A BBC Pebble Mill Production. Colour. 6 x 50 minutes.
Broadcast dates for original UK transmission on BBC1.
Produced and Created by: Harry Robertson and Brian Degas
Executive Producer: Barry Hanson
Technical Advisors: Dr Clive Hollin and Professor Kevin Howells
Designers: Ian Ashurst and Roy Barrett ("A Bone to Pick" only)
Music Composed and Performed by: Harry Robertson
Dr John Cornelius: Nicholas Clay
Samantha Valentine: Kim Thomson
Inspector Cadogan: Stephen Yardley
Sergeant Gummer: Jude Akuwudike
Professor Owen Griffiths: Alan David [1-2,4-6]
Miss Phoebe Littlejohn: Carole Boyd [1-2,4-6]
||Meltdown To Murder
24 July 1992|
Writer: Philip Martin
Director: Philip Draycott
Guest Cast: Enn Reitel (Jed Frewin), Julia Foster (Carol Bolitha),
Brian Gwaspari (Simon Chamberlain), Helen Lederer (Meriel Connors),
Bernard Bresslaw (Lithgow), Laura Brattan (Emily Hibbert), Timothy
Watson (Tim Foster), Jean Warren (Bernice), Ian Burford (Bernard),
John Ross (Gallery Attendant), Sita Ramamurthy (Television
Newsreader), Philip Martin (Giles Bern), Dev Sagoo (Mini Cab Driver),
Alan McBride (Scots Cab Driver), Damien Wild (Passerby).
Cornelius is called in by an insurance company when valuable paintings are
inexplicably melting. The madman behind this is demanding a ransom or he will
continue destroying works of art, and he requests that Cornelius delivers the money.
A situation which started as extortion suddenly becomes personal...
Notes: Although the first episode, "Meltdown To Murder" was not a conventional
pilot in that it made no attempt to introduce a format - it simply launches into
a plot with all of the characters and their relationships already in place. The
writer of the episode was Philip Martin, well known from his work on Gangsters and
Doctor Who, and who also appeared briefly. The episode is generally a good
introduction to the show in establishing its quirky nature, although it is unfortunate that
for a series that was being unfairly compared with The Avengers, the opening episode
featured its most Avengers-esque plot. The villain of the piece is an old enemy
of Cornelius, Jed Frewin, played by Enn Reitel, a well known impressionist
and the original choice for Del Boy in Only Fools And Horses. Reitel's
talents are well used, as he appears in a range of disguises including a wonderfully oily reporter.
The episode does have some problems; the
murder of Helen Lederer's character is not well handled (JC and Sam don't seem to tell
anyone when they find her body!), and seems to have been included merely in order
to justify the episode title and to make Frewin a nasty enough character to
justify killing him off. There are some hilarious flashback sequences in which there
is no attempt to make Nicholas Clay and Enn Reitel look younger, other than making
them wear silly wigs and clothes! But all in all, not a bad start.
||Last Train To Hell And Back
31 July 1992|
Writer: Barry Smith
Director: Philip Draycott
Guest Cast: Richard Todd (Judge Rawcliffe), Sarah Jane Fenton (Caroline Rawcliffe),
Anita Carey (Chief Inspector Grant), Natasha Pyne (Helen Bach), Stacy Davies (Mottran), Colin
McFarlane (Professor Daniels), David Miller (Morris), Tim Meats (Radio Presenter).
There have been a number of murders around the grounds of the home of Rawcliffe, a judge who is known
for the harsh sentences he passes and who has a secret collection of confessions and torture equipment.
The bodies are found with strange clues, such as a string with knots tied at irregular intervals, and
Cornelius believes that the killer is trying to tell him something...
Notes: The genesis of the second episode arose due to its writer Barry Smith being a
self-confessed steam train enthusiast, so he was able to take pleasure in
attending the filming at the Severn Valley Railway in Worcestershire. Guest star Richard Todd is well
known for his films in the 50s, most famously "The Dam Busters"; he apparently took great
pleasure in the villainous nature of his role here. The episode generally works well; it is in a totally
different in style to its predecessor. Indeed, it would probably have made a better opening to the series,
since it dealt with Cornelius and Sam being called in by the police
to use their methods to help solve a murder, which was exactly the premise on which the series was
promoted. There are some delightful scenes, including Cornelius accidentally sending a fax of his tie
and someone inexplicably dressed as Bugs Bunny delivering Cornelius a message at a murder scene!
However, things do fall apart at the ending which is very confusing and not exactly credible. And the
pun used in the episode title (there is a character called Helen Bach!) is unforgiveable!
||A Bone To Pick
7 August 1992|
Writer: Tom Needham
Director: Peter Rose
Guest Cast: Tony Robinson (Roger Smith), Hywel Bennett (Harold Bingham), Marcia Warren
(Annie Smith), Debbie Arnold (Mrs Bingham), Dora Bryan (Mrs Mim), Richard Coleman (Chief Inspector
Truscott), Ron Donachie (Police Doctor), John Boswall (Professor Humber), Judi Spiers (Television
Presenter), Louise Beattie (Amanda), Charles Pemberton (Police Constable), Neale McGrath
(Shopkeeper), Beverley Walding (Receptionist).
Roger Smith is a patient of Cornelius and a compulsive liar. He has turned up at a police station
with two skeletons, claiming to be the brother of Santa Claus. The bones turn out to be two display
skeletons and an extra hand, but Roger disappears before he tells anyone where he found them.
Notes: The show hit its stride with the third episode, which manages to perfect the balance
of humour and plot. The cast is great, particularly Tony Robinson and Hywel Bennett. Bennett was
here cast against type as the vilain, given that he was best known for comedy such as Shelley;
however, he has since gone on to play other characters similar to Harold Bingham (most notably
Dennis Potter's Karaoke). Even minor characters, such as Annie Smith and her eccentric cooking methods,
were a delight. Professor Griffiths and Miss Littlejohn didn't appear, the only time any of the
regulars are missing from the series.
||A Torch For Silverado
14 August 1992|
Writer: Tim Aspinall
Director: Peter Rose
Guest Cast: Jon Pertwee (Luis Silverado), John Bluthal (Tonu), Cindy O'Callaghan (Patsy),
Sheila Bernette (Mrs Hall), Paddie O'Neil (Marcella), Bernard Horsfall (Professor Donn), Hu
Pryce (Specialist), Gordon Warnecke (Doctor Harry), Jenny Jay (Juney), Susie Ann Watkins (Dawn),
Emily Hartley (Emily), Barbara Young (Rita), Ozzie Yue (Connie), Choy-Ling Man (Minnie).
There have been a number of fires at brothels and other places of disrepute and arson is suspected.
The man behind this is Luis Silverado, who is terminally ill and trying to make up for his past.
Cornelius finally tracks him down, just as Silverado dies, and discovers that he has left one last
fire bomb to go off...
Notes: The main hallmark of this episode was the brave casting of Jon Pertwee as the retired
brothel keeper around whom much of the early part of the episode revolved. Unfortunately A Torch For
Silverado ended up as the weakest of the six episodes and it certainly suffered from coming straight
after the best. It was far too confusing, dull and it ultimately ended up going nowhere.
One problem was that Cornelius and particularly Sam did very little early on and curiously enough
things do pick up after Pertwee's character dies. The highlight of the episode is the climax, where
Cornelius and Sam being told how to diffuse a bomb over the telephone - a wonderful treatment of a
well-used cliche. As usual there was some nice direction, particularly the opening shot of Silverado
as a chef with flames in front of him, and Bernard Horsfall was splendidly bombastic as the Physics
professor with a grudge against Cornelius.
||A Dream Of Dracula
21 August 1992|
Writer: Bennett Byron Sims
Director: Philip Draycott
Guest Cast: Alfred Marks (Professor Zeff), Hugh Quarshie (Dr Mellor), Jill Gascoine
(Victoria Fleming), Ronald Fraser (Van Helsing), Tessa Wyatt (Andrea Pinkerton), Sam Kelly
(Paul Pinkerton), Peggy Mount (Mrs Weaver), Julian Clary (Undertaker), Philip Whitchurch (Clive
Warren), Laura Brattan (Emily Hibbert), Ken Randle (Mr Timson), Lesley Coburn (Brenda),
Norman Tipton (Sketch Artist).
It would appear that there is a vampire at loose in the city when a number of women have been
abducted and bitten on the neck. The newspapers have now got the story and Cadogan is under
pressure to find the culprit, so asks Cornelius to help. Cornelius and Sam start their investigations
and find that Dracula is closer too home than anyone imagined...
Notes: This is another showpiece episode with many well-known guest stars, although with many
on appearing briefly. Julian Clary's cameo created a lot of publicity for the episode and fortunately
his appearance did work in the context of Virtual Murder. Also appearing is Hugh Quarshie, later seen
in The Phantom Menace. This episode dealt with another Avengers like plot; indeed characters such as
Clary's undertaker seemed to have wandered in from the 60s series. The ending was cleverly ambiguous
in whether or not the villain really was a vampire.
28 August 1992|
Writer: Harry Robertson
Director: Peter Rose
Guest Cast: Steven O'Donnell (Reggie Milsom), Pat O'Toole (Annie Piper), Sean Pertwee (Matt
Andries), Sarah Lam (Liang Ti), Mark Caven (John Jacoby), David Allister (Professor Vere Percival),
Tim Preece (Professor Wilbur Gutteridge), Arthur White (Security Guard), Ellie Darvill (Miss Miniver),
Morgan Jones (Greg Gunning), Takashi Kawahara (Yam Yamazaki), Martin Phillips (Motor Cop), Tim
Dreams Imagic is a computer software company which specialises in Virtual Reality, the system of
creating a computer environment for a person to enter. The company have created a revolutionary
new method of achieving this using lasers and Cornelius is called in because the managing director
fears industrial espionage. However, it would appear that there is already something going on and
someone is using the Virtual Reality system to kill...
Notes: It is interesting to speculate whether the final episode of the series was originally
intended to be the first; it was written by one of the creators of the show and it is implied that
Cornelius and Cadogan had never met prior to the Dreams Imagic murders. It is also unusual in having
no big name guest stars - instead the cast is filled with actors who may be familiar faces but were not
well known names (including the second Pertwee to appear in the show). It is also interesting that
the title of the
series actually seems more appropriate for this episode! However, it is a weaker episode and
it easy to see why it wasn't transmitted first, having a strange atmosphere untypical of the rest of
the series. The fact that it is last heightens the drama of the climax, to make one believe
that Cornelius has been killed. Of course, it is not completely successful in this, since killing
off the main character would have been alien to the style of the show.