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The Days Of Vengeance
BBC 1960
Having captured the hearts and minds of British audiences with Dixon Of Dock Green, Ted Willis was commissioned to pen a new thriller serial (during the summer recess for Dock Green) alongside Edward J Mason (one of the original authors of the Dick Barton serial and a regular contributor to The Archers).

The series opened with Detective Inspector Mitchell (played by William Lucas) investigating a case very close to home - the kidnapping of his young son, Ken. Rather than merely portraying a police procedural drama, the serial drew from the fundamentals established in Dixon Of Dock Green - the human cost of criminal activity. Whilst Mitchell investigated the disappearance of his son (which lead him to a Cockney gang and a ruthless crime boss, intent on using Mitchell's son as a bargaining chip to ensure his silence and complicity), viewers were drawn into the impact on the Detective Inspector's family (and in particularly his wife, Ann, played by Betty McDowell).


The Radio Times trailed the new programme on 3rd June 1960: Although Dixon Of Dock Green is off the air for the summer months, scriptwriter, playwright, adapter Ted Willis is not a man who remains in the background for long, despite the indifference to him shown in these interviews with his two collaborators … Edward J Mason, tall, bearded and looking of the earth, received me in the study of his farmhouse in the suburbs of Birmingham. I at once saw that the legend of his fabulous hospitality was not exaggerated, for as I entered he hurried across to a bureau and poured two large whiskies. He drank them down quickly, then turned to welcome me. I could not help noticing the little details which marked the man. The heap of soil on the carpet over which he bent from time to time to press a handful between expert fingers; the thigh-length rubber boots which he wore even here, so that he might be prepared for any agricultural emergency; the countless books on the fertility of the countryside. I began at once:

TW: This new serial you have written - The Days Of Vengeance - it has a farming background?
EJM: No. Actually it is set in a big city.
TW: It is a thriller, I believe.
EJM: Yes. But it is also a study in character. It deals with a Detective-Inspector who faces a crisis in his job. And this creates a conflict in his domestic life.
TW: Could you tell me something more about the plot?
EJM: No.
TW: Why not?
EJM: It would spoil it.
TW: You're an expert on serials, of course, and thrillers. You were one of the original authors of Dick Barton.
EJM: That's right. The Days Of Vengeance is a different sort of thing, of course, but I'm hoping it will be just as exciting. With people like William Lucas, Betty McDowall, Richard Pearson and Katherine Parr in the cast, it should be.
TW: You still write a regular radio programme, don't you? I know it is on every evening, but the name escapes me.
EJM: It's called The Archers. I write it with Geoffrey Webb.
TW: Is that what it's called? I never have time to listen to it. Geoffrey Webb didn't collaborate on this new serial with you, did he?
EJM: No. It was someone else.
TW: Who?
EJM: The name escapes me. He writes a regular weekly television programme during the winter. I never have the time to watch it.
TW: I believe it's called Dixon Of Dock Green.
EJM: Is it? Really.
TW: You enjoyed working with … er … this other author?
EJM: Let me reply to that by asking you a question.
TW: By all means.
EJM: When a man is christened Edward, don't you think it is rather pretentious of him to shorten it to Ted? All right in private life. But to sign your professional work with a name like Ted - I mean - it has no dignity. Don't you agree?
TW: No, I don't.
EJM: Still, on second thoughts, it probably suits him. He is rather a Ted. A real, right Ted, as some of the characters in The Days Of Vengeance might put it.

At this point a cackle from the farmyard drew his attention, and he hurried out to face this new crisis. I could see from the window that it was, in fact, only his children fighting, but it was characteristic of the man that he should give them as much attention as he would give his sheep-dog or his cows. It is this homely instinct which is responsible for so much of the success of the writer whom the world knows as Edward J Mason, but whom the people who really know him call, more simply, just "Ted".

Whilst hardly mould-breaking, the series was gripping to the extent that the whereabouts of Mitchell's son remained unknown until the final episode. Viewing figures improved across the course of this serial (perhaps buoyed by the fact that the production was, ostensibly, "more-of-the same" from Ted Willis, particularly during Dixon's recess), and ensured that Detective Inspector Mitchell would soon re-appear in Flower Of Evil. The Days Of Vengeance was repeated shortly prior to the transmission of its sequel, but was not retained in the BBC Archives.

Text © Matthew Lee, 2003.

Regular Characters
Portrayed By
Detective Inspector Mitchell
William Lucas
Ann Mitchell
Betty McDowall
Narrator / Police Constable Harris
Peter Hawkins
Police Constable May
Dennis Thorne
Reg Parrish
Kenneth Cope
Detective Sergeant West
Richard Pearson
Detective Constable Rich
Anthony Harrison
Detective Constable Waverley
Donald Masters
Police Sergeant Wills
Startford Johns
Agnes Cranwell
Katharine Parr
Power
Paul Eddington
Superintendent Stabler
Jerold Wells
Mrs Stabler
Daphne Goddard
Police Constable Palmer
Fred Ferris
Bearing
Dennis Edwards
Charlie
Hugh Lloyd
George
Lane Meddick
Partridge
Nigel Arkwright

 


Goodbye, Dolly Gray
TX : 8th June 1960
Additional Cast : David Hart (Aide to CID Johnson), Rex Graham (Aide to CID Wright).

Notes : The series was originally transmitted on BBC-1 from 9:10pm to 9:45pm on BBC-1.


Wound For Wound
TX : 15th June 1960
Additional Cast : Yvonne Ball (Maid), Denys Graham (Mr Hall), Reginald Green (Bus Driver).

Notes : Film Editor for the series was Kenneth Cooper.


The Full Treatment
TX : 22nd June 1960

Notes : Incidental Music for the series was provided by Bruce Campbell.


Book Of Lamentations
TX : 29th June 1960
Additional Cast : Peter Hughes (Thomas), Bill Shine (Sharp), Marilyn Thomas (Night Sister), and Richard Curnock (George), David Robinson (Urchin).

Synopsis : Another mysterious telephone call about his missing boy has just been received by Detective Inspector Mitchell, who tries to comfort his mother-in-law, Agnes.


A Bunch Of Red Roses
TX : 6th July 1960
Additional Cast : Donald Masters, Alec Bregonzi, Rex Graham, Jock McKay, Joyce Parry and Pamela Pitchford.

Synopsis : Power, the smooth ruthless gang boss, is suspected by Detective Inspector Mitchell of being involved in the kidnapping of his young son.


Revelations
TX : 13th July 1960
Additional Cast : Ronnie Stevens (Ritzy Fern), Yvette Rees (Mrs Collins), Felicity Young (Ruby). Other parts were played by Alec Bregonzi, Rex Graham, Jock McKay, Joyce Parry, Pamela Pitchford, John Tucker and David Hart.

Synopsis : Detective Inspector Mitchell closes in on the kidnappers.


The series created and written by Ted Willis and Edward J Mason, produced and directed by Harry Carlisle. The series was transmitted on Wednesdays.