1 9 7 9 (UK)
8 x 50 minute episodes
For the first five minutes, the BBC miniseries The Aphrodite Inheritance looked as though it might please someone else besides the Cyprus Tourist Board.
The faintly recognisable theme music by George Kotsonis accompanied a thrilling sequence culminating in the ill-fated Barry Collier’s (Barry Halliday) plunge over a cliff-side to his death. After that, everything went downhill.
Adhering to a well-tried formula, series writer Michael J. Bird employed a familiar scenario in which swarthily sinister figures peered around corners, mysterious ladies made even more mysterious advances and no one but a fool would trust anyone else.
In the midst of it all, our hero – the dead man’s brother David (Peter McEnery) – conducted himself with a somnolent naivety that only a charitable suggestion of jet lag could explain.
Mr McEnery’s performance was not distinguished but one must take into account the material with which he had to work. As Helene, Alexandra Bastedo (stunningly but impractically dressed for a trip to the mountains) was certainly alluring.
Stefan Gryff fared better with the devious Charalambos (a dab hand with the tomato juice) and Godfrey James was to be commended for a solid portrayal of Inspector Dimas.
As the plot ground on, potential troublemakers, led by the ingratiating Hellman (Paul Maxwell) lurked in the background and provided some small incentive for future viewing.
“How much further?” enquired the hapless David after an apparently endless drive in Helene’s car through the comparatively featureless Cyprus countryside “We’ve been driving for an hour already”. It seemed longer.
There was no excuse for this prolonged and tedious passage. If it was designed to attract visitors then, it was counterproductive and dramatically quite without justification.
We subsequently got to feast our eyes on Peter McEnery wandering around Paphos in his vest, Alexandra Bastedo scrambling over a lot of ancient Cretan ruins in four-inch heels and a great deal of blue eye shadow, and Brian Blessed, who appeared to have modelled his performance on The Jolly Green Giant (ho ho ho).
There was nothing overtly wrong with The Aphrodite Inheritance. Terence Williams’ direction was competent and the acting reached an acceptable standard. It simply lacked a heart.