Alternate 'Network Style' covers for

Dead Man's Kit and High Tide DVDs

by Chris Orton

(click on thumbnails)


The original title sequence

Armchair Thriller

The familiar strains of the "Salute To Thames" ident waft forth from the tv speaker... but something is not right. Instead of the usual cheery daytime shot of St Paul's, the Thames river is steeped in eerie moonlight. As the image fades, a stuffed armchair of the type found parked in front of millions of television sets appears framed within a halo of darkness. And then, out of nowhere, a shadow encroaches across the room towards the chair - but its owner never arrives. Instead, the shadow turns and takes its place in the chair, as the ethereal music wells up and darkness engulfs the screen.

This is the memorable way in which Thames Television's suspense series Armchair Thriller made its debut on British tv screens in February 1978. Blessed with an inspired title sequence, and possibly the creepiest signature tune ever written (by Andy Mackay of Roxy Music), it offered a tantalising array of specially commissioned scripts and serialised adaptions of novels by the likes of Antonia Fraser, Derry Quinn and Patricia Highsmith.

With fine writing, acting and direction, the series found extra strength in its tense portrayal of ordinary people trapped in a frightening web of events beyond their control. Many of the stories revolved around abductions and ransom demands - however there was usually some twist that took the situation out of the realms of the ordinary. The series kicked off in style with "Rachel In Danger", a gripping tale which told of a terrorist assassin who murders a man and takes his place, only to receive an unexpected complication when the dead man's 10 year old daughter turns up to spend the holidays with the father she has never met. This compelling piece of television derived much of its impact from the depiction of innocence amidst utter evil, a theme that would be revisited later in the series. A few weeks later "A Dog's Ransom" related the chilling events surrounding the abduction of a poodle from its devoted owners. Told over six episodes, this riveting adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel relocated the action from Manhattan to Chelsea, and succeeded in creating a disturbing thriller full of frightening images that linger in the memory long after.

The series continued with "The Girl Who Walked Quickly", the story of a young man kidnapped by terrorists who "program" him through brainwashing to bomb various London targets without his conscious knowledge. However, it was with the next serial "Quiet As A Nun" that the series really hit its peak. Relating the investigations of a famous tv journalist/presenter, it sees Maria Aitken as 'Jemima Shore' return to her old school, The Convent Of The Blessed Eleanor.  There she surreptitiously looks into the apparent suicide of one of the nuns, who was in fact an heiress who was planning to donate the convent to an infamous left wing organisation. Miss Shore finds many things amiss at her old school, with rumours of murder and persistent tales of a menacing apparition dubbed by the girls 'The Black Nun'... whom Jemima soon has the misfortune to encounter (click here to relive this classic moment).

The first series ended with "The Limbo Connection", a super-tense story of a demoralised writer (played by James Bolam) searching for his missing wife. Her last port of call was the Meadowbank Clinic, an apparently respectable private hospital for elderly women. But, as in "Quiet as A Nun", disturbing local rumours that all is not right at the clinic lead him to believe that she has met with foul play at the hands of the staff. Fighting his own alcoholism and depression, he teams up with an old flame and together they embark in a race against time to expose the clinic and find his wife. With this story the ratings for the series went through the roof, reaching 17 million viewers for episode 1.

The second series in 1980 continued the fine standard of writing and production that had been mapped out by the first. Like series one, the follow-up began with a story centred around a child in peril - this time the 14 year old daughter of a successful business executive. 'The Victim' by Michael Ashe was a disturbing foray into the psychological effects of kidnapping on a family, with a father consumed with thoughts of revenge while the victim herself paradoxically becomes enamored of her captor. The unusual line in storytelling continued with "Dying Day", in which a lonely, isolated man (played by distinguished RSC actor Ian McKellen in his first tv appearance) comes into possession of a cassette tape which he is horrified to discover contains a conversation detailing his impending murder. Enlisting the help of the police, he finds to his bewilderment and embarrassment that the cryptic message has vanished from the tape. Nevertheless, he pursues the matter himself... with alarming consequences. "Fear Of God"  starred Bryan Marshall and dealt with fanatical religious sects and  sound weapons (a subject popular at the time and also tackled in an episode of the BBC's contemporary thriller The Omega Factor). Like "The Girl Who Walked Quickly" in series one, it explored the murky territory of brainwashing and sinister, underground forces. It also featured some of the most striking and memorables scenes yet seen in the series.

One story shot for the second series - a six parter based on the Lionel Davidson novel "The Chelsea Murders" - was left untransmitted at the time, despite being prepared right up to the point where the music (by Anthony Isaac, never used) and spoken recapitulations were ready to be overdubbed. Though a competent production, it for some reason slipped through the net and was replaced by two independently filmed productions by Southern Television: "Dead Man's Kit" and "High Tide" (although both still utilised the Armchair Thriller titles, now re-shot with the use of animation). Though different in style and execution from the other episodes (shot entirely on location with film) they were both nonetheless solid productions, with "High Tide" boasting some particularly evocative location work and a striking musical score.

Armchair Thriller still had one further gem left in it though - a superb adaption of Desmond Corey's "The Circe Complex". Beth Morris turned in a great performance as a manipulative Welsh beauty who manages to juggle the affections of four men in her attempts to lay her hands on a hidden fortune. This convoluted and riveting tale also features a stand-out performance by Alan David as one of her unsuspecting victims, as well as some of the series' best cliffhanger endings.

The second and final series came to an end on April 10th that year (with "The Chelsea Murders" later transmitted in1981), although in late '80 and '81 many of the stories were repeated in an early afternoon slot (which did little to help the atmosphere, no doubt!) At a later point, the episodes found their way onto the fledgling "Superchannel" satellite service, which at that point was still run by ITV.  Unfortunately, the series has never been repeated or released in the UK since that time, although episodes are occasionally screened at Kaleidoscope events. The series was also shown complete in Australia (where it last aired in1985/86) and partially in the United States (where "Quiet As A Nun", "The Limbo Connection" and "Dying Day" aired in '82/'83 as part of the PBS Mystery! slot with Vincent Price introducing, while others were re-formatted into movies and shown on The Mystery Channel in the 90s). However, in 2008 Network DVD in the UK began releasing the Thames stories on dvd. Shortly afterwards Simply Home Entertainment released the two Southern stories.

With its eerily-memorable opening titles and wealth of frightening and dramatic moments, Armchair Thriller remains a vivid - if disturbing - memory for many... especially a generation of young children whose parents were foolish enough to let them sit up and watch it!

Click here to watch the original Armchair Thriller title sequence

Thames also made an animated trailer for the overall series, which consisted of an armchair being soaked in blood as a distorted, screaming face appeared. This would be used to promote upcoming episodes. This horrific sequence is vividly recalled by many people and is often confused with the actual title sequence. Click here to watch the original trailer for "A Dog's Ransom"

The slide on the left was used for the "coming up" announcement before each episode, and was based on the trailer. The slide on the right is a generic still that was used as the adcap during most of series 2.

[Thanks to Martin Potter]

Story Guide

Series One (1978)
Series devised by Andrew Brown
Screened Tuesday and Thursday nights at 8.30pm on ITV

"Rachel In Danger"

* With Della Low (Rachel), Stephen Grief (Juan), Eiko Nakamura (Aiyako), Neville Jason (Peter), Anna Fox (Monica), Marsha Fitzalan (Podge), Ahmed Osman (Arab), David Cook (Wormald), T-Bone Wilson (Bus conductor), George Waring (Police sergeant), Geoffrey Greenhill (Police constable), Struan Rodger (Hassel), Dafydd Hywel (Graves), Gwyneth Powell (Woman pc), Christian Burgess (Young pc), Harry Littlewood (Caretaker), Joan Henley (Lady at garden party), Roger Booth (CID superintendent), John Joyce (CID sergeant)

* Written by John Bowen
* Directed by Waris Hussein
* Produced by Andrew Brown
* Designer Martyn Herbert
* Incidental music by Ron Grainer
* Script Editor Robert Banks-Stewart

"Shall we meet the Queen? "

Peter Warmington returns to England after a long spell teaching at a university in South America. Immediately upon his return, he spots an old acquaintance called Juan whom he enthusiastically invites back to his new flat. Unfortunately, he has no inkling that his "friend" is actually a terrorist, who quickly murders his host and assumes his identity in order to carry out a political assassination.

But Juan himself does not realise that Warmington's 10 year old daughter is en route to London to spend her holidays with the father she has never seen. When Rachel arrives at the train station, the transit police become concerned when no-one seems to have arrived to collect her. They take her under their wing and send an officer round to her father's flat to investigate.

Taken by surprise, Juan manages to bluff his way through the resultant questions when he arrives to collect his "daughter" from the station. Fortunately for him, Rachel does not suspect anything and the only photograph she has of her father is too indistinct to be of any use. Although slightly uneasy about the whole business, the police hand over Rachel to Juan but - as the sergeant asks a constable as they are leaving - "Why did he take his glasses off to look at the photo..?"

Arriving back at the flat, Juan introduces Rachel to her "stepmother" Aiyako - in fact another terrorist. Aiyako and another member of the organisation, Hassel, want the girl killed but Juan manages to convince them to continue with the deception as he believes that Rachel is an asset to their mission. The object of that mission soon becomes clear when Juan cheerfully asks the girl "We've been invited to a royal garden party, Rachel...would you like to go?"

As preparations for their mission move into full gear, an unexpected complication arises when, appalled, Rachel finds the body of her dead father in the linen closet. Uncertain of who the man is, she manages to leave behind a message for the police when Juan takes her to have a dress fitted for the party. Attempting an escape, she is caught by Juan and taken back to the flat where the three agree that she must be killed after the mission has been completed. However a fourth member, Wormald, disagrees strongly and virtually blackmails the others into allowing him to take Rachel back to her home in Scotland afterwards. Caught in a bind, the "organisation" agrees and Wormald spends a fearful night alone in hiding.

As time slips away, the little girl's message is discovered by the police...but it already may be too late, as Rachel, Juan and Aiyako arrive at the royal reception, invitations in hand, ready to meet the Queen...

PART ONE - 21st February
PART TWO - 23rd February
PART THREE - 28th February
PART FOUR - 2nd March



"A Dog's Ransom"

* With Benjamin Whitrow (Edward Reynolds), Zena Walker (Gina Reynolds), Leon Eagles (Kowajinski), Prentis Hancock (Desk sergeant), Brian Stirner (Clarence Duhamel), Paul Angelis (Tom Choley), Susie Blake (Marion Dowell), Maryann Turner (Landlady)

* Dramatised by John Bowen from the novel by Patricia Highsmith [Reprint ISBN: 0393323366 W.W. Norton & Company 2002]
* Directed by Donald McWhinnie
* Produced by Jacqueline Davis
* Designer Peter Elliot
* Incidental music by Roger Webb
* Script Editor Robert Banks-Stewart

"Tiiii-na...good dog...Tiiii-na...come heeeerrre..."

Edward and Gina Reynolds are an affluent but lonely middle class couple living in Chelsea. Devoted to each other, their other great joy is their white poodle Tina, whom they look upon almost as a child. But a series of unpleasant letters that begin to arrive on a daily basis threaten their cosy lifestyle, with the unknown sender accusing Mr Reynolds of being a "snob" with a "snob dog".

Though distressed, they pass the letters off as the work of a crank until their beloved Tina vanishes in the park one night. After searching high and low, they soon discover her fate when another letter arrives and demands 200 pounds for the return of the dog. They acquiesce, and Edward Reynolds leaves the sum between the railings of a fence that evening.

But the dog is not returned, and another letter arrives demanding still more money. Turning to the police, Mr Reynolds receives no joy when they fail to take the matter seriously. However a young, ambitious constable named Clarence Duhamel believes he can help the Reynolds and visits their flat with the intention of helping them in his own time.

Sadly, unbeknownst to everyone, the dog is already dead - drowned at the hands of a Polish sociopath named Kowajinski. Using confidential information gleaned from his social worker girlfriend Marion, constable Duhamel or "Clarrie" as he is known stumbles across the dognapper and demands the return of the poodle to the Reynolds. However Clarrie does not reckon on the vindictive, bitter nature of Kowajinski, and quickly finds himself outwitted by the old man and accused of taking a bribe.

Now under official investigation, Duhamel is pushed into a show of strength as he faces the ire of his police colleagues, who dislike him because of his Cambridge background. One detective in particular - Choley - despises Clarrie, whom he derogatively refers to as "Girlie". Clarrie turns to the Reynolds, whom he feels an affinity with and who begin to look upon him as their own son.

Kowajinksi, meanwhile, is released and becomes intent on teaching the interfering constable and his traitor girlfriend a lesson. He begins to watch Susie's flat, and even sends her obscene packages. Enraged, Clarrie trails Kowajinki and beats him so badly that he appears to die. But, in a complete co-incidence, the constable himself is subsequently knifed by football hooligans only a few blocks away, and the thugs escape with the truncheon Clarrie had beaten the old man with.

After recovering at the Reynold's, Clarrie faces a new series of accusations surrounding Kowajinsk's death. Despairing and alone, he confides to the Reynolds that he beat the old man to death...but how is he to know that Kowajinski in fact died of strangulation, and that he is in far greater danger than he could ever have imagined?

PART ONE - 7th March
PART TWO - 9th March
PART THREE - 14th March
PART FOUR - 16th March
PART FIVE - 21st March
PART SIX - 23rd March


"The Girl Who Walked Quickly"

* With Denis Lawson (David Cooper), Phyllinda Nash(Liz), Clive Merrison (Godolt), Barry Stanton (Swift), John Gregg (Everly), Oliver Smith (First helper), Luke Hanson (Second helper), Margery Mason (Mrs Cooper), Derek Benfield (Mr Cooper), Anna Nichols (The Girl), Rowena Cooper (Ruth Connors), Colin McCormack (Det-Sgt Bowen), Martin Fisk (Explosives officer)

* Written by Ray Jenkins
* Directed by Brian Farnham
* Produced by Jacqueline Davis
* Designer Robin Parker
* Script Editor Robert Banks-Stewart

"He's a genius..."

When brilliant but shy university student David Cooper fails to turn up to an important meeting, his tutor Godolt becomes concerned and consults the boy's girlfriend Liz. Liz is not overly concerned about her lover's disappearance but at Godolt's prompting agrees to investigate the matter further. They soon discover that he had been attending a support group for people with phobias, and though the leader of the group remembers David she has no idea what has happened to him. Curiously however, she recalls the same mysterious girl as David's parents.

In actual fact he has been abducted by a terrorist organisation who planted the girl in the group. They erase his identity through sensory deprivation and use his phobia of lifts to brainwash him into bombing various London targets. The first operation is an underground tube station, which claims a heavy toll in human life when David plants a cigarette packet bomb in the lift. The "girl" is unhappy about this as she had anticipated a warning would be given, but is kept in line by her hardline comrades.

The next assignment is an office block, however this time the plan goes awry when David panics after being trapped in the lift and runs away, leaving the bomb undetonated. The police trace his identity and raid Liz's flat, mistaking her and Godolt for terrorists. Despite the protests of the two the police embark on a manhunt for David, who by now has been picked up by the girl after fleeing from the bombing scene.

However the girl has by this time turned her back on the organisation and tries to reason with David, who is suffering from disorientation and hallucinations as he emerges from his programming. Eventually they take refuge in an empty suburban house, but it isn't long before the authorities close in and they find themselves in a siege situation, with David still deeply disturbed on one side and the police unwilling to listen on the other.

PART ONE - 28th March
PART TWO - 30th March
PART THREE - 4th April
PART FOUR - 6th April


"Quiet As A Nun"

* With Maria Aitken (Jemima Shore), Renée Asherson (Mother Ancilla), Brenda Bruce (Sister Elizabeth), David Burke (Tony Amyas, MP), James Laurenson (Alexander Sharbeck), Doran Goodwin (Sister Lucy), Margaret D'arcy (Sister Clare), Kate Binchy (Sister Edward), Linda Slater (Dodo), Sarah Webb (Margaret), Michelle Winstanley (Blanche), Patsy Kensit (Tessa), Catrina Hylton (Mandy), Mary Healey (Beatrice O'Dowd), James Appleby (Joe), Susan Engel (Sister Agnes), Sylvia Coleridge (Sister Boniface)

* Dramatised by Julia Jones from the novel by Antonia Fraser
[Reprint ISBN: 0393318222 W.W. Norton & Company 1998]
* Directed by Moira Armstrong
* Produced by Jacqueline Davis
* Designer Bill Palmer
* Incidental music by Roger Webb
* Script Editor Robert Banks-Stewart

"Oh Christ...it's the rocking chair..."

TV investigative journalist and presenter Jemima Shore reads of the death of her childhood school friend Rosabelle, a nun at the Convent Of The Blessed Eleanor, who apparently starved herself to death in the "Tower Of Ivory". Despite the protests of her lover, she returns to her old school at the request of the Mother Ancilla to investigate the "strange forces" at work there.

Upon arrival at the convent, she learns that Rosabelle (or 'Sister Miriam') had in fact been the heiress to the land on which the convent stands, and had become intent on donating it to an infamous left wing politician - Alexander Sharbeck - whom she had seen on Jemima's own programme. Jemima meets Sharbeck again and discovers that his personal aide used to be a nun at the convent before forsaking her vows.

The nuns themselves however, prove less than helpful. Although superficially pleasant towards her, several attempt to warn Jemima off and one - the nervous young Sister Edward - even dares to suggest that Rosabelle was murdered by Mother Ancilla. Co-incidentally, Sister Edward is found dead shortly after of an asthma attack.

As Jemima probes deeper, mysterious deaths and strange goings-on at the convent lead her to uncover the legend of the faceless entity "The Black Nun", who it seems has decided to make an untimely re-appearance. Befriending several of the students, Jemima is sceptical of their sightings but intrigued by their mention of a second, unseen will made by Rosabelle shortly before her death.

Now convinced that there is something sinister taking place within the convent, Jemima probes deeper...only to find herself face to face with the terrifying - and very real - Black Nun.

PART ONE "The Tower" - 11th April
PART TWO "The Chapel" - 13th April
PART THREE "The Black Nun" - 18th April
PART FOUR "Witness And Wills" - 20th April
PART FIVE "Powers Of Darkness" - 25th April
PART SIX "Death And Decision" - 27th April


An Interview with Julia Jones

"The Limbo Connection"

* With James Bolam (Mark Omney), Rosalind Ayres (Annabella Fraser), Micheal Culver (Dr Walcott Brown), Beatrix Leahmann (Blanche Terraine), Suzanne Bertish (Clare Omney), James Berwick (Colonel Forde), Georgine Anderson (Mrs Forde), Patricia Lawrence (Mrs Carson Clark), Graham Rowe (Mr Carson Clark), Tricia George (Melissa Carson Clark), Isabelle Amyes (Julie Villiers), Tony Mathews (George Beatty), Vass Anderson (Soames), Alan Ford (Bill), Yvonne Edgell (Margaret), Anton Phillips (Barman), William Moore (Landlord), Christopher Benjamin (Det. Inspector Tarrant), Sam Sewell (Det. Constable Barnes), Peter Welch (Mechanic), Aimée Delamain (Mrs Franklyn), Arthur Blake (Mr Dyer)

* Dramatised by Philip Mackie from the novel by Derry Quinn
[Hardcover ISBN: 0245529276 Harrap 1976; Paperback ISBN: 0417018703 Magnum Books 1977]
* Directed by Robert Tronson
* Produced by Jacqueline Davis
* Designer David Marshall
* Incidental music by Denis King
* Script Editor Robert Banks-Stewart

"Not dead... not alive either.. limbo..."

Out-of-work scriptwriter Mark Omney wakes with a hangover one morning after a dinner party, with hazy memories of having assaulted his wife and guests the previous evening. His wife Clare - a successful Fleet Street journalist - insists that he give up drinking and sell their country cottage to pay their debts, but Mark disagrees strongly. Nevertheless, he acquiesces to meet Clare later that day at the cottage after she has returned from a luncheon. Depressed, Omney visits the pub to drown his sorrows and is delighted when he bumps into an old flame, Annabella. The two then proceed to get thoroughly drunk and Mark completely forgets about the rendezvous with his wife.

Clare Omney, meanwhile, falls victim to food poisoning at the luncheon and crashes her red Mini while on route to the cottage. Rescued by some passers-by, she is taken to the only nearby facility - a specialist private clinic catering for rich elderly women. Despite the initial protests of the staff, she is treated by one Dr Walcott-Brown and quickly recovers. Nevertheless, Walcott-Brown insists that she spend the night at his clinic.

The next morning Mark wakes in the cottage, unable to find Clare and with no memory of having driven there. Checking with one of Clare's colleagues, he is told about the incident and drives down to the Meadowbank Clinic to collect her. When he arrives, though, the distinguished Walcott-Brown insists that she has already left. Omney is pointed in the direction of her accident and there finds the Mini in a ditch, but with no trace of Clare to be found.

When a local elderly eccentric named Blanche Terraine smiles knowingly and refers to the clinic as "limbo land", Mark becomes concerned and returns to the Mini, only to find Clare's handbag in the side door compartment. He then becomes convinced that she has fallen victim to foul play at the clinic, a belief strengthened when a typed resignation is mysteriously delivered to Clare's office and Mark finds her jewellery and passport still in a safe at home.

Now becoming increasingly panicked about his wife's fate, Omney finds that the police - far from believing his theories - actually believe him to have murdered her in a derunken fit. Walcott-Brown fans the flames by implying that Omney is mentally unstable, and Mark is left with only two allies: his former girlfriend Annabella and the elderly alcoholic Blanche Terraine. Together they attempt to determine what has really happened to Clare, but in doing so appear to uncover an incredible, terrifying conspiracy involving some of society's most prestigious figures.

PART ONE - 2nd May
PART TWO - 4th May
PART THREE - 9th May
PART FOUR - 11th May
PART FIVE - 16th May
PART SIX - 18th May


Series Two (1980)
Series devised by Andrew Brown
Screened Tuesday and Thursday nights at 8pm on ITV

"The Victim"

* With David Beckett (Frankie Martin), Lorna Yabsley (Sue Craig), Steve Morley (Len Trace), John Shrapnel (Vincent Craig), Paul Jerricho (Harry Turner), Godfrey James (Chief Supt.Lewis), Gerald Sim (Francis Durrant), Alan Downer (Rodney Marsh), Priscilla Morgan (Zena Heathrop), Meg Ritchie (Ellen Craig), Alan Benion (Praed), Leon Sinden (Governor Gregory), Raymond Witch (Bates), Richard McNeff (Chief prison officer), Catherine Owen (Policewoman), Edward Burnham (Professor Manson), Bernard Kay (Neecham), Ken Kitson (Cole), Michael Maynard (Police sergeant), Dominic Letts (Betting shop assistant)

* Written by Michael Ashe
* Directed by Gareth Davies
* Produced by Brenda Ennis
* Designer Bill Palmer
* Script Editor Robert Holmes

"Vincent worships that child... I wonder if they realise what they've taken on..."

Vincent Craig is an electronics business executive at the very top of his profession - a hard line deal-maker who is used to getting his own way. His life is turned upside down though when his beloved 14 year old daughter Sue is taken and held for ransom. Anxious to see his child unharmed, he raises the £100,000 but secretly arranges for his own team of electronic experts to monitor the call from the culprit that evening, in the hope of finding a clue as to his identity.

There is an immediate clash of interests with the police, who feel that their own people are best qualified to trace the call, but reluctantly bow to pressure from Craig. The call comes through but, in a moment of indignation, Craig refuses to pay the money and slams down the receiver. Horrified, Superintendent Lewis insists that he take the next call but Craig is adamant: he believes he can find his daughter and her abductor simply by analysing the recording of the phone call.

Working behind the police's back, Craig calls in a linguistics expert to help pinpoint the location of the caller. The professor narrows it down to the town of Hepton, which at once rings memory bells for Craig. He and his colleague Harry Turner immediately set off for the town in secret, searching for a man called Neecham who had once run foul of Craig in a business dealing. The search is not an easy one, however, and when an innocent man is killed Vincent begins to wonder whether he has made the right decision.

Meanwhile, Sue is being held captive in an abandoned factory by two teenage thugs, who have been plunged into a state of panic by Craig's refusal to pay. Terrified but largely unharmed, she begins to form an emotional attachment to one of her captors, whom she doesn't realise is actually highly dangerous. This does not go down well with the other boy of course, who wants out of the situation but is too scared of his friend. As the situation becomes more volatile, Sue falls ever further under the spell of her charismatic tormentor, who even manages to convince her that her father does not love her anymore.

Finally, Craig and Turner locate Sue's hiding place, but without police assistance they face a daunting problem: how to free her from her prison without getting her killed in the process. And then there turns out to be a further, unexpected complication: Sue may not actually wish to be rescued...

PART ONE - 8th January
PART TWO - 10th January
PART THREE - 15th January
PART FOUR - 17th January
PART FIVE - 22nd January
PART SIX - 24th January

"Dead Man's Kit" (Produced by SOUTHERN TELEVISION)

* With Larry Lamb (CPO Chalkey White), Philip Locke (Cmdr. Lloyd), Maurice Colbourne (Lt-Cmdr. Kobahl), Clive Merrison (Cmdr. Maybury),  Robert Oates (Dave), Paul Kember (Peters), Freddie Fletcher (MAA Toberman), Nell Campbell (Zoe Summers), Mick Ford (Drunken Duncan), Jamie Foreman (First operator), Julian Littman (Mouth organist), David Toguri (Chinese laundry man), Cheri Lunghi (Stephanie), Victoria Fairbrother (Jean Toberman), Richard Kane (Winterman), William Russel (Senior officer), Angela Morant (Mrs Kobahl), Timothy Block (Second operator), Barry Woolgar (Dockyard pc), David Ellison (Naval patrolman)

* Written by Tom Clenaghan
* Directed by Colin Bucksey
* Produced by Andrew Brown
* Designer John Dilly
* Incidental Music by Andy Roberts

"Kobahl's gone to ground..."

Commander Lloyd is the Master At Arms of a British naval ship docked in Lisbon. One night in the local casino, he spots exchange officer Lt-Commander Kobahl losing heavily at the roulette table and, thinking it unusual, mentions it to him the next day. To Lloyd's surprise, Kobahl completely denies the accusation and dismisses it as a case of mistaken identity. Vexed, Lloyd reports the incident to his superior who also dismisses it as unlikely and then seems to invent an alibi which puts Kobahl in the clear.

Sensing something is not right, Lloyd confides in his friend Chalky White who does not take the matter very seriously until the Master At Arms mysteriously goes over the side one night. A hastily abandoned search arouses Chalky suspicions, which grow further when he is warned off the case by the same senior officer as Lloyd had been. When Kobahl goes on leave, Chalky takes his own leave and decides to investigate the matter himself and first tracks down Kobahl's wife and then his mistress, neither of whom have heard from him.

Sensing that Kobahl may be a foreign agent, Chalky becomes convinced when an attempt is made on his life. But unknown to him, there is more than one set of eyes watching as his girlfriend Stephanie and two mysterious figures all seem to be plotting against him behind his back. Kobahl eventually turns up, but who is on who's side and why?

PART ONE - 29th January
PART TWO - 31st January
PART THREE - 5th February
PART FOUR - 7th February

Note: While this serial features standard Armchair Thriller opening titles, the closing titles use different music, indicating that this story was not originally intended for the series but was instead a replacement for "The Chelsea Murders" (see below).

"Dying Day"

* With Ian McKellen (Antony Skipling), Maurice Kaufman (1st Interrogator), Prentiss Hancock (2nd Interrogator), David Howey (Foster), David Ryall (Lane), Patrick Malahide (Police Sergeant), Michael Troughton (Police Constable), Anton Phillips (Roger), Joan Scott (Senior Samaritan), Kathleen Worth (Cleaning Lady)

* Written by John Bowen
* Directed by Robert Tronson
* Produced by Brenda Ennis
* Designer Norman Garwood
* No incidental music
* Script Editor Robert Holmes

"I shall be leaving for Inverness on the 28th..."

Antony Skipling - a lonely, meticulous man - encounters a strange character on an evening train, who plays him various recordings of "badgers farting" and insects pupating. When the recordist accidentally leaves one of his tapes behind, Skipling plays the cassette and, to his considerable astonishment and horror, overhears a plot detailing his own impending murder.

Reporting the matter to the police, he is befuddled when a constable returns home with him to hear the tape only to find that it has somehow changed. Although the bar-room conversation is still present on the recording, the crucial conversation is now missing. The police consequently peg Skipling as a nut, leaving him to ponder his sanity until, one evening, the phantom recordist appears framed in the train window during a signal stop, clutching his bleeding eyes in agony.

Now positively fearing for his life, Skipling attempts to uncover  some answers for himself before the fateful day of February 28 arrives. Luckily, he finds an ally in the shape of a former counsellor who becomes his lover although she, like everyone else, questions why anybody would want to kill Antony Skipling. Convinced of his own impending death however, Skipling persists until he seemingly uncovers a sinister plot involving his ex-wife and a strange, Howard Hughes-like recluse.

PART ONE "Mr Skipling Is Sentenced To Death" - 12th February
PART TWO "Mr Skipling Finds A Friend" - 14th February
PART THREE "Mr Skipling Fights Back" - 19th February
PART FOUR "Mr Skipling's Day Of Reckoning" - 21st February


"Fear Of God"

* With Bryan Marshall (Paul Marriot), Peter Cellier (Maitland), Helen Cooper (Erica), Madeline Church (Nicola Clay), Peter Settelen (John Aubrey), Garrick Hagon (Walters), Michael Sheard (Colonel Morgan), Chris Jenkinson (Larke), Dave Cooper (PT instructor), Steve Kelley (Electronic man), Susan Sheridan (Rosamund's voice), Robert Austin (Stapleton), Anne Godley (Lady Diana), Madeline Hinde (Francesca Thornton), Lynn Clayton, Michael Watkins (Cyril) and Alun Armstrong (Trakearne)

* Dramatised by Troy Kennedy Martin from the novel by Derry Quinn
(ISBN: 0312285175 Magnum Books 1978)
* Directed by Robert Tronson
* Produced by Brenda Ennis
* Designer Martyn Herbert
* Incidental music by Kenyon Emrys-Roberts
* Script Editor Robert Holmes

"She was a soldier of The Regiment Of God..."

Journalist Paul Marriot is appalled when a young woman falls past the window of his flat while he is on the phone one day. Investigating the room above where she had fallen from, he finds that it was being used by squatters at the time and there discovers a bizarre diary written by the dead girl, with repeated references to something called "The Music Room" and "The Regiment Of God".

Chasing up this lead, he determines that The Regiment Of God is in fact a fanatical religious organisation led by a former US general named Stapleton. Attempting to stir matters up, he links Rosemund's death to the organisation in a short newspaper article. Unfortunately, the article is censored by the editor and when Marriot asks why he is told that the reference to the organisation was removed by the Ministry Of Defence.

With the Ministry Of Defence proving tight-lipped about the matter, Marriot attends Rosemund's funeral - a bizarre event - and there befriends her younger sister Nicola. Nicola openly despises the Regiment and believes them to have caused Rosemund's death, but is unable to offer much help. Marriot is stumped until he comes across a drug addict named John Aubrey who had worked for the organisation and describes it as a puritanical McCarthy-ist sect. Then Aubrey reveals a startling secret: that the Regiment possesses sophisticated "sound weapon" technology, with which it intends to brainwash the youth of Britain and begin a social revolution, ruthlessly eliminating anything the Regiment Of God deems as "unclean".

Now in possession of the full facts, Mariot quickly becomes the target of surveillance and persecution from the fanatical sect, who are not averse to using their deadly sound weapons to thwart this new threat to their fold...

PART ONE "A Question of Gravity" - 26th February
PART TWO "The Noise" - 28th February
PART THREE "The Music Room" - 4th March
PART FOUR "Bang!" - 6th March


"High Tide" (Produced by SOUTHERN TELEVISION)

* With Ian McShane (Peter Curtis), Wendy Morgan (Celia), Terence Rigby (Matthews), John Bird (Cyril), Malcom Terris (Maxwell), Mike McKevitt (Fenton), Toby Salaman (Smith) and Kika Markham (Helen)

* Dramatised by Andrew Brown from the novel by PM Hubbard
(Hardcover ISBN: 0333120744 1970 Atheneum (US); 1971 (UK) Macmillan Softcover, ISBN: 0060805714 1982 HarperCollins)
* Directed by Colin Bucksey
* Produced by Andrew Brown
* Designer Judy Steele
* Incidental music by Richard Hartley

"High tide at 9.52..."

Peter Curtis is enjoying the peace of the English countryside after being released from prison. Travelling by night to avoid contact with other people, he is annoyed when at the latest inn he is staying at he is bothered by an insistent man named Mathews. Mathews turns out to be connected with the man Curtis had accidentally killed when he had assaulted him for running over his dog. Unaware that his victim had a weak heart, Curtis had sat helplessly by as the man had died, but not before uttering a cryptic message.

The shady Maxwell pleads with Curtis to tell him the message, but the ex-convict is genuinely unable to remember and Maxwell departs. With his curiosity piqued, Curtis now spends all his time trying to recall the words until, finally, one afternoon he remembers: "High tide at 9.52". Keeping this to himself, he quickly determines that the coastal town of Yealmouth was his victim's intended destination. Consequently he buys a boat and sets off for Yealmouth with a flirtatious girl passenger whom he had picked up on the road one night during a storm. Suspecting that she is a plant, he deliberately takes a circuoutous route to Yealmouth before finally throwing the girl off the boat.

Arriving in Yealmouth, he is immediately befriended by another suspicious character called Cyril who invites him back for dinner with his wife Helen, whom Curtis is immediately attracted to. The next day he sails around the town searching for some hint as to why his victim had been heading there, until he comes across an old house that is only accessible at high tide. But the house is guarded by an armed man, and Curtis's attempts to investigate are not welcomed. And it seems that somehow Helen is involved and may even be at risk, but why, and how?

PART ONE - 11th March
PART TWO - 13th March
PART THREE - 18th March
PART FOUR - 20th March

Note: While this serial features standard Armchair Thriller opening titles, the closing titles use different music, indicating that this story was not originally intended for the series but was instead a replacement for "The Chelsea Murders" (see below).

"The Circe Complex"

* With Beth Morris (Val Foreman), Trevor Martin (Tom Foreman), Alan David (Ollie Milton), Michael Deeks (Cat Devlin), James Hazeldine (Dave), Derek Ware (O'Brady), Geoffrey Colvile (Prison governor), Maggie Wilkinson (Miss Davis), Eric Francis (Mr Evans), Marc Boyle (First policeman), Gareth Forwood (Dr Crampton), Jestyn Phillips (Second policeman) and Tony Scannell (Connally)

* Dramatised by David Hopkins from the novel by Desmond Cory
(ISBN: 0385097352 Doubleday 1975)
* Directed by Robert D Cardona
* Produced by Brenda Ennis
* Designer David Richens
* Script Editor Robert Holmes

"Circe... the enchantress who transformed all who drank of her cup..."

Val Foreman is a lady with an irresistable appeal to men. Beautiful and cunning, she manipulates the opposite sex for her own ends with effortless ease. And the stakes in her power game are high, for she is also the wife of Tom Foreman, a convicted jewel thief who is the only man alive that knows the whereabouts of £500,000 in stolen jewels.

The only problem, however, is that Tom is in the middle of serving a life sentence for killing a policeman. Believing that if she could break him out of goal he might tell her where the booty is hidden, she enlists the help of her current lover, a psychiatrist named Ollie Milton. Milton visits the prison in a professional capacity and hatches a plan to break Tom out by having him deliberately injure himself. Milton also ropes in a young cat burglar named Cat Devlin, but it isn't long before the boy falls for Val's charms and the two become secretly involved behind Milton's back.

The plan goes into action and Tom is taken to a country cottage, where Milton tries to use drugs and electric shock treatment to worm the location of the hiding place out of the convict. But the task proves impossible due to Tom's degenerated health and stubborn nature, and he dies leaving only one cryptic clue behind: "Want some bread... palace gates... piece of cake'. When the green Devlin finally turns up, he is framed by Milton and carted off by the police for murdering Tom.

A complex web of intrigue now unfolds, with Devlin protesting his innocence so greatly that the policeman investigating begins to have doubts. Unfortunately, he also makes the acquaintance of Val who quickly manipulates the situation to her own ends by seducing him. Meanwhile, Milton is torn apart by jealousy and his own frustration and rage at being unable to solve the riddle left by Tom. Val convinces the policeman Dave to quit the force and help her to search for the jewels, but will they get there before Milton does?

PART ONE - 25th March
PART TWO - 27th March
PART THREE - 1st April
PART FOUR - 3rd April
PART FIVE - 8th April
PART SIX - 10th April


"The Chelsea Murders"

* With Michael Feast (Steve), Guy Gregory (Artie), Miranda Ball (Mary), Richard Hampton (Editor), Dave King (Warton), Anthony Carrick (Summers), David Gant (Frank), David Yipp (Denny), Toria Fuller (Wilhelmina), Anthony Barnett (Len), Christopher Bramwell (Mason), Darien Angadi (Abo), Derek Broome (P.C. Nutter), Chris Gannon (Publican), Fiona Mathieson (Librarian), Douglas Sheldon (Otto), Penny Leatherbarrow (Barmaid), Gavin Campbell (Chef), Maryann Turner (Landlady), Susie Jenkinson (Girl), Lucy Griffiths (Mrs Bulstrode), Robin Parkinson (Landlord), Ishaq Bux (Arab servant), Ian Liston (Policeman), James Charles (Policeman), Harold Reese (Neighbour)

* Dramatised by Jonathan Hales, from the novel by Lionel Davidson
(ISBN: 0099415933 Arrow)
* Directed by Derek Bennet
* Produced by Brenda Ennis
* Designer Allan Cameron
* Incidental music by Anthony Isaac
* Script Editor Robert Holmes

"It was horrible... it was a mask... it's lips were all funny..."

When four people are murdered in Chelsea within a few weeks of each other, the police fear that a serial killer may be at work. When a fifth victim is attacked but survives, she identifies her attacker in an experimental film made by three former art students. The film depicts a tall, caped figure, its faced obscured by an elaborate mask.

The police already have their suspicions about the three already, since one of them - a flamboyant designer and heroin addict named Frank - was with victim number four on the night of her murder. They place them under watch while, in the meantime, a string of cryptic messages sent through the post herald a string of new murders. Each time the message is a quote from a famous work, with the author's initials corresponding to those of the next victim.

Within a short time, two other people known to the three are murdered and during one incident the killer is even caught on videotape by a secret camera hidden behind a mirror. It clearly shows the cloaked, masked culprit, who even takes a bow to the camera at the end. It seems to establish alibis for the three, but the detective in charge of the investigation senses that they are being manipulated, and becomes convinced of the film makers' guilt.

As the killings continue, the police become desperate but are unable to establish a positive connection between the crimes and their three suspects. A journalist friend of the three - Mary Mooney - makes her own investigations, but by doing so places her own life in mortal danger.


Note: "The Chelsea Murders" was originally shot for Series Two but remained unscreened at the time when "Dead Man's Kit" and "High Tide" were bought in from Southern Television. It was eventually shown as an abridged, stand-alone two hour programme on December 30th, 1981, shortly after the final UK repeat of the original episodes. The abridged version no longer exists in the archives, althought the six-parter does, albeit in an unfinished state: only episode 6 is complete; the others are missing the incidental music, sound effects and spoken recapitualtions at the start of each episode.

UK Repeat Dates

1979 repeat season Wed & Thu 1.30 - 2.00 pm ITV networked slot

"Rachel in Danger" ... October 31st/November 1st/7th/8th
"Quiet as a Nun" .... November 14th/15th/21st/22nd/28th/29th
"Limbo Connection" ... December 5th/6th/12th/13th/19th/20th

1980 repeat season Thu & Fri 1.30 - 2.00 pm ITV networked slot

"The Girl Who Walked Quickly" .... November  27th/28th/December 4th/5th
"Fear of God" ... December 11th/12th/18th/19th

1981 repeat season Tue & Wed 1.30 - 2.00 pm ITV networked slot

"The Victim" .... September 22nd/23rd/29th/30th/October 6th/7th
"Dying Day" .... October 13th/14th/20th/21st
"Circe Complex" ... October 27th/28th/November 3rd/4th/10th/11th
"Dead Man's Kit" ... November 17th/18th/24th/25th
"High Tide" .... December 1st/2nd/8th/9th

Help...help me!

Martin Marshall (for loads of credits, scans, tx and repeat info), Mark M (for the logo!), Simon Farquhar (for interviewing Julia Jones), Julia Jones (for her comments!),
Martin Potter [for info on the trailer], Chris Orton (for the alternate DVD covers).

This web page is purely a fan site and no infringement of copyright is intended.

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Questions? Comments? Email: blacknun@fishpeople.every1.net