Case 14: Sunset of Arms

A controversial new book, Sunset of Arms, attacks British involvement in the Korean campaign of the 1950s as pointless, wasteful and last-gasp imperialism.  Written by Harold Pusey, professional historian and head of the history department at Crombie University, the book has attracted much criticism, and is now the centre of a sensational libel action.  Major Alastair Fitton, sole survivor of the defence of the post that came to be known as Hill 329 during the retreat from Manchuria, is suing Pusey and the publishers of Sunset of Armsfor libel.  Pusey suggests that as the situation worsened and eventually became hopeless on Hill 329, Major Fitton lost his nerve and abandoned his wounded and dying men, choosing to save his own life rather than share their fate.  A company director these days, Major Fitton asserts that the allegations are utterly false and highly damaging.  In the Crown Court this afternoon, Major Fitton is represented by Mr Andrew Logan QC and Miss Helen Tate, and Jonathan Fry QC appears for Harold Pusey.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 17 – Friday 19 January 1973

Written by: Bruce Stewart

This is Mr Stewart’s third Crown Court script.  His last was Case 10: Queen v Starkie.

Directed by: Brian Mills

This is Mr Mills’ third Crown Court assignment too.  His last was Case 8: Espionage.

Presiding: André Van Gysegham (1906-1979) as the Hon. Mr Justice Barclay


How exciting, a new judge! The gentleman playing him was a highly respected theatre director as well as actor, and an authority on theatre in Soviet Russia, having spent a good deal of time over there in the 30s and written a book on the subject (being a card-carrying Communist no doubt added to his enthusiasm).  His many screen roles include one of the Number Twos in The Prisoner (in the episode It’s Your Funeral) – he’d previously appeared alongside Patrick McGoohan in two episodes of Danger Man – and he also appeared in The SaintMrs ThursdayDoctor in Charge, Emergency Ward 10 and a lot of period dramas.  His daughter is Joanna Van Gysegham, star of Fraud Squad and Duty Free.

The plaintiff: James Maxwell (1929-1995) as Major Alastair Fitton


Mr Maxwell was born in the US and didn’t come to Britain till he was 20, a fact you’d never guess from most of his screen roles, including the extremely British Major Fitton and his most high profile TV work, the lead role of Henry VII in the BBC’s 13 part costume drama The Shadow of the Tower.  He made four appearances in Crown Court (each time a different character), and other TV work included Doctor Who (as a space version of Jason (of Argonauts fame) in Underworld, 1978), Danger Man (like André Van Gysegham he appeared in that show twice), three Wednesday Plays, The Power GameThe Saint and The Avengers (two appearances in each), The Champions and Doomwatch. Film work includes Hammer’s The Damned and The Evil of Frankenstein and the 1967 version of Far from the Madding Crowd.  But his most significant work was in the theatre, particularly as artistic director of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester for more than 20 years.  His ghost is apparently reputed to haunt the theatre and (in a first for an actor featured on this blog) was the subject of an episode of Most Haunted.  He was married to Avril Elgar, herself a future Crown Court guest star.

The defendant: Michael Lees (1927-2004) as Harold Pusey


According to IMDb, Mr Lees’ first screen role was as “Man with Souvenir Piece of Ice” in 1958’s A Night to Remember, about the sinking of the Titanic.  After that auspicious start came 45 years of frequent appearances on film and TV.  Viewers of Sunset of Arms‘ original broadcast might have recently caught him in General Hospital (as a man fraudulently claiming a patient with amnesia was his wife) and LWT’s drama The Death of Adolf Hitler (as Albert Speer).  As well as returning to Crown Court twice, he also appeared in (deep breath) Dixon of Dock GreenZ CarsThe Power GameThe AvengersThe ChampionsPaul TempleThe Fenn Street GangDoomwatchPublic EyeThrillerColditzThe Onedin LineTriangleTenkoBergeracAll Creatures Great and SmallMinderCasualtyHowards’ WayYou Rang M’LordLovejoyThe BillPeak Practice and Holby City.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Brown as Andrew Logan QC


Andrew Logan was last seen back in Case 3: R v Bryant.

Assisted by: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


We last saw Helen Tate in Case 11: Criminal Libel.

Appearing for the defence: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC.


Jonathan Fry’s last appearance was in Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?

Witnesses for the defence:

Bruce Boa (1930-2004) as Morton Lass


Best known as obstreporous guest Mr Hamilton in the Fawlty Towers episode Waldorf Salad (as well as achieving that curious level of fame that only comes from a small role in a Star Wars film – you can even buy a Bruce Boa action figure!), Mr Boa was (despite being Canadian) for decades British TV’s favourite rent-a-Yank (he’s also the only person to have appeared in a Star WarsCarry On and James Bond film).  Shows he graced with his unforgettably abrasive presence include The AvengersOut of the UnknownThe Saint (three times), The ChampionsDepartment S (as the voice of the US president), Ace of Wands (in the highly representative role of “Mr America”), The Onedin LineSpecial BranchThrillerZ Cars, The New Avengers, The ProfessionalsMetal Mickey and Howards’ Way, as well as regular roles in the sitcoms Yanks Go Home and Astronauts.  His other films include The OmenSuperman, Return to Oz and Full Metal Jacket.  His sister, Marion Woodman, is a famous Canadian psychologist and feminist campaigner.

Fredric Abbot (1928-1996) as Ronald Hartstrong


Mr Abbott came from his native Australia to the UK in the 50s and worked steadily in small roles in TV shows including most of the ITC series (including three appearances in The Saint and four in Danger Man), Z CarsEmergency Ward 10The Plane MakersThe Avengers (twice), Adam Adamant Lives!Special BranchThe ProfessionalsRobin’s Nest and George and Mildred.  In the 80s he returned to Australia but was still occasionally seen by British viewers thanks to appearances in some of the country’s most popular exports: The Flying DoctorsPrisoner: Cell Block HA Country Practice and Home and Away.

Barry Jackson (1938-2013) as William Truscott


Best known nowadays for playing Midsomer Murders‘ pathologist George Bullard for 14 years.  But that was just the end of a screen career lasting more than 50 years.  He made two more appearances in Crown Court, was in Doctor Who three times (in 1965’s The Romans, the same year’s Mission to the Unknown and 1979’s The Armageddon Factor (as an old school friend of the Doctor)).  Other shows he turned up include The Wednesday Play (three times, including the role of a rent collector in Cathy Come Home), Public EyeA Family at WarDoomwatchSpecial BranchNew Scotland YardDixon of Dock GreenZ Cars, PoldarkThe New AvengersSecret ArmyBlake’s 7The ProfessionalsThe Onedin LineLovejoyBergeracAll Creatures Great and Small, etc. etc. etc.  He also played the title role in the short-lived 1982 sitcom Horace, about a man with a learning disability, and Grandad in the long-running 90s-00s children’s show Bernard’s Watch.  In the 60s he also worked as a fight arranger under the name Jack Barry, most notably on nine episodes of Adam Adamant Lives!


Pamela Lane (1930-2010) as Claire Fitton


As Major Fitton’s wife, watching from the public box, Ms Lane doesn’t get any lines but gets to throw a lot of meaning glances.  A respected stage actress, she made only a handful of screen appearances (there were only two more after this – in an episode of Shine on Harvey Moon in 1982 and a One Foot in the Grave in 1990).  Her biggest claim to fame, however, is as the first wife of John Osborne, whose relationship with him inspired Look Back in Anger.  According to her obituary in the Guardian, when her career hit a rocky patch in the 60s she auditioned for the role of Alison (which was based on her) at the Bristol Old Vic, only to be told she wasn’t right for the role.

The jury:


Director Brian Mills only gives us a few brief glimpses of this week’s jury, which is a shame as there are some interesting characters there – the standout obviously being the chap with the eyepatch and loud blazer, who looks like an undead John Waters.  And I do feel rather for that young lady who’s not quite able to carry off such an extravagant hat.  The gent at the far left with the boiled eyes is this week’s foreman.  His name’s Clifford Kershaw and his other roles include Mr Creakle in the BBC’s 1974 adaptation of David Copperfield, the witchfinder in the 1975 Ghost Stories for Christmas adaptation of M R James’ The Ash-Tree and the mayor in the Ripping Yarns episode The Testing of Eric Olthwaite.  He also appeared in Last of the Summer WineI Didn’t Know Y

The verdict (highlight to reveal): The jury finds for the plaintiff, who is awarded £30,000 in damages.

Case notes:

  • On a rather morbid note, this case’s cast has the lowest survivor rate of any Crown Court to date, with only Bernard Brown and Clerk of the Court Richard Colson still alive out of the speaking cast at the time of writing.
  • For the first time, the familiar Janacek theme is not used in the opening titles, which instead feature sounds of gunfire and other war-type things.
  • Unusually, part 2 features a reprise of the previous episode’s cliffhanger (or perhaps Morton Lass just makes the same dramatic revelation twice in quick succession).
  • The Milton Berle show becomes the first TV show to be mentioned in Crown Court.
  • There’s a tiny scrap of background information about one of our judicial regulars as we learn that Andrew Logan once served in the army.

Summing up:

As with his previous case, Bruce Stewart writes Sunset of Arms far more dramatically than the usual Crown Court, with plenty of surprising developments and shock revelations at the end of parts one and two.  Director Brian Mills very much gets into the spirit of things – part two ends with the kind of crash zoom more often seen in a Doctor Who cliffhanger.  There are some excellent performances too – James Maxwell overplays the dodderiness of Major Fitton just a bit, but the counsel are on especially brilliant form (Dorothy Vernon in particular really coming to life this week), and André Van Gysegham’s droll performance makes his judge a much funnier (though no less authoritative) character than we’re used to seeing on the bench (“I’m not at all sure that the phrase ‘establishment knocker’ appears in the dictionary” being his most perfectly delivered line).

In the news this week:

The big story of the week is a ceasefire in Vietnam, ordered by the about to be re-inaugurated President Nixon on Monday.

In the charts:

Little Jimmy Osmond continues to exert his thrall on the record buying public, keeping the top spot for another week.  Here’s the far more exciting tune that’s up to number 2 this week.  You can see the full chart for the week here.


Case 13: R v Brewer and Brewer

When 23 year old Janet Brewer, an ex-Sunday school teacher, fell in love with her local vicar, who was married, no one in the parish knew of the affair, and as their love affair progressed the vicar found himself spending his wife’s money in order to keep his mistress.  But their relationship came to an end, and soon afterward it took a sinister turn.  The vicar received a letter from Miss Brewer threatening to expose him.  But the vicar’s wife intercepted the letter and took it to the police.  Soon afterwards a second letter was written, and as a result Janet Brewer and her brother Matthew Brewer stand accused of demanding money with menaces.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 10 – Friday 12 January 1973

Written by: David Weir

Mr Weir’s impressive CV includes episodes of many other successful dramas, including Danger ManThe Plane MakersMogulThe Main ChanceMan at the TopA Family at WarThe Onedin Line and (sticking out like a sore thumb) Space: 1999.

Directed by: Gerry Mill

This is Mr Mill’s third Crown Court assignment.  His last was Case 11: Criminal Libel.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as the Hon. Mr Justice Bragge


We last saw Edward Jewesbury in Case 10: Queen v Starkie.  His character seems to have been elevated to the high court now, having always previously been known as Judge Bragge.

The accused:

Madeline Hinde (1949- ) as Janet Brewer


Perhaps best remembered today as a regular in the exploitation films of director Robert Hartford-Davis (she played the title role in The Smashing Bird I Used to Know (1969) and later appeared in Incense for the Damned (1970) and The Fiend (1972)), Ms Hinde had made her first screen appearance in BBC soap The Newcomers in 1968 and went on to appear in The ProtectorsArthur of the BritonsEmmerdale FarmArmchair Thriller and the ill-advised 1974 remake of Brief Encounter.  Viewers in the LWT region who stayed up late on the Friday R v Brewer and Brewer concluded could see her in a repeat of the Jason King episode A Page Before Dying.

I’m a big fan of the blouse Ms Hinde sports in the shot above.  Director Gerry Mill is better than most at changing the actors’ clothes to illustrate the episodes are taking place on different days, and you can see Janet Brewer’s two almost as marvellous alternate outfits below.


Christopher Waite as Matthew Brewer


I haven’t been able to find out very much about Mr Waite.  His only other screen credit appears to have been a role in the 1971 Steve McQueen film Le Mans.  I’m so sorry to say that his performance here makes that less than surprising.  Unlike his sister, Matthew Brewer sports the same blue polo neck throughout the three days of the trial.

Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


We last saw Charles Lotterby in Case 10: Queen v Starkie.

Appearing for the defence: John Alkin as Barry Deeley


Barry Deeley’s last appearance was in Case 11: Criminal Libel.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Ann Morrish (1928- ) as Hilary Warrender


Viewers would probably have known Ms Morrish best for starring alongside Marius Goring in the BBC’s pathology drama The Expert.  She’d also been one of the stars of The Protectors – not the glossy Gerry Anderson series but a long-forgotten black and white crime series from 1964 – and served a stint as a Playschool presenter in the 60s (as well as multiple appearances as a Jackanory storyteller).  She  returned  to Crown Court in 1978 as barrister Vanessa Hawthorne.  In later years she clocked up a Casualty, a Poirot and a Midsomer Murders.  Below you can see Mrs Warrender’s outfit on day two in court (I think she’s just taken her scarf off – it’s back on day three).


Ian McCulloch (1939- ) as the Rev. Frank Warrender


Mr McCulloch has achieved cult kudos as a star of both the BBC’s post-apolcalyptic drama Survivors (1975-77) and a trio of Italian horror movies of varying degrees of notoriety (Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), Zombie Holocaust and Contamination (both 1980).  And as if to ensure the invites to fan conventions never dry up he’s also done a Doctor Who (1984’s Warriors of the Deep).  Other work includes episodes of Man in a SuitcaseDr Finlay’s CasebookColditzSecret ArmyHammer House of HorrorThe ProfessionalsDempsey and MakepeaceBergeracTaggart and Poirot, and the regular role of Dr McKeown in the first series of Children’s Ward.

Victor Platt (1920-2017) as Inspector Savage


Mr Platt had been playing policemen on TV since 1947, and turned up as representatives of the law in Quatermass and the PitThe Invisible ManGideon’s WayNot in Front of the ChildrenThe Rivals of Sherlock HolmesDoctor in Charge (where his character was also the doctor of the title’s father) and Doomwatch.  He did sometimes play non-police roles though, in shows including The Avengers and The Prisoner.

Witnesses for the defence:

Harry Walker as Dr James Selwin


Mr Walker was a prolific bit part player on TV for nearly 30 years.  Shows in which up he popped include No Hiding PlaceDixon of Dock GreenDr Finlay’s Casebook (four times), Z CarsHadleighNew Scotland YardThrillerAll Creatures Great and SmallBergerac and Smiley’s People.

Antony Brown (1922-2001) as Kenneth Brewer


No, that’s not the poet Philip Larkin, and sadly Mr Brown was never called upon to play him.  He had a solid Shakespearean background and appeared in four of the productions in the ambitious BBC Shakespeare project of the 80s.  Other screen roles were in Sergeant CorkCoronation StreetSpecial BranchPublic EyeTargetHammer House of Horror, ShelleyBlake’s 7The Jewel in the CrownLovejoy (he’d previously played Robert Peel alongside Ian McShane as Disraeli) and Soldier Soldier, among many others.

The jury:




I’m always very partial to a lady with set hair and an interesting print, but the stars this week are undoubtedly the mauve twins.  The popularity of men’s clothes in variations of these shades of purple for a brief period in 1972-3 can be seen in the screenshots below, both of which come from programmes broadcast on the same day as part 2 of R v Brewer and Brewer.


The foreman this week is actor John Scarborough, who could also be seen in the following week’s episode of Crown Court‘s Granada stablemate Nearest and Dearest.  Other screen appearances include roles in The Human Jungle and the Armchair Theatre play A Magnum for Schneider (which spun off into Callan).  Despite what dear old IMDb thinks, I think it’s unlikely that he’s either the John Scarborough who played a cop in blaxploitation zombie movie Sugar Hill or the one who produced 80s US TV series Philip Marlowe, Detective.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

Case notes:

  • The onscreen title for this case is R v Brewer and Brewer, but it was listed in the TV Times as Blackmail: R v Brewer and Brewer.  That title’s also used on the sleeve and menu of the Network DVD including in this case.  This is the last Crown Court case to use the “versus” title format.
  • Rev and Mrs Warrender are referred to throughout the case as Mr and Mrs A to protect their identities, though Inspector Savage accidentally reveals their surname in part 2.  However, the characters are listed by their real names in the credits of all three parts.

Summing up:

Not the most thrilling case so far.  The device of referring to the Warrenders as Mr and Mrs A, though legally accurate, is just annoying (Crown Court will strike more of a balance between accuracy and entertainment in future).  It doesn’t help that Harry Walker and Christopher Waite give easily the worst performances in the show to date (and Madeline Hinde’s not exactly Glenda Jackson either).  Ann Morrish and Ian McCulloch do a good job with their characters, but it’s very hard to picture them as a couple.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

Tuesday 9 January sees the beginning of one of the most emblematic 70s sitcoms, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? on BBC 1.

In the charts:

Little Jimmy Osmond continues his inexplicable reign at the top of the charts.  At number 5 is this double A side:

Case 12: Whatever Happened to George Robins?

This is George Robins.


He was a man who lived the high life.  Partner in a second hand car business and divorced for nine years, he worked hard and spent hard.  He had no shortage of woman friends.  George Robins led a full and eventful life.  He also had his fair share of enemies both in his business and private careers.  When he met Mrs Catherine Barnes, another enemy was added to the list: Harold Barnes, her husband.  On August the 6th, George Robins disappeared from his country cottage.  Police found bloodstains, signs of a struggle, and witnesses heard gunshots in the night.  From that day no one has seen or heard from George Robins.  On November the 8th, Harold Barnes was charged with his murder.  The trial of Harold Barnes has just opened at Fulchester Crown Court in front of Mr Justice Waddington.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 3 – Friday 5 January 1973

Written by: Paul Wheeler

This is Mr Wheeler’s third script for Crown Court.  He previously wrote Case 9: Conspiracy as well as the untransmitted pilot Case 0: Doctor’s Neglect?.

Directed by: Bob Hird (1936-1991)

Eventually Crown Court‘s most prolific director, Mr Hird began as a staff director at Granada in the 60s, directing 39 episodes of Coronation Street and other shows including The Man in Room 17 and its sequel The Fellows.  At the end of the decade he went freelance, still directing Granada shows including A Family at War but also working for the BBC on Dr Finlay’s Casebook and Yorkshire TV on Hadleigh.  Later work included Emmerdale FarmThe Bill and Take the High Road.

Presiding: Richard Warner as the Hon. Mr Justice Waddington


Mr Justice Waddington, as well as the two counsel this week, were all seen just last week in Case 11: Criminal Libel.

The accused: John Ronane (1933- ) as Harold Barnes


Look at him: brutish, cocksure 1970s masculinity incarnate.  Mr Ronane’s range extended considerably beyond this, though, as any viewers catching him as a moustache-twirling aristocratic villain in a repeat of The Persuaders! a couple of days after the end of this case could see.  His longest running role was as one of the detectives in Strangers from 1978 to 1981.  Elsewhere, he did the rounds of the ITC series in the 60s and early 70s (and was in The Avengers twice), played Jane Seymour’s brother in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, turned up in everything from Crossroads to Survivors and will make three more Crown Court appearances.  He’s never been in Doctor Who, but fans of that series may like to note that one of his last screen appearances was in Howard’s Way as a councillor called Steven Moffat.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


At the beginning of part 3 we’re treated to a photo of a wigless Jonathan Fry.


Appearing for the defence: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC


Witnesses for the prosecution:

Tommy Godfrey (1916-1984) as Philip Kirby


Familiar to millions from his role as Arthur in Love Thy Neighbour, Mr Godfrey was later a regular in another the 70s’ most oft-regretted sitcoms, Mind Your Language.  Elsewhere he could be seen as assorted Cockneys in everything from Doomwatch to The Great Muppet Caper.

Rosemarie Dunham (1924-2016) as Barbara Robins


Best known as the title character’s landlady in Get Carter, Ms Dunham’s other most notable role is as Sylvia Matthews, who gave her name to Sylvia’s Separates, the shop where Coronation Street‘s Elsie Tanner and Gail Potter worked in the mid-70s.  Her other screen work includes roles in The AvengersA Family at WarPublic EyeThe Sweeney and Bergerac, and six appearances in Dixon of Dock Green.

Meg Davies as Gwen Farr


Ms Davies’ most significant TV role was as Van der Valk‘s wife in the 90s revival of that series.  Most recently seen on screen in the BBC drama The Honourable Woman, she’s also appeared in Inspector MorseJonathan CreekTales of the UnexpectedThe Sweeney and, almost inevitably, The Bill and Doctors.

Just as a reminder that this was made in the 70s, here is a shot of Ms Davies just after she enters the witness box.


Jonathan Adams (1931-2005) as Detective Inspector Robert


One of many jobbing British character actors whose posterity is dominated by a single role in something with a frenzied cult following, in Mr Adams’ case it’s not Star Wars or even Doctor Who but The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which he played Dr Everett V Scott.  Other than that his CV is dominated by roles as policemen, but he was also a regular in Star Cops as moonbase commander Alexander Krivenko, Dr Lejeune in eight episodes of Bergerac and (a personal favourite of mine) anti-pornography campaigner Lord Coltwind in satirical sex comedy Eskimo Nell.

John Woodnutt as Dr John Gold


This is Mr Woodnutt’s second appearance as expert witness Dr Gold.  We last saw him in Case 9: Conspiracy (also written by Paul Wheeler).

Witnesses for the defence

Shirley Stelfox (1941-2015) as Catherine Barnes


For decades Ms Stelfox specialised in roles that can be summed up best by the word “tart”.  I mean no disrespect by this: it’s a character type she played better than just about anyone else, and she certainly covered a lot of different ground in the kinds of tart she played, as can be seen in three of the best known: Julie Walters’ associate in Personal Services, the original Rose in Keeping Up Appearances and the title characters’ very unmaternal mother in Victoria Wood’s Pat and Margaret.  Which makes it quite remarkable that the role for which she became best known was Emmerdale‘s godfearing busybody Edna Birch (not a trace of slap or peroxide in sight) which she played for 14 years, until her tragic death finally put an end to one of the most iconic (sorry) soap characters of the 21st century.

Ms Stelfox doesn’t turn up until part 3 of Whatever Happened to George Robins?  but on the Wednesday part 1 went out she could be seen on ITV making a guest appearance in World War 2 drama Pathfinders.

The jury:


A mostly pretty nondescript bunch this week.  The two women in specs who look like they could be mother and daughter are probably my favourites.  But, excitingly, the other woman in specs (on the end) is our first ever lady foreman.  Her name is Mu Hird, she has no other screen credits and her surname leads me to suspect she’s married (or otherwise related) to the director.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty (but arrested for car theft directly after leaving the court).

Case notes:

  • The title of this case does not include a question mark on screen, but I’ve added it because otherwise it would really annoy me.
  • Scorby and Silverton are rural areas near Fulchester.

Summing up:

As with Case 9: Conspiracy, writer Paul Wheeler keeps things interesting with a rapid turnover of distinctly characterised witnesses, and Bob Hird’s direction is enjoyably flashy.  The case is dominated by John Ronane’s highly animated and very funny performance as the defiant Harry Barnes, which also gives Bernard Gallagher the chance to do his best work yet as he baits the bearlike defendant.  Mr Justice Waddington gets some unusually funny moments as he tries to keep up with the Cockneyisms of Tommy Godfrey and the insolence of John Ronane, but Richard Warner doesn’t quite have the comic brilliance of future Crown Court judges like William Mervyn and John Barron, which will eventually make these moments the highlight of the show.

In the news this week:

On Monday 1 January, a new era dawns as Britain joins the EEC.  I wonder how that will turn out.

Elsewhere on TV this week:

On Saturday, Doctor Who returns for its 10th series with a special celebratory story that sees previous Doctors Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell join the incumbent Jon Pertwee (though the show’s actual 10th anniversary is still the best part of a year away in November).  The original run of Doctor Who lasted 26 years, but even that was surpassed by another TV phenomenon that begins this week with an instalment of Comedy Playhouse titled Last of the Summer Wine.

In the charts:

The demonic Little Jimmy Osmond continues to reign at the top of the hit parade.  Here’s something considerably more palatable at number 4.  You can see the full chart for the week here.

Case 11: Criminal Libel

Everyone who watched Wimbledon last year remembers the climactic moment when the British champion Rodney Maitland stormed off the centre court after an angry argument with the umpire.  Two games down in the second set, he threw his racquet down and made an insulting gesture to the booing crowd, then ran off to the clubhouse, refusing to talk to pressmen and and smashing the camera of one of them.  Next morning, 200 miles away in Fulchester, near the home of his girlfriend, Gail Holt-Matthews, he was found unconscious in a hotel bath, with both wrists slashed.  A suicide note was found in the bedroom, and as a result of what he wrote in it, Roddy is today in the dock, facing a charge of criminal libel.  He’s pleaded not guilty and further pleads justification.  Mr Jonathan Fry QC has finished his opening speech for the crown, and is examining his first witness.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 27 – Friday 29 December 1972

Written by: Peter Wildeblood

This is Mr Wildeblood’s second Crown Court script.  He previously wrote the first case to be broadcast, Case 1: Lieberman v Savage.

Directed by: Gerry Mill

Mr Mill previously directed the unbroadcast Case 7a: A Genial Man.  This is his first Crown Court work to reach the screen.

Presiding: Richard Warner as the Hon. Mr Justice Waddington


This is the seventh time we’ve seen Mr Warner as Justice Waddington.  He last appeared in Case 9: Conspiracy.

The accused: Michael Petrovitch (1945-1999) as Rodney Maitland


Mr Petrovitch’s other screen work includes appearances in Department S and Jason King and, also for ITC, a regular role in The Zoo Gang.  On similar turf, he was in The New Avengers and The Professionals and made various other appearances in action-orientated stuff, including the fairly infamous Australian video nasty Blood Camp Thatcher (while in Australia he also made an appearance in A Country Practice).  At the time of Criminal Libel‘s broadcast he could be seen in cinemas as Susan Hampshire’s undead lover in Neither the Sea Nor the Sand (based on a novel by newsreader Gordon Honeycombe).

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


This is the sixth time Mr Gallagher has played Jonathan Fry.  He too last appeared in Case 9: Conspiracy.

Assisted by: John Alkin as Barry Deeley


This is the seventh time we’ve seen Barry Deeley (or ninth, if you count cases that never made it to the air).  His last appearance was in Case 8: Espionage.

Appearing for the defence: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC


This is the sixth time we’ve seen James Elliot (seventh if you count the untransmitted pilot).  He was last seen in Case 9: Conspiracy.

Assisted by: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


This is Helen Tate’s seventh appearance (eighth including the untransmitted Case 7a: A Genial Man).  She was last seen just last week in Case 10: Queen v Starkie.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Neil Seiler (1925-2003) as Detective Inspector Revill


Mr Seiler’s other TV roles included two appearances in Doctor Who (in 1972’s The Sea Devils – which was repeated in cut down omnibus form on the same day episode 1 of Criminal Libel was broadcast – and 1974’s Death to the Daleks), a role in another ITV courtroom drama, Six Days of Justice, and parts in Z Cars and Softly Softly Task Force.  And he’s one of two actors in this week’s Crown Court to have been in the 1974 Hammer horror Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter.

Bernard Archard (1916-2008) as Dr Denis Holt-Matthews


An actor whose extraordinary hatchet face was his fortune, Mr Archard was for decades one of British film and TV’s most distinctive and prolific character performers. For starters, he appeared four more times in Crown Court (twice as barrister William Boyce), played memorable villains in the Doctor Who stories The Power of the Daleks (1966) and Pyramids of Mars (1975) and married Annie Sugden in Emmerdale (only to become a victim of the soap’s infamous plane crash shortly afterwards).

Elizabeth Dear as Gail Holt-Matthews


Ms Dear is the other of this week’s players to appear in Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter.  That was her second Hammer film – she’d previously been in Nightmare (1964) as a child actress.  The same year she played one of Anne Bancroft’s many children in The Pumpkin Eater.

Doreen Mantle (1926- ) as Verity Holt-Matthews


Ms Mantle is of course a national treasure thanks to her role as the spectacularly hapless Mrs Warboys in One Foot in the Grave, and it cheers me to discover that she’s still working in her 90s, having been seen most recently in an episode of Father Brown just a couple of months prior to the time of writing.

The jury:


An embarrassment of riches this week.  The gent with the eyepatch, who looks like Fulchester’s foremost diabolical mastermind, is obviously the star of the show, but the quite extraordinary print sported by the lady next to him is definitely worthy of mention, as is the chap on the end with the kind of severely clipped moustache often sported by unpleasant authority figures in the likes of The Beano.  Below you get a good look at a rather queeny looking gentleman and his toothless neighbour, who keeps his mouth open almost permanently throughout the proceedings.


The chap with the beard is this week’s foreman.  He’s Kenneth Alan Taylor, whose most significant TV role is probably Newton & Ridley executive Cecil Newton in Coronation Street in the 80s (when the character was brought back for an actual storyline some years later, Mr Taylor was replaced with George Baker).  Other roles include “The Mayor” in an episode of the final series of Grange Hill, and (funnily enough) a judge in Hollyoaks.


The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty (Roddy Maitland is fined £1000 and has to pay the prosecution’s costs).

Case notes:

  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Roddy Maitland is clearly inspired by real life “bad boys” of 1970s tennis, such as Ilie Nastase and Jimmy Connors.  There’s the required mention of the “permissive society” from James Elliot with reference to Roddy and Gail’s relationship (Dr Holt-Matthews prefers to call it “sexual immorality”).
  • SWEARWATCH: Roddy’s “insulting gesture”, as seen in the opening to episode 1.


  • That’s not the only dodgy photo composite we’re treated to:


  • Things we learn about Fulchester this week: it’s 200 miles from Wimbledon and has a lawn tennis club.  Medley Green, where the Holt-Matthews live, is presumably an upmarket district.
  • There’s a goof at the beginning of part 3 when the narration informs us that Roddy has said Mrs Hot-Matthews was drunk when he spoke to her on the phone.  That hasn’t actually happened yet, but will during the course of the episode.

Summing up:

The most frequent memory people relate about Crown Court is watching it whilst off sick from school.  Indeed the fact it was able to get away with some surprisingly adult content in its early afternoon timeslot probably has a lot to do with the fact that most children were in school when it was on.  So it seems almost perverse that Criminal Libel, which features some of the darkest stuff we’ve seen in Crown Court so far (to summarise: a man attempts suicide, writing a note accusing the father of his girlfriend (who’s 16 years old and, we’re told, young for her age) of carrying out an abortion on her in order that a baby won’t impede her promising tennis career), was broadcast during the Christmas holidays, when the nation’s children were at home and might quite possibly see it.  Not that there’s anything at all sensationalist about Criminal Libel – it’s Crown Court at its most restrained.  This works well in presenting the Holt-Matthews family, ruled by a “Victorian” patriarch, whose tyranny (we’re led to assume) has driven his wife to drink.  Bernard Archard is perfectly cast as the forbidding father.  Doreen Mantle’s performance at first seems to absurdly overstress Mrs Holt-Matthews’ timidity, but as we gradually learn that she’s a woman in deep shame about her alcoholism it becomes extremely moving.  As for Elizabeth Dear as Gail, she manages to seem genuinely traumatised throughout.  Michael Petrovitch’s Roddy Maitland’s the weak link – he’s sullen but never quite shows any of the flashes of anger that would make him believable as the bad boy of British tennis.  Unlike some other Crown Court directors Gerry Mill remains interest in the witnesses after they’ve given their evidence, and some of the best work from Archard and Mantle is in the reaction shots as they watch the rest of the proceedings.  The big problem with Criminal Libel, as with some other early Crown Courts, is that all the witnesses are out of the way before we’re even halfway through part 3, meaning the bulk of the episode’s taken up with speeches to the jury and summing up, which are never the most exciting parts of the show (and in future will be much shortened, and sometimes omitted altogether).

Elsewhere on TV this week:

Sunday (Christmas Eve) sees the broadcast of Alan Bennett’s first TV play, A Day Out, as well as the acclaimed adaptation of M R James’ A Warning to the Curious as the annual Ghost Story for Christmas.  Christmas Day viewing includes another ghost story, Nigel Kneale’s brilliant The Stone Tape.

In the charts:

Jimmy Osmond snatches that coveted Christmas number 1 spot, but a few places down at number 4 here’s a slightly more seasonal offering:

Case 10: Queen v Starkie

Something of a crisis occurred in the art world last year when Walter Lander, the wealthy American collector, announced to the world at large that he had acquired the Bacchus of Benedetto Trovato.  Trovato, until a few years ago unknown in art circles, has recently emerged as one of the great overlooked painters.  Of the Venetian school and thought to be a disciple of Titian himself, his canvases, of which there are very few, fetch high prices.  Mr Lander paid £20,000 for the Bacchus.  However, the purchase was followed by an immediate disclaimer: Antonio Sforza, secretary to the aged Duc de Severin, announced that the Bacchus had long hung in his master’s private collection in Provence.  Therefore, Walter Lander had been deceived.  Mr Lander then revealed that he had not bought the painting from an accredited dealer, but privately from an obscure British painter of his acquaintance, Alice Starkie.  Miss Starkie, a landscape artist and occasional portrait painter, maintained publicly that she had sold the canvas in good faith, believing it indeed to be a Bacchus of Benedetto Trovato.  Today, however, in the Crown Court, Alice Starkie answers charges of obtaining property by deception contrary to section 15 of the theft act 1958.  Mr Charles Lotterby prosecutes, Miss Helen Tate appears for the defence, and Judge Bragge presides.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 20 – Friday 22 December 1972

Written by: Bruce Stewart

This is Mr Stewart’s second script for Crown Court.  He previously wrote Case 2: R v Lord.

Directed by: Cyril Coke (1914-1993)

The son of Edward Rigby, a ubiquitous character actor in British films of the 30s and 40s, Mr Coke had been directing for TV since the 50s, mainly for ITV on shows like No Hiding PlaceThe FellowsThe Power Game, Mahunt and Upstairs Downstairs.  Later work included Warship and 10 episodes of The Duchess of Duke Street for the BBC.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as Judge Bragge


This is our fourth sighting of Judge Bragge.  He last appeared in Case 7: The Medium (and was also in the untransmitted Case 7a: A Genial Man).

The accused: Susan Engel (1935- ) as Alice Starkie


Ms Engel is one of those performers whose CV is so extensive and dazzling that there’s no point me trying to summarise it.  Just a few notes will have to suffice: she’d make a return to lunchtime ITV drama in 1976 as the mother of the inter-war family who were the subject of soap opera The Cedar Tree; she was one of many actresses who screen tested as a potential replacement for Diana Rigg in The Avengers; she made two memorably sinister TV appearances in 1978, as a menacing nun in the Armchair Thriller serial Quiet as a Nun and the utterly splendid villainess Vivien Fay in my all-time favourite Doctor Who story, The Stones of Blood (written by Crown Court‘s David Fisher); and she’s still working – her most recent TV work was two episodes of Holby City in 2016.  She is magnificent.

Appearing for the prosecution: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


This is the sixth time we’ve seen Charles Lotterby, the last occasion being just last week in Case 9: Conspiracy.

Appearing for the defence: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate (3).gif

Helen Tate was also in Case 9: Conspiracy.  This is her fifth appearance.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Warren Stanhope (1929-2012) as Walter Lander


Despite being Canadian, Mr Stanhope made a good living in the UK as a rent-a-Yank on British TV in the 60s, doing especially well out of ITC: he was in The BaronMan in a SuitcaseThe Champions and Department S, and made four appearances in The Saint, and made a few appearances in Coronation Street as the Commanding Officer of Elsie Tanner’s US soldier husband Steve.  In the 80s he moved to the US and was in (among other things) LA Law and Picket Fences.

John Gabriel (1914-1998) as Antonio Sforza


Mr Gabriel made his first TV appearance right at the beginning in 1938, and his last 60 years later.  Along the way he could be seen (and heard, his most distinctive quality being his sepulchural voice) in everything from The Adventures of Robin Hood to BergeracEmergency Ward 10 to The Omega Factor, and played King Herod, Disraeli and Freud.  His film work included the horror movies Corridors of Blood and The Curse of the Werewolf.

Jerome Willis (1928-2014) as Quentin Brook


One of those completely authoritative character actors you know is always going to turn in a top class performance, Mr Willis was a distinguished Shakespearean with a screen career it’s difficult to single out the best bits of.  He was a regular in Within These Walls and The Sandbaggers, and made guest appearances in dozens of other top shows over a 50 year period.  To name a particular favourite,  he could be seen a few months after his Crown Court appearance as a chemical firm boss in thrall to a megalomaniacal computer in the Doctor Who story The Green Death in 1973.  One of his later (and undoubtedly strangest) roles saw him concealed beneath an animatronic mask and an inexplicable Irish accent as the alien captain of Gerry Anderson’s godawful Space Precinct.

Blake Butler (1924-1981) as Arthur Goodie


Probably best known as librarian Mr Wainwright in the early episodes of Last of the Summer Wine.  He’d been a regular in Compact and Paul Temple, and played a biology teacher in Grange Hill.  Other places he popped up include The SaintFather Dear FatherThe Gold Robbers (directed by Cyril Coke), Dad’s ArmyElizabeth REmmerdale FarmSurvivorsGeorge and Mildred and Worzel Gummidge.

Witnesses for the defence:

Richard Hurndall (1910-1984) as Gustav de Montalk


Mr Hurndall is remembered chiefly for stepping into William Hartnell’s shoes to play the first Doctor in Doctor Who‘s 20th anniversary story The Five Doctors, but that came right at the end of a long career.  He shares the distinction with Peter Cushing and Tom Baker of having played both Dr Who and Sherlock Holmes, having appeared in a BBC Radio adaptation of The Sign of Four in 1959 (he was an immensely prolific radio actor).  His role as a flamboyant art critic here is characteristic of a lot of his screen work, such as an antique dealer who fancies Harold in a 1970 episode of Steptoe and Son and a gay Nazi officer in Manhunt the same year.  He’d been appearing on telly ever since it started up again after World War 2, and when Queen v Starkie was broadcast he’d recently appeared in The Onedin Line and the BBC’s mammoth adaptation of War and Peace, and could be seen in cinemas in Lady Caroline Lamb.

The jury:


A mostly rather dull lineup this week, the obvious star being the lady with the enormous hat concealing a decidedly ruddy complexion, and the man with the bow tie, who looks just like he could have been called on to give evidence in this particular case.  The foreman (the man in the yellow tie) is Cyril Varley, a prolific bit part player with episodes of Pardon the ExpressionThe Man in Room SeventeenHadleighPaul TempleCoronation Street and Z Cars on his CV.  He seems to have made something of a speciality of playing taxi drivers

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty

Case notes:

  • The onscreen title of this case is Queen v Starkie, but it was listed in the TV Times as Who is Benedetto Trovato?: R v Starkie (that title’s also used on the DVD sleeve and menu).
  • In the opening spiel of episode 1 we get a nice shot of Fulchester Crown Court (though Fulchester is not actually mentioned at any point in this case or the narration).  If anyone can identify where this building really is I’d be very grateful.


Summing up: Perhaps it’s because I did an art history degree that I especially love Queen v Starkie – particularly in the way Bruce Stewart’s script and the spot on performances of Willis and Hurndall perfectly skewer the ludicrous pretensions of art historians on both left and right.  It’s a model of Crown Court scripting, using the three part structure beautifully, with a pair of great cliffhangers leading up to a jaw-dropping twist in the final part.  It’s an immensely satisfying twist too, not least because it sees a wily woman getting one over on a succession of pompous men.  I don’t know how intentional that aspect is, but with Alice Starkie and her counsel the only women involved in the case it’s hard to miss.  And it’s further underlined by the title of the journal Quentin Brook writes for!


An absolute joy, Queen v Starkie is the one Crown Court above all the others so far that I urge you to see.

The world beyond Fulchester this week:

Tuesday 19 December: General Idi Amin gives British workers an ultimatum to accept reduced pay or be expelled from Uganda in 12 days.

Friday 22 December: Survivors of the plane crash in the Andes 10 weeks previously are found (the grim news of how they’d stayed alive was a few days in the future).

In the charts this week:

Britain is clearly in the grip of Osmondmania, with the frankly terrifying Little Jimmy at number 1 in the charts and other songs by either all the group or just Donny at 5, 9, 46 and 47.  You can see the full chart for the week here.


Case 9: Conspiracy

During the evening of March the 10th, 1972, an explosion occurred on the premises of International Worldwide Spectrum Ltd, demolishing three outer offices and seriously damaging a printing press.  After intensive inquiries, police arrested Trevor Luckhurst, a 27 year old freelance journalist, and Jill Sawyer, aged 20, a university undergraduate.  They have been charged firstly with conspiracy to cause explosions with persons unknown, and secondly they have been charged with causing an explosion.  The case is being heard before Mr Justice Waddington, sitting in Fulchester Crown Court.  The jury has been sworn in, and are assembled, after four jurors had been rejected by Counsel for the Defence Mr James Elliot QC.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 13 – Friday 15 December 1972

Written by: Paul Wheeler

Mr Wheeler wrote last week’s episode of Crown CourtCase 8: Espionage, as well as the untransmitted pilot Case 0: Doctor’s Neglect?

Directed by: Roger Tucker (1945- )

Perhaps the only Crown Court director who can boast having directed TV shows in Belgium, the Netherlands and India, Mr Tucker joined Granada straight from university after attracting attention with his student films and directed episodes of Coronation Street and several more-or-less forgotten series including Adam Smith and Nightingale’s Boys.  Later work included GangstersAngels, ShoestringThe ProfessionalsBergeracLovejoyDempsey and MakepeaceThe Bill and Hollyoaks.  In 2007 he directed an award-winning independent film called Waiting for Dublin but that’s his last credit to date.  He was married (until her death) to future Crown Court (and Coronation Street) producer Susi Hush.

Presiding: Richard Warner as the Hon. Justice Waddington


We last saw Justice Waddington last week, in Case 8: Espionage.

The accused:

Keith Bell (1940- ) as Trevor Luckhurst


Mr Bell first came to prominence as a star of the BBC’s 1960s football soap United! and after that popped up in UFOThe ProtectorsThe Sweeney and Minder (his final screen role, in 1984), among other things.  He also played Eric Porter’s son in Hammer’s Hands of the Ripper, looking, it must be said, considerably more presentable than he does here.  He is the younger brother of the more famous Tom Bell.

Trevor Luckhurst is supposedly 27 years old, which seems unlikely in the extreme.  But then the 70s was an unusually harrowing decade.

Sara Clee as Jill Sawyer


Poor Ms Clee doesn’t get to give evidence in the witness box, but does have a fine shouty moment in the dock at the climax of Part Two.  A prolific TV actress from the late 60s till the end of the 90s, she had an especially purple patch in the first half of the 70s, notching up appearances in The BrothersHadleighZ Cars and, in cinemas, That’ll Be the Day and Slade in Flame and starring in children’s serial Golden Hill.  Later work included three Plays for Today and an impressive five appearances (as different characters) in The Bill.

Appearing for the prosecution: Bernard Gallagher as Jonathan Fry QC


Jonathan Fry is back again, having been on our screens only last week in Case 8: Espionage.

I feel I should mention the uncredited silver fox in front of him, who regularly appears as an instructing (but non-speaking) solicitor and looks from certain angles a bit like Doctor Who writer Malcolm Hulke.  If anybody knows his name, do let me know.

Assisted by: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


Charles Lotterby was in last week’s Crown Court as well.

Viewers could also see Mr Ashford this week in the BBC’s period drama anthology The Edwardians on Tuesday, in a brief appearance as a man badgering Arthur Conan Doyle (Nigel Davenport) about bringing back Sherlock Holmes.

Appearing for the defence: Charles Keating as James Elliot QC


James Elliot was also in Case 8: Espionage.

Assisted by: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


Helen Tate wasn’t in last week’s Crown Court, though.  She was last seen a couple of weeks ago in Case 7: A Genial Man.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Meadows White (1901-1973) as Arthur Bell


Mr White would be dead less than year after this edition of Crown Court was broadcast but in the last couple of years of his life alone he managed to squeeze in (among other things) episodes of Dixon of Dock Green, Sykes, Love Thy NeighbourThe Adventures of Black Beauty, The Fenn Street Gang and Colditz as well as a regular role as court usher in Six Days of Justice.  In fact, on the Monday and Tuesday prior to the broadcast of Conspiracy he could be seen in the same timeslot as a customer of the Woolpack in Emmerdale Farm.  He’d been playing similar small parts on screen since 1937.

John Woodnutt (1924-2006) as Dr John Gold


These days Mr Woodnutt is probably best remembered for his four guest roles in Doctor Who (in Spearhead from Space (1970), Frontier in Space (1973), Terror of the Zygons (1975, as the head Zygon) and The Keeper of Traken (1980)) and for appearances in other sci-fi and fantasy series including The Boy from Space (as the Thin Man, who caused more than a few young viewers nightmares), The Tomorrow People (The Vanishing Earth (1973)), Children of the Stones and Knightmare (as both good wizard Merlin and his evil counterpart Mogdred), as well as playing the irascible Sir Watkyn Bassett in Jeeves and Wooster.  He was an astonishingly prolific TV performer whose other significant roles are far too many for me to attempt to list, but among them are many more appearances in Crown Court, including a return engagement as Dr Gold and, in the show’s latter years, the long-running role of Judge Weightman.

John Harvey (1911-1982) as Detective Inspector Philip Roberts


Possessor of the most gimlet eyes in the profession, Mr Harvey was a specialist in cold authority figures and one of those actors who are so omnipresent in British film and TV of the 50s, 60s and 70s they seem like part of the furniture.  I’m not going to go into a long list of his credits as I exhausted myself with John Woodnutt, but as is my wont I’ll note his two appearances in Doctor Who, in 1966’s The War Machines (in the memorable role of a scientist who builds a supercomputer at the top of the Post Office Tower and is promptly enslaved by it) and the following year’s The Macra Terror (as “Official”, a role that pretty much sums up his career).  The week prior to this viewers could have seen him as Sykes‘ irascible new neighbour Major Crombie-Crombie.

Kenneth Colley (1937- ) as Stanley Meredith


Like several other British actors, Mr Colley has found that any recognition from the many other roles he’s played is dwarfed by that from playing a small role in the Star Wars saga.  In fact, he played Imperial Admiral Piett in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  Not that he has to rely on his regular convention appearances to make ends meet – he still works regularly, having most recently been seen in Holby City and Peaky Blinders.  He can also boast having played Jesus in Monty Pythons Life of Brian, and shares with fellow Star Wars alumnus Alec Guinness the distinction of having played both Charles I and Hitler.

Witnesses for the defence:

Leon Vitali (1948- ) as Peter Thornhill


To viewers in 1972, Mr Vitali was best known for playing Peter Craven in series 1 of The Fenn Street Gang (Malcolm McFee, who’d originated the role in Please Sir! returned to it the year after).  Nowadays his greatest fame is as a guardian of the legacy of Stanley Kubrick: after being cast in Barry Lyndon in 1975 he forged such a bond with the director that he served as his personal assistant for the rest of his life, and has subsequently overseen restoration on his entire body of work.  Though to my mind Mr Vitali’s most interesting credit is as Victor Frankenstein in a Swedish-Irish film version of that story.

Tony Adams (1940- ) as Brian Parker


Mr Adams is famous, of course, for his role as Adam Chance in Crossroads, which he played from 1978 till it was axed 10 years later, returning in the bizarre early 2000s revival of the series.  Before that he was already a household face as General Hospital‘s Dr Neville Bywaters.  His other TV appearances include the 1973 Doctor Who story The Green Death (though he became ill during filming, meaning his character prematurely disappears before the end).

Faith Kent (1925-2008) as Elizabeth Sawyer


Ms Kent was one of the regular cast of Eldorado.  I could list some of her many other screen appearances, but next to that they would pale into insignificance.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty.

The Jury

Given the nature of the case, it’s interesting that there are several members of the jury who look a little less square than usual, which leads me to suspect that Crown Court jury selection is a little less random than the real thing.



The camera seems especially interested in the long-haired chap with the beard and the very nattily dressed gentleman to his left, but the pair I found most fascinating were the man on the end who looks uncannily like The League of Gentlemen‘s Harvey Denton, and the young lady at the back who sits slumped in her seat looking thoroughly bored throughout.



The jury foreman (below) is William Wymar, a regular Granada bit-part player whose most significant credit is Ted Bates, who ran away from an old people’s home to stay with his old friend Albert Tatlock for a few episodes of Coronation Street in 1965.


As well as the jury we have an extremely motley crew in the gallery this week (they’re supporters of Luckhurst & Sawyer, obviously).


Case notes:

  • This was the third Crown Court to be made, but the ninth to be broadcast.
  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: This case could not possibly be more early 70s.  The whole thing is rooted in the radical politics of the time, particularly the Angry Brigade.  “Conspiracy” was a catch-all charge regularly used by police at the time on what they saw as subversive types – the most infamous example being the trial of the publishers of Oz magazine for publishing sexually explicit images involving Rupert Bear (Francis Wheen’s study of 70s paranoia, Strange Days Indeed, is very illuminating on this subject).   At this time Britain was considered just as ripe for a takeover by the far right as the far left, and this is reflected in the “fascist rag” published by International World Spectrum that Luckhurst and Sawyer protested against, which offers an extreme right solution to the country’s problems.  The defendants live in a commune with no private ownership – even down to clothing.  The dialogue alludes to the confusing effect of more men having long hair: doddery nightwatchman Arthur Bell insists that despite his age he can still tell the difference between a boy and a girl.  James Elliot responds that, despite being considerably younger, he sometimes has difficulty.
  • LUNCHTIME SWEARWATCH: Arthur Bell is alleged to have called the defendants “bloody nits”.  Trevor Luckhurst tells his own counsel “Don’t be so bloody soft”, and later denounces the case as “All a bloody game.”


Conspiracy is fascinating from a historical point of view, but also one of the most entertaining Crown Courts to date thanks to a succession of  vivid character turns and particularly exciting direction from Roger Tucker. (37).gif

Elsewhere on TV this week:

The day of the final episode of Conspiracy also saw the first episode of Record Breakers broadcast on BBC 1.

In the charts:

Chuck Berry’s Ding-a-Ling is number 1 with the British public for another week, but here’s T-Rex with this week’s number 4.  You can see the full chart for the week here:

Case 8: Espionage

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 EyeThe AvengersDixon of Dock GreenZ CarsThe ProfessionalsMinder 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 FinlayCallanDixon of Dock GreenZ 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 ManThe SaintDoomwatchJason 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.

The jury:



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.

Case notes:

  • 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.

Beyond Fulchester:

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):

Case 7a: A Genial Man

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: A Genial Man was not broadcast during Crown Court’s original run.  It was scheduled for Wednesday 29 November to Friday 1 December 1972, and listed in that week’s TV Times, but in the event Case 7: The Medium was shown instead.  I don’t know why this was – at a guess it was decided that a case of sexual harrassment wasn’t suitable for lunchtime viewing (though Crown Court would certainly cover some risky subjects in that slot later on).

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 CarsAngelsStrangers 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 StreetThe NewcomersZ CarsA Family at WarFollyfootThe BrothersThe Duchess of Duke StreetThe Gentle TouchDempsey and MakepeaceSuper GranRobin of SherwoodBergerac 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) EllenBabylon 5Mad About YouBeverley Hills 90210Sabrina the Teenage WitchAustin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeCurb Your EnthusiasmStar Trek: Enterprise, Hannah MontanaTwo 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 CarsEmergency Ward 10Public EyeDixon of Dock GreenDr 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.

The jury:


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 WaltzJuliet Bravo and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The verdict (highlight to reveal): Not guilty

Case notes:

  • Although A Genial Man wasn’t broadcast, viewers still got to see Robert Dorning playing a councillor in a script by Leslie Duxbury on the day it was meant to start.  Duxbury wrote that night’s Coronation Street, which featured Dorning as a Councillor Charlie Rogers.  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.vlcsnap-2017-06-12-17h25m36s418.png
  • 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.

Case 7: The Medium

Can the dead communicate with the living? Those who are bereaved sometimes long to make contact with those who have died.  And there are those who deliberately prey upon grief and suffering: frauds and fakes who are only too eager to fleece those who have lost someone dear to them.  Is Simon Purbeck a genuine medium or a fraud? Mrs Mary Wells went to his seances for comfort, but now believes he is a fraud.  And today he faces charges under the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951. It is alleged that he conducted seances with the intention to deceive Mrs Mary Wells and received as a reward many thousands of pounds from her.  Mrs Wells is the first witness to be called at Fulchester Crown Court in the case of Regina vs Purbeck.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 29 November – Friday 1 December 1972

Written by: David Fisher

This is Mr Fisher’s second script for Crown Court.  He previously wrote Case 4: Euthanasia.

Directed by: Howard Baker (1932-1993)

Like several other Crown Court personnel, Mr Baker worked on the show’s 60s forerunner The Verdict is Yours.  His other directing credits include The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Coronation Street.  He also served as producer on Coronation Street in 1965, and would fill the same role on Crown Court later in its run.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as Judge Bragge


This is the third time we’ve seen Judge Bragge.  His last appearance was in Case 6: The Eleventh Commandment last week.

The accused: Christopher Gable (1940-1998) as Simon Purbeck


Mr Gable began his career in ballet, becoming principal male dancer at Sadler’s Wells in 1961.  Due to a rheumatoid condition in his feet he switched to acting in 1967, becoming a regular in the films of Ken Russell – most famously as Tchaikovsky’s lover Count Anton Chiluvsky in The Music Lovers in 1970 (a few weeks before The Medium went out viewers could see Stanley Baxter impersonating Gable – and the rest of the cast – in a spoof of that movie).  In 1982 he co-founded the Central School of Ballet, and eventually received a CBE for his services to dance.  But to many people he’s best known for playing tragic villain Sharaz Jek in Peter Davison’s last Doctor Who story,  The Caves of Androzani, in 1984.

When not in the witness box, Mr Gable is seen sporting these magnificent sunglasses.


Appearing for the prosecution: John Alkin as Barry Deeley


This is Mr Deeley’s fifth appearance (or sixth, if you count the untransmitted pilot).  We also saw him last week in Case 6: The Eleventh Commandment.

Appearing for the defence: David Ashford as Charles Lotterby


Mr Lotterby’s also on his fifth appearance.  He was last seen in Case 5: R v Vennings & Vennings.

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Joyce Heron (1916-1980) as Mary Wells


Ideal casting for formidable ladies from the upper end of the social scale, Ms Heron was starring in the West End from 1937, and on TV from 1946.  Her work in the latter medium includes appearances in Dr Finlay‘s CasebookThe AvengersVan Der ValkEmmerdale Farm and Z Cars, with recurring roles in Upstairs Downstairs and A Family at War.  She was also the first actress to play Horace Rumpole’s wife, in the Play for Today where he made his first TV appearance.  Like many solid British character players she turned up to add a bit of class to 70s sex comedies, in her case  Au Pair Girls (1972) and The Ups and Downs of a Handyman (1977, in which – possibly by request – she’s uncredited).  She was married to actor Ralph Michael, who’d later turn up in Crown Court himself.  Apparently there is also a Joyce Heron who’s famous for doing judo.  They are definitely not the same person.

Lloyd Lamble (1914-2008) as Major Kenneth Ottway


Originally from Australia, Mr Lamble was hugely prolific in British film and TV from the early 50s to the mid-80s, appearing in most of the usual suspects (though oddly he never turned up in Doctor Who), often as policemen or stolid officials.  He bowed out in 1985 with an episode of Howards’ Way, which I’m sure is how we’d all like to end our careers.

Michael Hall as Walter Kimble


Mr Hall was another dependable character actor whose range covered the same kind of professional men as Lloyd Lamble: generic roles such as “Industry Representative” in The Power Game, “Vicar” in George and the Dragon, “Prosecuting Barrister” in The Main Chance and “Doctor” in Thriller.

Witnesses for the defence:

Wendy Gifford (1932- ) as Carol Marcos


An expert in smiling but cold career women, as exemplified by her regular role as scheming Laura Challis in The Plane Makers and her appearance in the 1967 Doctor Who story The Ice Warriors, Ms Gifford has also appeared in Adam Adamant Lives!Public EyeOut of the UnknownDr Finlay’s CasebookUpstairs Downstairs, Casualty and a lot more besides.  She was married (until his death) to actor John Cater, who surprisingly never made a trip to Fulchester.

Betty Hardy (1904-1981) as Rachel Sullivan


From 1965 to 1966 Ms Hardy played Clara Midgeley in Coronation Street, setting her cap at Albert Tatlock and briefly taking Martha Longhurst’s place in the snug at the Rovers’.  She’d been appearing on TV since 1938, and her other work included roles in Dr Finlay’s CasebookAngelsLast of the Summer WineRumpole of the BaileyTinker Tailor Soldier SpyHazell (in a recurring role as the title character’s mother) and a hell of a lot of costume dramas.

The jury:


A few interesting characters for us to enjoy this week: in the back row a spectacular example of the blue rinse competes with the lady in the sleeveless top’s vast dome for the title of hairdo of the week, while at the front there’s an extremely forbidding matron sat next to the most tired looking man in the history of the world.  The bearded gentleman visiting from the 17th century is this week’s foreman.  His name is Ronald Harvi and he’s also been in episodes of Mr Rose and Tich and Quackers.  Director Howard Baker seems very fond of shooting the jury as below, which makes them look like a lineup of all the Doctor Whos.


The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty.

Case notes:

  • The Medium was the thirteenth Crown Court to be made, but was bumped up the running order as a replacement for the scheduled Case 7a: A Genial Man
  • We hear a snatch of “Distant Hills”, the Crown Court end theme, at the start of episode 1, before the narration begins.
  • We get the tiniest bit of background information about Deeley and Lotterby when Lotterby mentions that they both went to the same university (going by his reference to theoretical astronomy, this seems to be Cambridge).
  • I don’t think I’ve mentioned the black and white stills that kick off each episode of Crown Court yet, but the images of Simon Purbeck’s seances are too good not to (as is the view of Christopher Gable’s chest hair).


That last image in particular looks like a lost sleeve for Smiths record.  Excitingly, we also get a glimpse of the outside of Fulchester Crown Court:



The Medium is a model of even-handedness in constructing a Crown Court case, the script and performances making each character involved both plausible and suspicious in turn.  For many (most?) people, the question of whether Simon Purbeck is a genuine medium will be open and shut, yet Christopher Gable invests him with a combination of sincerity and spookiness that almost has us believing in him.  Indeed, all the performances are spot on (though Lloyd Lamble teeters on the edge of caricature with his blustering major), with Joyce Heron as the distraught Mrs Wells giving the finest Crown Court performance since Freda Dowie in Case 2: R v Lord.  Of the regulars, John Alkin continues to be especially delightful as Barry Deeley.

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:


Case 6: The Eleventh Commandment

Just after midday on the 8th of May, one of the accused, Linda Mitchell, walked out of the dress department of Humbard’s, the well-known department store, telling the assistant that the dresses she’d been trying on were not suitable.  The other accused, 31 year old housewife Rosemary Clayton, had been in the same department proclaiming her purse had been stolen from her handbag.  But at the very moment Mitchell left, Clayton found her purse had been in her coat pocket all the time, and, apologising profusely, she left too.  The assistant who served Mitchell then found only three dresses were returned by Mitchell, whereas the disc system indicated that she had taken four into the fitting room.  It is also alleged that as the two approached a Mini car in Humbard’s car park, a store detective followed them.  By the time the detective reached them Clayton was in the driving seat and Mitchell threw her raincoat into the passenger seat and slammed the door, and then Clayton drove off.  Believing the missing dress to be concealed under the raincoat, the detective took the number of the car and asked Mitchell to return to the manager’s office.  The store manager telephoned the registration number to the police, but the dress was not in the car when Clayton arrived home, and she denied that it ever had been.  Clayton and Mitchell are charged with conspiracy to steal, and the theft of a dress worth £32.00, the property of Humbard’s Stores Ltd.  Electing to be tried by jury, the case is about to be heard in the Crown Court.

Original broadcast: Wednesday 22-Friday 24 November 1972

Written by: Roy Russell (1918-2015)

From the 60s up until the 80s Mr Russell wrote for a wealth of successful TV shows, including The SaintNo Hiding PlaceMogulDixon of Dock GreenSexton BlakeThe Onedin LineA Family at War and Tales of the Unexpected.  His episode of Doomwatch, which had the enticing title The Killer Dolphins, is sadly lost.  He also  did a lot of children’s TV, including the serials Fly into DangerMidnight is a Place and The Witches and the Grinnygog and episodes of Shadows and Jackanory Playhouse.  His final credit was a 1989 episode of Tugs.  The Eleventh Commandment was his only contribution to Crown Court.

Directed by: Carol Wilks

Probably the greatest achievement in Ms Wilks’ career was directing the BAFTA winning Granada children’s drama Soldier and Me in 1974.  Aside from that she worked regularly for both BBC and ITV in both drama and documentary, directing episodes of Coronation StreetWorld in ActionThe XYY Man and its spin-off StrangersJuliet BravoGrange HillHow We Used to Live and The Bill.  She later moved into producing, with stints on The BillHeartbeat and its spin-off The Royal.

Presiding: Edward Jewesbury as Judge Bragge


Judge Bragge was last seen in Case 2: R v Lord

The accused:

Daphne Rogers as Rosemary Clayton


Curiously, this appears to have been Ms Rogers’ only ever screen appearance.  The only other information I’ve been able to find about her is that she was once in a production of John Dryden’s All for Love at the Old Vic.  If you know anything else about her it would be wonderful if you could share!

And yes, that is Coronation Street legend Liz Dawn behind her.  Ms Dawn is a regular non-speaking presence in Crown Court up until 1976, when she graduates to the role of a witness.

Patricia Fuller as Linda Mitchell


Ms Fuller’s best known role, both then and now, was as Elsie Tanner’s niece Sandra Butler, a regular role on Coronation Street for a few months in 1969 and 1970 (her brother Bernard, was played by a young Gorden Kaye – yes, Suede fans, Gorden Kaye played Bernard Butler in Coronation Street).  If IMDb is to be believed, this Crown Court case was her last screen work until 1991, when she turned up in Spanish-set police drama El CID as “Fighting Customer”.  And was never heard from again.

Appearing for the prosecution: Terrence Hardiman (1937- ) as Stephen Harvesty


A silkily sinister presence on British TV for over 50 years now, Mr Hardiman is probably best known now for terrifying a generation of children in his role as the BBC’s Demon Headmaster in the 90s.  You will certainly have seen him in many other programmes (surprisingly, though, he didn’t turn up in Doctor Who until 2010’s The Beast Below).  He became one of the most prolific and long-running Crown Court barristers, so it’s pleasing that when Channel 4 tried to revive the format with The Courtroom in 2004 he was on the roster of judges.  He’s married to the actress Rowena Cooper, later to join Crown Court as barrister Anne Dickson.  Marvellously, the couple would battle it out in the courtroom twice.

Appearing for Mrs Clayton: Dorothy Vernon as Helen Tate


Helen Tate was last seen in Case 3: R v Bryant

Appearing for Miss Mitchell: John Alkin as Barry Deeley


Barry Deeley was also last seen in Case 3: R v Bryant

Witnesses for the prosecution:

Lesley North as Judy Owens


Ms North’s screen career began auspiciously with a role in Jacques Demy’s Les Demoiselles des Rochefort.  After this it was mostly small roles in British film and TV, including Carry On Matron, Puppet on a ChainThrillerDawson’s WeeklyShoestring and, inevitably, Casualty and The Bill.  She had a starring role in best-forgotten 1975 film musical Three for All, and, according to her agent’s website, has written over 100 episodes of drama for the BBC World Service (as well as sketches for 70s kids’ series Get It Together).

Rhoda Lewis (1933- ) as Marian Holland


Like several other British character actresses of similar vintage, Ms Lewis was last seen playing a New York society matron in the Meryl Streep vehicle Florence Foster Jenkins.  Other recentish work includes HustleCasualty and Doctors.  Her Doctor Who appearance was in 1980’s State of Decay.  Other roles of note in her long and prolific career include bookie Dave Smith’s wife in Coronation Street in 1969 and the role of Mrs Brogan in three of the BBC’s 80s Miss Marple adaptations.

Pippa Rowe (1938-2005) as WPC Burslam


Ms Rowe is best known for playing Nurse (later Sister) Doreen Holland in ATV’s General Hospital for seven years from 1973 to 1980.  She was also in episodes of Softly SoftlyA Family at War and Dixon of Dock Green.

Roy Marsden (1941- ) as Peter Maclennon


In 1972, Mr Marsden’s was a familiar face from guest roles in dozens of TV shows, and it’d stay that way until 1978, when he finally graduated to the lead role in acclaimed crime drama The Sandbaggers.  This led to him being top-billed in Airline, a BBC adaptation of Goodbye Mr Chips and the role with which he’s most identified, P D James’ Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, which he played over a course of 15 years.  Like Terrence Hardiman he was surprisingly late to pop in Doctor Who, finally appearing in 2007’s Smith and Jones.  He was last seen on screen in the BBC’s much-maligned Agatha Christie adaptation Partners in Crime.

Coral Fairweather (1907-1994) as Joan Lumley-Brown


Ms Fairweather’s other TV appearances included roles in No Hiding PlaceOur Man at St Mark‘sThe Power Game and Armchair Theatre.

Also: Peter Whitaker as Ron Clayton


Rosemary Clayton’s husband sits in the court throughout, though he doesn’t get any dialogue.  Actor Peter Whitaker is credited, though, which wasn’t a given in his TV career.  His other work includes six Doctor Who stories (as Inspector Gascoigne in 1967’s The Faceless Ones, then as an extra in The Seeds of Death (1968), Genesis of the Daleks (1975), The Pirate Planet (1978), Four to Doomsday (1982) and Remembrance of the Daleks (1988)), Adam Adamant Lives!The Forsyte SagaDad’s ArmyBudgieDoomwatchColditzUpstairs DownstairsThe Duchess of Duke StreetBlake’s 7 (uncredited as a scientist in 1978’s Project Avalon), Rumpole of the Bailey and London’s Burning.

The jury:




An embarrassment of riches in the jury box this week: the lady in the rainbow shirt, the woman in pink who looks spookily like Absolutely Fabulous‘s Harriet Thorpe and the clones in red are all worthy of note.  The theatrical looking gentleman next to rainbow lady is this week’s foreman, actor George Woolley.  IMDb has unhelpfully amalgamated his work with at least one other George Woolley (a current American TV producer), but it seems likely our George is the one who played a pathologist in A Family at War earlier in 1972.  Whether he’s also the George Woolley who had a regular role in the BBC’s football soap United! is hard to confirm as none of that show’s episodes still exist.

George gets to make the most of his moment in the spotlight here, as he’s required to absent-mindedly give the wrong verdict, then quickly correct himself in order to create suspense (I assume – it’s possible he does actually forget it!)


The verdict (highlight to reveal): Guilty – sorry, I mean not guilty.

Case notes:

  • There’s no mention of Fulchester this week: the events in this case all took place somewhere called Broad Green.
  • Unusually, parts 1 and 3 end with some dialogue between the defendants and their counsel which the jury are not privy to.  Part 1 concludes with Rosemary Clayton terrified of having to testify the following day, with her husband then  stroking and patting her hand in close-up for the entire duration of the end credits, which goes on for so long and is so repetitive it becomes quite creepy, then passes into being hilarious.


Part 3 has a totally format-breaking conclusion *SPOILER WARNING* as, having just been found not guilty, Mrs Clayton blurts out to her husband that she’s sorry and will never do it again (she’s overheard by a patently unamused Deeley and Tate).


  • SIGNS OF THE TIMES: It’s clear that Linda Mitchell is meant to be a hippyish type – Stephen Harvesty refers to her unconventional dress sense (is it?) and suggests she spends her time thinking “how to beat the establishment”.  When he brings up her sex life she exclaims “Am I a thief because I’m not a virgin?” to mild consternation in the courtroom.


A very basic case that’s really too thin to stretch over three episodes, with few twists and turns to open it out (the suggestion that there might be a sexual relationship between Linda Mitchell and Ron Clayton, which could have made the case a bit more interesting, is shut down as soon as it’s raised and never mentioned again.  Episode 3 is especially hard-going: once Coral Fairweather’s affable turn as a charity shop volunteer is out of the way it’s three long speeches to the jury and Edward Jewesbury delivering his lines so agonisingly slowly he must surely have been aware of the need to pad out the running time.  There are fun performances along the way, above all Terrence Hardiman’s tremendously assured debut, but we’re left with the feeling that everyone’s being so scrupulous about reproducing a case as it would be heard in court that the entertainment angle’s been a bit neglected.

In the charts:

Chuck Berry’s Ding-a-Ling has proved irresistible to the double entendre-loving British public, and is now number 1 across the land.  Here’s this week’s number 2: