Written by Ralph Smart Directed by Roy Ward Baker

ORIGINAL ITC SYNOPSIS

It takes a ghost to spot a phoney medium - and the same ghost to help his partner solve a murder mystery.

Death comes to Anne Fenwick in a particularly callous manner when, after the heartbreak of losing the husband she loved, she at last finds happiness again with the handsome, aristocratic Arthur de Crecy. He takes her to a quiet country cottage and into a sweet little room...

She is never seen again, and it is her worried niece, Julia who approaches Jeff Randall. But before his investigations have proceeded far, Julia has also met her death, apparently in a car accident.

The case now takes on a far deeper significance, and the key to it seems to point to a spiritualist named Madame Hanska. Anne Fenwick had been attending her meetings. Despite objections raised by his ghostly partner, Marty Hopkirk, Randall persuades Marty's widow, Jean, to attend one of Madame Hanska's seances, using an assumed name and asking if she can contact her dead husband, John.

But the medium cannot contact anyone by that name, and after the meeting, Jean is comforted by a man who had been present and introduces himself as a Mr Elliot. Jean feeds him with details about her false dead husband.

This is Marty Hopkirk's opportunity. By entering Elliot's home, he is able to hear him speaking to Madame Hanska over the 'phone and telling her about the dead 'John'.

Next time Jean goes to a seance, Madame Hanska is able to make contact with John, describing him just as Jean had done to Mr Elliot. The so-called message she receives from him is that he is worried about her finances and telling her that she should contact his old friend Arthur de Crecy.

The racket is now becoming clear. Madame Hanska, Mr Elliot and Arthur de Crecy are all in the plot to trick lonely, wealthy widows. But how to find out more? Once again, Marty Hopkirk demonstrates how useful a partner a ghost can be in a private investigation firm, and it's a very startled phoney medium who discovers that she really is in touch with an actual poltergeist. There's nothing phoney on Marty's side as he makes a ghostlike appearance to extract vital information from Madame Hanska - information, however, which very nearly leads to Jeff Randall suffering the same fate as Anne Fenwick in that sweet little room.

Luckily, Randall has a partner whose powers are more than mortal...

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
Production Code: RH/DCW/4002
Filming Dates:
June-July 1968
Production Completed:
October 1968
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

Anglia: Mon 5 Apr 1971, 11.00pm
ATV: Fri 28 Nov 1969, 7.30pm
Border: Wed 20 Mar 1970, 7.30pm (B/W)
Channel: Fri 31 Oct 1969, 7.05pm (B/W)
Grampian: Wed 11 Nov 1970, 8.00pm (B/W)
Granada: Sun 25 Jan 1970, 11.25pm
HTV: Sun 7 Dec 1969, 3.45pm (B/W)
LWT: Sun 14 Dec 1969, 7.25pm
Scottish:
Sat 8 April 1972, 9.30pm
Southern: Sun 21 Dec 1969, 7.25pm
Tyne Tees: Unconfirmed
Ulster: Unconfirmed
Westward: Fri 31 Oct 1969, 7.05pm (B/W)
Yorkshire: Fri 28 Nov 1969, 7.30pm
(B/W) = Transmitted in Black and White
(B/W*) = Transmitted in B/W due to ITV Colour Strike
CHARACTERS & CAST
Jeff Randall
Marty Hopkirk
Jean Hopkirk
Arthur de Crecy
Madame Hanska
Elliot
Julia Fenwick
Anne Fenwick
Rawlings
Andrews
Martha
Salesman
Police Inspector
Mike Pratt
Kenneth Cope
Annette Andre
Michael Goodliffe
Doris Hare
Norman Bird
Anne de Vigier
Frances Bennett
Raymond Young
Cyril Renison
Betty Woolfe
Chris Gannon
Joby Blanshard
STAND-INS
Jeff Randall
Marty Hopkirk
Harry Fielder
Dougie Lockyer
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Selections from the incidental score for this episode have been issued on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Original Soundtrack by Edwin Astley, Network, 2008.

DVD EXTRAS

Network DVD (United Kingdom):
Photo Gallery.
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia):

Photo Gallery.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Ralph Smart
Series Theme & Musical Director
Edwin Astley
Creator & Executive Story Consultant
Dennis Spooner
Creative Consultant
- Cyril Frankel
Producer
Monty Berman
Director
Roy Ward Baker

Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Eric Coop (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Supervising Art Director), Bob Cartwright (Art Director),
Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), Alma Godfrey (Editor), Ernest Morris (Production Manager), Stephen Dade (2nd Unit Cameraman),
Denis Porter & Len Shilton (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler (Sound Editor), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Clifford Robinson (Set Dresser),
Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Harry Gillam (Camera Operator), Colin Lord (Assistant Director), Sally Ball (Continuity),
Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make-Up Supervisor), Olive Mills (Hairdresser - uncredited), Laura Nightingale (Wardrobe Supervisor),
A.J. Van Montagu (Scenic Artist), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-ordinator), Cinesound (Sound Effects Suppliers) and Chambers + Partners (Titles).

Made on Location and at Associated British Elstree Studios, London, England
An ITC Production

BUT WHAT A SWEET LITTLE ROOM REVIEW

It's still early days for the series and it's clear that the writing and production team hasn't yet found what really makes it tick. This is an entertaining, effective thriller but boy, is it grim! It opens with a callous, calculated murder and within fifteen minutes, Jeff is identifying a corpse on a slab in the morgue. It does however have an entertaining diversion with Doris Hare as Madame Hanska which feels more like it. Michael Goodliffe makes a memorable appearance but is somewhat wasted, being absent from the narrative for the great majority of the episode, the dirty deeds instead being committed on his behalf by henchman Rawlings, a singularly uninteresting character which is not in the least bit fleshed out by the writers or the actor. Norman Bird, however, is terrific as Elliot, his 'in private' conducting of an imaginary orchestra a great touch which leans into 'Avengers eccentric' territory. Technically and artistically, But What A Sweet Little Room is confident, even if clearly the magic formula is being searched for. The innovative camerawork (see Production Brief...) is brave but perhaps foolhardy and the location work impressive and varied. A diverting fifty minutes viewing, competent, solid but a tad sober and not among the stand-out episodes of the series.

BUT WHAT A SWEET LITTLE ROOM DECLASSIFIED

  • Teaser... Arthur de Crecy drives his sweetheart Anne Fenwick down to his house in the country. Once there he shows her into a sweet little room. She goes to look at the view from the windowed back door and find it is locked. She turns the key, but it still seems jammed. Suddenly she realises the door she entered the room through is also locked. There is the hiss of gas jets and Anne realises her predicament. She tries desperately to escape and sees de Crecy outside, digging a grave. Before long, she is overcome with the fumes and collapses.


  • Production Brief... But What A Sweet Little Room is Danger Man creator Ralph Smart's second and final script for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). He also contributed the opening episode, My Late Lamented Friend and Partner and had been instrumental in selling Dennis Spooner's idea for the series to a less-than-convinced Lew Grade at ITC. Following his work on this episode, Smart returned to to live in his native Australia.

  • This episode featured an experimental but ultimately unsuccessful attempt at combining moving background footage shot on location with moving footage shot in studio. The sequence in question depicted the killing of Julia Fenwick by Rawlings in a Morris Minor 1000. At the Petersham Place location in Brompton, South West London, a second unit filmed the car and doubles of Julia and Rawlings, using perpective shots from within the car as it bore down on the girl. In the studio, the camera was dollied in on actress Anne de Vigier, who screams and falls out of shot, in front of a blue screen background. When optically combined, the sequence fails to convince, with the foreground and background sliding around unnaturally. Despite it's failure - the process was only used once more, on the next episode to be filmed, For the Girl Who Has Everything, before being abandoned - it was a brave experiment and proof that the film makers were open to innovative techniques. At the time that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was being filmed, director Stanley Kubrick was pioneering the use of motion control in his film spectacular, 2001: A Space Odyssey; this technology was expensive and not available to television film crews. It is quite possible that the camera teams were aware of the process and were trying to replicate the effect with limited resources.

  • The sequence involving the football match utilised stock footage and was not shot especially for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). The footage was actually sourced from two matches, both staged at Wembley Stadium, North West London. These were the 1963 FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Manchester United, and the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany. The tell-tale signs are the shots involving players in white with dark shorts (West Germany) alternating with players in white with white, blue-lined shorts (Leicester City's away kit). The kits of Manchester United and England were visually consistent across the two matches, and so the editors most likely have thought the sleight of hand would not be noticed by viewers. Incidentally, the Occupation Road location where Rawlings parks the black van to take advantage of the crowd noise from the match is actually situated next to another football stadium, Vicarage Road, the home of Watford Football Club.

  • The 'sweet little room' of the title was a studio set, specially constructed for this episode. It utilised re-dressed elements of Happy Lee's apartment set from My Late Lamented Friend and Partner and was designed with the consideration in mind that it would need to be partly destroyed to realise the gas explosion described in the last scene of the camera script.

  • When Marty appears to Jeff from inside the cupboard and tries to prevent Jeannie becoming involved in Jeff's investigation, this reveals to us for the first time in the series the near-side of the office set.

  • As in the opening episode, My Late Lamented Friend and Partner, and for some of the subsequent episode, For the Girl Who Has Everything, Kenneth Cope's wig is on back to front with its parting on the left-hand side. The soles of his shoes, which were clearly black in the first episode, were whitened for this episode.

  • When Marty appears to Madame Hanska at the seance, his materialisation was achieved - in production terms - by use of the 'Pepper's Ghost' technique that had previously been emloyed in the first episode filmed, My Late Lamented Friend and Partner. Despite the challenges encountered with the process during the filming of that episode, in that it was difficult to set up and Kenneth Cope had to be some significant distance from the action and facing the other way, it was again employed here. Quite possibly the reason for it being used was that the shots which use the technique are relatively static and so they were very likely to have been easier to set up. In this instance, the image of Kenneth Cope in his Roman toga was reflected on to a dark bookcase area of the set to achieve a combined finished product. Marty's initial appearance was achieved by simply fading up the lights on that were trained on him and moving him towards the glass. As an aside, the fact that the reflected image was reversed meant that for one scene, Marty's incorrectly applied wig had its parting on the correct, right hand side!

  • The surname of the ill-fated Julia and Anne Fenwick appears not to have been the original intended surname for these characters, as many scenes in which the name is spoken have the name redubbed in post-production. It also appears that the film editor Alma Godfrey and director Roy Ward Baker made a conscious decision to keep off-screen whichever characters spoke the name at the point of the dubbing. This would have been an attempt to hide the replacement as much as possible, though in the final result it still jars somewhat.

  • The music that we see Elliot conducting in his apartment was a specially composed piece by Edwin Astley, and not, as suggested, a true classical piece.

  • Post production work on this episode was completed in late October 1968. It would, however, not receive its first UK broadcast until a year later on Friday 31st October 1969, when it was transmitted by the Westward and Channel ITV regions.


  • On Location... An impressive set of filming locations for this episode: the striking Edge Grove School; Water End in Hertfordshire; the War Memorial at North Mymms; a road running beside Watford Football Club's Vicarage Road stadium and central London locales in Brompton, Hampstead, Kensington, Lambeth and Paddington. 'Ewhurst Manor', the location of Arthur de Crecy's house, which contains the 'sweet little room' of the title, was tracked down by Alan Hayes of Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified) in March 2012 after years of searching by fans of the series. Also uncovered was Ewhurst Manor's rather fruity sideline! See But What A Sweet Little Room: The Hunt for De Crecy's for the juicy titbits and a detailed look at the house and estate. More details on all the locations featured in this episode in Locations: But What A Sweet Little Room.


  • Trivia... One notable pointer that this is an early episode is that Jeannie Hopkirk isn't yet working as receptionist in Jeff's office. When we see her at the offices in But A Sweet Little Room, she is merely 'dropping by'.

  • Marty is very possessive about Jeannie and seems to expect her to remain faithful to him in her widowhood, for the rest of her life. Today, this seems quite an outdated concept, but in the immediate post-war years in Britain, it was something that was very much expected of a bereaved young wife.

  • When Marty takes over Madame Hanska's seance, he materialises wearing a Roman toga complete with a red sash and a large blue brooch. This is the only time in the series where we see Marty (as a ghost) out of his traditional white suit.

  • We get a great view in this episode of the sign at the entrance showing the other businesses based in the same property as Randall and Hopkirk. Jeff, Marty and Jean's professional neighbours were:
     
    Clive Murray Theatrical Agency
     
    Les Freds Recording Co. Ltd.
     
    (unreadable)
     
    Raclinco Co. (Wholesale Only)
     
    Barry Solomons Turf Account and Investment Consultant
     
    Peephole Publications - Retirement Weekly


  • Only You, Jeff? Marty manifests himself to the phoney spiritualist, Madame Hanska (Doris Hare). Marty is surprised to find that she is actually a good subject, despite the fact that Madame Hanska has always considered herself to be nothing other than a fake. Marty later comments to Jeff that, "Actually, her aura was rather good. I had no trouble materialising." It would seem that she has a latent ability for genuine clairvoyance.


  • Ghosts and Ghoulies... Just Marty Hopkirk, our friendly neighbourhood spectre in this one.


  • The Vehicles... Appearing in this episode were the following wonders of transport...

1968 Vauxhall Victor FD 2000
Registration RXD 996F
Driven by Jeff Randall
Also appeared in:
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) -
used extensively throughout the series
Department S - 'The Last Train to Redbridge'
1966 Peugeot 404
Registration LAE 887E
Driven by Arthur de Crecy
 
1964 Triumph Herald 1200 Convertible
Registration CKY 230B
Driven by Julia Fenwick
Also appeared in:
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) -
'A Sentimental Journey' (as a background vehicle on the studio backlot)
1957 Morris Minor 1000
Registration 846 BRC
Driven by Rawlings
 
Morris LD Van
Registration 6549 MT
Driven by Rawlings
Also appeared in:
The Champions
- 'The Gilded Cage'
Bedazzled (1967 film)
1965 Ford Cortina Deluxe MkI
Registration KPB 726C
Driven by Elliot
 

 


  • Seen It All Before? In this episode, Annette Andre, as Jean Hopkirk, wears an outfit previously worn by Alexandra Bastedo in the 1967 ITC series, The Champions.

  • The set used for the interior of Julia Fenwick's well-to-do residence was from stock and had been used previously in many other ITC series and would be redressed on several occasions for episodes of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

  • The room in which Madame Hanska hosted her seances was a redressed version of set used as Sorenson's study in My Late Lamented Friend and Partner.


  • Cock Ups... Actor Cyril Renison, who portrayed Andrews in this episode, is mistakenly credited as Cyril Renision in the end credit sequence. Naughty Chambers+Partners!

  • In the set piece sequence depicting Rawlings mowing down Julia Fenwick in his Morris Minor at the Petersham Place SW7 location, the car ends up crashed into an untidy array of boxes, sacking and rubbish bins. In the previous shot from the driver's perspective as the car bears down on the unfortunate Julia, these items are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps an early example of the airbag? If you're going to crash, a collection of boxes, sacking and bins will miraculously appear to guarantee a soft landing!

  • In the same sequence, the drunken salesman is seen in the Morris' passenger seat in the studio blue-screen shots, but is absent in the on-location shots where the car clearly has just one person inside.

  • Were that not enough, the Morris Minor 1000 that Rawlings is driving can be seen parked up at the roadside to the right in the background of the back projection shot!


  • And Finally... The filming location for Arthur de Crecy's country cottage proved exceptionally difficult to track down and we now know why: it was demolished in 1970. 'Ewhurst Manor', 37 Furzehill Road in Borehamwood was used by several ITC productions as a filming location, but it had a seamier side and was a favourite location for the photographing of young ladies in various states of undress and the filming of 'glamour' films by a variety of photographers and film makers, the most famous being George Harrison Marks. The owner of the house, Mrs Doris Clifford was reputedly a great champion of Marks' endeavours and he shot many 8mm films at the 18th century manor house including Nightmare at Elm Manor (1963) and Visit from Venus (1964). Mrs Clifford encouraged film makers to use her property and she charged a 'nominal charge' for filming and photographic sessions. For further details, please see But What A Sweet Little Room: The Hunt for De Crecy's.

Plotline: Scoton Productions / ITC UK Transmissions by Simon Coward and Alan Hayes
Review by Alan Hayes Declassified by Alan Hayes with thanks to Andrew Pixley, Alys Hayes and Claire Saunders

But What A Sweet Little Room: The Hunt for De Crecy's

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Locations: But What A Sweet Little Room

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