Starring: Mike Pratt (Jeff Randall), Kenneth Cope (Marty Hopkirk) and Annette Andre (Jean Hopkirk).
Guest-Starring: Ivor Dean (Inspector Large), Clifford Evans (Sir Oliver Norenton), Keith Barron (Jarvis), Reginald Marsh (James Laker), Bessie Love (Mrs. Trotter), Basil Dignam (Hepple), Peter Stephens (Sir Timothy Grange), Rosemary Donnelly (Diana), Philip James (Holly), David Stoll (Tilvers), John Garvin (Tully) and David Downer (Hinch).
Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Brian Elvin (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Art Director), Cyril Frankel (Creative Consultant), Edwin Astley (Musical Director), Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), Lee Doig (Editor), Malcolm Christopher (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Gerald Moss (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Dennis Whitlock (Sound Recordists), Peter Lennard (Sound Editor), Deveril Goodman (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Roger Christian (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Frank Drake (Camera Operator), Michael Meighan (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up), Henry Montsash (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Costume Supervisor), A. J. Van Montagu (Scenic Artist), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Cinesound (Sound Effects Suppliers), Chambers + Partners (Titles), Dennis Spooner (Creator/Executive Story Consultant) and Monty Berman (Producer). An ITC Production.
Jeff: Jeff is an accomplice to murder in this episode, albeit in self defence. Misleading henchman Jarvis into believing that his double, Hinch, is indeed him, he allows Jarvis to shoot him dead rather than be killed himself.
Jeff Scraps: A poor showing for Jeff this week, as even when taking Keith Barron's stunt double by surprise, he still takes a fair pounding and has to whack him five times with a lance in order to save the day. Unfortunately for Jeff, Jeannie mistakes him for his double and knocks him out with a mace to the back.
Marty: Marty discovers that he can be heard by people under hypnosis. He also uses his psychic ability to switch on a hypnosis machine.
Story: Jeff is hired by a company based in Metropolis House to find out who is leaking information for use on the stock market. Unfortunately matters are complicated when a Financial Advisor named Charles Tully is murdered "between ten o'clock and midnight" and Randall is implicated. Jeff then goes on to arrange traps for the Personnel Director Holly and Managing Director Hepple, executing them both.
Meanwhile, Marty is concerned that Jeff can no longer see or hear him, so ventures to Harley Street to seek the advice of Sir Oliver Norenton, Psychiatrist, M.D., F.R.C.P. (The same building also houses Sir Digby Fowling, Neuro Surgeon, M.J. Bartell and Sir Latimer Glade, Maxillo Facial Surgeon). He speaks to a patient under hypnosis, getting them to tell Norenton about Jeff and visit him.
Marty eventually realises that Jeff has been kidnapped and a masked double put in his place by following "Jeff". Using more hypnotised patients to contact Jeannie, he uncovers the address of where the villains are hiding - The Manor House, Milton Vale - put there by the company's General Manager, Mr. Laker. Marty helps Jeff to escape from imprisonment in the cellar of the house, only for him to be recaptured, along with Jeannie.
Desperate, Marty returns to Norenton, who is in the process of putting himself in a trance after hearing all his patients talk about Randall. Marty speeds up the process by psychically switching on Norenton's hypnosis wheel, then convinces a hypnotised Norenton to invade the Manor House. Laker is knocked unconscious by Norenton, while Jeff saves himself by convincing one of Laker's henchmen that his armed double is really him, causing the double to be shot as a result. Laker and his henchman are then rounded up by Inspector Large, who demands explanations, and Norenton is left pleading for psychiatric help.
Production Order: This was the eighteenth episode to be filmed.
Trivia: When "Jeff" removes his mask in the mirror, what appears to be a black-clad shoulder can be seen to the right of the glass. Glimpsed from 26'56m in, it's presumably the cameraman straying into shot.
There's a James Bond reference in the episode, with Marty suggesting to a hypnotised Oliver Norenton that he's a secret agent "licensed to kill". Unfortunately, the following action sees one of the series' poorest-ever stunt doubles filling in for Clifford Evans with what looks like a sheepdog on his head.
"If I've done something wrong, tell me, don't just cut me dead!"
Seeing these episodes in a random syndicated order before I bought the DVDs sometimes gave an interesting spin on events. While it might often lead to repetition of some of the series' more prominent plot devices (such as three episodes screened in a row where a disguise is used to fool Jeff), at other instances you can see worthwhile parallels. Take this episode, repeated on satellite directly after The Man From Nowhere. The similarities are clear, and not just in the fact that both feature the old "someone gets inadvertently hypnotised" gag. This is an episode to give us a bogus Jeff just as Nowhere gave us a bogus Marty. More significantly, this does it right where Nowhere did it wrong.
Whereas the essential gimmick of Nowhere instantly revealed all of its mysteries (you know it's not really Marty, so therefore it must be a conman) this one only has further questions lurking behind its tricksy premise. Okay, we know it's not Randall, but if it's not, then who is it? How's he doing it? What's his motivation? And what's happened to the real Randall? And whereas the latter had to reveal its central conceit within the first few minutes, we go for the best part of half an hour still none the wiser.
Another plus is that where Nowhere featured an excellent guest star but squandered his potential (Ray Brooks), this has another (Keith Barron) but maximises his impact by giving him less screentime - that's some trick! And as this whole review has centred around comparing this to another episode, then both this and Nowhere feature the line "Come on, Jeff, he's smaller than you - hit him!"
Yet despite the fact that its premise is far better established and the focus is more defined, this doesn't add up to a great deal better in terms of a final rating. Maybe it's the intrinsic corniness of the central plot, that has a Jeff double causing much confusion: like how does he duplicate Jeff's voice? And as it was a rubber mask, then why didn't the rubber industry collapse after they had to provide the latex for the bags under his eyes? Not only that, but for what is an essentially serious episode, then why does it all end in so silly a manner? Dr. Norenton in racing helmet, kicking open doors and roaring like a (dubbed on) panther is not only far too broad for the show, but also completely incongruous. On reflection, When Did You Start… and The Man From Nowhere are polar opposites of the same idea, one clearly better defined than the other… yet they both end up with same result: mediocrity. Weird, huh?