Public Eye – Works with Chess, Not with Life

works with chess

Written by Roger Marshall
Directed by Basil Coleman

Marker’s been doing some work for a solicitor called George Faulkner (Laurence Hardy) and he asks him to keep an eye on Dr Alan Skerrett.  Faulkner is concerned about Skerrett’s wife Nancy (Susan Dowdall) as he considers himself something of a god-uncle to her.  Skerrett’s recently cancelled a life insurance policy and also hasn’t renewed his golf club subscription.  That indicates to Frank that he plans to leave, the question is does he intend to take anybody else with him?

Marker quickly discovers that Skerrett’s having an affair, with Ann Lynn (Susan Lambert).  But matters are complicated when Nancy pays him a visit as she also wants to hire him to follow her husband.  She knows he’s having an affair – and who he’s having it with – she wants Marker to force him to choose between her and Ann.

Works with Chess, Not with Life provides us with several good examples of just how good a liar Frank Marker is.  One of his jobs for Faulkner concerns a woman called Miss O’Hara (Valerie Bell).  She’s threatening to sue a local hotel because she claims they gave her food poisoning and she’s been hardly able to eat since.  Frank strikes up a conversation with her in a pub and treats her to a slap-up meal – with Faulkner present to observe her healthy appetite.  With Miss O’Hara, he slips effortlessly into the persona of a commercial traveller, complete with the gift of the gab, and she doesn’t suspect a thing.

The main part of the episode revolves around Skerrett’s infidelities.  To be honest, he’s so weak and indecisive that it’s difficult to understand what either woman sees in him.  Eventually he decides that he can’t leave with Ann and she begins to make things difficult for him.  So he becomes the third person to come to Marker to ask for help.

It’s easy to tell that Frank’s not impressed with him.  “How a so-called intelligent man gets himself … What’s it cost to train a doctor? About ten thousand? Ten thousand pounds worth of education. Do you know how old I was when I left school? Fourteen. And that was an achievement my mother boasted about”.

Marker stops Ann from taking any action (by not strictly ethical means as he admits) and it’s another good example of how he’s able to spin a convincing yarn.  Clearly he could have had another job as a confidence trickster!

This isn’t a particularly Marker-centric episode since it concentrates more on the love triangle.  And as Skerrett’s such an annoying character this doesn’t make it the most compelling of stories.  But even average Public Eye is better than a great many other dramas.

Next episode – The Bromsgrove Venus

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