Public Eye – The Morning Wasn’t So Hot

the morning

Written by Roger Marshall
Directed by Kim Mills

Marker is hired to find Jenny Graham (Carole Ann Ford) a twenty-year-old runaway from Hull.  The chances of tracking her down in London are slim, to say the least, but he takes the case.  Jenny is working for a small-time pimp called Peter Mason (Roland Curram), who haunts the cafes at Kings Cross Railway Station, spotting unattached young girls who’ve run away from home.

Jenny is no innocent though – this is a lifestyle she’s chosen, and she plans to make it to the top.  Mason is invited to a meeting with Dannon (Philip Madoc).  Dannon describes himself as an agent, somebody who provides items for collectors – and the item in question is Jenny.

The Morning Wasn’t So Hot is a bleak little tale.  Philip Madoc is suitably sinister as Dannon, polite and cultured on the surface (and surrounded by valuable antiques) but also quite capable of viewing Jenny as just another item for sale, as he explains to Mason.  “Three, six months, that’s the life expectancy of one of your girls. Ten to one she’s in court by the end of the month or she’s got pneumonia hanging about shop doorways or you’ve done a little crude rolling”.

Mason agrees to sell her for three hundred pounds, but unfortunately for him she’s already gone.  Marker questions Mason and he breaks the bad news to him.  “You sold her. Now she’s welched on you and you’re piggy in the middle. They’re going to be fitting you for an apple in the mush”.

And that’s the last we see of Mason.  When Marker and Dannon meet, Dannon tells him that Mason’s retired and there’s no doubt that it’s a permanent retirement with no plans to return.  Marker agrees to tell Dannon first if he finds Jenny, but it’s obvious that he won’t (and this will spell trouble for Frank).

carole
Carole Ann Ford

Marker eventually tracks Jenny down, but she’s not prepared to listen to him or return home to her mother.

MARKER: Look, your friend Mason did a deal with one of the retail flesh merchants. Now according to the agreement you should be working for them.
JENNY: Really? First I heard of it.
MARKER: Well you ran off on the day he made the deal.
JENNY: Tough.
MARKER: Look, these people are not to be fooled about with, you know.
JENNY: I’ll bear it in mind.
MARKER: You’ve heard of the girls who end up in the river, naked and dead? Well it wasn’t Jack the Ripper, it was girls just like you, girls who stepped out of line, who wouldn’t do what they were told.
JENNY: Which was?
MARKER: A girl has a certain lifespan, did you know that? Every now and again they like to juggle the faces.

Dannon obviously had somebody following Marker, as after he left Jenny some of his associates picked her up – and dumped Frank into the river.  Marker then considers the case closed – he tried to persuade Jenny to return home, she refused and he regards his dip in the river as a clear warning.  If he interferes again, they’ll kill him like they did Mason.

So sadly, Jenny has to be written off.  And her meeting with Dannon is a chilling moment.  She tells him that he can’t force her.  “Oh my dear, it’s the easiest thing in the world. I shouldn’t be saying this of course, because I’m only an agent in the transaction, but these people they have their ways. They have, ah, what do they call it? A battery farm. Even the most rebellious become totally compliant”.

If Jenny is now beyond Frank’s assistance, then the episode does end on a hopeful note since he’s able to help another young runaway, Sue Forbes (Susan Burnet).  Which causes him to remark that “the morning wasn’t so hot, maybe the afternoon will be a bit better”.

An uncompromising story, Alfred Burke continues to impress (soaking his feet after a hard day pounding the streets is a nice, realistic touch!).  Philip Madoc is always worth watching, especially when he’s playing menacing (which he did an awful lot).  It’s hard to warm to Jenny, but Carole Ann Ford does manage to express a certain vulnerability in the last few minutes when she realises she’s in too deep.  It’s certainly a change of role following her year on Doctor Who, and was exactly the sort of part she wanted – a chance to do something different.

Next episode – Don’t Forget You’re Mine

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