Case 50: Treason

The Lion of Katanga, they once called him. George Clement, ex-planter, ex-Congo mercenary leader. One of Tshombe’s generals, he led a motley collection of adventurers in the Congo uprising. He fought his way to Rwanda, was repatriated to Belgium, and finally settled in England, in Fulchester, where he married. But the Lion couldn’t forget his old ways, and today he finds himself in Fulchester Crown Court, charged with treason.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 19 – Friday 21 September 1973

Written by: David Fisher

The last case written by David Fisher was Case 43: The Night for Country Dancing

Directed by: Alan Bromly

This is Alan Bromly’s second Crown Court assignment. His first was ages ago: Case 3: R v Bryant

Presiding: John Horsley (1920-2014) as Mr Justice Mowbray

It’s always exciting to see a brand new judge, and Mr Justice Mowbray will prove one of Crown Court‘s longest lasting, popping up intermittently until the show’s penultimate series in 1983. Like fellow Crown Court judge John Barron, John Horsley’s best known role was in the BBC’s Reginald Perrin series: he played Doc Morrissey in both the original 70s Fall and Rise series and the Reggie-free 1996 follow-up The Legacy of Reginald Perrin. In the 1950s he was a sterling lead in many low budget British films, and a supporting player in lots of more prestigious ones, and after that became ubiquitous as a TV character actor.

The accused: Neil Hallett (1924-2004) as George Clement

Hawk-faced Neil Hallett’s accent as George Clement may not seem the most convincing ever committed to videotape, but he was himself actually born in Belgium. A dependable second lead in 60s crime series like Ghost Squad and The Informer, his screen career was kept going through the 70s thanks to his willingness to appear in a succession of softcore movies, and occasionally get his kit off in them: Groupie Girl (1970), Fun and Games (1971), Virgin Witch (1972), Can You Keep It Up for a Week? (1974) and Keep It Up Downstairs (1975), most of them scripted by his close friend Hazel Adair, co-creator of Crossroads. In 1985 he appeared, to no great distinction, in the Doctor Who story Timelash.

Appearing for the prosecution: Richard Wilson as Jeremy Parsons QC

Jeremy Parsons was last seen in Case 48: Public Lives, as was this weeks defence counsel:

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Michael Elphick (1946-2002) as Simon Chase

It’s the Crown Court debut of Private Schultz and Boon star Michael Elphick, who’ll later make numerous appearances as Cockney barrister Neville Griffiths QC. And yes, he does look astonishingly like TV’s Matt Berry here.

Victor Brooks (1918-2000) as Detective Chief Superintendent Alwyn Lane

Of COURSE Victor Brooks is playing a policeman, that was his thing. In a screen career of nearly 40 years his roles as members of the force vastly outnumber the others. He helped define the square, stolid, grey figure of the dogged police inspector for generations.

Witnesses for the defence:

Jacob Witkin (1938-2016) as Arnold Parker

South African by birth, Jacob Witkin had a decent career in British films and TV in the 70s and 80s (his roles included Diana Dors’ werewolf husband in Hammer House of Horror). In the 90s he moved to Hollywood and rapidly became a go-to for old bearded men bit parts. As such he is, magnificently enough, the only actor to appear in both CrownCourt and Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls.

Sonia Graham (1929-2018) as Margaret Clement

A star of the BBC’s 60s soap Compact, Sonia Graham’s recent TV roles had included a perplexed mother in the ATV children’s drama Escape into Night (a role she’d essentially repeat in the 1976 BBC sci-fi series The Changes) and a kindly aristocrat in the BBC children’s drama Thursday’s Child. She’d go on to have regular roles in Within These Walls and (much later) London’s Burning

The jury:

A decent selection this week: the gentleman who looks like Hywel Bennett sat next to the lady who looks like George Layton, the very stern elderly man sat next to the sweetly smiling throughout elderly lady (they MUST be a couple, surely?), the tiny Mary Whitehouse styled elderly lady who remains slumped against the end of the bench throughout. Unusually, though, the foreman is the highlight this week. His name’s Stanley Dawson, he had a decent career as a bit part player (in recent months viewers could have seen him in Shabby Tiger, Sam and the BBC’s Jack the Ripper), and he’ll later return to Crown Court in an actual speaking role TWICE. The most important thing, though, is how much he uncannily looks like Chris Morris playing Bamber Gascoigne.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty

Case notes:

  • This week’s Crown Court is heaven for anyone interested in 70s technology, with many lingering shots of old TVs and reel-to-reel tape recorders.
  • Fulchester geography: we learn this week that there are moors surrounding Fulchester, on which the Clements ran a hotel.
  • Signs of the times: Congo’s revolutionary struggles of the 60s are much referred to in dialogue, and indeed revolutions in far off countries are something British viewers of the 70s would have been well used to hearing about. An even more wildly 70s detail is that audio engineer Arnold Parker lives in an anarchist commune.

Summing up:

Well. Go away if you don’t like spoilers because it’s impossible to discuss Treason without mentioning what makes it grimly unique among Crown Court cases: it’s the only one that ends with the defendant being condemned to death. In 1973 treason was the only offence it was still possible to be executed for under English law (though nobody actually was), and it seems pretty obvious that this is the whole reason these episodes exist (even though the death penalty as punishment for treason isn’t even mentioned until the final stages). The case is mostly pretty dreary and the conclusion is absurd: the idea that in 1973 George Clement would be executed for the offences he’s on trial for here is utterly ridiculous. But the thing that most irks me is that John Horsley (perfectly acceptable as a Crown Court judge but obviously nowhere near the William Mervyn league) gets, in his first appearance, to be the only judge on the show to don the black cap. Sorry, but I think that’s something you need to pay your dues for.

Case 49: The Thunderbolts

Sergeant Goss of the Toxton police force is accused of malicious prosecution. He’s the defendant in a civil action being fought by Benjamin Easter, the leader of a gang of youths called the Thunderbolts. He alleges that Goss beat him up on an evening in March, and subsequently brought a prosecution against him for assaulting a police officer. Easter was acquitted of this charge, and then brought this action for malicious prosecution, which is being heard in Fulchester because of the strong local feelings the case has aroused in Toxton.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 12 – Friday 14 September 1973

Written by: Stephen Fagan

This is Stephen Fagan’s first Crown Court script: he’d notch up a further six between 1973 and 1977, and would go on to write a couple of Play for Todays for the BBC: The Network (1979) and Under the Hammer (1984), the latter directed by Crown Court barrister Richard Wilson. He was married to actress Alison Fiske, who the following week could be seen playing the title character in LWT’s drama series Helen: A Woman of Today.

Directed by: Bryan Izzard

Bryan Izzard returns to Crown Court after many months, having previously directed Case 4: Euthanasia.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

Along with this week’s barristers, Justice Bragge was last seen in Case 47: Destruct, Destruct

The plaintiff: Ralph Arliss (1947- ) as Benjamin Easter

Well known to fans of sci-fi telly as the leader of the sinister hippy cult in the 1979 Quatermass series and a futuristic yokel in the 1973 Doctor Who story Planet of the Spiders, Ralph Arliss usually played quite rough and ready characters (often motorbike riders, due to his own proficiency with that vehicle) – his appearance as Robert Stephens’ ill-fated son in barmy 1972 horror movie The Asphyx being an exception. According to Wikipedia he was last known to be providing training for the Green party.

The defendant: Michael Sheard (1938-2005) as Sergeant Alistair Goss

If you’re the kind of person reading a blog about a 1970s TV show you don’t need me to tell you about Michael Sheard. You don’t need me to tell you what an insanely prolific screen actor he was. You don’t need me to tell you that he appeared in Doctor Who six times or that throughout his career he played Adolf Hitler five times. You certainly don’t need me to tell you that he played one of Darth Vader’s underlings in The Empire Strikes Back (and thus joined that elite group of British character actors immortalised as action figures), or that he’s known to a generation of as Grange Hill‘s terrifying Mr Bronson. So I won’t mention any of those things. I can’t, however, keep from expressing my astonishment that at the time he appeared in Crown Court he was all of 35 years of age(!)

Appearing for the plaintiff: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

Appearing for the defendant: John Flanagan as John Lloyd

Witnesses for the plaintiff:

Leon Lissek (1939- ) as Edward Lippett

Mr Lissek’s role here as a solicitor with a strong interest in local youth clubs is a bit of a change from the sinister foreigner parts he was normally cast in. He’d recently been a regular in the children’s sitcom Tottering Towers and would shortly take a regular role in another, Bob Block’s Robert’s Robots. He was actually Australian, and would return to the land of his birth in the mid-70s to appear in the early episodes of classic lunchtime soap The Sullivans. Shortly afterwards he returned to the UK and carried on popping up in practically everything, most recently a 2010 Foyle’s War.

Kenneth Cranham (1944- ) as John Tucker

Well, he’s one of our foremost thespians and all that, isn’t he? I don’t know what else to say. It’s splendid seeing him as a convincingly greasy biker here though.

Gabrielle Hamilton (1923-2014) as Amanda Grant

Ms Hamilton had recently played the lead role of Miss Matty in a BBC dramatisation of Cranford, which was something of a blip among her long TV career of brief character performances. Strange as it seems, she kept working for long enough to appear in 2005 trash soap spinoff Footballers’ Wives: Extra Time. According to her Wikipedia entry she was cast as Miss Marple in various 80s and 90s stage productions due to her vague similarity to Joan Hickson.

Jimmy Gardner (1924-2010) as Jack Goodwill

Jimmy Gardner’s pop eyes and that wild hair surrounding his bald scalp ensured he was a favoured screen bit part player for decades (one of his last appearances was in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), but prior to taking up acting in the 50s he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal for his service in the RAF during World War 2. Among his many other screen roles he notched up two appearances in Doctor Who: in Marco Polo (1964) and Underworld (1978).

Witnesses for the defendant:

Roy McArthur as PC Lumley

Roy McArthur’s screen career isn’t extensive: most interestingly, he links Crown Court with the cult 80s sci-fi movie Liquid Sky.

Gabrielle Lloyd as Violet Tredeer

A view of Violet Tredeer’s footwear is included here. as the director decides we need to see it: presumably to show what a classless tart she’s meant to be. Gabrielle Lloyd is the quintessential working actress: during a busy schedule in recent years she’s clocked up three appearances in Midsomer Murders and seven in Doctors. She played the title role in the BBC adaptation of Esther Waters in 1977 and the Sunday following her Crown Court appearance she could be seen playing the lead alongside Patrick Stewart in the BBC production of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Love Girl and the Innocent (minus the green hair, sadly).

David Webb as Francis Larwood

David Webb previously appeared in Crown Court back in Case 1: Lieberman v Savage

Barbara Hickmott (1947- ) as Susan Goss

Barbara Hickmott appeared in lots of TV shows of the 70s, 80s and 90s but it’s especially lovely to see that she’s on Facebook nowadays and by all appearances having a lovely time.

The jury:

Not the most inspiring bunch this week, though I rather like the very bored looking man in green and the old gent who looks like a sozzled parrot.

The far left bottom chap (well, I can’t be absolutely sure he’s a bottom) is our jury foreman. His name’s David Gouldsworthy and this is his only credited screen role.

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

Case Notes:

  • For once we’ve got a case that didn’t take place in Fulchester or its surrounding areas, with residents from Toxton (presumably in the west country judging by their accents) decamping to Fulchester for their day in court.
  • Each episode begins with a short film sequence of the Thunderbolts arriving at court on their motorbikes, along with a selection of disapproving Toxton residents, and the ending sees them depart.
  • The Thunderbolts who don’t give evidence are a truly stupendous group of extras who I’d like to hope were in fact actual bikers.

Summing up:

The thing that stands out about this case is the sheer number of people involved: there are more witnesses than in any previous case, and the area of the court where they’re seated gets absolutely chock-a-block. Some are a bit repetitive: Amanda Grant and Jack Goodwill are to all intents and purposes the same character: a friendly villager sticking up for the biker gang (though Mr Goodwill’s rather creepy interest in Benny Easter’s hair makes him rather more memorable). The procession of witnesses seems like a way of stringing out a fairly thin case, the highlights of which are a pair of very funny performances from Ralph Arliss and Kenneth Cranham, and a very intense and moving one from Michael Sheard.

Case 48: Public Lives

The charge against Frederick Pastor, a theatre producer, and Jeremy Williams, a theatre director, is that they caused to be shown on April 23rd this year at the Fulchester Palace Theatre a comedy entitled Public Lives, which contained acts and words that taken as a whole could be termed obscene.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 5 – Friday 7 September 1973

Written by: Stuart Douglass

This is Stuart Douglass’ second and final Crown Court script. He previously wrote Case 42: Beggar on Horseback

Directed by Voytek

Voytek was last in the director’s chair for Case 35: To Catch a Thief

Presiding: William Mervyn as the Hon. Mr Justice Campbell

Mr Justice Campbell was last seen in Case 46: The Judgment of Solomon

The accused:

Robert Pearson as Alexander Pastor

Alexander Pastor doesn’t enter the witness box, and as such isn’t required to deliver any dialogue. So although the actor playing him is credited, he’s basically an extra. And Robert Pearson was an experienced TV extra, whose work had included two appearances in Doctor Who (in the 1960s stories The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve and The War Machines). In fact he seems to have only ever had one other credited role, in the BBC’s 1968 adaptation of R H Mottram’s The Spanish Farm.

Jim Norton (1938- ) as Jeremy Williams

A distinguished stage actor both in the West End and on Broadway, Mr Norton’s work in the latter led to him making memorable appearances in top US TV shows like Cheers, Frasier, Star Trek: The Next Generation (as Albert Einstein, no less) and Babylon 5, where he turned up several times in different alien makeups. But of course it’s as the terrifying Bishop Len Brennan in Father Ted that he’s best known and loved. He was also a regular cast member in the first series of T-Bag.

Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

And Case 46: The Judgment of Solomon was also our last sighting of Charles Lotterby.

Appearing for the defence: Richard Wilson as Jeremy Parsons QC

Jeremy Parsons last turned up in Case 45: My Old Man’s a Dustman. This week he’s making his first appearance for the defence.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Jill Raymond (1927- ) as Alice Rosewall

Jill Raymond’s career as a screen actress wasn’t extensive – she’d make three appearances in Crown Court over the years, appeared in various shows in the early years of television (and was the narrator for the early Gerry Anderson series Torchy the Battery Boy), and many years later would appear in Love Actually. It’s for her offstage life she’s best known, as the wife of Clement Freud (his activities at the time, which she’s since acknowledged and apologised for, add a certain piquancy to her performance here as a moral campaigner) and the mother of Emma and Matthew Freud and their siblings and, back in her childhood, as the inspiration for Lucy in the Narnia books of C S Lewis, having stayed with Lewis as an evacuee during World War 2.

Mrs Rosewall’s husband is in court, and looks like a man who’d enjoy a bit of nudity on stage if ever I saw one.

Jennifer Clulow (1942- ) as Mandy Jenkins

In the 60s Jennifer Clulow, like any attractive young actress, did the rounds of the adventure series: The Baron, The Avengers, Department S, and notched up a brief appearance in a Carry On (Don’t Lose Your Head), and had a regular role in the BBC’s The Troubleshooters. She also presented the children’s series Disney Wonderland (also featuring Tony Hart), and it was as a presenter (or rather an in-vision announcer – for Westward, TVS and TSW) that her future would lie. Her greatest fame, however, came from a long series of adverts for Cointreau (from 1974 to 1988) in which she played an Englishwoman in a flirtatious will-they-won’t-they relationship with a Frenchman.

Brian Wilde (1927-2008) as Arthur Appleby

Yes! It’s Mr Barraclough. Yes! It’s Foggy Dewhurst. Yes! It’s the man of a million voiceovers. But perhaps my favourite role of his – and one viewers in 1973 may have caught not that long ago – was as Mr Peacock, a lonely fantasist whose fantasies have an unpleasant (for others) habit of coming true, in the fab kids’ series Ace of Wands.

Witnesses for the defence:

Kevin Stoney (1921-2008) as Nathaniel Stockman

A splendidly dry character actor it was always a joy to see turn up in anything, Kevin Stoney is remembered above all for playing the two most vivid Doctor Who villains of the 1960s – Mavic Chen, duplicitous ruler of the Solar System, in The Daleks’ Master Plan (1965-66) and electronics magnate Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion (1968) (he’d also make a significantly less memorable appearance buried under an immobile mask in 1975’s Revenge of the Cybermen). As such it’s particularly wonderful that in his appearance in Crown Court this week he’s wearing the very same bow tie that another 1960s Who baddie, Michael Gough, sported last week.

Christopher Burgess (1926-2013) as Anthony Standing MP

Christopher Burgess matches Kevin Stoney’s tally of three appearances in Doctor Who, having been in The Enemy of the World (1967) and Terror of the Autons (1971), as well as Jon Pertwee’s swansong Planet of the Spiders in the year following his Crown Court appearance. A few weeks before his visit to Fulchester viewers could have seen him in the BBC’s Jack the Ripper docudrama, and later work included regular roles in Roy Clarke sitcom The Growing Pains of PC Penrose, Southern TV soap Together and kids’ football drama Jossy’s Giants.

The jury:

For the first time, we have an entirely male jury. Did the production team think this subject matter was too much for delicate female ears? Or is it meant as a political point, the grim faces of the patriarchy sitting in judgement of the permissive society? Or is it purely chance? The gentleman in the first photo above is our foreman. His name’s Nigel Jeffcoat, and he has a very nice Robert Powellish voice. His other screen roles include Azurian Man in the 1980 Flash Gordon film.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty

Case notes:

  • There are some gloriously attired theatrical types in the courtroom this week.

I’m also a big fan of the very spruce bearded gentleman in a bow tie seen behind Charles Lotterby throughout the case.

  • This is the first Crown Court to explicitly broach the subject of homosexuality. Or, at least, the first to be broadcast. Another case, Just Good Friends?, includes a possible gay relationship and was made a few months before Public Lives, but was kept on the shelf for a while and won’t be seen for a few weeks yet.
  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Public Lives includes probably more cultural references than any previous Crown Court case. The Little Red Schoolbook, Oh! Calcutta, Pinter’s The Caretaker, the trials of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Oz magazine for obscenity, and Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan are all mentioned. And it seems that in the early 1970s British society had become so permissive that even Fulchester played host to no less than four plays featuring full frontal nudity within the space of a year.
  • In the Crown Court universe there’s an area of London called Naismith, for which Anthony Standing is at this time the MP.
  • There’s a lot of studio noise behind the caption slides in this case. Tantalisingly, over the Granada slide at the end of Part Three Court Reporter Peter Wheeler can be heard to say “I rather liked-” before being cut off. What did Peter rather like? We’ll never know.

Summing up:

This is an odd one. The whole of the first half of Part One is taken up with Jeremy Parsons’ attempt to convince Mr Justice Campbell that the only way the play can be fairly judged is if it is staged again in its original theatrical setting with its original cast for the benefit of the jury. After much to-ing and fro-ing the judge finally agrees, and the second half of the episode takes place six weeks later, after the jury have seen the play. But they haven’t, have they? I can’t believe that a show of Crown Court‘s limited budget would stage a performance of an original bisexual erotic parody of Noel Coward’s Private Lives purely to be watched by this week’s random assortment of 12 Granada viewers. So the whole thing seems entirely pointless. The actual jury in the studio are no more qualified to judge this fictional play than they were at the top of Part One. Why not just begin Part One with the explanation that they’ve just seen the play performed? It perplexes me, I tell you. Also rather startling to hear now is the sheer, naked homophobia of the prosecution case. I’d love to know what the then-closeted Richard Wilson, brilliantly delivering the defence case, made of it all. It’s obvious that Stuart Douglass wrote Public Lives as a scathing critique of the Mary Whitehouse mindset, but the jury’s verdict shows that the public were still a long way from being on his side. But it’s a fascinating window on its time and for the most part a perfectly entertaining case, with some familiar characters (morality campaigner, lovelorn actress, smug critic, pretentious director, patronising MP) well written and performed. It also contains probably the funniest moment in Crown Court so far, with visionary director Jeremy Williams declaring to the court, in answer to the question of whether he normally directs sex plays “I am sex! You are sex! The gentlemen of the jury are sex! The usher is sex!” Cue a magnificently bewildered reaction shot of Joseph Berry as the usher.

Case 47: Destruct, Destruct

Philip Ainsworth, aged 13, is accused of murdering a 12 year old schoolfellow, Tommy Vincent.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 29 – Friday 31 August 1973

Written by: Bruce Stewart

The last case Bruce Stewart wrote was Case 37: Who Was Kate Greer?

Directed by: Bob Hird

Bob Hird’s most recent Crown Court was Case 44: Mrs Moresby’s Scrapbook

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

We last saw Mr Justice Bragge in Case 43: The Night for Country Dancing

The accused: Alastair Mackenzie as Philip Ainsworth

Mr Mackenzie was a busy child actor in the early 70s, beginning his screen career as young David in the 1970 movie adaptation of David Copperfield and going on to play Roger Moore’s son in The Man Who Haunted Himself and the young Johann Strauss Jr in ATV’s The Strauss Family. He had a recurring role as poor little rich boy Robbie Jameson in the first series of The Adventures of Black Beauty, but by the time of his appearance in Crown Court his voice was breaking and his cute-kidness was receding, so it’s unsurprising (though sad) that this was his last screen appearance.

Appearing for the prosecution: John Flanagan as John Lloyd

John Lloyd last appeared in Case 45: My Old Man’s a Dustman

Appearing for the defence: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

Helen Tate last appeared in Case 44: Mrs Moresby’s Scrapbook

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Mandy Perryment (1960- ) as Jayne Langton

This was Miss Perryment’s second TV role – earlier in 1973 she’d appeared in the forensically detailed TV play The Death of Adolf Hitler as Josef Goebbels’ daughter. This being the 1970s, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that she quite rapidly went from wearing a school uniform on TV to wearing, well, not very much at all, appearing as a scantily clad dancer in The Benny Hill Show, The Kenny Everett Television Show, and the diabolical 70s movies Queen Kong and The Music Machine. She had acting roles in Minder, Fresh Fields, Boon and (oddly enough) The Love Boat and nowadays works as a casting agent.

Christopher Timothy (1940- ) as Richard Quennel

Mr Timothy is of course a household name thanks to a much loved role he’d go on to play. Yes, that’s right, penguin-obsessed screenwriter Harris Tweedle in the sex comedy Eskimo Nell (1975). Apparently he was also in some programme about vets up north.

Marjorie Yates (1941- ) as Martha Ainsworth

It shows how little I know about TV of recent decades that I had no idea Ms Yates is widely known these days from her three years as a regular in Channel 4’s Shameless. And she’s still frequently popping up on the nation’s TV screens. As a poncey fan of what they now call folk horror I know her best for her turn as a cursed shopkeeper in Nigel Kneale’s ‘Murrain’ (1975).

Basil Henson (1918-1990) as Dr Malcolm Chisholm

The psychiatrist from Fawlty Towers, as he’s universally known, brought his special brand of icy disdain to stage and screen for over 40 years. Viewers in 1973 might recently have seen him under a bald cap as Prince Vasily Kuragin in the BBC’s mammoth adaptation of War and Peace, and a huge waxed moustache as police commissioner Sir Charles Warren in the corporation’s drama documentary about the Jack the Ripper murders. Later in 1973 he’ll return to Crown Court for the first of a handful of appearances as one of Fulchester’s most forbidding judges.

Witnesses for the defence:

Alan Barry (1934-2005) as Gordon Ainsworth

Greatly in demand for radio and voice over work in the 70s, Alan Barry took this work as well as a plethora of stage and screen appearances in the UK mainly so he could afford to take on stage work in his native Dublin. He became a familiar face in the 90s from his role as the local detective superintendent in Ballykissangel.

Michael Gough (1916-2011) as Dr Marc de Quincey

Michael Gough was ‘Alfred from Batman‘ to people unfamiliar with his other work for such a long time that it’s quite distressing to realise just how long ago that was, and how he’s hardly the actor young people of today are most likely to identify with that role. Of course I love him most as a true icon of British horror cinema (1973 saw his full-throttle performance in the spectacularly lurid Horror Hospital foisted on audiences, as well as his uncredited voice work as the supernatural antagonist in The Legend of Hell House), but whether you’re most familiar with him for that, his guest roles in Doctor Who or his significant body of more prestigious work, the man is a legend.

The jury:

An especially glum bunch this week, though given the subject matter that’s probably not too surprising. The lady with the specs and the dotty blouse is our foreman, and she’s going by the name of Musette Roff. She is in fact the first person to make a second appearance as a foreman on Crown Court (and can add this honour to her previous one of being the first woman to perform this duty), having previously done the honours in Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?, where she was credited as Mu Hird. Though I haven’t found any corroborating evidence I strongly suspect that she was married to director Bob Hird.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty of manslaughter, and detained for life at the special unit of Fulchester approved school (I’m not entirely sure how that would work).

Case notes:

  • Destruct, Destruct begins like no previous Crown Court case, with a brief, wordless film showing the crime being committed. Its depiction of 1970s children getting into terrible trouble in a bleak setting is irresistibly reminiscent of the era’s more terrifying public information films (and with a suitably stern voiceover could indeed pass for one warning of the dangers of tying up a playmate and putting a plastic bag over his head). Here the unfortunate Tommy Vincent is played by Mark Dightam, whose impressive previous credits included Macduff’s son in Roman Polanski’s Macbeth and the title character in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s final collaboration, the Children’s Film Foundation fantasy The Boy Who Turned Yellow. He’d have one more TV role, in the UK-Swedish film series Sam and the River, before giving up acting in favour of working behind the scenes as an electrician for West End musicals. Nowadays he has his own entertainment agency, and you can see his Linkedin page here should you so wish.
  • My dear friends behind the Scarred for Life books have posted a video of this startling scene on Twitter.
  • This introduction happens in lieu of the usual opening narration, with Court Reporter Peter Wheeler getting very little to say this week.
  • In addition to this outdoor introduction, the main action of Destruct, Destruct includes a scene in another room in the court building for the first time since the unaired pilot episode. Here, Dr De Quincey hypnotises Philip as the shockingly wigless barristers look on.
  • The defence contends that Philip was not responsible for his actions, believing himself to be under the control of the Rexors, monstrous killer robots which he dreamt up and has increasingly come to believe are real. The Rexors are likely to invite comparisons with the Daleks from the BBC’s Doctor Who, and indeed this is tackled head on, with Philip denying any similarity when asked about this by Miss Tate. The Rexors, it seems, are completely different, being pure machines with no ability to think, just an urge to destroy. Indeed the drawing of one of them that we see looks nothing like a Dalek. So stand down BBC lawyers.

Summing up:

Destruct, Destruct is one of the strangest and most unsettling of all Crown Court cases and – not coincidentally – probably the most memorable to date: a prime example of how television from the 1970s manages to be more discomforting than that of any other era. It could be argued that it strays too far from the usual Crown Court template – the disturbing machine noises that accompany every close-up of Philip are certainly effective, but I always feel a bit iffy about the show including things the jury members aren’t privy to (there’ll certainly be worse offenders in the future). As a one-off, it’s a brilliantly spooky piece of television.

Case 46: The Judgment of Solomon

Today in Fulchester Crown Court, Mr and Mrs Kamuny are charged with attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to William Hathaway, the foster father of their daughter Leticia. Thuo Kamuny is additionally charged with dangerous driving, and his wife Mirika with aiding and abetting him in this.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 22 – Friday 24 August 1973

Written by: Roger Parkes

This is the first case Roger Parkes has written since Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings

Directed by: Quentin Lawrence

Quentin Lawrence last worked on Crown Court a few weeks ago with Case 43: The Night for Country Dancing

Presiding: William Mervyn as Mr Justice Campbell

Mr Justice Campbell was last seen in Case 44: Mrs Moresby’s Scrapbook

The accused:

Louis Mahoney (1938-2020) as Thuo Kamuny

Louis Mahoney’s acting career was long and distinguished – he joined the RSC in 1967 and his last stage performance was at the National Theatre in Alan Bennett’s Alleluia in 2018 – but he’s just as celebrated for his off stage work in promoting racial equality in the acting profession, representing Black and Asian actors on the Equity council (and acting as the union’s vice president from 1994-96) and co-founding the Black Theatre Workshop in 1976 and Performers Against Racism in the 1980s. His TV work includes three roles in Doctor Who (in Frontier in Space (1973), Planet of Evil (1976) and Blink (2007) – making him one of the select band of actors to appear in both the 20th and 21st century versions of the programme). He’s probably best remembered however, as the hospital doctor who gives Basil a fright in the Fawlty Towers episode The Germans.

Claudette Critchlow as Mirika Kamuny

Claudette Critchlow’s other TV work includes an episode of Dixon of Dock Green and two Play for Todays, but IMDb doesn’t list anything after 1974 – though it has some far more recent photos so if anyone knows what she’s been up to since then I’d love to hear about it.

Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

Charles Lotterby last appeared in Case 44: Mrs Moresby’s Scrapbook

Appearing for the defence: Thomas Baptiste (1929-2018) as Haverstock Brown QC

Thomas Baptiste is one of only two actors to appear in both Crown Court and a Russ Meyer film (1973’s Blacksnake!), though there are other achievements he was probably prouder of: he played Coronation Street‘s first Black character, bus conductor Johnny Alexander, in 1963, founded Equity’s Black and Asian committee, and played one of British TV’s first Black gay characters – in the now-lost 1971 Play for Today Pal (Mr Baptiste’s own sexuality was coyly acknowledged in his obituaries with reference to his long relationship with solicitor Francis Rutland. “Like so many African-Caribbean actors of his generation,” notes Michael Coveney in Baptiste’s Guardian obituary, he “straddled two career horses, of token casting and radical breakthrough, and invested both streams of work with pride and dignity.” As good a summation as you can get.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

David Butler (1927-2006) as William Hathaway

Though he was a prolific TV actor, appearing in the likes of Softly Softly, Sherlock Holmes and The Six Wives of Henry VIII, David Butler’s most significant achievements were as a writer. He started writing scripts for Emergency Ward 10 in the 60s while playing Dr Nick Williams, and went on to pen episodes of Van der Valk, The Adventures of Black Beauty, The Protectors, Special Branch and The Duchess of Duke Street. He created the pioneering women’s prison drama Within These Walls and the World War 2 drama We’ll Meet Again, and was the head writer on historical series Edward VII, Disraeli and Lillie. He could even boast an Oscar nomination for co-writing the screenplay of 1976’s Voyage of the Damned.

Jean Harvey as Peggy Hathaway

Jean Harvey previously appeared in the last Crown Court written by Roger Parkes, Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings. The Saturday prior to this appearance at Fulchester Crown Court she could be seen as a high class madam in LWT’s New Scotland Yard.

Michael Elder (1931-2004) as Dr Ian Percival

By a strange coincidence, we have two actors this week who both played a doctor in a soap and wrote for it. In Michael Elder’s case it’s that north of the border mainstay of the ITV schedules [Take the] High Road, in which he played Dr Wallace between 1980 and 1993 – during which time (and right up to 1995) he both wrote for the show and served a stint as script editor. Acting-wise, he managed to notch up appearances in most of TV’s best-known Scottish productions: Dr Finlay’s Casebook, The View from Daniel Pike, Adam Smith, The Vital Spark, Sutherland’s Law, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Garnock Way, Taggart, Rebus, and Monarch of the Glen.

Witnesses for the defence:

Mark Heath (1926- ) as Chege Mwangi

The “Did You Know?” section on Mark Heath’s IMDb page reveals three facts: he came to the UK from Jamaica in 1944, he was attached to the entertainments section of the RAF, and he worked as a clerk in the savings certificates department of the General Post Office. I just thought you’d like to know. His first TV role was in an episode of Dixon of Dock Green in 1955, his last to date in an episode of Jed Mercurio’s Bodies in in 2008. Along the way he turned up in The Avengers, No Hiding Place, Danger Man (as did both Louis Mahoney and Thomas Baptiste – spy and adventure series, often featuring episodes set in Africa or the Caribbean, providing regular work for Black actors in the 60s), Doctor Who (1967’s The Moonbase), and lots more besides.

The jury:

LOOK at this lot. Every face a winner. And they all look so hard. Definitely one of my favourite lineups ever. The gent in the specs is our foreman. His name’s Peter Wallis, and this was only his third credited screen role (he’d been in a Play for Today and an episode of Granada’s Sam earlier in 1973) – and you can tell from his very theatrical delivery of the verdict that he’s keen to make his mark. And he went on to a long career as a bit part player, appearing in Open All Hours, Emmerdale Farm, All Creatures Great and Small, Heartbeat, Last of the Summer Wine and Coronation Street, to name but a few.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • The case title appears on screen as The Judgment of Solomon – apologies if that spelling makes anyone wince, but the menu screen on Network’s Crown Court Volume Four makes things rather worse by calling it The Judgement of Soloman.
  • This is the second Crown Court case to focus on racial issues. Unlike the first, Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons, it has a Black barrister representing its Black defendants. Notably, though, the jury in The Mugging of Arthur Simmons was considerably less white than usual, while here there’s not a Black or Asian face to be seen among them.
  • It took a few viewings before I realised that Thomas Baptiste fluffs a key expository line, telli
  • ng Peggy Hathaway she “used your social position as a worker in Shepherd’s Bush” to obtai
  • n custody of Leticia, which should surely be “your position as a social worker”.
  • Haverstock Brown, we learn, comes from Middlesbrough (by way of the Virgin Islands).

Summing up:

The most interesting aspect of The Judgment of Solomon is the Hathaways, do-gooding ‘white saviour’ types whose social conscience masks more selfish motives. It’s a type perhaps more visible than ever in the 21st century, though Jean Harvey’s frosty grand lady performance (her delivery of the line “PRRRRRREJUDICES?!” is pure Lady Bracknell) seems some distance away from how it manifests today. The aspect of the script concerning sinister Black men harassing the Hathaways with ju-ju, threatening to bring the “Curse of Kilimanjaro” down upon them, is thoroughly 1970s, though. Pure Rising Damp in fact. The highlight of the case is Thomas Baptiste’s charismatic performance as the mischievous Haverstock Brown, who we’ll sadly only see once more.

Case 45: My Old Man’s a Dustman

My lord, there are three accused in this case: Martha and Albert Cousins, defended by my learned friend Miss Gibson, and Michael Mayes, defended by my learned friend Mr Lloyd. The case is brought under the deposit of poisonous waste act 1972, and concerns 2000 gallons of highly poisonous acids, metals and chemicals found at Seddon Quarry by Mr Carter of the Fulchester council. Now, it is not disputed that the order to dump this 2000 gallons was given by Michael Mayes, who was at that time transport manager of Fulchester Metals, or that the order was undertaken by Martha and Albert Cousins, who carry out contract work for disposal of waste. It is the prosecution’s case that either Michael Mayes deceived the Cousins as to the true nature of this material, or that the Cousins knowingly dumped poisonous waste at an unlicensed site, or that all three conspired to do this in order to save the cost of disposing of this material in a proper legal manner.

Jeremy Parsons QC

Original broadcast: Wednesday 15 – Friday 17 October 1973

Written by: David Weir

David Weir’s last Crown Court script was Case 30: The Long-Haired Leftie

Directed by: Desmond McCarthy

Desmond McCarthy’s early TV work included an uncredited job as production assistant on the 1967 Doctor Who story The Moonbase. In 1970 he both wrote and directed the modish Play for Today Season of the Witch starring pop star Julie Driscoll, and went on to direct episodes of Z Cars, Coronation Street, Emmerdale Farm, Blake’s 7 (1980’s Dawn of the Gods and Volcano), Crossroads and Brookside.

Presiding: Frank Middlemass as Mr Justice Craig

The last time we saw Mr Justice Craig was in Case 37: Who Was Kate Greer? This will be the last time he appears until 1978, although Frank Middlemass will pop up as a different character before then.

The accused:

Hilda Fenemore (1914-2004) as Martha Cousins

For nearly 50 years Hilda Fenemore was one of British film and TV’s truly inescapable character turns – but why would you want to? Every performance was a delight. Her speciality was Cockney ladies of varying degrees of belligerence (often appearing for just a raucous line or two) , her recurring role as one of Grace Brothers’ cleaning staff in Are You Being Served? (variously named Ivy, Elsie or Daphne) being thoroughly typical of her oeuvre.

Tommy Godfrey as Albert Cousins

Tommy Godfrey previously made an appearance in Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?

Donald Morley as Michael Mayes

This is also a return engagement for Donald Morley, who we saw before in Case 16: A Public Mischief

Appearing for the prosecution: Richard Wilson as Jeremy Parsons QC

Jeremy Parsons last turned up in Case 43: The Night for Country Dancing

Appearing for Mr and Mrs Cousins: Ann Firbank (1933- ) as Sara Gibson

A brand new barrister! Very exciting for me, if not for you. Several times on this blog I’ve noted actors whose long, distinguished careers have become (in internet terms at least) dominated by a single brief appearance in one of the Star Wars films. Ann Firbank is perhaps the most recent of these, having turned up in a tiny bit part right at the end of (at time of writing), the last to be released, The Rise of Skywalker. Long may she live to enjoy the attention this brings her. Of course she was a hugely distinguished and entertaining actress before this, but the fact that she began her screen career with a role in Carry On Nurse and ended it (to date!) with Star Wars is a full gamut of British cinema run.

Appearing for Mr Mayes: John Flanagan as John Lloyd

Like Mr Justice Craig, John Lloyd was last seen in Case 37: Who Was Kate Greer?

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Ian Stirling (1941-2005) as Barry Carter

Although his acting career included roles in such popular fare as Dr Finlay’s Casebook, A Family at War, Budgie, The Fenn Street Gang and Sam, Ian Stirling is best remembered as an on screen announcer for Westward TV (and later TSW) from 1975 to 1992, where he shared the screen with that most famous of ITV regional mascots, Gus Honeybun.

Anthony Woodruff (1918-1993) as Ian Kenyon

At around the same time as this Crown Court appearance, Anthony Woodruff was making regular appearances in the BBC’s docudrama on Jack the Ripper as a Victorian statesman, a role to which he seemed particularly well suited. This appearance of being a character out of the past also led to his multiple appearances as the Bellamys’ family doctor in Upstairs Downstairs (he was also a recurring doctor in Some Mothers Do ‘ave ’em), and a long career as literally or figuratively antiquated authority figures stretching back to providing the voice of Owl in the BBC’s 1952 puppet version of Winnie-the-Pooh.

William Maxwell as Detective Sergeant Hawes

One of William Maxwell’s earliest TV roles (also as a Detective Sergeant) was as one of the regulars in Granada’s baffling, short-lived 1966 Avengers knock-off The Corridor People. He’s also been in Coronation Street, Z Cars (inevitably), The Six Wives of Henry VIII (as Anne of Cleves’ brother), Nearest and Dearest (as another policeman), Budgie, Whodunnit?, When the Boat Comes In, Bergerac, Brookside (a recurring role as Jack Sullivan from 1984 to 1997) and, most recently, The Basil Brush Show.

Called by the judge:

Paddy Joyce (1923-2000) as Bill Narraway

It’s absurdly unlikely that an Irishman with the surname Joyce would happen to be related to James Joyce, but in Paddy’s case it was absolutely true: he was the famed writer’s nephew. Though his screen persona was very much the comic Irishman, he had a rather more cosmopolitan background: he was born in Italy and his father was Czech (his real name, Patrizio Schaurek, might have impeded his career). He made several appearances in Coronation Street in the late 60s and early 70s as rag and bone man Tommy Deakin, and the rest of his career was mostly spent playing equally shabby characters.

The jury:

Not the most inspiring bunch this week, the permanently smiling lady in the vivid red jacket being the standout. The man in mustard is just unnerving. The foreman, on the end, is Paul Simon (not that one, obviously), who’d recently been an extra in another Granada show, Shabby Tiger and also had uncredited bit parts in Doomwatch and the classic Jack Rosenthal play Another Sunday and Sweet FA.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): All defendants are found guilty on all charges and are all given the maximum sentence. Albert gets 18 months in prison, Martha gets four month, and Mayes gets four years.

Summing up:

Crown Court at its most didactic, this aims to thoroughly explain the ins and outs of the 1972 deposit of poisonous waste act, so I certainly hope any viewers who were planning to dump gallons of toxic waste thought twice before doing so. It’s saved from being dull by some spirited performances (the Cockney exuberance of Tommy Godfrey and Hilda Fenemore, and the gormlessness of Paddy Joyce are the highlights, but Ian Stirling is also memorably vehement), and the novelty of seeing three barristers all at each others’ throats.

Case 44: Mrs Moresby’s Scrapbook

On a Sunday in December, Mrs Grace Moresby, who is the mother of 10 year old Tracy, called on Geoffrey Hainton, and accused him of indecent assault on her child in a small suburban cinema the afternoon before. Cases of child molesting are not uncommon. Hundreds are tried by our magistrates every year. But this case is different. It was Geoffrey Hainton, the alleged child molester, who called in the police. And it is not Geoffrey Hainton who is sitting in the dock today, but the mother of the child who is said to have been sexually assaulted.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 8 – Friday 10 August 1973

Written by: Olwen Wymark (1932-2013)

Although she started writing in the 1950s (‘for fun’, in her own words) Olwen Wymark (granddaughter of author WW Jacobs, best remembered for the famed horror story ‘The Monkey’s Paw’) didn’t become a career playwright until after her husband, actor Patrick Wymark, died in 1970. She swiftly became hugely successful writing for stage (her most famous play is Find Me, long used as an English set text and still often revived by theatre groups) and radio (as one of Radio 4’s premier adapters of classic works). For TV, she wrote four Crown Courts, and a handful of plays.

Directed by: Bob Hird

Bob Hird’s last Crown Court assignment was Case 42: Beggar on Horseback just a couple of weeks ago.

Presiding: William Mervyn as the Hon. Mr Justice Campbell

Mr Justice Campbell last lit up our screens in Case 42: Beggar on Horseback

The accused: Barbara Young as Grace Moresby

Barbara Young previously made an appearance in Case 15: Persimmons and Dishwashers

Note that’s Liz Dawn behind her, making one of her frequent uncredited Crown Court appearances, and seemingly miming checking her mobile phone. A performer ahead of her time.

Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby

Charles Lotterby’s last appearance was also in Case 42: Beggar on Horseback

Appearing for the defence: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate

Helen Tate was last seen back in Case 36: Patch’s Patch

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Frederick Treves (1925-2012) as Geoffrey Hainton

Not to be confused with his identically named great uncle, who discovered the Elephant Man (Treves the actor had a cameo in David Lynch’s film), Frederick Treves was your classic seasoned screen character actor (it’s all part of the job that he’s playing a character here more than 10 years older than himself). His list of credits is far too long to relate but I always like to note a Doctor Who, and Treves appeared the unloved 1980 serial Meglos, co-written by frequent Crown Court barrister John Flanagan. One of his best-remembered performances is as Dr Kennedy in the 1987 BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple novel Sleeping Murder. At the time Mrs Moresby’s Scrapbook was broadcast, Mr Treves was making regular appearances as a villainous horse owner in Yorkshire TV’s Follyfoot. The actor Simon Treves is his son.

Derek Bond (1920-2006) as Michael Lawford-Brown

A war hero in real life (awarded the Military Cross in World War II), Derek Bond first made his mark on screen as Ealing’s Nicholas Nickleby in 1947, and became the archetypal square-jawed leading man in low budget British films of the 50s (and second lead in more prestigious productions). In later years he was able to keep his career going by diversifying into characters who suggested something rather more sinister going on behind the stiff upper lip (see his performance in 60s sleazefest Secrets of a Windmill Girl). He was Callan‘s boss Hunter in a number of episodes of the grim spy series, and prior to this Crown Court his most recent TV appearance was as a government minister in Dad’s Army.

Witnesses for the defence:

James Cairncross (1915-2009) as John Bray

“An actor of much style and grace,” the Scotsman called James Cairncross in their comprehensive obituary of him, which I can hardly hope to better here. His screen roles included appearances in the 60s classics The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Tom Jones, and on TV he turned up in Z Cars, Public Eye, Adam Adamant Lives!, Edna the Inebriate Woman and Taggart. He made two appearances in Doctor Who, in The Reign of Terror (1964) and The Krotons (1969).

Samantha Reeves (1960- ) as Tracy Moresby

This is Samantha Reeves’ second and final TV appearance, the first being in an episode of the BBC’s anthology series Menace a couple of months previously. Apologies for the poor quality screenshot of her, but my laptop didn’t want to play the episode she appears in, so I had to photograph her directly from my TV screen.

The jury:

That bespectacled man with the ginger beard looks like someone you might well encounter on the internet today (dressed rather less neatly), informing you that “Well, actually…” Also fun this week is the young woman on the end, who’s clearly very bored and can often be seen rolling her eyes. At the other end is our foreman, a prim lady wearing what looks like a novel 1970s take on the Elizabethan ruff. Her name’s Margot Lawson and she also made appearances in Mr Rose, A Family at War and Ripping Yarns and, most tantalisingly, in a 1969 episode of Coronation Street as an instructor putting Stan Ogden and Betty Turpin through their paces at a group called Fatties Anonymous.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty (Grace Moresby faints upon hearing the news, and the Court Reporter’s voiceover informs us that the police reopened the case against Geoffrey Hainton and charged him with indecent assault).

Case notes:

  • Geoffrey Hainton lives in Fulchester, but the events in the case took place in New Cross in London, where he drove to see a film he appeared in (and where Grace Moresby travelled to in order to visit him). The implication here seems to be that Fulchester’s reasonably near to London, rather than vaguely up north as it usually is.
  • Dorothy Vernon struggles with her lines a couple of times, seeming to dry for a good few seconds in Part One, and later referring to Michael Lawford-Brown’s annual dinner as “A very fashionable event we can all read about in the peepers”.
  • There’s a splendid continuity error in Part One, with a brief shot mid-episode of Barbara Young wearing a completely different outfit (which will later turn out to be her costume for parts Two and Three).
  • At the end of Part One we get the first example (since the untransmitted pilot) of a scene with dialogue taking place outside the courtroom, as John Bray collars a clerk and insists on being allowed to give evidence.
  • In a prime “the past is a foreign country” moment, we learn that the going rate for a cleaner in Fulchester is 50p an hour.

The verdict:

A woman accuses an entertainment personality of child abuse and ends up persecuted herself: it’s hard to imagine a subject more closely linked with the 1970s in the popular imagination of 21st century Britain. And it seems grimly appropriate that this should be the first Crown Court case written by a woman. The most memorable part of the case is the character of Geoffrey Hainton: between them Wymark and Treves create a deeply unflattering but horribly true portrait of the acting profession with his pomposity, vanity and faux-humility. Grace Moresby’s slightly unhinged celebrity worship and hatred of all (non-famous) men seem like an attempt to make sure the dice aren’t too loaded against such an unlikeable character. For the most part, this case still feels hauntingly relevant, not least in young Tracy Moresby’s lines “She didn’t believe it at first, see, because he’s on the telly. That was the trouble, she kept getting mixed up, thinking a famous person wouldn’t do like what he’d done to me. Lots of people won’t believe what children say.”

Case 43: The Night for Country Dancing

Barbara Airey lived in style. A comfortable house in the best part of Fulchester. A new car every year. Her sons at an expensive boarding school. The Inland Revenue wanted to know how she managed it. Did it all come from the profits of her hairdressing salon? What was Barbara Airey’s secret?

Original broadcast: Wednesday 1 – Friday 3 August 1973

Written by: David Fisher

The prolific Mr Fisher’s last Crown Court script was Case 38: A Right to Life

Directed by: Quentin Lawrence (1920-1979)

To say Quentin Lawrence brought a wealth of experience to his work on Crown Court is a bit of an understatement. He’d been directing for TV since 1955, with early assignments including the sci-fi serials The Strange World of Planet X and The Trollenberg Terror. This led to him directing the movie version of the latter (also known by the classic b-movie title The Crawling Eye), and future big screen assignments included the cult Hammer crime movie Cash on Demand and several of the fondly remembered Edgar Wallace programme fillers. Mostly, though, he continued to work in television, helming episodes of many popular shows including (deep breath) William Tell, Emergency Ward 10, Danger Man, The Avengers, The Power Game, The Baron, Catweazle, Public Eye, Armchair Theatre, Doomwatch, The Brothers, Emmerdale Farm and Coronation Street, as well as every episode of the children’s comedy The Ghosts of Motley Hall.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge

Mr Justice Bragge was last seen in Case 41: The Open Invitation

The accused: Frances Bennett (1930-2014) as Barbara Airey

First making her name as ladies’ mag journalist Gussie Brown in the BBC’s early 60s soap Compact, Frances Bennett continued to ply her trade as buxom, jolly hockey sticks middle class ladies in the likes of It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum (as the CO’s mistress Mrs Waddilove-Evans), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Thriller, Robin’s Nest and Are You Being Served? In the same week as her Crown Court appearance BBC 1 viewers could see her make a brief appearance in the Peter Sellers comedy Only Two Can Play in a role splendidly described on IMDb as ‘Amorous Woman in Public Library (uncredited)’.

Appearing for the prosecution: Richard Wilson as Jeremy Parsons QC

Jeremy Parsons last appeared in Case 40: The Black Poplar

Appearing for the defence: Michael Johnson as Derek Sissons

It’s only the second appearance of the rarely seen Derek Sissons, last glimpsed back in Case 16: A Public Mischief.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Clifford Parrish (1919-2013) as Philip Gordon

With an upright bearing that enabled him to specialise in butlers, vicars and authority figures of varying stripes, Clifford Parrish could be seen to pop up in everything from Z Cars to The Bill, making stops along the way at The Forsyte Saga, The Saint, Public Eye, A Family at War, Van der Valk, Poldark, Raffles, Rumpole of the Bailey, Worzel Gummidge, Minder and Tales of the Unexpected.

Witnesses for the defence:

Joe Lynch (1925-2001) as George Wills

A familiar comic actor best known in the early 70s for his role as one of a pair of warring tailors in the sitcom Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width, Joe Lynch is now best remembered in the UK as the voice of much-loved animation Chorlton and the Wheelies, while audiences in his native Ireland would most likely recognise him as Dinny Byrne in the soap operas Bracken and Glenroe, a role he played for 20 years from 1980 to 2000. For a while in the late 70s he played Elsie Tanner’s boyfriend Ron Mather in Coronation Street, and regularly popped up in films and TV of all kinds throughout the 60s and 70s.

Michael Hawkins (1928-2014) as Arthur Moore
When this Crown Court was broadcast, grim-faced Michael Hawkins had recently appeared as a grim-faced space general in the Doctor Who story Frontier in Space. He was a lead alongside Oliver Reed in sadly lost (although it’s likely he was grim-faced throughout) 60s sci-fi series R3, and made generally grim-faced appearances in many popular shows of the 60s and 70s.

Glyn Owen (1928-2004) as Raymond Deane
Like Frances Bennett, Glyn Owen first made his name as a regular in an early British soap: in his case as Dr Paddy O’Meara in Emergency Ward 10. In 1972 he was cast in a lead role as one of BBC 1’s The Brothers, but left after the haulage industry soap’s first series. The Brothers‘ producer Gerard Glaister would later give him the role for which he’s now best remembered, grumpy old sea dog Jack Rolfe in Howards’ Way.

The jury:

A marvellous selection of the collars and spectacles of 1973 this week. The formidable lady in the tassled fuchsia hat is our foreman, and she’s quite a character in herself: her name is Sadie Aitken and she managed Edinburgh’s Gateway Theatre for 20 years until its closure in 1965.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty

Case notes:

  • For anyone interested in the private lives of Fulchester’s barristers, Jeremy Parsons refers to his wife (though it’s quite possible she could be just a rhetorical wife).
  • Unusually, the case for the prosecution is finished before the first advert break, with the rest of the screen time devoted to the convoluted case for the defence.
  • On a depressing note, Richard Wilson and Clerk of the Court Richard Colson are the only credited cast members who are still alive as of August 2021.

Summing up:

Essentially a gender-swapped remake of David Fisher’s earlier Case 33: A View to Matrimony, The Night for Country Dancing also focuses on a polyamorous charmer, and is just as entertaining. Frances Bennett is hilariously ingenuous (her interjections throughout the trial are a delight, which isn’t the case with all Crown Court defendants), and her embarrassed paramours are all equally enjoyable. The star of the show, though, is Richard Wilson, giving free rein to the talent for exasperated incredulity that would eventually make him a star.

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


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

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


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


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

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

James Donnelly as Detective Inspector John Barber


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


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


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:


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


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

The accused: Jane Carr as Maureen Sellars


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

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC


Appearing for the defence: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.