1 9 6 9 (UK)
13 x 60 minute episodes
Mechanics and armed guards bustle around a plane waiting on the tarmac at Westmarsh Airport in Kent. No ordinary aircraft this – inside, waiting to be unloaded, is £5½ million in gold.
Suddenly, above the noise of the whining jets and the scurrying airport vehicles, comes the crack of rifle fire. A police car bursts into flames. Officials and mechanics scatter in confusion . . . and an armed gang moves in.
In a split-second operation, they escape with the gold.
This crime drama from London Weekend Television starred Peter Vaughan as CID Detective Chief Superintendent Cradock who was left to track down the gang responsible. The thirteen episodes showcased his successes and failures in tracing the perpetrators of the robbery.
Richard Bolt (Richard Leech, pictured at top of page) was the millionaire whose airline flew the gold into Westmarsh Airport on the day of the robbery. Throughout the case, Bolt gave every assistance to Cradock and the two men formed a real friendship – but was he actually the Mr Big behind the robbery?
Other characters – mainly villains or suspects – included Freddie Lumb (Roy Dotrice), a lazy misfit and crack-shot (he was the one who fired an incendiary bullet into the police car and a few days later shot his wife’s lover – Lumb was eventually shot by the police and fell to his death from a water tower); Barry Porter (George Cole), a small-time crook who faked the police radio during the robbery, delaying the squad cars; Derek Hartford (Joss Ackland), the air traffic controller at Westmarsh Airport who allowed Lumb to use his house to fire at the police car; suave Victor Anderson (Frederick Bartman), owner of the smart West End gambling club ‘Les Diplomatiques’ – a regular meeting place for top-flight criminals; Harold Oscroft (Bernard Hepton), a partner in a large firm of accountants who had recently embezzled money from some of the companies whose accounts he kept; Joe Tysack (Alfred Lynch), a hardened criminal responsible for the ammonia attack on the police and the security van who was jailed by Cradock but sprung from jail by a rival gang who tortured him and murdered his wife; Nechros (John Shannon), uncrowned king of the underworld who was present at the robbery, driving the British Railways van carrying members of the gang; and Tom Goodwin (Ian Hendry), a charter pilot who was test driving a Bristol Freighter on the day of the robbery (he used it to transport the stolen gold to Switzerland).
The series was written by Johnny Hawkesworth and Glyn Jones with technical advice provided by Ex-Detective Chief Superintendent Arthur Butler, a former CID chief.
DS Tommy Thomas
Asst. Commissioner Farr