Episode Eight: Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?

Original Air-Date:
Duration: 50'30m
Screenplay by: Tony Williamson
Directed By: Ray Austin
Availability: Try store

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

Guest-Starring: John Fraser (Hellingworth), Alexandra Bastedo (Carol Latimer), Ivor Dean (Inspector Large), Charles Lloyd Pack (Cecil Purley), Richard Caldicot (The Doctor), Peter Hughes (The Butler), John Richmond (Lord Manning), Romo Gorrara (Reg), Terry Plummer (Pete), Paddy Ryan (Larry), Robin John (The Constable) and Philip Weston (Second Constable).

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), Jack T. Knight (Editor), Jack Morrison (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Brian Elvin (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Dennis Whitlock (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Sue Long (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Eamonn Duffy (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up), Jeannette Freeman (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Wardrobe Supervisor), A. J. Van Montagu (Scenic Artist), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Cinesound (Sound Effects Suppliers), Chambers + Partners (Titles), Fantasia (Furs), Dennis Spooner (Creator/Executive Story Consultant) and Monty Berman (Producer). An ITC Production.

Jeff: Jeff nearly pulls at a groovy nightclub for pretty young things (it's a wonder he wasn't chucked out) but realises he won't have time. He's also revealed to be a good shot with a gun, as is Inspector Large.
Jeff Scraps: Jeff's stunt double takes on three burly henchmen, and does uncharacteristically well until whacked over the back of the head. He also lays out Inspector Large with a body shot, though is narrowly saved from a beating off Hellingworth by said Inspector.

Marty: Marty observes that he's not clairvoyant, and isn't even psychic with a headache. There's also a further hint of a psychic link between Marty and Jeannie when they both simultaneously exclaim "you can say that again!" Finally, Cecil Purley remarks on the strength of Marty's materialisation and vibrations.

Story: Jeff has been covertly followed for weeks by a crime syndicate and captured on film talking to "himself"/Marty. Using a fictitious lure of 50,000 reward the syndicate, in disguise, ask Jeff to begin surveillance on a gang of criminals, knowing that he will send Marty... and that the gang of criminals are themselves.
Lead by a David Hellingworth, he uses the ability of a psychic gang member, Cecil Purley, to detect Marty's presence, and uses Marty to deliberately mislead Jeff and the police. Putting them on false scents, the gang manage to steal more than 100,000 in diamonds, 250,000 in mink and a Jade collection, all the time giving the police, via Jeff and Marty, incorrect times and locations.
The group have also contacted Jeannie in order to exorcise Marty after their crime spree is over. Going under the ruse of freeing Marty's spirit, they get Jeannie to hand them Marty's watch and cufflinks, which they use to remove his spirit from the Earth. However, making a last minute plea to Jeff to save him, Marty makes Jeff realise they'll go to Marty's final resting-place to complete the exorcism. Jeff arrives in time to save Marty, only to face Hellingworth's gun... yet is rescued by Inspector Large, who has followed Jeff thinking he's part of the plot. The gang are arrested, the police suspecting Purley is insane, and Jeff is cleared of all charges... yet is still penniless at the case's end.

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

Trivia: This was the first appearance of Ivor Dean as Inspector Large. Due to Dean's presence and the way the episodes are spread out, he often feels as if he appeared in more episodes than he actually did, though only went on to film four more. As those episodes were filmed in production order from 13th-20th, it represents a very small proportion of the programme, which seems far greater when spread out from 8th-20th in transmission order.
(just) For the record, the other episodes that Dean appeared in were: When The Spirit Moves You, Money To Burn, When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things? and Could You Recognise the Man Again?

"I'm sick... I feel terrible. I wish I was dead."

A good, if not great, episode that perhaps fails to reach its full potential. For me there are two stories in Randall & Hopkirk: ones that can only fit the series, and ones that could have been (and probably were) used for any other ITC production. This is definitely the former, where a criminal gang attempts to use Jeannie to exorcise Marty.

It's a thoroughly macabre plotline, and, while executed well, is somewhat diluted by camp playing, Austin's corniest direction and too many uses of obvious humour. It's quite reasonable that the production team should take this tack as the flippant attitude of the series towards death did cause concern at the time. However, you always feel that somewhere in the middle of this very good episode is a dark classic waiting to come out.

The plot is as daft as Randall and Hopkirk plots always are: instead of setting traps for the criminals, as Jeff knows where they are, why not send the police round to recover their hoard and fingerprint them all? Also, why exactly do they care less about Marty being around anyway? It's not as if he and Jeff were interfering with their operation (though as they knew of Jeff then we can maybe assume they had). Of course, both of these elements would have got in the way of a good story if they'd been logically addressed, so they're left by the wayside.

Finally, this review used to end with a somewhat laddish remark about Jeannie finishing the episode wrestling in mud with another woman. These reviews were written many, many years ago, probably over a decade before this June 2019 update. So what was maybe regarded as semi-ironic at the time does now seem a little sordid in the modern day and has been omitted... sorry folks.