Gideon’s Way – The Perfect Crime

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Todd (Patrick Allen) and Casey (Patrick Bedford) have formed a profitable criminal partnership.  The mysterious Todd is a well-connected man who always seems to know when wealthy marks will be away from home – but he needs the skills of Casey, a noted safebreaker.

They’re very different characters though.   On their latest job, Todd thinks nothing of clubbing down an au pair who unexpectedly returns to the flat they’re burgling (with an off-hand comment of “stupid cow”).  This perturbs Casey, who hates violence and recoils at the sight of blood.  Casey’s wife, Sandra (Jean Marsh), urges him to cut his ties with Todd, but as he’s earning good money he’s prepared to ignore his scruples.

When the au pair dies and Casey is arrested on another job, things look bleak for him.  But a wily lawyer sees a chance to blame Casey’s self-inflicted injury on police brutality – with Gideon in the frame …..

The incomparable Patrick Allen – possessor of the type of voice I could listen to all day – is in fine form as Todd.  By night he’s a violent criminal, but by day Todd’s a respectable stockbroker, moving in the best of circles with his cultured and beautiful girlfriend, Anne Beaumont (Ann Lynn).  Lynn’s one of those actresses who, if you love television of this era, you can’t help coming across.  Sergeant Cork, Public Eye and Minder are just three series graced with her presence.

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Elsewhere, Jean Marsh is a vivid screen presence as Sandra.  Following her husband’s arrest, Sandra attempts to extract the money he’s owed from Todd, with fatal results.  The moment of Sandra’s murder is nicely done.  As so often in GW, we don’t actually see the fatal blow struck (the camera is elsewhere at the time) but the quick cuts – and Todd’s expression afterwards – still make it a chilling moment.

It’s an amusing character touch that whenever Todd’s in criminal mode he wears a pair of dark glasses.  Even when indoors!  How can he see what’s going on?!   It’s also noticeable how he’s able to edit his personality – when spending time with his girlfriend and their wealthy friends he’s urbane and pleasant.  But when he’s discussing the next job with Casey he’s blunt and business-like, seemingly uncaring that the au pair is hovering close to death.  When confronted by Sandra he explains why he’s embarked on a life of crime.  “I do it because stocks and shares are pedestrian, dull, inanimate. When I’m on a job with Casey I’m alive, quick turning in my guts of fear, excitement, even sensuality. There’s no rational explanation.”

It’s jarring to see Gideon accused of hitting a suspect.  Jack Regan maybe, but not the avuncular George Gideon.  This feels like a theme drawn more from the books, which tended to paint Gideon’s world in shades of grey, as opposed to the resolutely black and white world of the television series.   In Creasey’s novels, Gideon had to traverse a more morally corrupt landscape, where even his own colleagues couldn’t always be counted upon.  But whilst the series caught the flavour of the books they also tended to rub off the sharp edges (although the ending of this episode is rather bleak).  However I’m glad they never carried over the practice of having Gideon referred to by his colleagues as “Gee Gee”.  It wouldn’t seem right to me for John Gregson to be referred to that way!

There are some series which I’m glad to have, but don’t tend to get rewatched that often.  Gideon’s Way isn’t one of them.  Gregson and Davion form a solid partnership, the scripts are generally very strong, the guest casts can rarely be faulted and the extensive location filming in and around London is yet another reason why this is a programme to be cherished.  Possibly because it didn’t fit the usual template for ITC filmed series, it’s never had the profile of the likes of The Saint, but Gideon’s Way is an endlessly entertaining series that I can come back to time and time again.

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