TV Review – BERGERAC: FIRES IN THE FALL (1986)

BERGERAC: FIRES IN THE FALL (UK, 1986) ***½
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 26 December 1986; Running Time: 89m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Tom Clegg; Writer: Chris Boucher; Producer: Jonathan Alwyn; Director of Photography: Alec Curtis, Adrian Smith; Music Composer: Ray Russell; Theme Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby, Paul Garrick; Production Designer: Ken Ledsham; Costumes: Andrew MacKenzie; Make-up: Marilyn MacDonald; Sound: Bill Chesneau; Visual Effects: Simon Tayler.
      Cast: John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Amanda Redman (Pauline Taylor), Barrie Ingham (Raoul Barnaby), Margaretta Scott (Roberta Jardine), Sean Arnold (Crozier), Louise Jameson (Susan Young), Donald Churchill (David MacKenzie), Paul Brooke (Malcolm Croxted), Ron Pember (Jack Plemont), Deborah Grant (Deborah Bergerac), Lindsay Heath (Kim Bergerac), Geoffrey Leesley (DC Terry Wilson), Jolyon Baker (DC Barry Goddard), Mela White (Diamante Lil), Nancy Mansfield (Peggy Masters), Jim McManus (Filing Clerk), Tony Westrope (Jeavans), Nicholas McArdle (Doctor), Guy Standeven (Vicar), Salomi Oxberry (Maria).
      Synopsis: When an elderly millionairess puts her trust in a psychic who claims to speak to the dead, Jim is asked to debunk some supernatural myths.
      Comment: The first of six feature-length Bergerac specials (broadcast at Christmas just ahead of series 5) builds on the approach tested in the earlier fourth series episode “What Dreams May Come?” by delving into the supernatural thriller genre. Like the earlier episode “Fires in the Fall” looks to explain these supernatural elements through a gradual reveal of its mystery. That it is both relatively successful, sometimes scary and often entertaining is testament to the directorial skills of Tom Clegg and the scripting of Chris Boucher. Ingham also adds greatly to the story with a creepy guest turn as a medium seemingly in contact with the dead. There’s also an early role for Redman as the put-upon niece of Scott’s wealthy retiree. All the series regulars are involved, with some lighter moments built around heating problems at the bureau. Whilst not totally satisfying, largely because it tries to introduce one twist too many during the finale, it remains a strong episode in a consistently entertaining series.

TV Review – BERGERAC: PICKING IT UP (1981)

Bergerac series 1BERGERAC: PICKING IT UP (UK, 1981) ***½
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 18 October 1981; Running Time: 57m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: Martyn Friend; Writer: Robert Banks Stewart; Producer: Robert Banks Stewart; Associate Producer: Juliet Grimm; Director of Photography: Ian Hilton; Music Composer: George Fenton; Themes Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby, Chris Wimble; Production Designer: Antony Thorpe; Costumes: Pat Fisher; Make-up: Cheryl Wright; Sound: Bryan Showell.
      Cast: John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Cécile Paoli (Francine), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Sean Arnold (Crozier), Annette Badland (Charlotte), Mela White (Diamante Lil), Danny Schiller (Gulliver), Tony Melody (Chief), Raymond Adamson (Senator), Deborah Grant (Deborah), Lindsay Heath (Kim), David Savile (Gurney), Floella Benjamin (Juniper), Alan Thompson (Mr. Pollender), Elizabeth Choice (Mrs. Pollender), Judith Byfield (Mary Pollender), James Greene (Alcoholic), Roland Oliver (Flying Instructor), Lesley Murray (Hire-Car Receptionist), Michael Chesden (French Inspector), Stephen Bent (CID Man), Graeme Eton (Airport Sergeant), Michael Bott (Constable), Sally Harrison (Air Stewardess), Harry South (Nightclub Pianist), Brian Tully (Vicar), Lindsay Campbell (Chairman), Carole Walker (Theatre Sister), Sandra Miller (Nurse), Harold Messias (Asian), Frank Tregear (Businessman).
      Synopsis: Jersey detective Jim Bergerac returns from a recuperation leave to find his job in jeopardy and a colleague killed during an investigation into international gun sales to South Africa.
      Comment: The first episode of the long-running series (1981-91, nine seasons, 87 episodes) introduces us to Jim Bergerac – a police detective and recovering alcoholic. The key series elements are all set here including Bergerac’s caustic relationship with his ex-father-in-law, millionaire Charlie Hungerford, played in the early episodes in a more hard-nosed fashion by Alexander. The plot suffers a little from having to compete with the need to set up key series characters, but it maintains interest. Whilst Nettles may initially seem a little too clean-cut for the character, he would stamp his personality onto the role over the coming years. The Jersey locations are well used. Look out for Floella Benjamin as an American singer (dubbed here) who has got mixed up with the wrong crowd.