Private Schulz (BBC Drama, Michael Elphick, Ian Richardson)

Gerhardt Schulz (Michael Elphick) is a petty fraudster who after a couple of spells in prison finds himself, when the second world war breaks out, the now Private Schultz is drafted into the SS, because he can speak five different languages. Assigned to work with power mad Major Neuheim (Ian Richardson), Schulz hits upon a plot to flood the UK with fake five pound notes (his main motivation is to try and tempt Salon Kitty hostess Bertha Freyer (Billie WHitelaw) into his bed). The five pound notes are so successful that they may as well be the real thing. Neuheim decides that Schulz must personally go to England and put two million pounds worth of the notes into circulation.

Parachuting into the England countryside, wearing a bowler hat and plus fours, he meets his new contact who bears a striking resemblance to Major Neuheim! When he realises that he is being used, Schulz buries the two million pounds and heads back to Europe in a stolen boat only to get caught up in the landings at dunkirk. Making his getaway he finds himself in an apparently deserted mansion in the French countryside.

Rounded up by the Gestapo Schulz is soon back with Neuheim and when he fears that Neuheim is about to close the forgery operation comes up with a new idea to use the English money to fund the purchase of all manner of priceless antiques and art, Schultz of course hopes to make his fortune but ends up in a prison camp instead.

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After the war is over Schulz heads back to England determined to recover the buried loot only to discover that a public lavatory has been built over the spot where he buried it. He teams up with Scottish ex-con Stan (also played by Ian Richardson!)

Private Schulz is just superb, one of the very best comedy dramas of the 1980’s. Fantastic all round, brilliant, witty, clever dialogue, stand out performances especially from the always brilliant Richardson and Michael Elphick in the lead and with elements of high farce amongst the drama. There was great use of newsreel at the beginning of each episode to show what stage the war is at.

Cast: MICHAEL ELPHICK as Private Gerhardt Schulz; IAN RICHARDSON as Major Neuheim; BILLIE WHITELAW as Bertha Freyer; CYRIL SHAPS as Solly; DAVID SWIFT as Professor Bodelschwingh; KEN CAMPBELL as Krauss; GAWN GRAINGER as Hitler; RULA LENSKA as Gertrude; JOHN MOFFATT as Kalten Brunner; JOHN SAVIDENT as Globke; MICHAEL DENISON as Browne; RAY HASSETT as Lt Carson; ERNEST CLARK as Fritsch; JOHN JUDD as Warden; TREVOR T. SMITH as Captain Ohm; JOHN CORDING as Kube; TERENCE SUFFOLK as Schumacher; WALTER SPARROW as Becker; VERNON DOBTCHEFF as Sturmer; DARLENE JOHNSON as Kitty; MICHAEL WELLS as Withers; TREVOR JONES as First Officer; ALLA SHAROVA as Violinist; PAM ST CLEMENT as Frau Bodelschwingh; CAROLINE BLAKISTON as Countess; DEREK NEWARK as Publican; FANNY CARBY as Publican’s Wife; MICHAEL BARRINGTON as Sam Maynard; HUGH WALTERS as Bus Conductor; ERIC CARTE as Barnes; GEOFFREY LUMSDEN as Old Military Gentleman; MICHAEL BILTON as Hotel Porter; ROY MONTAGUE as Undertaker; RON WELLING as Ernie; JOHN J CARNEY as Joe; ROBERT McBAIN as Army Captain; EAMONN BOYCE as Sergeant Major; IAN THOMPSON, MIKE SAVAGE as Policemen; CLIVE MERRISON as Kruger; DEREK MARTIN as Gruber; MARK WINGETT as Schmidt; JACK SOUTAR as First Guard; IAN PATRICK as Second Guard; BILLY MURRAY as Fred; DECLAN MULHOLLAND as Harry; ROGER LLOYD PACK as Melvyn; RICHARD COLEMAN as Police Inspector; EVE BLAND as Daisy; HOWARD GOORNEY as Pawnbroker; TONY CAUNTER as Prison Warden; NANCY NEVINSON as Frau Ehrlich; ROBERT CARTLAND as Man at Bus Stop

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Writer: Jack Pulman / Music: Carl Davis / Production Design: Spencer Chapman / Producer: Philip Hinchcliffe / Director: Robert Chetwyn

UK / BBC TwoABC / 6×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 6 May – 10 June 1981

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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.