Softly Softly: Task Force – Money for Sale (17th January 1973)

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The Task Force are on the trail of Alfred Felton. A distinguished-looking criminal in his fifties, Felton has disappeared (the fact he was carrying a great deal of stolen money when he vanished piques Watt’s interest).

In the past John Watt has berated Harry Hawkins for his willingness to dash about. Senior staff, says Watt, should be more office bound. Today he seems to have forgotten that maxim – Watt spends the early part of the episode out and about and in full investigation mode.  It’s quite a rarity these days to see him playing detective, and even rarer that he’s digging around all by himself.

Felton’s car – a Wolseley – seems to be key. Find that and they might have a good chance of locating Felton. Watt tracks the car down to a scrapyard run by Paddy Reilly (Paddy Joyce).  One of those instantly recognisable actors, Joyce is highly entertaining as the endlessly slippery Reilly – a man who breezily breaks the law without a second thought.

Reilly doesn’t get the third degree from Watt though, that’s reserved for Powers (John White) – the man who sold the car to Reilly.  Powers, a man with a taste in flamboyant shirts, is eventually worn down by Watt.  Since Stratford Johns’ departure, there hasn’t been quite so many pulsating interview scenes, but Frank Windsor handles this one pretty well.

As the episode rumbles on, the main question remains unanswered – is Felton dead or alive? And if he is dead, who killed him? That the resolution of the mystery only occurs towards the tail end of the episode helps to explain why Money for Sale feels somewhat static. It doesn’t help that Felton’s criminal associates don’t appear until the last ten minutes or so – as when they do they help to give the story a little extra push.

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