On the morning of May the 16th, Miss Lord, a 45 year old ex-teacher at John Fordhouse Comprehensive School, went to Calderley police station and demanded to see Detective Superintendent Brotherton. The duty constable, William Forbush, told her that the superintendent wasn’t there. Miss Lord said she didn’t believe him. She then became abusive and eventually Constable Forbush had to escort her from the station. When they got outside, Miss Lord seized a coal chisel from a pavement work site and struck Constable Forbush on the back of the head. He collapsed unconscious, and for some days his condition was critical. In all, Constable Forbush was in hospital for a month. Today, Miss Lord appears in court, charged with assaulting a policeman in the course of his duty, and with causing grievous bodily harm. Mr Barry Deeley appears for the defence and Mr Charles Lotterby for the prosecution in the case of Regina versus Lord.
Original broadcast: Wednesday 25-Friday 27 October 1972
Written by: Bruce Stewart (1925-2005)
Mr Stewart’s achievements, other than writing some of the most entertaining episodes of Crown Court, include writing most of the episodes of much-loved 1970 children’s sci-fi show Timeslip, and contributing scripts to shows including Sergeant Cork, Out of the Unknown and The Onedin Line.
Directed by: Peter Plummer
This is Mr Plummer’s second Crown Court. He directed last week’s case as well.
Presiding: Edward Jewesbury (1917-2001) as Judge Bragge
Mr Jewesbury’s TV appearances began in the 1930s and ended with an episode of Midsomer Murders in 2001. His credits in between included roles in The Avengers, The Saint, the Mary Whitehouse-baiting 60s comedy Swizzlewick (in the regular role of the vicar), Ace of Wands, Rumpole of the Bailey, Tales of the Unexpected, Yes Minister, Blackadder II and lots more. He played a lot of judges in his career, the last one being in an episode of Comin’ Atcha!, the turn-of-the-millennium kids’ sitcom starring shortlived pop sensation Cleopatra. As that judge seems not to have been named, I’ve decided it was in fact Judge Bragge, and that Comin’ Atcha! takes place in the same universe as Crown Court. And you can’t stop me.
The accused: Freda Dowie (1928- ) as Helen Lord
Best known to arty film types for starring in Terence Davies’ Distant Voices, Still Lives, Ms Dowie has a telly CV anyone would envy: Upstairs Downstairs, I, Claudius, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Our Friends in the North, and lashings of costume dramas (her face looks like she’s suffered in a way people only ever did in the past). I most envy her for playing a nun in The Omen, though.
Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby
Mr Ashford returns from the Crown Court pilot (though his character’s name in that was Derek Jones).
Appearing for the defence: John Alkin as Barry Deeley
Mr Alkin played Barry Deeley in both last week’s Crown Court and the untransmitted pilot. The show’s narrator, Peter Wheeler, gets a bit confused at the start of part two and calls his character Harry Deeley.
Witnesses for the prosecution:
Ian Marter (1944-1986) as Constable William Forbush
Mr Marter is forever associated with Doctor Who due to playing lovable buffoon Harry Sullivan, one of Tom Baker’s original assistants, and then writing lots of novels based on episodes of the show (mostly ones he wasn’t even in). He returns to Crown Court a bit later on as a barrister, which I’m very happy about as he’s lovely.
Christopher Benjamin (1934- ) as Detective Superintendent J J Brotherton
Like Ian Marter, Mr Benjamin is strongly associated with Doctor Who, having guest starred during the tenures of Jon Pertwee (1970’s Inferno), David Tennant (2008’s The Unicorn and the Wasp) and, most significantly, as florid Victorian impresario Henry Gordon Jago in the classic 1977 Tom Baker adventure The Talons of Weng-Chiang, a role he’s since reprised in a series of audio plays now on its 13th box set. He’s also been in pretty much every British TV show ever worth watching, and has the distinction of playing te same character in Danger Man and The Prisoner, which may or may not clinch the argument that the latter is a sequel to the former. Also like Mr Marter, he later returns to Crown Court as a barrister.
Geraldine Newman (1934- ) as Eunice Bentley
Ms Newman is best known as one half of the adorable Howard and Hilda in Ever Decreasing Circles (the other half, Stanley Lebor, also guested in Crown Court), a role that could hardly be more different from the frosty headmistress she plays here. Earlier in 1972 she’d been a clerk of the court in Thames’ magistrates court drama Six Days of Justice. She was married to David Garth, one of the stars of General Hospital, the soap that went out directly after Crown Court on Thursdays and Fridays in its early years.
Witnesses for the defence:
Keith Campbell (1911-1988) as Dr Ralph Transome
Like Geraldine Newman, Mr Campbell had also played a clerk of the court in a drama series earlier in 1972 (there was a rash of them at the start of the 70s), ATV’s Crimes of Passion, which was set in France and dealt exclusively with, well, crimes of passion. Yes, it does sound a bit niche, but it ran for four series. In the course of his career he also played assorted judges and other official types. My favourite of his credits is “Tory heckler” in 1978 drama A Horseman Riding By.
Brian Lawson as Roger Irwin
Mr Lawson would perhaps point to his time with the Royal Shakespeare Company as a highlight of his acting career. Personally I would plump for his playing a moneylender in Coronation Street in 1983. I haven’t seen those episodes, but the character was called Syd Kippax. How can you top that? Of course, Mr Lawson’s greatest achievements are his sideburns and eyebrows, which are equally of a remarkable lustre.
There are two clearly formidable women on this week’s jury: the broad lady with the white bouffant, and the lady in the pink polo neck, whose wrong side you definitely wouldn’t want to get on. But the undoubted star this week is the gent next to her, who I’d like to hope got a new toupee especially for his appearance on national television: here’s a better look at the sheer glory of it.
The foreman this week (he’s the chap bottom row, far left in the pic below) is Joe Holmes, a veteran bit parter whose career ranged from All Creatures Great and Small to Juliet Bravo to Hinge and Bracket to Threads.
- Fulchester still hasn’t been invented yet. The events in this case took place in somewhere called Calderley.
- The two barristers talk to each other a fair bit, and there’s a clear personal rivalry between them. Things like this will eventually disappear from the show.
The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty
Last week’s case successfully showed off Crown Court as an afternoon novelty. This week’s shows that it can be a truly gripping drama series. Bruce Stewart perfectly paces the three episodes: episode 1 intrigues the viewer with hints of a mysterious letter that ended Miss Lord’s career, episode 2 reveals some disturbing information about her past, and in episode 3 she takes the stand and gives her version of events, with Freda Dowie giving an almost unbearably moving performance. The rest of the cast do excellent work as well, especially Geraldine Newman’s portrait of middle-class condescension.
Elsewhere on telly this week:
LWT’s hugely popular Edwardian drama Upstairs Downstairs returned for a second series on Saturday 21 October, with John Alderton joining the cast as sly chauffeur Thomas. This was something of a golden age for Alderton fans, as he was also currently starring in BBC 1 sitcom My Wife Next Door (with Hannah Gordon, later to join Upstairs Downstairs after Alderton’s left).
In the charts this week:
Lieutenant Pigeon are still at number 1 with “Mouldy Old Dough”. Here’s this week’s number 2 to play us out. It’s 10CC with “Donna”. You can see the full chart for the week here.