Sir Arthur Vane (Ronald Culver) is the leader of the Victory Party, an extreme fascist political movement which creates controversy wherever it goes. After Vane receives death threats, Gideon assigns (slightly against his better judgement) Chief Supt Bill Parsons (Allan Cuthbertson) to take charge of the case. Shortly after, a bomb explodes outside Vane’s flat. There’s a witness – but she disappears and Gideon finds it hard to track her down.
The “V” Men is a reminder that some things never seem to change. Although this was made some fifty years ago it could just as easily been set in 2015. The Victory Party has several aims (which appear to have been designed to alienate as many people as possible) – keep Britain white, kick out the financiers (especially the Jews) and also deal harshly with the pacifists.
Gideon’s superior, Commissioner Scott-Marle (Basil Dingham), recommends that Parsons takes charge of Vane’s security. Gideon’s momentary hesitation, as well as Keen’s obvious dislike of the man, is a rarity in Gideon’s Way as generally we see the police work together in complete harmony. Allan Cuthbertson made a career out of playing tightly-wound martinets, so his casting here is an obvious piece of shorthand. Parsons doesn’t seem to be anything more than a humourless, unimaginative copper.
After Gideon overhears some of his aggressive questioning, he calls a halt to the interview and proceeds to gently try and set him on the right track. He tells him there’s no law against being a fanatic, to which Parsons responds that there should be. “I’m sick and tired of these people trying to push everyone around. Why don’t we shove the lot of them into jail?” This is the sort of statement that you know Gideon would object to, although it’s typical that Gregson plays the scene with a mild air of humour – helping to diffuse the tension.
Two plot-threads seem to be developing – the other concerns a young woman, Cathy Miller (Angela Douglas) who bumps into Vane as she’s making her way to a meeting with one of his neighbours, Peter Bennett (Dyson Lovell). Bennett is shocked to be told by Cathy that she’s pregnant (Bennett is a married man). Cathy was the woman seen running away from the flats following the explosion and is now being sought by the police.
Angela Douglas is winsomely attractive as Cathy and it’s the human drama of her personal situation that’s the most memorable part of the episode. Parsons is convinced that Cathy is involved in the bombing, but Gideon isn’t. Her questioning by both of them demonstrates the difference in approach they take. Parsons attempts to browbeat and intimidate her, whilst Gideon favours a friendly and conversational approach (John Gregson is typically charming in these scenes).
The mystery of who planted the bomb isn’t solved until the last few minutes, as once Cathy is introduced it takes second place to her problems. But when Gideon is able to reassure her that her pregnancy isn’t the end of the world, we can once again refocus on Vane.
The conclusion – as Vane comes face to face with his attacker – is certainly dramatic (although it does lurch over the top somewhat). The identity of the bomber is unexpected, to say the least, and any remaining loopholes in the plot have to be explained away with the catch-all explanation that the man was quite mad. So whilst the script doesn’t quite fulfill the potential it might have done, once again the guest cast (Culver, Douglas, Cuthbertson) help to cover most of the cracks.