Episode Nine: The House On Haunted Hill

Original Air-Date:
16/11/1969
Duration: 48'11m
Screenplay by: Tony Williamson
Directed By: Ray Austin
Availability: Try store



Starring: Mike Pratt (Jeff Randall) and Kenneth Cope (Marty Hopkirk)

Guest-Starring: Judith Arthy (Jennifer), Jeremy Burnham (WTITLEer Previss), Peter Jones (Frederick P. Waller), Dermot Kelly (Henry Mace Horsfall), Duncan Lamont (Langford), Keith Buckley (Lattimer), George A. Cooper (Webster), Garfield Morgan (Carlson), William Kendall (Colonel Jarrett), Carol Rachelle (Miss James), David Sinclair (Smith), John Kidd (Simpson) and Terry Duggan (Jackson).

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), Malcolm Christopher (Production Manager), Brian Elvin (2nd Unit Director), Gerald Moss (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Dennis Whitlock (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Roger Christian (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Val Stewart (Camera Operator), Michael Meighan (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up), Henry Montsash (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 Scraps: A fair amount of Jeff scrapping this week, as he attends a warehouse meeting, only to go down in one from a girly shove. Later he's punched down a flight of stairs by a gang member dressed as a ghost, though generally gets the better of him in their rubber match.

Jeannie: Jeannie's sister Jenny is covering her job for her while Jeannie is "on holiday".

Story: Jeff is given two separate cases, one investigating a diamond theft from the company Mortland, the other investigating a haunted house, Merston Manor, for an Estate Agent, Mr. Webster. Realising he can't work on both cases at once, Jeff compiles witness statements from workers at Mortland, while Marty is sent to investigate the Manor.
Jeff is summoned to a warehouse meeting, whereby he is threatened by a Sales Director, WTITLEer Previss, and offered 5000 if he writes the case off as an outside job. Rejecting both bribe and threat, Jeff goes ahead with his plan to expose Previss - only hTITLEed when Previss reveals they've kidnapped Jeannie's sister to ensure his silence.
Searching for Jenny, Jeff is contacted by Webster asking why his car - which he'd lent to Jenny - was parked outside his house. Jeff realises this must be where the kidnappers took Jenny and travels there to investigate. With Marty too terrified to find out anything useful about the house, it's left to Jeff to uncover its real secret: it's a front for a diamond fencing operation.
With Jeff overpowered and tied up along with Jenny, it's left to Marty to get help. He attends a psychic meeting nearby where the Manor is being discussed, and gets one of the speakers to communicate with the rest of the group. Together, they descend on the Manor, rescuing Jeff at the last minute, though thanks in part to Previss, who decides to free Jeff and Jenny rather than murder them as instructed.

Production Order: This was the twenty-first episode to be filmed.

Trivia: Judith Arthy's name is dubbed over the credits, removing Andre who doesn't feature. Strangely, Andre's name was left on the title for the similarly Jeannieless When The Spirit Moves You.



Viewpoint:
"Who's going to listen to a ghost, giving them directions to a haunted house?"

One of just two episodes I'd never actually seen before (see also Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave), then I regret to say I initially thought this one was so tedious and stupid I actually switched it off halfway through. Okay, I should have given it a fair go, but I was still in my restless teens at the time. So as the only Randall and Hopkirk that had made me reach for the off-switch, then years later I can report that it's okay.

I sympathise with my younger self in many ways, as this is inexplicably one of the more tedious episodes, not helped by the stagy, overplayed acting of nearly everyone concerned, including Cope. Jeff again slips from charming gentleman and into a craggy-faced wannabe Bond who just can't keep it in his trousers. The usage of two simultaneous but disparate plot strands is an innovative concept, though sadly they both tie up. In fact, this is what bothers me most: the plot is just downright stupid. An odd criticism, I know, as Randall and Hopkirk wasn't exactly renowned for plot logistics and credible motivations, but, at a rough guess, how many jewel thieves do you think hide their stash by pretending they live in a haunted house? Ten years after I turned this story off, I finally I made it to the end. I had a decent time in doing so, but this is probably the least inspired episode they ever did.