Back to May 1986 (20th May 1986)

Once again, the number of prime time repeats rather surprises me. My recollection of this era tended to confine re-runs mostly to July and August (a dead couple of months,  which saw the impatient viewer counting down the days before the exciting new season launched in September).

One Arabian Night is the Terry and June episode on offer. Written by Colin Bostock-Smith, it’s a politically incorrect half hour – Derek Griffiths guests as an Arab Prince who takes a shine to June and offers to buy her for fifty camels.

We’re on firmer ground with Juliet Bravo (The Day The Circus Left Town). The Kenny Everett Show is also worth a look – it’s a re-run from the third series, so the strike rate is still pretty high (the show tended to tail off somewhat during the next few years).

Over on ITV there’s Duty Free – a series that was incredibly popular at the time (even displacing Coronation Street at the top of the ratings) although didn’t seem to generate an equal amount of love. Even today, it’s seen as a lesser part of the Eric Chappell canon – but I’ve always loved it. Very studio-bound, it has the feel of a stage farce which is one of the reasons why I’ve always found it appealing. When the Christmas Special went to Spain for location filming it seemed to kill the comedy stone dead, which suggests that the artificiality of studio VT work can sometimes be a positive.

And if there’s time I’ll catch a bit more of Edward and Mrs Simpson.

Juliet Bravo – Family Unit


John Murphy (Rio Fanning) is a regular at Hartley police station. A widower with a young family of four, his fondness for a drink coupled with his inability to hold it means that he’s often to be found overnight in the cells. When he attacks his teenage daughter Maeve (Rebekah Blair), social services – in the form of Tom – are brought into the picture. It quickly becomes obvious that Jean and Tom view Murphy’s case very differently ….

Family Unit opens with a tracking shot showing a sizeable chunk of Hartley. Although it’s set up to establish a specific plot point (Jean notices smoke coming from the chimney of a house that should be empty) it helps to once again remind us of the sort of environment Hartley is.

The stuttering relationship between Jean and Joe is teased out a little more during the opening few minutes. Although they’ve been on a fairly even keel since the third episode, there does seem to be slightly more bite to their conversations here. Was this script originally planned to air earlier in the run?

Jean sends Joe out to look at the house, but doesn’t tell him why. When he radios in to query, she then suggests he walks across the street – once he does so, he spies the smoke and the penny drops. During their dialogue, Joe is the model of stolid efficiency, but there’s something about the way he pauses every so often which borders on the insolent.

Hiding in the house is a bruised and battered Maeve. Whilst Joe escorts her to the hospital, the character of Murphy is developed. It’s striking that Jean and Tom see very different sides of his character. Resident in the cells, Murphy views Jean with extreme disfavour (wondering how such a terrible woman could have snared a lovely man like Tom).

But when Tom later runs him down, he’s contrite and tearful as he explains the reason for the attack (he came home to find Maeve playing records in her bedroom with a Pakistani boy and snapped). Murphy’s racial hatred is never far from the surface – later he confides to a drinking buddy that he’s going to track the boy down and “descend on him, mangle him and give him a biblical pasting”. The irony that Murphy – as an Irishman – would also be viewed as an outsider by many isn’t overtly commentated upon, but the inference seems to be there.

We do later see Maeve’s friend (he receives a few punches from an incensed Murphy before she intervenes). But since he never speaks he serves no other purpose than to illustrate Murphy’s simmering anger. Maeve herself is similarly never really developed as a character in her own right – she exists purely to bring her father to both the police and the social sevices’ attention.

If Jean’s job sees her interact with Murphy once he’s broken the law, then Tom’s working from the opposite end. This explains why they’re on very different sides – Tom doesn’t want to see the family unit broken up and the children placed into care, whilst Jean isn’t prepared to let a potentially unstable father continue to live with them. Both, of course, are right in their own way, and this conflict helps to generate the main drama of the episode.

A little extra spice is added by the fact that Jean is concerned about the possibility that her confrontation with Tom, once it becomes public knowledge during the court hearing, might have a negative impact on her career. She worries that an enterprising newspaper reporter could spin it into an embarrassing story, thereby damaging her reputation at Headquarters. This isn’t something which shows Jean in a very good light, although as the script was written by series creator Ian Kennedy-Martin it’s not possible to argue that it’s the work of a writer unfamiliar with the series or characters. Clearly this is a side of Jean’s character that Kennedy-Martin was keen to touch upon.

Just a couple of episodes after another female office was attached to Hartley, Sergeant Margaret Cullinane (Maggie Ollerenshaw) turns up for a short transfer. She’s a very different proposition from the naïve WPC Hannah Maynard though. Experienced, confident and plain speaking, she wastes no time in telling Jean that she’s keen to take her job! Jean responds with icy politeness. Unlike Hannah in Expectations, Margaret is a fairly peripheral character, although the pair do have a brief late-night conversation in Jean’s office (this is after she’s had yet another run-in with Tom and is feeling somewhat emotionally bruised).

George Parrish might continue to play second fiddle to Joe Beck, but Noel Collins is gifted a lovely scene in which he harangues the ever-hapless Roland (Mark Drewery). Roland’s complaint that he doesn’t think it’s fair he has to make the teas and coffees for everybody (it’s not what he joined the force for, he says) is viewed with a definite lack of compassion by George. The scene is capped by George sending a severely ticked Roland out to the shops to buy some biscuits!

The court hearing is an uncomfortable experience for both Jean and Tom. Tom especially, who finds himself as the sole Social Services representative. Jean continues to paint Murphy in the worst possible light – acidly commentating, after his appearance in the witness stand, that he’s “a better actor than Laurence Olivier”.

After making an impassioned plea that he’ll never drink again or hit Maeve, it’s easy to see her point though (especially when a jubilant Murphy invites Tom to join him for a victory drink). In addition to this, the way Murphy brusquely instructs Maeve to take the other children home suggests that his contrite statements in court will prove to be worthless. Jean and Tom both witness this scene, with the inference being that Jean was in the right all along, although a more philosophical Tom is of the opinion that there were no winners, only losers.

What might happen to Murphy’s family in the future is left dangling, but from Jean’s point of view this case has damaged her relationship with Tom. “I can’t count on you 100 percent in the future, count on your 100 percent support”. Tom considers this to be a good thing though, the fact that they both have principles and are prepared to stand by them.

Rio Fanning gives a good performance, but it’s really the Jean/Tom dynamic which is the main focus of another decent series one episode.


Juliet Bravo – Home-Grown or Imported?


Peter Palin (Ivor Danvers), a newcomer to Hartley, hasn’t made himself popular with the locals. Having bought Tarn Hill House, he plans to turn it into a swanky country club, something which Greenwood (Allan Surtees), a farmer and Palin’s nearest neighbour, is less than happy about.

When Palin is later found unconscious and badly injured, Greenwood is an obvious suspect. But he’s not the only one – an escaped criminal called Martin Wright (an old business associate of Palin’s) had a score to settle with him. Plenty of possibilities then, but it could it be that there’s yet another reason for the attack which nobody has considered?

Like a few previous episodes, Home-Grown or Imported? is a slightly wrong-footing story. The opening few minutes sets up the conflict between Palin and Greenwood, but although that looks set to be the dominant theme, the story quickly veers in a different direction.

The difference between their characters is quickly delineated. We see Greenwood and his son in a Land Rover, slowly herding sheep down a narrow country lane with Palin stuck behind them. With the road blocked by sheep there’s no alternative for Palin but to sit and wait, something which obviously irritates him greatly (the number of angry toots he gives on his horn is some indication of this).

More possibly could have been made of the conflict between the pair. Greenwood’s disdain at the way his rural life is being threatened by this interloper is certainly a theme, but it isn’t central to the story.

Twelve episodes in, and this is the third to feature coppers from London. DI Winder (John Judd) and DS Fournel (Eric Richard) are easily the most objectionable seen so far though. Right from their first scene it’s clear that they regard the local force with the upmost contempt. Their baiting of Joe being a case in point.

Fournel confides to Joe that Jean’s “a bit of all right, isn’t she?”. Fournel’s unreconstructed mindset is further demonstrated when he then mentions that he couldn’t “take orders from a skirt”. This is the cue for Joe to launch a spirited defence of Jean. “The only thing that counts is how well the job gets done. Inspector Darbley’s as good as any male boss I’ve known”. High praise from Joe, especially given his attitude towards her which we witnessed in the opening episode.

Joe later gains his revenge by sending the two officers on a wild goose chase around Manchester. Interesting that when Jean learns about this she gives him her tacit approval. A sign of the growing respect between them maybe, or possibly it’s just that she’s becoming more relaxed now that she’s settled into the job.

Geoffrey Larder makes his third appearance as the constantly vague DS Melchett. We’re given a rare early glimpse into the CID room at Hartley (eerily deserted) as Melchett takes down the message that Winder and Fournel are in the area. But his inability to tell Jean about this earns him a scathing dressing down later. “Our two visitors from London … no doubt think we’re just clodhopping country cousins. You had a clear duty to give me that information at the earliest moment and not just when it suited you, sometime never”. Ouch!

Home-Grown or Local? boasts some very familiar faces. Ivor Danvers (best known for Howards’ Way) drops a few rungs down the social ladder (Palin is something of a wide-boy). Meanwhile Eric Richard warmed up for his later role as Bob Cryer in The Bill by playing another copper. Although as we’ve seen, Fournel’s character is a million miles away from that of Uncle Bob.

Martin Wright’s backstory is delivered in detail by Winder and Fournel. Remembering that a previous episode also saw two London officers on the trail of a criminal who never actually appeared, the attentive viewer might have been wondering if the same trick was going to be pulled twice. And so it was, which is slightly surprising.

With Wright a no-show, it seems obvious that Greenwood will turn out to be Palin’s attacker. This doesn’t turn out to be the case, although there’s still a connection to the farmer. The link may feel a little contrived (Roland notices a van without a windscreen and follows his nose) but since real-life policework also thrives on coincidences like this, it’s not too outrageous.

Winder and Fournel might not have got their man, but without their presence Home-Grown or Imported? would have been a rather thin story. But with them, it’s a rich and entertaining yarn (even if, not for the first time, the actual crime element isn’t dominant).


Juliet Bravo – Expectations


Hannah Maynard (Rosalind Wilson) is a green young WPC, temporarily seconded to Hartley. She’s keen, very keen, but quickly learns that there’s a wide gulf between theory and practice ….

Expectations, like a number of other episodes, juggles several plotlines. The slightly testy relationship between Tom and Jean is teased out in the opening few minutes. At present he’s got an even heavier workload than she has (Tom tells her that he’ll need to work this weekend). His desire to make a success of his new career in Social Services is clear, but so is the feeling that everything’s starting to slip away from him.

His office is a glimpse into the long vanished, pre computer age. Apart from whispered conversations and ringing phones, the only sound is the gentle click clack of manual typewriters. With no computers available to store or collate data, it means that everything has to be written down – hence why everybody is drowning in reams of paperwork.

There are several examples of this – a message from Jean on Tom’s desk (reminding him about their lunch date) becomes buried under a bunch of files whilst his fumbling with more files during a case conference draws expressions of disapproval from some of the others present.

Tom’s current case concerns Laura Cartwright (Jean Rimmer) and her husband Jack. He’s confined to a wheelchair, but this doesn’t prevent him from lashing out viciously at her. Laura later tells Tom that she allows Jack to hit her for the simple reason that if he didn’t attack her then he might do something to himself. A bleak moment with no closure, it’s another of those well-mounted kitchen sink drama scenes that the series excelled at.

It’s interesting that despite this being a major plot point, it isn’t a police matter (they aren’t involved at all) and indeed the travails of Laura and Jack are somewhat secondary to the examination of Tom’s working practices. His desire to prove himself has led him to take on more and more cases (since he believed that refusing any would be a signal that he wasn’t up to the job).

With Tom’s colleague, the ever patient Jennie Randall (Wendy Allnutt), also present, Laura directs a diatribe at poor Tom – describing how his visits are perfunctory at best and useless at worst. She may be being a little hard on him, but for a man who’s always prided himself on his ability to work with people (and joined the Social Services in order to make a difference) it’s something of a hammer blow.

Whilst this is going on, Jean welcomes WPC Maynard to the team. She clearly heroine worships Jean – confirmed by the fact that she requested a secondment to Hartley precisely because she wanted to serve under an officer whom she admired. Jean isn’t especially delighted to hear this and gently tries to explain to Hannah that the job is the important thing, not personalities. It’s left unspoken, but there’s the inference that it’s rare to ever be in a position to pick your superiors (we’ve seen how the likes of Superintendent Lake are – at best – rather condescending towards Jean). Rosalind Wilson is excellent as the keen as mustard Hannah, who manages to exasperate the phlegmatic Roland with her attention to detail.

Youth culture isn’t something that the series has tackled so far, but today we see two punky teenagers – Mo (Clare Toeman) and Laura (Sarah Sugarman) – which proves that Hartley does have its share of disaffected adolescents. They mooch around the perimeters of the plot for a while – trying the doors of locked cars on a grimy housing estate, running through a bleak concrete shopping centre – before they come face to face with Hannah.

Left to her own devices by Roland for thirty minutes, it’s plain that she’s no match for Mo and Laura. The pair, apprehended for shoplifting, are marched to the manager’s office – but when he has to leave, Hannah is left alone with them, which is where the trouble starts. The manager locks them in – a strange move since it means that once the punky pair turn on her, Hannah has nowhere to run.

The sight of a dishevelled Hannah, “pig” written across her forehead, slowly walking through the store (with an amazed Jean looking on) is a memorable one. Hannah’s reason for not cleaning herself up first – she wanted to public to see the dishevelled, other side of police work – is given short shrift by Jean. She considers this to be a highly melodramatic way of proving a point.

If the title of the episode could easily relate to Hannah’s experience, then equally it fits Tom’s nightmare of a day. The episode ends as it began, in the bedroom, although this time Tom is in a reflective mood. “I was incompetent and irresponsible” he tells Jean. His long suppressed resentment of her more successful career also bubbles to the surface but as they settle down for the night, there’s the sense that they’ve turned a corner and more positive times lie ahead.


Juliet Bravo – The One Who Got Away


It’s a busy time in Hartley. A group of international counterfeiters have moved into the area, a vicious murderer is on the run and Jean’s interest is piqued by a smooth con-man who targets rich widows ….

The One Who Got Away is content to slowly introduce and manoeuvre its guest characters, meaning that it takes a while before we understand exactly who they are and what their function in the story will be. A couple, who we later discover are Detective Inspector Harry Connor (Walter McMonagle) and Detective Sergeant Annie Aspen (Stephanie Fayeman), are shown selecting an isolated cottage (which looks perfect for a stake out) whilst a confident middle aged man, Commander Scott (Geoffrey Hutchings), checks into the Highwayman hotel.

The episode will spend a fair amount of time in the lounge of the Highwayman (which is a nicely realised studio set). For Hartley it’s clearly an upmarket sort of place – albeit with fake rustic overtones – which looks to be positioned slightly out of town. The cheesy muzak which constantly plays in the background is a nice touch, setting up the atmosphere perfectly.

Everything about Scott screams con-man, which is reinforced when his dinner guest – Colette Newby (Shirley Stelfox) – arrives. Scott spins a yarn that he served with Colette’s late husband on the Ark Royal and although there’s no obvious flaws in his story, something seems slightly off-key about him.

At this point, it might be expected that Harry and Annie have arrived in Hartley on Scott’s trail, but that’s not the case. Although when Harry later sees him (coincidentally he’s entertaining Jean at the Highwayman) he does comment that he seems familiar.

If The One Who Got Away has a theme, then it’s about subverting our expectations. Not only is Scott not Harry’s target, but Scott proves to be less in control of the situation than he thinks. Colette might be an imposing and respectable figure – chairman of the Townswomen’s Guild – but she came up the hard way and is more than capable of spotting a confidence trickster when she sees one. Bedecked in a wonderful fur coat, Shirley Stelfox is good value for money.

So although the viewer might have expected Colette to be the victim, she instead turns out to be, if not the hunter, then not exactly a passive character either. Colette (real name Mavis) offers Scott (real name Trunky Porter) a job. As a smooth salesman at her second-hand car lot, he seems set to make a go of things. It may not quite be that she’s going to make an honest man of him, more a case of thieves together ….

The way that Scott/Porter drops his cultured air when later confronted by Jean is nicely done, as is his reaction after he learns that his prey’s real name is Mavis! A con-man conned back.

The return of Superintendent Lake (John Ringham) has primed the audience to expect that the arrival of Harry and Annie from the Crime Squad is big news. Their action against the counterfeiters seems set to be the major theme of the story and yet – in another example of subverted expectations – it turns out to be almost totally a MacGuffin. We do briefly see the counterfeiters, but their presence has no impact on the plot.

Instead, the latter part of the episode focuses on Annie (maintaining the stake-out, all by herself) encountering the runaway murderer (played by Andrew De La Tour). It’s already been established that the house has no phone (which Harry seemed unconcerned about) so when the wild-eyed fugitive breaks in it appears that Annie’s going to have to face him on her own. It’s a slight shame that Annie is transformed into a victim during these scenes (she manages to beat him off before Roland arrived in the nick of time).

Odd that Annie would be left by herself with no means of communication. Whilst Harry is depicted as a secretive type – only Lake and Jean know why the Crime Squad are in the area – this is stretching credibility a little too far. Andrew De La Tour casts an imposing shadow though – and he’s all the more effective since his character never utters a single word.

The meeting between Jean and Harry is one of the most interesting parts of the episode. It’s plain that they have a history, with the clear inference being that they were lovers at one point (Harry waxes lyrical about the time they were snowed in at Merthyr Tydfil during an operation). In his presence Jean is almost girlish whilst the later arrival of Annie casts a slight chill over proceedings. When Harry wanders off, Jean and Annie start a faltering conversation which seems to have a clear subtext (both, in own their way, are keen to prove that they know Harry best). Despite vanishing for a section of the story, Walter McMonagle is another strong addition to the guest cast.

Mixing several different storylines, The One Who Got Away, thanks to its wrong-footing ways, is a very decent story.


Juliet Bravo – Rage

Kim Buckley (Judy Liebert) is a new mother driven to distraction by the demands of her constantly crying baby boy. With no assistance forthcoming from her husband Jeremy (Christian Rodska) she quickly becomes a danger to her son ….

Rage opens with a visit to two very different households (although both homes are fairly spacious middle-class dwellings, not typical of Hartley). In the first, Jean and Tom are having a relaxed and playful early morning bicker. Tom is mock annoyed by the fact that the newspaper boy is slow in delivering his Guardian (he likes to park up at the end of the street and read it). Clearly he must be a well-read lad if he prefers it to the charms of the Sun.

Playing in the background is Terry Wogan’s breakfast show with Marmalade’s (an appropriate group for the time of day) version of Ob-La-Di-La-Da. The same song continues when the focus switches over to Kim and Jeremy, but the mood there is completely different.

They don’t exchange a word, although their non-verbal actions speak just as clearly as any dialogue would. Jeremy’s face expresses disgust at various small things (the way the teaspoon has been left in the sugar bag, toys scattered about the room) whilst the constantly crying baby is like a knife through Kim’s heart. When he leaves for work (slamming the door) still without having spoken to her, it might have been the trigger for the first of her breakdowns – she smashes up the living room – although this violence doesn’t appear to give her any respite.

Clutching a bottle of whisky, she eventually staggers up to her son. Up to this point we haven’t actually seen him (he’s been represented purely by sound alone). This works on several levels. Not only practically (strict rules would have governed the length of time a baby could be present in the studio) but also story-wise (there’s something slightly more disturbing about a crying baby when we can only hear it).

The sheer misery and desperation of Kim’s life is contrasted by the merry atmosphere at Hartley nick. When Jean enters, Joe is doing his best Long John Silver impression – all because they’ve received a report from a Mrs Edith Bridewell, who’s told them that her son has stolen her wooden leg ….

Moving onto film, as Kim takes her baby out, we get our first sight of the child. But not for long – once Kim enters the police station (as usual, recorded in the studio) the baby has disappeared from the pram. After Kim claims to have killed her son (the empty pram suggests this might be so) she runs off, necessitating a switch back to film as the green young PC Ian Shelton (Martyn Hesford) sets off in hot pursuit.

After this filmic moment we again switch back to the station on videotape (this constant jump from videotape to film and then back to videotape isn’t ideal but it was the way drama of this era tended to be made). A strange videotape/film mix occurs later in the episode when we see Roland checking out the Buckley’s house. The living room is on videotape, but the hallway is shot on film ….

Across the course of the episode, Judy Liebert is called upon to produce several violent mood swings – it’s certainly the sort of role that you have to through yourself into. After being pulled into the station is a deeply hysterical mood, she switches back to being quiet and composed.

She doesn’t have a particularly long list of credits, which is a slight surprise as Liebert’s very compelling as the deeply disturbed Kim. The battle of wills between Jean and Kim is well-written, giving both actors a chance to shine. Kim’s comment that Hartley “sits like concrete on my neck” sums up in a few words the sort of prison she believes she’s found herself in.

Kim’s wildly fluctuating moods continues to drive the story onwards. The moment when she punches Jean in the face (Jean responds by slapping her) is one such example. Presumably Jean intended the slap to bring her to her senses (which it did) although it’s still a jarring sight.

Writer John Foster had cut his teeth on Softly Softly (his first television writing credit was an episode of the series back in 1966) before moving onto a range of seventies dramas including Sutherland’s Law and Z Cars. He would contribute eight scripts in total to Juliet Bravo, including the memorable episodes Aunt Sally and Chasing The Dragon. It’s fair to say that downbeat often tended to be his JB style.

Offering little in the way of light relief, we do at least have a fairly happy ending after the baby is found safe and well. Jean tells Jeremy that he has to do his job better in the future (listen and respond to his wife) with Jean inclined to write this matter off. The right decision? Only time will tell.

Juliet Bravo – Cages


George Donkin (Patrick Durkin) is an inept career criminal who’s captured the attention of Melisande Duffy (Anita Carey). Duffy, the bored daughter of a wealthy local businessman, declares that Donkin is a persecuted political prisoner and organises a demonstration outside the station.

Meanwhile Donkin, firmly inside the station, suggests to Joe that he checks the back yard of Szabo’s fish and chip shop. Szabo, a friend of Joe’s, has been resident in Hartley for some time (he fled Hungary decades earlier as a political refugee). And what is Szabo hiding in his shed? Why, a bear ….

Cages has two parallel storylines which eventually converge. At first, it seems that the travails of Donkin will dominate. Patrick Durkin was an actor with one of those faces that you instantly recognise, even if you can’t quite place where you know him from. Donkin is a faintly comic character, whose general lack of criminal ability is later sketched in by Joe (he tells Szabo that the one-eyed Donkin wore a balaclava when robbing a bookies, but only cut one eye-hole in the mask!)

We never quite learn why and how Melisande Duffy latched onto him. That she’s happy to use him in order to further her own political (Marxist) ends is clear, but Duffy never really emerges as a rounded character. She does interact well with Roland though – with him playing the hapless stooge and she the temptress.

Scriptwriter Kenneth Clark is more successful with Szabo (Jon Rumney) who enjoys several lovely scenes with Joe (which are easily the highlight of the episode). When Szabo describes the interrogation he suffered in his own country (a bucket was placed over his head and hammered all night long) it’s done in a very matter of fact way, although Rumney’s skilfully able to imply the horror non-verbally.

If we don’t know why Duffy latched onto Donkin, then neither do we discover how Donkin discovered that Szabo had a bear in his back yard. The reveal is nicely done though – mainly because it’s so unexpected – with a non-plussed Joe looking on. Although the reason for the presence of the bear is another slightly sketchy part of the plot (Szabo’s brother – a circus acrobat – had recently died, so the bear was passed over to him).

Duffy, on learning about the bear from a besotted Roland, decides to free it. This leads to a rather droll line from Joe, after he explains to Jean what happened when Szabo went out to feed it. “When he took the bear his porridge, no bear”. There’s then an attempt to generate a little bit of tension – will the bear, roaming the streets, maul a group of children? – but this part of the story doesn’t really grip.

Better is the byplay between Duffy and Duckworth (David Ryall). Duckworth is a down on his luck newspaper man who senses that the Donkin story might be his ticket back to the big time. Ryall could play this sort of part in his sleep (he’d later appear again as a reporter in another police series – The Chief) but he’s gifted some decent lines as he explains to Duffy that everybody – including both of them – live in cages, just like the unfortunate bear.

Kenneth Clark had experience with a number of police series, such as Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars, but Cages never really clicks into gear. Save for the character of Szabo (and this is mainly down to Jon Rumney’s performance) there’s not a great deal that’s memorable here. The fifty minutes pass by amiably enough, but overall it all feels a little insubstantial.

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Juliet Bravo – Coming Back

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Having served a ten year sentence for armed robbery, Mick Grainger (Ron Bain) is heading home. He has a wife, Judy (Rachel Davies), waiting for him, but his reintegration into society isn’t straightforward. Especially since some people, such as Joe Beck, aren’t prepared to forgive or forget ….

There’s not a great deal of film in one, but what we do have is used very effectively. The episode opens with a panning shot, moving from a group of industrial chimneys to a bleak block of flats which are carved unappealingly out of concrete. The eerie silence is a signifier that it’s early in the morning and as the camera closes into one specific flat, we see that Chris Evans (Kevin Whately) is preparing to take his leave of Judy.

It’s plain that they’re in a relationship – which is a complicating factor since her husband is due home any day. The fact that Evans is a constable at Hartley nick adds another layer of complexity to the problem.

An early screen credit for Kevin Whately, his role in the story isn’t terribly large (although it’s an important one – especially the closing scene). Many series tended to feature one-off characters, like Evans, who have clearly been around for some time but were never actually seen by the viewers either before or after their single appearance. This always feels less than satisfactory and since Evans is a fairly peripheral character for most of the story there seemed to be little value in making him a policeman. Given that he hardly interacts with any of the regulars during the bulk of the story – apart from one scene where he asks Jean for a transfer – he could have worked anywhere.

One of the striking things about Coming Back is that it’s not afraid to use silence. Mick’s eventual return home to Judy is a halting affair – punctuated by awkward gaps in their conversation. As we progress through the episode, various people have their say about him – Judy’s employer Mr Lawrenson (Bernard Gallagher) considers Mick to be a dangerous man whilst Joe Beck can’t forgive him for attacking one of his best friends on the force (Mick’s assault meant that the officer was forced to retire due to ill health).

And yet Mick now hardly seems to pose a threat to anyone. True, he’s capable of getting drunk and riled, but his health issues (a major operation in prison has hit him hard) seems to have curtailed his previous wild spirit. Of course, we have no way of knowing just what sort of a character he really was before this current prison spell. Joe fills Jean in with Mick’s career highlights – but given Joe’s obvious bias it’s possibly not surprising that he delights in painting as black a picture as possible.

Crime is not central to Coming Back. Joe might be convinced that Mick is already planning another job, but that’s not the case. In fact, the only crime occurs in the last minute or so (and doesn’t concern Mick). Instead we have a character based drama which just as easily could have been a Play for Today or an Armchair Theatre. Ron Bain and Rachel Davies make for an intriguing pair – the dynamic between their two characters shifts somewhat during the course of the fifty minutes – and they’re the ones who really drive the episode along.

The Hartley regulars have no interaction at all with either Mick or Judy – only Mr Lawrenson bridges the gap (a nice performance by Bernard Gallagher as a rather pompous and self-important type). There’s some decent character building moments at Hartley nick though – we see Jean relaxing with the others in the kitchen, mock annoyed at George because he had the temerity to call her a Liberal! George also has a lovely line after he turns his nose up at the news that a new wine bar’s opened in town. He sorrowfully shakes his head and declares that Hartley’s becoming more like Morecambe every day ….

The aforementioned wine bar is where Jean and Tom head off for lunch, although it’s something of a stormy meal. Their argument – mainly about whether they should take Jean’s (unseen) mother on holiday with them – continues when they get home. So far Tom’s been a rather placid character, so it’s not a bad thing to see a bit more spark from him.

Those who enjoy the rough and tumble, cops and robbers, aspect of police series won’t find much of interest here (this one couldn’t be further removed from The Sweeney). But as a piece of kitchen sink drama, Coming Back stands up very well.

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Juliet Bravo – The Runner

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Johnny Duffield (Julian Briercliffe) is a nine year old tearaway who’s been in and out of trouble ever since he was six. Currently in care, he delights in absconding and sleeping rough. He comes to Jean’s attention after stealing an invalid car – she’s determined to get him back on the straight and narrow, but he proves to be a tough nut to crack ….

Regarded with weary resignation by Joe and George, Johnny immediately piques Jean’s interest. She finds it impossible to believe that the system is incapable of keeping him under control, but it quickly becomes clear that there are no easy answers. Jean’s husband, Tom (David Hargreaves), has recently taken up a job at social services and this provides the plot with a little dollop of friction. Jean and Tom could be said to be on different sides, although it turns out that they want the same thing (although Tom’s colleagues aren’t averse to using him in order to neuter Jean’s sting!)

This was Julian Briercliffe’s sole acting credit. He certainly makes an impression as the bold, but vulnerable Johnny. We’re told that Johnny’s constructed a wall between himself and the rest of the world – with his mother dead and a father (played by John Rees) who’s been unable to control him, his immediate horizons seem rather bleak.

Mr Duffield might be initially presented as an unsympathetic type, but his character is given some dashes of light and shade as the episode progresses. Due to his busted legs, he’s forced to take in any work he can get – at present he’s button carding (“women’s work” he bitterly tells Jean). When he later confesses that Johnny never loved him, it’s possible to wonder whether he’s telling the truth or if he’s simply hardened his heart to save himself from further pain.

The title suggests one of the main features of the episode. Police walls can’t hold Johnny, as he’s apt to make a dash for freedom at the drop of hat. The first time it happens – outfoxing Joe at Hartley nick – is somewhat embarrassing for all concerned. And the sight of Joe and George (puffing down the high street after him) is a little embarrassing too. Jean’s obviously not too pleased, but when he absconds later, she’s the one who was closest to him. This is something that Joe can’t help but mention ….

If the story has a slight weakness then it’s the fact that mid-way through Johnny suddenly gains a friend from nowhere. In plot terms this makes perfect sense – as it allows Johnny to unburden himself (talking about his mother and his future plans) – but it can’t help but feel a little clunky.

This slight niggle apart, we see some nice performances throughout the episode. David Ashton plays Mr MacRae, the social worker at Johnny’s care home. Like everybody else he’s concerned about him – but he’s also confident that if anybody can fend for themselves out on the moors, then it’s this boy. It’s not really an uncaring attitude, since MacRae has attempted – and failed – to get through to him. A few years later Ashton would be a regular in Brass, playing Doctor MacDuff.

Another familiar face making an appearance is Robert Vahey (later to be the long suffering Bill Sayers from Howards’ Way). Vahey is Tom Collinson, a local reporter who’s convinced that Hartley is the location of a major IRA arms dump. His obsession has nothing at all to do with the main story, but his regular appearances help to sprinkle the episode with a dash of comic relief.

Martin Matthews is very solid as Jim Naylor. Naylor, along with his wife Cynthia (Eileen Helsby), is interested in fostering Johnny. His wayward streak doesn’t bother them and Naylor, as a former orphan, knows better than most how Johnny’s mind works. It’s interesting that he seems to be the first person to get through to the boy – this is despite the fact that everybody else (both the police and social workers) have been equally as patient. Fair to say that this is a story which isn’t criticising the system (Johnny is shown to be something of an anomaly). Since everybody’s done their best to help him, the finger of blame isn’t pointed at any specific person or organisation.

It’s maybe just a little pat that Johnny lands on his feet with a warm and loving couple who are so keen to look after him. But although we end on an optimistic note, there’s still the possibility that things might not work out in the future ….

Not a story that has too many surprises, but the major location shoot (we see plenty of Hartley and the surrounding moors) keeps the interest ticking along.

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Juliet Bravo – Trouble at T’Mill

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Issy Smethurst (John Barrett) is an elderly, set in his ways, lollipop man. Many passing motorists catch his ire, but none more so than Ted Galway (Alan Lake). Galway, a flashy self made man, represents everything that Issy despises. And when Galway buys the factory where Issy works part time (tending the engines) it only serves to deepen their feud ….

The character conflict between Galway and Issy is at the heart of the episode. Issy stands for tradition and continuity – although the engines he so lovingly tends (when he’s not harassing passing motorists) are contained within an eerily quiet factory. Once it was a thriving hub of activity, but now it stands idle. The current owner explains that it’s simply not cost effective to keep it running. When a smaller plant space, with newer equipment, can turn out more textiles at a cheaper cost and with far less manpower, the economic argument for its closure is strong.

The facts don’t concern Issy though. For him, it represents a lifetime of toil (he recalls how he first arrived at the factory, as a seventeen year old). To see those engines broken up – which seems likely after Galway (via proxy) buys the place – is heart-breaking for him.

Ted Galway is Issy’s complete opposite. Having disappeared to London for a few years, he returned as a self made man of considerable means. Now he owns the flashiest house in the neighbourhood (complete with a swimming pool and a snooker room), runs with the local hunt and numbers several high-ranking police officers – such as DCI Logan – amongst his friends.

Logan gently suggests to Jean that Issy needs to be warned against bothering Galway in the future. That Logan’s never even considered the possibility that Galway might be crooked seems barely credible (Logan seems to have swallowed Galway’s story that he made his fortune in a London casino hook line and sinker). Issy might be motivated (in part) by spite, but he’s plainly right when he claims that Galway’s crooked.

Although it might be expected that Issy would be the audience identification figure, there’s also something about Galway which incites a certain sympathy. This is no doubt down to Alan Lake, who manages to make Galway a curiously vulnerable figure.

There’s something ever so slightly pathetic about Galway’s delight in the trappings of his success. From his Rolls Royce (complete with an eight track cartridge system!) to the fact that he now hob nobs with all the local worthies, he leads a comfortable and law-abiding existence. So the arrival of Walter Hancock (Antony Carrick) who’s come up from the smoke is an unwelcome one – since Hancock forces him back into a life of crime.

Galway would like nothing more than to be left alone, but he owes some powerful people some favours, so has no alternative but to get involved in a furs robbery. Which happens to be observed by Issy – who by this point is keeping Galway under constant surveillance!

There are some fascinating incidental details in this story – one which stood out for me is Jean’s assertion that Hancock may very well be a criminal since he has tattooed arms. Today, tattoos are commonplace, but rewind nearly forty years and it’s plain that they were far less socially acceptable. The way we observe how Galway has moved upwards (he likes to indulge in dinner parties with jugged hare, after dinner mints and cigars) is another lovely touch.

Trouble At T’Mill possibly doesn’t show Hartley’s police force at their finest, since it’s Issy who does all the work for them. This is something that annoys Joe immensely – if Issy was a nuisance before, imagine what he’s going to be like now he’s been proved right ….

John Barrett’s a little shaky on his lines from time to time, but considering that he’s got the largest role in the episode that’s possibly not too surprising. Issy’s gifted several nice monologues and shares some decent two-handed scenes with Jean. Knowing about Alan Lake’s untimely death, it can’t help but make his later television appearances (such as this one) seem very bittersweet. Ted Galway is a fine creation – with Lake deftly shading in the nuances of his fluctuating character very well.

Lake would go on to appear in another two Juliet Bravo episodes playing different characters as would Christine Hargreaves who in this one plays Galway’s wife, Vera. You might have expected that Galway would have found himself a young, trophy wife, but not so – Vera is middle-aged and running a little to seed (and whilst Galway has assimilated himself amongst the upper echelons, Vera has remained resolutely working-class). With a cigarette never far from her lips, she seems somewhat out of place in their palatial home. Hargreaves who, like Lake, would pass away in the mid eighties, is probably best known for being one of the original cast members of Coronation Street.

Trouble At T’Mill is low on crime, but high on character conflict and is yet another strong episode from the early part of the first series.

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Juliet Bravo – Coins

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Major Adams (George A. Cooper), convinced that the Russians will attack sooner rather than later, has prepared for this eventuality by stockpiling an impressive array of food and other provisions. This proves to be an irresistible temptation for two young teenagers – Carol (Diana Walker) and Kenny (Mark Price) ….

The first of two episodes written by Ray Jenkins (a writer with an impressive track record across many popular series) Coins is a pretty low-key story which focusses more on the characters involved than it does the crime. The pilfering is pretty petty – some tins of food, a primus stove, etc – and is mainly of interest since it suggests that the perpetrator is somebody living rough.

Cooper’s role in the story is quite small (once Carol and Kenny are identified, Adams fades away) but as might be expected he’s terribly good value with what he is given to do. Adams (rather like Cooper’s most famous creation, Grange Hill’s Mr Griffiths) is somewhat pompous and self-important, but scratch a little below the surface and there’s hidden depths.

Adams’ war service and the things he saw might very well explain why he continues to run his life along such strict lines. His bachelor status and his self-professed pride in doing everything for himself is both admirable and slightly tragic.

There’s something of a jump (almost as if there was a missing scene) after Adams suggests that the young female thief might have been a papergirl who used to work the area. The long-suffering Roland is sent off to check this – but in the next scene we’re at the local care home, where Jean has arrived to speak to Carol. A spot of bridging dialogue, explaining that the ex paper girl was Carol, would have made this part of the story flow a little better.

Diana Walker’s acting career only encompassed this episode of Juliet Bravo and a limited run in Brookside a few years later. Her lack of acting experience helps to give Carol a natural, unforced air – with her mother in hospital (and unlikely to ever come out) she faces a bleak and uncertain future, with Kenny being the one bright light in her life.

Kenny’s disappearance drives the later part of the story, but it’s never suggested that he’s in any danger (or indeed is dangerous himself). His eventual discovery is more the solution to a puzzle, whilst his continuing absence allows the spotlight to be shone on his estranged parents – Bob (David Boyce) and Pat (Deidre Costello).

Joe Beck doesn’t take to Bob at all. Granted custody of his son, Bob seems to be a pretty decent sort of chap – true, he doesn’t often get to see his son (but that’s mainly because he’s working night shifts and sleeping during the day). As he tells Joe, he has to earn money to put food on the table. There’s something in Joe’s expression which suggests this is something of a feeble excuse and the way Boyce plays the scene does suggest that Bob is an inherently weak man.

But he must have seemed a better bet than Pat, since the court decided not to grant her custody. If Bob’s pallid and faded then Pat’s bold and brassy. But her confident public image proves to be decidedly brittle ….

Roland continues to provide a dollop of comic relief. Once again he demonstrates that he’s lacking in a sixth sense (referring to Jean as Wonder Woman, whilst unaware that she’s standing right behind him). But she keeps on giving him chances and decides to take him along to Pat’s house in order to discover whether Kenny is hiding out there. He’s told to dress in plain clothes – well, what he arrives in certainly isn’t a police uniform, but it couldn’t really be classed as plain clothes either.

It’s a slight frustration that this episode introduces us to the very capable WPC Gilbert (Helen Duvall) as sadly this would be her one and only appearance. Possibly it was felt that one female regular was sufficient, but these early episodes would have been stronger if there had been at least one female amongst the rank and file officers.

Fairly forgettable crime-wise then, but Coins is a decent character study.

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Juliet Bravo – The Draughtsman

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DS Cole (Del Henney) arrives from London. An informant of his, Arthur Roberts, was discovered murdered on the moors and Cole has come to identify the body. His role should then be at an end, but the dogged Cole is determined to work out what happened and Jean is keen to assist ….

The first of three different Juliet Bravo roles for Del Henney, Cole is initially presented as a dour, humourless man. He’s less than impressed that the body’s been moved to the mortuary (he would have preferred to have viewed it in situ), seems incredulous that the scenes of crime officers haven’t found anything and is disgusted that so many people have trampled over the site.

The fact he’s been given PC Roland Bentley (Mark Drewry) as a driver seems to be yet another irritation for him. The garrulous Roland and the taciturn Cole seem like a match made in hell. But when Cole wryly grins after overhearing Roland on the radio, telling the station that Cole is a “right one”, it suggests that he might not be quite as dour as he initially appeared.

Roland is the first of a series of PCs who appear throughout the six series. Some are more gormless than others it has to be said, with Roland being somewhat high on the gormless scale. He’s long-suffering (tutting when Cole drags him on a trek across the moors), petulant (when Jean and Cole leave him alone on observation) and ever so slightly sickly (but as he tells Jean, he doesn’t often get car sick now and rarely when he’s driving ….)

Cole is received politely, if condescendingly, by Detective Superintendent Brunskill (John Rowe). Jean later confides to the Sergeant that Brunskill was hardly going to welcome him with open arms – a murder in this area is something of a rarity, so the thought of a London copper stealing their glory wouldn’t be appreciated. Cole solving the case doesn’t concern Jean, but she is bothered about the way that Brunskill’s men have commandeered her nick.

Henney’s greatest strength in this episode is his stillness. As befits Cole’s solitary nature, he’s much more of an observer than a talker (although he can be articulate when he wishes). The best example of Cole’s ability not to react can be seen when he finds himself on the end of a boozy diatribe from Joe Beck. Joe is celebrating twenty two years on the force (confusingly, he refers to this as his “silver handcuffs” which surely would be twenty five) and everybody – including Cole – has convened to the local pub for drinks.

But Joe, a man who’s had dealings with Flying Squad officers like Cole before, is keen to vent his spleen about those flash London coppers. Henney’s the picture of control during this scene – allowing a range of expressions (from amusement to irritation) – to play across Cole’s face. That Cole doesn’t confront Joe in public but does so instead in private (in the toilet shortly afterwards) is an interesting choice. Sparing Joe a public humiliation?

The rift between Jean and Joe now seems to have been healed (although they don’t exchange more than a few words during this episode). But after being rather stroppy in Shot Gun and now drunkenly boorish here, it’s fair to say that Joe hasn’t made a good early impression.

The relationship between Cole and Roberts is teased out as the episode continues. Cole respected his skill as a blag draughtsman and regrets his death. But the main reason why he carries this regret is that he was hoping to pin a really big crime on him one day. For Cole, everything – including relationships – comes back to the job eventually.

With Roberts represented on screen only by an unseen body under a mortuary covering, the script has to work to build up a picture of him. And his criminal associates are also – until the last few minutes – equally shadowy characters (spoken about, but only briefly seen). When they do appear, it’s the cue for a mild action scene as villains and police have a bit of a bundle. The Sweeney it isn’t (director Paul Ciappessoni wasn’t really an action director like, say, Douglas Camfield).

The dichotomy of Cole – he delights in roughing up the villains but also digs into his own pocket to buy a headstone for Roberts’ grave – means that by the end we still don’t really know what makes this enigmatic man tick. Henney would return but Cole wouldn’t, which is a bit of a shame as it would have been interesting to return to the character at a later date.

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Juliet Bravo – Fraudulently Uttered

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Doris Latham (Patricia Hayes) works part time as a tea lady at Doe Electrics. Elderly, Irish and genial, she would appear to be the most unlikely criminal you could ever hope to meet. But over the last four years she’s embezzled the company out of more than thirty thousand pounds ….

Although Patricia Hayes might be best known as a comedic actress (appearing alongside the likes of Tony Hancock, Arthur Askey and Benny Hill, amongst many others) she proved to be no slouch when she moved over to drama – winning a BAFTA for the 1971 Play For Today, Edna the Inebriate Woman, for example.

She continued acting well into the 1990’s, racking up credits on popular series such as Heartbeat and Lovejoy whilst her film career included such diverse roles as Daisy in the classic Ealing wartime propaganda film Went The Day Well? (1942) and Mrs Coady in A Fish Called Wanda (1988).

Fraudulently Uttered is, of course, enhanced no end by her performance (although the Irish accent took a few moments to get used to). As Doris is a female prisoner, Jean finds herself (as the only female officer at Hartley) cast in the role of her jailor (and also interrogator). A curious mixture of innocence and steel, Doris proves to be a tough nut to crack.

The sight of a little old lady locked in a cell at Hartley nick is a powerful one, but Doris’ belief in the righteousness of her actions – she admits stealing the money, but never kept any for herself – gives her a curiously detached air. Even when she asks Jean what her sentence will be, it doesn’t seem to concern her too much. As she says, with only a pension and a cat to go home to, what does it really matter?

The innocent Doris has been manipulated by the far from innocent Jimmy Harker (Ray Smith). Harker, a second hand car salesman, caught Doris’ sympathy after he fed her several sob stories. So as a result, she was quite prepared to steal huge sums of money for him …..

With my accountancy hat on, I have to say that I’m amazed the fraud was undetected for so long. Despite only being the tea lady, Doris was entrusted with taking the cheques at Doe for signing each week. This is just about credible, but it’s the next part which is difficult to swallow. Somehow Doris had stolen a company cheque book and from time to time would slip in one from this book. Fine so far, but when these dodgy cheques were cashed they’d show up on the bank statement with all the others – so surely then somebody would have realised that something was wrong (they wouldn’t have been able to tie them back to an invoice, the cheque numbers wouldn’t have matched the others, etc). Reconciling your bank statement back to your ledger is pretty basic stuff.

Taking my accountancy hat off, there’s still plenty to enjoy in this episode. Ray Smith is wonderful as Jimmy Harker. Harker purrs with silky villainy, taunting DCI Jim Logan (Tony Caunter) that he has nothing on him. But things start to unravel dramatically after Harker tells his associate, Edward Bass (Dicken Ashworth), to take Arthur Hill (Arthur Kelly) out to the quarry and persuade him (with a hammer) that he should keep quiet.

Hill might have been an unwitting part of the fraud, but his testimony could prove fatal for Harker. That Bass and Harker are an inept pair of villains is made clear after a frantic Bass phones Harker to tell him that although he only tapped Hill a few times (!), he thinks that he’s killed him. This is the signal for Harker to make a break for it ….

All Harker’s scenes so far have had a faint comic edge and his attempted getaway carries this theme on. The sight of Harker speeding away on a moped whilst two officers crawl behind in a commandeered car driven by a vicar (played by Hugh Latimer) makes this plain.

This part of the story also gets us back on film after the largely studio-bound nature of the rest of the episode. I like the moment when we see Harker jogging for freedom down the high street. Given the number of passers-by who stop and stare at him, it’s plain that the street wasn’t closed for filming. Therefore these ordinary members of public unexpectedly found themselves television stars for a few seconds.

Another strong script from Ian Kennedy-Martin, Fraudulently Uttered has a lighter tone than Shot Gun and is a highlight from the early run of the series, thanks to Patricia Hayes and Ray Smith.

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Juliet Bravo – Shot Gun

Juliet Bravo carried on in a similar tradition to previous BBC police series such as Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars and Softly Softly. What links them all is their low-key feel (murders and armed robberies were the exception rather than the rule).

It’s an interesting fact that series creator Ian Kennedy-Martin had also created The Sweeney (penning the original Armchair Cinema pilot, Regan). The Sweeney has long been regarded by many critics as a breath of fresh air – destroying the few remaining shreds of credibility of tired old warhorses such as Dixon and Z Cars.

The truth is a little different though. The surviving colour episodes of Dixon (most of which are now available on DVD) reveal a much more interesting programme than the “tired old dinosaur” of legend. And whilst The Sweeney blazed brightly for a while (with The Professionals and Dempsey and Makepeace following in its wake) there’s no reason why every subsequent police show had to follow this format.

Possibly due to its countryside setting, JB has come to be seen by some as a cosy Saturday night programme, a forerunner to Heartbeat. This is far from the mark though – Hartley may be an isolated town, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Social and economic deprevation (the series debuted in 1980) is the background to many of the stories. Quiet desperation might be said to be one of the series’ recurring themes.

The major selling point of JB, of course, was the fact that a female inspector, Jean Darblay (Stephanie Turner), has been placed in charge of a station full of men. Today this wouldn’t raise an eyebrow, but the novelty of a female Inspector (or indeed a female leading a police series) would still have been strong back in 1980.

The forces of conservatism are represented by the two middle-aged sergeants, Joe Beck (David Ellison) and George Parrish (Noel Collins) with Joe being the most opposed to Jean’s appointment (his calculated insolence runs throughout this opening episode). Eventually she tells him outright not to call her “boss”. “Ma’am” will do instead.

The opening few seconds of the episode – a car gingerly traverses up a steep, deeply rutted road whilst an old woman with a trolly trudges down (with a factory chimney billowing out smoke in the distance) is a wonderful piece of visual shorthand. We’re instantly aware of exactly what sort of town Hartley is (a run-down environment which has seen better days).

The car driver – Rodney Maskell (Tony Melody) – is just as quickly established as a deeply unstable man. With camera angles shooting from low on the ground and from his POV, it helps to create a sense of queasy uneasiness. He’s arrived, at gunpoint, to take his teenage daughter, Maureen (Joanne Whalley) away with him.

After this drama, we switch over to the more humdrum world of Hartley nick. Jean’s already been resident for a short while, but it’s still clearly not something that Joe and George have come to terms with. Joe’s gleefully sorrowful comment that a parade at 9:30 will be difficult is just one round in their battle of wills.

Jean’s encounter with local informer Ted Watson (John Moore) is another. Joe and George have clearly indulged this elderly chap for years, but Jean is far from impressed when she learns that he expects to receive five pounds for his statement (he claims to have witnessed a rape on the moor). This subplot is notable for establishing the bleak tone of the series – Jean attempts to question the mother of the alleged rape victim, but doesn’t get very far. The father isn’t a great deal of help either (telling Jean that if her daughter becomes pregnant they’ll “summon the bastard”. If she’s not, then they won’t).

Jackie Shin (as Mr Porter) enjoys a vivid cameo here, as Porter explains to Jean that dragging his young daughter through the indignity of a court case is something he’s keen to avoid. His parting shot (“if you weren’t a bloody woman, I’d belt you one”) is nicely delivered too.

Mrs Maskell (Margaret Stallard) tells Jean that her husband has been on a downward turn ever since he lost his job (his old place of work – a now derilict mill – could be taken as a visual metaphor for the economic decline of the North). Of course, this is where he and Maureen are holed up (Jean decides to pop into the mill all by herself and is marched out at gunpoint by Maskell for her pains).

It’s hard to see this as anything other than a massive miscalculation on her part (although to be fair, Jean wasn’t aware that Maskell had a shotgun).

Whalley might have been eighteen at the time, but she’s easily able to play a diminutive fourteen year old. She doesn’t have many lines, but no doubt due to her later career she always catches the eye.

Tony Melody is compelling as a man on a verge of a nervous breakdown. His desire to shoot his wife (or indeed the police) is contrasted by his obvious love for his daughter. That she’s the only person he won’t shoot is later used by her as she timidly tells him that she’s prepared to walk out of the door. Melody and Whalley play these later scenes very well.

This looks like it was David Reynold’s only JB episode as director, a pity as there’s some lovely filmic moments peppered throughout (Shot Gun is a major location shoot, other episodes would be more studio based). Later moving to ITV, Reynolds would become a producer, working on many of the network’s top dramas and comedies.

Shot Gun establishes the series with a bang, informing us right from the start that we shouldn’t always expect a happy ending.