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The Morning Star 23rd February 1970

Striking too close for whose comfort?
by Stewart Lane

Would it be too far afield to suggest that someone up there (wherever BBC-1's Doomwatch series is devised and written) doesn't like politicians?
Certainly the Government Ministers who have appeared so far have been represented as smooth oily buck passers, whose primary concern is always to keep things under wraps to protect their own position.
Indeed, it makes one wonder how such a body as Doomwatch, which is designed to safeguard public interests against the wilder excesses of the scientists, technologists and politicians, ever got appointed in the first place.
But Monday's episode “Burial At Sea” by Dennis Spooner, struck very near to probability in other respects and no doubt too close for comfort of some actual authorities.
A tragedy aboard a pop singer's luxury boat at first arouses suspicion of drugs but is finally revealed to be the consequences of nerve gas leaking from drums in the sea.
(With all the current discussion about CS gas there could hardly be a more topical theme!)
Attempts to hush up the affair despite several deaths, included what seemed to be the planting of drugs. But when the deadly seepage into the sea affected other innocent holidaymakers, and dead birds came floating ashore, it became impossible to withstand a public inquiry.
As I asked myself (and I'm quite sure other viewers did the same) at this point; what was the official; reason given for all those dead sea birds last year?
If this series can continue to strike hard at real problems of today, and concern itself a little less with slightly unbelievable cloak and dagger activities, it will serve a useful warning and may be an educational function.

With thanks to Michael Seely and Andrew Wilson