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Public Eye: Welcome to Brighton (S4EP1 ITV 30 July 1969, Pauline Delaney)

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In season four opener Welcome to Brighton Frank Marker is released from prison having served a year of his three prison sentence after being sent down on a trumped up receiving stolen goods sentence that ended the shows ABC years.

The episode opens with Frank still in prison but he is soon starting again in Brighton, his probation officer Hull (played by John Grieve, who pops up in most episodes this season) has found him a room in a boarding house owned by Mrs Mortimer (Pauline Delaney is a regular in this fourth season and would pop up occasionally in other seasons too.) Marker is not necessarily planning to go back to his old way of life (his probation officer has arranged a job for him as a labourer on a building site) but fellow prisoner Jakeman (George Sewell), also from Brighton, asks him to find out why his wife Freda (Anne Ridler) has stopped coming to see him.

Welcome to Brighton is the first episode of the series made by Thames TV after the great ITV franchise shuffle of 1968.

The return of the series was a high profile event for Thames, this opener was given an excellent TV Times cover, one of the mock-ups the magazine sometimes did of a photo amidst a collection of the tools of the trade of the main character. Here a small amount of money (Frank was never flush), a business card and a few other bits and pieces. There was also a two page interview with Alfred Burke who remarked of the character “what fascinates me about Marker is his independence. The fact that if he doesn’t want to do something he doesn’t have to do it. That is freedom of a kind.” Most of the rest of the interview focused on Burke personally, his growing up in Southwark, London, leaving school at 15, gaining a scholarship to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) in 1937, being the father of two sets of twins.

Pauline Delaney makes her first appearance as Mrs Mortimer but she had actually appeared in the series once before as a different character of course (a Mrs Jessup in fact), in the season two episode Don’t Forget You’re Mine (this was the second episode of season 2 broadcast 9 July 1966, and is one of the few episodes surviving from the ABC years). George Sewell would also appear in the season five episode Come Into The Garden, Rose.

There is a very interesting sequence where Frank is “picked up” by a woman called Grace and he goes with her back to her bedsit. It looks like he is going to spend some time “relaxing” in her company until after returning from the loo he spots her taking money from his wallet. He is less than impressed and after a bit of argy-bargy takes his leave.

James Towler reviewed the episode in The Stage (7 August 1969) under the headline A character you can believe in and remarking “once again Alfred Burke turns in an outstanding performance in the major role – so much so that one forgets that he is an actor and that Marker is a subject of fiction…. Both Roger Marshall’s screenplay and the direction of Kim Mills thrive on attention to detail… Just makes him [Marker] so compelling is hard to define. Perhaps its because that, beneath the shabby raincoat and bleak exterior, there is someone who is essentially warm hearted.”

Classic quote: “Have you always been so withdrawn or has prison made you like that.”

Production details
UK / ITV – Thames / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Wednesday 30 July 1969 at 9.00pm

Writer: Roger Marshall / Idea: Anthony Marriott, Roger Marshall / Production Design: Mike Hall / Director: Kim Mills

Series: Public Eye Season 4 Episode 1 (of 7)

cast
Alfred Burke as Frank Marker
Pauline Delany as Mrs Mortimer
John Grieve as Hull
Michael Graham-Cox as Ashman
George Sewell as Jakeman
John Bindon as Young Builder
Martin Dempsey as Governor
Gilly McIver as Waitress
Heather Canning as Grace
Barbara New as Sweeping Woman
Anne Ridler as Freda Jakeman