Mohinder Singh (Renu Senta) is involved in the trafficking of illegal immigrants. Forty individuals are currently in Ostend, awaiting shipment to Britain – but they won’t be going anywhere until the captain of Dutch vessel is paid in cash.
Singh contacts a dodgy import/exporter called William Keeley (Harry Landis). Keeley is unwilling to make the trip himself, but a likely candidate presents herself at just the right moment. Alice Benfield (Angela Pleasence) is a gifted music student who rents a room above Keeley’s office. She appears to be vague and lacking in any social skills, which encourages Keeley to use her as an unwitting courier.
But Alice isn’t quite as innocent as she appears and is more than willing to undertake the job, provided the price is right. And this isn’t the only surprise that Alice springs …..
Alice takes a while to get going (the first twenty minutes or so drag somewhat) but once we get into the heart of the story things pick up nicely. Angela Pleasence, daughter of Donald Pleasence, gives an intriguing performance as the titular Alice. When we first meet her she’s incredibly vague and hardly seems able to string two words together. Is this an act? By the end of the episode (after she’s pocked the money from Singh and taunted him that he’s powerless to do anything) she’s transformed completely.
Keeley ends up as her partner in crime (Dixon’s closing piece to camera states that they later went into business together). Harry Landis is hardly pushed, but is good anyway, as the sharp Jewish businessman not averse to accepting a crooked deal.
The one discordant note comes from Tania Rogers as Keeley’s secretary Samantha Jones. Her jive talking (referring to white people who annoy her as “honky”) hasn’t aged well and her acting in general is rather brittle and forced. A sample of some of her other performances during this period, such as Zilda in the Doctor Who story The Robots of Death, shows that she did tend to overact.
Renu Setna is much better value as Singh – a man who professes he only wants to help his fellows, but isn’t averse to making a healthy profit out of them. Refugees and migrants remain a hot topic today – although they’re not not really the focus of the episode. As we never see them, the migrants are only used a plot device to put the sum of money into Alice’s hands and it could have equally been drugs or pornography Singh and Keeley were dealing in.
This is an episode where it seems that crime does pay, as Alice uses the money she’s stolen from Singh to give a recital at the Wigmore Hall. All Dixon can offer any viewers concerned to hear she’d got away scot-free is the news that the critical response was poor!
Although the opening is dull and Alice’s character transforms rather too completely over the course of the episode for my tastes, this is decent enough fare.