Nightmare Man, The (BBC Thriller, James Warwick, Celia Imrie)

The Nightmare Man

In The Nightmare Man Michael Gaffikin (James Warwick) is an English incomer to the remote Scottish island of Inverdee, making a precarious living as a dentist he is thrust headlong into adventure when he discovers the body of a woman whilst out walking. Teaming up with Inspector Inskip (Maurice Roeves) and Fiona Patterson (Celia Imrie) to investigate the trio are soon faced with another murder – that of visiting Ornithological expert Dr Symonds. Because Symonds had left his tape recorder running and his faulty camera had taken a number of accidental photos, Gaffikin and Inskip discover that the killer is a bizarre, definitely monster like creature in fact Gaffikin is convinced it may even be alien in origin!

Meanwhile Colonel Howard (Jonathan Newth) is also on holiday on the island but it seems he may be in fact be hiding something, then when a whole platoon of soldiers turn up it is clear something major is going on. Before you can say “went the day well or the eagle has landed” Howard and his soldiers are revealed to be Russians and the murderous “nightmare man” is a renegade sailor who has been caught up in a secret Russian experiment testing a new type of mini-submarine which is linked directly to it’s operators brain.

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There is an interesting use of red filter to signify the fact that the Nightmare Man is around(in fact there are quite a few scenes where we see things from his point of view) and  the thirty minute format lends itself very well to a fast pacey tale, completely unbelievable of course but great fun. In fact if Michael Palin had played the lead rather than James Warwick the whole thing would have made a splendid ripping yarn.

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Cast: JAMES WARWICK as Michael Gaffikin; CELIA IMRIE as Fiona Patterson; MAURICE ROEVES as Inspector Inskip; TOM WATSON as Dr Goudry; JONATHAN NEWTH as Colonel Howard; JAMES COSMO as Sergeant Carch; FRASER WILSON as P.C. Malcolmson; TONY SIBBALD as Symonds; ELAINE WELLS as Mrs Mackay; JON CROFT as McGrath; JEFFREY STEWART as Drummond; RONALD FORFAR as Campbell; PAT GORMAN as The Killer; ROBERT VOWLES as Lieutenant Carey

Writer: Robert Holmes / Novel: Child of Vodyanoi by David Wiltshire / Script Editor: Jenny Sheridan / Music: Robert Stewart / Production Design: Allan Anson / Production managers: Graeme Harper, Carol Scott / Visual Effects: John Brace / Costumes: Rupert Jarvis / Producer: Ron Craddock / Director: Douglas Camfield

UK / BBC One / 4×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 1 – 22 May 1981

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.