Dixon of Dock Green – Everybody’s Business

business

Mrs Hooker (Queenie Watts) is a familiar presence at Dock Green nick.  She might be motivated by a strong sense of public duty (or could simply an officious busybody).  Her suspicious nature is a running joke with her tenants, such as Dave Palmer (Rod Culbertson) and Rita Batty (Cheryl Hall).

When Dave tells an incredulous Rita that Mrs Hooker examines their rubbish (in the hope of finding something incriminating) they decide to play a joke on her by drawing a plan of a fictitious robbery and popping it in the next bag of rubbish.  Naturally enough she finds it and goes rushing off to the station to report her latest find.

But whilst Dave and Rita are planning make-believe crimes, a real one is happening right next door.  Mrs Collins (Sylvia Coleridge) has become quite the local celebrity, following a piece in the local paper about how she discovered one of her paintings was worth forty thousand pounds.  This makes her a target and Walker (George Sweeney) and Ron Fielding (Roger Lloyd-Pack) plan to relieve her of this precious work of art.

When Ron Fielding turns up at Mrs Hooker’s house, looking for a room, it’s pretty clear from the outset that something’s not quite right.  Although he’s offered a nice, quiet room at the back he prefers the smaller one at the front.  Problem is that Rita has the front room and doesn’t want to move.  Ron spins Mrs Hooker a yarn about how his wife has moved in over the street with another man, which gives Queenie Watts a lovely moment as she purses her lips and declares that spying on people isn’t nice at all.

Of course, he’s simply interested in the room because of its location to next door and the painting.  But though he doesn’t get the room he still plans to use it – as soon as Rita leaves to work at the pub that evening.  Alas, she comes back too soon and finds herself bound and gagged by Ron and Walker.

Everybody’s Business is another good character-based story.  Roger Lloyd-Pack and George Sweeney (both to later find fame in John Sullivan sitcoms – Lloyd-Pack in Only Fools and Horses and Sweeney in Citizen Smith) exude a certain menace.  Their initial meeting, in a bleak and rubbish-filled street, is another snapshot of how grim many areas of London were back in the 1970’s.

Cheryl Hall (who would also later appear in Sullivan’s Citizen Smith, alongside her then husband Robert Lindsey) is rather appealing as Rita.  She has a mischievous streak, brought on by Mrs Hooker’s snooping, but also finds herself tramautised after spending the night tied up.  Sylvia Coleridge, who had a lengthy career largely playing eccentric old women, plays somewhat to type as Mrs Collins.

Bruton is very brusque with both Rita and Dave (it appears that he doesn’t believe her story to begin with) and this causes Dave to call him a pig, once he’s out of earshot of course.  It’s quite rare for the police in Dixon to behave quite so off-hand to witnesses, so this is possibly a sign that the series was gently trying to toughen up a little.  There’s also a very brief, Sweeney-like, bit of action at the end as we see police cars racing through the urban wasteland to nab the criminals.

With the crime only taking up a small part of the running time, Everybody’s Business is much more about character interactions and because the story is so well-cast this makes it one of the stronger episodes from this final run.

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