Passenger, The (BBC-1 1971, Peter Barkworth, Joanna Dunham)

The Passenger

In The Passenger businessman David Walker returns home from the office early to discover his wife in bed with local driving instructor Roy Norton.  Walker decides to spend a few days in Cumberland visiting his Uncle whilst he decides what to do. En route he picks up  pretty hitch-hiker Judy Clayton.  When she then turns up murdered Police Inspector Denson investigates and Walker is chief suspect. Things get  even murkier for Walker when Denson and Det Sgt Kennedy discover a camera and snaps of him at Clayton’s flat.

Denson learns that Norton also knew Judy Clayton and was giving her driving lessons but before the investigation can get too much further Walker is discovered dead having apparently committed suicide – claiming in a suicide note that he was having an affair with Judy and that he murdered.

With two deaths on his hands Denson is convinced that Walker’s suicide was in fact murder and that the real killer is still at large.

Typically brilliant Durbridge thriller with complexity piled on complexity. What starts out as a seemingly straight forward murder investigation very quickly becomes much more than that and you are never quite sure who is telling the truth.

Peter Barkworth makes for a nicely sympathetic Detective Inspector and he was clearly something of a Durbridge favourite going on to appear in the superb Melissa a couple of years later.

The Passenger

Beth Morris as the hitch-hiking Judy Clayton whose murder sets everything in motion.

production details
UK / BBC One / 3×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 23 October – 6 November 1971

Writer: Francis Durbridge / Production Design: Peter Kindred / Producer: Gerard Glaister / Director: Michael Ferguson

Series: Francis Durbridge Presents Season 7 Episodes 1 – 3

PETER BARKWORTH as Det Insp Martin Denson
DAVID KNIGHT as David Walker
ARTHUR PENTELOW as Arthur Eastwood
ROGER BOOTH as Jack Steen
BETH MORRIS as Judy Clayton
PAUL GRIST as Det Sgt Kennedy
JAMES KERRY as Roy Norton
MICHAEL McSTAY as Andy Mason
MONA BRUCE as Christine Bodley
DEREK BOND as Colonel Reams

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