On the afternoon of July the 24th this year, Councillor Edward Bolton, aged 50, one of Fulchester’s leading public figures, was in his office at number 106 Market Street. During the afternoon, he had occasion to call in his secretary, a Miss Gillian Heys, aged 18, from the outer office to take down some dictation. What took place while Miss Heys was in the councillor’s office not only shocked his colleagues, but today is the subject of the case of the Queen vs Bolton in the Crown Court.
Original broadcast: Wednesday 29 November – Friday 1 December 1972
Written by: Leslie Duxbury (1926-2005)
Mr Duxbury was one of the most prolific (and greatest) ever Coronation Street writers, notching up 416 episodes of the soap between 1966 and 1991, and serving two brief stints as a producer. Other shows he wrote for included Z Cars, Angels, Strangers and two shorter-lived ITV soaps, Marked Personal and Rooms.
Directed by: Gerry Mill
Mr Mill’s first directing job was on the (now mostly lost) Doctor Who story The Faceless Ones in 1967 (he’d worked as a production assistant on the – also lost – serial The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve the previous year). For the next three decades he worked steadily on a lot of popular shows, including Coronation Street, The Newcomers, Z Cars, A Family at War, Follyfoot, The Brothers, The Duchess of Duke Street, The Gentle Touch, Dempsey and Makepeace, Super Gran, Robin of Sherwood, Bergerac and London’s Burning. From 1995 to 2009 he worked on Heartbeat as both producer and director.
Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as Judge Bragge
We last saw Judge Bragge last week, in Case 6: The Eleventh Commandment
The accused: Robert Dorning (1913-1989) as Edward Bolton
An instantly recognisable TV character actor, Mr Dorning actually started out as a dancer (he can be seen in the ballet sequence in Powell & Pressburger’s The Red Shoes). His regular telly work (he was consistently on the screen from the late 50s to the year of his death) included Hancock’s Half Hour (as one of the show’s repertory company from 1959-60), Bootsie and Snudge (as the title characters’ boss for its first three series), Coronation Street spin-off Pardon the Expression (as Arthur Lowe’s boss, a role that continued into a further spin-off, the now tragically lost paranormal sitcom Turn Out the Lights), and the infamous BBC sitcom The Melting Pot, a dodgy (to say the least) satire on race relations that only had two of its six episodes screened. He was the first choice to play Sergeant Wilson in Dad’s Army (alongside Jon Pertwee as Captain Mainwaring), and eventually made a guest appearance in the show. He popped up in guest roles in lots more popular sitcoms throughout the 70s and 80s, and turns up in some films as well (including Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-sac and Carry On Emmannuelle (as the Prime Minister)).
He was the father of actress Stacy Dorning, who would find fame the following year in The Adventures of Black Beauty.
Appearing for the prosecution: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate
Miss Tate was also last seen in last week in Case 6: The Eleventh Commandment. And so was…
Appearing for the defence: John Alkin as Barry Deeley
Witnesses for the prosecution:
Stella Tanner (1926-2012) as Veronica Heys
Probably best remembered as EastEnders‘ Luisa di Marco and an irate guest in the Waldorf Salad episode of Fawlty Towers (“All over the PLAICE!”), Ms Tanner began her showbiz career in variety act the Tanner Sisters (with her sister Frances), a fixture on radio and television throughout the 50s. After their partnership ended in the early 60s Stella moved into acting, with regular roles in The Rag Trade and Emergency Ward 10 and appearing as a foil to comedy stars including Eric Sykes, Dick Emery and Spike Milligan, and did the rounds of 70s sitcoms. As well as EastEnders she had multi-episode roles in both Coronation Street (as the first wife of Elsie Tanner’s husband Alan Howard) and Brookside.
She was married to American actor David Bauer, best known for his many appearances in ITC adventure series.
Sally James (1950- ) as Barbara Foster
The luminous Ms James is famous, of course, not for her acting but for kick starting the sexual awakening of millions of boys (and probably a decent number of girls) as one of the presenters of Tiswas later in the 70s. And despite being about as homosexual as a man can conceivably be, I can completely understand this. Nowadays she runs a company selling school uniforms.
Jane Carr (1950- ) as Gillian Heys
Ms Carr’s unforgettable face and voice first came to notice in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1968. Her stage work earned her two Olivier award nominations, and she appeared regularly on British TV throughout the 70s and early 80s (including Upstairs Downstairs and Minder), and was in the 1985 Doctor Who radio serial Slipback. In 1987 she moved to the US, landed the role of Louise in their version of Dear John and established herself as a go-to whenever an eccentric Englishwoman was required. As such, she provides a link between Crown Court and (among many others) Ellen, Babylon 5, Mad About You, Beverley Hills 90210, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Star Trek: Enterprise, Hannah Montana, Two and a Half Men and How I Met Your Mother. She also does masses of voice work, most recently as Mrs Goggins in Postman Pat: The Movie.
Witnesses for the defence:
Joan Heath (1912-2000) as Agnes Baker
Ms Heath’s place in TV trivia books (and pub quizzes) was sealed by the seventh episode of Coronation Street, when her character, May Hardman, became the first in the show’s history to be killed off. She later had a regular role in A Family at War and was in the first Steptoe and Son movie, as well as popping up in the usual shows, including Z Cars, Emergency Ward 10, Public Eye, Dixon of Dock Green, Dr Finlay’s Casebook, and The Brothers. Her last screen appearance was in a 1990 episode of Bread.
Here are the witnesses’ outfits on the last day in court, because I think they’re all ace.
Monica Bliss as Mrs Bolton
Councillor Bolton’s imperious-looking wife sits in the public gallery throughout the proceedings. She doesn’t have any dialogue, and it would seem that this was Ms Bliss’s only screen appearance.
This week’s star is the man with the huge gin blossomy nose, who looks thoroughly entertained throughout the whole case. The chap to the left of him is this week’s foreman, Frank Crompton, a veteran player of small parts who’d later return to Crown Court to play a couple of witnesses. His other work includes playing the mayor of Weatherfield in Coronation Street (see Case Notes below), priests in I Didn’t Know You Cared and Brookside and miscellaneous roles in The Cuckoo Waltz, Juliet Bravo and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty
- There’s a strong connection between A Genial Man and the episode of Crown Court‘s Granada stablemate Coronation Street broadcast on the same day as Part 1. Both are written by Leslie Duxbury, both feature Robert Dorning as a councillor (his Street character is named Charlie Rogers), and Frank Crompton also appears in both (in the Street he plays Weatherfield mayor Harold Chapman, a part he could occasionally be seen in up until 1980). I think this practically qualifies as a crossover. The Street episode, set largely in the extremely 1972 Capricorn Club, is spectacularly enjoyable and can be found on Network’s 1970s Street box set.
- There’s some dialogue at the beginning about Mrs Heys, Gillian’s mother, having to give her evidence first because she has to rush off to a medical appointment. It’s hinted that this is a lie, but it still seems very odd for her to then remain sitting in the court for the rest of the case.
- Gerry Mill is more interested than most Crown Court directors in the extras playing the press, especially this pair, whose nudge-nudge response to this case of sexual harassment is as 70s Man as you get.
- SWEARWATCH: Cllr Bolton is alleged to have called Barbara Foster a “silly bitch”.
- SIGNS OF THE TIMES: As reflected in the verdict (SPOILER) it’s clearly considered that a man in Cllr Bolton’s exalted position would sexually harass his secretary is practically unthinkable, a consensus that has taken quite a tumble since 1972.
Thanks to some brilliant Leslie Duxbury dialogue and hugely entertaining performances (Stella Tanner and Dorothy Vernon camp it up a treat, Robert Dorning sounds just like a Steve Pemberton League of Gentlemen character and Jane Carr is greatly affecting as timid Gillian), A Genial Man is a joy to watch. And very, very 70s.
In the charts this week:
The British public are still flocking to get their hands on Chuck Berry’s Ding-a-ling, which continues to reign supreme at the top of the hit parade. Meanwhile, the Osmonds have captured both the number 2 and number 3 spots with, respectively, group effort “Crazy Horses”and this solo number by Donny: