Episode Thirteen: But What A Sweet Little Room

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'41m
Screenplay by: Ralph Smart
Directed By: Roy Ward Baker
Availability: Try store

Starring: Mike Pratt (Jeff Randall), Kenneth Cope (Marty Hopkirk) and Annette Andre (Jean Hopkirk).

Guest-Starring: Michael Goodliffe (Arthur De Crecy), Doris Hare (Madame Hanska), Norman Bird (Elliot), Anne De Vigier (Julia Fenwick), Frances Bennett (Anne Fenwick), Raymond Young (Rawlings), Cyril Renision (Andrews), Betty Woolfe (Martha), Chris Gannon (Salesman) and Joby Blanshard (Police Inspector).

Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Eric Coop (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Supervising Art Director), Cyril Frankel (Creative Consultant), Edwin Astley (Musical Director), Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), Bob Cartwright (Art Director), Alma Godfrey (Editor), Ernest Morris (Production Manager), Stephen Dade (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Len Shilton (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Clifford Robinson (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Harry Gillam (Camera Operator), Colin Lord (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make Up Artist), Laura Nightingale (Wardrobe 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 Scraps: Jeff gets dragged into the back of a van by two of Madame Hanska's henchmen and given six punches to the gut. However, he later amends his record by KOing one of the henchmen ("Rawlings") one-on-one and then twice rough handles De Crecy. Halfway through the series then and Jeff's clocked up a 12-13 losing streak, as well as getting accidentally KO'd by Jeannie in one of the episodes.

Marty: Marty discovers that he can cause objects to vibrate for the first time in this episode... as he's already displayed this ability before, we can assume that the episode was intended to go out earlier in the run. (See Trivia)

Story: Jeff is hired by a Julia Fenwick to track down her missing Aunt Anne. Jeff soon discovers that Anne Fenwick was a client of the clairvoyant Madame Hanska, and sends Jeannie to one of Hanska's seances to pose as a wealthy widow. Attending under the name Jean Ramsey, Jeannie is asked personal questions by a man pretending to be a fellow mourner. He feeds the answers back to Madame Hanska and the following evening Hanska claims to have received a message from Jeannie's dead husband informing her that he wants her to see a particular financial advisor. Jeannie goes along to visit a Mr. De Crecy, who claims to want to help put her financial affairs in order. The final part of the trap, De Crecy is a conman who lures wealthy widows to a rigged cottage where he gasses them for their money and gives Madame Hanska a commission. However, De Crecy is not entirely convinced by Jeannie's story and so sends two of his henchmen to follow her. Seeing her with Randall they beat Jeff up to warn him off, but Marty's intervention - appearing in spirit form to Madame Hanska and getting her full confession - spurs Jeff on and he goes after De Crecy. Knocking out one of his henchmen Jeff forces De Crecy to take him to the rigged cottage, walking into the gas trap. However while Jeff hides in a trunk Marty uses his telekinesis to smash a lamp, blowing up the room. Jeff emerges from the trunk somewhat shaky but in control of his faculties. Still in possession of the henchman's gun he leads De Crecy away to be arrested for his crimes.

Production Order: This was the second episode to be filmed, with some plot elements, such as Jeannie not yet working as receptionist, combining with technical issues, such as Kenneth Cope still wearing his wig back to front.

Trivia: The surname of the Anne Fenwick was changed in post-production, "Fenwick" being dubbed throughout.

"What can I say, Marty... have you got any aspirins?"

I often feel that Randall and Hopkirk is a series full of wasted opportunities, this episode a fine example of it. It's a fun series, and one I enjoy greatly, but it's never really more than throwaway fluff as a meaningless series of cases (all seemingly shot in the same mansion set) go by with no real commentary on contemporary life. In some ways it keeps it timeless because Randall and Hopkirk isn't really about anything, and has no real meaning beyond entertaining the viewers. The pathos of the central premise could have perhaps been brought out more, and in truth only around half of the episodes are above average, sadly.

This said, they only produced three real stinkers - not a bad hit rate for a 26 episode series - but What A Sweet Little Room is a prime example of how the show underperformed against its potential. The superbly macabre and chilling opening - the finest pre-credits sequence they ever did - is bookended by a great finale where Randall confronts the villain after escaping from his trap. Sure, Jeff's so thick that he takes a gun and tries to smash the window by using the gun as a hammer, but he makes up for it by his dry delivery of the title quote, the second-funniest moment in the entire series. Put together and it's wonderful stuff, yet sadly it's the 37 minutes in between that kill the momentum. Sure, it has charm and Jeff's hilariously sleazy in this one, but diversions like Marty appearing to a medium (who is a fake medium anyway, so it doesn't really make sense) just try the patience over the duration.

Notable elements of the episode include the fact that I've seen it sometimes broadcast second on repeat screenings... this would fit in with not only the fact that Jeannie appears to have only recently been bereaved, but also the fact that Ken Cope's wig appears to be in about fifty different positions throughout. Add to this a hilariously bad speeded up back projection sequence 13'42 minutes in (made even worse on BluRay's higher definition) and it's a real mixed bag. Solid entertainment, fairly inspired, nicely directed and charmingly acted... but you can't help shake the feeling that it could have been so much better.