In The Wheeler Dealers, the opening episode of the second season, Bulman, Doran and Willis are all working undercover at the local docks. They are trying to discover a link between Britain and Holland that equals trouble in Ireland. The trio run into a bit of trouble when they cross swords with Special Branch.
Bulman seems to spend most of the episode either hurting himself or getting stranded aboard ship but there are some touching scenes between him and the Dr who treats him after he injures himself at the docks.
Despite it being only a few months between series there have been a few subtle changes, not least in Willis’s beard and a shorter hair-do for Doran. There are a few new scenes in the opening titles too. The humour quotient is definitely much higher in this episode too, from the fact that it’s nothing to do with the IRA but actually taking stolen bikes to sell in Holland to Bulman singing the theme tune to The Dambusters when he goes in to rescue Willis. Finally Doran, Bulman and Willis go in pursuit of villain’s truck on three of the stolen bicycles.
Don Henderson was given a good feature in the TV Times (6 Jan 79) in which he revealed the truth about Bulman’s constant glove wearing. It was something that happened when he was sourcing his outfit for Bulman’s first appearance in The XYY Man, saying they “were just the sort of thing Bulman would think were posh and help him become an Inspector.” He also talked about the shock death of his 26 year old wife Hilary the year before, she died from a rare virus infection and revealed that he was devoted his spare time to raising money for a special scanning machine at the hospital where she died.
“It fell apart didn’t it, bloody handlebars come off. You gave me that bike on purpose didn’t you. Willis. Willis.”
UK / ITV – Granda / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Tuesday 7 January 1979
Writer: Murray Smith / Production Design: Michael Grimes / Director: Carol Wilks
Series: Strangers Season 2 Episode 1
Don Henderson as Bulman
Dennis Blanch as Willis
Frances Tomelty as Linda Doran
John Ronane as Detective Sergeant Singer
Christopher Assante as Harry
Anne Kristen as Dr Helen Slater
Jo Beadle as W.P.C. West
Keith Clifford as Detective Chief Superintendent Bliss
David Hargreaves as Chief Inspector Rainbow
Luke Hanson as Ship’s Cook
Raymond Campbell as Harris
Neil Johnston as Detective Inspector Deacon
Johnny Mulcahy as Detective Sergeant McMillan
Tariq Yunus as Khan
Walter McMonagle as McQuade
Gerry Cowan as Hotel Manager