Paul Garston and Ann Johnson
do little to disguise their affair
The second episode from the first series is the earliest surviving evidence of the show, sadly one of only two examples from it. It's quite an eye-opener to those used to later incarnations. It's black and white, set in London (although one would hardly know as there isn't the distinctive location filming of later series) and Marker doesn't even appear until eleven minutes in! While the story is less dependent on him than later on, we do start to see some familiar hallmarks and it's soon apparent that this is the same Marker so admired in the future years. None of the radical and wayward changes in character seen in some shows. This episode is not an immediate hit but it does grow on the viewer.
The episode has two limitations - Frank's lower profile (although still quite prominent later on) and the typically labyrynthine business arrangements that can make following the plot a little heavy going, especially in the early part of the episode so crucial for capturing viewer attention. However there are strong points as well. As soon as he appears we are reassured by Marker's integrity and straight, but never aggressive, talking. As in later stories he has to take the job even though he dislikes Garston (along with almost everyone else). Frank can't afford to be choosy about his clients. However right here he makes clear his independence - despite his precarious living he insists on being his own boss. What's interesting as well is seeing Frank in a more buoyant mood towards the end after pulling off a smart move. An ebullient Marker was something little seen, but always very welcome.
The Garston character is certainly intriguing, well done by Keith Baxter. Johnson's wife, Anne, is an unpleasant, cynical, manipulative figure and she and Garston could almost be made for each other - a strong display by June Barry. It's notable that there are some fairly bold physical scenes between the pair by mid-1960's standards, directed rather quirkily by Kim Mills.
A young Peter Barkworth as the accountant Eric Hart performs flawlessly. Robert Mill is excellent as a rather unconventional criminal called Ellis. Ellis is a very well-spoken, somewhat camp, individual who arranges for targets to be beaten-up - and maybe worse. Caroline Blakiston was ubiquitous in 60's series drama and she turns up here in a typically sharp portrayal of Garston's estranged wife Eva. Unsurprisingly Eva loathes her husband but she has a very realistic, almost cynical, appraisal of his success.
Ray Johnson finds his wife
less than faithful but what
will he do about it?
Paul Garston is a young, highly successful but rather arrogant and aggressive businessman, who is used to pressurising his clients. He is also having an affair with the wife of one of his draughtsmen. His confidence though is broken by a series of threatening phone calls. His partner Eric Hart urges him to bring in Frank Marker to act as a bodyguard. Garston wants to preserve his impregnable image so tells Marker to masquerade as his chauffeur.
The draughtsman Johnson starts to suspect his wife's behaviour and eventually her infidelity becomes impossible to disguise. He is determined for revenge. What is he prepared to do? Can Frank protect Garston - and from whom?
Robert Tunstall has a demanding role as Ray Johnson, the draughtsman who finds Garston is having an affair with his wife. It's a prominent part requiring some emotional outbursts alongside a generally diffident and unassertive personality and is soundly delivered. Johnson seems easy prey for the likes of his wife and Garston but even the meekest individuals can sometimes turn with unpredictable results.
The final part of the story is very impressive, with Frank engineering a notable turn of events alongside some other striking developments. As an aside, the 60's fashions seen here are very good and have a classic , timeless look. It's just a shame we have so few examples of these ABC episodes although there's always the possibility more may ultimately be found.
Writer: Roger Marshall Director: Kim Mills
Cast: Alfred Burke (Frank Marker); Keith Baxter (Paul Garston); Peter Barkworth (Eric Hart); June Barry (Anne Johnson); Robert Tunstall (Ray Johnson); Sheila Raynor (Mrs. Johnson); Maurice Hedley (Lionel Wheeler); Peter Williams (Tympson); Caroline Blakiston (Eva Garston); Bruce Montague (Peters); Robert Mill (Ellis); Vanessa Thornton (Paulline); Joe Ritchie (Gray); Velentino Musetti, Andy Brewer (Thugs).
The parts of the episode are called "Acts" at this stage.
The episode lasts only forty seven minutes, several minutes shorter than the standard length in the Thames years. Whether this was the standard length at ABC for a show in a one hour slot isn't known. Don't Forget You're Mine from 1966 is around the same length so it may have been.