Charlie (ITV Thriller, David Warner, Michael Aldridge)

In four part ITV thriller serial Charlie, a private detective (the Charlie of the title played by David Warner) gets caught up in sinister trade union machinations.

In the opening episode Charlie Alexander stumbles across the dying Stan Peace (Richard Ireson), a shop steward in the Distributive Worker’s Union. Peace dies but Charlie wants to know why his name was in Peace’s address book. As Charlie investigates things get murkier.

The Reading Evening Post of Monday 26 March 1984 offered up a preview: Many of Charlie’s leads turn out to be very carefully planned red herrings, and he discovers a connection between a property development company and a union pension fund. There are shifting alliances. Charlie’s estranged wife Susan (Marion Bailey) and their three children have left him to live with Saul (Patrick Malahide), an estate agent. who helps Charlie with his property connections. Ainsworth (Frank Windsor) is a union official with a secret and Tucker (Michael Aldridge), an eccentric and left-wing journalist who befriends and helps Charlie. Ella (Maggie Steed) is the attractive and world-weary widow of the deceased and Maggie (Doreen Mantle) his dotty but supportive neighbour. Charlie’s prying upsets many people and on two occasions his life is threatened. He is emotionally battered by the women in his life, yet doggedly he refuses to admit defeat… Charlie was filmed entirely on location in London and the South of England.

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The Aberdeen Evening Express of Saturday 14 April 1984 offered up a positive review: Surely millions of viewers took kindly to the character from the first instalment of the four-part thriller, when it was fairly clear that poor old Charlie was going to be the dogsbody of the piece, with the going rough for him at every twist and turn of the plot. The background of suspected Trade Union skullduggery was, if nothing else, a unique story line which gave an ample number of a large cast the opportunity to shine in their respective roles. Ex-telly cop Frank Windsor as the rather naive union official Ainsworth and Maggie Steed who made a super showing as widow Peace, would be personal pick of the supporting cast, but there were numerous others who helped make this production so well worth watching. Central telly are to be congratulated on creating such a colourful character as “Charlie” and would be well advised to give him a few more mysteries to solve. The public would welcome such a decision. Central TV have been pleasantly surprised by viewer reaction to the series. We contacted them in London this week and a spokesman said: “The character seems to have caught on with viewers Just about everywhere. Nothing has been commissioned yet, but there is a possibility of another series. We are hopeful that we can get David Warner back as Charlie.” (The series stayed as just this single story.)

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The drama played out over two weeks, with two episodes broadcast each week.

Cast: David Warner (Charlie Alexander), Michael Aldridge (Paul Tucker), Frank Windsor (Harry), Maggie Steed (Ella Peace), Patrick Malahide (Saul), Marion Bailey (Susan), Doreen Mantle (Maggie), Clive Merrison (Smith), David Lloyd Meredith (Owen Harris), Diana Hardcastle (Ainsworth’s Secretary), Denis Lill (James Grant), John McArdle (First Shop Steward), Tony Doyle (Skip Taylor), Peter Pacey (First Heavy)

Writer: Nigel Williams / Music: Harry South / Producer: Graham Benson / Director: Martin Campbell

UK / ITV – Central / 4×60 minutes / Monday 26 March – 4 April 1984

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.