Or perhaps old new series listings…? Admin and I have been intrigued lately by the recent addition of a couple of new (to us) older television series to Patrick Malahide’s IMDB page. Not that we’re displeased to see them, far from it! It’s great that someone’s finally gotten around to some long-overdue updating. But we’d also like to be able to see these new old shows!
First, a three-episode series called “John Macnab” from 1976. There’s an absolute dearth of information online about the series itself, but I’m guessing it’s based on the book by the same name by John Buchan, who also wrote The Thirty-Nine Steps (often filmed and most recently remade in 2008 with Mr. Malahide as the delightfully evil Professor Fisher). Wikipedia has a handy synopsis:
Three successful but bored friends in their mid-forties decide to turn to poaching. They are Sir Edward Leithen, lawyer, Tory Member of Parliament (MP), and ex-Attorney General; John Palliser-Yeates, banker and sportsman; and Charles, Earl of Lamancha, former adventurer and present Tory Cabinet Minister. Under the collective name of ‘John Macnab’, they set up in the Highland home of Sir Archie Roylance, a disabled war hero who wishes to be a Conservative MP.
They issue a challenge to three of Roylance’s neighbours: first the Radens, who are an old-established family, about to die out; next, the Bandicotts: an American archaeologist and his son, who are renting a grand estate for the summer; and lastly the Claybodys, vulgar, bekilted nouveaux riches. These neighbours are forewarned that ‘John Macnab’ will poach a salmon or a stag from their land and return it to them undetected. The outcome is that the men’s boredom is dispelled with the assistance of helpers (including a homeless waif, ‘Fish Benjie’ and an athletic journalist, Crossby), and Archie Roylance marries Janet Raden, daughter of the grandee.
Mr. Malahide plays Crossby, the “athletic journalist”. I’m not sure exactly what “athletic journalism” entails nor how an athletic journalist helps three men do some sanctioned poaching, but I’d certainly like to find out, especially if Crossby has a Scottish accent. I’m already picturing him as a more outdoorsy version of Colin Anderson (of “The Standard“, speaking of another series we’d like to see), romping all over the Highlands in pursuit of a story.
“The Mourning Brooch”
Next, there’s “The Mourning Brooch” (1979, BBC Scotland), another three-episode series with even less information online than “John Macnab”. Bill Craig and Hugh Miller wrote a tie-in paperback, but Amazon’s listing lacks any plot details whatsoever. However, I was able to find a Glasgow Herald article (April 26, 1979) by Anne Donaldson describing the series as a “thriller” in which Mr. Malahide plays Sinclair, another journalist. In fact, there’s some snarking about typecasting with yet another tie to “The Standard”:
When one sharp-eyed critic spotted Patrick Malahide, that devious reporter from “The Standard” (which went to press well after “The Mourning Brooch”) playing another journalist, and wrote snidely about type-casting, Bill Craig felt as though that was the last straw laid on his weary back, but of course encouraging reviews and favourable comments from fellow writers – these are what count most – have made him bounce back up again.
Good thing that Mr. Craig was able to bounce back from the criticism, which was unfair anyway. The article gives no further plot details, so we still don’t know anything about Sinclair’s role nor how the mourning brooch (assuming it’s literal rather than metaphorical) figures into the whole thing. Based on the one picture I came across, the series seems to have had a contemporary setting. Maybe I’ll find out more if I can track down the novel at a used book store. I’m not sure what that critic’s complaining about, though. I don’t think Mr. Malahide playing a few journalists is a bad thing at all! He must’ve been very effective, and describing Colin Anderson as “devious” just makes him even more of a must-see, along with Sinclair and Crossby. 😉
It’s intriguing and encouraging for these listings to suddenly appear, even after so much time, although it would be even better if more information about their storylines and Mr. Malahide’s roles was available as well. Whoever’s doing the updating should keep up the good work. I hope it means the BBC and/or BBC Scotland might be considering releasing some of their older material on DVD. They may not know it, but there’s certainly enough demand out there to warrant it.