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The Corridor People on DVD

Monday, 19 July 2010 08:14

The Corridor People ran for only four one hour episodes in 1966, yet has garnered a considerable underground cult following. Incredibly difficult to pigeonhole, reviewers have mentioned the likes of The Avengers, Twin Peaks and even Monty Python as reference points. However, it is none of these as it carved its own niche, with its mainly-studio recorded monochrome production, a few filmed inserts, and a combination of surreal characters and camera work. Rest assured that once seen it will never be forgotten. 

Phil Scrotty is an American, Bogart-worshipping private detective, and each episode sees him pitched against the cunning schemes of Syrie Van Epp, a beautiful but treacherous Persian millionaire. 

The Corridor People on DVDTrying to quell the escapades is Kronk, an agent of the Government, and his henchmen Inspector Blood and Sergeant Hound. Fans of The Avengers do have a good reason to watch this series – Syrie is played by Elizabeth Shepherd who, for one and a half unscreened episodes, was the first actress chosen to play Emma Peel.

The creator and writer was Eddie Boyd (also credited as Edward Boyd), who had earlier created the series The Odd Man which was also unusual in its narrative style. The Corridor People has inventive storylines and offbeat, often humorous dialogue, in which characters frequently break the fourth wall, talking directly to the audience (this is particularly true in the final episode).

This is a unique series, unscreened since its original transmission in 1966, is now available on for purchase in any form for the very first time – and it’s a DVD all cult fans need to have in their collections. This is an archive item in the truest sense of the word. The taped images scroll from time to time, and changes of scene can cause a screen flutter now and then. However, this is a series those who saw it originally never thought they’d have the chance to see again.

Playing Government man Kronk was John Sharp, a very familiar character actor with a host of TV and cinema appearances. He was one of the actors who played Number 2 in The Prisoner (“A Change of Mind”), and also featured in The Avengers (“Traitor in Zebra”, “Murdersville” and “Bizarre”), and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (“The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo”).

Femme fatale Syrie was played by Elizabeth Shepherd who had previously had roles in No Hiding Place, Sergeant Cork, and Danger Man (“Dangerous Secret”). History notes that she was cast as the replacement for Honor Blackman in The Avengers – playing a version of Emma Peel that was very similar in aspect to Honor’s Cathy Gale character.  Depending on whose account of events you take note of, she was asked to contribute to the development of her role by one of the producers not directly involved in the actual production. However, those actually working on the show found her suggestions unhelpful and all-encompassing, so she was given her marching orders halfway through the filming of her second episode.

Elizabeth has continued to work regularly in the USA, appearing in such series as Quentin E Deverill, Spenser for Hire, Poltergeist: The Legacy, PSI Factor, Side Effects, The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She has also provided the voices for such animated series as The Avengers (Marvel Comics characters) and The Silver Surfer. Meanwhile, a young Pauline Collins makes an appearance in The Corridor People as Syrie’s maid.

Gary Cockrell, who played gumshoe Scrotty, originally trained as a dancer and choreographer. In 1962, he had a supporting role in Kubrick's “Lolita” and guest starred in two episodes of The Saint – “The Careful Terrorist” and “The Benevolent Burglary”, one Danger Man – “The Actor”, and an episode of The Persuaders! – “The Old, the New, and the Deadly”. Despite IMDB suggesting otherwise, he is NOT Katie Price’s make up artist!

Actor Alan Curtis who played Inspector Blood had guest parts in The Avengers (“Mission to Montreal”), The Saint (“The Golden Frog” and “The Death Penalty”), Doctor Who (“The War Machines”), Jason King (“An Actor In Search of Two Characters”), and a couple of episodes of Footballer’s Wives.

William Maxwell who played Sergeant Hound appeared as Duke Wilhelm in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and can be seen in The Dustbinmen, Mitch, Bergerac and Strangers. He also had a stint in Brookside playing Jack Sullivan.

It’s an inspired set of casting, and the only role you may raise an eyebrow to is hearing Windsor Davies put on a posh accent as Sullavan in the first episode. A young Nina Baden Semper (Barbie in Love Thy Neighbour) puts in an excellent performance in the final episode.

The Corridor People is a single disc DVD release, out now as a web exclusive only available at the Network DVD website, with a running time of 200 minutes approx. It has a ‘12’ certificate and a RRP of £12.99

 

THE CORRIDOR PEOPLE – EPISODE GUIDE

John Sharp as Kronk

Elizabeth Shepherd as Syrie Van Epp

Gary Cockrell as Phil Scrotty

June Watson as Miss Dunner

Alan Curtis as Inspector Blood

William Maxwell as Sergeant Hound

 

Writer: Eddie Boyd

Director: David Boisseau

Music: Derek Hilton

Producer: Richard Everitt

A Granada Production

 

01. Victim as Birdwatcher

Millionaire Christopher Vaughan owns a cosmetics company that has developed a perfume that makes people unconscious for a day. Persian millionaire Syrie kidnaps him in order to learn the perfume's secret. Vaughan's uncle Sir Wilfred Templer hires Scrotty to find him, but things go amiss, and Vaughan is sentenced to death. Meanwhile, the kidnapping has also alerted Kronk and Department K, who are now also on the trail of the fascinating scent.

Guest Starring: Tim Barrett (Christopher Vaughan), Clive Morton (Sir Wilfred Templar), Donald Webster (Weedy), Simon Prebble (Barrington-Pym), Windsor Davies (Sullavan), Geoffrey Reed (Hard Man), Keith Pyott (Bishop), Rex Boyd (City Type), Alick Hayes (Admiral), Duncan Taylor (County Type), Geoff Tomlinson (Cricketer), Doel Luscombe (Field Marshal), Michael Hall (Air Marshal), Christine Glynn (Candy)

Original ITV Transmission (Granada): 26 August 1966

 

02. Victim as Whitebait

Six bodies mysteriously disappear from their coffins. Robag is a scientist who can resurrect the dead. Syrie bankrolls him and he brings a man called Whitebait back to life to assist in a new scheme. Scrotty sets about thwarting her plot.

Guest Starring: Ingrid Hafner (Abigail Whitebait), Oliver Johnston (Samson Whitby), Aubrey Morris (Robag), Kevin Brennan (Whitebait), Ian Trigger (Nonesuch), Ray Gatenby (Bo), Patrick Kavanagh (Major Ironside), Robert McBain (Jolyon de Farge), Sandra Downes (Mary), George Ghent (Removal Man), Arthur Lester (Waiter).

Original ITV Transmission (Granada): 2 September 1966

 

03. Victim as Red

Colonel Leeming, a defector to the Russians, has been kidnapped by Syrie. Leeming has a major problem – he has lost his memory.  Scrotty is hired to track him down.

Guest Starring: John Woodnutt (Col Hugo Lemming), Betty McDowall (Beryl Kempsford), William Moore (Harold Lemming), Margery Withers (Miss Winkle), Ivor Salter (Blinky), Michael Hall (Voice 1), Ian Cooper (Voice 2), Rex Boyd (Voice 3).

Original ITV Transmission (Granada): 9 September 1966

 

04. Victim as Black

Scrotty is asked to trace the ancestors of Queen Helen, the ruler of Morphania, and uncovers a movement obsessed with achieving global black domination. The trail once again leads to Syrie.

Guest Starring: Marian Spencer (Helen of Morphania), Calvin Lockhart (Theobald Aboo), Roger Hammond (Ferdinand of Morphania), Nina Baden-Semper (Pearl), Pauline Collins (Syrie’s Maid), Peter Stephens (Head of Department One), Desmond Braiden (Head of Department Eight), Brian Stone (Head of Department Fourteen), Peter Jesson (First Mr Grimm), Mark Hardy (Second Mr Grimm), Bertie Green (First Negro), Paul Wynter (Second Negro), Malcolm Douglas (Assassin), Sheila Whittingham (First Nurse), Susan Foster (Second Nurse).

Original ITV Transmission (Granada): 16 September 1966

 

Last modified on Monday, 03 March 2014 09:30

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