Quick Before They Catch Us

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Quick Before They Catch Us
Genre action, adventure, mystery
Written by N. J. Crisp
George F. Kerr
Jack Trevor Story
Margot Bennett
John Gray
Directed by Derek Martinus
Morris Barry
Paddy Russell
James Cellan Jones
Starring Pamela Franklin
Teddy Green
David Griffin
Theme music composer Monty Norman
Opening theme "Quick Before They Catch Us"
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 20
Production
Producer(s) William Sterling
Running time 25-30 mins
Production company(s) BBC
Broadcast
Original run 7 May 1966 – 24 September 1966

Quick Before They Catch Us was a 1966 British action/adventure children's television series. It starred then child actors Pamela Franklin, Teddy Green and David Griffin as three teenagers who become amateur detectives in Swinging London during the mid-1960s. Although the series was short-lived, all three stars went on to have long and successful television careers in both the United Kingdom and the United States.[1] Its theme song, written and performed by Brian Epstein's Paddy, Klaus and Gibson, later became a popular tune and one of the group's first hits after releasing it as a single.[2]

Plot[edit]

The series concerns the adventures of three London teenagers: Kate (Pamela Franklin), Johnny Martin (Teddy Green) and Mark Dennison (David Griffin), who use their unique talents to solve crimes in their neighbourhood. Kate, the youngest of the three, possessed a photographic memory and was a talented artist; as well as a sketch artist, she most often trailed suspects. Johnny was a technology student and often built surveillance equipment and other inventive gadgets. Mark (David Griffin) was the "nerdy" bookworm of the group, arguably the most intelligent of the three, and was the photographer.[1]

Kate works part-time as a waitress at a café. She is approached by several suspicious men who wish to rent her attic room. The men offer to pay her at first, but then intimidate her until she reluctantly agrees to rent them the room. She befriends Johnny Martin, a mechanic who works at a nearby garage, and photography student Mark Dennison. Kate remains suspicious of her new tenants. With the help of her new friends, she exposes a real estate agent who was using the camera obscura in the attic room to spy on local tenants and blackmail them.[3]

In their second adventure ("Mark Of Distinction"), Mark stops a purse snatcher who inadvertently leads the three friends to uncover a plan to steal a valuable stamp collection. While vacationing on the southern coast of England, the three friends are drawn into a naval plot after Mark snaps an odd-looking photograph. In their last adventure they start a band. Performing at the opening night of the "Big A" nightclub, they find out that someone is planning to steal a picture from the club as part of an art fraud scheme.[3]

History[edit]

In the summer of 1966, BBC Television commissioned a replacement series for Dixon of Dock Green during that show's summer hiatus. Five writers – N. J. Crisp, George F. Kerr, Jack Trevor Story, Margot Bennett and John Gray – were hired to create an action serial for children and teenagers. Pamela Franklin, Teddy Green and David Griffin were cast in the lead roles. Green and Griffin had previously guest starred on Dixon of Dock Green.

Each screenwriter wrote one four-episode story. The first story was written by Crisp who, at the time of the series, had written over a dozen original television plays and was a regular contributor for Doctor Finlay's Casebook and Dixon Of Dock Green.

The production crew included Richard Martin, Derek Martinus, Morris Barry and Paddy Russell, all of whom would later work on Doctor Who. Barry Newbery, Peter Kindred and Oliver Bayldon worked on the series as set designers.[3]

Reception[edit]

The first episode aired on May 7, 1966, in an early Saturday evening timeslot. The Radio Times promoted the show during the first few weeks on the air, and the series appealed to the younger audiences of the 1960s. Although the series received high ratings throughout its run, the series was not renewed. Its final episode was aired on September 24, 1966, and was replaced by the returning Dixon Of Dock Green.

The series popular theme song was performed by Paddy, Klaus and Gibson, a Liverpool-based group managed by Brian Epstein. The band later released it as one of their first singles. The song became a hit in the UK after the series debuted, but the group had broken up before the series began.

All three stars went on to have successful film and television careers. Franklin later moved to the United States where she guest starred in numerous American television series such as Hawaii Five-O, Police Woman, Fantasy Island and Vega$. Griffin remained in the UK where he became a regular on Hi-De-Hi! as Squadron Leader Clive Dempster as Emmet Hawksworth in Keeping Up Appearances. Green would become a visible character actor in both the United Kingdom and the United States, most notably, in the series Holby City.[1]

Quick Before They Catch Us heavily influenced Gerry Anderson's 1970s television series The Protectors.[3] The series was never commercially released on home video and no longer exists in the BBC archives, a victim of the BBC's wiping practices.[1]

Characters[edit]

  • Kate (Pamela Franklin) - the youngest of the three, she is a typical carefree teenage girl who has unconventional tastes in clothes and pets. She works part-time in a local café while waiting to go to art school.
  • Johnny Martin (Teddy Green) - a technological student, Johnny works part-time in a nearby garage also waiting to attend school. He has an exceptional skill for electronics and has, for example, assembled a fully working walkie-talkie from a box of assorted wires, plugs and transistors.
  • Mark Dennison (David Griffin) - son of a well-known photographer, Mark also intends to become a photographer as well. He is extremely intelligent and well-read with an encyclopaedic knowledge on a wide number of subjects. He is often referred to in the series as the "brains" of the operation.
  • Don (Colin Bell) -

Episodes[edit]

# Title Writers Original airdate Series No.
01 "Season 1 Episode 1 (Power of Three: Part 1)" N.J. Crisp 7 May 1966 (1966-05-07) #1.01
A meeting of three young people ... a discovery ... and an unknown visitor.
02 "Season 1, Episode 2 (Power of Three: Part 2)" N.J. Crisp 14 May 1966 (1966-05-14) #1.02
The trio learn of a villainous racket and make a dangerous enemy.
03 "Season 1, Episode 3 (Power of Three: Part 3)" N.J. Crisp 21 May 1966 (1966-05-21) #1.03
Johnny gets beaten up and Mark shows how to track down enemy H.Q.
04 "Season 1, Episode 4 (Power of Three: Part 4)" N.J. Crisp 28 May 1966 (1966-05-28) #1.04
The three friends are in extreme peril at the end of their first adventure.
05 "Season 1, Episode 5 (Mark of Distinction: Part 1)" George F. Kerr 4 June 1966 (1966-06-04) #1.05
A handbag is snatched - and Mark is given an unusual job.
06 "Season 1, Episode 6 (Mark of Distinction: Part 2)" George F. Kerr 11 June 1966 (1966-06-11) #1.06
Are the stamps stolen? The trio split up in order to find out.
07 "Season 1, Episode 7 (Mark of Distinction: Part 3)" George F. Kerr 18 June 1966 (1966-06-18) #1.07
Johnny breaks into Danny's flat - and Kate has a nasty surprise.
08 "Season 1, Episode 8 (Mark of Distinction: Part 4)" George F. Kerr 25 June 1966 (1966-06-25) #1.08
The trio meet two dangerous conspirators - and show them a couple of tricks.
09 "Season 1, Episode 9 (Season of the Skylark: Part 1)" Jack Trevor Story 9 July 1966 (1966-07-09) #1.09
Seaside jobs for two boys and a girl - and their encounter with a very odd family.
10 "Season 1, Episode 10 (Season of the Skylark: Part 2)" Jack Trevor Story 16 July 1966 (1966-07-16) #1.10
Whoever saw Kate looking like this? No wonder the boys lose all track of her.
11 "Season 1, Episode 11 (Season of the Skylark: Part 3)" Jack Trevor Story 23 July 1966 (1966-07-23) #1.11
Kate is in grave danger - a search leads to a sudden disappearance.
12 "Season 1, Episode 12 (Season of the Skylark: Part 4)" Jack Trevor Story 30 July 1966 (1966-07-30) #1.12
A fight with the police ... a lightning rescue ... and the truth at last.
13 "Season 1, Episode 13 (The Tungsten Ring: Part 1)" Margot Bennett 6 August 1966 (1966-08-06) #1.13
What was it Mark photographed?
14 "Season 1, Episode 14 (The Tungsten Ring: Part 2)" Margot Bennett 13 August 1966 (1966-08-13) #1.14
A dive into the river leads Johnny, Mark and Kate to a discovery - and a frightening consequence.
15 "Season 1, Episode 15 (The Tungsten Ring: Part 3)" Margot Bennett 20 August 1966 (1966-08-20) #1.15
Johnny and Mark are too clever by half - and land themselves in an ugly situation.
16 "Season 1, Episode 16 (The Tungsten Ring: Part 4)" Margot Bennett 27 August 1966 (1966-08-27) #1.16
The three friends set a trap and land a man-size fish in a final wrestle with the conspirators.
17 "Season 1, Episode 17 (The Weasel Goes Pop: Part 1)" John Gray 3 September 1966 (1966-09-03) #1.17
Mark and Kate are invited to perform in a new club. But, careful! Don is in charge.
18 "Season 1, Episode 18 (The Weasel Goes Pop: Part 2)" John Gray 10 September 1966 (1966-09-10) #1.18
The three friends investigate odd happenings at the "Big A" and soon encounter trouble.
19 "Season 1, Episode 19 (The Weasel Goes Pop: Part 3)" John Gray 17 September 1966 (1966-09-17) #1.19
With the help of a new videotape device, Johnny, Mark and Kate learn how the picture is to be stolen.
20 "Season 1, Episode 20 (The Weasel Goes Pop: Part 4)" John Gray 24 September 1966 (1966-09-24) #1.20
Gala opening night of the "Big A" - and what happens after an ingenious theft.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Marcus, Laurence (2007). "Quick Before They Catch Us". Overview (O-Q). TelevisionHeaven.co.uk. 
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. "Paddy, Klaus and Gibson." The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 2nd ed. London: Guinness Publishing, 1995. (pg. 3,153) ISBN 1-56159-176-9
  3. ^ a b c d Lee, Matthew (2004). "Quick Before They Catch Us (BBC, 1966)". Action TV Online Episode Guide. StarTrader.co.uk. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Butler, David. Time and Relative Dissertations in Space: Critical Perspectives on Doctor Who. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-7190-7682-X
  • Docherty, Mark J. and Alistair D. McGown. The Hill and Beyond: Children's Television Drama - An Encyclopedia. London: British Film Institute, 2003. ISBN 0-85170-878-1
  • Parish, James Robert. Film Actors Guide: Western Europe. Metuchen, New Jersey and London: Scarecrow Press, 1977. ISBN 0-8108-1044-1

External links[edit]