Gold

Written by:
Colin Davis
Directed by: Brian Lighthill
Episode Length: 48'29
Original UK Transmission Date: 30/11/1981
Original UK Ratings: 8.0m
Original UK Chart Position: 86

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Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Josette Simon (Dayna), Glynis Barber (Soolin) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Slave).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Roy Kinnear (Kieller), Antony Brown (Doctor), Dinah May (Woman Passenger) and Norman Hartley (Pilot).

Crew: Mike Potter (Stunt Co-ordinator), Jacinta Peel (Production Manager), Frank Pendlebury (Production Associate), Jan Willson (Production Assistant), Nigel Taylor (Assistant Floor Manager), Fintan Sheehan (Film Cameraman), Stuart Moser (Film Sound), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Ian Williams (Videotape Editor), Jim Francis/Andy Lazell (Visual Effects Designers), Robin Lobb (Video Effects), Dick Bailey (Graphic Designer), Francis Smith (Properties Buyer), Terry Brett (Technical Manager), Dave White (Senior Cameraman), Nigel Finnis (Vision Mixer), Warwick Fielding (Studio Lighting), Trevor Webster (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), Nicholas Rocker (Costume Designer), Suzanne Jansen (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Ken Ledsham (Designer) and Vere Lorrimer (Producer).

Trivia: This is one episode where the off-screen status of the cast can reflect on the story. As Roy Kinnear's wedding ring can clearly be seen in several shots, are we to assume this is canon and that Kieller was married?

Story: Zeroc, a frontier planet, has one of the greatest supplies of gold, a substance that is still used on planets with no computer link-up. Gold is virtually mined out on all other worlds, and an old friend of Avon's, Kieller, promises him a share of 17 billion worth of gold if he aids him. The gold is stored on his pleasure cruiser, the Space Princess, yet atomically altered to become black gold. It can only be restored on Zeroc.
After stealing the black gold, Kieller arranges to meet a buyer on the planet Beta 5 in order to sell it for ten billion credits. Avon has known Kieller for many years, and after discovering he is on the President's Personal Payroll, he guesses that Servalan would be behind the whole thing, yet decides to go ahead anyway. They make the trade, leaving Kieller behind to be killed by Servalan, and teleport back aboard Scorpio with the ten billion.
However, back aboard, the crew realise that the Federation won't be able to link Servalan's black gold with its robbery, and so she will get her money back. Not only that, but Orac informs them that Zeroc has been ceded by the Federation, causing all Zeroc finance to be invalid after seven days, and all private transactions made there illegal directly. Avon laughs ruefully as he realises all he's done is help make Servalan rich.

Tarrant: For one of a rare few instances in season four there is some antagonism between Tarrant and Avon. After Tarrant suggests that "Servalan's not just some greedy gangster", Avon pointedly responds "Surely that's exactly what she is." A reference to the previous week's Sand, where she manipulated Tarrant? His reaction certainly seems to indicate so.

Avon: Avon responds to Kieller 's suggestion of the crew being 'his gang' with "They're not my gang, Kieller. We're together for mutual convenience. I imagine if I double-crossed them, they would try and kill me." However, this is possibly not Avon's real opinion, but a statement made to make Kieller fearful of the crew.

Viewpoint:
"The idea's good, isn't it? Seems good to me."

Here's an anorak observation I hadn't realised before: all the episodes in season four have single-word titles. Season one averaged at two (with five one-word titles), while season two averaged at one but only had nine one-word titles. Season three averaged at two (largely due to longest-ever title, City at the Edge of the World), and had seven one-word titles. The final observation is whether the hyphenated Death-Watch counts as one word or two…

Anyway, the story itself (which ties with Dual, Orac and Sand as the shortest title). Here's my new theory: Scorpio's drive creates a force bubble around it when it moves. Okay, it doesn't, but try thinking of this next time you see the Quantel matte lines and see if it helps you enjoy it more. It works for me, and my God, you need it this episode. The trippy muzak for the Space Princess is also an extreme annoyance.

Roy Kinnear isn't too bad, yet perhaps a little too light entertainment and a little too well known for this sort of thing. ("Old friend" count - 9; "Pretty one" count - 7) There's some nice location filming and gunplay in this one, though it could be interpreted as padding. Though as the plot is suitably complex than this would be churlish. In fact, this is Gold's great strength: Colin Davis's only script for the programme keeps you thinking and guessing as to everyone's motivations. It's a real twisting, turning plot with a stinger at the end.

It's on the verge of mediocrity, largely due to the bright lighting, but when it comes down to it Gold makes it to: