Upstairs Downstairs – Married Love (4th November 1972)

Relations between Elizabeth and Lawrence are worsening due to his inability to consummate their marriage. Shuddering at the thought of such gross physical activity, he turns to his publisher and mentor – Sir Edwin Partridge (Charles Gray) – who may be able to assist ….

The opening of this episode feels a bit abrupt (the UpDown website confirms that the first few lines are inexplicably missing from all copies currently in circulation). Thomas’ incredulity that bootlaces and newspapers need to be ironed raises a smile (as does his suggestion that he could do the same to the bacon). The truculent cook, Mrs. Fellowes, also helps to create an air of sour comic relief – it’s all to do with her leg you know.

Laughs are thin on the ground when we move upstairs to Elizabeth and Lawrence’s bedroom. His total disinterest in that side of their relationship (as a poet he apparently finds it too ghastly to contemplate) is made plain – which launches Elizabeth into the realms of deepest despair. Matters get no better over the breakfast table and they part – he to visit Sir Edwin – on the worst of terms.

Elizabeth has very few role models to turn to. It would be impossible to speak to her mother about such a delicate subject, so instead she sounds out Rose. This is a gloriously uncomfortable scene – the pure and innocent Rose is just about the last person to advise anyone on sexual matters (all she can do is pass on second hand information about her aunt and uncle’s strained relationship and how all working men are only after one thing).

Given that the first half of the episode is claustrophobic and rather unhappy, it’s a jarring (but not unpleasant) change of pace when the action switches to Thomas and Elizabeth taking a drive. The wily Thomas has persuaded the Kirkbridges that buying a car would be a wise move – he, of course, will be more than happy to act as chauffeur.  Although the OB VT makes things look a little cheap, it still must have been quite an expensive scene to mount as there’s a fair number of extras dotted about the park.

Whilst Elizabeth is getting the colour back in her cheeks, Lawrence is unburdening his soul to Sir Edwin. Charles Gray is on typically mesmerising form throughout – purring like a particularly well-fed cat as Sir Edwin elects (with Lawrence’s blessing) to try and lift Elizabeth’s spirits by any means necessary.

By seducing her? During a party held by Lawrence to celebrate the publication of his new book, Sir Edwin and a rather tiddly Elizabeth do visit her bedroom, but it’s not specified in this episode exactly what they get up to.  Sir Edwin does look satisfied when he later bids Lawrence farewell, but then that seems to be his default setting.

Elizabeth and Sir Edwin’s conversation during the party is fascinating. Although he toys with her, Elizabeth does possess some intellectual tools of her own (even though, as events during previous episodes have proved, she still has a strong streak of naivety).

The champagne flows freely at the party, which is just as well as the sample we have of Lawrence’s poetry (all doom laden stuff) would no doubt sound a little better after a few stiff drinks.

In some ways Married Love serves as a prologue to the drama of the next episode, but John Harrison’s script (the second of his two UpDown efforts) is still a strong vehicle for Elizabeth. Since Harrison’s previous effort was The Path of Duty (Elizabeth’s debut in the series) it’s possibly not surprising he was chosen to move her character on to the next stage.

Gideon’s Way – The Alibi Man


Bruce Carroway (Jack Hedley) might be England’s greatest motor racing driver, but he’s a rotten businessman.  Jeff Grant (Geoffrey Palmer) co-owns a garage with him and is shocked, after checking the books, to find there’s a substantial sum of money missing.

Grant confronts Carroway, but gets nowhere so he decides to head for the police station.  A fight breaks out and Grant is clubbed to death.  Along with his trusty mechanic Eric Little (James Culliford), Carroway creates an alibi which places him far from the scene at the apparent time of the murder.  But Gideon smells a rat …..

The episode opens with some vintage (or at the time, current) motor racing action.  Hedley, via rather unconvincing back-projection, is shown winning yet another race.  Possibly the most noteworthy aspect of the sequence is how relaxed Jack Hedley looks as he drives his car around the circuit.  From the casual expression on his face you’d have assumed he was simply out for a Sunday drive!  I’m sure that steering a racing car of this era took just a little more concentration.

Hedley, probably best known for his later portrayal of the Senior British Officer in Colditz, is excellent as the amoral Carroway.  He may be a fine driver, but as a man he’s severely deficient.  We see him treat his wife with contempt (telling her she’s as much fun as a broken hip) and isn’t too kinder to his mistress, Marjorie Bellman (Jennifer Daniel).  Marjorie is a bought woman – she lives in a beautiful flat, paid for by Carroway – but it’s plain she’s not a gold-digger.  She really loves him, although it’s doubtful whether he’s capable of responding in kind.

It’s nice to see a young Geoffrey Palmer, although we don’t see him for long, as after a fairly brutal fight (for Gideon’s Way anyway) he gets clobbered.  If Carroway’s shown to be a poor businessman, then he’s not much better as a murderer.  He tells Eric to smash one of the windows in the office in order to give the impression of a break-in, but neither thinks of actually entering through it – meaning that the police (thanks to the undisturbed dust on the ledge) quickly work out that no-one came through that way.

Carroway also tries the old clock trick, which I’m sure never works outside of detective novels.  He turns the clock to just after 9.00 pm and then smashes it – so anybody finding it will automatically think that was when the crime must have been committed.  And since he and Eric plan to be somewhere else at that time, they therefore have a cast-iron alibi.  Except that it’s obvious to Gideon and the others that the clock has been deliberately destroyed in order to create such an alibi.

In some ways, this works as a proto-Columbo.  Gideon strongly suspects that Carroway is guilty, and the audience knows he is, but he lacks any evidence.  So the Commander has to keep chipping away at Carroway, trying to push him into revealing his true nature.  But the ending of this one is most atypical for Gideon.  Normally we see the Commander always get his man (or woman) but here there’s a much more open-ended feel – which is unusual for the series, but more accurately reflects real life.

As I’ve said, Hedley is perfect as Carroway and Jennifer Daniel is also strong casting as Marjorie, the woman who loves him but also (since she knows he went to meet Grant) proves to be something of a problem.  A young Nicola Pagett also pops up, as Marjorie’s younger sister Cathy.

The relationship between Carroway and Eric is an intriguing one.  Eric’s badly scarred thanks to a bad motor racing accident some years previously, but he’s indebted to Carroway as he was responsible for pulling him from his burning car.  It’s therefore understandable that Eric will do almost anything for Carroway including murder (he disposes of Marjorie).  But Eric’s comment, just as he’s dispatching the unfortunate Marjorie, is quite telling.  He says that the old days (just the two of them – Carroway and Eric) are now back.  It’s only a throwaway moment, but the possibility that Eric wants a deeper relationship seems quite plain.  Quite what the womanising Carroway would make of Eric’s feelings is anyone’s guess.

Another strong story with a first-rate guest cast.

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