Sgt Wills fishes a barely conscious petty criminal called Phil Harvey (George Innes) out of the river. It wasn’t suicide though – as Harvey was bound and gagged. After he’s taken to the hospital Wills in unable to get any useful information from him. DC Clayton is equally unsuccessful with Harvey’s wife, Jessie (Mela White).
The first breakthrough comes when Harvey’s car is found – close to the office of Stephen Gilles (David Lodge). Gilles is a target criminal and therefore of special interest to the Serious Crimes Squad. Dixon contacts DCI Bassett (Stephen Greif) who’s been keeping Gilles under observation and suggests they pool their resources.
There’s some effective film-work at the start of The Job as we see Wills rescue Harvey. It once again shows that one of Dixon‘s strengths during this period was the dock-based location filming (which helps to break up the generally studio-bound, static feel of the series). There’s not a lot of location work in this one but every little helps to open out the show a little.
The opening of the story also brings Sgt Johnny Wills a little more into the centre of the action. Between 1960 and 1976 Nicholas Donnelly chalked up over two hundred appearances and was therefore as much a fixture at Dock Green as Jack Warner or Peter Byrne were. Donnelly was able to give Wills a likeable, friendly air which fitted in well with the general tone of the series.
Here, he spends most of the story at the hospital – cadging endless cups of tea from a friendly young nurse (played by Glynis Brooks). She only appears to have eyes for the dashing young DS Bruton though and later views Wills’ habit of listening at doors with a little disfavour. Wills is unabashed though – if it means gaining information then it’s a legitimate tactic.
As ever, there’s a very decent guest cast. George Innes (Upstairs Downstairs, Danger UXB) gamely opened the episode by being caked in mud and submerged in the river (kudos to him, considering the early hour the scene was shot and how cold it looked). Mela White (best known as Diamante Lil from Bergerac) is gloriously vacant as his wife. But is she really that slow on the uptake or is it just a way of concealing what she knows?
It’s possibly not a surprise that it’s Dixon (rather than Bruton or Clayton) who realises that Serious Crimes have been keeping tabs on Gilles which is confirmed after he arranges a meeting with DCI Bassett. It’s another subtle demonstration that whilst he may be getting on, Dixon’s knowledge still remains formidable. Greif’s scenes are rather distracting, thanks to his false-looking moustache, but his meet with Dixon is a good excuse to get Jack Warner out of the studio and onto film.
David Lodge, an actor with an impressive list of comedy credits (appearing alongside the likes of Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan), has a fairly small role but casting a name actor helps to make it a memorable appearance.
As so often with television of this era, it’s the period feel which makes it an interesting watch. The Harvey’s house (especially the wallpaper) screams out that it’s the 1970’s and some of the film-work – as Bruton and Clayton tail Gilles down the local high-street – is also rather evocative. This filming also highlights the somewhat ad-hoc way these programmes were made. Often it appears that they’d just turn up and start filming, without attempting to close off the street. Meaning that you’ll often see members of the public unable to resist the temptation of staring straight down the lens!
The second of Derek Ingrey’s five scripts for series twenty-two, it’s another effective, character-based story.