court case.  He previously wrote Case 20: An Act of Vengeance.

Directed by: Voytek

This is the third case Voytek’s directed.  His last was Case 33: A View to Matrimony.

Presiding: Frank Middlemass as the Hon. Mr Justice Craig

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This and next week’s episode are being shown out of production sequence, which means we get Mr Justice Craig two weeks in a row.  And it must be said he’s not in quite as good a humour as he was in Case 34: Settling a Score.

The accused: Keith Drinkel (1944- ) as Ronald Halsey

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To viewers in 1973, Mr Drinkel would likely have been very familiar as the sensitive, intellectual son of Granada’s hugely popular A Family at War (which had ended in 1972 but was being repeated in a lunchtime slot).  His TV work since then has included replacing Stephen Rea in the last two series of BBC sitcom I Didn’t Know You Cared and playing a love interest for Liz McDonald in Coronation Street.  He was a member of a particularly camp Concorde crew who found themselves stranded in prehistoric times in the 1982 Doctor Who story Time-Flight, and also has the dubious distinction of having appeared naked in a straight to DVD Doctor Who spin-off, 2008’s Zygon.

Appearing for the prosecution: Richard Wilson (1936- ) as Jeremy Parsons QC

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Yes, he’s finally here: the best-remembered Crown Court barrister, and the one most likely to be featured in ‘before they were famous’ articles about the show.  He is of course, incredibly famous now so you don’t need me to tell you any more about him.

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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Charles Lotterby was last seen in Case 33: A View to Matrimony.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Sam Kelly (1943-2014) as Eddie White

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Much loved for his roles in Porridge and ‘Allo, ‘Allo! (“Tler!”), Mr Kelly also starred in the lesser, but still highly popular sitcoms On the Up and Barbara.  By an odd coincidence, he and Keith Drinkel both played the Peter Tinniswood character Carter Brandon, Drinkel taking over the role from Stephen Rea in the TV series I Didn’t Know You Cared and Kelly playing an older version in the radio series Uncle Mort’s South Country and Uncle Mort’s Celtic Fringe.

Sheila Gish (1942-2005) as Erika Brabazon

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The popularity of big budget sci-fi movies means that the first credit to appear on Ms Gish’s IMDb page will always be her role as Christopher Lambert’s adopted daughter in Highlander (just as her second husband Denis Lawson will always be mostly recognised worldwide for his tiny roles in the Star Wars movies).  In my mind, she’ll always be most associated with Brighton Belles, the disastrous attempt at a British version of The Golden Girls, in which she played the counterpart of sexpot Blanche.  That this character was from the heady, magnolia-scented Deep South in the original version and Wales in the UK equivalent speaks volumes about the gulf between the two.  Southern belles were something Ms Gish had quite a history with, though: in 1977 she earned the enmity of Tennessee Williams after departing the lead role of his new play Vieux Carré almost directly after it opened in protest at continual heavy rewrites.  The playwright’s later tried to stop her taking the role of Blanche Dubois in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire.  They failed, and she earned huge acclaim in the role, as she later would as Violet Venable in Suddenly, Last Summer.  Ms Gish will later join the roster of Crown Court barristers as Carolyn Bryce QC.

Michael Rose (1911-1974) as Charlie Binns

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Strangely enough, Charlie Binns is the second station master Mr Rose played on TV in 1973, the previous one having appeared in an episode of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes back in January.  His other TV appearances include roles in MaigretThe TroubleshootersZ CarsAce of Wands and Softly Softly: Task Force.

Witnesses for the defence:

Oscar Quitak (1926- ) as James Thorley

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Prior to his appearance in Crown Court, Mr Quitak’s most recent TV appearance had been in the LWT play The Death of Adolf Hitler as Joseph Goebbels, to whom he bore a truly chilling resemblance.  He’d later play another particularly infamous Nazi, Josef Mengele, in Kessler, the spin-off from the BBC’s Secret Army.  A slightly less sinister historical figure he can also boast having played is Hugh Gaitskell, in a 1982 play about Nye Bevan.  Sinister has been his stock in trade for much of his career though, as seen in TV shows including Man in a SuitcaseAce of WandsColditzThe New Avengers and Howards’ Way and films such as The Revenge of Frankenstein and Brazil.

Madeleine Cannon (1947- ) as Maggie Walker

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This was Lady Di lookalike Ms Cannon’s first screen role.  She’d later play Princess Victoria in ATV’s Edward VII and the recurring role of Lady Dolly Hale in the final series of Upstairs Downstairs, and make appearances in The Duchess of Duke Street and Codename: Icarus.

The jury:

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This week I’m mostly fond of the Joan Sanderson type in blue.  The man next to her completely fails to live up to the elegance of his Jon Pertwee-esque mauve velvet jacket.  Talking of mauve, Voytek at one point treats us to a gigantic close-up of the florid-faced gentleman second from the end.  You can practically smell him.

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To the left of him is this week’s foreman, David Williams.  The month prior to his jury service in Fulchester he had appeared in Coronation Street as a Rovers customer named Harry, the first of nine different parts he’d play in the soap over a period of 40 years (he also appeared in the BBC’s drama about the programme’s genesis, The Road to Coronation Street).  Nine is also, strangely enough, the number of different characters he played in ChuckleVision.  He also managed five in Last of the Summer Wine and three in Heartbeat.  He’s also been in BrooksideBreadHetty Wainthropp InvestigatesPeak Practice, EmmerdaleTrolliedShameless and, inevitably, The Bill.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • To Catch a Thief is the only title to be used for two different cases in Crown Court‘s 12 year run.  The second To Catch a Thief crops up in 1978.
  • With this case, the naming of individual episodes changes from Part One, Part Two and Part Three to Day One, Day Two and Day Three (which only serves to highlight how the jury and various other people seated around the court are wearing the same clothes and sitting in the same positions every day).
  • FACTS ABOUT FULCHESTER: This week Fulchester seems to have become a county (Fulchester County Police are referred to!).  But then we also hear of Fulchester City Gallery, which is home to a Gauguin that was discovered in the 1940s.  Fulchester has a very busy railway station that houses 55 left luggage lockers.  Sheppingham is a town near Fulchester.
  • There’s a very weird bit of business on Day One, with two old tramps in the public gallery (seated next to a highly glamorous lady who’s popped in after doing her shopping) disrupting the trial with their continual coughing and eventually being ejected, but having no other bearing on the case.

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  • LUNCHTIME SWEARWATCH: Eddie White calls Charles Lotterby a “Bleedin’ bastard”, and Lotterby later reads out a Christmas card (a 1972 Oxfam one, apparently) from Erika Brabazon to Ronald Halsey in which he too is called a bastard.

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  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES:
    • 1970s (at least) racial attitudes are on display in Charlie Binns’ contention that all white people must look alike to his Jamaican porter Robinson, seeing as all black people look alike to the white population (this seems to greatly amuse one of the jurors, who turns to say something to his neighbour about it)vlcsnap-2020-06-06-11h47m57s320
    • Popular porcine puppets Pinky and Perky (who had concluded their original 14 year TV run in 1972) provided Erika and Ronald’s nicknames for one another.

Summing up:

One of the greats.  Richard Wilson immediately makes the supercilious Jeremy Parsons into a more fully realised character than any of the previous barristers, his sycophancy toward rich, glamorous, Erika Brabazon being a particular joy to behold.  This prompts David Ashford to up his game, with a hilarious display of incredulity and, eventually, a blazing row between counsel.  Sam Kelly is hugely likeable as the cheeky Cockney thief, and the luminous Sheila Gish gives the best guest performance so far seen in Crown Court as Mrs Brabazon, her initial poise and condescension dramatically crumbling under the pressure of cross-examination.  Even when released from the witness box she remains the star of the show thanks to frequent cutaways to her magnificent range of facial expressions as she watches proceedings (see below for a selection of the best).  And aside from the uniformly entertaining performances it’s blessed with a great script, with new revelations about the case and the people involved coming thick and fast – and then there’s Voytek’s continual quest for new and unexpected angles to shoot everything from.

 

Case 34: Settling a Score

In the course of wars, many a private battle, unnoticed by the general public, is won and lost.  The same is true in professional sport: it’s the result that counts.  But at the same time, unseen, many a private score is settled both on and off the field.  At the beginning of the season Arnie Campbell, a 22 year old Fulchester United striker, was regarded as a star in the ascendancy.  Fulchester had been offered sums of over £100,000 for him.  Everybody wanted to know him.  That is, until after Fulchester’s home match with Porthampton City on the 15th of December 1972.  That afternoon he was marked by Johnnie Bates, and the well-publicised feud between these two players culminated in the 76th minute of the game when, as a result of an incident following a free kick, Campbell was badly injured.  The Fulchester team immediately put the blame on Bates, and today he is accused of assault and actual bodily harm.  Bates’ trial at Fulchester Crown Court has just begun.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 30 May – Friday 1 June 1973

Written by: David Blunt and Nicholas Mander

Blunt & Mander previously wrote Case 28: The Gilded Cage.

Directed by: Michael Currer-Briggs

This is Mr Currer-Briggs’ second and final Crown Court.  It’s also his last screen work.  He also helmed Case 30: The Long-Haired Leftie.

Presiding: Frank Middlemass as the Hon. Mr Justice Craig

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We last saw Mr Justice Craig in Case 32: There Was a Little Girl.

The accused: Geoffrey Hinsliff  (1937- ) as Johnnie Bates

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Mr Hinsliff played Coronation Street‘s taxi driver Don Brennan for 10 years, romancing Ivy Tilsley in 1987 then crashing into the viaduct, generally unmourned, 10 years later.  Previous to this he’d been a regular in costume drama spoof Brass, and his other roles included two appearances in Doctor Who, in Image of the Fendahl (1977) and Nightmare of Eden (1979).  The Guardian journalist Gaby Hinsliff is his daughter.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC

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This is Andrew Logan’s second case in a row – he was in last week’s Case 33: A View to Matrimony.

Appearing for the defence: John Flanagan as John Lloyd

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John Lloyd last appeared in Case 32: There Was a Little Girl.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Andrew Bradford (1944- ) as Arnie Campbell

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It’s common enough for stuntmen to move into acting, but Mr Bradford’s a rare case of someone taking the opposite career trajectory – and with extraordinary success.  The most memorable role of his acting career was probably as the mysterious title character in the cult ‘folk horror’ Play for TodayRobin Redbreast.  He also had a regular role as PC Turner in Dixon of Dock Green and made guest appearances in many popular TV shows from the 60s through to the 90s (including three further Crown Court appearances).  His stunt work began with The Eagle Has Landed in 1976 and has included an astonishing array of blockbusters including Star Wars and three James Bond films (For Your Eyes OnlyOctopussy and Never Say Never Again).

Colin Rix (1932-2013) as James Mellish

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The kind of reliable small part player who formed the backbone of British TV acting, Mr Rix long list of credits over 40 years includes parts in The AvengersCrossroadsThe SaintPublic EyeDixon of Dock Green (six times), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)DoomwatchUpstairs DownstairsCoronation StreetSpace: 1999, The SweeneyThe ProfessionalsBergeracJuliet BravoRobin of SherwoodBrookside and Lovejoy.  Amazingly, though, he was never in Casualty or The Bill.

Stephen Whittaker (1947-2003) as Kevin Wilson Lewis

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After an acting career that included appearances in CrossroadsOut of the UnknownZ CarsDoctor Who (1968’s yeti in the underground adventure The Web of Fear), CallanTarget, and Blott on the Landscape, Mr Whittaker switched to directing, and notched up episodes of Poirot and Inspector Morse, as well as the BBC’s early 2000s versions of Nicholas Nickleby and Sons and Lovers.  Sadly he died just when his career was on the up and up.  Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes referred to him as “the most exciting director in the industry”.

Robert Dorning as James Harris

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This is Mr Dorning’s second Crown Court appearance, but the first was in the unscreened Case 7a: A Genial Man, so this is viewers’ first chance to see him in the Fulchester witness box.  Both the characters he’s played are Fulchester city councillors, which must be quite confusing in the council chambers.

Witnesses for the defence:

James Copeland (1918-2002) as George Lomax

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It’s no surprise that, as a Scots actor working in British TV in the 60s and 70s, Mr Copeland should have played an impressive total of nine different characters in Dr Finlay’s Casebook.  Indeed, it was almost a sure thing that if a series was set in Scotland, he’d show up at some point (he’s even in the Loch Ness portion of Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes).  Even in his appearance as the leader of an alien race in 1968 Doctor Who adventure The Krotons his accent is fully intact.  His son, also called James Copeland, has followed in his footsteps as a ubiquitous TV face – though as his dad already had dibs on the name he changed his to James Cosmo.

Leon Vitali as Terrence Stein

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Mr Vitali previously appeared in Case 9: Conspiracy.  Like Robert Dorning he’s playing essentially the same character (a radical journalist) as when we last saw him, only with a different name.

Also:

Fred Feast (1929-1999) as McVitie

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The unceremoniously sacked manager of Fulchester United is not called to give evidence, but has a furious shouting match with chairman James Harris from the gallery.  The actor playing him will be instantly recognisable to readers of a certain age as Rovers Return potman Fred Gee, a role he played on Coronation Street from 1975 to 1984.  Unusually, after his appearance in Crown Court as a named character he will later turn up as a jury foreman (and later still, in a third appearance, will finally get to enter the witness box).

The jury:

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Gosh, didn’t everyone look tired in the 70s? This lot look like they’re having a particular ordeal sitting through this trial.  The gent on the end who looks like the ghost of Philip Larkin is our foreman.  His name’s Anthony Benson and he managed a 30 year career of TV bit parts, popping up in the likes of Z CarsLast of the Summer WineEmmerdale FarmHi-de-Hi!, Coronation StreetBread and All Creatures Great and Small, vicars being a particular speciality.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • Andrew Logan admits that he is not an ‘ardent fan’ of football, but Mr Justice Craig is.  His team is Chelsea (“Well there’s no accounting for taste, is there?” remarks Fulchester United’s Kevin Wilson Lewis, and he shows off his knowledge with references to Eusébio and Pelé.
  • Fulchester United are a big enough team that their matches are shown on TV.  They have an infamous rivalry with Porthampton FC, whose name is clearly an amalgamation of Portsmouth and Southampton (as a son of Portsmouth I find this especially amusing).
  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES:
    • Arnie Campbell owns ‘discotheques’ and ’boutiques’, a reference to how footballers were increasingly seen as overpaid symbols of conspicuous consumption in the 70s (George Best being the most obvious example.
    • Johnnie Bates is nicknamed Fanny Bates, presumably (hopefully!) a reference to TV cooking duo Fanny and Johnnie Cradock.
    • Referee James Mellish grumbles that “If the Prime Minister gave a little more of his time to watching football instead of messing about in boats we might be in a better state than we are,” a reference to PM Edward Heath’s well publicised passion for yachting and the increasingly parlous position of Britain in 1973.
    • John Lloyd describes Fulchester chairman James Harris as “A sort of godfather” to Fulchester United.  “But not like that one in the film, you know, the one about the Mafia”, Harris hurriedly insists.  Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, based on the novel by Mario Puzo, had been released in the UK in August 1972 (“More of the fairy variety, then”, Lloyd responds).
    • Football hooliganism was well on the rise in Britain in 1973, but I’m not entirely sure that any of the firms were run by intellectual culture journalists as is suggested here.
  • LUNCHTIME SWEARING: A lot of bloodys and bastards this week, from all directions.
  • This is the first Crown Court case with an entirely male credited cast.

Summing up:

I’m very far from being a football fan, so I approached this case with trepidation, but it’s a truly gripping tale of rivalry and betrayal with a quick succession of well drawn characters to make sure our interest never lags, and an especially nice line in sardonic humour from Frank Middlemass as Mr Justice Craig.

Case 33: A View to Matrimony

Today in Fulchester Crown Court, Archibald Dunbar McNeill is charged with bigamy, attempting to obtain money by deception, and knowingly making a false declaration for the purposes of obtaining a marriage licence.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 23 – Friday 25 May 1973

Written by: David Fisher

This is the sixth Crown Court case Mr Fisher’s written.  His last was Case 24: The Death of Dracula.

Directed by: Voytek

Voytek previously directed Case 29: Credibility Gap.

Presiding: William Mervyn as the Hon. Mr Justice Campbell

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We last saw Mr Justice Campbell a couple of weeks ago in Case 31: Intent to Kill.

The accused: Russell Hunter (1925-2004) as Archie McNeill

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Known to millions as the malodorous Lonely in spy drama Callan (which had finished its TV run in 1972 and was soon to join many other hit 70s shows in getting the big screen treatment), Mr Hunter is probably the biggest name of the time to appear in the dock at Fulchester so far.  His other regular TV role was as shop steward Harry in early 80s  sitcom The Gaffer.  Other TV appearances included a barnstorming performance as irascible Commander Uvanov in 1977 Doctor Who classic The Robots of Death, and on the big screen he made a brief but memorable appearance as an extremely camp brothel keeper in Hammer’s Taste the Blood of Dracula in 1970.  For a while he was married to Caroline Blakiston, who’ll later join the roster of Crown Court barristers.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC

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Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

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Logan and Lotterby were both last seen in Case 30: The Long-Haired Leftie.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Pat Heywood (1931- ) as Anne McNeill

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Ms Heywood first made her mark on screen with a terrific performance as the nurse in Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet in 1968, and was a constant presence for the next two decades, often in similarly motherly roles – a persona that was given a twist early on in the brilliant 1970 black comedy Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly.  Her best remembered role is probably as serial killer John Christie’s ill-fated wife in 10 Rillington Place (1971).  She’ll be making a further two Crown Court appearances, including a turn as a barrister.

Geoffrey Larder as Stanley Defoe

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Children of the 80s will probably remember Mr Larder best, thanks to his role as villainous henchman Foxy-Faced Charles in the BBC’s much-loved 1984 adaptation of The Box of Delights.  Slightly older viewers might recall his regular role as Detective Sergeant Melchett in the first series of Juliet Bravo.  Other roles include Monks in ATV’s 1980 serial The Further Adventures of Oliver Twist (he also had a small role in Meridian’s 1999 version of the original Dickens novel), and he also popped up in The SweeneyA Fine RomanceBoonPoirotMinder and Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract.

Sheila Ballantine (1928-) as Susan McNeill

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Ms Ballantine turned up in many of the big ongoing series of the 60s-2000s (MaigretNo Hiding PlaceSoftly SoftlyPublic EyeDr Finlay’s Casebook, Z CarsThe BillFoyle’s War) and played Emily Wilding Davison in the BBC’s 1974 suffragette drama Shoulder to Shoulder.  Her stage work includes playing Fay, the unscrupulous nurse, in the original West End run of Joe Orton’s Loot in 1967.

Joan Scott (1920-1998) as Agnes McNeill

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Ms Scott has the distinction of playing Paula Wilcox’s mother in two different sitcoms at either end of the 70s (The Lovers and Miss Jones and Son).  Shortly prior to her appearance in Crown Court she’d been appearing as Annie Sugden’s cousin Beryl Crossthwaite (grieving mother of the first character in the soap to be murdered) in Emmerdale Farm.   She had a regular role as cook Ethel in the first series of Boon and in 1993 played a love interest for Percy Sugden in Coronation Street.  She had a memorably sinister role in the cult BBC play Penda’s Fen and other TV work includes roles in Father, Dear FatherNew Scotland YardThe SweeneyPublic Eye, AngelsAgonyBergeracTaggartA Touch of Frost and Casualty.  Like so many before and after her she ended her screen career with an episode of The Bill (an important function now taken over by Doctors).

The jury:

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What a display of extraordinarily bad 70s hair this week.  The youngster in the pleather jacket looked set to win the prize, but then it was just snatched away by the combination of grease, combover and gormless expression on the end there.  At the other end, the gent in the green jacket and brown shirt is our foreman.  He’s Stanley Page, and a few years later he’ll serve a stint as a clerk of Fulchester Crown Court.  He had a 40 year career in TV bit parts, including appearances in Nearest and DearestThe Ghosts of Motley HallEmmerdale FarmJuliet BravoAngelsBoonCasualtyThe Bill (five times), and he bowed out with a Doctors in 2007.

Here are some more rather interesting characters seen around the court this week:

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The verdict (highlight to reveal): Almost unbelievably, not guilty.

Case notes:

  • Part One has no opening theme music.
  • One of the Fulchester stenographers plays an unusually key part in this week’s case, in a final twist that suggests she could be set to become the next Mrs McNeill.

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Summing up:

A View to Matrimony is the most overtly comedic Crown Court so far, and as a comedy it’s a triumph – the performances of Russell Hunter and all the actresses playing Archie’s bewildered wives are hilarious, and David Fisher’s writing is a joy.  Even the smallest role, the private detective, is beautifully characterised as puppyishly desperate to please his more experienced father.  It’s not exactly in step with the mores of the 21st century though, in its depiction of women universally falling under Archie’s spell and its knockabout suggestion of him converting to Islam in order to increase his allowance of wives.  Still, Anne’s hesitant “I suppose so, after all he is white” when asked if she’d have married a man she knew to be a Muslim is surely satirical, and the prejudice of the times (hardly extinct in our own) is wryly alluded to in Mr Justice Campbell’s comment, in response to one of Logan’s lines of attack, “Whether a proposal of marriage under Islamic law could be regarded as an attempt to win sympathy is, I suspect open to question.” Immensely entertaining, but very much ‘of its time’.  But then if Crown Court wasn’t ‘of its time’ it wouldn’t have anywhere near the same appeal.