Softly Softly: Task Force – The Removal

S03E13 (29th December 1971). Written by Allan Prior, directed by Philip Dudley

The Removal opens with Garbutt and Turner (Graham Weston and Johnny Briggs) arriving at a substantial house (it stands in its own grounds). We can instantly tell that they’re wrong ‘uns because it’s night-time and they’re wearing dark glasses. This faint comic tone is reinforced when the rest of the gang turn up, all wearing dark glasses too ….

I can’t decide whether this is supposed to be amusing or not. It’s hard to take Weston and Briggs seriously as a couple of hardmen, but that may be to do with the fact that they’re both familiar actors.

The gang have arrived to strip the house bare (pictures, carpets, furniture, etc) much to the dismay of Sybil Albert (Stephanie Bidmead) and her son Tom (Paul Aston).

The gradual denuding of the house which occurs throughout the episode is fairly low in dramatic tension. Mainly this is because Garbutt and Turner – save for the odd spat with Tom – remain supremely confident throughout. Bidmead was a quality actress who died far too young (this was one of her final credits) but she doesn’t have much to work with – Mrs Albert is a rather weepy and passive character.

There’s more interest elsewhere with the stroppy Liz Carr (Lois Dane) proving to be a handful. The common-law wife of one of the gang, she’s very outspoken but is eventually quietened down by the efficient DS Green (Heather Stoney). It’s the first SS:TF credit for Stoney, who instantly impresses.

Any time Snow and Evans are put in a car together you can be guaranteed some amusing dialogue (and so it proves here). Watt and Hawkins also have some good scenes, so there’s plenty going on – even if the main plot is quite linear.

It’s a slight shame that the Task Force stumble over the crime in a rather clumsy fashion. Snow and Evans meet Silvana (Lydia Lisle), the attractive foreign maid who works for Mr and Mrs Albert. Snow seems to be a little smitten and offers to walk her home. Eventually (after some head-scratching outside) Evans and Snow realise that something is up and enter the house to find it empty and Mrs Albert and Tom tied up. Lisle’s strong accent (like the dark glasses worn by the gang) veers on the comic side ….

I do like the bleak ending though. Snow attempts to comfort Mrs Albert, telling her that she’ll be able to replace everything that’s been stolen. She gently and bleakly tells him that things can never be the same again – she and her husband might have the money to replace all the material goods but the aggressive violation of their house (something that Snow reacts to) is a wound that will never heal.

A solid enough episode then, with good guest performances, even if the plot is never that gripping.

3 thoughts on “Softly Softly: Task Force – The Removal

  1. I wonder what happened to WDC Forest? Her departure isn’t mentioned her, despite her replacement by WDS Green. My guess is Julie Hallam was only initally contracted for half the season, and her performance wasn’t met with approval by the producer / directors / fellow actors (or any combination of the previous). I’m also guessing Hallam left the business after this (not that Heather Stoney had many more credits after SS:TF either).

    So began a Softly Softly : Task Force tradition of its Constables simply vanishing into thin air.


    • We haven’t quite seen the last of Julie Hallam but I did briefly wonder whether Stoney had been cast here to replace an unavailable Hallam. On reflection, I think not. Green is quite a different character from Forest – older, more experienced, unemotional – so it doesn’t feel like Green had simply taken over Forest’s role in the script.

      So maybe the intention was to have two female regulars alternating. Or possibly Hallam’s later appearances (Priorities, The Amateur) were taped before this episode and the character of Green had been created.


  2. Lydia Lisle was a stunningly attractive actress who seemed to just disappear after a reasonably busy (if unspectacular) career in the Seventies and early Eighties. Presumably, she just decided to do something else with her life. She died in 2017. I can’t remember where I read this – but it seems that she died without making a will, and nobody seemed to know who her relatives were. So her estate had to be advertised on the government’s Bona Vacantia list. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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