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10 June 1969: Fraud Squad, episode 4: Run for Your Money

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Jan. 1st, 1970 | 09:00 pm

Fraud Squad was a crime drama series, consisting of 26 hour-long episodes, which showcased the crime-busting adventures of Detective Inspector Gamble of the Fraud Squad, played by Patrick O'Connell. The series was ahead of its time in featuring a woman as the hero’s trusty sidekick, Detective Sergeant Vicky Hicks, played by Joanna Van Gyseghem.

This episode, in which Michael appeared as Jacky Joyce, was broadcast at 9 pm. on Tuesday 10 June 1969.

The episode description in the TV Times reads as follows:

"A confidence trick whereby a remittance to a welfare organisation entitles subscribers to a home at ridiculously cheap prices seems hardly worthy of the attention of Gamble and the Fraud Squad. But when the racket spreads through the Midlands, Gamble realises that he has underestimated Kay Pilgrim, the cool young boss of the con team who stands to clear 20 or 30 thousand pounds."

Michael's character, Jacky Joyce, is Kay Pilgrim's lover.

The episode is available on the DVD of the series' first season.

Plot synopsis

In “Run for your Money”, a gritty cautionary tale about con-men, Michael Gothard plays a small-time criminal, Jacky Joyce. Jacky is used to working minor scams with partner-in-crime Maurice Blunt Major (Richard Pearson), but he has recently hooked up with Kay Pilgrim (Caroline Blakiston), and his new paramour has her eye on a bigger prize.

The episode opens with a scuffle in the office of the Nuneaton Evening Argus, where Blunt Major has placed an advert offering information about a flat to let – for a price. One of the applicants, who hasn’t yet received a reply, is causing trouble. When the police arrive to deal with the disturbance, Jacky, waiting to go in to collect the replies, hears what’s going on and immediately becomes the trio’s prophet of doom, hurrying back with the news that the fuzz are onto them.

Kay Pilgrim insists they stick to the plan. They haven’t done anything illegal – yet – and she intends to stick to the letter of the law, relying on legal advice from ex-lawyer’s clerk Blunt Major, who is also known as ‘Skeggy’ due to his constant phone calls to girlfriend Di-Di in Skegness.

While Kay leaves town to put the next phase of her plan into action, Jacky returns to the Argus office to collect the replies, only to find Inspector Gamble waiting for him. After an uncomfortable exchange, Gamble lets him go. He’s more interested in catching Kay Pilgrim than her small fry associates.

Panicking without Kay there to steady his nerves, Jacky tells Skeggy they must leave at once, and take the train to Birmingham, where they are due to meet up with her again in a few days’ time. Skeggy is all for dumping Kay, and splitting the money they’ve already got, but Jacky won’t hear of it.

When Kay finally shows up, she has placed similar adverts in papers all over the Midlands, and – to Jacky’s surprise – is ready to deliver on her promise to provide a flat to rent. But there will be just one flat, to be allocated to one of thousands of hopeful applicants, all of whom will have handed over enough hard cash to leave the trio with nearly £40,000 profit.

When Jacky reveals that Skeggy wanted to ditch her, Kay tells him she is planning to do the same to Skeggy. Jacky raises no objection to this act of betrayal, but – from Kay’s lack of response when Jacky tells her he loves her – it seems likely she is planning on leaving him as well, and keeping all the cash for herself.

Gamble follows the trail to Birmingham, and deliberately makes himself appear foolish, accusing the trio of illegal acts they haven’t committed, in order to lull Kay Pilgrim into a false sense of security. Gamble wants to ensure that she goes through with her plan right to the end, when he will be able to catch her out.

Kay’s operation goes smoothly: brochures are sent out, applicants – including D.S. Vicky Hicks, posing as a regular punter – come to view the flat Kay has leased, final applications are in, and the profits are in the safe, ready to be divided up.

As Kay winds the operation down, she and Jacky notice that Skeggy is missing, but just then, Gamble and Hicks show up, demanding to see that the successful applicant for the flat is chosen fairly. After all, Hicks is one of the applicants.

Kay lets Jacky pull one of the applications out of a waste-paper bin, and to her surprise, Gamble immediately charges her with running an illegal lottery.

That’s when Jacky finds the safe empty – Skeggy has cleared it out and is about to set off for Monte Carlo with Di-Di, when the police catch him at the railway station.

A few publicity stills from the production are available from the Rex website.

This is one of four that feature Michael. Here, he is about to draw the winning applicant's envelope. In the actual episode, he did not wear glasses.

Michael Gothard in Fraud Squad

TV Times entry:
Fraud Squad text

IMDB entry

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