Sergeant Cork Series 1

Sunday, 27 September 2009 07:55

Picture a police sergeant in a time of industrial progress and enormous changes, which rendered cityscapes unrecognisable from what had been before. Welcome to the first season of Sergeant Cork - just released by Network DVD and containing the initial 13 episodes from a format that would run for a total of 65 episodes on ITV between 1963 and 1968.

An ATV Production, John Barrie is Cork, one of the early members of London’s Metropolitan Police CID. These were plain-clothes detectives tasked with maintaining law and order in Victorian London. The immense boom in population due to industrialisation and expansion resulted in a greater mix of people from all walks of life.

Sergeant Cork Series OneHowever, the divide between rich and poor had never seemed so stark. Crime appeared to increase and a policeman’s work was never done. Cork engaged in the use of then-cutting-edge methods of detection, although this was met with some scepticism by fellow officers and superiors.

Cork gains a sidekick in the first episode, in the shape of Bob Marriott (played by William Gaunt, wh played Richard Barrett from The Champions). They are based in Cork’s attic office at Old Scotland Yard, and together they use their futuristic techniques to contend with endless cases, murders and intrigues.

There are quite a few guest stars to look out for, including Jean Trend (“The Reluctant Widow), Philip Latham (“The Girl Upstairs”), Carmen Silvera (“The Girl Upstairs” and “The Sleeping Coachman”), Sheila Steafel (“The Two Drowned Men”), Ray Austin (“The Two Drowned Men” and “The Public Paragon”), Cicely Cortniedge (“The Stagedoor Johnny”), June Watts and Diana King (“The Respectable Suicide”), John Junkin (“The Slithy Tove”), Garfield Morgan (“The Persistant Assassin”), Rosalie Crutchley and Patsy Smart (“The Sleeping Coachman”), Jane Wenham (“The Soldier’s Rifle”), Gwendolyn Watts (“Ella Barnes”), and Derek Francis, John Woodvine and Jill Melford (“The Gold Salesman”).

Devised by Ted Willis (famed for Dixon of Dock Green and The Adventures of Black Beauty) and produced by Jack Williams (Within These Walls, New Scotland Yard), Sergeant Cork is a mainly studio-bound monochrome videotape production with some filmed inserts. It is very much with the tone of theatrical plays in its staging and direction.

The series does to its credit feature inventive scripts not only from Ted Willis, but also from Richard Harris (Man in a Suitcase), Eric Paice (The Avengers and Star Maidens), Julian Bond (Love for Lydia, Ruth Rendell Mysteries) and Bruce Stewart (Timeslip). It is fondly remembered from the 1960s, mainly due to it having clocked up such a plethora of episodes for a production of its type. Five years on screen is a testament to its popularity at the time, but like most monochrome series quickly fell into obscurity with the advent of colour at the end of the 1960s.

Network’s DVD set comes with episodic publicity stills galleries on each of the four discs, as well as an ITC Episode Guide PDF file on Disc Two. The set has a total running time of around 650 minutes, with a ‘12’ certificate and a RRP of £39.99.

 

SERGEANT CORK – SEASON ONE

Starring

John Barrie as Sergeant Cork

William Gaunt as Bob Marriott

Arnold Diamond as Inspector Bird

Freddie Fowler as Chalky White

John Richmond as Superintendent Nelson

 

Devised by Ted Willis

Theme Music: Philip Green

Producer: Jack Williams

 

1.01 The Case of the Reluctant Widow (File No. 1227)

If it was murder who, indeed, was responsible? The wife? The café assistant? Time for Sergeant Cork to employ his unique methods…

Writer: Ted Willis

Director: Christopher Morahan

 

1.02 The Case of the Girl Upstairs (File No. 3084)

Lucy Beasley is certain that a crime is being committed in the Beasley household yet without a shred of hard evidence; is she just a bitter, frustrated woman out to cause trouble, or is she being honest and that there is something much more sinister…

Writer: Ted Willis

Director: Quentin Lawrence

 

1.03 The Case of the Two Drowned Men (File No. 2457)

When Cork and Marriott begin their investigations to find two criminals wanted for murdering a bank messenger, they find themselves at the London waterfront where they uncover a sordid riverside trade…

Writer: Bill MacIlwraith

Director: Philip Dale

 

1.04 The Case of the Knotted Scarf (File No. 1452)

Cork and Marriott are called in to investigate the murder of a retired general’s young wife…

Writer: Jon Manchip White

Director: Antony Kearey

 

1.05 The Case of the Stagedoor Johnnie (File No. 1290)

A young star of the music hall receives poison pen letters threatening her engagement…

Writer: Richard Harris

Director: Philip Dale

 

1.06 The Case of the Respectable Suicide (File No. 1629)

Cork and Marriott are called in to investigate what appears to be a case of suicide…

Writer: Julian Bond

Director: Philip Dale

 

1.07 The Case of the Slithy Tove (File No. 1384)

An Urchin sees a mysterious gentleman visiting Trumble, who is later found dead; the urchin goes to Cork

Writer: Bruce Stewart

Director: Rex Firkin

 

1.08 The Case of the Persistant Assassin (File No. 1849)

(Note – the spelling of ‘Persistant’ is as per the caption card for this episode).

Cork is entrusted with the job of guarding the safety of Prince Frederick of Silesia in London, Cork finds himself facing the problem of discovering those who are plotting the Prince’s assassination…

Writer: Fiona McConnell

Director: Geoffrey Nethercott

 

1.09 The Case of the Sleeping Coachman (File No. 2128)

Cork is determined to discover the murderer of a laundry maid despite the opposition from the Melrose family…

Writer: Ted Willis

Director: Geoffrey Stephenson

 

1.10 The Case of the Soldier’s Rifle (File No. 946)

A strike at a factory and one of those taking industrial action is shot, but is it an accident…?

Writer: Ted Willis (Story by Bill MacIlwraith)

Director: Lionel Harris (who is credited twice for this in the end credits!)

 

1.11 The Case of the Public Paragon (File No. 2534)

Cork is summoned when an up-and-coming politician is murdered. His wife and the maidservant are unable to distinguish the face of the man who is seen standing over his body…

Writer: Bill Craig

Director: Josephine Douglas

 

1.12 The Case of Ella Barnes (File No. 3126)

Sewing girl from East London Ella Barnes, is found drowned; the case is complicated by the fact that she had also been attacked prior to her death…

Writer: Eric Paice

Director: Geoffrey Nethercott

 

1.13 The Case of the Gold Salesman (File No. 2714)

A money lender smells a rate when a man offers to sell him gold bars at a cut price; it is then down to Cork and Marriott to set the trap…

Writer: Julian Bond

Director: Lionel Harris

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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