Travelling Man -Moving On (5th December 1984)

For once the peripatetic Lomax seems content to stay in the same place for a while (he’s taken a job at the local pub). This doesn’t please Neil Pember (Colin Jeavons) who knows Lomax of old and is keen for him to move on as soon as possible. So Pember engages the services of Kenny (Jeffrey Hardy) to sort this out – using any means necessary ….

The last two episodes of series one are the point where Lomax’s desire to find out who framed him really begins to come to the fore (although I assume that Roger Marshall already knew he’d been commissioned for a second series as everything is left dangling at the end of the next episode).

Colin Jeavons plays to type as Pember. He’s a somewhat nervous and devious person, although he does have a hard streak (challenging Kenny to an arm wrestle but placing his open lighter under Kenny’s arm).

I’m not sure if it’s a story flaw, but had Pember simply done nothing then I’m sure Lomax would have moved on when the time was right (as he’s still searching for his son). So by engaging Kenny, Pember has simply drawn attention to himself and sown the seeds of his own destruction.

Although I suppose you could argue that given it’s a fairly small place Lomax and Pember would probably have run into one another eventually, so maybe Pember decided it was worth trying get rid of Lomax by force.

Is Kenny the man for the job though? He seems something of a lightweight and given all we’ve seen of Lomax so far this series, there only seems like one winner in the battle between them. This might be another miscalculation by Pember, or possibly Lomax has grown harder following his stay in prison. Since we have no knowledge of the old Lomax it’s hard to say for sure – but today’s episode once again demonstrates that he’s happy to use violence to resolve a situation (if he was like that during his police days then it’s a wonder he didn’t get drummed out of the force earlier).

Remaining in mild niggle mode, it’s remarkable that so many people met by Lomax on his travels have seen Steve. Today it’s the turn of Susie (Kate Hardie), who appears on the surface to be a friendly teenager with no particular agenda. We’re forced to revise this opinion later on after Kenny asks her to plant some drugs on Lomax’s boat (having then tipped off the police, this is his first attempt to get rid of Lomax).

If you can swallow that Susie has met Steve, more swallowing is required when she becomes embroiled in the episode’s main plotline. This is a little hard to take (unless Kenny knew that Lomax and Susie had already met). When the police – in the form of Inspector Jakeman (Richard Ireson) – come calling, Lomax is remarkably nonchalant. He’s already disposed of the drugs so no problem there, but doesn’t seem in the least concerned about the fact he’s been entertaining an underage girl on his boat (although it’s true that they’ve done nothing more than enjoy a cup of tea).

Jakeman is one of the more comical coppers to cross Lomax’s path. He’s easily bamboozled by the ex-detective and is forced to leave empty-handed.

Kenny steps up his efforts by using his crop dusting helicopter (that’s a handy occupation) to buzz Lomax’s narrowboat as it wends its way down the canal. This is the closest that the series came to a car chase, and although it’s low in speed it’s still an impressive scene.

By this point Lomax is angry (and you don’t want to make him angry) so he plots his revenge in a typically single-minded fashion. He uses a club to knock Kenny unconscious, drags him to a shed and proceeds to almost run him over with a handy threshing machine. Hopefully Lomax was just bluffing, but looking into his eyes it’s difficult to be sure. As touched upon earlier, this outcome was always on the cards – so the question wasn’t who would win, but how Lomax would win.

Now that Lomax knows that Pember was behind Kenny, everything’s nicely set up for the series closer. And this episode ends on an ominous tone with a silent Lomax simply watching the increasingly frantic Pember. Like a cat playing with a mouse, Lomax is content to bide his time and engage in a spot of psychological warfare.

3 thoughts on “Travelling Man -Moving On (5th December 1984)

  1. I once read that all 13 episodes of the Travelling Man were recorded over one intensive block of filming, but ITV decided to hold back airing the second half of the series until September 1985. Whether that is true, remains to be seen.

    The penultimate episode of the first series begins to focus on the core aspect of Lomax’s situation and his former life – this having been moved to one side since episode one in favour of other ‘stand-alone’ stories.

    Colin Jeavons played an almost identical character in the Sweeney episode ‘The Bigger They Are’ where he was clearly out of his depth on the wrong side of the law.

    An excellent episode which really begins to add some meat to the bones of the Travelling Man.

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  2. “I once read that all 13 episodes of the Travelling Man were recorded over one intensive block of filming.” No, my father’s show was recorded over two separate periods.

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  3. Thank you for clearing this up Rodney. As a Northerner I very much appreciate this series as my home town of Wigan is very much full of canals, although the TM was never filmed there. The first series seems to have been filmed throughout the summer of 1984 as people are wearing T-shirts and relaxed clothing, while the Cheshire countryside is shown in its finest greenery with lots of day trippers gracing the waters and tow paths.

    The second series is very much cold, overcast and inclement, with snow in at least two of the episodes. The Castlefield basin in Manchester (in the episode Hustler) is very run down and uninviting to how it is now, and the weather certainly helps to create a feel of doom and intimidation that helps to give the episode that bit more of an edge. I am assuming the second series of filming was done maybe early 1985?

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