In The Nightmare Man Michael Gaffikin is an English incomer to the remote Scottish island of Inverdee, making a precarious living as a dentist he is thrust headlong into adventure when he discovers the body of a woman whilst out walking. Teaming up with Inspector Inskip to investigate the pair are soon faced with another murder – that of visiting Ornithological expert Dr Symonds. Because Symonds had left his tape recorder running and his faulty camera had taken a number of accidental photos, Gaffikin and Inskip discover that the killer is bizarre, definitely monster like creature in fact Gaffikin is convinced it may even be alien in origin!
Meanwhile Colonel Howard is also on holiday on the island but it seems he may be in fact be hiding something, then when a whole platoon of soldiers turn up it is clear something major is going on. Before you can say “went the day well or the eagle has landed” Howard and his soldiers are revealed to be Russians and the murderous “nightmare man” is a renegade sailor who has been caught up in a secret Russian experiment testing a new type of mini-submarine which is linked directly to it’s operators brain.
There is an interesting use of red filter to signify the fact that the Nightmare Man (in fact there are quite a few scenes where we see things from his point of view) is around but the thirty minute format lends itself very well to a fast pacey tale, completely unbelievable of course but great fun. In fact if Michael Palin had played the lead rather than James Warwick the whole thing would have made a splendid ripping yarn.
UK / BBC One / 4×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 1 – 22 May 1981
Writer: Robert Holmes / Novel: Child of Vodyanoi by David Wiltshire / Script Editor: Jenny Sheridan / Music: Robert Stewart / Production Design: Allan Anson / Production managers: Graeme Harper, Carol Scott / Visual Effects: John Brace / Costumes: Rupert Jarvis / Producer: Ron Craddock / Director: Douglas Camfield
JAMES WARWICK as Michael Gaffikin
CELIA IMRIE as Fiona Patterson
MAURICE ROEVES as Inspector Inskip
TOM WATSON as Dr Goudry
JONATHAN NEWTH as Colonel Howard
JAMES COSMO as Sergeant Carch
FRASER WILSON as P.C. Malcolmson
TONY SIBBALD as Symonds
ELAINE WELLS as Mrs Mackay
JON CROFT as McGrath
JEFFREY STEWART as Drummond
RONALD FORFAR as Campbell
PAT GORMAN as The Killer
ROBERT VOWLES as Lieutenant Carey