1 9 7 2 (UK)
6 x 50 minute episodes
This anthology series of plays from the BBC dealt with the themes of fear and entrapment.
A Chain of Villas was set in the South of France, where rental villa owner Raoul Dufort (Edwin Richfield) was tempted to murder his wife by his demanding mistress, Odette (Gillian Lewis). Raoul bought a family-size carton of rat poison, but his wife, Claire (Katherine Blake), had her own cunning plans.
In Good at Games, two men – Hemsley and Pardoe – met at a fundraising event for their old public school and discovered that their roles had been reversed in the intervening 28 years since they graduated but that they still had nothing in common.
Lee Montague played one-time school bully and outstanding sportsman Hemsley, who had become a minor Civil Servant and Chairman of the Old Boys’ Association. His old victim, Pardoe (Philip Latham), had achieved fame, fortune and a suave manner to go with them but was still apparently obsessed by an unpleasant battle in the showers when they were at school.
The two protagonists found themselves locked in the school gymnasium for the night, and their superficial politeness swiftly broke down into a rough reconstruction of old grievances.
The clumsily-titled A Man’s Fair Share of Days had a young man (Simon Ward) recovering consciousness in an apartment to find he shared it with another man, recently bludgeoned to death. But the young man could remember nothing about it (or about himself).
He drove to a large country house where the butler greeted him almost as a prodigal and called him “Luke”. He settled in there but found that everyone in the village knew he had committed some horrible deed – but no one would say what.
The confusing plot went full circle and finished where it began.
Last Land (by Anthony Speke) had John Gregson as Swedish millionaire Sven Ericson, dying from an incurable disease on his remote private island while being cared for by his young wife, Stella (Moira Redmond), and his personal doctor, Ian Strawson (Michael Pennington). But was his illness natural, or was he being poisoned?
A clash between three characters was featured in Queen’s Messenger: Lt. Col. Napier (Nigel Stock), an ex-Army Queen’s messenger; his daughter Ruth (Lorna Heilbron); and Symons (Michael Culver), a junior Foreign Office official with little respect for the old school of “gunboat diplomacy”.
Napier had a diplomatic bag to deliver somewhere in Eastern Europe and took Ruth – an archaeology student – along for company. But he was preoccupied with a fear that foreign agents may try to take the diplomatic bag from him. His fears were realised, and after a well-filmed car chase, the coveted bag – looking disappointingly like a GPO sack – was opened to reveal only assorted pornography and a tin of ham!
The final episode, Man in the House (by Don Shaw), was the story of Alex Foster (John Carson), a man who – for questionable reasons – tried to have himself declared bankrupt. Two overbearing minions from the Official Reciever’s Office (Peter Vaughan and Geoffrey Whitehead) – who broke in when their quarry would not open the door to them – were so offensively aggressive that it seemed they had strayed onto the set from Z Cars.
Melissa Stribling and Richard Morant appeared as Foster’s wife, Helen, and son, Mark, respectively.
A Chain of Villas | Good at Games | A Man’s Fair Share of Days | Last Land | Queen’s Messenger | Man in the House