Out of the Blue – Series One, Episode Four

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A women is found dead in a bus shelter located just outside her house. It looks as if she was sleeping there, but why? A baker, Mr Flood (Kenneth Cope), is once again sweeping up broken glass from his shattered shop windows. Convinced that no-one is taking him seriously he resorts to drastic action to make himself heard. Meanwhile, Franky has disappeared. He had been working unofficially on a cold case, so the team follow it up ….

Dave Norman, playing Ray Chaplin, has an easy time of it. Ray, a pimp, previously had his tongue cut out, so Norman didn’t have to go to the trouble of learning any lines. All he had to do was look moody and scribble down his answers to Becky and Warren.

This was the cold case Franky was working on, so it serves a dual purpose in the narrative – not only is there a mystery to be solved, but finding the answer might allow the team to discover Franky’s location.

Ron’s dalliances with his ex-wife become public knowledge around the office (although his curent wife remains in the dark). He’s yet to discover that Marty let this secret slip though, but I’ve a feeling he’s going to find out soon …

Bruce and Tony visit Mr Flood. Their different reactions speak volumes about their characters. Bruce wants to be out looking for Franky, so dealing with a case of broken windows seems completely trivial (he caustically refers to Mr Flood as Mr Pastry).  But Tony instantly emphasises with the victim – he can see that Mr Flood is living a life of quiet desperation (his life made a misery due to abuse and vandalism) and wants to help. So Tony is idealistic, Bruce realistic.

Tony later confides that as a uniformed officer he felt part of the community, but now he’s in plain clothes there’s more of a sense of isolation. The fact that we never actually see any of the tearaways who abuse Mr Flood is an interesting touch – as making the threat abstract means it becomes more problematic and insoluble.

Kenneth Cope nicely underplays as a man driven to the edge by antisocial behaviour.  The way he finally gets a little attention is a wrong-footing moment (although due to the way the camera coyly doesn’t focus on the action, it’s possibly not as impactful as it could have been).  No matter though, Cope still deftly sketches the character of Mr Flood – a man who doesn’t want to be labelled a victim, but urgently needs help.

The dead woman at the bus stop, Angela Grainger, was also a victim of antisocial behaviour.  In her case, she was driven to distraction by pounding music played at all hours by her next door neighbours. But did one of them attack her in the days before she died of a heart attack?

It can’t be a coincidence that Kenneth Cope’s daughter, Martha, appears as Marilyn Jowett, Angela Grainger’s neighbour. Another familiar face, Sheila Ruskin, pops up as Margot Gillespie, the doctor who tells Franky that his epilepsy isn’t operable.

Alternating between these two storylines as well as the search for Ray’s attacker and Franky’s continuing tantrums, it’s a packed episode. At one point, Ron confides that there’s no justice and by the time the credits roll it’s hard to disagree with him.

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Dixon of Dock Green – Jackpot

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Harold Tovey (Kenneth Cope) is a bookish, mild-mannered man who continually finds himself hen-pecked by his wife Margaret (Pat Ashton).  When she tells him to take a relaxing holiday abroad by himself, he’s suspicious – as he’s certain she’s involved with the smooth-talking Mickey Walker (Tim Pearce).

But if there was any fight in him, it appears to have long gone and he dutifully plods off to the airport.  However, when his flight is cancelled he heads home to see his wife and Mickey heading out together.  This is the catalyst for a series of unlikely adventures, which start when he appropriates a large sum of money previously stolen by his brother-in-law Tony Kinsley (Paul Darrow).

Jackpot is a comic treat with Kenneth Cope (Coronation Street, TW3, Randall and Hopkirk) on fine form as the bookworm who turns.  The first fifteen minutes or so constantly reinforce the notion that Harold is a complete and utter nonentity – his wife says so, Tony Kinsley says so, even the boys at Dock Green nick say so!  But even the mildest-mannered man can only take so much and his eventual revolt is a delight.

He turns up at a posh hotel, complete with chauffeur, and proceeds to take the grandest suite.  He’s also acquired a nice new suit and, best of all, a full head of hair (thanks to a very impressive wig).  Outrageously tipping the hotel porter (Eric Mason) ensures that he gets the very best service – including some female company to help him relax.  His encounter with the escort Sybil (Pamela Moiseiwitsch), is another highlight of the episode as he does everything he can to impress her.  “Do you have a bucket of caviar for dinner every night?” she asks him

The performance style of the guest-cast is best defined as “broad”.  The likes of Pat Ashton tended to play comedy anyway whilst Paul Darrow’s broad cockney accent also raises a smile, although that probably wasn’t the intention.  Darrow’s very entertaining though, even if it’s hard to accept he’s a hard-bitten villain.

The comedic antics of Harold do contrast somewhat with the more serious scenes at Dock Green nick.  The two different environments don’t really connect very well – probably because the Dock Green officers aren’t integrated into Harold’s story (in fact, we could have concentrated solely on Harold and we probably wouldn’t have missed the input of Dixon and the others).

Quite a short episode, clocking in at just over forty-six minutes, it’s another one that succeeds thanks to the guest cast, especially Kenneth Cope.