Crime drama series Public Eye followed the cases of down market private detective Frank Marker, started on ABC picked up by Thames following the 1968 franchise changeover. Most of the early episodes have long been wiped sadly only five from the first three seasons have survived.
A well remembered series with a great central performance from Alfred Burke. Marker could be mistaken for an early inspiration for Colombo with his dishevelled mac and general down at heel air.
Over the course of it’s run Frank moved several times, first from London to Birmingham. In a major shock at the end of the third season (possibly because of the franchise uncertainty in 1968) Frank was sent to prison, accused of receiving stolen goods (even though he was completely innocent). When season four began, now being made by Thames, Frank was still in prison but getting ready to make his re-entry into the world. He moved to Brighton to make a fresh start where he lodged with Helen Mortimer (who became a regular for the season and made occasional appearances there after) – it was half through the season before he began practicing as a private enquiry agent again – forced to take a succession of manual jobs to satisfy his probation officer.
Season five saw the biggest change yet – colour for one thing and another move for Frank, this time to Windsor where he met Detective Inspector Percy Firbank who would become a regular for the next couple of seasons and could be called the closest thing to a friend Marker has during the series. Nell, the young woman who worked in the antiques shop nearby the Frank’s office was also a semi-regular for the season.
When Frank was badly beaten up at the start of season 7 it shook him so much that he contemplated giving up the game altogether. Percy, before moving on himself, persuaded him to join forces with fellow Private Enquiry Agent Ron Gash, the association didn’t last long though as by mid-season Frank had moved on again. This time to Chertsey where he took up residence in an old TV Aerial shop by the train station. Frank never did bother to change the sign above the office from Apollo Aerials.
Frank was very much a loner and he genuinely didn’t like it when people tried to help him. Close friends were few and far between. Helen Mortimer would have liked to have become more than friends with Frank but when their friendship got too close Frank moved on. Percy was a valuable ally and voice of reason even if they did rub each other up the wrong way sometimes. Finally Ron Gash genuinely liked Frank and watched out for him even after their partnership ended but Frank never quite saw it the same way.
Alfred Burke was superb in the main role, over the course of the show’s long run he developed quite a few little bits of business that would crop up in most episodes. Fussing over the cups of tea he would endlessly make in the office (Helen gave him a mug with his name on that he carried with him for the rest of the series), the pointed remarks about his not smoking every time someone lit up in his office and his fishing about in his pockets for loose change to pay for his drinks. Always coins hardly ever notes as Frank was never that flush.
Public Eye could very possibly have continued for longer especially as Thames at the time of the final series were moving heavily into the likes of filmed drama series in collaboration Euston Films with shows such as The Sweeney. It was Burke himself who felt the series had run it’s course though and decided to call it a day.
UK / ITV – ABC (seasons 1-3) Thames (Seasons 4-7) / 86×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 23 January 1965 – 7 April 1975
Creator: Roger Marshall / Executive Producers: Lloyd Shirley, Robert Love
ALFRED BURKE as Frank Marker
PAULINE DELANEY as Mrs Helen Mortimer
RAY SMITH as D.I. Firbank
PETER CHILDS as Ron Gash
SEASON ONE 23 Jan – 1 May 1965
1. ALL FOR A COUPLE OF PONIES
2. NOBODY KILLS SANTA CLAUS
3. THEY GO OFF IN THE END – LIKE FRUIT
4. DIG YOU LATER
5. I WENT TO BORROW A PENCIL AND LOOK WHAT I FOUND
6. BUT JONESES NEVER GET LETTERS
7. A HARSH WORLD FOR ZEALOTS
8. “AND A VERY FINE FIDDLE HAS HE”
9. MY LIFE, THAT’S A MARRIAGE
10. YOU THINK IT’LL BE MARVELLOUS – BUT IT’S ALWAYS A RABBIT
11. PROTECTION IS A MAN’S BEST FRIEND
12. THE MORNING WASN’T SO HOT
13. YOU SHOULD HEAR ME EAT SOUP
14. YOU HAVE TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE
15. HAVE IT ON THE HOUSE
SEASON TWO 2 Jul – 24 Sep 1966
1. ALL THE BLACK DRESSES SHE WANTS
2. DON’T FORGET YOU’RE MINE
3. I COULD SET IT TO MUSIC
4. IT’S A TERRIBLE WAY TO GO
5. YOU CAN KEEP THE MEDAL
6. YOU’RE NOT CINDERELLA, ARE YOU?
7. WORKS WITH CHESS, NOT WITH LIFE
8. IT HAD TO BE A MOUSE
9. TELL ME ABOUT THE CRAB
10. NO, NO, NOTHING LIKE THAT
11. THERE ARE MORE THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH
12. TWENTY POUNDS OF HEART AND MUSCLE
13. WHAT’S THE MATTER? CAN’T YOU TAKE A SICK JOKE?
SEASON THREE 20 Jan – 13 Apr 1968
1. IF THIS IS LUCKY, I’D RATHER BE JONAH…
2. BUT WHAT GOOD WILL THE TRUTH DO?
3. MEMORIES OF MEG
4. HAVE MUD, WILL THROW
5. BUT THEY ALWAYS COME BACK FOR TEA
6. MERCURY IN AN OFF-WHITE MAC
7. STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL
8. HONEST IS THE BEST POLICY – BUT WHO CAN AFFORD THE PREMIUMS
9. THE BROMSGROVE VENUS
10. IT MUST BE THE ARCHITECTURE – CAN’T BE THE CLIMATE
11. IT’S LEARNING ABOUT THE LIES THAT HURTS
12. THERE’S NO FUTURE IN MONKEY BUSINESS
13. CROSS THAT PALM WHEN WE COME TO IT
SEASON FOUR 30 Jul – 10 Sep 1969 (Now made by Thames rather than ABC)
1. WELCOME TO BRIGHTON
2. DIVIDE AND CONQUER
3. PAID IN FULL
4. MY LIFE’S MY OWN
5. CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
6. THE COMEDIAN’S GRAVEYARD
7. A FIXED ADDRESS
SEASON FIVE 7 Jul – 29 Sep 1971
1. A MUG NAMED FRANK
2. WELL – THERE WAS THIS GIRL, YOU SEE…
3. SLIP HOME IN THE DARK
4. I ALWAYS WANTED A SWIMMING POOL
5. THE BEATER AND THE GAME
6. COME INTO THE GARDEN, ROSE
7. AND WHEN YOU’VE PAID THE BILL, YOU’RE NONE THE WISER
8. WHO WANTS TO BE TOLD BAD NEWS?
9. THE MAN WHO DIDN’T EAT SWEETS
10. WARD OF COURT
11. TRANSATLANTIC COUSINS
12. SHADES OF WHITE
13. JOHN VII. VERSE 24
SEASON SIX 8 Nov 1972 – 14 Feb 1973
1. THE BANKRUPT
2. GIRL IN BLUE
3. MANY A SLIP
4. MRS. PODMORE’S CAT
5. THE MAN WHO SAID SORRY
6. HORSE AND CARRIAGE
7. A FAMILY AFFAIR
8. THE GOLDEN BOY
9. THE WINDSOR ROYAL
10. IT’S A WOMAN’S PRIVILEGE
11. HOME AND AWAY
12. EGG AND CRESS SANDWICHES
13. THE TROUBLE WITH JENNY
SEASON SEVEN 6 Jan – 7 Apr 1975
1. NOBODY WANTS TO KNOW
2. HOW ABOUT A CUP OF TEA
3. HOW ABOUT IT, FRANK?
4. THEY ALL SOUND SIMPLE AT FIRST
5. THE FALL GUY
6. WHAT’S TO BECOME OF US
7. HARD TIMES
8. NO ORCHIDS FOR MARKER
9. THE FATTED CALF
11. TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER
12. FIT OF CONSCIENCE
13. UNLUCKY FOR SOME