1 9 6 6 (UK)
4 x 55 minute episodes
This short-lived series from Granada television featured a double-dealing Humphrey Bogart-loving gumshoe named Phil Scrotty (American-born Gary Cockrell), a portly and ruthless official called Kronk (17 stone Yorkshireman John Sharp), and a millionaire Persian villainess named Syrie Van Epp (Elizabeth Shepherd, pictured).
Kronk headed up a government intelligence agency called Department K, assisted by his prim, middle-aged secretary and part-time assassin Miss Dunner (June Watson).
Officially part of the Ministry Of Defence, Department K had some surreal technology, including the ‘prophecy approximation machine’, a strange hotch-potch of wires and light bulbs that delivered predictions on behaviour in a notably camp voice.
Kronk’s main agents were the comedy duo of Inspector Blood and Sergeant Hound (Alan Curtis and William Maxwell), two heel-clicking subordinates clad in identical trench coats and hats who moved in unison and spoke as if from a music hall double act.
But the pair were also clearly exceedingly vicious (“We’re not really gentlemen sir, we’re police officers”).
Kronk also had a variety of vicious thugs who could quickly be summed up to administer torture and beatings as required.
Syrie Van Epp had an outrageous and extensive wardrobe – silk dress and dark hood for graveyards, a black dress with white collar and cuffs parodying nurse’s tunic for prisons, white Persian coat and turban, dark negligée, black trouser suit with white ruffles, gauzes dressed with peacock motifs, and driving garb more suited for a nunnery than cruising around in her vintage Rolls -Royce – and usually jangled with excessive jewellery.
Operating through henchmen such as the pin-striped Weedy (Donald Webster) and the bullying, diminutive Nonesuch (Ian Trigger), Syrie also employed a blackmailing maid with a Mary Quant fixation (Pauline Collins).
Married “every now and then” but “on a sabbatical year”, Syrie (“the most promiscuous woman in Europe”) would happily engage in apparently casual sex with anyone who had style, living up to the Persian family motto: “Business with Pleasure”.
From time to time both Kronk and Syrie used private detective Phil Scrotty, who operated from a tatty ancient monument of an office dominated by film noir imagery of Bogart (“founder of the firm”). Visitors were signalled in advance when they stumbled over the blood-stained dustbins in the corridor outside.
With a line in hip gumshoe chat and a rate of five guineas a day (plus reasonable expenses and mileage), Scrotty readily admitted to being shallow, claiming that his perfect woman was “high income bracket, low IQ”.
Confusing, erudite, self-consciously absurd and packed with eccentric dialogue, The Corridor People was shot on tape and in black and white at Granada’s Quay Street studio, with the action rarely leaving the confines of a small series of sets.
The series was written and created by Edward Boyd (who had previously created the Granada series The Odd Man) and was transmitted on Friday nights in August and September 1966.
Syrie Van Epp
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