TV Review – BERGERAC: RETIREMENT PLAN (1988)

Image result for bergerac retirement planBERGERAC: RETIREMENT PLAN (UK, 1988) ***
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 27 December 1988; Running Time: 94m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Edward Bennett; Writer: Edmund Ward; Producer: George Gallaccio; Director of Photography: John Walker; Music Composer: Ray Russell; Theme Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby; Production Designer: Phil Roberson; Costumes: Barrie Sedwell; Make-up: Benita Barrell; Sound: Malcolm Campbell; Stunt Arranger: Gareth Milne.
      Cast: John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Louise Jameson (Susan Young), Nicholas Ball (Gravel Beresford), James Laurenson (Raoul Fuegas), Sylvester Morand (Harry Lubeck), Constantine Gregory (Diego Ferrera), Sean Arnold (Crozier), Barrie Houghton (Reno), Danny Webb (Joe Grantham), Micha Bergese (Costello), Sue Lloyd (Eva Southurst), Carmen Du Sautoy (Marie Chantel), Anthony Calf (Simon Lorrilard), Matyelok Gibbs (Alice Thorwell), Bill Stewart (Gully), Paul Angelis (Jack Thorwell), John Telfer (Willy Pettit), David Kershaw (Ben Lomas), Nancy Mansfield (Peggy Masters), Hilary Mason (Miss Amberton), Robert McBain (George Beck), Dave Atkins (Wesley), Jonathan Oliver (Pathologist), Catherine Livesey (Woman House Buyer).
      Synopsis: Jim is summoned from Jersey to spend Christmas on the Costa Del Sol where a pair of small-time British crooks have tried to muscle in on Charlie’s latest business venture. When Jim gets involved he finds himself in the middle of a local gang war whilst back on Jersey a group of French thieves are causing havoc and Susan’s life is put in danger.
      Comment: The third of six feature-length Bergerac specials, this one broadcast at Christmas 1988 ahead of series 7. Series 6 had seen a new producer on board in George Gallaccio, who added a harder edge and more complex plots to the series. His desired style is fully evident in this episode which includes two separate plot threads. However, there is no connection between them, which gives the impression the special has been cobbled together from two distinct stories with characters disappearing without an explanation. The end result is a disjointed affair, despite the excellent supporting cast – notably Houghton’s piano-playing assassin and Du Sautoy’s high class thief – and the use of exotic Spanish locations.

TV Review – BERGERAC: TREASURE HUNT (1987)

Image result for bergerac treasure huntBERGERAC: TREASURE HUNT (UK, 1987) ***
      Distributor: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); Production Company: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) / Seven Network; Release Date: 26 December 1987; Running Time: 90m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: Dolby; Film Format: 16mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1; BBFC Cert: 12.
      Director: Robert Tronson; Writer: Rod Beacham; Producer: Jonathan Alwyn; Director of Photography: Kevin Rowley; Music Composer: Ray Russell; Theme Music: George Fenton; Film Editor: Bernard Ashby; Production Designer: Phil Roberson; Costumes: Barrie Sedwell; Make-up: Di Roberts; Sound: Simon Wilson; Visual Effects: Robert Thomas; Stunt Arranger: Gareth Milne.
      Cast: John Nettles (Jim Bergerac), Terence Alexander (Hungerford), Liza Goddard (Philippa Vale), James Maxwell (Raymond Charteris), Peter Jeffrey (Rockwell), Lynette Davies (Miranda Bassett), David Horovitch (Simeon Fox), John Grillo (Cyril Clavering), Sean Arnold (Crozier), Louise Jameson (Susan Young), Greg Hicks (Gregory Ormond), Carol Harrison (Tina Bragg), Michael Melia (Inspector Petch), Rosemary Frankau (Museum Curator), Nancy Mansfield (Peggy Masters), Geoffrey Leesley (DC Terry Wilson), Jolyon Baker (DC Barry Goddard), Steve Paget (Sgt. Grieve), David Beckett (Vincent), Chris Donat (Security Assistant), Stuart Saunders (Sir Roger Carfax), John Cassady (Leao), John Crocker (Shop Keeper), Marilyn Le Conte (Desk Clerk), Penny Smith (Waitress at Garden Party), Theresa Fresson (Waitress at Cafe), Christopher Dunne (Chaplain), Dorothea Alexander (Lady with Dog), Gareth Milne (Tony Bragg).
      Synopsis: Tony Bragg, suspected fence in a huge diamond heist is pushed to his death from his London flat. Bragg had visited Jersey some while earlier and Scotland Yard asks for Jim’s help. Then Philippa Vale arrives on the island with Bragg’s associate Ormond, who is also killed.
      Comment: The second of six feature-length Bergerac specials (this one broadcast on Boxing Day 1987 just ahead of series 6). Unlike “Fires in the Fall” this episode sticks to the series formula and notably that which makes the Bergerac/Philippa Vale episodes so popular. Whilst the story is not as strong as the three previous standard episodes (“Ice Maiden”, “Return of the Ice Maiden” and “SPARTA”), this does at least progress the relationship between Nettles’ dedicated detective and Goddard’s charming and witty jewel thief. Their chemistry and Goddard’s note-perfect delivery shines through. The plot is convoluted, but not especially engaging and Jeffrey is wasted in a role that gives him little to do until the finale. Some of the humour is also a little laboured, despite the writer/director team having reunited from the previous episodes. The denouement is poor, but there is a neat coda, which suggests we’ll see Goddard’s Philippa again.

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.