H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man – Man in Disguise

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After a crook masquerades as the Invisible Man in order to smuggle a supply of cocaine from Paris to London, Brady teams up with the police, in the form of the attractive Sergeant Winter (Jeanette Stark), in order to run them to ground ….

There’s a nice touch of continuity here as Man in Disguise clearly follows on from the events of the previous episode.  Brady, heading home to England after solving the case of the vanishing rabbit, is waylaid at the airport by a conniving femme-fatale, Madeline (Leigh Madison).  It’s plain to see that she’s a wrong ‘un – maybe it’s the fur coat that does it – and within a matter of minutes she’s allowed her associate Nick to nip off with Brady’s bag (and passport).

The smugglers – Madeline and Nick (Tim Turner) – have clearly identified Brady’s Achilles heel (he can’t resist helping a damsel in distress).  So when Madeline pretends to faint,  Brady instantly dashes over to lend his assistance.  Luckily for them, he kept his passport in his bag (if he’d had it in his pocket then their brilliant plan wouldn’t have worked).

It’s surprising that more criminals haven’t attempted to impersonate Brady.  All you need are some bandages, dark glasses and a hat and voila – you’re instantly transformed into Peter Brady, the Invisible Man.  Thus disguised, Nick finds he can waltz through the customs at London, since the officer knows that Brady wouldn’t be mixed up in any drug shenanigans.

Tim Turner, of course, voiced the Invisible Man for the majority of the series (there’s the odd episode where Brady sounds rather different, so presumably other actors occasionally stood in).  It’s therefore rather neat that Turner plays Nick since not only does it allow us to see, for once, the man behind the voice but it ensures that Nick’s masquerade is quite convincing.

Brady’s eye for the ladies is once again evident after he’s introduced to Sergeant Winter.  Along with Sergeant Day (Howard Pays) the three of them go undercover as they hit London’s fashionable nightspots to investigate the drug trade.  This is an irresistible part of the story as it’s just so polite and of its time.  The fantastically named Golden Monkey nightclub is where the action is and Sergeant Winter (after transforming herself into a well-heeled addict) infiltrates the joint.

If Tim Turner was something of a voice expert (in addition to this series he also narrated a considerable number of Rank’s Look at Life cinema documentary short films) then so was Robert Rietty, here playing the club’s waiter, Victor.  For many, he’ll probably be best remembered for dubbing a number of characters for the James Bond films (most notably in Thunderball and You Only Live Twice).

When the drug smugglers realise that Brady’s after them, they become desperate.  They plant a bomb in his car but unfortunately they choose to do this in broad daylight and with the inquisitive Sally watching on.  This leads into my favourite line in the episode as Sally picks up the phone and informs the caller that her uncle is otherwise engaged. “I’m afraid he’s busy. He’s taking a bomb out of his car”.

Man in Disguise is able to pause for a few seconds to consider the cost of the drug trade (when flicking through a series of photographs in order to identify the woman who stole his bag, Brady is shocked to see that many of them are very young) but apart from this brief reflection, the episode is pretty straight-ahead fare.

The criminals might be bumbling and written rather broadly, but the time-capsule aspect of this one makes it very appealing.  Certainly one of the stronger episodes from the later run of the series.

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