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SEASON 2 EPISODE 13 PUBLIC ENEMY by Patrick Alexander


A street alongside a tall factory and a young teenager, Jimmy Brookes, is kicking his football along the road when an exceptionally high kick sees it land on the roof of the factory! Borrowing Mr Tom Walsh's ladder, Jimmy climbs onto the roof, and Walsh gets on with his window cleaning. Then he notices the boy is in distress, staggering along the roof, choking, gasping for air. Walsh quickly climbs up the ladder and brings the lad down to the road.


Soon, a few more locals are gathered around the boy and help is called for...

The Doomwatch office early in the morning. Quist tells the sleepy Geoff Hardcastle and Fay Hardcastle that there has been another development at Carlingham. The boy had died last night and not from pneumonia as the local doctor had suspected. Alderman Arnold Payne had phoned Quist at midnight demanding action. 'Does a child have to die before Doomwatch acts?' Quist concedes Payne has a point. The death rate from pulmonary disease is well above the national average in Carlingham. He sends Fay down who defends their department's seeming inaction. They can't investigate every complaint received on Barbara's desk. But Quist feels that an enquiry is justified. 'I think it's time we took the angry alderman seriously.'

Payne himself repeats to Fay what he has told Quist. He also tells her of other incidents Carlingham Alloys is responsible for. The trees in the park that lost all its leaves in one night, Dr. Barton, the Medical Officer of Health tries to keep to the facts and plays down some of Payne's hyperbole. Payne feels strongly. 'We're being poisoned by Carlingham Alloys.' His feelings are also personal... Twenty years ago that factory was owned by his father. Now it is owned by a parent company in London. Barton points out that they employ a lot more men than his father did and pay very high wages. Payne protests: his father never cut corners. He admits he has personally done very well in this town but resents that a company kills a boy to retrieve his football from its roof. 'Or are you going to say,' he asks Fay, 'as I'm sure they will, that it is his own fault for trespassing?'

Ridge gives the background to Carlingham Industries, a division of International Metalloids, a respectable outfit, that makes omnistyle, a special alloy which makes little profit as they are developing a new secret product that could close the dollar gap on its own. The whisper is it could replace carbon fibre. The managing director is Harry Marlowe and the scientific brains is a young Anthony Lewis – who Geoff knows from Durham – the mad metallurgist, obsessional about his work.

Lewis is taking in the news of the boy's death in Harry Marlow's office. They are both shocked and both expect trouble. Joe Donovan of the Works committee wants to see Marlow about safety regulations. Lewis hopes nothing will hold up his work, even Doomwatch, 'those failed boffins...'

As Barbara does the coffee run, Quist is discussing notes with Brad, whilst Geoff is still half asleep, trying to work. 'He's been breathing all morning,' jokes Ridge. Quist questions Geoff more about Lewis. Is he obsessive at whatever the cost? 'Could be.' Ridge thinks there may be a file on him somewhere. 'Information is always useful, sweetheart,' says Ridge doing an impression. Quist wants to send Geoff down to meet him. Quist thinks there is something in that town that stinks.

Fay is talking to a couple of the locals, Mrs Freeman and Mrs Jones opposite the factory gates, who are not too impressed by the factory and echo Councillor Payne's view. One of them saw what happened to Jimmy. 'Something ought to be done about that factory!' 'Yes, who's going to be next?' Fay's interest is roused by their mention of smuts...

According to Barton, cleaning out his pipe with a knife, the smuts were caused by the factory's heavy oil heating. He tells Quist and Hardcastle that despite Payne's views, Carlingham alloys are very responsible people. Payne is jealous and has created a lot of resentment to the only big employer in the area. They discuss the leaves on the tree and wonder if it is due to the pollution from the factory? Some areas of Manchester are so polluted that no trees will grown on them at all. Geoff asks if the factory is using sulphur? Barton doesn't know – unless it is on some new development that they know nothing about. Quist and Geoff exchange glances.

On the roof of the factory, workers find the lost football and a broken pipe...

Now Quist and Geoff talk to Marlowe who has no idea what could have killed the boy. They are still checking. Omnistyle is a complex non-ferrous alloy consisting of copper, zinc... Tony Lewis enters and is surprised and pleased to see Geoff. 'You're one of the chaps supposed to keep an eye on us mad scientists, aren't you? You're not with this Doomwatch mob too, are you?' Geoff explains they are here about the Brooke death. 'I can tell you what killed him,' says Lewis emphatically.

Lewis takes them on to the roof at the scene of the broken pipe. It is above a wet washing filtration unit. The fumes are ducted into the chimney. 'And if he got a lungful of neat fumes...' 'What are you making down there? Poison gas?' asks Quist.

Lewis shows them a silver cylinder ingot in the workshop – superstyle – the new wonder alloy that could replace carbon fibre plastic. Lewis hopes so. They are very close to completion, with a lot of exhaustive and time consuming tests to come. The Yanks are in direct competition, breathing down their necks. Beryllium salts are given off in vapour form in the foundry process.

Ridge is not getting very far on his dirt digging on Anthony Lewis. Fay enters, overhearing Ridge's gentle blackmail of an old colleague and calls him a thug! 'Who's been talking? Any joy at the morgue?' Fay shows him a copy of the report on the autopsy. 'I'm a thug, darling. how do you expect me to understand all those complicated polysyllabic, Latin derivatives?' No bacterial growth was detected in the lung inflammation of the deceased, which puzzles them. What killed that boy with all the symptoms of bronchitis?

Lewis takes Doomwatch on a tour of the heavy industrial factory floor explaining the processes before them.

Barbara tells Fay that Quist rang and tells her about the beryllium.

Quist points out to Lewis that their processes are dangerous, judging by the amount of safety and monitoring equipment around. This is not intended as a criticism but Lewis thinks it is. That death was an accident. Lewis shows them more safety measures. When the boy broke the chimney pipe, the whole system was shut down in three minutes flat. 'Just as well,' says Quist.

Joe Donovan from the work's committee is talking to Marlowe, not just about the Brookes' boy but the other kids about, keeping them off company property. Marlowe invites concrete suggestions for safety improvements and invites him to talk to Doomwatch.

A worker is within the girders supporting the roof in another section of the factory where molten metal is poured into crucibles and then into moulds. Geoff spots the workman – he is clearly in trouble – and falls to his death....

Marlowe is stunned at the news. That man had been with them for twelve years. Quist suggests another check on safety, much to Lewis's disgust. They need it like a hole in the head, he remarks. Quist is invited to speak to Joe Donovan.

Barton tells Payne that until the coroner has reported on Jimmy Brookes, he is not in a position to say anything. 'In the meantime, the town lives in fear,' says Payne. Barton thinks it is an accident but Payne is not satisfied. His bias is too strong.

Quist is making his suggestions such as a barbed wire overhang along the wall, The sulphur dioxide risk should be minimised too. Lewis dismisses the trees in the park incident. Marlowe agrees with what Quist suggests, so does Donovan but Lewis exclaims it could cost thousands and is starting to get chippy. Quist also isn't happy with the night alarm system, reliant on the night watchman reacting quickly. Donovan likes Geoff's suggestion of an automated system – designed to close down the instant there is a leak – a simple rewiring job. Lewis is appalled. Everything suggested could hold up work on superstyle for two months and cost thousands! The Americans are pushing fast because they've heard they are working on it too. They boy's death was an accident – he was trespassing and Harry Nicholls fell from the roof. Quist quietly replies that you cannot expect children to behave like responsible adults. Lewis says they don't close down British Rail for a week if a kid wanders onto a railway line. They take reasonable precautions. Quist says his suggestions are reasonable.

Quist is furious with Lewis by the time he gets back to the office, but Geoff can see his point of view. 'If there is something that makes my antennae twitch it is technology in a hurry, and that young man is in a hurry!' He accuses Geoff of taking his side because he too is young. Ridge interrupts. There is nothing on Lewis's file. Geoff turns on him. 'What did you expect to discover? A flaming red subversive?' Quist tells Ridge that Lewis dug his heels into every safety precaution they suggested. 'You did sound a bit like a heavy father.' 'I wasn't aware of it,' snaps Quist. 'Well heavy fathers often aren't.' In the stunned pause that follows, Ridge suggests throwing Geoff against a wall and see if he bounces, and seeing that it wasn't a helpful interjection, goes off to court doom in some lucky girl's pad... Alone, Quist and Hardcastle discuss the issue a bit more calmly. Geoff sees that whenever Britain develops a new idea, we end up manufacturing it under license for the Americans! 'He just wants us to have the power and glory for once.' You can't eliminate all the risks. Fay comes in with some more results. The chap who fell – his lungs were full of beryllium too.

Marlowe thinks this is impossible. How? He was never in contact with any beryllium fumes. Geoff, alone, has gone to talk to Marlowe and Lewis. Nicholls was mending the flue which killed the boy but the process was shut down. And superstyle only gives off a minimal amount in the molten stage. Geoff wants to take some samples back with him. Lewis says it is harmless; the men have been working on it for five years...

Bradley agrees – he has been running the tests. It gives off negligible beryllium fumes. Quist is confused. He has a think and then tells Geoff to find out what happened to the worker he fell from the moment he got to work till his death. This Geoff does, taking notes along the way.

Reporting to Marlowe and Lewis, the worker was no where near beryllium fumes, not even in the flue pipe. Lewis suddenly thinks of something...

Geoff takes a sample of air from the girders where the man was working and throws it down to Lewis.

For nearly an hour, the worker had been breathing in a heavy dose of fumes that had been trapped in the apex of the roof. That did not kill him, the fall did that, explains Fay. Severe repository failure. Quist says that it will build up in their workers. The effect accumulative. Will they be alright in five years? Lewis springs to the attack – its all might, maybe, perhaps... They are surrounded by long and short term hazards, ten thousand people die on the roads each year and nothing is done about it. Quist counters that a lot is done about it. To Quist's frustration, Lewis goes on about lead in petrol and how it is given on in vapour fumes from exhaust pipes. Lead is toxic and contaminates the grass along motorways but 'most authorities says that the safety margin is big anyway and that's what I'm saying about the piddling amount of beryllium we use in omnistyle.' Marlowe agrees but is still keen on Quist's recommendations but he cannot get a word in because Lewis's fear over costs and delays. 'Head office will never wear it.' Marlowe tells him to leave head office to him and Lewis storms out. Marlowe apologises and assures Quist that head office will accept his recommendations.

As a council meeting is set up, Payne talks to Barton. He is pleased about the inquest and its criticism of the company. As chairman of the public health committee, he is smug that he warns the town of the hazards facing the country today. Barton wants to focus on other issues – the food inspector is concerned about conditions in one of Payne's shops... And sanitary conditions in Hawk Street... The issue Barton draws to his attention is that pollution begins at home. Payne talks of spending a reasonable sum in his shops but Barton says that when it comes down to the crux of the matter, hard cash and nothing else. Payne crows to another councillor about the inquest as Barton takes a call from Marlowe... The parent company isn't prepared to fork up the money needed and is proposing to shut down the factory!

Marlowe is explaining the decision to Donovan. Simple economics. They are just one of International Metalloids' subsidiaries. Their profits have been swallowed up in new research and ordinary share holders won't stand for it! Donovan is one of them. Lewis storms in. He demands to know what is going to happen to superstyle. Rather than shut down for six months, the process is going to move to the new plant in Leicester...

Mr Walsh isn't too bothered about the move, brand new housing estate and all. But Mrs Jones isn't keen to move... Kids doing well at school, mam just round the corner.

Quist receives a visit from Duncan. Quist has heard the news too, and that the jobs are guaranteed if the workers move up to Leicester. There's no other comparable employment in Carlingham. He understands the issues, but Duncan points out the economic problems ahead. The Minister is under pressure. Quist says if they give way under pressure they might as well all pack up and get jobs in industry. Is the health risk really as dangerous as Quist says it is? asks Duncan, regarding the sort of questions the Minister is being asked. 'Would I make it up?' says Quist. Duncan says that pollution is a fact of life. Isn't 25% of their drinking water known to be polluted? Exhaust fumes in Oxford Street are dangerous but people have to get home. 'Pollution is here to stay and lets learn to love it.' Duncan sees the standard of living with high productivity with wages to match. He wants Quist to look again at that report. Quist doesn't see standard of living in quite that way...

Payne visits Fay Chantry at Doomwatch, momentarily taken aback by an anti-smoking poster. He has somehow changed his tune... He is still against the company, which won't spend a hundred thousand pounds on changes, and doesn't want to see the new clean healthy estate in Leicester filled with Carlingham evacuees. Payne admits he was exaggerating. Fay asks him how many shops he has and dry cleaners. Barbara, who has been listening, walks out. His turnover will be affected without smuts and pollution... He too wants the report withdrawn, or at least altered. He did not call in Doomwatch to turn Carlingham into a ghost town. 'I mean, if they fix a few things... doesn't have to be too expensive, surely...' That boy was trespassing, wasn't he?

Now the Union is against carrying precautions too far. Donovan talks to Marlowe, unhappy at the move. Marlowe is keen to move to new, better, brand new facilities. 'Carlingham is a hangover from the nineteenth century.' Donovan wants to tell Quist that a bit of dirt didn't do anybody a bit of harm. 'As for fumes you soon get used to that...' They didn't ask Doomwatch to come down here and tell them what's good for them! 'That's what the union say.'

Quist, Geoff and Fay are holding a subdued conference now that the tide has turned against them. Payne has woken up to the fact that without the factory there will be no workers in his shops, house wives in his launderettes... 'With the government wanting me to back track too, i'm beginning to feel like a public enemy,' says Quist. But the factory is responsible for the deaths of two people. Being responsible for the death of a town is sentimental twaddle. It will revert to being a market town. Fay wants to make sure that the cure is not as bad as the cause. 'In terms of what? The value we put on human life?' Then he gets a phone call from Marlowe, who is with Payne and Donovan, wanting a meeting about the move to Leicester. Quist isn't sure he wants to have rotten eggs thrown at him. He merely made certain recommendations improving the safety of their factory. Quist agrees to go. He tells the others. 'Doomwatch – up for judgement...'

Payne introduces the meeting in quite a large council room with many representatives from Carlingham. Quist, Fay and Geoff are seated facing the crowd... Payne stresses that this is purely a private meeting, no minutes taken, no action decided. Quist begins by asking Lewis – who says that the Americans have announced a breakthrough on their version of suerpstyle – why the process can't be moved to Leicester. He has no objection, but Marlowe says that the factory would still have to be shut down in six months. Quist says it could be done in stages, not all the men have to be laid off at once. Donovan reacts to this. They have made rough calculations. Six or seven weeks at the most is how long people need to be on the dole. This causes uproar. Does the work need to be done, asks Donovan. Payne leaps in in agreement. Quist reacts that they are asking him if his report is unjustified and pollution can be done on the cheap. It can't be. Unless the recommendations are implemented in full, there is a great risk of severe lung damage in five years. Payne criticises and sneers. Donovan asks if Carlingham Alloys can do what Quist suggests and keep the men on full pay, but Marlowe says why should they when there is work in Leicester. Quist butts in, the company is not prepared to pay one penny keeping the factory going. 'Even though without superstyle soaking up the profits, it could be a viable company in its own right.' Marlowe objects: viable yes, but incapable of further expansion. 'The sooner we stop thinking about viable expansion the sooner we have a world worth living in.' He shouts over the groans. 'Raise production, raise consumption, raise wages, advance the standard of living. But is anyone any happier All that happens is that the debris that must inevitable accumulate in the process, slowly builds up until one day it must choke us.' He tells them that the government doesn't want them to move but won't help – the taxpayer won't wear it – a hundred thousand pounds of public money when the company prefers to move? The real question is who pays? He suggests Carlingham pays but Payne objects – it would mean an extra shilling on the rates! More uproar and Quist has had enough. He packs up to leave as Payne protests which causes Quist to lose his temper.

'But someone has to pay!' he bellows. 'Now we all want a clean, healthy world to live in, don't we? We're all against pollution in any form? But only when the cost of fighting it is borne by someone else. When our own pocket's hit, a shilling on the rates, six weeks on the dole, a capital investment which makes a company merely viable, then it's no thanks, let's forget it. Well, I'm warning you. forget it and you're dead. Not just this community, but the whole industrial civilisation. The way we're carrying on, the way we're polluting, over-crowding, chemicals, noise, we've got thirty years. Thirty years of , dirty, slow, dirty dying. Or it's thirty years of clearing up the mess. It's the choice. It's your only choice. Pay up or pack up.' He picks out Payne, Donovan, Marlowe and Lewis. 'Not only, you, or you, or you, but every single one of us, every living one of us, all of us.' And there he is looking at us. 

Synopsis by Michael Seely

Public Enemy is, without doubt, the second turning point of the Doomwatch saga – where shock horror fantasy and warnings over technological and scientific hazards are replaced with more realistic and mundane menaces and nuisances - to polite society – in this case industrial side effects.

The episode tries in places at the beginning, to suggest that the issues at heart are more traditional Doomwatch fare. Quist wants to take the 'angry alderman' more seriously after a small boy is killed trespassing on the roof of an industrial factory. Doomwatch wonders if there is something sinister going on. Quist and Geoff exchange knowing glances when the town's medical officer makes a throwaway comment about some process they don't know about. 'What are you making down there? Poison gas?' Quist later asks. No, just your usual highly toxic gas in a dangerous process. 'Smuts?' repeats Fay Chantry in a nice close up, not emphasised by any dramatic KPM track. Just simple pollution brought back down to earth by rainfall. It is not some by product of a careless or greedy or immoral scientist. Lewis is none of these.

In the end, there is no sinister, secret process endangering the lives of unsuspecting workers and their families; it isn't germ or chemical warfare. It is the usual and somewhat typical growing awareness of the time that if you work in heavy industry, reasonable precautions are not always enough to prevent long term illness or death. Quist goes out of his way to dig into the firm, unfairly perhaps, because of the angry and rude resistance from Lewis. But even he can't find much to fault.

Carlingham Alloys is a responsible employer – it has good relations with the unions, a good record in health and safety, and the managing director, Mr Marlow, does not respond to either death in his plant as if it was someone else's fault. Problems that can be placed at his works' door is dealt with. This is no asbestos story. Asbestos was allegedly known to cause cancer after long term exposure and this was covered up. We also get a little fore shadowing of Waiting For A Knighthood with Professor Lewis's argument over lead in petrol, known to be harmful in exhaust emissions, but considered safe enough at present. Perhaps this sowed the idea in Terence Dudley's head to do a full blown expose of the issue in the third series.

This is a story really about who pays to clean up the environment, an argument Terence Dudley went into at length in Spectre At The Feast. It is about how the consequences are not just in our pocket, but our jobs as well. We can't leave it all to government – although Quist in High Mountain knows that only governments can protect the environment and repair the quality of our lives... Doomwatch has some safety recommendations – acting as glorified healthy and safety executives, and the cost is too much for the company's head office to feel justified in spending.

A telling theme is Duncan's visit to Quist to get him, presumably, to downplay the long term health hazards in order to protect the town's economy. Dirt is good or there's no brass without muck was also a theme in Spectre. There, pollution created LSD in lobsters! Here, it is more mundane and tangible. It is a fascinating little episode as the previous series closer had Quist nominated as Man of the Year by a national newspaper, and now Quist feels like he is a public enemy.

Normally politicians in the series are of the Whitehall variety. Here, in Alderman Payne, we see local politics, and a very good player of the part. He starts off all emotional over the death of a boy, and by the end of the episode we see him for what he truly is. A grubby opportunist with a huge chip on his shoulder over the factory his father had started – and lost, a man who has done well out of the town – a landlord and a businessman, who now sees how his way of life will be eroded if the object of his hatred is removed.

The episode allows Geoff Hardcastle finally to shine. His stand off with Quist over their respective attitudes towards Lewis, and his desire to beat the Americans to a brand new alloy is refreshing. The Quist/Ridge antagonism has been diluted, there was nowhere else for it to go after You Killed Toby Wren. Fay Chantry gets to do one of her usual path lab speeches which Jean Trend speaks with aplomb, and Quist gets to deal with real people and finally lets his true feelings be clearly known in that superb, final scene.

In The Dark perhaps, should have been the last episode of the series – but Public Enemy you can see why it was chosen since its closing speeches by Quist, how we only have thirty years left of dirty dying, and just what is meant by the standard of living as earlier defined by Duncan, is one of the most memorable Quist scenes ever. All his frustrations come bubbling up, and he picks out the major players in the room for criticism over their refusal to pay for the changes needed to keep the factory going or alter their lifestyles, including us! It is an argument still raging today – nearly forty years on!

Lennie Mayne directs this episode and tries to give it a style which the rather literal script doesn't really suggest. We have a photo montage of Geoff investigating the fallen worker's last day (cheaper than a film montage), some stylish filming inside a real foundry making carburettors for cars, a marvellous stunt fall, a nice shot of the area medical officer for health cleaning his pipe whilst talking about smuts, and a nicely choreographed final scene. 

Review by Michael Seely

The plot thickens...
Doomwatch's "Public Enemy" is actually a very good homage to Ibsen's similarly titled "An Enemy of the People". In  Ibsen's story, a Dr. Thomas Stockmann is a popular citizen of a small coastal town in Norway. The town has recently invested a large amount of public and private money towards the development of baths, a project led by Dr. Stockmann and his brother, the Mayor. The town is expecting a surge in tourism and prosperity from the new baths, said to be of great medicinal value, and as such, the baths are a source of great local pride. However, just as the baths are proving successful, Dr. Stockmann discovers that waste products from the town's tannery are contaminating the waters, causing serious illness amongst the tourists. He expects this important discovery to be his greatest achievement, and promptly sends a detailed report to the Mayor, which includes a proposed solution, however this would come at a considerable cost to the town.

To his surprise, Stockmann finds it difficult to get through to the authorities. They seem unable to appreciate the seriousness of the issue and unwilling to publicly acknowledge and address the problem because it could mean financial ruin for the town. As the conflict develops, the Mayor warns his brother that he should "acquiesce in subordinating himself to the community." Stockmann refuses to accept this, and holds a town meeting at Captain Horster's house in order to persuade people that the baths must be closed.

The townspeople - eagerly anticipating the prosperity that the baths will bring - refuse to accept Stockmann's claims, and his friends and allies, who had explicitly given support for his campaign, turn against him en masse. He is taunted and denounced as a lunatic, an "Enemy of the People." In a scathing rebuttal of both the Victorian notion of community and the principles of democracy, Dr. Stockmann proclaims that in matters of right and wrong, the individual is superior to the multitude, which is easily led by self-advancing demagogues. Stockmann sums up Ibsen's denunciation of the masses, with the memorable quote "...the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone."


Project Number: 02240/4421
Artists booked for Project Number: 02240/4421 for 8th January 1971 on 9th December 1970

Telerecorded: 8th January 1971 VTC/6HT/64183


Dr. Spencer Quist

Dr. John Ridge

Geoff Hardcastle

Dr. Fay Chantry

Colin Bradley

Barbara Mason


Gerald Marlowe

Arnold Payne

Dr. Barton


Richard Duncan

Mrs. Freeman

Mrs. Jones



Jimmy Brookes



Series devised by

Theme Music by

Make Up


Film Cameraman

Film Editor

Studio Lighting

Studio Sound

Assistant to Producer



Directed by

The BBC wishes to thank the Foundry Division of Zenith Carburettor Company.

22ND MARCH 1971
9.20PM - 10.10PM

With thanks to John Archbold for the Radio Times listing and cover.