Sunday, 14 June 2015

An end, and a beginning

Dear TV Minus 50 readers

You may have noticed I haven't posted anything here in quite a while.  This is because I was getting overwhelmed with keeping the blog on schedule.  A lot of work goes in to one of these posts, and as I have to work full time (and maintain some semblance of home life), the weekly deadline's a bit much.  So I decided to abandon TV Minus 50 and  work on other things - mainly my writing about the lurid end of British cinema, which you can find at, and which I hope, eventually, to make into a book.  But, I missed writing about 60s TV - so I decided to start a Doctor Who one-episode-at-a-time blog, recycling stuff I'd already written and writing new posts on the episodes I missed during my various sabbaticals.  It's not a very original idea, and while writing it I was missing the context of other TV shows TV Minus 50 put it in to...

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I've finally decided to put each episode of Doctor Who into context with what else was on TV at the time (the idea that inspired TV Minus 50 in the first place - but don't worry if you're not keen on Doctor Who - there will be plenty of other things), but drop the "50 years ago" angle.  This way, I can take my time over writing each post, and I can go back and catch up on weeks I've missed.  It's all happening at - at the moment I'm editing things I've already written here into the new format, but there will be new stuff coming soon, and I hope you enjoy it.

Best wishes


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

8-14 May 1965

Saturday 8 May

Hello everyone.  Well, it's been the kind of week in 2015 that makes me particularly happy to disappear into the past, so let's do it.

There's no Juke Box Jury this week due to a special programme on BBC 1 commemorating the 20th anniversary of VE Day.  Funnily enough it's produced by Glyn Jones, who's also the writer of the current Doctor Who adventure, the latest instalment of which follows directly after at the later than usual time of 6 pm.

We begin with the usual reprise of the previous episode, with the Doctor being informed that he's to be carted off and turned into a museum exhibit.  That's the last we'll see of William Hartnell this week.  We move outside the museum now to where the TARDIS is being guarded by a pair of Moroks attempting to keep a curious group of Xerons at bay.  "Leave it alone!" huffs one of them, in the tone of a weary parent telling their child for the hundredth time not to pick at a scab.

Barbara, Ian and Vicki watch the scene from the museum doorway and bicker about what to do next.  With the Doctor missing, Ian clearly decides it's his turn to be all gnomic: "Choice is only possible when you know all the facts."  Thanks for that, very helpful.

Outside the TARDIS, a grouchy Morok Commander appears on the scene to upbraid the TARDIS guards.  Beneath the badger wig are the snarling features of Ivor Salter, one of TV's most distinctive bit-parters.  Like his boss, Lobos, who he clearly hates, he's a great one for self-pity.

Even when a Morok played with endearing incompetence by either Billy Cornelius, Lawrence Dean or Ken Norris sneaks up on our heroes Ian doesn't stop his philosophical chuntering.  Instead, he tries to convince the gun-wielding oaf that he and his friends can't be killed because they've seen themselves on display in the museum's future (it doesn't seem to occur to him that, as a rule, animals displayed in museums are dead).  This argument making unsurprisingly little headway with the Morok, Ian eventually just leaps on him and tries to get his gun, the sounds of the struggle drawing the attention of the guards outside.  An almighty ding-dong ensues (the responsibility of Fight Arranger Peter Diamond, who plays one of the Morok guards).

Now, this is a bit outside my remit as it's not something viewers in 1965 would have seen, but I'd like to sing the praises of the person who subtitled this story for its DVD release: they've done an amazing job.

The fight results in Ian, Barbara and Vicki all being separated.  Barbara hides in a storeroom where she finds what might be an ill-fated former visitor to Xeros...

...while Vicki, catching her breath, is grabbed by the young Xerons just as the Doctor was last week.  "You've got to trust us!" exclaims leader Tor.  "We hate the Moroks! We want to see them dead.  Well, you can see we're nothing like them."

Ian hides from the Moroks behind the TARDIS (ingenious).  He's got one of their guns, and sneaks out to force a guard to take him to where the Doctor's being prepared for exhibition.

Lobos receives a directive from Morok (the planet) instructing him to kill the Xeron rebels.  He orders that the air conditioners in the museum start pumping out paralysing zaphra gas.

Someone enters Barbara's hiding place, and only just avoids a wallop when he reveals himself as Xeron rebel Dako.  Rather than take her straight to Vicki he gives her a potted history of the planet's conquest by the Moroks.  Before he's finished, the room starts flooding with gas.

Meanwhile, Vicki's enjoying a meal in the museum canteen with Tor and Sita, who explain to her that the Xerons are slaves to the Moroks, and are taken off world to labour for them once they become old enough (so where are the Xeron parents?).  They're trying to fight back.  Vicki is inspired with revolutionary fervour for their cause.

She insists they need to arm themselves.  Tor explains that the Moroks' weapons are securely locked up, but Vicki is clearly not going to let this stand in her way.

It's not difficult to distract and then knock out the sleepy Morok guarding the electronic brain.

Vicki decides to give the machine's questions a go.  As she's unable to give her name and rank successfully it's a no-go.  So she decides to have a tinker with it.

Meanwhile, Barbara and Dako are still under assault from the zaphra gas, Dako succumbing to its paralysing properties.

Vicki's succeeded in changing the questions the computer asks for access, so she's able to be cheekily honest about her intentions and still get into the weapon store.

Ian's brought before Lobos, who, somewhat worryingly, he suggests it would be a pleasure to kill.  The Morok leader's forced at gunpoint to show Ian what's happening to the Doctor (left to our imaginations for now due to Hartnell's holiday).  Is he past being saved?

Next tonight, it's the last of our visits to Victorian London for the time being.

We begin in Lausanne, at a hotel run by M Moser (Roger Delgado).  His guests include jolly clergyman Dr Shlessinger (Ronald Radd) and his shifty wife (Diana King) and the beautiful Lady Frances Carfax (Sheila Shand Gibbs).

Upstairs, Lady Frances' maid Marie (Karin MacCarthy) discusses with her waiter boyfriend Jules (Neil Stacy) how her mistress's close association with the Shlessingers has led to her becoming inspired with religious fervour.

Lady Frances goes for a stroll, followed by a sinister man with a great big black beard, who finally corners her in a churchyard...

Next thing we're know we're in Baker Street, where Holmes and Watson discuss Lady Frances' mysterious disappearance.  She'd been touring Europe after inheriting a great deal of money, and had laid herself open to great risk by taking a number of priceless jewels with her.  Her former governess has called Holmes in to find her after having had no word from her for weeks. Having other things to do, he sends Watson to Lausanne to follow the trail.

M Moser tells Watson all about Dr Shlessinger - he was a missionary in South America but has recently returned to Europe in ill health.  They checked out on the same day as Lady Frances.  Neither party left any forwarding address, but they were apparently on their way to Baden.  Curiously, Lady Frances left Marie behind, after giving her a cheque for the princely sum of £50.   Watson speaks to Jules, who claims to know nothing more about the matter.  Shortly before she left, Lady Frances had a meeting with a mysterious Englishman.  Could she have left to escape him?

Watson goes to see Marie in Montpelier.  Outside her residence is an elderly man, who eagle-eyed viewers will immediately spot is a disguised Holmes.

Watson is suspicious of a fancy necklace he finds Marie with.  She insists she bought this with the money Lady Frances gave her.  Suddenly, she spots the mystery Englishman out of the window.

It's the chap with the great big beard, and now we get a proper look at his face we can see he's played by Joss Ackland.  Watson rushes down and demands to know where Lady Frances is, leading to fight which is eventually broken up by the disguised Holmes chucking a shoe at the mystery man's head.

When the man calms down we learn that he is the Hon. Philip Green.  He claims to have been deeply in love with Lady Frances, hence his blind rage on being accused of being behind her disappearance.  He and she had been childhood sweethearts, but her father refused to let her marry him.  Since the old man had recently died, he had tracked down Lady Frances in the hope that they could now wed.  He claims she had nearly been convinced, but had then disappeared.

Holmes decides to return to London, having deduced that Lady Frances is now back there - whether alive or not remains to be seen.  He gets a telegram confirming Dr Shlessinger has a "jagged or torn" ear, furthering his suspicions that the clergyman is in fact a notorious Australian criminal known as Holy Peters.  He enlists the aid of Inspector Lestrade in finding him.

John Woodnutt gives it the full Fagin as a pawnbroker who receives some of Lady Frances' jewels from Peters.  Suspicious, he reports them to the police.  Holmes sends Green along to the shop to wait for Peters to return with more.  This time it's the supposed Mrs Shlessinger who turns up (Diana King, familiar as scatty wives and mothers in sitcoms from Marriage Lines to Fawlty Towers to Are You Being Served? is wonderfully icy in the role).

Green follows her out of the shop to an undertaker's, and then back to a house in Brixton, where a coffin is delivered.

Learning that the funeral of someone in that house is to take place at 8 am the following morning, Holmes and Watson call upon the so-called Shlessingers.  They claim not to know where Lady Frances is, and to be rather miffed about it as they paid her way and only got a few trinkets in return.

They claim the coffin contains an old nurse of  Mrs Peters' that they'd found living destitute.  Holmes opens the lid and finds that the shrivelled corpse inside definitely isn't that of Lady Frances.  It doesn't even look much like a human being.

A police sergeant turns up, and who should it be playing him but Ivor Salter again?

Watson speaks to the local workhouse matron, who confirms that she did indeed release the old woman to Peters.  Holmes confesses to Green that he feels he's failed.  But suddenly, he's struck by an idea after recalling that Green had overheard the undertaker saying the coffin was especially made to be deeper than usual.  Rushing back to Brixton just as the coffin's about to be carted away, he prises it open to reveal the still just about breathing Lady Frances Carfax, her body placed on top of that of the unfortunate old woman.  Unfortunately, Peters and his accomplice escape.

Sadly, that's the last we'll see of Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes.  Nigel Stock returns as Watson for another series of adventures (in colour!) in 1968, but this time he's paired with Peter Cushing.  While this incarnation of Holmes is solving his final case, a brand new series combining sci-fi and espionage is starting over on ITV.  Made by ABC, it's the brainchild of Human Jungle writer Robert Banks Stewart, who appears to have been strongly influenced by Invasion of the Body Snatchers and/or Quatermass 2.

The first person we see on screen in Undermind is the ubiquitous Tony Steedman.  Here he plays cabinet minister Hugh Bishop, who's in the police station after a fracas with Detective Sergeant Frank Heriot (Jeremy Kemp) outside their local pub.  It's a Sunday afternoon, and the Inspector (Hugh Latimer) wants the matter quickly resolved so "We can all get back to our Sunday lunch, colour supplements and a glass of beer."  But Frank, who's come off the worst from the fight, is determined to press an assault charge against Bishop.

Elsewhere, Frank's younger brother Drew (Jeremy Wilkin) returns to the business efficiency bureau where he works from a trip abroad.  His colleague Dr Polson (Paul Maxwell, erstwhile voice of Steve Zodiac) shows off his massive new computer, which "evaluates types of people".

Drew goes for a drink with Frank, who seems oddly sensitive about the noise in the pub.  He's taken aback when the landlord tells them to leave, Frank being unwelcome after the business with Hugh Bishop.  He's taken even further back on learning that Frank and his wife Anne split up three months ago.  She's played by Rosemary Nicols, and since leaving home has been working as a nanny.  When Drew comes to visit, she tells him her relationship with Frank broke down after he suddenly became cold and emotionally withdrawn.  She reveals that when she and Frank once saw Hugh Bishop in the local park, Frank had become enraged by his dog whistle.  Aware humans aren't able to hear the frequency of a dog whistle, Drew's baffled.

Drew confronts Frank over his relentless persecution of Bishop.  Frank behaves very oddly indeed.

Bishop is fined £3 for assault, and writes his resignation letter, much to the exasperation of his wife (Moya O'Sullivan).  He's inconsolable over the destruction of his career.

Frank breaks into the house where Anne's staying, but only takes an old newspaper serving as a hat for a golliwog.

Later, Frank joins Drew and Anne for a drink in the pub.  The news comes on the TV, announcing that Bishop has killed himself.  Drew's livid at Frank's apparent lack of reaction.

Anne's baffled by the missing newspaper, but is certain Frank's the thief.  Drew gets Frank to call in at his office, and gets him to have a go on Dr Polson's personality monitoring machine.  Polson's astonished to find that his results show no fluctuation in his thought patterns whatsoever - except for a spike when an ultrasonic noise was fed in.  The results show Frank to be "totally lacking in normal emotional responses."

Having worked out which paper it was Frank stole, Drew and Anne try to track down a copy to find out what was so important to him.  They go to the paper's archives, only to find someone's got there before them and cut a story out.

Anne manages to get hold of the story from a press clippings agency (Helen Ford plays the snaggletoothed clerk).  It's about dogs who mysteriously threw themselves on railway tracks.  And there are several other stories about the same thing happening in different parts of the country.  Nobody seems to have connected the events.  Could it have been ultrasonic signals that led the dogs to kill themselves?

Polson's attempts to get to the bottom of the bizarre readings come to an end when Frank sneaks into his office, kills him and absconds with his readings.

The next day, Drew gets to work to find his colleague's dead - and that his brother's been put in charge of the investigation.  However, a message on Polson's answering machine that gives Drew an important lead: it seems Frank's readings (or lack of) were identical to those of an air traffic controller in Exeter who caused a plane to crash, killing lots of people..

Drew visits Frank in the showers after a rugby match: "I want to help you, before you're completely dead as a human being," he tells him.  Frank claims not to know what he's on about.

But he does, of course, and commissions a shifty foreigner (David Swift) to kill Drew.

Frank plans to take care of Anne himself, but as he approaches her in the park finds himself, not Drew, at the receiving end of the assassin's bullet.  As is the form in these situations, Frank's last breaths contain puzzling messages: "I'm not Frank," he tells Anne, also vouchsafing that "there are more of us".

It actually sounds like he says "four more of us", but it appears this is not the case, as the next scene sees Drew and Anne speculating on how many more people there are like Frank, primed to cause chaos.  They could be absolutely anyone.  And we're nowhere near the matter of who these people are or what they want yet...

Next tonight it's The Human Jungle and, quite by accident, tonight's episode makes a fantastic companion piece to the paranoia of Undermind.

We start with an industrial accident, as crane operator Jeff Broadley (Lloyd Reckord) loses control of the crane he's operating after recoiling in fear from the sun as it emerges from behind some clouds.  He then falls out.

Broadley's taken to St Damien's Hospital with a broken leg, and his violent aversion to light attracts the attention of Dr Jimmy Davis.

Meanwhile, Dr Roger Corder is occupied with the case of young Stanley (Tony Tanner), in hospital with a mysterious pain that nobody's been able to explain.  His girlfriend Wendy (Barbara Ferris) is pregnant, but he refuses to accept that the baby is his.

Broadley refuses to move wards as the new destination is too bright, so Corder has a chat with him.  Broadley's suffering from a delusion that the sun is his enemy, determined to kill him,household electrics are "the sun's fifth column", who want to electrocute him, and most people are its agents, determined to destroy him.  As Corder keeps the blinds in his office closed, he's able to convince Broadley that he's his friend - for the time being, at least.

Jimmy gives Stan the once-over.  He's clearly malingering about his pain, but just as clearly he's got significant psychological issues.  For one thing, he's an almighty shit-stirrer, and manages to half-convince Jimmy that Corder's planning to sack him.  Broadley is moved into the bed opposite Stan, and immediately removes the lightbulb above it.  He notices Stan watching him and smashes it in the belief that Stan plans to put it back.

The wonderful Avis Bunnage, last seen in Thursday's Gideon's Way, appears all too briefly as Wendy's irate mother, determined that Stan should make an honest woman of her.  To that end, she's promised to give the expectant parents a deposit on a maisonette and see that Stan gets a job from Wendy's Uncle Charlie.

Stan's given the job of taking Broadley out for a run in his wheelchair.  Broadley, of course, thinks he's taking him outside to kill him, and threatens him in the lift with a broken milk bottle (why there are milk bottles in the lift isn't entirely clear).

It takes a while to get Broadley out of the lift.  When he does, Corder questions him further.  He's a bundle of insecurities who feels that his interests (including ballet) aren't manly enough, and feels insignificant compared to his wife, who's highly educated and is now a local councillor.  It seems conversations he's had with her about atomic radiation are the root of his fears.

Stanley's given an EEG test, then gets a visit from long-suffering Wendy (his immaturity is emphasised for us by the fact that he's always reading comics - here Wendy brings him a copy of Tales to Astonish: number 53, as a matter of fact, with Giant-Man facing the Porcupine, one of Marvel's more underwhelming villains).  He's not the fussed about the offer of a deposit on a maisonette, he just wants the money.

Stan tries to make up with Broadley, but only so he can continue to cause trouble - which he does by informing him that Corder intends to amputate his leg.  Unsurprisingly, Broadley flies into a panic when he's wheeled off for an x-ray.

Left unattended for a moment, Broadley borrows another patient's crutches and tries to escape, but ends up locked in the pharmacy by Stan.  The sun streams in through the window, causing Broadley to go berserk and smash a load of bottles.  When Corder tries to get in, he threatens to drink from one marked Poison.  Corder finally gets him out by offering an injection that will make him immune to enemy attacks.

Jimmy's lost his wallet, and the troublesome Stan is the obvious culprit.  Eventually it turns up in Nurse Flanangan's (Bridget McConnell) handbag, much to her consternation.  Jimmy doesn't believe she's the thief, but declines to tell her who was: "We don't want to see you sacked for assaulting a certain person over the head with your shillelagh!" When he confronts Stan, he's gobsmacked by his front in insisting the nurse was responsible.

Broadley's getting better, and is beginning to accept that his delusion is just that.

Wendy tells Stanley she's decided to break up with him.  She's exasperated by his sudden interest in the baby he previously denied any responsibility for.  He asks to borrow a couple of quid and she gives it to him, but this is clearly the last she ever wants to see of him.

Corder decides Stanley can be discharged, but he still has one trick up his sleeve: while Broadley sleeps, he creeps up to his bed and shines a torch in his face.

Stan tells Corder he's sorry about the incident.  Wearily, Corder informs him that "In psychological terms, Stanley, you're what's known as an inadequate psychopath."  Stanley seems quite happy with this diagnosis: "Am I really? That sounds rather special."  Corder tells Stan there's not much that can be done for him.  Stan decides the best response to this is to "get blind stinking drunk."  Corder only just prevents him from walking off with a stethoscope: "Would you believe it? Nurse Flanagan must've put it up there."

It turns out that Stan's trick with the torch hasn't increased Broadley's fears - he was just dazzled.  Corder opens the blinds, and for the first time in a very long time he enjoys the sunlight on his face.

Sunday 9 May

Tonight's Stingray begins with Commander Shore and his daughter Atlanta furtively working on a top-secret mission.  breathlessly awaiting the arrival of a pair of mysterious visitors.  In the end these turn out to be nobody more exciting than Troy Tempest and Phones.

Meanwhile, from his underwater palace in Titanica, Titan upbraids Agent X20 on his failure to destroy Marineville, and demands he come up with a masterplan.  "A masterplan.  I must think," muses the hapless underling.  But it's only a few moments before "the perfect plot to destroy Marineville" occurs to him.  He writes a letter to Commander Shore under the alias of Professor Sanders, "an authority on teaching dumb people to speak" who wants to lecture at Marineville.

Should we fail to spot where this is going, we're taken aboard Stingray, where Marina's taken to clapping when somebody says something she likes.  It seems a pretty obvious system, but it's too confusing for Phones: "Gee, I can't make out what she's trying to say, Troy."  Phones nearly lets slip something about Marina's home which is clearly part of the secret plan he and the others have been working on.

A letter for Professor Sanders arrives at X20's hideout, supposedly called Rose Cottage, though in fact it appears to be a mansion.  It's also the only dwelling on the island, which makes you wonder what on Earth the postal arrangements are.  Frankly, I'd like to see a whole episode revolving around this.  Anyway, it's an acceptance of his request to come to Marineville.

Here's a rather nifty gizmo that we see for the first time this week that tracks Stingray's progress in and out of its dock at Marineville.

And here's Atlanta in "artistic" mode: it turns out the big secret is that she and the others are doing up a new flat for Marina, and giving it an underwater theme so she doesn't get homesick (though she might get seasick).

This episode was clearly made quite early on in the Stingray production schedule, as it sees Agent X20 chatting away to himself about how he disguises himself, something the dedicated viewer at home will have seen him do many times by now.  "This makeup will make my green skin flesh-coloured" is an especially cherishable line.  There's a fascinatingly bizarre assortment of junk in X20's place, including a portrait of a sinister Scotsman and a highly unconvincing skull, which, enamoured with his own acting skills (he does a great Peter Lorre, I'll give him that) he picks up to do a Hamlet bit.

After the lecture, Troy and Phones approach the so-called Professor to ask for his assistance in teaching Marina how to speak.  All of a sudden he's got a surgery in Marineville, which he invites them to.  He asks to keep Marina in for a week, and gets Troy to speak some "simple phrases" into a microphone, suggesting requesting entry for Stingray into Marineville.

I'm sure you can see where all this is going: X20 kidnaps Marina (seemingly just so he can explain his plan to her), then returns to Marineville with her in his own sub - with a bomb on board of course - and uses the recording of Troy's voice to gain entry (Phones and Troy, meanwhile, are out in Stingray, and have stopped to pick up some shells for Marina's flat).

Although the episode's title is Count Down, X20's bomb is, in fact, counting up to 15, at which point it will explode, blowing up Marineville.  The dastardly agent himself makes a hasty exit and gets past security dressed as the professor prior to heading back to his hideout.

Shore is baffled when the real Stingray now returns.  Happily, Troy's able to confirm his identity by confirming he knows all about Operation Decorate.  Finding the bomb aboard the sub, he sets Marina free and pilots it out of Marineville, ejecting just in time.

That evening, Marina's presented with her new dwelling place.  As Atlanta boasts about her accomplishment, her father groans: "I'm glad we didn't teach Marina how to speak.  Can you imagine two talkative women around here? We just wouldn't stand  a chance."

So much for the enlightened Year 2065.  Back in time 140-odd years now for an episode of Dr Finlay's Casebook that manages to be highly entertaining despite the unpromising subject matter of Dr Cameron's accounts.

We first see that redoubtable physician this week telling a distressed woman (Joan Fitzpatrick) not to worry about her husband's medical fee as he knows she's having financial trouble.  Make your own jokes about someone called Cameron doing everything he can to help the poor and needy.

Next he's off to see young Arnie Raymond (Gordon Reid), who's got a heart problem.  His father (Malcolm Hayes) is getting a distinguished cardiac specialist to come and have a look at him.  Cameron's concerned about him spending his money in this way, but tells the man not to worry for the moment about his own fee.

Dr Cameron's book-keeper, Miss Scott (Janet Bruce) is going through the Arden House accounts, and is very concerned by the amount of unpaid bills, currently standing at £117 worth ("He gave us a very nice vase of flowers," says Janet of one prosperous businessman who's yet to pay up).

Dr Finlay's enraged by his partner's lax attitude to getting money off people.  "This practice has been sitting very comfortably on the rocks for the past 13 years," huffs Cameron - though part of the reason they haven't been in trouble financially is a windfall from the late Mr Albright, which paid off the mortgage and took care of Dr Finlay's university fees.  Nonetheless, Finlay is determined that from now on everyone must pay up front.  Cameron is certain that it's not going to happen.

A call comes in, and Finlay takes it in order to ensure payment.  Mr Oddy (Douglas Murchie) has hurt his leg.  Finlay has a look, and when he demands the fee straight away ("They call me Pay as You Go Finlay"), Oddy decides him to look at his son Harry (Ronnie Carryl) as well in order to get his money's worth.  Harry's body's covered with a mysterious rash.  Finlay thinks it's urticaria, but decides to take him back to the surgery (Oddy declines to pay until the diagnosis is properly made).  Finlay's attention is caught by Oddy's attractive young housekeeper, Henny Geddes (Amanda Walker).

Cameron takes a look at Harry and agrees he's got an urticarial rash.  Finlay thinks it might somehow be connected to his father, who's relationship with Henny he's highly curious about.  Cameron refers him to Janet, "the Tannochbrae encyclopedia".  "I am not a tittle-tattle, Dr Finlay" Janet insists, before tattling that the minister's had words with Oddy about the nature of his relationship with Henny before now.  Cameron bets Finlay Oddy's fee that Harry's rash is nothing to do with his father.

Cameron's outraged on receiving his income tax bill: "The miserable, petty jackanapes!" (Andrew Cruickshank gets some splendidly ripe dialogue to roll his tongue around this week).  It's for the exorbitant sum of £167, factoring in the Albright legacy, which Cameron did not declare.  Miss Scott thinks the taxman's within his rights; Cameron insists Finlay's liable for quarter of the sum as he gave him quarter of the legacy.

Finlay calls on Oddy and asks him about his relationship with his son.  Oddy's not very receptive to this line of questioning.

Cameron goes to see the tax inspector about his bill, and it turns out to be Mr Raymond with the poorly son.  A highly embarrassing situation for both follows, with Raymond insisting Cameron pay the tax bill, even though he hasn't paid his bill from Cameron.  The trouble with the will is that the wording of it suggested it was payment for Cameron's services over the years: the doctor's erratic fee-gathering has come back to bite him well and truly on the arse.

This puts Cameron into a foul humour with his patients: "I've told you till I'm sick and tired, if you live in a pub and eat meat puddings all day, of course you'll be constipated!" he snaps at one unfortunate woman (played by the wonderfully-named Maisie MacFarquhar).

Miss Scott encourages Cameron to take up his tax problems with the local commissioners.  As two of these are patients and the other Dr Snoddie, Cameron thinks he's got it made.  However, the panel, led by the extremely camp solicitor Mr Jameson (Douglas Storm) prove tougher than he was expecting.

After the meeting, Raymond rushes up to Cameron and asks him to come quickly to his son's bedside as the poor lad's taken a turn for the worse.  On arrival, Cameron insists that Mrs Raymond (Gabrielle Hamilton) make up some brandy nog.  Cameron stays up with the boy all night, and he pulls through.

Returning to Arden House, Cameron finds a letter from the tax commissioners waiting.  He fortifies himself while Janet reads the dread missive.

Meanwhile, Finlay talks to Henny Geddes about her relationship with Mr Oddy.  "Fond of him?" she exclaims "That black pig?" Then she reveals that Harry's rash comes from rolling about in stinging nettles to get time off school.

Returning home, Finlay finds that Cameron is being forced to pay the full tax bill - and all because he gave quarter of the legacy to Finlay.  Still, at least Cameron's won his bet.  Though unfortunately for him, Finlay's decided to teach him a lesson by accepting Mr Oddy's fee in potatoes.

The very definition of comforting Sunday night TV.  This show has a lot to answer for.

Monday 10 May

Jeremy Kemp and Ronald Radd can be seen again in the Victor Canning thriller serial Contract to Kill on BBC 2, alongside such familiar faces as Simon Oates, John Wentworth, Delphi Lawrence and Godfrey Quigley.  It's directed by Peter Hammond, so there are probably a lot of overhead shots.

Tuesday 11 May

Harry Carpenter introduces a profile of Cassius Clay on BBC 1 this evening, while BBC 2 dusts off Josef Von Sternberg's Shanghai Express, with Marlene Dietrich.

Wednesday 12 May

Tonight's Wednesday Play on BBC 1 is Alan Sharp's A Knight in Tarnished Armour, with a young Brian Cox near the bottom of the cast list.

Thursday 13 May

The White Rat of the title is Mickey Keston, albino (supposedly, though even in black and white it's not convincing) leader of a gang of thieves, played by Ray McAnally.  We first see him in the processing of launching a raid on a fur warehouse with toughs including his appropriately named henchman Yob (David Gregory).  The security guard ends up shot after trying to call the police.

When they get the furs back to Mickey's HQ, Yob's pestered by deadbeat Fingers (Dermot Kelly, playing the same part as in The Arthur Haynes Show, but not for laughs) for odd jobs. Yob sends him away with a flea in his ear (to match the ones on the rest of him, no doubt): "Nothing odd enough for you, mate."

Mickey (whose closest friend is his pet white rat) is insanely jealous when it comes to his girlfriend Rose (Virginia Maskell), and threatens Yob's life when he mentions his been talking to her.  The woman herself then comes to visit.

Commander Gideon and Chief Inspector Keen are on the case of the fur robbery.  Keen's instructed to call in at the local division on his way to a concert with his girlfriend Mary (Sue Lloyd).  Note what looks like an early version of Chicken Cottage, etc. in the background as they drive there.

Detective Sergeant Sid Taylor, an old friend of Gideon's, is convinced Mickey Keston's the man behind the robbery.  Showing the kind of sensitivity we'd all hope to see in our law enforcers, Sid notes that Mickey's white hair "makes him look almost like a cretin, but he's not."  While Keen's with him he gets a phone call announcing that the guard is now dead.  John Horsley is glimpsed briefly as Sid's superior.

Poor Mary is now informed that she's being whisked off to Mickey Keston's flat, with Sid uncomfortably squeezed in the back of the car (it seems a bit dodgy to involve a member of the public like this, to say the least).

They gatecrash the party Mickey's in the midst of holding.  Mary's subjected to the unwanted attentions of Yob, while Sid tells Mickey about the guard's death.  Mickey is entirely unbothered, and threatens to sue him for slander.

Once the unwelcome guests have departed, Mickey angrily throws everyone else out as well, having become convinced they're laughing at him.  He's deeply paranoid about people laughing at his appearance - he can't even believe that Rose really loves him.  "You must be crazy," he tells her.  He thinks his albinism is what led him to a life of crime: "I wanted to be a doctor for kids.  Isn't that a laugh? A kid takes one look at me and he throws up."  I dread to think what any real albinos watching would have made of this.  Not surprisingly, Rose refuses to put up with all this and walks out on him.

Sid has an appointment with Fingers, who's selling information about Mickey's gang.  Well, you can guess what happens: Yob beats him up, then runs him over with his scooter.

The next day, Yob, Mickey and Rose are all defiant in the face of Sid's questioning, though Rose very civilly gives him a lift back to the police station.

Sid's suspicions are roused on Saturday night when Mickey and his gang don't show up at any of their usual haunts.  In fact, they're busy stealing a load of industrial diamonds.

Having had a tip-off, Sid turns up at Mickey's HQ ready to arrest the gang.  Note the graffiti on the wall next to Virginia Maskell below: not only does it feature Simon Templar's stickman logo from Gideon's Way's sister series The Saint, but it appears to be by a Charlie Brooker.  Presumably not the popular media misanthrope as he hasn't been born yet.

Somewhat inevitably, poor Sid ends up getting shot by Mickey, who isn't too keen on the idea of going to prison (I didn't note whether Sid said he'd be retiring soon at any point during the episode but it feels like he should have).

Inevitably, Gideon hastens to the fading Sid's bedside and swears he'll bring Mickey to justice.

Yob and the other underlings have been arrested, and Rose is being followed.  It emerges that a dodgy sea captain has allowed Mickey passage to Amsterdam on his ship.

He's brought his rat with him, but it proves to be his downfall as it escapes into a vent and is spotted by Gideon when he comes aboard to find Mickey.

"I've got two sticks of jelly in here!" warns Mickey when Gideon tries to break in to where he's hidden (I don't think it's meant to sound as funny as it does).  Rose comes aboard and tries to talk Mickey into giving himself up, but in the end Gideon breaks in with an axe.

Mickey lights the fuse, but extinguishes it on hearing Rose's screams.  Not that he's best pleased with her: "Liar! Cheat! Bitch! Dirt! Scum! " he spits at her prior to being carried off.  It's all a bit much for a Thursday evening.

Friday 14 May

Tonight's Encore (i.e. repeat) showing on BBC 2 is Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall's play All Things Bright and Beautiful, starring Thora Hird, Peter Vaughan and John Hurt.  BBC 1's eclectic Friday night schedule includes Sykes and a Cold War, a Mel Tormé special and Federico Fellini's Le Notti di Cabiria.

You can find the full Radio Times listings for this week's programmes here.

And to play us out...'s Roger Miller, self-styled "King of the Road", at number 2 in this week's hit parade.  It's still the Beatles at number 1.  You can find the full chart for this week here.