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"The Only Way I Can Stay Alive Is To Stay Dead!"

Author: ShadeGrenade from Ambrosia
24 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'The Hanged Man', an eight-part drama series from Yorkshire Television, played like a British version of the American thriller 'Point Blank!'. The late Colin Blakely played 'Lew Burnett', owner of a construction empire he had built up from nothing.

The story begins with Burnett - wearing a yellow hard-hat and council workman's jacket - driving a dump-truck along clifftops when, suddenly, the brakes fail, causing him to lose control and plunge into the sea. He survives with minor injuries, but now is seriously worried. This is the third such 'accident' to befall him in recent weeks. Who wants to kill him? In a voice over ( which would be repeated each week ), he says: "The only way I can stay alive is to stay dead. So I can find out who's trying to kill me. And why.".

With the world believing him to have perished, Burnett is free to move like a wraith through the criminal underworld, looking back on his past life in a desperate gamble to find who hated him enough to destroy him. He questions suspects and, when necessary, gets rough with them. One was 'Turtle', a small-time crook played by John F.Landry, who got his own show a few years later - 'Turtle's Progress'.

All came well in the final episode of 'The Hanged Man' with Burnett finally discovering the identity of his would-be killer.

It was written by Edward Ward, a scriptwriter of some considerable reputation with episodes of 'Man In A Suitcase' and 'The Main Chance' ( starring John Stride ) to his credit. There was a book based on the show, and a long-playing record. In common with a lot of drama series of the period, it was a bit talky, but nevertheless gripping and well acted. It went out latish on Saturday nights, a good time for thriller shows. There was even a show called 'Thriller' in that slot at one point.

Dominating the show was the wonderful Blakely, giving a moody and intense performance as the revenge-seeking 'Burnett'. My father though took a different view. After viewing the trailer, he said: "Its rubbish. All about a builder who gets involved in daring escapades!". Of course it was not like that. I would very much like to see it again.

That's all I can remember about this. Except for one interesting bit of trivia - Alan Tew's powerful theme tune was later reused by 'The Two Ronnies' as the intro to their 'Piggy Malone/Charley Farley' serial 'Stop - You're Killing Me'!

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