Sunday, April 07, 2024

Garry Halliday and the Kidnapped Five, by Justin Blake

Cover of Garry Halliday and the Kidnapped Five by Justin Blake (Faber, 1962) with artwork by Leo Newman in black, white, blue and purple showing silhouette of skier on snow below a cable car, with close up of eyes behind glasses in background.
This is the third of five novelisations of the adventures of airline pilot Garry Halliday, following Garry Halliday and the Disappearing Diamonds and Garry Halliday and the Ray of Death. It was published by Faber in 1962, based on a six-part serial broadcast on the BBC between 16 January and 20 February 1960. The time slot was 5.25pm on Saturdays - the same as later taken by Doctor Who

Episode 3, The Outcasts, is the only one of 50 episodes of Garry Halliday to survive. It used to be available on Youtube, from where I took screenshots of the lengthy recap at the start. While exciting music plays, a plummy voice speaks over the following still images:

Image showing Terence Longdon as Garry Halliday
"Garry Halliday, owner and chief pilot of the Halliday Charter Company is up against his old enemy…

[Image showing Terence Longdon as Garry Halliday]

Image showing Elwyn Brook-Jones as The Voice
"... The Voice, now engaged in a colossal scheme to kidnap five world famous atomic scientists and sell them to the highest bidder. Two scientists have already been kidnapped. Now the Voice plans to take another…

[Image showing Elwyn Brook-Jones as The Voice]

Image showing Richard Dare as Professor Mundt
"... Professor Mundt, who has been visiting England with his secretary…

[Image showing Richard Dare as Professor Mundt]

Image showing John Hussey as Martin
"… Martin. At the suggestion of…

[Image showing John Hussey as Martin]

Image showing Nicholas Meredith as Inspector Potter
"… Inspector Potter from Scotland Yard, Halliday’s plane has been chartered to fly Mundt back to Frankfurt, much to the annoyance of…

[Image showing Nicholas Meredith as Inspector Potter]

Image showing Peter Myers as Smith-Clayton
"...  Mr Smith-Clayton of the Home Office, who has been looking after Mundt’s security in England.

[Image showing Peter Myers as Smith-Clayton]

Image showing Terence Alexander as Bill Dodds
"... Bill Dodds, Halliday’s co-pilot, is on the plane with him, as well as Bill’s fiancee...

[Image showing Terence Alexander as Bill Dodds]

Image showing Juno Stevas as Sonya Delamare
"... Sonya, who is acting as stewardess for the flight because…

[Image showing Juno Stevas as Sonya Delamare]

Image showing Jennifer Wright as Jean Willis
"... Jean, Halliday’s usual stewardess, has been deployed away by a fake message sent by the Voice. The only other people on the plane are three security men, but they are headed by…

[Image showing Jennifer Wright as Jean Willis]

Image showing James Neylin as O'Brien
"O’Brien, who is in reality the Voice’s principal lieutenant." At last, we crossfade into the interior of the plane, and the action ensues.

[Image showing James Neylin as O'Brien]

It's striking how complex this all is after just two episodes: lots and lots of characters and a then-and-then, House that Jack Built plot. That, of course, made it harder for viewers to join the story midway through. Compare it to the opening of the surviving second episode of soap opera Compact - with no recap, and a single, short scene involving a receptionist to bring us up to speed on everything we need to know. (This was some of what I looked at in my talk “Television Before the TARDIS” at the GallifreyOne convention in February.)

But once the recap is over, the pace of this Garry Halliday episode really picks up. The villains hold the heroes at gunpoint and demand that Halliday changes course for Switzerland. Halliday and Bill then battle with the villains, and we cut from TV recording to film for the fisticuffs. It's all very well-staged by fight arranger Terry Baker, though the book ups the stakes by having Garry grab the handle of an emergency hatch.

"He pulled down, and pushed out, and the other hand got hold of [a villain called] Crake, and impelled him through the hatch. There was a terrible roar of wind and a scream from Crake." (p. 56)

This may have been too technically difficult to realise on TV rather than something they omitted as unsuitable for children watching. It’s striking what was considered okay for this Saturday teatime adventure. There's a fair bit of killing in the story anyway and also the odd relationship between Sonya and George Smith-Clayton. Sonya explains to Bill:

"Well, [we're] not exactly chums, except that you do feel rather close to people when you've been through a lot with them. It was about seven years ago at a Commem. Ball at Oxford, you see ... and some of the boys decided to take Georgie's trousers off. ... Of course the champagne had been flowing a bit. Old Charlie champers. ... All I did was hit him over the head with a champagne bottle. It can't really have hurt him. It was empty. ... It was only a gesture of affection really. A sort of love-tap." (p. 46)

Smith-Clayton says that as a result he was in hospital for nearly 10 days. Now, this exchange occurs in the missing second episode of the TV serial so we can't be sure it was relayed exactly as in the book, but Sonya refers to the champagne bottle in the surviving third episode so some version must have been included.

So when Doctor Who began in 1963, its elements of kidnap, murder and threat were all in keeping with previous adventures shown in the same slot. What’s very different is the tone.

Having defeated the villains, Halliday then gets a call from the Voice, who has kidnapped Jean. So, despite winning the fight, Halliday ends up changing course to Switzerland anyway. The Voice also tells Halliday not to tell the authorities and gets his men to hand Halliday a suitcase of money - making it look to Smith-Clayton as though Halliday is his willing agent. Soon, Halliday and Dodds are on the run from the police while also trying to thwart the Voice's next attempt at kidnap.

It's all good, fast-moving fun, our frightfully well-spoken heroes battling all manner of accented folk, ranging from villains to eccentric character-types. One of them, a Swiss Clerk in the surviving episode, is played by no less than Jill Hyem.

I'd love to know how the TV version realised the exciting finale, in which the Voice coolly escapes in a cable car, only for Halliday to give chase on skis. Was there location filming in Switzerland? It now feels very James Bond yet predates the ski stuff in 1963 novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

There are a few other fun details, such as a sense of changing times:

"I mean, you don't say 'sir' in the nineteen-sixties." (p. 20)

We learn that Halliday is a veteran of the Korean War and has always "had the habit of attracting adventures" (pp. 20-1). But there's still the painful lack of anything for women to do. Sonya, while getting some laughs at Smith-Clayton's expense, is left behind in a cell when Bill and Halliday make their escape, and Jean spends most of the story locked up. On the last page of the novel, she "surprised us by getting married" recounts Bill; her husband is Philip Latters, a character from the previous serial, not credited in TV listings for this one. The implication is that she leaves Halliday Charter Company. I suspect she didn't have an exit on screen and just didn't appear in the next serial; I can't really blame an actor given such an unrewarding part.

In fact, this could easily have been the end of Garry Halliday since he outwits and captures the Voice. But the book ends on a cliffhanger.

"Because the news in that telegram was that the Voice has escaped from prison. Now nobody who had ever seen the Voice's face would be safe." (p. 119)

The adventure continues in Garry Halliday and the Sands of Time, if I can ever track down a copy...

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