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Mr Rose Series 1 on DVD

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 00:00

Mr Rose - Series 1 comes to DVDMr Rose is a very highly regarded series, quite studio-bound and in glorious monochrome, the first season of which was aired on ITV in early 1967. Like many dramas of its time, the episodes are plot and character driven, and despite the less than perfect recordings from the archives, this is a series which is wonderfully endearing. William Mervyn plays Rose as a character that comes across as Jason King for the blue-rinse brigade; no doubt at the time he had the same knee-trembling effect on those in their fifties upwards as Wyngarde’s author-come-detective had on those of a younger disposition.

This first season of 13 episodes is brought to us thanks to Network DVD. Rose was a character who had worked through the ranks to finish up with his own self-titled show. A former Scotland Yard Chief Inspector, Rose was first introduced in The Odd Man and then It’s Dark Outside, a pair of cult crime series from the early 1960s. This sequel sees the acerbic detective emerging from a restless retirement to take on a further series of cases.

Gillian Lewis plays Rose’s beautiful secretary, Drusilla, very often confused by Rose’s complete reluctance to actually buckle down and carve out his memoirs with her. The excellent Donald Webster plays the enigmatic manservant John Halifax, who is never shocked or surprised by anything, and is happy-go-lucky in the extreme.

Guest stars peppering this first season include George Sewell, Nerys Hughes, Terence Alexander, Judy Geeson, Allan Cuthbertson, John Le Mesurier, Donald Hewlett, Derren Nesbitt, Pauline Yates, Barrie Ingham, Jennie Linden, Colin Jeavons, Philip Gilbert and Julie Goodyear.

In his retirement Mr Rose had hoped to have the time not only to cultivate a cottage garden on the south coast, but also to write his memoirs. It’s the impending publication of this autobiography which brings a number of interested parties from his past crawling out of the woodwork. These are both criminals and former colleagues alike, who know that his vast personal collection of case files holds a wealth of incriminating detail. Time may have mellowed Rose, but he’s as sharp as ever as he sets about a succession of new investigations with customary aplomb – and evident relish.

William Mervyn’s vocal athletics and measured delivery are a sheer delight to hear, raising the words on the pages of the script to a level of pure poetry. It’s no wonder that those who saw the show at the time recall it with such joy – even after all this time this performance in itself is mesmerising, classy, eloquent and humorous in equal measure. Mr Rose was not networked by ITV – depending on where you lived determined whether it was broadcast on a Monday, Friday or for part of its run in some areas a Saturday.

Mervyn always seemed to play roles that were older than his actual age.  It’s a little surprising to realise that when these Mr Rose episodes went out in 1967, he had only just turned 55. The Rose character was his big turn for ITV, while over at the BBC, between 1966 and 1971 he was one of the stars of the comedy All Gas and Gaiters, playing Bishop Cuthbert Heaver.

In a screen career that stretched back to 1947 (he even had an uncredited role in “The Blue Lamp” as Chief Inspector Hammond), Doctor Who fans will recognise Mervyn from the 1966 Hartnell story “The War Machines”, where he played Sir Charles Summer. Right up to his death, between 1972 and 1976, Mervyn played Justice Campbell in 86 episodes of Crown Court.

Granada Television was very keen on the Rose character. The first appearance was in later episodes of The Odd Man, the 1960-1963 series that featured stories based around the theatrical agent and sometimes detective Steve Gardiner (Edwin Richfield). Gardiner would have a succession of run-ins with the police, in the shape of Chief Inspector Gordon (Moultrie Kelsall) and his junior, Detective Sergeant MacBride (Alan Tilvern). The iconic Geoffrey Palmer appears as Constable Swift in the last three episodes of this first run, but then a DS Swift, played by Keith Barron, arrives in series two without further explanation.

It was the third series of The Odd Man which saw Charles Rose make his debut, stepping in when CI Gordon was axed.

The Odd Man had done some good business, but it was the character of Chief Inspector Rose which had really made the impact. From 1964 to 1966, a spin-off show emerged called It's Dark Outside. Keith Barron made the jump with Rose into the series, once again as DS Swift, but when it came to a second series Anthony Ainley stepped in to the supporting role as DS Hunter.

The archive holdings of these early shows are a little patchy. In regards of The Odd Man, the first Moultrie Kelsall series survives complete, but only a couple of adventures from his second season remain in the vaults. Thankfully, all of Mervyn's episodes survive (26 out of a total 32 therefore still exist). In terms of It's Dark Outside, the first season of this survives in its entirety, all eight episodes, but all of the second season of eight episodes is missing.

Word has it that we will see the remaining episodes of Mr Rose on DVD towards the end of October 2012. As for what’s left of its predecessor shows, well, that's maybe down to sales of this series first.  The informed fan reaction is that they have definitely started with the best episodes, so there’s hope that more of Rose will be accessible to us all very soon.

Mr Rose – The Complete First Series is out now from Network DVD. This four disc set has a ‘PG’ certificate, a running time of 650 minutes approx, and a RRP of £40.84, or get it for less at


Mr Rose – Series 1 Episode Guide

William Mervyn as Charles Rose

Gillian Lewis as Drusilla Lamb

Donald Webster as John Halifax


Producer: Philip Mackie

Theme: Roy Budd


01. “The Bright Bomber”

Bomber Bolt gets wind that ex-Chief Inspector Rose is planning to feature him in his soon-to-be-published memoirs.  He’s definitely not keen on having such exposure and issues threats to Rose’s life.

Guest starring: John Stratton (Edwin R Eager), George Sewell (Bomber Bolt), Melissa Stribling (Mrs Prior), Graham Armitage (Nigel Chinnery), Anthony Carrick (Derek Penderel), John Abineri (Willis), Rio Fanning (Odgers), Julie Goodyear (Miss Dean)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: Derek Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 17 February 1967


02. “The Naked Emperor”

A newspaper proprietor is certain someone is trying to kill him.  The only person he trusts to unmask the assailant is Mr Rose. Will offers of money be enough to encourage Rose to take up the challenge?

Guest starring: Ronald Radd (Lord Chedworth), Adrienne Corri (Elinor Gray), Bernard Archard (Tom Grant), Richard Gale (Robin Brush), Betty Baskcomb (Miss Hillier), Ivor Dean (Tomlinson), Keith Pyott (Dr Hallett), Brian Stone (Landlord)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: Michael Cox

Original ATV Transmission: 24 February 1967


03. “The Noble Roman”

Will Mr Rose be interested in the truth behind an unsolved murder case? One man thinks so, and tries to engage Rose in the revelations.

Guest starring: Sonia Dresdel (Lady Prentiss), Colin Jeavons (Lucius Prentiss), David Graham (Ali), Allan Cuthbertson (James Ransome), Colette O’Neil (Ursula Ransome), Graham Armitage (Nigel Chinnery)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: David Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 3 March 1967


04. “The Black Beast”

An old acquaintance of Mr Rose is accused of murder, and Rose’s former sparring partner Chief Inspector Entwhistle is convinced of his guilt. Can Rose uncover the truth in time to stop a miscarriage of justice?

Guest starring: Nerys Hughes (Heather), Campbell Singer (Chief Inspector Entwhistle), Terence Alexander (Alan Hart), Michael Hawkins (Harold Brenner), Kevin Stoney (Martin Strand), Ernest Hare (Carnforth), Didi Sullivan (Prue), S Keith James (Waiter)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: Michael Cox

Original ATV Transmission: 10 March 1967


05. “The Jolly Swagman”

Mr Rose is piped aboard a cruise liner, when he is offered a complimentary trip on the high seas, with Drusilla and Halifax in tow. Two old friends are also aboard, as well as an old enemy who doesn’t seem to have Rose’s best interests at heart.

Guest starring: Derek Farr (Hugo Varney), Paul Whitsun-Jones (Pichot), Bruce Boa (Quinn), John Le Mesurier (Purser), Tim Barrett (Paul Kuyper)

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: David Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 17 March 1967


06. “The Unquiet Ghost”

Mr Rose becomes enmeshed in a scandal which is erupting around the long-cold Brazzoni case, but the plot is not all it seems, and details of the scandal are sketchy art best.

Guest starring: Jennifer Jayne (Phoebe Partridge), Roger Hammond (Philip Partridge), Graham Armitage (Nigel Chinnery), Lloyd Lamble (Oscar Malleson), Leon Sinden (Inspector Scott), Ronald Adam (Chief Constable), Donald Hewlett (Jago), Bruce McKenzie (Tony),

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: Michael Cox

Original ATV Transmission: 24 March 1967


07. “The Tin God”

David Maxton has an axe to grind, and it may end up in Mr Rose’s back.  Maxton is a recently-released convict, so why turn up on Rose’s doorstep? Is a confession about to ensue, just in time for inclusion in Rose’s memoirs, or is revenge on his mind?

Guest starring: Thorley Walters (David Maxton), Gwendolyn Watts (Eve), Judy Geeson (Shirley), Trevor Martin (Noel Woods), Richard Mathews (Tony Ackroyd), Barbara Mullaney (Suzanne Marsh), Alan Rowe (Michael Sanderson), Anna Gymer (Georgina Clifton)

Writer: Martin Worth

Director: David Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 31 March 1967


08. “The Bad Halfpenny”

Drusilla is acting strangely, sneaking out to appointments, which is completely unlike her. Meanwhile, Mr Rose is being badgered by a criminal from his past, who is being very persistent in his quests.

Guest starring: William Kendall (Travers), Derek Tansley (Aubrey), Lorna MacIntyre (Bessie), Arthur Pentelow (Peacock), Cynthia Michaels (Mrs Peacock), Thelma Falls-Hand (Mrs Dewing), Eric Longworth (Mr Peers), John Corelli (Mr Warton), Ronald Harvi (Mr Chapman), Dennis Chinnery (Mr Rennie)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: David Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 7 April 1967


09. “The Honest Villain”

A murderer has made an escape and is on the run, which gives call for an ‘old lag’ to tip off Mr Rose that he may have become a target.

Guest starring: Pauline Yates (Mrs Mulgrove), Bernard Gallagher (O Leary), Donald Douglas (Inspector Dalby), John Carlin (Danethorpe), William Croasdale (Sergeant Harris), Sydney Arnold (Hotel Porter), Roy Maxwell (Sergeant Matheson), George Malpas (Station Sergeant), Anthony Mayne (First Reporter), Trevor Cresswell (Second Reporter)

Writer: Martin Worth

Director: Michael Cox

Original ATV Transmission: 14 April 1967


10. “The Deadly Doll”

When an attractive young lady comes to take up residence with Mr Rose, he is surprised to discover he is now the chief suspect in a murder case.

Guest starring: Dilys Watling (Wendy Lee), Derren Nesbitt (Fred Chater), Alan Bird (Ted), Doris Wellings (Mrs Robins)

Writer: Martin Worth

Director: Derek Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 21 April 1967


11. “The Avenging Angel”

When Drusilla goes missing, Mr Rose fears the worst.  It’s a race against time to locate his secretary, while others seem to be simply playing games.

Guest starring: Joyce Heron (Virginia), Barrie Ingham (Stefan Ruvanski), Norma West (Elsa), John Barcroft (Nicky), Catherine Griller (Gwyneth), John Cater (Ambrose Poster), Mary Hignett (Millie), Lorna McIntyre (Bessie)

Writer: Philip Mackie (Story by Anthony Linter)

Director: Michael Cox

Original ATV Transmission: 28 April 1967


12. “The One Woman”

Nigel Chinnery is not used to getting into scrapes, but a young lady wants to put paid to such safe courses of living. As the schemes unfold, both Drusilla and Halifax find themselves in grave danger.

Guest starring: Maxine Audley (Madame de Merteuil), Graham Armitage (Nigel Chinnery), Suzan Farmer (Angela), Jennie Linden (Caroline), Nicola Pagett (Susan), Tucker McGuire (American Matron), Elizabeth Tyrell (Mrs Arlingford), Beth Owen (Charlotte)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: Derek Cunliffe

Original ATV Transmission: 5 May 1967


13. “The Good Loser”

Halifax, the loyal servant to Mr Rose, has a dark and unexplored past.  His career catches up with him as some home truths are exposed for all to see.

Guest starring: Ann Bell (Sarah Manship), Philip Gilbert (Peter Truby), Jack Gwillim (Sir Handforth O’grady), David Morrell (Inspector Pritchett), Michael Barrington (Clulow), Roy Maxwell (Sgt Matheson), Michael Hall (Wilkins), Lorna McIntyre (Bessie), Keris Jones (Secretary)

Writer: Philip Mackie

Director: Michael Cox

Original ATV Transmission: 12 May 1967



Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2012 09:03