The Odd Job, the third episode of Six Dates with Barker, was broadcast on ITV in 1971.
My Six Dates rewatch has reached this episode. It’s always good to see Ronnie Barker and David Jason teamed up (and for this era it’s a rarity for Jason to be playing his own age). I’ve previously written about the episode here.
Look to the Lady – Part One, the first episode of Campion, was broadcast on BBC1 in 1989.
Both BBC and ITV had already scored successes earlier in the decade with heritage detectives (Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes) so it wasn’t a surprise to find the BBC scouring the bookshops for another Golden Age detective writer ripe for adaptation.
Margery Allingham had been a contemporary of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, but it’s fair to say that over the decades her profile had dipped somewhat – making her stories ideal for rediscovery. Her later Campion novels became rather ponderous, but the early ones, like Look to the Lady, had an appealing light-hearted tone (it’s not surprising that the series tended to favour her earlier efforts).
Adapted by Alan Plater, Look to the Lady was the ideal way to kick off the series. Peter Davison and Brian Glover both hit the ground running and there’s strong support from the guest cast (such as Gordon Jackson in one of his final television appearances).
Hopes for Campion were obviously high as a second series was commissioned before the first was transmitted. But it never reached a third – possibly scheduling (the early episodes of series one were put against David Suchet’s Poirot whilst series two was placed opposite The Charmer) had a part to play in this.
Even now though, I still hold out hopes that Peter Davison might reprise the role in adaptations of some of the later novels (like The Tiger In The Smoke). Maybe one day ….