Wednesday 18 April 2018

Carrying On with Gideon's Way

I've recently become rather hooked on the classic British police series Gideon's Way. The show is enjoying a re-run on that brilliant nostalgia fest which is Talking Pictures TV. Starring John Gregson (best known for his role in the film Genevieve) as Commander George Gideon of Scotland Yard, the series focussed on the demanding career of Gideon and the challenge of combining it with family life.

The series ran to 26 hour long episodes, all filmed between 1964 and 65 and broadcast from the March of '65 into the following year. Gideon's Way was made for ITV and shot at Elstree Studios at the same time as shows like The Saint and The Avengers. What marked the series out from many others of the era was the extensive use of location filming which added to the authenticity of the subject matter. Filmed in black and white, the fast paced action and strong storylines pushed new ground. For me, seeing mid-sixties London in all its post-war grimy glory is a real treat. As are the countless guest actors who appear throughout the run.

Well-known actors such as Jean Marsh, Gordon Jackson, Rosemary Leach, George Cole and John Hurt turn up in various episodes but for me, as usual, it's the Carry On faces who provide the greatest interest. So here's a run down of all the classic Carry On links with this wonderful old detective show. 

First up, a Carry On link behind the camera. Norman Hudis, the writer of the first six Carry On films, penned four of the 26 episodes. Norman wrote episode 10 "How to Retire without Really Working; episode 11 "Subway to Revenge"; episode 19 "The Millionaire's Daughter" and finally episode 24 "The Reluctant Witness". Norman did go on to write a great deal of television following his departure from the Carry Ons and this material is certainly very different to the larks of Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims and the rest of the gang!

Gideon's daughter Pru in the show was played by actress Andrea Allan. Scottish born Andrea appeared in seven episodes during the run. Andrea went on to appear in series such as UFO as Carol Miller, Jason King, Thriller and One Foot in the Grave. Around the time of filming Gideon's Way, Andrea also made brief appearances in two Carry Ons. Apparently she is featured in Carry On Spying (can't confirm this) and she also had the small part of Minnie in Carry On Cowboy. 

The actress Angela Douglas, best known for her roles in four Carry Ons including Cowboy and Up the Khyber, appeared in two different episodes of Gideon's Way. In the second ever episode, broadcast on 25 March 1965, Angela played Cathy Miller in a story about anti-fascist marches in London called "The V Men". Angela returned to play the title character in the episode "Morna" broadcast in February 1966, just after she's finished filming Carry On Screaming.

The very first episode shown in March 1965 and entitled "State Visit" focusses on an official visit to London by the German President. The storyline features two well-known Carry On faces. David Lodge, who appeared in Regardless, Girls, Dick, Behind and England, plays the character of Morris while future semi-regular Julian Holloway makes an early screen appearance playing Jim Richards. The episode broadcast in early May 1965 called "Big Fish, Little Fish" also features two famous actors who made cameo roles in the Carry Ons. Sydney Tafler, who played the strip club owner encountered by Charles Hawtrey in Carry On Regardless, plays Gabriel Lyon while Harry Towb plays Ted Cowan. Harry went on to appear briefly in Carry On At Your Convenience as the "doctor" in the dubious film Lew Boggs takes Myrtle Plummer to see at the cinema!

The first episode written by Norman Hudis features three Carry On faces, one of who appeared in the very first Carry On Norman wrote. Eric Barker plays one half of a couple who have spent their life making a living from petty crime in the episode "How to Retire without Really Trying." He is joined by William Mervyn as Mr Pater and Henry McGee as Mark Martinson. Mervyn cropped up in Carry On Follow That Camel as Angela Douglas' father, in Again Doctor as the chair of the hospital board and finally as the court physician in Carry On Henry. And Henry made a cameo as a talk show host in Carry On Emmannuelle in 1978.

Ray Brooks turns up as Frank Romano in the episode "Gang War", a character who runs a small business protection racket. Ray played Georgio, the son of Peter Butterworth and Hattie Jacques who seduces June Whitfield's Evelyn Blunt in Carry On Abroad. "Fall High, Fall Hard" first broadcast in April 1966 focusses on a construction company run by an honest man and his crooked partner. Donald Houston, the Welsh actor you'll remember for his role as First Officer Jonathan Howett in Carry On Jack, plays the honest partner while the less than straight forward one is none other than Carry On semi-regular Victor Maddern.

Finally, the very last episode in the run, "The Nightlifters", shown in May 1966 sees four teenagers led into a life of violence by Anton Rodgers who's character lives on a Chelsea houseboat and has upper-class pretensions. Anton had small roles in two early Carry Ons - first of all a young man chatting up Dilys Laye in Carry On Cruising and then Hardy in the first scene of Carry On Jack with Jimmy Thompson. This episode also features reliable character actor Harry Locke as Joe Moss. You'll remember Harry for his roles in the first three medical Carry Ons - Mick the Orderly in Carry On Nurse, Sam in Carry On Doctor and finally the hospital porter in Carry On Again Doctor in 1969.

Gideon's Way is shown each weekday evening at 20.00 on Talking Pictures TV. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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