Over to BBC One for a tape whose first programme is from exactly 21 years ago as I write this.
It’s the first episode of Series 3 of Jonathan Creek – The Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish. Maddy has brought some washing round to put in Jonathan’s machine.
They go to dinner with a friend of Maddy’s. While there, they meet Lenny and Alice Spearfish. Who tell them that Lenny has sold his soul to the Devil. And immediately after this, he discovers a million pounds worth of treasure in the garden.
Adam Klaus in in court, accused of lewd behaviour with a herring. Griff Rhys Jones is the prosecutor.
His accuser is Maxine Peake.
Lenny has a night out at a casino, then gets picked up by a prostitute, his drink spiked, and then witnesses that woman shot dead. When he makes a noise and the killer sees him, he shoots at him twice, then leaves. But miraculously, the bullets are lying on the carpet, and there’s holes in his shirt, and burn marks on his skin where they hit. He’s invincible.
The next night, at their outside pool, while Maddy is with them, the killer turns up again with a rifle. But he can’t pull the trigger, starts shaking uncontrollably, then collapses and cracks his head on the edge of the pool.
Adjoa Anjoh plays a financial adviser working on Lenny’s portfolio, which has been growing hugely. Maddy thinks there’s something fishy, as her name doesn’t appear in any registers of financial advisers.
Adam Klaus’s court case appears to have raised his profile in France, making the tour that was previously struggling turn into a runaway success.
The final piece of the puzzle comes when Lenny files for divorce, and draws up papers so that Alice forgoes any claim on the money, because she believes it comes from a satanic source.
The revelation is a good one, and turns out surprisingly heartwarming, if a little far fetched.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 27th November 1999 – 20:55
Straight into the next episode, The Eyes of Tiresias. Maddy and Jonathan are at some kind of black tie shindig. Peter Blake plays Otto Danzigger, a mentalist who does a lottery prediction trick.
Jonathan meets Heidi Brayle, played by the wonderful Rebecca Front. She’s a location manager, and they get on quite well.
She returns home to find her old aunt Audrey still up. She fell asleep in her chair, and had a strange dream about the murder of an older French man.
Cut to a very stately home, and an older man speaking French is having breakfast. It’s the Demon Headmaster, Terrence Hardiman.
His wife is played by Diana Weston. So that’s Diana Weston and Peter Blake in the same episode – almost an ‘Agony’ reunion.
The man, a swiss financier called Masson, is attacked in his office and killed.
Heidi arranges for a film shoot at Alan’s windmill.
I laughed at the scene where Alan’s talking to Maddy on the phone, and a stuntperson in a dress falls past the window.
Aunt Audrey is having more dreams. Something about “RP” and a death involving wings. So this is widely reported, as her prediction of Masson’s murder made the news. Then a woman banker dies in a car accident. She has the initials RP and… a car has wings.
There’s a third dream, in which Audrey is murdered by a man with one eye – and in a cheeky bit of misdirection, we see this dream.
The solution to the mystery is partly mundane but mostly ridiculously convoluted, involving pre-recording the murder and putting it on a recordable CD (when recordable CDs used to be gold).
As a coda, they’re still filming outside the windmill, and they recruit Jonathan as a stand-in for a kissing scene.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 4th December 1999 – 20:55
The next episode is The Omega Man. There’s a nice gag at the start about local theatre. “I don’t think Steve Harrison and Martin Ford are getting out of here alive.”
Maddy and Jonathan appear on a talk show. Despite complaining he hates them, and always freezes up, Jonathan actually does all the talking, much to Maddy’s disgust. She’s not happy about her placement in to big photo either.
So she’s generally grumpy and miserable about Jonathan and his increasing fame. Perfectly set for a mysterious message pushed under her door telling her to meet somewhere mysterious. And because she has no idea about personal safety (or, more likely, this was written by a man who has no idea about a woman’s personal safety) she turns up.
She meets Professor Lance Graumann, played by the great John Shrapnel in full dramatic mode.
Jane Booker plays his assistant, Phillipa Farrell, who’s a psychic Channeller.
The mystery Graumann was teasing is the apparent skeleton of an alien. It possesses strange properties, like burning anyone who touches it.
But their meeting is interrupted by the arrival of the US military. No idea why the US military is allowed to operate on UK soil (outside of an airbase, anyway) but here’s Captain Frank Candy, played by Michael Brandon, Dempsey himself. (Incidentally, I recently learned (or was reminded) that Brandon married his Dempsey and Makepeace co-star Glynis Barber, and that all these years later, they are still married. Long showbiz marriages are my jam.)
Brandon takes away the skeleton, and his men spot Maddy skulking. She freaks out and escapes in her car.
But the real mystery emerges when Brandon gets back to his HQ and finds the skeleton has gone.
Next day Maddy is at a signing, but Jonathan hasn’t arrived, and his young fans aren’t really interested to get their books signed by Maddy.
The reason for Jonathan’s non-appearance is that he’s been whisked off by Captain Candy to explain how their alien skeleton disappeared. He’s also given a large soldier to follow him around when he leaves, another probably illegal action.
He makes it back to the signing, so his fans are happy. But when he remembers that the army are looking for Maddy, he skips out without talking to her.
He gives the soldier the slip, and he and Maddy meet with Graumann and Farrell, trying to get more information out of him. Jonathan knows it’s a trick, but he can’t work out what kind. Graumann gives him a clue: One of the planets, but very cold.
After spending time in a cell on th3e army base (surely this, above all, must be illegal?) Jonathan twigs the solution, and tells Candy that he’ll tell him, for £100,000. Surprisingly, Candy agrees, and after Jonathan spills the beans, Candy lets them both go. They revisit Graumann and Farrell, and he confirms Jonathan’s solution – that the ‘skeleton’ was a model of a sculpted alien skeleton, molded in frozen Mercury. Since mercury is liquid at room temperature, the reason it vanished in the van is that it simply melted.
Back at home, Maddy is still cross about something. But she won’t say what. She asks Jonathan if Candy really did pay him £100,000, and he says he was surprised, but he did. This is obviously gnawing at Maddy, and Jonathan leaves. Then she notices an envelope in the carrying cage with two kittens she’d got from the local animal shelter, run by a friend, that is going to have to close down unless they can raise £65,000. In the envelope is a cheque from Jonathan.
It’s a fun yarn that’s a nice break from the murders. I wish Maddy wasn’t cross about everything so much.
BBC Genome: BBC One – 11th December 1999 – 20:55
There’s some Lottery Numbers, in case you missed them earlier.
Then the last episode on this tape, Ghost’s Forge. Adam Klaus is looking for some flowers for his returning girlfriend’s birthday. Gina Bellman is working in the flower shop, so naturally Adam goes gaga for her as soon as he sees her. He’s such a pig.
Jonathan is having an interview with reporter Mimi Tranter, played by Lysette Anthony. I don’t think he likes it when she tells him how it’s obvious how all the tricks are done.
She casually mentions her date for lunch, Robin Priest, a man who won a story writing competition. We get a faded flashback so we know this is part of the story. He’s been having nightmares about somewhere called Ghost’s Forge, where an old man called Ezra Carr was murdered in mysterious circumstances. He’d read about it, and now he’s having nightmares about it.
Adam Klaus is getting a bit obsessed with a bad review from a local newspaper. It’s very Alan Partridge. ‘Moribund?’
Did I say ‘a bit’ obsessed?
Mimi’s date Robin is married, though, and his wife finds Maddy’s address in his things, because he came to pick her up, so she turns up and sprays paint in Maddy’s face. Sometimes I get the feeling that David Renwick doesn’t like women very much. Plus, isn’t this dangerous? It’s basically how PJ or Duncan went blind, isn’t it? (I’m too old to have watched Byker Grove so I’m just going by clip shows here).
Adam’s highlighting of Duggie Dawson’s one line review hasn’t had the desired effect.
They visit Ghost’s Forge – although Jonathan notes that the name on the gate is the ‘first curiosity’.
In the house they find a package full of copies of the same book, ‘The Grave Digger’ by Gerald Eastland.
Back to the staple of Jonathan Creek – there’s a locked room they can’t get into, so Maddy climbs a ladder to get there.
But when Mimi climbs up behind her, Maddy isn’t there, and she hadn’t left the room because Jonathan had been waiting on the other side. They can’t find her, but when they return to the car, she comes back, delighted to have pulled the wool over both of their eyes.
Jonathan is comparing the Gerald Eastland book with Robin’s prize-winning short story. The only thing they knew about Eastland was that he was a politician who turned to writing novels, but Jonathan has noticed a similarity in style between Robin and Eastland.
Adam Klaus has invited Duggie Dawson to see how the show is put together. He’s played by Jim Bowen. I do love the tiny cameos this show does.
Trouble is, the night before, Adam had quickly bolted from Gina Bellman’s bedroom when he noticed dentures in a jar by the bed. And she turns up to confront him, with her grandma’s dentures, calling him shallow. I don’t think Duggie’s next piece will be complimentary.
Mimi goes to Robin’s house to finally confront him and force him to leave his wife. But he has an admission to make. “I murdered Ezra Carr.”
Adam hopes that Duggie hasn’t got the wrong impression. Duggie asks if the kimono came from a girlfriend, and whether he speaks Japanese? “Any woman who brings you a shirt back with the words ‘I am full of shit’ on it, I’d say has got the measure of you very well indeed.”
The revelation of the Ghost’s Forge mystery takes almost as long as the rest of the programme. Robin isn’t Robin. He was actually Ezra Carr, the ghost-writer for Gerald Eastland. But he lost his memory during a burglary by the man found dead there, and his lover/neice – Robin’s apparent wife. She killed her Uncle, and told ‘Robin’ that they were married, but he obviously had started to remember.
There’s a coda where, after days of a trad jazz band practicing in the garden next door to Maddy, she hears them again, and she’s got a garden hose ready. Trouble is, she’s dousing a funeral procession (presumably what the rehearsal was for).
BBC Genome: BBC One – 18th December 1999 – 20:55
After after this, it’s almost Christmas. I’m so excited.
The tape ends here.