Case 27: Theft by Necessity

Alfred Burton, a retired colonel, put a number of articles in his shopping bag.  Regrettably, he didn’t produce them at the cash desk, and left the supermarket without paying for them.  But the best laid plans sometimes go awry, and unfortunately for Colonel Burton, he had been observed by the manageress and an assistant, who followed him into the street and stopped him.  The Colonel was requested to go with the manageress to her office.  He did this willingly.  When it was suggested that he hadn’t paid for the goods, the Colonel agreed, and went on to say that he had no intention of paying for them.  The police were called.  And now the Colonel, who long ago practiced for a year or two in the Far East as a lawyer, is defending himself on a charge of shoplifting.  The prosecution case is already underway.

Original broadcast: 18 April 1973

Written by: David Blunt

Mr Blunt’s work on Crown Court makes up the bulk of his TV writing – he wrote 14 cases between 1973 and 1982 (two – including this week’s second case, The Gilded Cage – in collaboration with Nicholas Mander).  He also wrote two episodes of early 80s hospital drama Maybury and a play for ITV Playhouse.

Directed by: Gordon Flemyng (1934-1995)

Mr Flemyng is the biggest name signed up to direct Crown Court to date.  He’d helmed an all-star Hollywood movie, The Split, in 1968, and his previous features included the two his name’s best remembered for today – the 1965 TV spin-off Dr Who and the Daleks and its sequel Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD.  He’d also directed Great Catherine, a comedy starring Zero Mostel, Peter O’Toole and Jeanne Moreau, and The Last Grenade, a Stanley Baker action movie.  Having started out in British TV (with the likes of The Army GameThe Avengers and The Saint), he returned there for good in the early 70s, with a stint on Emmerdale Farm closely followed by his three Crown Court cases.  Later work included Willy Russell’s coming of age drama One Summer for Channel 4, and episodes of Wish Me LuckBergeracTaggartThe BillPeak PracticeLovejoy and Minder.  His son is the actor Jason Flemyng.

Presiding: William Mervyn as Mr Justice Campbell


Mr Justice Campbell was last seen in Case 25: Wise Child.

The accused: Roland Culver (1900-1984) as Colonel Alfred Horatio Burton


Mr Culver was a mainstay of British film and television from the early 30s to the early 80s, with age making his face more fascinatingly crumpled and his voice more distinctively raspy.  The best known of his earlier work is probably his cheery turn as the host of the increasingly sinister house party in Ealing’s Dead of Night (1945), and probably his most-seen performance is as the Foreign Secretary in Thunderball (1965).  His latter years were mainly spent playing various peers and judges (a capacity it’s a surprise he never turned up in at Fulchester).

Appearing for the prosecution: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty


Like Mr Justice Campbell, Stephen Harvesty last appeared in Case 25: Wise Child.

Appearing for the defence: Colonel Burton conducts his own, highly spirited, defence.


Witnesses for the prosecution:

John Rainer (1946- ) as PC David Donaldson


Mr Rainer is great fun as the genial copper in the case, so it’s a surprise that he only notched up a handful of screen credits, beginning with an appearance in the film of Under Milk Wood in 1971 and ending with an appearance in ATV’s Disraeli in 1978.  Along the way he notched up appearances in Dixon of Dock GreenWessex TalesClayhanger and the curious Oliver Reed horror movie Blue Blood.


Ishaq Bux (1917-2000) as Mr Patel


The other two credited characters in the case both have silent cameos, as we see them sitting in the public gallery.  Despite how minimal his role as Colonel Burton’s landlord is, however, Mr Bux will get a better chance in future with two further Crown Court appearances in which he actually gets to give evidence.  Also, in a few months time he could be seen in the first of several appearances as a magistrate in another courtroom drama, Thames’ Six Days of Justice.  His screen career is essentially a long list of unnamed Indians, Arabs and Pakistanis – still, he made a decent 30-year career of it, including five appearances in It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum, and tiny roles in Octopussy and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Edith Carter as Irene Makepiece


The actress playing Colonel Burton’s friend Mrs Makepiece didn’t achieve quite such a lasting screen career as Mr Bux.  Her only other credited roles were in Granada drama anthology City ’68 and political drama Bill Brand.

The jury:


A splendid selection of outfits and hairdos this week, of which my favourite is probably the extremely glamorous lady in plum.  The man to the left of her is this week’s foreman.  He’s Ralph Lawton, whose long career included 11 years as Joe Allard in The Archers.  On screen he mainly played bit parts, including a health inspector in Cathy Come Home, a police constable in Crossroads, and similar small roles in Z CarsFollyfootGangstersEmpire RoadAngelsEmmerdale Farm and Coronation Street.  Films he’s popped up include Chariots of Fire and Leon the Pig Farmer.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • Theft by Necessity is the only Crown Court case to consist of just one half hour episode (the 1973 Christmas episode Murder Most Foul and the cases comprising the show’s brief primetime run in 1975 are all only one episode long, but they’re all extended length).
  • The first shot of the episode is a splendid example of that TV staple, the fictional newspaper headline over a real story completely unconnected to it (which of course viewers without the luxury of pausing the image would never be able to clock.  It’s a strange coincidence, though, that one of the stories under it also concerns a military man named Alfred.vlcsnap-2018-12-13-13h33m13s654.png
  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: People interested in comparing the past with the present may like to know that the price of the goods Colonel Burton took –  an orange, a packet of dates, a packet of rice, a tin of curry powder and half a pound of minced beef – is given as 64p.  Even more astonishingly, these items are considered sufficiently luxurious to be described as “a Christmas feast”.  Stephen Harvesty considers a rent of £6 per week for a single room is excessively high (though Mr Justice Campbell assures him that rents are on the rise throughout the country).  Colonel Burton was expelled from Uganda in 1971 (as part of incoming ruler Idi Amin’s purge of foreigners).  The plight of elderly people like Colonel Burton had been increasingly in the news since David Hobman began his crusading leadership of Age Concern in 1971.

Summing up:

New writer David Blunt seizes on a curiosity of British law to deliver an entertaining mini-case, with some splendidly witty dialogue.  It’s probably too slight to have stretched to a whole three episodes, but that hasn’t stopped some writers from drawing their cases  out interminably in the past, so it makes a nice change for everything to be breezily over and done with in half an hour.  But mainly Theft by Necessity serves as a splendid showcase for Roland Culver, who is a sheer delight as the impoverished but dignified old soldier.




Case 26: Beware of the Dog

Annabel Nelson and Derek Latimer, sixth formers still at school, might be thought a little young to be going courting.  Yet that is all they claim they were doing when they slipped through a hole in a wire fence.  The fence, though, was erected around a building site, guarded by dogs and men employed by the firm of Transecure Ltd.  The dog in question, Fury, chased them back outside the fence, where he bit and savaged Annabel, causing very serious injuries.  In a fracas, as Frank Page, the dog’s handler, ran up, the boy was struck by a truncheon and sustained a fractured skull.   Today, Page stands accused of possessing and assault with an offensive weapon, and, together with Transecure managing director Gerald Somerville, of causing grievous bodily harm by the agency of a dog.  Another Transecure guard, William Cooke, though he took no active part in this, is also accused of possessing an offensive weapon.  All three have pleaded not guilty.  For the Crown, Charles Lotterby has finished his opening speech and is examining the first prosecution witness.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 11 – Friday 13 April 1973

Written by: David Weir

This is Mr Weir’s second Crown Court script.  He previously wrote Case 13: R v Brewer and Brewer

Directed by: Brian Parker

This is the second case Mr Parker’s directed.  His first was Case 23: Love Thy Neighbour.  After this he won’t direct any more until 1977.

Presiding: Frank Middlemass (1919-2006) as the Hon. Mr Justice Craig


Nowadays Mr Middlemass is best remembered as Geoffrey Palmer’s eccentric father in As Time Goes By, the role with which he ended a long screen career stretching back to the 50s.  TV viewers in 1973 might recently have seen Mr Middlemass chomping on the deluxe scenery as General Kutuzov in the BBC’s 20 part adaptation of War and Peace.

The accused:

Barry Keegan (1922-1977) as William Cooke


Since making his screen debut as a sailor in 1955 war film Above Us the Waves, Mr Keegan had been a familiar, imposing screen presence, notching up over 100 credits in 20 years.  He did a stint in Coronation Street in the mid-60s as Jim Mount, a boyfriend of Elsie Tanner’s, and was often seen as lawmen.  In that capacity he’d most recently appeared a couple of months before Beware of the Dog was broadcast, as South African detective Inspector Lipinzki, one of Thames’ Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.

Peter Bowles (1936- ) as Gerald Somerville


It’s not a word I like, but if anyone can be described as a TV icon it’s Mr Bowles.  You know full well who he is.  This of course was before To the Manor BornOnly When I LaughThe BounderThe Irish RM, etc etc etc, but he was still a familiar enough face (having most recently been seen in episodes of The Protectors and The Adventures of Black Beauty), so it’s hugely disappointing that in his only Crown Court episode his appearance in the witness box should be so brief – less than three minutes, in fact.  Fortunately we get to see him looking urbane yet ruffled in the dock throughout proceedings.  Recently he played Father Merrin in the stage adaptation of The ExorcistThe Exorcist starring Peter Bowles – that’s pretty much the greatest thing ever, isn’t it?

John Collin (1928-1987) as Frank Page


At the time of Beware of the Dog‘s broadcast, Mr Collin would have been well known to viewers of Z Cars as love-to-hate-him Sergeant Haggar, a role he played from 1971-1978.  His other screen work includes three different roles in Coronation Street and an appearance in the 1980 Doctor Who story The Leisure Hive.

Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


Charles Lotterby was last seen a couple of weeks ago in Case 24: The Death of Dracula

Appearing for the defence: John Flanagan (1947- ) as John Lloyd


Mr Flanagan had played the title role in Yorkshire Television’s rural police drama Parkin’s Patch (basically Heartbeat – a show he would actually co-write 36 episodes of – but actually made in 1969) and a few months before Beware of the Dog appeared in The Land of Green Ginger, a classic Play for Today by Alan Plater.  As John Lloyd he’d become one of Crown Court‘s longest-serving barristers, making his final appearance in the show’s very last case in 1984.  In 1976 he’d don a police uniform again as a regular in the BBC’s Softly Softly Task Force and in later years had regular roles in Love Hurts and Peak Practice.  His most recent TV appearance was in a 2013 episode of Endeavour.  As well as Heartbeat (and its spin-off The Royal) he’s also written (in collaboration with regular partner Andrew McCulloch) episodes of BoonRobin of SherwoodPie in the SkyPeak Practice, Ballykissangel as well as the popular mini-series Sleepers.  The team’s first ever writing credit was the unloved 1980 Doctor Who story Meglos, which is nonetheless quite special to me as I was born on the eve of its second episode.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Jack Galloway as PC John Minter


Like Frank Middlemass (and roughly half the other thespians in the country), Mr Galloway had recently be seen in the BBC’s War and Peace (though in a much smaller role, as a prison guard, and the week after Beware of the Dog‘s broadcast would pop up again in an episode of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes.  After starring alongside Alan Bates in Dennis Potter’s 1978 BBC adaptation of The Mayor of Casterbridge he’d get his big break on screen as the title character in 1950s-set drama Mackenzie in 1980.  In 1984 he was in the Doctor Who story The Awakening and the following year was Felicity Kendal’s married lover in The Mistress.  Later he was a regular in The Paradise Club and Maigret.

Suzannah Williams as Annabel Nelson


Ms Williams appears not to have been choosy about the spelling of her name, as during her brief screen career she was variously credited as Suzannah, Suzanna and Susannah.  From 1971-5 she made appearances in a handful of shows, including Play for TodayThe Strauss Family and Thriller, then had her final screen role as William Morris’s daughter May in the bio drama News from Nowhere in 1978.

This is one of the cases where they remember to change the characters’ outfits to reflect the passing of days, so here’s Annabel’s look for Part 2.


Greg Smith as Derek Latimer


Having started out as one of the regular pupils in the 1971-2 revival of public school comedy Whack-O!, Mr Smith then turned up in Softly Softly Task Force and Dixon of Dock Green, before ending his screen career with his appearance in the witness box at Fulchester (though IMDb suggests that he later made an appearance in the 1990 Brenda Blethyn comedy The Labours of Erica).

Geoffrey Toone (1910-2005) as Colonel G H Hore-Davis


With Mr Toone’s appearance we have (I think) the first – but not the last – instance of a real life couple appearing together on Crown Court – he and Frank Middlemass lived together for 40 years.  Mr Toone was a matinée idol in the 1930s and aged into a solid character actor.  He’d spent a couple of years in Hollywood in the 50s – resulting most notably in a role in The King and I -but at the time Beware of the Dog was broadcast he was perhaps most familiar to viewers from his role as the villainous Von Gelb in Southern’s children’s series Freewheelers.  His more recent roles had included an alien High Priest in the 1972 Doctor Who story The Curse of Peladon (he was also in the 1965 film Dr Who and the Daleks), Von Ribbentrop in the LWT drama The Death of Adolf Hitler, and Mr Carmichael in a BBC adaptation of A Little Princess that ended just a couple of weeks before his Crown Court appearance.  He continued to appear on TV until well into his 80s, with future roles (usually aristocratic) including Lord Bittlesham in Jeeves and Wooster, Sir Godwin Lydgate in Middlemarch and the toff who hires Del Boy to clean his chandeliers with infamous results in Only Fools and Horses.

Witnesses for the defence:



The canine actor portraying Fury is unfortunately not credited.  I think it’s safe to assume he’s probably passed on by now.

The jury:





Some solid specimens of 1970s masculinity this week, of which I’d pick out the man in mustard who looks like he’s seen some traumatising things in his time, and the splendid example of a 70s ‘tache.  Added to these we have three formidable matrons and Julie Burchill.  Wonderful.  Our foreman this week (the man at the front with the splendid sideburns) is the gloriously named Ray Dunbobbin, later to be familiar as Elizabeth Estensen’s father in The Liver Birds and Brookside‘s Ralph Hardwick.  He’d previously been an extra in the untransmitted pilot of Crown Court (and later in 1973 will have an uncredited role in the Doctor Who story The Time Warrior).  Prior to this he wrote scripts for TV shows including Coronation Street and Z Cars.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Frank Page is found guilty of assault, everyone else is cleared.

Case notes:

  • When Frank Page demonstrates his commands to Fury, the dog’s real trainer can be clearly heard giving commands at the same time as John Collin.


Private security firms are such an unremarkable part of modern life that the idea their existence was ever controversial (as this case demonstrates) seems bizarre.  This adds a good bit of historical interest to the case, which also has an engaging script from David Weir and some unusual direction from Brian Parker (we get to see the courtroom from all sorts of never-before-seen angles).  There’s a big problem with pacing though – the first two parts unfold in a leisurely fashion, with the questioning of Annabel Nelson especially drawn out, and then Part Three has to squeeze in three well-known actors, a dog, speeches and a verdict.  In his first time at the bar, John Flanagan gives a wildly animated performance, his tone, gestures and general appearance weirdly (and off-puttingly reminiscent of Jimmy Savile), which only serves to show how assured David Ashford has become by now.  Fortunately Mr Flanagan will rein it in a bit for his future appearances.  Fellow debutante Frank Middlemass makes for a wonderfully twinkly judge, though.

In the charts:

Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Get Down” has refused to take its own advice and ascended to the number 1 spot, with the dread Tony Orlando & Dawn snapping at its heels at number 2.  At number 3 it’s a double A-side, each tune perfect for smooching to as you listen to them on your transistor radio at Fulchester beauty spot Elm Bottom.



Case 25: Wise Child

A massive coronary last year robbed British industry of one of its most colourful figures, Sir Tom Crittenden.  Knighted in 1966 for his services to industry, Sir Tom laid the foundations of his fortune mining for copper in the Belgian Congo.  His will left half his assets to his wife, Lady Dorothy, the other half to be divided equally between his children, Bernard and Kate.  But in the December following his death, a young man turned up in London also claiming to be Sir Tom’s son by an early marriage in Africa.  Today, however, in Fulchester Crown Court, that same young man, Raoul Lapointe, stands accused of obtaining money by deception.  Miss Helen Tate, prosecuting, is attempting to show that he is an impostor, who set out to derive financial benefit by representing himself as Sir Tom’s son.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 4 – Friday 6 April 1973

Written by: Bruce Stewart

This is Mr Stewart’s fifth Crown Court script.  His last was Case 21: Freak-Out.

Directed by: Bill Podmore (1931-1994)

Mr Podmore is best known as a major figure in the history of Coronation Street, producing the show from 1976 to 1988 and making the show a huge success again after its mid-70s slump (he became known as “the Godfather” due to his ruthlessness in killing off characters, including Renee Roberts, Ernest Bishop and Len Fairclough).  He also worked as a producer on Nearest and Dearest,

Presiding: William Mervyn as the Hon. Mr Justice Campbell


Mr Justice Campbell was last seen in Case 20: An Act of Vengeance.

The accused: Derek Griffiths (1946- ) as Raoul Lapointe


Young children who happened to catch these episodes (and maybe even their parents) would of course have recognised Mr Griffiths as one of the presenters of Play School, on which he served from 1971 to 1981 becoming about as adored as it’s possible for someone to be by a generation.  His other children’s TV work included Play AwayCabbages and KingsLook and ReadHeads and Tails, SuperTed and Bod (for which he composed all the music and played all the instruments).  Other viewers might have recognised him from a memorable conversation about race with Alf Garnett in the 1972 Till Death Us Do Part Christmas special.  Later in 1973 he could be seen in a Play for Today and the Archers spoof The Cobblers of Umbridge.  The following year he was Spanish waiter Carlos in the On the Buses spin-off Don’t Drink the Water (his ethnicity was always pretty elastic as far as casting was concerned – see also his turn as an Arab sheik in the Are You Being Served? movie).  In recent years he’s been increasingly feted as a serious actor, serving a year-long stint in Coronation Street and, as I write, appearing at the National Theatre directed by Patrick Marber.  And of course his voice, one of the most reassuring there is, still whisks viewers of a certain age back to their childhood every time they see one of those Amigo Loans adverts.

Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


Helen Tate’s last appearance was in Case 23: Love Thy Neighbour.

Appearing for the defence: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty


The last time we saw Stephen Harvesty was in Case 18: Crime in Prison.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Carleton Hobbs (1898-1978) as Wilfred Bowers


Carleton Hobbs is such a perfect name for an aged thespian that it’s hard to believe there actually was one with that name.  And yet here he is.  He’s best known for his many decades of radio work (his first broadcast was in 1925), especially playing the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes from 1952 to 1969.  Many of his screen roles were judges (including appearances in The Scales of JusticeThe PallisersThe Main ChancePennies from Heaven and a recurring role in Justice, in which he last appeared the week before Wise Child was broadcast), so it seems almost perverse that in his only Crown Court performance he plays a solicitor.

Helen Cherry (1915-2001) as Lady Dorothy Crittenden


A classical actress especially famed for her Rosalind in As You Like It in the 40s, Ms Cherry is best known for her stoicism in the real life role of long-suffering wife to hard-drinking, perpetually womanising Trevor Howard.  She was a regular in British films of the 40s and 50s in officers’ wives type roles, had a starring role in the early ATV sci-fi serial The Strange World of Planet X in 1956 and turned up in the likes of The Adventures of Robin HoodThe Invisible ManDanger ManAll Gas and GaitersHadleighThe Cedar TreeThe Professionals and Miss Marple.  Rather splendidly, she could be seen the week after her Crown Court appearance in another Granada show, as an elocution teacher coaching Annie Walker for her new role as Lady Mayoress of Weatherfield.

Nigel Havers (1951- ) as Bernard Crittenden


It’s hard to believe that the gawky youngster we see here would mature into one of the great smoothies of British acting, but he did.  This was one of his earliest TV appearances, which would be sporadic until he made his name as the BBC’s Nicholas Nickleby in 1977 and went on to A Horseman Riding By the following year.  After that, Chariots of FireA Passage to IndiaThe CharmerDon’t Wait Up, love interest to Audrey Roberts and Sarah Jane Smith, and just being famous for being Nigel Havers.  And wouldn’t we all like to be?

Witnesses for the defence:

Earl Cameron (1917- ) as Antoine Mbula


The duration of Mr Cameron’s first Crown Court appearance is slightly less than three minutes, which is a terrible waste of a legend.  His first screen role, in Ealing Studios’ Pool of London in 1951 made him one of the first black actors to play a lead role in a British movie, and he continued to be prominent on film and TV well into his 90s.  He can boast a James Bond (Thunderball) and a Doctor Who (1966’s The Tenth Planet) on his CV, as well as five appearances in Danger Man and one in The Prisoner.  His most recent major film role was in The Interpreter with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman in 2005 and he had a cameo in Christopher Nolan’s Inception in 2010.  And fabulously, he’s still here and still regularly talking about his work at over 100.

Jenny Twigge (1950- ) as Kate Crittenden


Ms Twigge made her name on TV as General Hospital‘s Dr Cathy Waddon in the mid-70s, and went on to regular or recurring roles in RoomsHadleighThe Onedin LineGrange Hill (as Zammo McGuire’s mum), and Byker Grove.  She’s also been in  Dixon of Dock GreenNew Scotland YardZ CarsBlake’s 7The Professionals and The Bill.  Her outfit here is really quite something:


Norman Shelley (1903-1980) as Rev. Auguste Van Helm


Mr Shelley’s appearance here on the same bill as Carleton Hobbs is immensely pleasing as he played Watson to Hobbs’ Holmes on radio in the 50s and 60s (and, oddly enough, they also both appeared in the previous week’s edition of Yorkshire Television’s Justice).  Mr Shelley is also fondly remembered for playing Winnie-the-Pooh on radio in the 50s.  He was also well known for an incredibly accurate impersonation of Winston Churchill’s voice, and it is believed by some that on many of the recordings of Churchill’s most famous speeches it is actually Mr Shelley speaking (the extent to which this is true seems to be shrouded in mystery – as the most prominent proponent of the theory is holocaust denier David Irving it’s perhaps best not to attach too much credence to it).

Also: Jenny Austen as Nurse


Ms Austen is credited as she gets a couple of lines.  This appears to be her only credited screen appearance.  There’s an estate agency called Jenny Austen in Norwich, though, and I suppose it could be the same one.

The jury:


What an embarrassment of riches we have this week.  I’m especially agog at that trio of gents in the front row, whose haggard countenances contrast so shockingly with the vivid hues of their shirts.  And the man in purple obviously deserves a TV show of his own.  Added to that we have a mini Mary Whitehouse, Mary Quant peeping out from behind and a displaced hippie.  The gentleman on the end pulling the face is our foreman, and he goes by the appropriate name of Kenneth Law.  He only has a handful of other screen credits, including an episode of The Man in Roon 17 and a few Granada plays.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • The case’s title is taken from the proverb “It’s a wise child that knows his own father,” which first crops up in The Odyssey and was later used by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice.

Summing up:

Another cracking script from Bruce Stewart, though the swiftly disposed of idea that right-on Kate Crittenden is supporting Raoul simply to annoy her family might have been more interesting to spend time on than the doddering Reverend Van Helm, whose appearance proves to be entirely pointless as well as over-extended.  And even with a French accent Derek Griffiths is far too lovable for us to believe for an instant that he could be a fraudster.  But then I suppose that’s how fraudsters work.

In the charts this week:

The teenage girls (and maybe a few teenage boys) of Britain have ensured that Donny Osmond is number 1 for a second week with “The Twelfth of Never”.  Meanwhile, this is at number 3:


Case 24: The Death of Dracula

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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 28 – Friday 30 March 1973

Written by: David Fisher

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

Directed by: Mark Cullingham

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

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge


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

The accused: Valerie Bell as Rita Mattson


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

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

Appearing for the prosecution: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC


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

Assisted by: John Alkin as Barry Deeley


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

Appearing for the defence: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


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

Assisted by: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

John Blythe (1921-1993) as Frank Tyler


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

Luan Peters (1946-2017) as Dorothy Greenway


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

Ann Hamilton (1939- ) as Kathleen Nolan


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

Witnesses for the defence:

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


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

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


The jury:


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

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

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


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


Summing up:

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

Elsewhere on TV this week:

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

In the charts:

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

Case 23: Love Thy Neighbour

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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 19 – Friday 21 March 1973

Written by: Sean Hignett

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

Directed by: Brian Parker (1929- )

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

Presiding: Richard Warner as the Hon. Mr Justice Waddington


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

The accused:

Tony Doyle (1942-2000) as Martin Thornton


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

Shane Connaughton (1947- ) as Gerald Thornton


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

Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


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

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Warren Clarke (1947-2014) as William Johnson

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

Geraldine Moffat (1943- ) as Madge Gorman


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

The jury:


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


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

Case notes:

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

Summing up:

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

In the charts this week:

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

Case 22: The Mugging of Arthur Simmons

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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 14 – Friday 16 March 1973

Written by: Paul Wheeler

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

Directed by: Richard Doubleday

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

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge


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

The accused:

Gregory Munroe (1953-1998) as John Dempsey


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

Christopher Asante (1941-2000) as Colin Langham


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

Appearing for the prosecution: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC


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

Appearing for Mr Dempsey: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


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

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


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

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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Cyril Shaps (1923-2003) as Arthur Simmons


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

Gabrielle Daye (1911-2005) as Winifred Palmer


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

John Comer (1924-1984) as Constable Kershaw


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

Witnesses for the defence:

Elizabeth Adare (1949- ) as Linda Brown


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

The jury:



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

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


The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

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

Summing up:

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

Elsewhere on TV this week:

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

In the charts:

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

Case 21: Freak-Out

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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 7 – Friday 9 March 1973

Written by: Bruce Stewart

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

Directed by: Alan Gibson (1938-1987)

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

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

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge


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

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


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

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


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

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Sidney Livingstone as Fred Maple


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

John Bennett (1928-2005) as Dr Martin Stanislaus


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

Douglas Lambert (1936-1986) as Alleyn Griffin


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

Witnesses for the defence:

Eileen Colgan (1934-2014) as Sister Joanna Forbush


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

The jury:


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

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

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

Summing up:

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


Elsewhere on TV this week:

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


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

In the charts:

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

Case 20: An Act of Vengeance

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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 28 February – Friday 2 March 1973

Written by: C Scott Forbes (1920-1997)

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

Directed by: Howard Baker

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

Presiding: William Mervyn as the Hon. Mr Justice Campbell


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

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


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

Appearing for the prosecution: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC


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

Appearing for the defence: John Alkin as Barry Deeley (30).gif

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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Michael Cashman (1950- ) as Alan Collings


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

David De Keyser (1927- ) as Clifford Collings


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

doctor who

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

Angharad Rees (1944-2012) as Pauline Ellis


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

Witnesses for the defence:

Georgine Anderson (1928- ) as Irene Whittaker


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

Margaret Anderson (1925-2016) as Janet Collings


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


This lady, who isn’t credited, despite getting a big (and ridiculous) dramatic moment. (31).gif

The jury:


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


The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

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


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

Summing up:

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

Elsewhere on TV this week:

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


In the charts:

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

You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 19: Infanticide or Murder

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


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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 21 – Friday 23 February 1973

Written by: David Fisher

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

Directed by: Mark Cullingham (1941-1995)

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

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge


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

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


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


Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


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

Appearing for the defence: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

John Byron (1912-1995) as Professor Stone


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

Rosemary Martin (1936-1998) as Elaine Hill


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

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


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


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

Brenda Cavendish (1947- ) as Mary Collins


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

The jury:


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

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

Case notes:

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


Summing up:

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

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

In the charts this week:

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

Case 18: Crime in Prison

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

Original broadcast: Wednesday 14 – Friday 16 February 1973

Written by: Tony Hoare

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

Directed by: Bob Hird

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

Presiding: William Mervyn (1912-1976) as Mr Justice Campbell (12).gif

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

The accused:

Maurice O’Connell (1941- ) as George Lanigan


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

Glyn Houston (1925- ) as Robert Ager


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

Appearing for the prosecution: Terrence Hardiman as Stephen Harvesty (17).gif

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

Appearing for Mr Lanigan: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


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

Appearing for Mr Ager: John Alkin as Barry Deeley


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

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Bob Hoskins (1942-2014) as Freddy Dean


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

Stanley Lebor (1934-2014) as Malcolm Lowe


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

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


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

Margaret Nolan (1943- ) as Angela Mercer


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

Witnesses for the defence:

Elizabeth Counsell (1942- ) as Rita Davey


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

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



Irene Sufrini as Mrs Ager


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

The jury:


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


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

Case notes:

  • The title of this case appears on screen as Crime in Prison, but it was listed in the TV Times as A Crime in Prison, and that title has been used on the sleeve and menu for its DVD release (on Network’s Crown Court Volume Two).
  • The public box, which up to now has been raised at the back of the court, is from now on much lower down.
  • The name of the prison in this case, Parkmoor, is an obvious conflation of the real prisons Parkhurst and Broadmoor.
  • Most of the cast struggle with their lines at some point this week (with David Ashford very nearly corpsing after slipping up on the word “successful”), but Stanley Lebor has the worst time, dropping the oath when it’s handed to him. (15).gif

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


Summing up:

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

Elsewhere on TV this week:

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

In the charts:

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