Catch Hand
BBC 1964
Stop Counting At One
TX : 1st July 1964
Director : Bill Hays
Script : H V Kershaw

Synopsis : Catch Hand - Mark Eden and Anthony Booth star in a new drama series about two young men who are always on the move doing different jobs: Some people would call him a drifter, others a casual labourer, while officialdom classifies him as an intinerant worker. But to the men who work alongside him and respect him, he is "Catch Hand". Not for him the routine and regular hours of a steady job; he is always on the move, selling his skill and strength to the highest bidder when there is tough and dirty work to be done.

He is, in his way, a specialist, welcomed wherever there are dams to be built or motorways to be driven across the countryside - earning as much as sixty pounds a week but never stopping in the same place for long before the itch to be up and away takes him to another town, another job. He is a character new to television, and the BBC Television series which begins tonight concerns one catch hand in particular, Johnny Rich - a man whose wanderings stem from something more than restlessness, a man in the grip of a force that drives him on almost as though he were escaping from something, or someone…

Sharing his adventures is young Finn Brodie, in every way the opposite of Johnny. Brash, extrovert, exuberant, a
labourer who lives from hand to mouth, spending his money on drink and girls. Finn is in truth a drifter - and as events turn out, his drifting takes him in the same direction as Johnny. Mark Eden, who plays Johnny, is well-qualified for the part. Before becoming established as an actor he tried his hand at dozens of different jobs, including milkman, lathe operator, labourer on a building site, tailor's presser, pier photographer, travelling salesman and fairground barker. He has since appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in a number of television plays and films - the latest, Séance On A Wet Afternoon - and has been seen most recently on BBC Television as Marco Polo in Doctor Who.

Anthony Booth, as Finn Brodie, has had an equally varied career, ranging from the Merchant Navy to work as a labourer, waiter, painter, stable boy, docker, and porter at Covent Garden market. Many viewers will have seen him in episodes of Taxi! And Z-Cars, and he has played in several films with Mark Eden, notably The L-Shaped Room. In tonight's first story, Stop Counting At One, we meet Johnny Rich as he arrives at a big construction site in search of work. Acting on the principle that all such sites accumulate trouble, he finds where the trouble is and offers to sort it out. It is a dangerous job, which nobody else will tackle - and for Johnny and Finn, twice as dangerous, because it involves thwarting a man with a keen interest in seeing that it is not finished. (Radio Times, June 25, 1964).

Cast : Geraldine Sherman (Marian), Tony Selby (The Lorry Driver), Reg Lye (Smoky), Alan Browning (Jacko), William Holmes (Higgs), Michael Corcoran (Paddy), Frederick Peisley (Lucas) and Cyril Cross (Bulldozer Driver).

Notes : The opening episode of Catch Hand attracted 7.2 million viewers and was ranked the ninth most popular programme of the top twenty for the week commencing June 27th, 1964.

Five Per Cent Of Trouble
TX : 8th July 1964
Director : Michael Ashlin
Script : Gerogre Reed

Synopsis : Catch Hand: When the Beeching axe falls there is plenty of good money to be earned by a tough and resourceful "catch hand". Johnny Rich (Mark Eden) and Finn Brodie (Anthony Booth) are quick off the mark when they hear that forty pounds a week is being made by lorry drivers shifting scrap from a closed railway station. But their appearance is not welcomed by the men already on the job - as some minor incidents and delays all too clearly show. Finn's interest in the girlfriend of Mick, the fiery-tempered gang-leader, does not do much to help matters either. In tonight's story called "Five Per Cent Of Trouble" Finn finds himself in the kind of dangerous fix he did not bargain for - at any price. Anthony Booth's portrayal of the brash young drifter who is ready for anything has more than a hint of his own life-story so far. After serving in the Army abroad he got the taste for roving. He joined the Merchant Navy and went to America, Africa, and Australia. On one occasion he was stranded in Venice and had to cross Italy, using his wits for money, to rejoin his ship at Naples. When he left seafaring to return to acting he worked in repertory and with the Theatre Workshop company. Between parts he learned what it was like to be something of a catch hand himself - earning a living as a builder's labourer hodding bricks, as a dockyard worker, a porter at Covent Garden, and a stable boy with the National Hunt. He has also put his back into a number of raw-boned roles in BBC Television productions, including Pay-Day and Old Road, and he appears in the soon-to-be-released feature film Of Human Bondage. (Radio Times, July 2, 1964).

Cast : Glyn Owen (Mick), John Rae (Reg Barton), Raymond Smith (Alan), George Betton (George), David Craig (Ralph), Antony Isaac (Mac), Zeph Gladstone (Linda), Verity Edmett (Joyce), Jack Phillips (The Landlord) and Ronald Mayer (The Garage Attendant).

Fifteen-Bob-An-Hour Men
TX : 15th July 1964
Director : David Bellamy
Script :
Tony Williamson

Synopsis : Catch Hand: There is trouble ahead for Finn Brodie (Anthony Booth) and Johnny Rich (Mark Eden) in tonight's episode of Catch Hand even if they are "Fifteen-Bob-An-Hour Men". Finn and Johnny are employed by an old farmer, Tom, to reopen a tin mine but they run into serious opposition from two brothers, Billy and Gordie Gell. The brothers Gell have formed the local farmers into an association - merely so that they can line their own pockets - but Tom has refused to join, which is a considerable thorn in their side. Cunningly, Tom claims that the mine is rich in tin, thus gaining the assistance of the Catch Hands. However, the Gells are not so easily thwarted, and the thug-like Gordie tries to stop all the nonsense and bring Tom to heel … (Radio Times, July 9, 1964).

Cast : Bert Palmer (Tom Twyley), Michael Miller (Billy Gell), James Donnelly (Gordie Gill), Alan Lake (Charlie), Roy Hanlon (Ben), Pamela Hewes (Elsie), Pauline Munro (Susan), Roy Maxwell (The Railway Porter) and Geoffrey Underwood (The Doctor).

The Jokers
TX : 22nd July 1964
Director : Bill Hays
Script : Henry Chapman

Synopsis : Catch Hand: For a catch hand, work is where he finds it - and in tonight's episode Johnny Rich and Finn Brodie comes to a temporary halt in their wanderings to take on the task of reconditioning a seaside pier. Among the men on the job is Jeff, who sees in Finn all the charactertistics of the younger generation which he most resents in his own son. Between these two the practical jokes and horseplay common to any group of workers begin to take on a dangerous touch of bitterness, until tempers wear thin and Johnny has to sort out serious trouble. In this story Mark Eden, who plays Johnny, is on familiar territory, for at one stage in a remarkably varied career he was a photographer on Margate pier. An actor since leaving school, he moved around the country for several years playing in different Rep companies, and between engagements filled in time with casual jobs ranging all the way from navvying to pub pianist. (He is, in fact, a talented amateur musician and composer). Knowing from experience the life of a catch hand, he was a natural choice for the part of Johnny, the quiet and self-sufficient character who is something of an enigma to his fellow labourers - and who speaks with the wisdom of one who has knocked around and seen every side of human nature when he warns the impulsive Finn about Jeff: "You're letting him get under you skin, mate…". (Radio Times, July 16, 1964).

ast : George A Cooper (Jeff), John Barrard (Ted), Sally Lewis (The Barmaid), Gordon Gostelow (Bill) and Reginald Barratt (Neddy).

It's Never The Same
TX : 29th July 1964
Director : Michael Ashlin
Script : Cyril Abraham

Cast : Edward Chapman (John Collins), Trevor Bannister (William Collins), Jacqueline Bacon (Julie Kneale), Michael Beint (Judd Peters), Yvette Rees (Elvira Peters), Pamela Binns (Helen), John Barrett (The Landlord), Keith Anderson (Reg Stanton), Norman Mitchell (Albert King) and Peter Mason (Arthur Frazer).

Notes : Music for the series was composed by Bert Chappell. Fight Sequences for the series were arranged by Paddy Ryan. The series was designed by Donald Brewer, Frederick Knapman, Jeremy Davies and Moira Tate.

Because It Was There
TX : 5th August 1964
Director : Michael Simpson
Script :
Rodney Gedye

Synopsis : Because It Was There: When Finn (Anthony Booth) comes up to London in tonight's Catch Hand episode, he takes a bed in a Pimlico lodging-house and discovers that his room-mate, young Peter Rudd (John Lyons), is in trouble. The lodging-house is being run by a young woman whose scrounging grandfather is taunting Peter by telling him he is too much of a coward to work on the high girders of a building site. Finn tries to help the lad: "The way I see it you've got three choices. You move out, you tell the old feller to get knotted, or you show him". Finn finds out some useful facts about the old man but Peter is determined to solve the problem in his own way - a way that threatens disaster for both him and Finn. (Radio Times, July 30, 1964)

Cast : Thomas Heathcote (Woody), John Lyons (Peter Rudd), Clifton Jones (Foster), Ann Mitchell (Helen Woods), Gerry Duggan (Pat O'Brien), Alan Dudley (The First Foreman), Michael Goldie (The Second Foreman) and Wally Patch (Tom Ellis).

Just Call Me Dad
TX : 12th August 1964
Director : BIll Hays
Script : Alan Gosling

Cast : Rosemary Leach (Rose Studwick), William Marlowe (Arthur Studwick), Gary Mason (The Boy On The Building Site), Joe Gladwin (The Caretaker), Clifford Cox (The Foreman), Andrew Theophanus (The Boy In The Playground), John Ross (Peter Rich), Peter Lawrence (Mr Arkwright) and Robin Parkinson (The Fairground Artist).

Notes : Film Sequences were shot by Charles Lagus and the film editors were Alma Davies and Roy Watts.

A Time For Grass
TX : 19th August 1964
Director : Michael Leeston Smith
Script : Lewis Davidson

Synopsis : A Time For Grass: Finn Brodie finds himself in exalted company this week - at least so far as soliloquizing goes. While Finn's problem may not be quite along the same lines as Hamlet's he is faced with the same question of "to be or not to be". But that is only part of the question … Finn (played by Anthony Booth) has to decide where that thin dividing line between what is (and what is not) crooked should be drawn. In tonight's episode of Catch Hand he has first to face this question, and then decide where loyalty begins and ends, while working with a pair of surveyors who have something far more sinister in mind than planning a railway siding. Before he decides, with Johnny's help, Finn comes within an inch of crime himself. (Radio Times, August 13, 1964).

Cast : Peter Dyneley (Mr Neil), Philip Madoc (Hooker), Maureen Norman (The Proprietress), Peter Thomas (The Publican) and Frank Hawkins (The Security Officer).

It's Only Bricks And Mortar
TX : 26th August 1964
Director : Philip Dudley
Script : Tony Williamson

Synopsis : Catch Hand: Apart from the "professional" catch hands there is also another type of casual worker - the student who finds employment during the long summer break. David Johnson (Barry Jackson) is one such student and he and Johnny (Mark Eden) meet in tonight's episode while working on a council building site. David has discovered that not all the bricks ordered are arriving at the site and tells Johnny, who finds that the missing bricks are being used on buildings in another part of the town. However when David mentions this to the foreman he is very smartly told to mind his own business. By this time both he and Johnny have discovered that even if "It's Only Bricks And Morar" it can add up to thousands of pounds when graft is also concerned. (Radio Times, August 20, 1964).

Cast : Barry Jackson (David Johnson), Neil McCarthy (Mike), Barry Keegan (Jenkins), Graham Rigby (Bill), Leonard Fenton (The First Brickie), John Murray Scott (The Second Brickie), Ralph Broome (Joe), Michael Gover (Rysley), Derek Benfield (Baxter), Fiona Walker (Sandra) and Arthur R Webb (The Nightwatchman).

Shadows From The Past
TX : 2nd September 1964
Director : David Bellamy
Script : H V Kershaw

Synopsis : Catch Hand: Finn Brodie befriends a girl who has run away from home and Johnny Rich, a runaway himself, comes face to face with someone he has been trying to avoid in tonight's episode titled "Shadows From The Past". While workers on the motorway project where the pair are employed are busy preparing for a visit from Government officials Finn (Anthony Booth) is organizing his own conducted tour for the young lass (Susan Tebbs). It almost ends in disaster and has strange effects on Johnny. (Radio Times, August 27, 1964).

Cast : Nicholas Brent (Nodgson), Susan Tebbs (Jennie), Clifford Parrish (Chas), Harry Littlewood (Wilkie), Michael Anthony (Mr Barker), Antony Lindford (The Soldier), William Hurndell (The Ministry Official), Edward Evans (George Platt), Joan Peart (The Sister) and Michael Martin (The Surgeon).

Actor Anthony Booth as Finn Brodie in Catch Hand.

In the Summer of 1964, BBC Television introduced a ten-part series entitled Catch Hand, featuring relative newcomers Mark Eden and Anthony Booth.

Actor Mark Eden as Johnny Rich with co-star Anthony Booth as Finn Brodie.

The programme featured the trials and tribulations of Johnny Rich and Finn Brodie, two itinerant workers (otherwise known as "Catch Hands") with an eye on the main chance and the capacity to obtain work in the most unlikely of locations. Living fast, earning high and entertaining the ladies was the staple of their existence, and whilst the concept may have been appeared somewhat thin, the chemistry between Eden and Booth enabled the programme to cultivate respectable audience figures and a prime position in the BBC's summer schedules.

Stories involved the pair undertaking work at a variety of building sites, reconstruction operations and amidst lorry fleets, often brought into conflict with the employees-in-residence or helping colleagues with personal problems to find a solution along the way.

The programme is a prime example of the BBC's continuing desire to produce a series of programmes which could be viewed individually or as a whole, held together thematically and enabling casual audiences to engage with the content (successful programmes such as Mogul, First Night, Suspense and Vendetta were in a similar vein).

Notable writing contributions came from Tony Williamson (later to devise The Protectors for Gerry Anderson and ITV) and Cyril Abraham (the driving creative force behind The Onedin Line), whilst guest appearances from Tony Selby, Glyn Owen, George A Cooper, Trevor Bannister and Philip Madoc underline the pedigree not only of the primary cast but of the supporting talent on offer.

The programme was only ever intended for a ten-week run, and despite its popularity further series were not commissioned. The series has never been commercially exploited and is unavailable owing to BBC Television's junking policy during the late 1960s.

Text © Matthew Lee, 2003.

Regular Characters
Portrayed By
Johnny Rich
Mark Eden
Finn Brodie
Anthony Booth

The series was produced by Terence Williams and script edited by John Gould and Kenneth Ware.

Please note synopsis are taken from the original Radio Times listings for the day of transmission.