1 9 7 8 (UK)
6 x 60 minute episodes
On his release from prison, hard-man bank-robber Frank Ross (Tom Bell) obsessively and murderously searched for the informer who grassed him up in a thriller which eventually showed the villain was a policeman (The police were running their corruption-routing ‘Operation Countryman’ at the time).
Out’s powerful opening episodes revealed both a man obsessed with crime and a wife wrecked by her husband’s never-admitted involvement in it – with a startling searing performance by Pam Fairbrother as the mentally ill Evie.
Meanwhile, his teenage son is going off the rails, and he has no money to pay back his friend for funding his wife’s hospital bills while she was institutionalised.
While there was plenty of grievous bodily harm over the six weeks, writer Trevor Preston’s believable, miserable criminals (inside and outside the police force) put it way above the bash-and-grab level of most cops-and-robbers stories.
Wearing a deathly prison pallor and the same out-of-date suit throughout (his entire wardrobe for the series cost £70 from a secondhand clothes shop), Bell – an actor who would probably look menacing doing Play School – was excellent in this superb revenge thriller, which took the viewer on a pacy – but morally uncomfortable – tour of a bleak London gangland where the cops and the robbers were just different sides of the same bent coin.
Pretty Billy Binns