Episode Twenty-One: The Ghost Talks

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'41m
Screenplay by: Gerald Kelsey
Directed By: Cyril Frankel
Availability: Try store

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

Guest-Starring: Peter Lellier (Long), Hilary Wontner (1st man in streamroom), Jack Lambert (2nd man in streamroom), John Boxer (Doctor Musgrove), Geoffrey King (Sir Basil Duggan), Martin Carrol (Groves) and Ian Butler (Page Boy)

Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Brian Elvin/Frank Watts (Directors 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/Bill Rowe (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Roger Christian (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Tony White (Camera Operator), Ken Baker (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Gerry Fletcher (Make Up Supervisor), Mike Jones (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: It's revealed that Jeff had been in the army.
Jeff Scraps: With Jeff in hospital listening to Marty's anecdote then there's no Jeff action for the second week running... however, Marty is KO'd with one punch late in the episode.

Marty: Marty is uncharacteristically randy in this episode, using his powers to blow up a nurse's skirt. Two of his drinks of choice when he was alive are also revealed to be coffee and tomato juice.

Story: Jeff is in hospital with broken legs after a bungled case. When Marty comes to visit him they argue about which of them was the best detective, leading Marty to recount how he solved "their greatest case".
With Jeff away in Scotland Marty took a call from a Sir Basil Duggan asking him to work for the MI5. Meeting Sir Basil at the Civil And Military Club at 2pm, Marty was asked to recover some stolen files from a double agent who had stolen files on MI5 operatives. Marty took along a safecracking friend known as Joe to do the case, and it all went smoothly (apart from Joe surreptiously pocketing some diamonds). Later, when Marty handed the files back to Sir Basil he took down the man's car registration number in case it was needed.
The following morning the story was in the newspapers and Marty realised that the man claiming to be Sir Basil was in fact a fake. The impostor sent a hitman after Marty, who got into Marty's car with a gun. However, Marty knocked the man unconscious by slamming on his brakes and left him tied up at his and Jeannie's home while he returned to the club.
One clue the man had left Marty was that he had been in Jeff's unit in the army, so Marty returned to the club trying to find the man from one of Jeff's army photos. Marty's mission went badly as he narrowly escaped with his life and returned home to find the hitman had escaped and Jeannie tied up.
One good piece of news for Marty was that a friend had come through with a trace on the man's car registration number... as a result Marty tracked him down to a docked ship where he was due to hand over the secret files to Russians. Marty was knocked unconscious and tied up on the ship, but escaped to give a mayday signal and the police came and arrested all the spies.
As Marty concludes his story, Jeannie comes into the room to visit Jeff... and begins to tell Jeff the exact same story!

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

Commentary: The 2008 Network DVD release of the programme features a commentary from Cyril Frankel, Ken Baker and Malcolm Christopher. As with their other commentary on For The Girl Who Has Everything, there's a tendency for them to just sit and watch the episode without speaking, but there's a slightly more engaging feel, and some more anecdotal material. They discuss how the script was still being written as they were filming, how the shooting days were for eight hours, the suggestion that Mike Pratt only broke one leg in real life, not two; and, when joking that Cyril used to do eight takes, he confirms that he would just go for a single take before printing. This said, as the only episode where Kenneth Cope gets to interact with Annette Andre, it is something of a shame that they couldn't be paired together for a commentary here, rather than technical personnel, two of whom largely worked on the same function.

Trivia: Originally titled The Dead Don't Even Whisper, the format of this episode was radically altered when Mike Pratt broke both his legs in a drunken birthday accident.

19'58m into the episode is probably the example of the most prominent boom mike shadow in the series.

It's never explained how the car that the fake Sir Basil Duggan is driving is the exact same one as Jeff drives in A Disturbing Case. Although in that episode I suggest that it's the same car with different licence plates, they're actually two different cars, it was just my car blindness talking. Jeff's usual car is a 2.0 litre Victor, while the car with the 7 in the plate number is a 3.3 litre Ventora. The Ventora can also be seen as O'Malley's car in Money To Burn, and both cars were seen regularly in another ITC series, Department S.

"I never gave you the full story about that, did I?"
"(Sigh) Not lately, Marty."

The story with the most asinine title houses what is actually a super little episode. By all accounts the script was already written before Mike Pratt broke his legs in real life, necessitating the rewrites to make it a "Marty anecdote" tale. It's interesting as to how a Marty-led series would have worked, actually, with Cope and Andre certainly photogenic leads. However, with Pratt possessing a worn face that was not so much lived in as firebombed and evacuated, then Jeff-led stories were naturally more downbeat. As a result, a live Marty episode turns out to be arguably the most superficial episode ever made, though as a one-off then that's certainly no bad thing.

If this was a traditional episode then it's doubtful it would have compelled, though with the gimmick laid on the top the actual plotline certainly grips. It's surprisingly serious at times, acting as a fine backdrop to the more humorous interchanges in the present day hospital. That's not to say the story within a story doesn't have light moments - Marty's suit and his "Scotland Yard?" two fine examples - but the Jeff/Marty chats perfectly flag up the inconsistencies with amusing self-awareness.

I'm not suggesting that the episode is full-blown postmodern deconstruction, but Jeff moaning about how Marty claims to know events that clearly didn't involve him, or demanding that he tone down the exaggerated elements and "love interest", is wonderful. As the only full comedy episode of the series to actually be funny, then this is doubly to be treasured...