Episode Eighteen: Could You Recognise the Man Again?

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'47m
Screenplay by: Donald James
Directed By: Jeremy Summers
Availability: Try store

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

Guest-Starring: Ivor Dean (Inspector Large), Madge Ryan (Mrs. Roden), Stanley Meadows (George Roden), Dudley Sutton (Mort Roden), Richard Kerley (Sergeant Hinds), Norman Eshley (Mike Hales), John Bryans (Ralph Sorrel), Billy Milton (Loftus), Tricia Chapman (Tina), Ronald Curram (Jennings), Dudley Jones (Ben Craddock), Walter Sparrow (Tramp), A.J. Brown (The Judge), David Gargill (Shop Assistant), Michael Gover (Harry), John Arnatt (Uniformed Inspector), Bruce Beeby (Chalmers) and John Harvey (Prosecuting Counsel).

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), John Owen (Casting), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Denis Porter/Dennis Whitlock (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), Sue Long (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Cinesound (Sound Effects Suppliers), Chambers + Partners (Titles), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Ken Baker (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up), Jeannette Freeman (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Costume Supervisor), A. J. Van Montagu (Scenic Artist), Dennis Spooner (Creator/Executive Story Consultant) and Monty Berman (Producer). An ITC Production.

Jeff Scraps: Watching the series again it seems that a lot of Jeff's problems would be resolved if only he'd thought to fit a spyhole in his doorframe. All it takes in this episode is for someone to stand outside his door at gone 1am, shout "it's the police" and Jeff will open the door to them. Such foolhardy actions here see him get a savage beating off two gangsters, Mort Roden and Mike Hales, the latter of whom really works him over. Even more disheartening is the realisation that the two gangsters who beat him so violently are Tinker from Lovejoy and Tristram's dad out of George and Mildred. A rematch fares a little better, fortunately... though Jeff gets decked by Mort and has to be rescued by Jeannie and a chair, he manages to perform a one-punch KO on Tristram's dad in the return bout.

Story: Jeff is due to attend a rotary dinner with Jeannie in the hope of getting new clients. However, when they leave they find a man entering Jeff's car, claiming he'd mistaken it for his own. After the man rushes off, bumping into Jeff, Jeff finds blood on his shirt cuff, a spent bullet on his car floor... and a dead body lying on the back seats. Jeff goes to the police with Jeannie where he identifies the man from police mugshots as George Roden, a local gangster in the middle of a turf war with rival family The Jennings. After Jeff sees Jeannie home and returns to his apartment he is savagely beaten in his home by Roden's brother and one of his henchmen in order to keep quiet. The following morning Jeff refuses to heed their warning as he and Jeannie identify George Roden in a line up, causing the remaining members of his mob to kidnap Jeannie. With Jeannie's life in danger Jeff dare not testify at Roden's trial, and his attempts to locate her whereabouts prove fruitless. Yet a meeting with Marty reveals that whenever the ghost thinks of his widow he materialises in her flat. Jeff asks him to concentrate on Jeannie while they're actually in Jeannie's flat, an act which causes Marty to rise without his knowledge. Jeff realises this means that the Rodens kept Jeannie in the flat above her own - the only way to kidnap her without removing her from a crowded building where she could be seen - and goes up to rescue her. After Jeannie knocks one of them unconscious with a chair and Jeff deals with the other, they both rush to the court where there's minutes to spare. After seeing the two witnesses, George Roden's solicitor asks to change his client's plea to guilty.

Production Order: This was the twentieth episode to be filmed.

Trivia: Randall and Hopkirk is made up of a lot of stock footage with the three principles rarely leaving the studio or the Elstree backlot. What appears to be a sure sign of reused stock footage occurs twice during this episode, where billboard advertisements for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and In The Heat of the Night (1967). Both films were popular, but is it likely they were still playing for an episode that began filming during early 1969?

"Fits like a glove, sir."
"It's supposed to fit like a suit!"

One of my very favourite episodes, an ostensibly corny plot (Randall is pursued by criminals after identifying a murderer) is elevated to excellence by a rare attempt at gritty realism. Coming on the back of Kray activity in London, this tale of gangland violence is extremely topical for the time. The series always had a strong use of grimy city backdrops to establish a sense of genuine location, and this is deployed here better than ever with an attempt at a genuine working class recreation. Of course, back in those days there were very few actual working class people working in the acting industry, but while many of the other episodes see down-trodden, chain-smoking Jeff inexplicably mixing with millionaire criminals, this one takes a different tack.

What also makes it horribly realistic is that after seeing so many cartoonesque scraps where Jeff is knocked over lamp stands and conveniently cascading coffee tables, we get here a distressingly true-to-life beating. While A Sentimental Journey might rival it for visceral inference (in both very little is actually shown) I find it incredibly disturbing to see Jeff attempting to run from his room, only to be dragged back behind a closed door for another assault. I've seen this episode probably more than any of the others (this is my third viewing) and watched it with a friend who thought the "rattling door" fight was hilarious. Okay, seeing it again, it is a little exaggerated, but there's something so base and sadistic about this one it turns the stomach - even if it is just Tristram's dad from George and Mildred working him over.

Such a bleak story is not without light touches, albeit with a stereotyped homosexual tailor. On the negative side, then Richard Kerley and Tricia Chapman seem to have been carved from an oak forest, and Jeff's black eye is curiously mobile (disappearing altogether in some scenes), but those are very minor gripes. This is an episode that totally dismisses the idea that Randall and Hopkirk could be a kid's show (which it sometimes seems to be), with rape even implied. It's arguable as to how ethical that is, serving up "Jeannie might get raped" as entertainment, but with Jeremy Summers again showing why he's my favourite R & H director this is as first-class as the series ever got, almost five stars. In fact, the hell with it: