At Fulchester Crown Court, Margaret Terson, a senior official in the Foreign Office, stands accused of offences under Section Two of the Official Secrets Act. It is alleged that she conducted herself in such a way as to endanger the safety of secret documents entrusted into her care. Miss Terson is pleading not guilty. Acting on information received, Special Branch police officers maintained a close surveillance on her when it was learned that she had formed a relationship with a young East German, Hans Muller. Muller was part of an East German trade delegation visiting Britain. They were followed to various places and eventually police officers armed with a search warrant entered Miss Terson’s flat. They discovered Muller in a room with the defendant. In addition they also found documents classified secret which had been taken by Miss Terson from her office. The prosecution, led by Jonathan Fry QC, has opened its case, and Inspector Collings of the Special Branch has just been sworn in.
Original broadcast: Wednesday 6 – Friday 8 December 1972
Written by: Paul Wheeler
This is the first Crown Court script by Mr Wheeler to make it to the air, though he previously wrote the untransmitted pilot, Case 0: Doctor’s Neglect?
Directed by: Brian Mills
Mr Mills previously directed Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings
Presiding: Richard Warner as the Hon Mr Justice Waddington
Mr Justice Waddington was last seen in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings
The accused: Sylvia Kay (1936- ) as Margaret Terson
Probably best known for playing Jan Francis’ mother in Just Good Friends in the 80s, Ms Kay was a hugely prolific guest performer on TV from the 50s to the 90s, making her debut in The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1957 and appearing in the likes of Public Eye, The Avengers, Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars, The Professionals, Minder and The Bill. From 1960 to 1972 she was married to director Ted Kotcheff and worked with him several times, including his acclaimed 1971 Australian outback horror movie Wake in Fright. A few weeks before Espionage was broadcast viewers would have been able to see her in The Exorcism, the extremely disturbing opening instalment of the BBC’s horror anthology series Dead of Night.
Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC
Jonathan Fry was last seen in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings
Assisted by: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby
Charles Lotterby’s last appearance was also in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings
Appearing for the defence: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC
And we also last saw James Elliot in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings
Assisted by: John Alkin as Barry Deeley
Barry Deeley, however, we saw just last week in Case 7: A Genial Man
Witnesses for the prosecution:
Godfrey Quigley (1923-1994) as Detective Inspector Collings
A familiar glowering presence (with or without Irish accent) in dozens of British films and TV shows, Mr Quigley’s most memorable roles included anti-Dalek resistance leader Dortmun in the second Doctor Who movie, Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150 AD and the prison chaplain in A Clockwork Orange (one of many priests he played in his long career). His final role, in 1989, was as the voice of a terrier in All Dogs Go to Heaven.
Morris Perry (1925- ) as Commander Augustus Riley
Mr Perry is pretty much the living embodiment of the word “saturnine”, and the forbidding authority figure he plays in Espionage is very much his stock in trade. His roles previous to this had included the villainous Danglars in the BBC’s 1964 version of The Count of Monte Cristo and the no-less villainous Captain Dent in the 1971 Doctor Who story Colony in Space. He’d been a regular in Special Branch and would later have recurring roles in The Sweeney and Secret Army, and give a horribly memorable performance as a man suffering from rabies in the Survivors episode Mad Dog. He would also return to Crown Court twice more, including a first-rate turn as a judge. His most recent TV appearance was in a 2011 episode of Not Going Out.
On the Thursday that Part Two of Espionage was broadcast, viewers could see Mr Perry playing Fouché in BBC 2’s epic adaptation of War and Peace.
Richard Mathews (1914-1992) as Herbert Barclay
Mr Mathews’ greatest claim to TV immortality is probably his curiously-accented appearance as the floating head of the first Time Lord, Rassilon, in Doctor Who‘s 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors in 1983. Other cultish items he appeared in were Children of the Stones and Hammer’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Other than that, he toiled away in the usual shows: Dr Finlay, Callan, Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars, Softly Softly, etc. He could be seen in the New Scotland Yard episode Shadow of a Deadbeat a few weeks before appearing in Espionage, and like Morris Perry (and seemingly half the other actors in the country) turned up in the 1972-3 BBC War and Peace.
Witnesses for the defence:
Irene Prador (1911-1996) as Helga Warren
Starting as a cabaret singer in the 30s after fleeing the Nazis, Ms Prador eventually became a go-to for anyone in British telly after an older foreign lady, the best remembered being dotty Polish landlady Mrs Lemenski in Dear John. She also turned up in (among many other things) Danger Man, The Saint, Doomwatch, Jason King and Hammer’s To the Devil a Daughter. She was the sister of international movie star Lilli Palmer.
Michael Wolf (1934- ) as Gottfried Mueller
This must have been a nice break for Mr Wolf, who spent a large proportion of his screen career playing Nazis (including Herman Goering in two different US miniseries, The Nightmare Years and War and Remembrance). Other non-Nazi roles included one of the personnel of The Moonbase in the 1967 Doctor Who story of that name.
These are about the best views director Brian Mills gives us of this week’s jury. My favourites are the rather twinkly old gent with the pink shirt in the front row, the totally gormless looking youth behind him and the gent in the tan jacket second from left in the bottom row, who looks like he should be starring in an action-packed police drama. The chap in the specs to his left is this week’s jury foreman. He’s Joseph Holroyd, a seasoned Granada bit part actor who was no stranger to courtroom drama, having played ushers in Justice and Coronation Street and a clerk of the court in the 1970 anthology series Confession.
The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty, sentenced to 18 months in prison.
- The opening narration establishes for the first time that this is Fulchester Crown Court, though not why this case is being heard there.
- SIGNS OF THE TIMES: The whole case is, of course.heavily informed by the cold war. Margaret Terson’s rueful comment that she was unlikely to progress much further up the ladder in the foreign office could be taken as a reference to the upper echelons of the civil service being very much a “boys’ club” at this time.
- The case takes place over three days, but Margaret Terson doesn’t change her outfit once (unusually, we don’t see any of the other witnesses in court after they’ve given their evidence).
Part One of Espionage sees James Elliot confront the confusing ways of the civil service, with Commander Riley and Mr Barclay the embodiment of impenetrable bureaucracy. Mr Barclay’s dizzying explanation of how foreign office documents are classified, culminating in his exasperated cry of “My reasons for classifying this document secret are themselves secret!” is Alice in Wonderland stuff (see splendid reactions from extras below), but if anything it’s played and directed with a little too much restraint.
Part Two gives us a heartstring-tugging performance from Sylvia Kay (and characteristically excellent ones from Keating and Gallagher), with Margaret Terson coming over as one of the most fully believable characters seen in the Fulchester witness box. Things grind to a halt a bit after this, with the appearances from Margaret’s romantic psychotherapist friend and Hans’ pugnacious brother not adding much.
The news is dominated by continuing violence in Northern Ireland, spreading to the south with two killed and 50 injured in an explosion in Dublin. Non-Irish terrorists also make the headlines this week, with four members of the Angry Brigade sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Chuck Berry’s “Ding-a-Ling” continues to rule the charts, with the Osmonds’ “Crazy Horses” still nestled directly below. Up one place to 3 this week, here’s Slade to play us out (you can see the full chart here):