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The Guardians: The Dirtiest Man in the World (ITV 28 Aug 1971, with Peter Barkworth)



In The Dirtiest Man in the World Benedict’s latest patient is a former lavatory attendant who is refusing to take part in society. Benedict has to decide on his sanity – insane and they will put him away in a ‘rehabilitation centre’, sane and he needs to be put to work. This dirtiest man in the world is then approached by Quarmby who tells him that the government intend to put him in a rehab centre anyway to trial a new drug that would change his disinterested ways and make him want to take part in society again. Quarmby wants dirty man (he isn’t given a name) to enter the centre to help them find out more about the drug.

Clare Weston also goes to see husband Tom in the rehabilitation centre he is being kept. It’s clear he is being kept in a docile state with drugs and he has no interest whatsoever in getting out. When the dirtiest man agrees to circumvent the experiment for Quarmby by swapping his food with his room-mate it turns out that his room-mate is Tom Weston.

Ultimately it’s Weston Quarmby want, having easily been persuaded to swap food with dirty man the new drugs quickly take effect and he escapes from the rehabiliation centre, he links up with Clare and Quarmby who tells him he wants him to work for the resistance, his first act – blowing up a Guardian HQ. Meanwhile Dirty Man has disovered that he is surplus to requirements now that Weston has escaped, he is able to escape from the rehab centre though and in a nice twist kills Quarmby. Before he dies Quarmby gives Clare a telephone number for someone to help. Clare knows the number already….

In another development Eleanor has returned to Benedict but is part of a plot to find out more about Quarmby. It may well be as she is keen to know all about how Quarmby works. Benedict explains that all the Quarmby’s work as individually as possible in an small cell groups as possible.

Graham Crowden, looking for all the world like Iain Anderson from Jethro Tull, turns in another of his typically fabulous performances. The Quarmby in this episode is played by the always brilliant Peter Barkworth.

There is the first mention of a specific time The Guardians is taking place in, Benedict mentions in an aside to Crowden that Britain in the eighties is a place that is willing to help him. Not send him to a labour camp like the Russians would.

classic quote
‘the rat had developed a taste for rat flesh you see.’

production details
UK / ITV – London Weekend Television / 1×50 minute episode / Broadcast Saturday 28 August 1971 at 10.40pm

Writer: John Bowen / Production Design: Frank Nerini / Director: Derek Bailey

John Collin as Tom Weston
David Burke as Benedict
Graham Crowden as Dirtiest Man
Lynn Farleigh as Eleanor
Gwyneth Powell as Clare Weston
Peter Barkworth as Quarmby
Ian Stirling as Male nurse