Episode Twenty-Six: The Smile Behind the Veil

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'42m
Screenplay by: Gerald Kelsey
Directed By: Jeremy Summers
Availability: Try store

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

Guest-Starring: Alex Scott (Seaton), Hillary Tindall (Cynthia), Gary Watson (Donald Seaton), Freda Jackson (Mrs. Evans), Peter Jesson (Hooper), Robin Hawdon (Grant), George Howe (Brooks), John Bott (Dyson), Michael Radford (Male hiker), Clare Jenkins (Female hiker), David Forbes (Police Constable) and Peter Lawrence (Policeman)

Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Gerald Moss (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Art Director), Cyril Frankel (Creative Consultant), Edwin Astley (Musical Director), Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), Harry Ledger (Editor), Jack Morrison (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Brian Elvin (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Bill Rowe (Sound Recordists), Russ Hill (Sound Editor), Deveril Goodman (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Sue Long (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Michael Meighan (Assistant Director), Elizabeth Wilcox (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Gerry Fletcher (Make-Up Supervisor), Jeannette Freeman (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Warbrode 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: Despite claims elsewhere then this has to be Jeff's worst-ever outing in the fighting department. Although he KOs a henchman at the end, he's twice knocked out himself during the episode. Although both of his beatings are the result of two against one, the first results in his (temporary) death. Altogether throughout the entire series Jeff has amassed a 26-37 losing record.

Marty: Marty appears to use his powers to will Jeff's spirit back into his body.

Story: Marty contacts Jeff after a new neighbour of his is killed in mysterious circumstances. However, Jeff is busy with another case so Marty has to use his powers to divert roadsigns and force Jeff to take wrong turnings to where he wants him to go.
When Jeff arrives at Marty's intended destination it's a mansion looked over by two men and a woman, all of whom had a part to play in Caroline Seaton's murder. After taking Jeff's wallet and realising that he's a detective, they become suspicious and lock him up at gunpoint. Later, after a struggle, Jeff is knocked unconscious and hurled into the river to drown. Marty blows the line of a nearby fisherman and Jeff is pulled to shore. Although Jeff briefly dies, his spirit re-enters his body after the fisherman resuscitates him.
Jeff wakes up in the fisherman's home, where the fisherman introduces himself as a Donald Seaton. He had returned from Australia to claim his dying father's inheritance, but an impostor had already taken his place and the one person that could identify him - his sister - is Caroline Seaton, the girl who was murdered. He hires Jeff to prove his real identity, but when Jeff tracks down Seaton's old handiman, the handiman is shot dead by the same henchmen that tried to kill Jeff.
Jeff returns to his office where the female criminal enters and tries to bribe him... then plants a bomb in Jeff's office. After Jeff diffuses it he returns to the real Donald Seaton's home where they both try and find further proof. Jeff discovers in conversation that Seaton had a criminal record for minor misdemeanours when he was young, which will prove his identity... but first Jeff and Seaton are forced to contend with a beating from the henchmen. Seaton gets away while Jeff is thrown down a well to die.
With the real Donald Seaton later captured, Jeff asks Marty to help find a way out of the situation. Fortunately for Jeff the well he's stuck down is a wishing well, so Marty uses his wind powers to blow a young couple into the direction of the well. As they make a wish, Jeff shouts to them for help. They throw down a rope so that Jeff can climb out, and together they get the police to arrest the criminals and allow the real Donald Seaton to claim his inheritance.

Production Order: Although broadcast last, The Smile Behind The Veil was only the seventh episode to be filmed.

Trivia: At just 1'43m, the pre-credits for this episode ties with The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo as the shortest.

17'58m into the episode sees the intangible Marty disturb some branches.

"I watch over you like a guardian angel."
"Angel? You're presuming a lot, aren't you? You haven't been classified yet."

A likeable, if unremarkable, entry into the series, made slightly poignant by the fact that it's the last one. You could argue that the first version of Randall and Hopkirk was even less popular than the second, as that at least got two seasons. The Dennis Spooner version got a single season of 26 episodes and was never taken up for a return. In many ways though it's a good thing, as just how many stories are there in the format?

The answer is perhaps not many as, by the time of the third Jeff beating, you do get the feeling you've seen all the show has to offer. Yet interest is stimulated by the morality of the piece (In Kelsey's other script for the series, The Ghost Talks, Marty showed no compunction about the possibility of man's face going through his windscreen - here he appeals to Jeff's conscience to take on a free case) and the eerie sight of Jeff's temporary death.

You know what really made this one work for me, though? Apart from the touching last shot where Jeff and Marty walk off together, talking, there's two things: uniqueness and humour. Considering I've said the plot isn't anything that special (and it isn't, as well as including some massively contrived plot occurrences), there's an outer London location and different incidental music. While I prefer the usual doomy scores, it's the same every bloody week and it really gives a different "feel" to a story by having a fresh composition behind it. The other is the humour. Forget Bugsy the Ghost and psychiatrists who roar like panthers - in this straight story, a sardonic Jeff's quip of "Great. I love it here. It keeps my feet cool" made me laugh more than anything else in the entire series. Maybe it's just the way he tells it, but sarcasm after being beaten up, nearly drowned, blown up and thrown down a well is right up my street. For that alone it takes a comfortably average episode up an extra notch.

2009: As an ammendum to this review then I've no idea why I originally claimed it to have a fresh score and location. Not only does the same music feature in many other episodes, but the "turqoise mansion" set features in at least 13 other episodes.