In A Letter to David James’s old school friend Harry Mortlake pays him a late night visit, entering by the window (yes he is somewhat eccentric) and asks for help. His highly progressive school Neville Meade is coming under heavy scrutiny from the education department.
Although Hadleigh is initially not that interested he decides to get involved after he learns possible new romantic interest Anne Hepton has been talked out of sending her daughter Charlotte there by new education officer Eddie Crawford. Hadleigh and and Anne decide to pay a visit to the school to make up their minds only to run into a belligerent Crawford.
Neville Meade school is very clearly based on the real life Summerhill. Many of the scenes from the Hadleigh and Anne’s visit to the school are exactly how things ran at the school. Summerhill had been founded in 1924 by A.S. Neill and was at the height of it’s renown at the time of this episode (mostly thanks to the era and the growing counter-culture movement). Hadleigh is initially very much behind Mortlake and his ideas but when some of the pupils commit an act of vandalism at Crawford’s office he changes his mind.
As a small note it’s worth pointing out that no matter the time of day or night Hadleigh is always immaculately turned out. Witness the scene where Mortlake pays Hadleigh a visit. It’s clearly very late at night and Hadleigh is groomed to perfection in his three piece suit.
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Friday 12 February 1971 at 9.00pm
Writer: John Russell Taylor / Production Design: Andrew Drummond / Director: Brian Parker
Series: Hadleigh Season 2 Episode 6
Gerald Harper as James Hadleigh
Richard Pearson as Mortlake
Jane Merrow as Anne Hepton
Brian Smith as Eddie Crawford
Alastair Hunter as Maxwell
Len Jones as Billy Roberts
Leon Vitali as Bob
Sheila Whitmill as Vanessa
Vivienne Horne as Sue
Christopher Gray as Frank
Lucinda Parker as Jean
Lee Simon as Tony