It’s only a few minutes into this episode before Simon and Annabel are released by Inspector Lebec. It’s almost as if their arrest was arranged simply to provide us with a decent cliffhanger …..
Who was the sixth man? It’s now been established that six men were responsible for the gold robbery. Oscar West was one, whilst the man who died in the boat accident with him, Bonaparte, was another. We met three of the others in the previous episode – the baccarat-loving Frenchman Duchamps, the guitar-loving sadist Berndotti and the deaf, mute knifeman Pancho (Leon Lissek).
Because Simon knows so much about the robbery (he admits he was in the area at the time) there’s a lingering suspicion on Annabel’s part that he’s the sixth man. But since this story aired fairly late in the run it’s hard to believe that the Saint could have been involved.
But it’s interesting that this two-parter was the first to go into production, so had it been transmitted early on then Simon’s guilt or innocence wouldn’t have been so clear cut. There’s a nice edge to Ogilvy’s performance in this episode – so it’s a pity that for the majority of the episodes Simon is presented as a straightforwardly heroic figure (with little of the reckless zest of the early, literary Saint).
Simon and Annabel have located the Brave Goose and onboard is Captain Finnigan (Joe Lynch). Finnigan is a drunken Irishman and Lynch’s comic performance is broad, but nonetheless quite amusing.
Also aboard are Duchamps, Berndotti and Pancho and they all head out to sea in search of the treasure. Needless to say, there’s some tension among this mismatched party – the three crooks elect to throw Simon overboard at the first opportunity, but he manages to convince them that he could be of use (and also that he possibly may be the sixth man).
After the travelogue nature of episode one, this feels more enclosed since a good part of it takes place aboard the Brave Goose. It still has a glossy feel though, helped by the location filming in France.
There’s a mystery to be solved – Pancho is murdered, but who was responsible? Was it one of the people we’ve already seen or the mysterious sixth man or even somebody else? The solution to the mystery is quite neat, although it’s probable that a sizeable part of the audience would have worked it out before Simon does.
Whilst the unconvincing accents sported by the likes of Stratford Johns, John Hallam and Derren Nesbitt are a little amusing (it’s understandable that the production team preferred to cast British actors, but you’d have thought they could have found the odd French-born thesp) it doesn’t detract too much. A major plus is Gayle Hunnicutt, who is one of the more fleshed-out female leads in the series (helped in part by the length of the story).
The Sixth Man rates four halos out of five.