When Annabelle Sturmer (Sally Faulkner) moors her impressive-looking yacht at Dock Green she instantly catches the eye of dock-worker Ron Mason (Alan Lake). Annabelle and Ron share a drink and everything seems friendly enough – but in an instant her mood changes and there’s a struggle. She returns with a gun and then a shot is heard.
Ron is seen leaving the boat, pausing to throw something in the water. When Annabelle’s disappearance is noted, the boys at Dock Green investigate. All the evidence suggests that Ron murdered her – but things aren’t quite as straightforward as they first appear …..
Domino was the first episode of Dixon of Dock Green‘s twenty first and final season. This series saw several changes to Dixon‘s tried and tested format. Firstly, we’re told that Andy Crawford (Peter Byrne) had transferred to another area, so there’s several new faces in CID – DS Alan Bruton (Richard Heffer) and DC Len Clayton (Ben Howard).
As for Dixon himself, he’s moved from being the desk sergeant to taking up the post of collator. In some ways this wasn’t too drastic a change – as per the previous few series George stays in the station and provides the others with nuggets of information that enable them to run the criminals down.
As is probably well known, Jack Warner had some trouble moving about, so Dixon tends to remain either seated or standing upright. He does walk about a bit, but not very far (his days of pounding the beat were long, long over). But the job of collator was an inspired one, as it allowed him to still have a decent input into the stories as well as giving him a chance to mentor a younger officer, PC Harry Dunne (Stephen Marsh), who we’re told will take over from him in due course (was there thought given to continuing the series following Warner’s retirement?).
Whilst Peter Byrne’s departure was a loss, Richard Heffer is a very welcome addition to the cast. A familiar television face already (Captain Tim Dowling in Colditz and JImmy Garland in Survivors were amongst his numerous roles) he brings a touch of class and charm to Dock Green nick. Ben Howard, as Len Clayton, provides a nice contrast, since he seems to have an ironic sense of humour as well as possessing a harder streak.
Derek Ingrey’s script sets up a mystery which isn’t resolved until the closing minutes. Sally Faulkner doesn’t have a great deal of time to make an impression, but still manages to do so. Annabelle Sturmer appears to be a spoiled little rich girl, who took her father’s yacht without permission and sailed it back to Britain. The implication is that she’s an alcoholic, which would explain her fondness for drinking early in the morning as well as her violent mood swings.
Alan Lake, who died at the very early age of forty three in 1984, might be best remembered as Diana Dors’ husband, but he also had an impressive list of acting credits (including eight appearances in Dixon, playing eight different characters). He didn’t tend to do subtle very often, but that works perfectly well here. Ron Mason needs to be a twitchy, unpredictable character, that way it makes the question as to whether he’s harmed the girl harder to answer
Lake is one of the episode’s chief attractions and he enjoys a generous amount of screen-time. Also worth watching are Gwyneth Powell (in her fifth and final Dixon appearance) as Mason’s long suffering wife and Simon Lack (later to star with Richard Heffer in LWT’s Enemy at the Door) as Annabelle’s father.
The down-beat ending might have been easy to guess, but it still has a certain impact. A solid, if not spectacular, series opener.