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Francis Durbridge Presents: Breakaway (BBC-1 1980, Martin Jarvis, Glyn Houston)



In The Family Affair, the first of two stories under the Breakaway title, police detective Sam Harvey is about to take early retirement to pursue a career as a writer of children’s books, before he can though he is shocked to the core when his parents are murdered.

Harvey had seen his parents off at the airport, they were about to travel to Australia to visit their daughter but after Harvey left the airport so did they. In a somewhat bizarre scene the van they are in is attacked by a gunman in a helicopter which forces the van off the road and leaving Harvey’s parents dead.

From there the plot gets ever thicker. Harvey has no idea why anyone would want to kill his parents but it seems there are plenty of suspects. The female chauffeur who drove them to the airport lies about mistaking them for somebody else, the sinister Walter Randall who definitely has something to hide and Leo Corby who comes forward with evidence but seems to have his own agenda.

Another absolute Durbridge gem with another clever, convoluted script and full of those little clues that he likes to drop him at least twice every episode. The casting is great too including the likes of John Lee, Glyn Houston, Paul Shelley, Derek Farr and Derek Benfield (Bill Riley from The Brothers.)

In Breakaway – The Local Affair detective Sam Harvey, having solved the mystery of the death of his parents in The Family Affair, is sent to the town of Market Cross to investigate the murder of a young woman.

Harvey discovers shady businessman Scott Douglas may have been involved with the murder victim. In classic Durbridge style though there are plenty of other suspects to muddy the waters. Becky Royce has been lying about her whereabouts at the time of the murder, golf coach Freddie Galbraid also seems to have something to hide.

The Local Affair was the second of two stories by Durbridge featuring Martin Jarvis as Sam Harvey, broadcast one after the other. Sadly this was Francis Durbridge’s last mystery for TV although he did write several more novels including a trio of Paul Temples and adaptations of the Breakaway stories and The Doll. He also wrote a quartet of stage plays. Durbridge died in 1998 not long after Alan Bleasdale had revived one of his most famous stories Melissa.

Series: Francis Durbridge Presents Season 10 Episodes 1-12.

production details
UK | BBC One | 12×30 minutes | Broadcast 11 January – 28 March 1980.

Writer: Francis Durbridge
Music: Joe Griffiths
Producer: Ken Riddington
Director: Michael E. Briant

Martin Jarvis as Sam Harvey
Michael Culver
John Lee
Glyn Houston
William Marlowe
Paul Shelley
Simon Oates
Margaret John
Edward Peel