This story begins in Yorkshire with a view of a big, modern factory Jedder & Co. Ltd: A subsidiary of Voltimer International. In his 'tycoon decorated' office, Falken moves to an adjoining, windowless room where an operator is monitoring receiver equipment and recording it onto tape. Behind him is Cook, who is also listening in with a pair of headphones. Cook tells Falken that the shop steward's meeting has just began.
The meeting they are monitoring has been convened by Owen and Tom Reid, the assembly shop steward in the Club Entertainment Room, addressing factory union members in the auditorium. They are addressing fears of future redundancies.
Falken and Cook discuss the situation, leaving the operator to monitor the meeting. Cook explains to Falken – who is the sort of boss who visits a firm every now and then, that Owen and Reid are unofficial leaders who appear to have the confidence of the men. But for Cook, 'Knowledge is power.' On a wall is a chart of every employee in Jedder's where they can spot potential trouble situations, personality clashes or square pegs and regroup where necessary. When asked what is he going to do about Owen and Reid, Cook reveals that Reid has an interesting domestic situation. Falken isn't interested in how the ends are achieved. Before Voltimer took over Jedder's, the firm had the worst industrial relations record in the country. A new productivity deal has to go through.
'I'm not going to have an entire industry sabotaged by two semi literate men who have never contrived to earn more than twenty five pounds a week....' Since they can't be fired, he wants those shop stewards bribed, intimidated, neutralised as an active force in the firm. Falken wants dirt. 'Fix Owen and Reid.'
Quist briefs Bradley on a routine job he has to do, an annual survey of the emanations from Flyingdale Radar Station in Yorkshire. Bradley is quite looking forward to this job, despite its dullness since it was the area where he comes from. 'They think I'm some kind of superior electrician... Funny thing, Doctor Quist, there's always a welcome back home, for a failure.'
The moors near Flyingdale is one of Cook's favourite spots to record bird song using a parabolic microphone. His latest attempt to record the sing of a meadow Pipit is ruined by the song of Colin Bradley... Furiously, Cook packs up his gear as indeed is Bradley, to whom Cook approaches.
Bradley's detector is made by Voltimer and that leads them into a discussion about Cook's work. He is a consultant Industrial Anthropologist, a rare bird, remarks Bradley. 'Unique. But not for long,' agrees Cook.
That evening, the Club Entertainment Room is being used for a more traditional fare as a female stripper plights her trade. One of those watching on is the young Owen who is given a message that Colin Bradley has arrived. Surprised and pleased, Owen goes out into the lounge to meet his old friend. Bradley has his detector with him. Accepting a drink, Colin is surprised how the club has changed in the year since he was last year. Owen explains that Jedder offered to pay for the redecoration of the club so they went for it and turned it into something as flash as a television night club. Jedder also redecorated all of the houses of the workers – from charge hands up. And for free. (At this point there is a missing page in the script where they seem to be talking about the take over and Falken.) Owen mentions the so called productivity deal. He wants Bradley to talk to his older counterpart, Reid once 'he's packed his wife off.' He doesn't like having his much younger wife here. Owen takes Bradley into the entertainment room to sample some of the artists. Reid's wife asks her husband who Owen's friend is, thinking he had come to read the meter. Reid explains that Brad is a cut above that – but has to carry his own tools... 'So he can't have done too well in the social mobility game... Moving from the public to the saloon when they make you charge hand.'
(The entertainment on offer is either another artist or bingo depending on whether you read the script directions or the camera directions). Owen is intrigued by Bradley's detecting equipment recognising one of their own makes. Except they don't make them here – Manchester has the factory. 'Corners of the Voltmixer Empire,' comments Bradley. Owen points it at the microphone on the stage and gets a clear signal but it fades when he pans it either side of it. But he gets a reading when he points it at a wall lamp. He dismisses it as a fault but Bradley, despite his poker face, isn't so sure when he tests the machine. Bradley suggests that they go back into the bar...
... Bradley thinks it's a funny set up in the entertainment lounge. Owen thinks he is talking about the décor, the days of spit and sawdust being long over, 'like dole and cloth caps.' This is not what Bradley means. He uses the detector in the lounge and gets positive readings. Owen is shocked and gets Reid on this. When Reid comes over, Bradley questions him about the decorators they used for the club. It wasn't a local firm, much to Reid's disapproval. He doesn't really approve of the style or allowing women in either...
Cook is intrigued to hear Bradley's voice in the Recording Room whilst he was examining some transcripts. He instructs the operator to stick with Owen and Reid but the three of them have left the club and it will be a few minutes before they get back to Reid's house. In the meantime, the Operator asks if he could have a short session with 'Dirty Gertie in the Entertainment Room?' Cook agrees. 'Interesting phenomenon.'
Reid, Owen and Bradley are in the Red's bedroom where in silence, Bradley sweeps the room for hidden microphones – and finds one on a wall lamp above the double bed... Reid, understandably is furious but keeps quiet. Owen uses a screwdriver to remove the fitting and there inside, they discover the bug. The bug has to stay in the wall fitting for the time being. Reid sits on the edge of the bed with his head in his hands, absolutely devastated.
The next day, Bradley reports his findings to Quist accompanied by Reid and Owen. Bradley explains that he discovered every room in the house was bugged except for the bathroom. The same was true for Owen and he lives with his parents. He doesn't want his mother to know, and realises this situation will need quiet handling. 'In the meantime, it's like living with your throat cut. You can't imagine...' Bradley also tested a foreman's house secretly and that, too, was bugged. Reid points out that that particular man was a foreman who joined the Conservative Club... and Voltmixer International don't even trust him, says Owen. They reckon that the bugs were installed when the homes were redecorated after Voltmixer settled the strike the previous year. And it isn't illegal – there was no break in. Quist adds that disclosure would cause a countrywide explosion, something that Jedder would bank on the Government not wanting... Bradley mentions Cook, the consultant whom Voltmixer have on a retainer. . Owen knows him as a bird watcher. Bradley had Flyingdale security put a check on him and he is genuine. Reid becomes reflective. He was young in the 1930s and suffered a lot as a working man. He felt there wasn't anything more they could do to a working man's dignity until now. Owen reacts when Reid mentions talking in bed with his own wife... Owen could understand industrial espionage but for at least nine months, everything they have said at work or home has been over-heard. Reid and Owen suspect Voltmixer want to drive a wedge between their two unions because of their concern over the new productivity drive. Three pound a week extra in pay packets is no compensation for the redundancies it will need. Possibly 750 people at their own factory. Quist takes control of the meeting and admires their discretion in not creating a national issue by going public. He asks them if they would keep their mouths shut if he fights their battles in his own way. They agree, for as long as they can before Jedder moves. After the shop stewards leave, Quist calls in John Ridge and Toby Wren.
Falken discusses what makes Reid 'ticks' with Cook. It appears to be the canteen door. VIPs, manual workers and white-collar staff all have their own door into the canteen and by going through that door, he feels he is dirt to all temporary typists aged sixteen who use the white collar door. 'That men twice his age, worthy family men, pillars of their Methodist Tabernacles, were dirt after forty years' service...' It made Reid a socialist and a shop steward. Falken has seen this with senior supervisors who'd cut throats to get a key to the executive lavatories. Cook suggests that might be a good way to deal with Reid and Owen...
Ridge and Wren discuss the situation but Quist becomes passionate at the outrage Voltmixer has committed. This may be common one day. 'I can't think of a better reason for bloody revolution. I would wish to cut the throat of a man who has destroyed my privacy, and there are circumstances in which I would do just that.' Quist gives Wren and Ridge the job of stopping Voltmixer but without disrupting the economic life of the country. 'Any suggestions?' Ridge wants to bug them in return. He has his own box of bugs but this bothers Quist's sense of decency. Ridge, Wren and Bradley want a free hand in this. Quist senses the mood is against him so he agrees.
That night, Ridge meets Owen in a pub car park where he hands over plans of the factory and the main office block where Falken's executive suite is based.
Meanwhile, Wren has been investigating Owen's background and found that although he is on several files, he has no connection with communism, something Bradley agrees with. He grew up with him. Quist is puzzled. Owen is not even active in the Labour Party. According to Brad, Reid is the one with political conviction. Owen is a born sergeant. People follow his personality. But nevertheless, Quist feels that there is something wrong. Owen was uneasy in their interview, and whatever it was, Falken's lackeys know about it. They have to know what it is. Bradley says they'll know once Ridge gets there...
And indeed, Ridge breaks into Falken's office. He goes to the door marked 'Managing Director's Suite – Private – Keep Out.' This is the Recording Room and Ridge finds a daunting array of tape recorder spools, and unlocked filing cabinets with files written in code. Turning his attention to the recording apparatus, he hides a bug close by to listen into the operator... Back in Falken's office, Ridge narrowly avoids a security guard before he turns his attention to an intercom and places a bug there.
The next day, Bradley and Ridge are monitoring the bugs from the car listening to Cook giving instructions to erase tapes 25 to 50 with one exception – the celebrated Tape 47 which he thinks they can use. Ridge is frustrated that the operators just use a series of code names. Ridge wants to target Falken, give him a taste of his own medicine but Bradley knows Quist would not like that.
Quist and Wren discuss a newspaper report in the business section about the redundancy fears over the new Voltmixer International productivity deal. Reid and Owen were right. Ridge enters and tells Quist that they are wasting their time. Everything is coded and nothing is discussed openly. Quist guesses this means Falken's home is to be bugged. Ridge doesn't expect Quist to agree and is surprised and very pleased when Quist agrees. 'If Falken believes that Reid's and Owen's private lives are fit subjects for espionage, then so is his. Go ahead.'
The discussion of Recording 47 is overheard once again by Bradley who has been joined by Owen and Reid in the car. Cook thought the idea of keeping the tape was to prevent the strikes which are now taking place. Falken disagrees. Others would have taken over. He wants the workers to go out on unofficial strike with Reid and Owen at the top. 'I propose to give them a week. Then we use Tape 47. We'll break them in action. The strike will end with Owen and Reid.' Bradley wants this tape. Reid and Owen know where the recording room is and there are ways of getting in...
Meanwhile, Ridge begins the monitoring of Falken's house from his car with an ear piece and a tape recorder.
Back at the Doomwatch offices, Pat is reading out some notes she has compiled from a recording, mentioning a lady in the case, Philana. It means nothing to them but Wren begins to form an idea. Quist does not want to stoop to Falken's level but Wren didn't have blackmail in mind... just a hunch. 'I don't think this Philana is much of a lady...'
Tape 47 has been acquired and is to receive an airing at the entertainment club where there is a large spool tape recorder. Owen laughs, Reid had wanted to play it in Falken's office. At first they hear bird song, thinking it is one of Cook's recordings but Reid jokes that it sounds like his wife's budgie... It is his wife's budgie. And there is the sound of his wife. Suddenly, Owen realises what they are about to hear and tries to switch off the tape but it is too late. His affair with Mrs Reid is now known to her husband. Following the first punch thrown by Reid, a rather long fight ensues with Bradley trying to intervene...
Cook is in the Recording Room. He tells the operator to try the club since some of the early birds will be arriving. What they hear is the aftermath of the fight where Bradley tries to calm Tom Reid down. Cook doesn't like the return of 'Brad...'
Reid talks to Quist at the Doomwatch office. Quist, to their surprise, wants this strike to go on for the usual course, the usual formal and informal nonsense before the men go back. It isn't what Falken wants. He wants to destroy Owen and Reid. 'He's done it then. Done it with dirt. Tape 47...' Apparently Owen is slightly laid up following the fight but since nobody knows what happened to him and he urges Reid to put aside his personal distress and carry on with the strike. Falken had planned to use the tape during the unofficial strike and produce a public split leaving the men leaderless and demoralised and never trust Owen and Reid again. Falken would have a completely free hand in his policies. Reid agrees to do it without Owen and returns to Yorkshire. Quist is still worried about triggering a national strike.
Ridge's reading of a thriller is interrupted by a phone call Falken takes at home, talking of the Philana and its official destination – Abu Dhabi. 'It's a calculated risk like all commerce...' He then speaks to Cook who informs him of a situation developing at Jedder's... 'Have you heard of an outfit called... Doomwatch?'
Ridge telephones Wren and gives him the details of the first phone call and then warns him that Falken is on to them. Quist isn't surprised. Wren wants to follow through his hunch on the Philana, now that they know it is a ship. He just needs a few hours and will hopefully provide ammunition to Quist, who now plans to meet Falken in the morning.
When Quist meets Falken, the business tycoon points out that he was in the United States when Quist worked on Project Manhattan. He wants to know what Quist wants to involve him in since his letter did not say anything. 'You can safely talk here...' says Falken. 'Quite. We could hardly meet at Jedder's club... or beg hospitality of your white coated workers, or shop stewards.'
Wren and Ridge are eagerly following the conversation in the car.
Falken denies any knowledge of having planted the bugs in the houses. That was probably down to Cook and he will have to go. Quist discounts the denial. Falken knows Quist cannot make any public revelation. The Reid and Owen business will be assumed the work of private detectives. Falken is very confident that as a public servant Quist would do nothing to provoke national industrial trouble. Quist agrees. Falken thinks this is the end of the matter but Quist tells him to remove all the spying equipment from the houses and the club and send in the decorators again. Falken begins to lose his cool. Quist continues that the order will go out today and tomorrow his own people will strip the operating base and collect the tapes. Falken refuses, saying that this isn't a police state yet. 'That's quite rich coming from you. You'll do what you're told, Falken.' He throws onto the table an envelope with the source of his confidence. It is an aerial photograph of the Philana, carrying Voltmixer equipment being shipped to Abu Dhabi but in reality is going to Rhodesia. Quist claims that they have copies of every forged document in the long train from England to Angola. 'You're a sanctions breaker, Falken. And we can prove it.' Falken denies this but Quist goes on: tape recordings of telephone calls – and of telephone calls from those people he called talking to other people... Quist shows him the tapes. Falken is broken...
'Get those bugs removed. I want industrial peace in this country. I wouldn't hesitate as a man to destroy you. Your kind of corruption is deadlier than any form of chemical welfare. You destroy common decency and the dignity of man. But I won't see my country finished just to finish you.... Don't ever forget, Falken, that there's no dirtier fighter in the world than an Englishman who's been kicked in the groin. I'm a dirtier bastard than you, and there are times when I'm proud of it.'
Ridge: Stone me! So am I.
Wren hopes Quist remembers to pick up those blank spools of tape. There was no time to get the evidence. A dirty fighter will always credit the other man with the same tactics.
Cook is once again on the moor, listening out for bird song bending over his tape recorder with his backside up in the air when Reid fires a shot gun over his head from a distance. Frightened, Cook runs away! Bradley walks up to Cook's abandoned tape recorder and sings into the microphone, 'Anything you can do, I can do better...' He then points out the Flyingdale Radar Station. 'And over there... the biggest bugs of all... but that's another story.'
Industrial relations, Rhodesian sanction busting, the dignity of working class man, suspected left wing ties. All very 1960s kitchen drama themes. Hear No Evil uses all this and, once again, the sanctity of privacy. Although this episode was recorded in 1970, it was a very late 1960s script with its working men's clubs (albeit one that had embraced the glitz and glamour of a TV night club, according to the script) into which even women are allowed and heavy industry. And what is the Doomwatch involvement? A spot of espionage.
People have been eaves dropping on undesirables in some shape or form since, well, forever. From letter opening to hijacking your computer. The most famous line in Peter Wright's Spy Catcher is 'We bugged and burgled our way across London.' And he was talking about the 1940s and 50s. And it wasn't just Russians and foreign embassies they targeted. Suspected communists and trade unionists, although this is disputed by some historians. Wrights' claims are still controversial. Some completely dismissed. However, we now know that bugs were inside 10 Downing Street at the request of Harold Macmillan in 1963 and were allegedly still there by the time of the Callaghan government which ended in 1979, casting a little light into Harold Wilson's dismissed paranoias of being monitored!
Normally in these kind of stories, the espionage comes from Outside, whether it's another firm or country or the secret services and police on us. Industrial espionage was touched upon in Train and de-Train where Toby Wren's clumsy attempts to acquire a sample of the pesticide suspected of exterminating wildlife in Somerset backfires somewhat. Here, Wren is tape recorded issuing threats to George Baker's character and this is used successfully against him. This time it is used against two Yorkshire trade unionists Reid and Owen. And ironically, they work for a firm that builds microphone detectors and probably the microphones too! Employers will watch you, monitor your internet use if you have it at work (cleaners often don't), sometimes they will put in a hidden camera to spot the thief or whose urinating in the soup. Some will even monitor your Facebook page when you're off sick. But bugs in the bedroom, to destroy your reputation? In Hear No Evil, it is about trying to neutralise two employees they cannot fire without causing a damaging wild cat strike and allow mass redundancies or a 'productivity deal.' .
Industrial relations had been a major problem in the UK for some time, and was reflected as a major theme in television drama. And here it is in Doomwatch. A good Doomwatch takes a contemporary social or scientific (or both) concern and then exaggerates it and gives it a frightening science fiction twist. Dealing with Trade Union activism? Bug your workforce! Except this isn't very science fictiony. Doomwatch keeps it real. The Prisoner had television spies everywhere, watched by people on see-saws and huge screens. Doctor Who's The Invasion (initial ideas by Kit Pedler) has a huge electronics firm (again!) International Electromatix guard the workforce inside an armed compound and converts most of the workforce into proto-Cybermen.
In these days of new age man, unskilled, short term jobs and no local industries to speak off, it is difficult to recognise a time when the opposite was true. In 1970, men were still 'real' men and their wives stayed at home and away from Working Man's clubs. Unless you were a stripper or a singer. The Female Eunuch was published in 1970...
A job was a job for life, and your job was you and the trade union movement protected your job. Men settled their differences with punch ups. Of course this wasn't always strictly the case. Redundancies were common, Trade Unions, sometimes, put up a fight. Falken's prejudice towards Owen and Reid is that they are illiterates who don't attempt to earn more than they do. This is actually undermined by Cook's response that they earn a little more than that, is ignored. It also ignores the fact that until recently a Man, and it was normally a man, was DEFINED by his job, his trade or his skill. Take that away and he is no longer a Man, providing for his family, etc. An episode of Z Cars called Thursday Afternoons (repeated on BBC4 a few years ago) featured a redundant panel beater who saw that as his trade and did not want any job other than what he had been trained for. A job was once seen as a job for life, and we may look back at some of those unpleasant jobs and wonder how they could stick at it, overlooks the meaning of the job. And people will fight to preserve their way of life. Especially a well paid one. By cleaner standards anyway. It is difficult accepting redundancy as good for the national interest... Reid speaks of being young in the 1930s and having suffered 'no boots or beef.' He also talks about how his father - who presumably remembered the Great Depression of the 1920s - thinks his son hasn't been born because he has a car and a fridge, things his father would never have even thought possible in the depression!
In a country that was still largely defined by class and trade, Reid's back story is of feeling belittled by having to go through a particular door whilst white collared teenagers used another made him feel like an inferior, or regarded as one because he got his hands dirty, no matter how long he or his fellows had been there at the firm. Bradley suggests that as shop stewards, they cannot be bought. This unionised him and gave him his dignity that he felt was eroded by the three door canteen system. (Incidentally, when Falken learns this summary from Cook via recorded conversations, he suggests removing the three doors for blue, white and executive collars. Cook replies it wouldn't do much good. They would still sit in the same places...)
The Trade Union movement was always suspected of being a hot bed of open or closet communists who, therefore, take their orders from Moscow in much the same way as a Catholic looks to Rome and regards them as a higher authority. Any strike was often seen by more extreme right wingers, as a communist plot to bring down the country. This paranoia will be at its strongest in 1974. The right of the Labour Party also shared similar views about communists. They suspected subversion from within their own ranks. It had long been suspected that trade unionists were bugged and that the security services just never bothered to tell the Minister of the day responsible, especially if he was a Labour Home Secretary. Whether this is true or not is immaterial for the purposes of this little review but this is what was in the air especially in the 1960s and 70s. This is why Owen was on several people's files, as Wren discovers but there is no blatant left wing leaning to him. To belong to a trade union did not mean you are automatically a Labour supporter - even in the 1960s and 70s. Two years before this episode was transmitted, the Labour Government had attempted to regulate industrial strikes with a new act entitled IN PLACE OF STRIFE. At the time it was HUGELY controversial, although compared to what happened to the unions in the 1980s, very mild indeed! A few years before that there was the Seaman's strike where a young trade unionist John Prescott was involved. Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister declared in Parliament in parliamentary language was that the strike was a Communist inspired plot. The biggest fear was always for another National Strike leading to a revolution. This is reflected in some of the dialogue.
The bugging, presumably, was not an unofficial government 'sanctioned' programme of spying. This was internal to the company. The government would have been scared stiff of such an idea. Even a Conservative one. Especially a Conservative one! No amount of denials from them would cut much mustard in the Trade Union movement! There were no scenes in this episode of Quist bristling with indignation before a relevant Minister, angrily leaving the office before the Minister reaches for a phone and speak to Falken... Terrance Dudley would not have let pass an opportunity like this in the following seasons... But we had already have had enough similar scenes in The Plastic Eaters or Burial At Sea. The Secret Services, on the other hand, would have unofficially approved. Any intelligence on potential subversives on their files, yum yum. Having said that though, industrial espionage would have been seen as in the National Economic Interest...
Reid and Owen are not militants, communists, nor subversives... For the purposes of the story they are trying to protect jobs, Men, a core Trade Union activity. A big firm takes over a smaller one with a troubled past and wants to slash jobs. We are not supposed to take sides in the dispute, dramatically it is the pre-text behind the drama. Your position follows your views: you either pro or anti union. The issue is: do the means justify the ends? They could have exposed the bugging to all and sundry, but they didn't, something Quist approved of. He wants industrial peace in the country. Imagine, though, had they been militants... What an episode THAT would have been! A two-parter, surely! Quist reacts as strongly to the business as he did in Project Sahara which also touched upon intrusive vetting procedures in Whitehall for similar reasons. He doesn't want to stoop to Falken's 'dirty methods' but very swiftly decides if Reid and Owen's private life is a fit matter for bugging, then so is Falken's! He echoes Reid's feelings about having his throat cut if this happened to him. Quist in full passionate oratory is always a highlight. Here we get it with the volume cranked up!
As usual in a Season One Doomwatch, the victims life has been turned upside down. Reid's initial reaction was of anger and fury, he felt that his throat had been cut. It becomes worse: Falken's methods had exposed an affair that his much younger wife had been indulging in with his friend Owen! It was planned to use this tape during the strike and destroy both men's standing with their fellows and ultimately neuter the trade union movement. No doubt Reid's marriage is either in serious trouble or is over in much the same way as Llewellyn's was destroyed by his employer's carelessness in The Battery People. The dignity of Man was destroyed there as well. This time sexual powers were destroyed, thus male pride.
As for Falken, we are not given a background to him. He is the villain of the piece, something that Terence Dudley alludes to in his objection to Kit Pedler's style of story telling. He isn't really three dimensional. His motivation is very straight forward, simple and comprehensible. Falken's parent company Voltmixer bought up Jedders the year before and there had been a strike. He has softened the workforce with generous offers of free decoration for their homes and their club. A good cover to fit in the hidden microphones. The script describes his office as the sort only to be used two or three times a year and he does not know who Reid and Owen are. Presumably he is only there to implement the redundancies and the productivity deal that has been planned since the take over. We can also presume his home which we only see the outside of, is close by. We get no tangible details of his private life. Voltmixer have factories in Manchester too. Are their homes and factories bugged as well or is it just Flyingdales?
To prove Falken's villainy, he is a sanction buster! One of sanction busting's modern day equivalents is the end user agreement for arms suppliers. A British firm may not be allowed to supply Country X with arms or technical material of a certain nature, so it ships parts to Country Y who then sells it on to Country X who is the name on the agreement by a different firm who is normally linked with the original firm. It's normally much more complicated than that but in the 1980s and 90s the Iraq super-gun affair, and Matrix Churchill boil down to the same things. Accusations are made that the British government or the Establishment including the Civil Service either turns a blind eye to this sort of thing or actively supports it when it is in their economic interest (ie supplying arms to Iraq against Iran in the 1980s.). It was very lucky that sanction busting WAS going on otherwise Quist's superb stand off with Falken at the end of the story would not have worked so well...
There were plenty of supporters of White Rhodesia in the 1960s who would have approved sanction busting in this case. The Monday Club, a small but influential section of Conservative MPs and business supporters was created to oppose the erosion of colonialism in 1961 had many White Rhodesians and South Africans amongst their support. In a similar episode today, it would have been some black listed country we are not supposed to sell arms or components to now. Falken is in no doubt a member of that club. He would also have signed up to the Freedom Association too.
Then we come to the Consultant Industrial Anthropologist. Cook doesn't seem to have much concern about his methods. No doubt he sees his subjects as just that: specimens. He is another in the line of immoral scientists who has a chance to put his theories into practise. This is the sort Kit Pedlar despised. Cook didn't sell his soul, as he didn't really have one to begin with. There is no sign of antagonism between Falken the boss and Cook the henchman- as there is between Fielding and Whitehead in Spectre At The Feast, although Falken was happy to have Cook fired when he realised Quist was serious in his threats. And he likes to bug birds as well - the feathered kind with his parabolic microphone, which pre-echoes the Budgerigar Reid's wife has in her living room. But for Cook, knowledge is power. The unnamed Operator who listens in, is presented as a voyeur, quite salacious.
Work place psychology is a very popular theme these days - how to get the best out of your staff etc. and there were a number of blue spined Pelican books on industrial psychology. It is very sensible in a workplace to understand your workforce and defuse tensions where powerful personalities can destroy moral. I'm sure we've all experienced or witnessed bullying in the workplace, perhaps even unknowingly contributed to it. But I don't think bugging my bedroom is going to help matters.
And how clever to set the episode in the shadow of 'the biggest bug of all' - the Flyingdale listening station. It would be interesting to know if they actually filmed on the moors near the location. But the implication in the story at the end is there. We have no privacy.
It is always a pity that there are lost episodes. Sometimes, it is a tragedy. This is another tragedy. This is the only episode of the first series to give Colin Bradley something more to do than supply information, fuss over the computer or get nibbled by rats. It gives us a regional visit – this time Yorkshire. We get a little background on the man but not much of his attitudes, though. He isn't allowed to be side lined as the episode progresses and gets the last, ominous words.
Coincidence lies at the front of the story telling. Brad returns home, uncovers a scandal fit for Doomwatch and inadvertently meets one of its architects on the moors!
It's long been known that the working title for this episode was The Black Room, that presumably was the Recording Room. Voltmixer is also called Voltimer in the opening page of the script. Bloody typists.
The script leaves it up to the director as to what entertainment is on stage in the working man's club. Davis suggests a singer or a stripper for the first scene. There has to be a microphone in the second set for Brad's detector to be tested on. A stripper is credited. So the question is, do we see tits? A working committee has been set up to investigate the matter and a report will be thumped on my desk in the morning before I send it off to the Minister. The second set suggests another singer but stage directions mention the word 'bingo' and later dialogue imply it may even be a working man';s comedian telling 'clean dirt' compared to the 'blue boys...' Plus the fight between Owen and Reid is not scripted. The camera directions suggest a good punch is thrown by Reid and they end up fighting on the floor. Dialogue hints that Owen is knocked out cold as he is 'laid up' in the next Quist scene.
No doubt Peter Miles played his character with his usual icy precision, recently seen in Doctor Who's The Silurians, whilst Reid's wife, Tessa Shaw, was the UNIT female sergeant in the first episode of Spearhead From Space. Were Owen and Reid played subtly? 'Course they probably were. Their dialogue at the shop stewards' meeting is written with lots of t'other day type dialogue but that is soon dropped. Michael Ripper (Reid) was a Hammer Horror inn landlord of some note.
Watching Quist allowing Ridge to bug Falken's home and his ultimate stand off with the man himself would have been a joy.
With thanks to Michael Seely for the synopsis and review
Friday 3rd April 1970 - T.C.1
04.00 - 18.30 Camera Rehearsal with TK 22
18.30 - 19.30 DINNER
19.30 - 22.00 Camera Rehearsal with TK 22
Saturday 4th April - T.C.1
13.00 - 14.00 LUNCH
14.00 - 18.00 Camera Rehearsal with TK 22
18.00 - 19.00 DINNER
19.00 - 19.30 Sound & Vision Lineup
19.30 - 22.00 Telerecord: VTC/6HT/58388
VT Editing: Monday 6th April 1970 : 15.00 - 18.00
Additional Sound recording: SIMON OATES
Project Number 2249/4084
Walkons & Extras (3rd-4th April 1970)
Security Man (Walk-on 3rd & 4th April)
Waiter (3rd & 4th April)
Barman (4th April)
Bluecoat (4th April)
Women (4th April)
Men (4th April)
*denotes EXTRAS to double at Union Meeting
Yorkshire was used for Hear No Evil
Dr. Spencer Quist
Dr. John Ridge
Series devised by
Music Composed by
Assistant to Producer
Assistant to producer
TX: 4th May, 1970
9.45pm - 10.35pm
With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing and cover.