'The toxic particles are released in the form of an aerosol . . . It makes it possible to defeat an enemy army without inflicting any casualties on them or on the civilian population.’
A village street, a young, casually dressed man called Mike Clark is wandering around in a state of distress, but a vague expression on his face. He seems fascinated by the movement of his fingers... A tractor approaches and gets closer and closer but the man just stops and stares at it, as if he has never seen one before in his life. The driver warns him to get out of the way and Clark starts to back away in horror, until he stumbles and falls backwards over a bank on the side of the road. Concerned, the tractor driver gets off the machine and approaches the terrified man, who scrambles back from him and then collapses into terrified tears...
Longside Camp, a typical army establishment – huts, sheds and a couple of stone buildings. An ambulance is allowed through the barriers and Clark, the frightened man, is taken inside a building, on a stretcher and strait-jacketed...
Heavily drugged, Clark is kept in the camp hospital. Anne Tarrant examines him with Quist watching. With them is Doctor Evans, the medical officer for the camp. Evans tells her that when he is not sedated, he is in a constant state of terror. He has to be restrained. Quist remarks that a strait-jacket is hardly likely to make a terrified man less frightened. Anne needs to examine him again when he is not sedated. Evans agrees, but the jacket will have to be put on. Quist asks to see the laboratory.
The laboratory contains about six people working on different experiments, some involving animals. They watch suspiciously as Quist and Anne Tarrant are escorted inside. Evans introduces the two senior people – Dr. Margery Becker and Dr. O'Dell. Becker offers to show them around the lab and is told to assume that they know absolutely nothing about the work being done here. Evans comments on how he doesn't need to emphasize how highly secret everything at Longside is. Quist agrees... Evans does not believe that there can be any link between Clark's condition and the drug Doctor Becker is developing which has similar effects on its targets. The enemy would be exposed to it in the form of a very stable gas released in a explosive projectile. 'The toxic particles are released in the form of an aerosol which will hang in the air for a great length of time. Being chemically very stable, the gas will remain effective for long periods. Invisible, without smell or taste.' The drug is called Lobotomin A – because it has the same effect as a frontal lobotomy. It makes people relaxed and unhostile. Lobotomin D which is a later development, increases the anti-aggressive feelings to the extent that he will become frightened and terrified if he is approached. 'It makes it possible to defeat an enemy army without inflicting any casualties on them or the civilian population.' The effects soon wear off, says Becker, the time it takes is something they are working on. Becker shows the effect of the drug on animals with their drinking water. The guinea pig treated reacts to a pencil through the cage bars as nothing to be alarmed at, whilst the control group react as if it was a threat instinctively. The guinea pig treated with Lobotomin D is terrified... They have not noticed any animal returning to normal after exposure to 'D'. Anne thinks that if Clark was exposed to the stuff, he may never recover. Becker says it is totally impossible for him to have been exposed... Evans believes that Clark is suffering from a nervous breakdown brought on by over work – he was a lab assistant. 'With symptoms exactly the same as those produced by your gas?' asks Anne. Whilst Anne Tarrant goes with Evans and Becker to inspect Clark, Quist wants to see the safety precautions with Doctor O'Dell.
Clark has been put into a strait jacket and is being watched by Anne Tarrant and the others. He is clearly angered by his restraints. He is terrified once more, and shows it. Becker thinks this is more extreme than can be produced by Lobotomin... Anne disagrees. She wants to talk to Clark. She sits on the bed next to him and touches his shoulder. He screams. She tries to talk to him, calling him by his first name... He tries to bite her hand. Evans says he tried to warn her. Then she touches his forehead and Clark apparently collapses into a catatonic trance! His body is stretched and rigid. She lifts up his eye lids and sees his eyes have turned up into his head. She uses a stethoscope on him too. Evans tells her it is all right, he did this the first time they brought him in. He'll come out of it with sedation.
In Colonel Jones' office, Anne pours scorn on the nervous breakdown idea. She has only seen this kind of hysterical terror in the middle stages of general paralysis of the insane and once in a small girl with rabies. Quist agrees with Evans that the security seemed very safe in the Lab and Evans says that if there had been an accident there would have been some sign. Jones backs up Evans – it's their own lives at risk here too. Quist points out that Anne suggested Clark may have taken the drug. Deliberately. Evans asks why, but technically it is just possible. Anne suggests that the enquiry proceeds on the assumption that Clark has taken or been deliberately poisoned by some other person. Quist agrees, cutting through Jones before the Colonel can say, 'But the thought that somebody gave him lobotomin... that's appalling.' .
The rest of the Doomwatch enquiry team arrive outside Longside camp – Bradley, Stafford and Barbara are met by a young officer who escorts them inside the building.
The enquiry is being conducted in a small lecture room. With Barbara taking notes, Quist and Stafford are talking to Miss Susan Lewis. Quist emphasises that this is a confidential and private enquiry set up by the Minister. They are trying to find out if Michael Clark's illness was brought on by lobotomin or any other research. she instantly denies it is possible. Quist remarks that if they find that to be the case then that is what the report will say, but they are not hostile to her in any way. Stafford begins the questioning with how well did she know Clark? She replies very well considering how restricted they are in numbers. She is not exactly co-operative, especially when Stafford notes that the ratio of men to women in two to one. 'Next question,' she says, 'What do I do for sex?' Not with Michael Clark. She won't say if he had a lover – male or female. 'Is there a choice?' asks Stafford. 'No. It's the kind of nasty little question I'd expect you to ask.' Quist asks miss Lewis that if Clark had been accidentally exposed, she may too. She says it is impossible.
O'Dell shows Bradley the security arrangements in the storage area of the laboratory. The door is a gas and water proof door, securely locked with two slots for electronic passes. Only two people at any one time can get in, which O'Dell demonstrates with a lab man called Carter. The door automatically records all those with access to the stores. Two people present is safer in case of accidents. The three of them enter the storage laboratory which contains fridges and protective clothing in a glass cupboard. O'Dell points out the detector valves in the ceiling that would detect any leak from a refrigerator, which in turn have their own detectors and are sealed. Two passes are again needed to open a fridge and O'Dell and Carter open the one containing the diluted drug. A leak would render the door inoperable. Bradley asks what would happen if one of the two people involved went berserk and attacked the other? 'I'd rather it didn't happen. But if it did, one thing is absolutely certain, we'd know about it, wouldn't we?'
Anne is sitting with the sleeping Clark and tells Evans he doesn't have to stay. In fact, she would prefer it if he didn't stay. 'I can observe him better if I'm not being observed myself.' Assured that she won't do anything without referring to him he leaves her.
Quist asks Susan Lewis if Clark was capable of manufacturing Lobotomin himself? None of the assistants are. She is happy in her work – or she wouldn't do it. Quist notes that she is very sure of herself. She is. 'There are people that might say this kind of work is illegal, unethical, immoral... chemical and biological warfare are outlawed by the Geneva Protocol.' Susan says what is C. S. gas if not chemical? It saves lives. And napalm. That isn't outlawed. 'War's immoral anyway. Why divide it up? You can shoot someone, but not gas them, fry them alive, but not frighten them into submission. What kind of sense is that?' She knows their work saves lives, and is better than bombs. She feels that when the drug has been refined, it could stop a war. If Clark's condition is a result of lobotomin he could only have taken it. Like Jones, she is dumb founded when Stafford suggests he could have been given it.
O'Dell continues giving Bradley the lecture on their storage facilities and security. Each phial of lobotomin is tightly sealed. Once the fridge is resealed, you sign the requisition with the precise number from the test tube, or indicate some other reason for the door being opened as now, and the computer has a record of the passes used. Clark did not have a pass.
Later, Bradley has rejoined Quist and Stafford and with them in Colonel Jones. Clark did have access at one time, but not now. A month ago. They work on a rota system as it's arduous, highly concentrated work. 'We don;t like anyone to have to do it for long.' Quist asks Jones to look up when Clark was on the shift. Barbara will go with him to save him the double journey – whether the Colonel likes it or not. . Bradley tells Quist that he feels they are not very forthcoming. Quist asks Stafford if he gets that feeling. 'People working on very secret projects tend to get rather cagey about their work.' Quist thinks it is more about Clark: no one is giving him any information that makes that man's character come alive.
Anne watches Clark's face intently as he sleeps.
Next, Doctor Quist is interviewing another younger member of the camp, Stephen Grigg who says Clark would have to be pretty crazy to take lobotomin and he was far from crazy. Unlike some of the others who let off steam out of work, Clark preferred to read a book. Grigg was a friend of his and has heard that he may never recover his sanity. Stafford outlines the possibilities and the most likely one is self-administered. Why would he do that – if that is the case? Grigg remembers Clark was a bit moody. They ask about Clark's view of the work and his own. 'It's beastly stuff as it is at the moment. Won't ever be used like this, though.' Clark used to moan about the horrible stuff, but no more than that. Barbara returns to the room. Grigg is allowed to leave as it is lunch time and he is on duty after that. Quist and Stafford study the list and Anne enters, reporting that clark hasn't changed. 'Lies in a coma all day... whenever the sedative starts to wear off, they pump another one into him. No treatment, just suppression of the symptoms.' Quist asks Anne to pay a call on the parents who live in Exeter. Stafford wants to know why Clark was taken off from a three month shift before he had his last weekend leave.
Colonel Jones explains that anyone could apply to be relieved before the end of their rota. They don't enquire why. They don't know why he took leave. He certainly saw Dr. Evans.
Anne talks to Mr. Clark, who is wearing a black arm band. His wife died a fortnight ago. She apologises for intruding, there was nothing in the file about it. She realises his wife died from cancer – the disease no one likes to talk about. He nursed her for two years. Mike changed his job to be near her. The cancer was in her head, ate it up, bit by bit. Listening to the traumatic account of her death, Anne is surprised it was not on his file. 'Why?' asks Clark. 'What's it to do with them?'
Quist is surprised when Evans says there was no reason given for the leave. No reason for tiredness. 'Working too hard isn't a disease... it's a symptom of disease.' Evans still think it is a nervous breakdown. Quist is exasperated that he still clings to that theory. He becomes angry. 'What d'you think we're doing here? Why d'you think the Minister sent us in the first place?' Evans mentions the newspapers but Quist goes on. 'Because a man working on a secret project, a very secret project, managed to make the headlines of every newspaper in the country, and as far as the Minister was concerned, seemed to be suffering from symptoms very similar to those you'd expect to find in victims of lobotomin.' And this is the Minister's opinion. Evans still sticks to the breakdown theory. A severe one. As Evans said himself, there was nothing wrong with Clark three weeks before he went stark mad. He seemed all right. 'Are you incompetent, obstructive or merely stupid? He cannot have seemed “all right”... if he was heading for a collapse as terrible as this, he cannot have seemed all right.' Evans seems to let slip that Clark did take a dose. He may have done. 'For god's sake why?'
Colonel Jones explains it seemed to be the only possible answer. It seemed impossible, thanks to Doomwatch. What made Clark 'emotional and confused?' asks Quist.
Mr Clark goes to the door to pick up four letters... As he looks at them, one of the letters he recognises straight away and begins to open it.
Quist holds a full conference. Evans is almost relieved to hear that Clark's mother had died. Anne replies that he died three weeks ago and he took the drug three days ago. Why the delay? He needed time to think about it, Jones reckons. Clark was taken off shift the day before she died. Why didn't he explain if he was waiting for his mother's death? Evans believes it was a symbolic suicide attempt. Bradley asks where did he get his dose from? Every thing is double checked, every millilitre. Stafford asks Bradley would it be possible for two people working together to get some out?
Becker answers the question with another – why should they? Quist can't understand why she cannot face the facts? Quist runs through them for her benefit. Becker says that Clark did not look depressed at the time, far from it. After she died, and was out of pain, he was relieved.
Clark is muttering, which makes a nurse get Dr. Evans. Evans puts a hand on his forehead and the muttering stops, and when he removes his hand, it begins again. He tells the nurse not to give him another sedative in an hour. He'll come down himself.
Quist ranges the room as Stafford convenes a summit with his colleagues. There had to be someone else to have helped Clark get the lobotomin and hide the discrepancy. Barbara checks the notes: Dr. Becker counter-signed half of Clark's entries, then Mr. Grigg, Miss Lewis, Mr. Carter and Mr. Pearce. Stafford wonders if the dose was to sell to a third party and an accident occurred. Quist is bothered by all the contradictions. 'Dr Becker says he wasn't worried or depressed, Dr. Evans says he was; Grigg calls him a moody, serious man; Miss Lewis says he was no different from anybody else. Whom does one believe?' Anne is prepared to believe Becker from what his father told her. Quist wants to talk to that girl again.
Susan regards Doomwatch as the heavy mob as she enters. She confirms Becker's statement that Clark seemed relieved when his mother died. He didn't go to the funeral. no one did, it had been agreed a long time ago. Clark went to stay with his father on the Sunday. She never mentioned it before because no one asked her. The way he talked he wanted to kill her, by now she was a cabbage. He didn't feel guilty. Quist puts it to her that that is why he took the lobotomin, to kill what used to be his mother. 'There probably wouldn't have been an inquest. It'd seem like the tumour.' Susan says she didn't help him. She had signed the register with him on the Monday – twice. and the Mother had already died. 'If he didn't take the drug to his mother, what did he do with it?' She finally admits she helped him. 'And then,' says Quist, ;when he took it himself, you were frightened to tell anyone?' He said he had buried it. She couldn't tell anyone because they would both get into trouble. Then why did he take it himself if he felt better after his mother died? Evans tells Anne Tarrant that Clark is improving.
It seems that Clark is trying to say something. Anne works out that Clark is deaf. And he can't see either. When she takes his hand, he stops talking and turns to 'look' at her... They never saw this in the animals... 'Sight and sound terrified him, so he's turned them off... Because he was afraid of what was touching him. She lets go off his hand and he resumes muttering, his hand exploring his bed clothes. Anne tells Evans that he is his patient, he'd better find out what is wrong with him.
Quist asks Stafford what do you do if you want to leave her, even though your head is full of classified information... How do you stop a man who thinks what they are doing is wrong and wants to tell the world? Stafford says you arrest him. It's an intelligence officer's job to know this.
Mr Clark has arrived at the camp, letter in pocket...
Jones explains that most of the time the staff are under observation. A certain number of staff are employed on security measures. Quist isn't criticising. He just wants to know. They would warn the person of the unpleasant consequences of betrayal. Had Clark been reported to him as a possible trouble maker? All they knew was he was unhappy. A lot of younger workers go through periods of troubled consciences. 'They soon grow out of it, though.' He describes the reactions as unhappy, about some of the side effects of lobotomin. Even Jones. Grigg was Clark's spy...
Anne believes that what has happened to Clark 'first was physiological but the stress caused by the drug was so over-whelming, that by cutting off all sight and sound, he was able to protect himself from the over-riding fear. The fear has gone because the drug has worn off. But we're still left with the psychological reaction.' Grigg enters. Stafford says his report on Clark is not very comprehensive. Anne disputes that there wasn't much to say, a man who tried to kill himself with a dose. Grigg is shocked by the idea that he could get hold of the stuff. And that he actually did. Grigg remembers that Clark was going on about how horrible the stuff was, it was only talk, Grigg reported things like Clark's opinion on Dr. O'Dell but not that Clark thought they shouldn't be making lobotomin. It was grumbles, protested Grigg. And he didn't know his mother was seriously ill. Grigg gets worked up. Nothing Clark ever said was enough to make Grigg think he would take a dose of that stuff.
Mr Clarke shows Colonel Jones the letter... Later Quist reads it and is sorry for Mr. Clarke. His son had never talked about his work because it was secret, and he never asked. He goes to see his son with Anne. Jones thinks the case is now quite clear. 'He felt somehow that lobotomin was responsible for his mother's death. He wanted to tell the world what she'd suffered.' Stafford reads from the letter. 'Watching my mother die like that, and knowing what the stuff can do to animals, I think the world ought to know too. I think the stuff might make everybody like her, make them all vegetables... If they see what happens to me, perhaps they'll stop...' Jones calls Clark a confused and disturbed boy, unable to see the situation clearly. It would have been worse had he sold his story to the underground press. Stafford tells Quist that they have a report to write. Jones at last knows what happened, posted the letter on Saturday – Quist interrupts. 'What doesn't matter. What is merely a symptom, Colonel. We have to try to cure the disease.'
Anne tells the father what has happened to his boy. He might get better when the stuff's worn off, but they don't know what damage has been done. Mr Clark wishes he knew what was going on in his head.
We see... it is like rushing through empty space, 'the world composed of lights and colours of images distorted from his surroundings, of shapes and empty mists and vacant air...' Over this is a high pitched pulsating tone, 'the sound we shall all hear when we die, endlessly... there is nothing human or stationary or solid in his world.'
Mr Clark says that if this is what it does to people, he thinks they ought to stop making it.
In the car, the Doomwatch team are travelling back to London, 'The expressions on the faces of Quist and Stafford say all that we need to know about the nature of their report.'
Synopsis by Michael Seely
That this script was written by the same author of In The Dark, John Gould would be quite surprising if you did not already know. Where as the hall mark of, say, Louis Marks makes his scripts unmistakeable, and a fluidity in dialogue is Martin Worth's trait, there is no real Gouldism that stands out. In The Dark was both funny and reflective and sombre in its style, a real season closing script (which did not close it). This one is a detective story – what made a laboratory assistant in a military chemical warfare research lab develop the same symptoms as a potential victim of the nerve gas they were developing? There's cover ups, false trails, obstreperous witnesses and tragedy all the way up to the denouement. .
With a title like Enquiry, one could be forgiven for expecting a retread of The Inquest which, once the episode got going, became an inquest, and rarely ventured outside of the inn within it was set. Thankfully, although Enquiry is set within a military camp, there isn't too much desk action to make this a post watershed version of Crown Court.
What makes a change from usual Doomwatch fare is how the team descend upon the army camp en masse (leaving Susan behind, that is). Even then, Barbara Mason has precious little to do but take notes and accompany the Colonel to his office. She doesn't even have a row with Colin Bradley. Stafford doesn't get to dominate proceedings either, despite his obvious credentials in an investigation like this. Quist gets to explode at the obstinate behaviour of Dr. Evans who doesn't get much sympathy from Anne Tarrant either. Colin Bradley gets to investigate security proceedings and keeps in the background. It was the Minister who smelled a rat in the camp and unleashes Quist, rather than ensure a cover up and try to prevent a Doomwatch investigation. A rather significant and rare event.
The subject matter is not so much whether these type of weapons, banned under the Geneva convention should be experiment on or not, but the impact it has on the people who do the researching. Susan Lewis gives a pragmatic account of her attitude towards chemical warfare but rather forgets that its ban is more to protect civilians, theoretically anyway, than soldiers. Even the Colonel of the base is not terribly keen on using these weapons. Sane people wouldn't. Mike Clarke saw the potential end result by the slow, lingering death his mother was ensuring and equated it with Lobotomin. He tricks Susan Lewis into helping him steal some samples. She thought he was going to use it put his mother out of her misery.
Quite what was in the air in 1971 or 72 which inspired the aerosol idea came from. The Vietnam War's napalm is mentioned, as is CS gas, which was notorious as a way of dealing with angry students in the various flashpoints of 1968. Project Sahara hypothesises the existence of a spray that would kill off vegetation in order to starve a population in surrender. Invasion used an anthrax style bug. This one tries not to kill but frighten or make a population docile to invasion and inability to resist. If nothing else, this season's theme is becoming the manipulation of mankind for its own good, whether sticking diodes in the brain of violent offenders, or banning D.D.T. with a carrot and stick approach, and a contraceptive aphrodisiac to reduce the population. Now, a new nerve gas.
As a tv production, we can speculate what it may have looked like. Directed by Pennant Roberts it would have been a satisfactory production. It would be interesting to see what the psychedelic film sequence showing the inside of Clarke's mind would have looked like. The camera script gives the crew a chance to re-shoot the scenes with the performing guinea pigs if they did not behave as expected on cue. Jack Tweddle's performance as Mike Clarke would be fascinating to see either as the man cringing from the tractor to the screaming, terrified near lunatic in his strait-jacket to the deaf and blind man trapped inside himself, switched off from all outside stimuli except touch.
Reviewed by Michael Seely
Dr. Spencer Quist
Dr. Anne Tarrant
Commander Neil Stafford
Dr. Margery Becker
Tractor Driver (Film Only)
Series originated by
KIT PEDLER & GERRY DAVIS
Theme music by
Assistant to Producer
Dilys MarvinMaureen Neill
Assistant Floor Manager
Thursday 11th May 1972 (TK 34) Between 2.00-7.00pm with an hours Supper then from 8.00pm to 10.00pm
Friday 12th May 1972
11.00 - 1.00pm Camera Rehearsal
1.00 - 2.00pm Lunch
2.00 - 6.00pm Camera Rehearsal
7.00 - 7.30pm Sound & Vision Line Up
7.30 - 10.00pm Telerecording onto VTC/6HT/78773 (VT.6)
Monday 15th May 1972 9.00 - 6.00pm
24th July, 1972 @ 9.20pm - 10.10pm
Private Hospital Ward
Colonel Jones's Office
Small Lecture Room
With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing and cover
Private Hospital Ward
Colonel Jones's Office
Small Lecture Room
With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing and cover