Episode Seventeen: Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'39m
Screenplay by: Donald James
Directed By: Cyril Frankel
Availability: Try store

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

Guest-Starring: George Murcell (Mandrake), Bernard Kay (Dighton), Patricia Haines (Martha), Nigel Terry (Harry), Geoffrey Hughes (Harper), Cyril Shaps (Doctor Cholmond), Beverly Winn (Valerie), Andrew Sachs (Commentator) and Michael Sheard (German Commentator).

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), John Ireland (Editor), Malcolm Christopher (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Gerald Moss (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Bill Rowe (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler/Peter Lennard (Sound Editors), Deveril Goodman/Alan Willis (Music Editors), John Owen (Casting), Roger Christian (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Ken Baker (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up), Ramon Gow (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: Despite fancying himself as a ladies man, Jeff is traditionally not that successful throughout the series. However, his fortunes are higher here as he begins the episode on a date (interrupted by Marty) and then finds Mandrake's wife flirting with him throughout much of the episode.
Jeff Scraps: Jeff's worst showing as he suffers two clean KOs at the fists of Eddie Yeats from Coronation Street.

Marty: Marty attends two England-Germany matches for the fourth "international cup", cheating at the second to ensure that Germany miss a goal. Although real footage of a football match is used, I can't find any record of whether it relates to a real football match as the teams involved didn't appear to be in 1969's real cup.

Story: Jeff is interrupted in the middle of a date by a frantic Marty. Believing someone to be digging up his grave he sends Jeff down to the cemetary, where Jeff is knocked unconscious by a man wearing 18th Century period clothes. When Jeff goes with Jeannie to the funeral director the next morning he goes bezerk after seeing the same man, though he is unseen by anyone else. The funeral director - who is in on the scheme - plants the idea in Jeannie's head that Jeff is suffering from delusions and needs to see a Doctor. Meanwhile, Jeff follows the 18th Century clothed man outside and is once again knocked unconscious, this time landing on the grave of man named Mandrake. When he awakens, the bought heir of the Mandrake fortune takes Jeff to the Mandrake home to clean himself up. While there he offers Jeff a 100 a week job looking after his agoraphobic drop out artist son, Harry. Jeff politely declines the offer, and then becomes incensed when he notices that Mandrake's gardener is the man who had dressed up in 18th Century clothes... a fact that no one, not even Marty, believes. When Jeff returns to the city with Jeannie to see a Doctor he suffers violent outbursts after arguing with Marty while being examined. Believing him to be insane the Doctor sends for medical help, then the police. On the run from the authorities Jeff realises he must lie low and so returns to Lord Mandrake to take the job of looking after his son. While back at the mansion he discovers a hidden tunnel from the gardener's greenhouse leading to Marty's grave at one end and Harry's bedroom at the other. With the gardener and the funeral director kidnapping Harry, they send a ransom note for 5000 to Lord Mandrake. However, Jeff soon investigates Harry's room further and realises that he helped make the tunnel himself and was in on the kidnapping all along. Lord Mandrake decides to prevent Harry being his sole heir by marrying his housemaid and planning to have lots of children... meanwhile Harry is content by earning money living underground for four months at a funfair where he can continue with his painting indoors.

Production Order: This was the penultimate episode to be filmed, during which Mike Pratt broke his legs while falling from a balcony at a party (see The Ghost Talks for further details). As a result a body double for some long shots can be witnessed throughout.

Trivia:Marty's grave in this episode appears differently to how it had looked in all other episodes.

"Snug as a bug, man!"

The most whacked-out plot that Randall and Hopkirk ever did, and superb fun for it. Mike Pratt is always able to deliver deadpan reactions well, and his half-insane rants are wonderful. Ken Cope has less to do with some football shenanigans, but it's Pratt stealing the show, along with Nigel Terry as an amusing hippie stereotype with hair that literally has to be seen to be believed. Although Terry's presence could be regarded as a send-up, there's a "smoke pot" poster behind him in every scene shot in his bedroom, quite daring stuff for mainstream TV.

Plot-wise, the episode is all over the place, but that only seems to make it more fun somehow. While the plot itself is fairly intricate for the series, lots of it doesn't really make sense... there's no real discernable reason for the would-be kidnappers to dress up in 18th century clothes, while the story doesn't so much end as peter out to a halt. Despite being an event-heavy episode there's also some wonderful padding in there, too, with over six minutes of screentime being devoted to just delivering a ransom note. Add to this some contrivance... it's fortunate for Jeff that he gets knocked unconscious on the Mandrake grave otherwise he never would have been able to make sense of the whole case... an example of an innocent stranger coming to Jeff's aid who eventually turns out to be vital to the plot, something we'll see again in The Smile Behind The Veil.

Cyril Frankel's great direction (particularly in the agoraphobic scenes) keeps the whole thing looking visually pleasing, though I expect this might be an episode a lot of viewers don't care for due to its extreme nature. Ultimately it's a real "love it or hate it" episode, and I love it. Crazy man, crazy!