Having just ambled our way to and through the whole of the 80’s in ‘Bergerac’ it was time to turn the ratchet back to the beginning with ‘Shoestring’ and amiable low-key detective series which ran in 1979-80 and, like ‘Bergerac’ was created by the writer of Terror of the Zygons and The Seeds of Doom Robert Banks Stewart. Although both series were made by the BBC, ‘Bergerac’ felt ‘slick’ and ‘commercial’ whereas ‘Shoestring’ feels much more like a cozier BBC production in the ‘traditional’ sense, although both series were all-film productions.
Part of that coziness came by way of that particular serendipity only a program with the length and breadth that Doctor Who provides and one which we’ve written about a half-dozen times before, seeing a (prominent) Doctor Who actor in a wholly non-Doctor Who context. Part of ‘Shoestring’ takes place in a radio station, and right there in the opening minutes of the first episode was none other than William Russell as one of the stations on-air personalities David Carn. The story worked hard to set-up Russell’s character as the bad guy in the death which jump starts the plot and the distance which Russell sets his character by underlines his potential guilt.
What we were reminded of within the confines of Doctor Who was Meglos. The time period is right (1980), and Jacqueline Hill was in that story, far removed from her stint as a companion a decade and a half earlier. Her presence was just about the only saving grace for an otherwise substandard story. Of course Russell had his own return to the realm of Doctor Who in An Adventure in Space and Time.
Russell is still with us and nearing his own centenary. The announcement that Season 2 will be released in glorious HD will hopefully lead to a whole new appreciation of his career.