Special Branch was transmitted by the German ARD network in 1978/79. The episodes were repeated in 1983, still minus approx. 5-10 minutes of footage: Sounds Sinister, Double Exposure, Assault, A Copper Called Craven, Entente Cordiale, You Won't Remember Me, Death by Drowning, Jailbait – 4 season three, 4 season 4 episodes. My familiarity with the series results from this repeat run.
Special Branch has found its way into TV history as the first series project by London-based production company Euston Films, a subsidiary of Thames Television. The emphasis is less on physical action, although the series improved a lot in this respect throughout series 4 when Ted Childs was in charge of production. Plot, acting and dialogue are basic showcases, all on that high quality level which traditionally characterizes British productions.
The series had a life before Euston. During its first two years it was a tape show, its leading actors being Derren Nesbitt, Wensley Pithey and Fulton Mackay. According to Dave Rogers (p. 505) Nesbitt's character (Insp. Jordan) introduced a new type of television policeman – a womanizer with affinity to private detectives or similar characters (cf. The Saint, Man in A Suitcase). Not much is known about these first two seasons because they seem to have had no repeats since their original transmissions. Nesbitt appeared in all episodes, Pithey (as Supt. Eden) only in the first seven before being replaced by Mackay (as DS Inman). Miss International and Reported Missing hold particular interest for this reviewer due to their respective guest actors (see episode guide).
Fig. NN: Derren Nesbitt
In 1973 Special Branch was re-cast, none of the original leads surviving, with George Sewell (UFO) as DCI Alan Craven and Patrick Mower (Callan) as DCI Tom Haggerty. Both were thus experienced series actors. Special Branch was selected as a "known quantity" by Euston, its moderate success of the early years taken as an indication that "there was some sort of audience for it". Sewell appeared in all 13 episodes of season 3, Mower, who was following in Pithey's footsteps, appeared in 10 approx., always billed as "guest artist" in the main credits. Roger Rowland played Sergeant North in this season. He appeared throughout but was little more than Craven's "oily rag". The end titles during which Sewell walks down a straight path through a park clearly indicate that it was his show.
Fig. NN: The loneliness of the Detective Chief Inspector
Rowland left after the last S3 episode, Blueprint for Murder, and returned for a single S4 story, Catherine the Great, whose subplot was built around him. Rowland's successor was Paul Antrim (as Sgt. Maguire). In S3 the team worked under Commander Nichols (Richard Butler) and Commander Knight (Richard Leech), in S4 under Commander Fletcher (Frederick Jaeger) and the elusive government representative Strand (Paul Eddington). Female police officers were introduced as well, NN as ?? and Mary Dalison as ??, the latter eventually becoming Craven's girlfriend.
What's so special about Special Branch ?
The answer is: everything!
One major asset is the brillant title music by Robert Earley (Public Eye). It's hard to describe how it comes across – it is somewhat dynamic but has a distinct air of melancholy to it. A true masterpiece! In front of and behind the camera we often find those who later shot to fame with The Sweeney and The Professionals (Dennis Waterman, Garfield Morgan, William Brayne, Tom Clegg, Terry Green, Dusty Miller, Chris Burt, Ted Childs etc.). The series and its plots are set firmly in the early 1970s (as opposed to predecessors such as Man in A Suitcase) and (mostly) require a lot of attention on part of the spectator because of quick narrative pace and many details. With regard to craftsmanship the difference to productions with a studio atmosphere could not be bigger (in the US Spelling, Larson, Cannell, Quinn Martin come to mind; also GB's own VTR and ITC productions). Artificial light trying to "upgrade" actors is virtually invisible. The casting of Sewell and Rowland corresponds to Special Branch's New Realism strategy – they are miles away from ITC and American TV heroes, ordinary, average coppers. Sewell, having less charisma than Paul Eddington (or, for that matter, Patrick Mower, whose acting style may not be everybody's cup of tea), is the epitome of a supporting actor (Sewell previously had a supporting role during three seasons of the BBC's Paul Temple, see separate page).
Nonetheless the Kennedy Martin brothers, along with Ted Childs, Roger Marshall and Euston Films aficionados Alvarado/Stewart, stress that the series is far from perfect. Wheras Troy Kennedy Martin elaborates that the realism of Special Branch is only superficial, Ian, interviewed for the first Sweeney DVD set, simply dismisses it as "a load of tosh".
This kind of criticism is not completely unfounded. To give some random examples, the subject of Hostage is Middle East terrorism, Jailbait is about espionage, Diversion about treason. In real life the civil war in Northern Ireland dominated the headlines - and people's minds. Martin points out that the major task of the real Special Branch was the fight against extremist groups ("the Fenian Movement"). On the other hand the Professionals segment Klansmen shows what happens if a drama series tackles highly controversial material – the segment in question gets cancelled. So we can argue the moderately escapist approach of Special Branch was only self-defence and arose out of an interest of preventing all kinds of trouble.
In any case, Martin's "string of pearls" criticism (aimed at escapism) seems a bit too strong. The only reason Special Branch finds itself faced with these reproaches at all is because the series comes along with a promising outer appearance suggesting that its stories are handled in an equally progressive fashion. The initial impression the viewer gets is that this may be the ideal framework in which topical issues can be handled.
Instead of offering stories of REAL relevance (Geoffrey Sax 1993 thriller Circle of Deceit comes to mind) Special Branch focused on stories concerning individuals and their moral problems whereas immediate political statements (to be transmitted during Prime Time) were avoided (see: Bloody Sunday). Put differently, Special Branch uses international politics as a backdrop (students, radicals, blacks, spies). Its post-Watergate tone is also striking. So it's wrong to insinuate there is no relation at all to early 1970s reality but it does shy away from the real thing that dominated the headlines, i.e. domestic policy and Northern Ireland.
Although repercussions of the social movements of the late 1960s are visible in the series it clearly does not deal with what we may call post-materialist attitudes and issues. They were not yet a part of the repertory of mainstream TV series: Special Branch was just a little too early in this respect. There can be no such excuse for it successor, The Sweeney, except that the overall concept (much location footage and physical action) hardly offered an ideal forum for highbrow (dialogue-orientated) plots. On the other hand one could argue that The Sweeney stands for an ideology of social backlash (the system and its authorities, represented by Regan, lash out at those who won't comply and go back in line). Certainly The Professionals has to face the reproach of dismissing all countercultural elements as quasi-criminal. It has to be stated that such tendencies cannot be found in Special Branch, Craven having a black girlfriend in season three which is presented as a relationship marred by problems but all in all ordinary. (At the same time this can be regarded as another weakness: The introduction of Pam Sloane, played by Sheila Scott-Wilkinson, would have provided a perfect setting for one or several stories about racism and related attitudes. Sadly, no-one found the courage or the opportunity to come forward with one such.)
Other aspects point in the direction of a typical middle class series: as usual we are faced with male, middle-aged protagonists (cf. The Sweeney, Van Der Valk, Target etc). First of all there are logical reasons for that: policework of the more interesting kind is habitually not executed by rookies. Furthermore, it is a concession to the audience: just as in the case of The Sweeney this is aimed at mature viewers. The reason for that is simple: in those days only middle-aged viewers could afford the luxury of a TV set – so they were the only kind of audience which could be reasonably expected. In contrast to that a TV set today is the standard for every nursery, just like PC and Internet, the result of which is a completely new TV market, centered around young viewers, and a different (not necessarily BETTER) set of formats.
Special Branch is closer to direct cinema filmmaking (and to The Chinese Detective, for that matter) than to American products of the era. Because of its emphasis on action scenes and its focus on a charismatic lead (John Thaw) Special Branch's immediate successor, The Sweeney, could be called an (intentional?) step back into the direction of those mannerisms which characterize Hollywood's films policiers.
For the pilot A Copper Called Craven writer Roger Marshall obviously drew some inspiration from his earlier work on Public Eye. With Alan Craven Marshall created a kind of underdog policeman. Like the archetypal "Popeye" Doyle (of French Connection fame) he is not particularly pretty but nonetheless completely suitable for receiving the viewer's sympathy. Creation of the episode title was modelled on the Public Eye approach according to which a line of dialogue had to be recycled for that purpose (in this particular case it was taken from the pre-title sequence). This first episode is remarkable in several respects. It shows in images which are often reminiscent of the film noir genre and which exhibit a claustrophobic atmosphere how Craven comes under suspicion of corruption, ending up on the shit list of his own colleagues. At the end Craven's name is cleared completely but the emphasis on the traps of this "glorious" job seems to be pointing the way. During all of seasons 3 and 4 matter-of-fact relationships between the main characters replace camaraderie and bantering. Mistrust, especially towards superiors (and which is entirely justified!), becomes inseparable from their professional lives. In this first episode Pam Sloane has her first appearance as well whereas DCI Haggerty is absent. In addition to many biographic details (a foolish decision of ARD to transmit this one as the fourth episode!) we learn that the non-pc expresion "horny spade bride" (an utterance coined by his opponent CS Pettiford, played by Peter Jeffrey) is suited to make Craven explode, and that years ago he shot a female IRA terrorist who was disguised as a man. Also we see that, if necessary, Craven breaks the rules: Jack Regan is just around the the corner.
In Round the Clock Mower appears for the first time. In this simple stakeout story the emphasis is on the antagonistic relationship between Craven and Haggerty, an overly ambitious colleague who is deemed responsible by the former for both professional and private life failure. At the end, though, Craven is forced to adopt a new point of view ...
Polonaise, courtesy of Allan Scott and Chris Bryant (Don't Look Now), gives an indication how powerful television can be. Not to be confused with a documentary on the political realities of Poland since the mid-1940s this episode is more than solid entertainment throughout and also based on an interesting story. Craven and North have the ungrateful task to protect a Polish collaborator from an assassination attempt and find themselves pitted against those who their sympathies belong to. In the Sikorski museum Craven receives (as in Hostage and Stand and Deliver?) a history lecture, this time about a massacre committed among the population of Warsaw by the Germans and the consecutive extermination of the survivors in concentration camps. The conclusion is typical of Special Branch: different departments work not with, but against each other, likewise members from the same department. Frustratingly, instead of those who saved the day others decide on the further course of the events.
Sometimes one is tempted to attribute less charming comments ("fossilized") to the series. In some instances it seems that the war veterans generation makes an attempt to come to grips with social change they do not begin to understand. Certainly there are "neutral" or "good" Special Branch episodes which are beyond reproach. Mature writing as in Alien (see below) effortlessly incorporates social change into standard drama, without any trace of prejudice. The kind of thing I'm referring to can be found in, for example, the Professionals episodes Foxhole on the Roof, written by Brian Clemens, and Takeaway, written by Roger Marshall. These episodes give the impression that their writers never in their lives came across a portion of hashish, otherwise they wouldn't have spread so much old cobblers about its effects.
Red Herring, written by Peter Hill and the first episode to be completed, is another one of those. According to Chris Smith Hill is an ex-Scotland Yard copper who offers us a pretty straightforward analysis of society: hippies are terrorists! As to what motivates them we don't receive much information (much better in this respect is the Professionals segment No Stone, also written by Marshall). All the more space is given to the brave members of the bomb-disposal unit. Roger Lloyd Pack, later to appear in the Professionals episode Long Shot, rehearses his role as a terrorist – although there is a tiny difference ... Not bad from a dramatic point of view but due to a highly conservative, non-differentiating ideology not to my liking.
You Won't Remember Me, written by veteran Anthony Skene (* 1926), is a delight to watch: the Office scene with Sewell and Mary Maude which consists of very long takes and was filmed completely with a hand-held camera, is worth the admission fee alone and shows to the rest of the television world that the filmmakers are at least 15 years ahead.
Threat is about actress Sue Arden (Stephanie Beacham) who has a reputation for being outspoken. Her published statements make her a potential target for right-wing activists. Sadly, the promise of a political dimension of the plot remains unfulfilled. In spite of that this stage play-like episode works very well. Sue travels to London in order to star in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. The project is going to be financed by the wealthy James Bancroft (Jack New York Ripper Hedley). The episode boasts different levels of fiction which are only loosely connected. Still this one deserves a nod for clever writing.
While some episodes are less carefully made than others those which fall into the first category are nevertheless interesting and a document of the era. Hostage, filmed about half a year before the outbreak of the Jom Kippur war (Israel at war with Syria and Egypt) and thus another major crisis in the region, deals with a problematic heritage of British foreign policy – the Middle East conflict. We can give writer Kershaw absolution insofar as at least the Arab point of view is outlined, albeit not by themselves but by a western "spokesperson". The party concerned constantly remain anonymously in the background. Characterization of Craven's and Haggerty's opponents is discarded in favor of the police procedural and only at the conclusion do they pop up again as lethal fanatics, eventually grist to the police mill and even killing each other. In an ending which anticipates The Professionals they are all eliminated in the final shoot-out (David Wickes directed). The innocent little (German!) Girl is freed alive. Also in other respects the ideology at work in this episode is strictly conservative. It's plain to see (almost embarrassing!) that Kershaw uses both female speaking parts to achieve a change of pace of the narrative. He uses them as retarding elements (or crybabies), completely adhering to conventional dramatic technique. The scene in which Haggerty questions two children is a moment of low intelligence which comes along as a blatant counterimage for the kidnapping action of the Palestinians (and an unintentional tribute to Dixon of Dock Green). Gambon and Lynn do speak grammatically correct German but they are betrayed by a truly dreadful accent.
Season 4 opener (with the benefit of hindsight this seems a strange choice!) Double Exposure is interesting, first of all, from a film-historic point of view because it can be regarded as a small screen version of the short-lived early 1970s genre of the conspiracy thriller (Hollywood role models being The Parallax View, The Three Days Of the Condor, The Domino Principle). Apart from that it is quite simply one of the best Special Branch episodes. It is surprising to see how much can be packed into a one-hour TV film, provided it is well written and directed. For his impeccable characterization, for blurring the borderlines between good and bad, Bird deserves all kinds of writers' awards. Haggerty becomes a pawn in the hands of unscrupulous power-wielder and patriot Strand, suffers on the personal side and finds himself in a morally doubtful position. Due to his job and the nature of this particular assignment Haggerty cannot claim total innocence. Beyond that the writer develops the relationship between Haggerty, and Lena superbly. Director Leaver however walks in George Roy Hill's footsteps and offers a new version of the famous bicycle scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Far from kitsch and cliché these images are truly romantic.
Some have argued that red tape and stubborn superiors (played out to excess in The Sweeney) are a cliché of the police thriller genre since Dirty Harry. Leaving other aspects aside Special Branch offers a fresh view here: quite often its protagonists do fight both but suffer defeat.
Fig. NN: Kisses & Kites
In Catherine the Great, the story around a brutal killer for hire, we find a club scene with a transvestite show characteristic of director Douglas Camfield's work (see Diversion episode and The Sweeney - Bad Apple!). Other remarkable moments follow. Craven obviously despises his long-term colleague North and treats him with little sympathy, just as he treated Haggerty in Round the Clock. An interesting version of how things work inside elite units of the police force (and a shade of Target here). The North subplot – he was removed from the Branch on Craven's orders, for failure of shooting to kill when necessary - is well developed, even though it may seem familiar to Western aficionados. Once again the action scenes are excellent. Moreover, Martin's criticism ("dabble in African power politics") probably refers to this episode.
In Stand and Deliver we are familiarized with the working class and the British housing problem. "Can't change the system", Craven summarizes at the end, insinuating that he as aide of the powers that be on one side and left-wing activist Jean Gosling (Stephanie Turner) are not too far apart from each other with regard to ideological viewpoints. When they separate they go different ways nevertheless, one to the left, one to the right. Little things provide for sympathy, too: at the end (as in Jailbait) Craven once again gives in to his inclination to play football with children (unobtrusively filmed with a long shot). Another nice piece of telewriting courtesy of Mr Bird.
Something About A Soldier is a perfect demonstration of England's TV drama supremacy in the early 1970s. The story is similar to the Professionals segment Lawson's Last Stand. In keeping with the rest of the series it's not revolutionary (not 1970s style as was established already), but no less than a success in all departments. William Brayne's firm direction drives every scene to maximum results. Camerawork is very creative, the editing is efficient and speedy. Photography is glossy but stresses the producers' 'we're out in the streets'-attitude. The result is a Kojak-like documentary look. The supporting cast are full of big names. Not least this 'plodding, dialogue-based police show' (verdict of a German TV Mag on Sounds Sinister in 1978) has some excellent action scenes as well.
Likewise Rendezvous: a brillant action thriller which would never have made it onto German screens, let alone in a complete version. A predecessor of the more violent Sweeney episodes.
Alien is another prime example of what the series is and what it could have been. This time the subject is the social revolution in the aftermath of the students' movement as well as communist witchhunting. In addition to that the plot device of the honest copper as wind-up toy of the powers-that-be – a complete turnaround compared to US police series which clearly draw on western movie traditions: the renegade/loner comes to grips even with a superior enemy – is here again (cf Threat). The fact that this device is a standard within this series makes it stand out and puts it in a different league. Again, let us point out what the unattractive aspect of police work was like for real cops in those days. Street violence and trading punches with left-wing (not forgetting right wing) protesters [very, very topical in the Germany of 1968] are/were quite unsuitable as TV entertainment. If there is no room for that, it is suggested, Special Branch seems to handle the problem of receiving pressure from all sides metaphorically at least. A notorious lack of happy endings paves the way for The Sweeney and makes Special Branch all the more likeable. The message of Alien as of the series as a whole could be totally conservative but we'll leave that until later when we examine in detail whether Special Branch is or is not a thoroughly middle-class view of the early 1970s. Featured is another Sweeney-like car chase which is free of typical 1960s deficiencies (speeded-up sequences and back projections) which meant technical knock-out for many a solid episode of Man in a Suitcase.
All in all a series that deserves a lot of attention and, even more so, in-depth investigation! So how about getting the DVD set which will be available in a couple of weeks ...?
Manuel Alvarado/John Stewart: Made for Television. Euston Films. London, BFI 1985
Dave Rogers: The ITV Encyclopedia of Adventure. London 1988
Richard Down/Christopher Perry (eds.) The British Television Drama Research Guide, 2nd edition, Kaleidoscope 1997
(1.01) Troika tx 17.09.69 Guest Star Anthony Sagar Writer George Markstein Director Dennis Vance
(1.02) Smokescreen tx 24.09.69 Guest Stars n/a Writer George Markstein Director n/a
(1.03) The Promised Land tx 01.10.69 Guest Stars Windsor Davies Geoffrey Bayldon Uska Joshi Designer Roger Allan Writer Trevor Preston Director Dennis Vance
(1.04) A Date With Leonida(e)s tx 08.10.69 Guest Stars Damien Thomas Tamara Hinchco Robert Webber Designer Peter LePage Writer C. Scott Forbes Director Dennis Vance
(1.05) The Kazimirov Affair tx 15.10.69 Guest Stars Edward Burnham John Bailey Gerald Sim Designer Fred Pusey Writer Emanuel Litvinoff Director Mike Vardy
(1.06) A New Face tx 22.10.69 Guest Stars Andrew Bradford Doreen Mantle Anthony Sagar Designer Neville Green Writers Tom Brennand Roy Bottomley Director Peter Duguid
(1.07) You Don't Exist tx 29.10.69 Guest Stars Mel Martin Pamela Miles Harry Meacher Designer Peter LePage Writer Anthony Skene Director Dennis Vance
(1.08) The Children of Delight tx 05.11.69 Guest Stars Wendy Rutter Sheila Fearn Morris Perry Designer Stan Woodward Writer Adele Rose Director Peter Duguid
(1.09) Reliable Sources tx 12.11.69 Guest Stars David Garth Tony Britton Designer David Marshall Writers Tom Brennand Roy Bottomley Director Dennis Vance
(1.10) Short Change tx 19.11.69 Guest Stars Sandra Bryant Maurice Good Designer Fred Pusey Writer George Markstein Director William G. Stewart
(1.11) Exit a Diplomat tx 26.11.69 Guest Stars Barbara Leigh-Hunt George Pravda Donald Bissett Designer Colin Andrews Writer George Markstein Director Voytek
(1.12) Care of Her Majesty tx 03.12.69 Guest Stars Lindsay Campbell Geoffrey Lumsden Hilary Dwyer Designer Roger Allan Writer Robert Banks Stewart Director Jonathan Alwyn
(1.13) Visitor From Moscow tx 10.12.69 Guest Stars Alan Browning Helena Ross Jack Shepherd Designer Peter LePage Writer Paul Wheeler Director Dennis Vance
(1.14) Time Bomb tx 17.12.69 Guest Stars Harold Kasket Galmaan Peer Gillian Hawser Designer Colin Andrews Writer David Gordon Director Voytek
Producer Robert Love
(2.01) Inside tx 11.08.70 Guest Stars Constantin De Goguel Michael Goodliffe Kenneth Watson Designer Fred Pusey Writer Trevor Preston Director Guy Verney
(2.02) Dinner Date tx 18.08.70 Guest Stars John Rolfe Frederick Jaeger John Bailey Designer Neville Green Writer George Markstein Director William G. Stewart
(2.03) Depart in Peace tx 25.08.70 Guest Stars Morris Perry David Langton Pauline Letts Designer Mike Hall Writer Alan Falconer Director Mike Vardy
(2.04) Miss International tx 01.09.70 Guest Stars Jasmina Hilton Yutte Stensgard Rona Bower Designer Neville Green Writers Tom Brennand Roy Bottomley Director Jim Goddard
(2.05) Warrant for a Phoenix tx 08.09.70 Guest Stars Paul Stassino Clifford Rose Monica Vassilion Designer David Marshall Writer Stewart Farrar Director Jim Goddard
(2.06) The Pleasure of Your Company tx 16.09.70 Guest Stars Bruce Boa Daniel Moynihan Peter Arne Designer Colin Andrews Writer George Markstein Director William G. Stewart
(2.07) Not To Be Trusted tx 23.09.70 Guest Stars Ronald Russell William Lucas Ania Marson Designer Peter LePage Writer George Markstein Director Guy Verney
(2.08) Borderline Case tx 30.09.70 Guest Stars Richard Durden Richard Davies Leon Lissek Designer Mike Hall Writer Lewis Greifer Director Tom Clegg
(2.09) Love From Doris tx 07.10.70 Guest Stars John Woodnutt Georgina Hale Kevin Stoney Designer Colin Andrews Writer C. Scott Forbes Director John Russell
(2.10) Sorry Is Just A Word tx 14.10.70 Guest Stars Gabrielle Drake James Cossins Colin Rix Designer Mike Hall Writer Michael Chapman Director Jim Goddard
(2.11) Error of Judgement tx 21.10.70 Guest Stars Miranda Connell Basil Dignam Michael Lynch Designer Nigel [Neville?] Green Writer Peter Hill Director Guy Verney
(2.12) Reported Missing tx 28.10.70 Guest Stars Nicola Pagett Sheila Ruskin Rachel Herbert Designer Mike Hall Writer Louis Marks Director Dennis Vance
(2.13) Fool's Mate tx 04.11.70 Guest Stars Simon Lack Sandra Bryant David Garth Designer Peter LePage Writer George Markstein Director Dennis Vance
Script Editor Ian Black Music Robert Earley Producer Geoffrey Gilbert
(3.01) A Copper Called Craven tx 04.04.73 Guest Stars Peter Jeffrey Tony Selby Barry Jackson Writer Roger Marshall Director William Brayne
(3.02) Round the Clock tx 11.04.73 Writers Tom Brennand Roy Bottomley Director Douglas Camfield
(3.03) Inquisition tx 18.04.73 Writer Trevor Preston Director Mike Vardy
(3.04) Assault tx 25.04.73 Guest Star Richard Vernon Robert Keegan Writers Tom Brennand Roy Bottomley Director Douglas Camfield
(3.05) Polonaise tx 02.05.73 Writers Allan Scott Chris Bryant Director Mike Vardy
(3.06) Red Herring tx 09.05.73 Guest Stars Norman Jones Roger Lloyd Pack Writer Peter Hill Director Mike Vardy
(3.07) Death by Drowning tx 16.05.73 Guest Stars Gwen Watford Doreen Mantle Writer John Kershaw Director Dennis Vance
(3.08) All the King's Men tx 23.05.73 Writer Trevor Preston Director Dennis Vance
(3.09) Threat tx 06.06.73 Guest Stars Stephanie Beacham Jack Hedley Writers Tom Brennand Roy Bottomley Director William Brayne
(3.10) The Other Man tx 13.06.73 Writer Roger Marshall Director Dennis Vance
(3.11) You Won't Remember Me tx 20.06.73 Guest Stars Michael Latimer Mary Maude Writer Anthony Skene Director John Robbins
(3.12) Hostage tx 27.06.73 Guest Stars Michael Gambon Elisabeth Sladen Mark Eden Nadim Sawalha Ann Lynn Writer John Kershaw Director David Wickes
(3.13) Blueprint for Murder tx 04.07.73 Guest Stars Kenneth J Warren Arne Gordon Louis Mahoney Photography John Keeling Editor Chris Burt Writers Peter Hill Ian Black Director William Brayne
Script Editor Max Goodleff Music Robert Earley Designer William Alexander Producer Ted Childs
(4.01) Double Exposure tx 14.02.74 Guest Stars Stuart Wilson Gabriella Licudi Photography John Keeling Editor Chris Burt Writer Michael J. Bird Director Don Leaver
(4.02) Catherine the Great tx 21.02.74 Guest Stars Michael Sheard Writer John Brason Director Douglas Camfield
(4.03) Jailbait tx 28.02.74 Guest Stars Colette O'Neil Paul Shelley John Quentin Olaf Pooley Photography Dusty Miller Editor John S. Smith Writer Michael Chapman Director William Brayne
(4.04) Stand and Deliver tx 07.03.74 Guest Stars Dennis Waterman Stephanie Turner Writer Michael J. Bird Director Tom Clegg
(4.05) Something About a Soldier tx 14.03.74 Guest Stars Garfield Morgan Godfrey James Writer Michael J. Bird Director William Brayne
(4.06) Rendezvous tx 21.03.74 Writer Tony Williamson Director Terry Green
(4.07) Sounds Sinister tx 28.03.74 Guest Stars John Carson Stanley Meadows Heather Page Peter Cleall Writer David Butler Director Terry Green
(4.08) Entente Cordiale tx 04.04.74 Guest Stars Dora Reisser Richard Beale Writer John Kershaw Director William Brayne
(4.09) Date of Birth tx 11.04.74 Writer Lewis Greifer Director Don Leaver
(4.10) Intercept tx 18.04.74 Writer Ian Kennedy Martin Director William Brayne
(4.11) Alien tx 25.04.74 Guest Stars Damien Thomas Keith Buckley Writer Ray Jenkins Director Douglas Camfield
(4.12) Diversion tx 02.05.74 Guest Star Nicolette McKenzie Writer Peter J. Hammond Director William Brayne
(4.13) Downwind of Angels tx 09.05.74 Writer Peter Hill Director Tom Clegg
MICHAEL J BIRD (*1928, d. 2001) [Double Exposure, Stand and Deliver, Something About a Soldier, plus unfilmed One of the Family]
Danger Man (Judgement Day), Out of the Unknown (The Uninvited), Hadleigh (1969-76), Brett, The Expert, Quiller, Paul Temple (Night Train), The Onedin Line, The Lotus Eaters (1972, Cyril Coke & Douglas Camfield), The Brothers, Warship, The Fourth Arm, Secret Army, Who Pays the Ferryman (1977, William Slater), The Aphrodite Inheritance (1979, Viktors Ritelis), The Outsider (1982), The Dark Side of the Sun (David Askey), Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (In Possession), Maelstrom (1985, David Maloney), West of Paradise (1986), Winning Streak.
http://www.mjbird.org.uk - Dave Rice's tribute to life and work of this outstanding writer is essential reading. (Photo kindly provided by Mrs. Olive Bird and used by permission.)
We highly recommended the new Michael J Bird biography by Dave Rice, details of which can be found here:
http://www.MJBird.org.uk/Book.html (please use the same site to order)
JOHN KERSHAW (*19) [Death by Drowning, Hostage, Entente Cordiale]
The Forgotten Door (1966), Callan (I Never Wanted the Job, + AP 1969), Bergerac (198), The Lonely Lady (1983, Peter Sasdy), Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold (1984), The Bill (script editor S1)
MIKE VARDY (*19) [The Kazimirov Affair, Depart in Peace, Round the Clock, Inquisition, Polonaise, Red Herring]
Callan (Jack-on-top), The Sweeney (Hit and Run, Lady Luck, The Bigger They Are, Hearts and Minds), Van der Valk (A Rose From Mr Reinhart, Season for Love, Enemy, The Runt, Wolf, Face Value, Diane), Minder (Monday Night Fever, Another Bride, Another Groom), Capital City
In order to find out more about Special Branch please try the following links:
Manuel Alvarado/John Stewart: Made for Television. Euston Films. London, BFI 1985
Dave Rogers: The ITV Encyclopedia of Adventure. London 1988
Complete season 3 (=Euston series 1, Network DVD)
Complete season 4 (=Euston series 2, Network DVD)
Double Exposure/Jailbait (Video)
Something About a Soldier/Stand and Deliver (Video)
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