Hackett and his colleagues have been keeping Ceti (Walter Randall) under close observation as the word is that half a million pounds worth of heroin will shortly be delivered to him by a sailor called Pink (Alan Rebbeck). As soon as Pink is spotted entering the house the team pile in – but they find nothing.
Pink knew that he was under observation, so he passed the drugs over to Sharkey (Ken Hutchinson) for him to deliver. But the police got there first and Sharkey beats a hasty retreat. So he’s at loose in the city – with a fortune in drugs and both sides of the law tracking his every move.
The second of Douglas Camfield’s two Target episodes, Big Elephant was written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin (two more familiar faces from Doctor Who). It’s grim stuff – especially when depicting the squalid reality of drug dependance. This is highlighted by Joanne (Katy Manning) – a hopeless addict. Best known for Doctor Who, this is obviously a major change of pace for her but Manning is convincing as a woman who can’t think any further ahead than her next fix. Increasingly twitchy, pallid and hysterical as the episode wears on, it’s a memorable performance.
Sharkey is such a loose cannon (the pre-credits sequence see him “borrowing” a fork-lift truck and taking it for a ride along the docks, before getting nabbed by the police) it’s impossible to believe anybody would entrust him with such a package. It’s also slightly odd that as Pink knew he was under observation he didn’t change the drop-off point for the drugs.
Ken Hutchinson starts the story as a stereotypical drunken Scot, but gradually more of a character emerges. Sharkey forms an unlikely relationship with Joanne – they seem to be two lost souls clinging together for comfort. He wants to help her kick her habit but Hackett tells him that it’s not worth it – she’s a junkie and she’ll never change. Hackett does later tell him that he’ll arrange treatment, but it’s too late. She overdoses, leaving a scribbled note on the wall which reads “Dear god I’m only little, love Joanne.”
There’s plenty of action in Big Elephant. The initial raid on Ceti’s house is played at a frantic pace and the final confrontation between Hackett and Ceti also packs a punch. Hackett does finally get his man, but the trail of destruction which has led to Ceti’s arrest means that there’s no real cause for celebration. This is confirmed by the final shot of the episode which sees Hackett alone and isolated.