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Life And Death Of Penelope, The (ITV 1976, Antony Brown, Colin Rix)



In crime drama serial The Life And Death Of Penelope the police investigate the murder of a young woman, the Penelope of the title, who is found dead floating in the Thames. Each episode focused on a different aspect of the investigation in a realistic attempt to draw up a picture of the girl.

Penelope was the twenty three year old daughter of a solicitor. Working at a publishers she disappeared after failing to show at a party. As the investigation began the chief suspect seems to be farmer Tom Crispin. He admits to seeing Penelope before she was killed but says she was with a man. By the final episode though there were at least six main suspects including bad boy Sean McDermott, Penelope’s friend Imogen, political agitator Joe Finer who ran a group that Penelope was involved in and even Penelope’s father Mr Dyer who seemed to be unnaturally jealous of the men in her life.

Richard Heffer, who played farmer Tom Crispin in the series, said in the TV Times of 24 Jan 1976 that making the series was an intriguing process “when we were making it nobody, including myself or even the director, knew who the murderer would turn out to be. It was as if we were involved in a real murder inquiry.”

Based on a newspaper story of the time.

Life And Death Of Penelope

Key suspects in the case of who killed Penelope… Sean McDermott, Nigel Priestman, Mr Dyer, Penelope’s friend Imogen, psychiatrist Dr Lewis Clarke and political group leader Joe Finer. 

classic quote
“down to you and to me to find the man who killed Penelope Dyer” – Chief Superintendent Lane briefs his squad.

production details
UK / ITV Network-Thames / 6×60 minute episodes / 7 January – 11 February 1976 Wednesdays @ 9:00pm

Creator and Producer: Michael Chapman / Story editor: Tony Holland / Designers: Mike Hall, David Richens / Director: David Wickes

Antony Brown as Det. Chief Supt. Lane
Matthew Long as Det-Sgt. Fishlock
Patsy Smart as Mrs Greaves
Jon Laurimore as Cooper
Colin Rix as Thames Div Sgt
Prentis Hancock as Sean McDermott
Charles Keating as Major Nigel Priestman
Michael Turner as Dr Lewis-Clarke
Don Hawkins as Joe Finer
Miranda Bell as Penelope
Alan MacNaughtan as Mr Dyer
Sheila Ruskin as Belinda
Michael Zorba as Head Waiter
Bernice Stegers as Imogen
Howard Southern as Police Surgeon
Gwen Cherrell as Evelyn Dyer