Written by John Hawkesworth and Glyn Jones, episode one of The Gold Robbers originally aired on ITV on 6th June 1969.
The episode opens and right away has the semi-filmic feel of many ITV serials in a sequence with mood-setting music by Max Harris.
We as the audience are following both the guarded bullion van and the robbers in these opening sequences.
A villain with a sniper rifle waits in a house that overlooks the runway, watching as the gold bullion is unloaded from an aeroplane we have watched land.
Meanwhile a member of a criminal gang (played by George Cole) is listening into the Policeman communicating on his radio, from a van nearby. Then all of a sudden a commotion is caused when the sniper shoots at a parked car causing it to go up in flames. Suddenly there are assailants in gas masks, taking out all the guards and Police while ammonia gas poisons the air. A courageous policeman makes a break for it to raise the alarm, whilst the bullion van has been spirited away onto a getaway aircraft.
We see one moment of guilt in one of the accomplices’ face. Perhaps this is the beginning of a weakness within the gang?
This setup has been exciting, impressive and compelling. It feels more like a movie of the era than a television serial.
Now we meet Detective Chief Superintendent Cradock (Peter Vaughan) in the Police operations room. Straight away we see there is friction between local Police Chief Constable Colonel Bantock and the London Inspector Superintendent Cradock. Bantock believes his local force can handle the case: Cradock is treading on his toes.
Superintendent Cradock is a good, talented, instinctive, old-fashioned copper. Despite his high rank within the Police Force, he resents the authority of bureaucrats.
He is immediately faced not only with tracking down the bullion robbers, but also navigating the red tape and politics involved.
An appearance by real-life BBC newsreader Corbet Woodall, interviewing DCS Cradock about the case for television, lends the scene legitimacy. Vaughan portrays Cradock very honestly here, as an intelligent, straightforward man appealing to the public for any information they can give to help bring this dangerous gang to justice.
Det Chief Sup Cradock : Peter Vaughan
Richard Bolt : Richard Leech
Grierson: Donald Morley
Private Secretary : Michael Barrington
Det Sgt Tommy Thomas: Artro Morris
Interviewer: Corbet Woodall
Col Bantock: John Harvey
Tessa Lumb: Elisabeth Murray
Inspector Tompkins: Michael Wynne
Jeremy Foreman: Jeremy Child
Matron : Peggy Ann wood
Dr Lucas: Ken Watson
Uniformed Sgt: David Ellison
Uniformed Inspector: Frank Sieman
Det Sgt: Anthony Whelan
Plainclothes Inspector: George Hilsdon
Press Officer: Tony Leary
Motor Cyclist: Marc Boyle
Wireless Operator: Simon Cain
Colonel Kipitu: Michael McKay
Music by Max Harris
Story consultant: John Whitney
Producer: John Hawkesworth
Director: Don Leaver