The final five episodes of Series 2 no longer exist in their broadcast format. However some home audio recordings made by a viewer were retrieved. One of these ("Tell Me About the Crab") only exists as a brief fragment, the final four and a half minutes of the episode, but the others are complete. These have been subject to extensive restoration work by Alan Hayes - the original recordings contained extraneous noises and other sound problems. Alan's excellent efforts have made these accessible again and "Twenty Pounds of Heart And Muscle", the penultimate offering of that series, was released on the 1971 series set. Hopefully the others will emerge in the future.
Assessing episodes of a TV series through an audio recording is difficult. Inevitably a great deal of the flavour of the show is lost with the visual element lost. However the dialogue is the most important part of a TV programme and allows us to make useful impressions. Public Eye copes better in audio-only form than an action series and its emphasis on dialogue allows it to bear up well.
Below is a guide to these episodes.
Tell Me About the Crab (27.8.66)
Catherine asks her estranged husband Dick for help when a brick is thrown through her window. He gets involved but has his own agenda in which Frank becomes an unwitting pawn.
Although it is unfortunate that so little remains of this episode the final few minutes are at least the best fragment that could remain. The climax is an interesting one to a complex tale.
Writer: Jack Trevor Story Director: Jonathan Alwyn
Cast: Gwen Cherrell (Catherine); Victor Platt (Toby); Sheila Ballantine (Angie); Roshan Seth (Soondra); Laurie Asprey (Roland); Jane Rossington (Jane); George Pensotti (Arkwright); Jacqueline Pearce (Jill); Robin Bailey (Dick Maddison); Lane Meddick (Porter).
No, No, Nothing Like That (3.9.66)
Harris Munro is a vicar in a quiet village. He engages Frank because he suspects his wife Anna of infidelity. There is no doubt that Anna seems disaffected, finding village life extremely dull while he wishes she would become more involved in parish life. However has her discontent led her into an affair? His chief suspect is the local doctor whom Anna has been seeing regularly, including outside surgery hours. The vicar will not consider divorce if his suspicions are correct but he does want to know the truth.
The vicar eventually seeks out Dr. Pringle. He is shocked to discover that Anna is ill and has been diagnosed with diabetes - hence her visits. However she has the kept the truth from her husband to avoid worrying him. This answer seems to satisfy him and explain her irritability. However Frank is not so convinced that matters are so clear-cut.
This is a fine episode. Clergymen rarely appeared in the show and this is the only story to centre around one. Munro, capably played by Glyn Houston, is a solemn but well-meaning man. He seems too concerned by a desire to do good, even when it could rebound on him. His wife's restlessness is maybe unsurprising for someone who prefers urban life and her weariness is well conveyed by Rona Anderson. The difficulties of marriage, and the added significance it has for religious men, are well-examined. The Bishop, on the other hand, seems to have a rather more practical if not worldly approach and he comes up with some useful ideas when Frank sees him. Andre Morrel gives a strong performance in this small part.
James Beck has an important role as Marty Cornwell, a Londoner and ex-prisoner who has got a job at the local school after considerable help from the vicar who was his former prison chaplain. Cornwell effectively outlines the problems ex-prisoners face - rather as Frank was able to do after his stint inside from Series 4 onwards. It's an interesting exploration of life outside prior to the later series. James is best known as one of the stars of Dad's Army before dying very young in 1973. He gives a good account in a wholly serious role. Geoffrey Palmer is another member of the cast who has become best-known for comedy - indeed one of Britain's most prolific comic actors of the last few decades.
Possibly one unlikely aspect is that Anna could be an insulin-dependent diabetic for three months without her husband's knowledge. However that is a minor reservation.
Frank's work behind the scenes has great effect and brings about a conclusion which also says a lot about the strict morality that existed in the 1960's for all the talk about "the permissive society". Altogether a very strong effort.
Writer: Andrew Hall Director: Quentin Lawrence
Cast: Glyn Houston (Rev. Harris Munro); Rona Anderson (Anna Munro); Geoffrey Palmer (Dr. Pringle); Gilbert Wynne (Bill Morton); Barrie Fletcher (Landlord); James Beck (Marty Cornwell); Sara Aimson (Joan Morton); Andre Morrell (Bishop); Anne Dyson (Miss Tolliver).
There Are More Things in Heaven and Earth (10.9.66)
Stella Rouse, a solicitor, asks Frank to persuade the recently widowed Mrs. Barnes to sell her home for an apparently generous price to an unknown client. Frank has doubts about whether it is right to approach Mrs. Barnes so soon after her bereavement. When he visits she is still rather shaken but agrees to think about the offer.
That same night Mrs. Barnes hears disturbing noises in the house. There is no intruder and no obvious explanation but she is very scared. Local reporter Tony Hart then collars Frank and accuses him of trying to scare her into agreeing to sell. Frank protests his innocence to a sceptical Hart. If Frank isn't responsible, who is? Maybe there even be no rational explanation. Could there even be a ghost at work? Hart scents a good story but can the truth be extracted?
Although this isn't as impressive as its predecessor it is still a good effort. It is certainly distinctive within the show as an exploration of the possiblility of the supernatural but typically it is addressed in a down-to-earth manner. There are quite a few mysteries with just about everyone potentially having a motive in suggesting something amiss and under suspicion. None of the audio episodes suffers more from losing its video element than this one. There are long passages where it is clear that an uneasy, possibly spooky atmosphere is being created on screen and the soundtrack cannot reflect this. Even so the audio track does create an unsettling air and overall the outing is another sign that the earlier Public Eye was as engaging as its surviving later form.
There are quite a number of significant names in the cast, with Patrick Mower getting one of his first parts as the hard-nosed reporter. Stephanie Bidmead returned years later in two of the colour Windsor episodes.
Writer: Julian Bond Director: Toby Robertson
Cast: Helen Lindsay (Anita Barnes); Stephanie Bidmead (Stella Rouse); Bert Simms (Mr. Jones); Patrick Mower (Tony Hart); Trevor Baxter (Howells); Garrick Hagon (Douglas Tidy); Clive Swift (West).Click here for details of "Twenty Pounds Of Heart And Muscle" and "What's the Matter? Can't You Take a Sick Joke?"
Click here for the other two audio-only episodes.