On the set of DAY OF EXECUTION



What we establish in the opening shot is McGill isn’t always the loner, he has friends, loyal friends from the past, he occasionally socialises. He is sometimes involved romantically, although we know it will never be a long term commitment. His excuse is that ‘he’s a travelling man,’ in reality he knows there’s no future, his life will always be on the edge and he doesn’t want anyone hurt or sucked into the dangers he is shadowed by. The first scene is the foundation stone the story builds from when we see McGill has been out carousing with his friends. A short jazz music interlude is heard in the background blasting out from the nightclub the three are emerging from. This was composed by Edwin Astley, a cut from the Vivo music library. Astley was a prolific musician responsible for a wide variety of TV themes for shows like Dangerman and The Saint, in fact his arrangement for the latter reached number five in the British single charts. Preparing for their journey home a car slows up and the occupant cries out a deadly warning aimed at McGill, “Hey you, we’re going to kill you Mariocki!” McGill is slightly bemused by their mistake believing him to be someone else and responds half mockingly shouting after them, “You crazy idiots! My name’s McGill!” This scene was shot at Pinewood Studios. There was no incidental music (usually supplied by Albert Elms) during the confrontation, only the actor’s voices. The main Ron Grainer theme follows immediately after McGill’s line marking the real beginning of the show.

We see the title of the episode on screen as we follow McGill’s car on its journey through London. It’s a noted change from his more favoured model the Hillman Imp, this time it’s a Grey Ford Zodiac, registration number EJU 444C. (During the series he adopts a variety of vehicles, the main one being a lime green Hillman Imp registration number FHP 198C. Others included a red Imp FPX 627C, a grey Imp 109 GXH and a white Singer Chamois JML 272B) There’s a stand in for Donald Sutherland, who appears to be half asleep in the backseat. Sutherland was a dependable supporting player at this time, this being his debut in the series. He would turn up on the guest list later on in the production for the episode ‘Which Way did he go, McGill?’ where he played the villain of the piece and a man of many accents… none of them recognisable! There’s a tartan rug strategically pulled over the double, conveniently hiding his face leaving only a mop of reddy brown hair visible to aid in confirming the identity of the character Willard, who is worse the wear from drinking too much! The drive continues to Moira’s (McGill’s love interest) flat, outside location Ennismore Gardens SW7, where he drops her off. Doubles are used here of both McGill in the car and Moira as she leaves the car and walks to her front door. The more eagle eyed might notice we can see a red phone box where our hero has parked his car, however when he drove up to and left the scene there is no call box! McGill returns to his apartment, he lives at 56 Clive Mansions, S.W.3 according to the dry cleaning register, yet later on when a life insurance postcard is seen popping through his letter box the address reads "Mr. McGill, Flat 7 Kingston Court SW7". Stranger still when McGill picks this card up, the address side appears blank!  At one stage we see on McGill’s phone that he is at the Holborn exchange, though this seems be removed from subsequent shots.

The interior is clearly a set but for the outside view we find ourselves once again in the vicinity of Ennismore Gardens, Greater London. Here he receives his first threatening phone call. At that time he only regards this as a nuisance over anything more sinister. The following day with his friend Willard staying with him, we see them having breakfast suggesting its early morning yet outside there’s the sound of an ice cream van chiming “Boys and girls come out to Play”, and we see children racing after it. Bit too soon in the day for lollies and cornets I would have thought! A small goof in this scene when Willard is sipping on a cup of coffee while relaxing on the sofa recalling some old memories of his and McGill’s college days, we see that the cup is half full, zoom in for a close up and its empty, pan out to a medium shot and the cup is half full again. McGill is busy upstairs getting ready, there’s a knock at the door, he asks Willard to answer it. It’s the dry cleaning man delivering one of McGill’s suits. When McGill asks his friend how much he has paid the man, (Twenty seven shillings and sixpence!) he realises he has been overcharged, then he notices the extra suit, checking the name tag it belongs to Mariocki. The phone rings and once again it’s the men from the previous evening continuing with their death threats. He chases after (well a stand in does, the guy they use is of a stouter, shorter build and doesn’t even move the same way as Richard Bradford), the dry cleaning man to ask what’s going on in delivering a bogus suit? Before this scene we note McGill pulling on a dark blue sweater, but by the time he reaches the dry cleaning van his sweater has changed colour to light brown! Investigating further at the dry cleaning premises, the young assistant is played by Sally Geeson, who was to become a bigger household name through starring in the comedy series ‘Bless This House’ with acting veteran Sid James. Her older sister Judy, also appears in Man in a Suitcase in the episode ‘Sweet Sue’, figuring in the title role of the story. The scene looks like it was done to camera without Richard actually being there as we don't see him but we do hear his voice.

McGill enlists the help of Jarvis (Robert Urquhart), one of his newspaper friends to look into the Mariocki business, but even he draws blanks half convinced it might have something to do with McGill’s ex employers in the CIA. This scene is shot in a set built to resemble an English pub. Weary of waiting to be served McGill suggests they try a Steak House across the way, even promising a meal of Steak with Kidney, typical English fare, in order to encourage his limey friend to join him! For some light relief McGill spends a few hours with his girlfriend, Moira, played by Rosemary Nicols. Later on Nicols found employment as one of the leading cast members in another ITC series ‘Department S’. She is basically featured in this story to mirror a past event which this episode centres on – a girl witnessing the death of her lover. We are at her flat, (a simple set, no lived in look about it, and a bit too orderly for a carefree young woman) where she attempts to amuse him with some rather embarrassing dance steps which are accompanied with a recording of music composed by Montague Phillips. This and a few unconvincing lines help to cover the scene, but even these distractions don’t make McGill feel any easier in his mind. He leaves, once again it’s a night time shoot, so not always necessary to have Richard Bradford on the lot. Enter a double who is used a few times here. A long shot from the camera under dimly lit conditions and you can pretty much convince the average viewer they are still watching the same leading actor! While McGill is making his way back home he finds himself once again in the path of the speeding car, this time the message hits him (a stand in, then back to a close up of Bradford for the reaction shot) in the form of a floral funeral wreath thrown in his direction with the message “Mariocki Midnight” taped across it. Following this he gets hijacked into a car chase through the town. Kingston upon Thames is the location. We see Bentall’s department store four times and the Market Place twice during this scene. Christmas lights are apparent in one of the major department stores but strangely enough there doesn’t appear to be any other signs that we were enjoying the season of goodwill! The close up shots of Richard are done with background projection to give the impression he is driving, and most of the scenes when he is in control of the wheel in earnest I.E. at the traffic lights, were filmed at Pinewood, notably when we see the blonde lady, Anita, (Maggie Wright) pull up alongside him in her car. She acknowledges McGill with a smile and he reciprocates in the same flirtatious manner, then alarmed when she proceeds to repeatedly scream out “Mariocki!” towards him, spurring on the fast chase. After doing a frame by frame analysis of the scene, I found that stunt drivers were used during some of the sections at Pinewood too. The tinkling suspense music after McGill has finally caught up with the vehicle, fuels the enigma of the ongoing pursuit of him when we discover the now abandoned car carries the same number plates as his own.

Outside his apartment, (a studio set) he hears the phone ring and dashes to answer it only for the caller to hang up on him.  He bangs down the receiver in annoyance and begins to pace around to get his thoughts in some sort of perspective, he’s puzzled to see a pair of shoes left at the top of the stairs suggesting there has been an intruder in his residence. He recovers his gun from his suitcase but exasperated when it won’t work. The apartment itself is compact exposing a wooden floor in the main room with part of it covered by a large rug. It also boasts a number of paintings on the walls and appears to be open plan, only one inside door which is for the bathroom while his bedroom is kept private with the aid of a curtain. One wonders about the vase of flowers inside, would he really stop to purchase these and arrange them in a decorative fashion? It all seems totally out of character. As for the view outside his window this is an obvious painted canvas of various rooftops and possibly a church steeple. After inquiring with the buildings caretaker, a bit of a hammy performance from Jimmy Gardner, if there had been any visitors to his apartment and getting no further clues from his vague replies, he once again meets up with Jarvis, this time in the cinema to discuss some possibilities and to try and find some answers. I wouldn’t have thought this was the ideal place if you wanted to talk! The production aired during their conversation was an old black and white episode from ‘Whiplash’. Unfortunately there’s no trace of a Mariocki in any of the old police files and documents Jarvis has managed to peruse through. McGill is convinced it must be hood stuff.

Back at McGill’s apartment, Willard is toying that it might be a revenge thing, blackmail or something… McGill is slightly suspicious that his friend could be involved because he’s so anxious to escape from the troubles. While seeing Willard off at the airport McGill is surprised by an announcement (spoken by Brenda Lawrence) that a Mr Mariocki is wanted at the main information desk. This is another set, and where once again a double is utilised to race down the steps at the airport and head towards the desired destination. After McGill responds to the request he has to sign for a packet that has been left for him (posing as Mariocki). Note that when he attempts to write his signature he realises he hasn’t clicked for the cartridge inside the pen to be released, his reaction is so natural its makes it all the more convincing. He’s given an envelope and on opening it up he discovers the contents – a B/W photograph of a slain man. Disturbed by the image he leaves for home, while getting into his parked car he looks up towards the sky and we see a plane flying up, presumably carrying Willard off to Hamburg, his chosen destination.

As McGill enters his apartment we hear more incidental suspense music as he surveys his surroundings, we sense a plan is hatching inside his head. Realising the imminent danger he calls Moira to ask her to meet him in order to end the affair and keep her from harm. A rather chilly looking garden at Pinewood is used as the park, we see Moira dressed in winter clothes, it must have been cold when they filmed it, early morning I’m guessing, both have ‘fog breath’ at first although it does seem warmer later on in the scene as we watch McGill dash away and artificial lighting is used to give the impression of sunshine.

Next scene we are back at his apartment (those flowers in the vase have lasted a long time!), after having told the caretaker earlier on he was going away for a few days. He uses a torch rather than turning on the lights and makes little noise so not to disturb, although he did pre-warn him a friend would be staying there. The phone rings, McGill doesn’t answer it, the scene cuts to the other side of the call and for the first time we are introduced to the bad guys, Bradshaw played by former child actor, Jeremy Spencer and Peter (in the pre-production script the character is called Pietro) – T.P. McKenna. We also see Anita again, confirming she is involved with the whole set up.

The following morning finds McGill asleep on his sofa with his revolver within close reach, there’s also his torch, the phone and an ashtray sharing the same table. His slumber is disturbed by the whirring sound of the elevator in the passageway outside, it stops at floor number three.. his floor. Footsteps are heard approaching his front door, almost cat like he springs into action and places himself half barricaded behind the leather sofa arm with his gun poised and targeted towards the door ready for any unwelcome intruder. He smiles to himself when it turns out to be the daily newspaper getting delivered, the next letterbox invasion emerges in the form of a postcard advertising a Life Insurance Programme, which when contemplating his current uncertain situation, he sees the humour in!

We get the impression of time having passed when in the next scene we are back at the pub where Jarvis is enjoying a quiet drink. One of his assistants (Richard James) enters looking for him and hands him a folder entitled ‘Mariocki’. This engages him into action to inform McGill of the contents, but McGill still alert and suspicious towards anyone trying to contact him, refuses to answer the phone. Our trusty Ice Cream van is once again pulled into the plot, still playing the same chimes and still teasing the same bunch of children to run after it anxious to buy their treats. For some reason McGill is drawn to the window by this sound only to be greeted by the notice ‘Soon Mariocki!’ painted on the top of the van. This was perhaps a bit too far-fetched. How could they be sure that McGill would look out of his window at the ice cream van at the right time anyway?

Later on, it’s dark and we are back with Bradshaw, Peter, and Anita, but this time they have a guest – a sad, bruised and battered Willard who obviously hasn’t been enjoying their hospitality! The make-up used on Sutherland is very convincing, giving the impression of a swollen cheek and bruised eyes. Still in darkness Willard has now been released by his captors and sent back to McGill’s apartment in order to deliver their final message before the attack. It simply reads ‘Beirut’. Now everything becomes clear to McGill. It wasn’t a case of mistaken identity after all, they have the right man. He now knows the series of events are suggesting a revenge attack provoked from a previous assignment years before. McGill’s eyes narrow as we are given the answer using a flashback film of him at the scene of the killing incident.

To bring us back to the present we get a close up of the clock reading 11.40pm, giving us only twenty minutes to the promised deadline… We also see a collection of paperback books resting on the clock suggesting our McGill might be a bit of a reader during his quieter, more reflective moments. Titles included Sybille Bedford A Legacy, The Birds of Paradise by Paul Scott, The Heart of a Man by Erich Fromm, The Penguin Science Survey 1964 and Making of Places by Peter De Wies. Now fully aware of what’s going on he sees no reason to hide and turns on the lights and unlocks the front door almost inviting them to carry out their threats. He begins to prepare for the battle, while Willard, still suffering from the severe beating from the perpetrators, begs McGill to protect him, and he’s willing to pay him to save his life.

Another knock at the door, this time it’s Moira, who has been informed via a fabricated message that McGill had been badly hurt and she was needed over at his apartment immediately. The trap is set and McGill must use all his wits and strengths to protect himself, Moira and Willard…. The midnight hour is drawing closer, the scene is gripping and you are as tense as the hero waiting for the enemy to make their move. There’s a third member previously unseen in their gang, although he was part of the flashback scene, Carman, a non-speaking role played by Brian Peck, he’s there to set up their main firearm – a machine gun! This was perhaps a tad over the top but it made the message clear, it was kill or be killed. After exchanging a few words through the closed door with the villains asking if McGill knows who they are now, the onslaught is immediate and ferocious, McGill retaliated with his own weaponry fire bombs and bullets climaxing into a dramatically charged and rather brutal shoot out. (So much so it was edited out when they repeated the series on BBC2 in the morning slot) Willard and Moira make their escape from the situation and from the dark and dangerous world of McGill. McGill’s hardened professionalism is as razor sharp as it was during his CIA days as he surveys the damage and bodies left in his path. He yells out in the direction of his fleeing friends, ‘Willard You send me that cheque!’ Once again he has had to return to the world of ruthless killing where emotions and guilt are luxuries you cannot afford….

The episode was directed by Charles Crichton who directed four other episodes in the series. Richard liked and admired him a lot but didn’t think the feeling was mutual! There were no physical fisticuff fight scenes in this one, McGill didn’t smoke as much and it was one of the few stories which feature him having some sort of romantic interlude with a woman. The line ‘You crazy idiots, my name’s McGill!’ is almost as iconic as the series itself to the more devoted fan!

Sharman Towers 2016