Bognor (1981– )
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Unbecoming Habits: Part 1 - Collingdale's Dead 

When trade secrets for the manufacture of a special brand of honey are handed over to Middle Eastern rivals, Parkinson, Head of the Special Investigations Branch of the Department of Trade,... See full summary »

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Episode credited cast:
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Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
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Geoffrey Chater ...
Robert Eddison ...
John
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Bede (as John Francis)
Cornelius Garrett ...
Paul
Roger Heathcott ...
Supt. Pinney
Anthony Jackson ...
Barnabas
Charles Lloyd Pack ...
Matthew
James Maxwell ...
Anselm
Joanna McCallum ...
Monica
...
Parkinson
David Rowlands ...
...
Alec Wallis ...
George Hey
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Storyline

When trade secrets for the manufacture of a special brand of honey are handed over to Middle Eastern rivals, Parkinson, Head of the Special Investigations Branch of the Department of Trade, assigns agent Colingdale to find out who is selling the formula. When Colingdale dies, Bognor is assigned to the case. Written by BGP

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Comedy | Drama

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10 February 1981 (UK)  »

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The murdered monk
6 March 2012 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

One programme I never expected to see again was 'Bognor', an offbeat detective show ( starring David Horovitch ) made by Thames Television in 1981. Nobody liked it at the time, despite considerable promotion ( including a 'T.V. Times' cover ). I.T.V. pulled it eventually from its twice-weekly peak-time slot, banishing it to post-'News At Ten' graveyard territory. That seemed to be that. Last year, Network issued the whole run as a four disc D.V.D. set. And yes, I bought it. Mainly to see if it really was that bad.

So was it? Well, the first episode isn't. 'Luke Collingdale', a member of a special investigations department of the Board of Trade, is found dead at Beaubridge Friary, apparently strangled by his own cross. He had been posing as a monk to find out who is leaking agricultural secrets - the friary is famed for its honey - to the Russians. 'Parkinson' ( Ewan Roberts ) assigns 'Simon Bognor' to take his place. The monks are a sleazy bunch who indulge in hash growing, gay sex, and adultery. After being shown round the monastery ( and nearly being stung by bees ), the brakes of Bognor's police Land Rover fail and it tumbles off the road. Someone wants him dead, but whom?

The light-hearted tone is immediately established by the opening credits - moving targets at a fun-fair rifle range ( including a scared-looking Bognor ) - and a catchy electronic theme by Mike Steer that sounds as though it was written for a sitcom. The title of the first story - 'Unbecoming Habits' - is further proof we are not meant to take things seriously. Characters have peculiar names like 'Sir Erris Beg' and 'Batty Tom' to boot. As a scene-setter, this works well. Bognor is in bed when the call to duty comes ( he is then seen using a battery-operated razor in a bus queue ). His boss has little regard for him. Bognor is a bit of a twit ( had this been made twenty years before the role would have been perfect for Ian Carmichael or David Tomlinson ) but gets results all the same. His girlfriend ( later wife ) is the lovely 'Monica Beckett' ( Joanna MacCallum, seen most recently in the B.B.C.'s 'New Tricks' ). She gets the episode's best line. Spotting Bognor packing a case, she asks him where he is going. "To a monastery!", he says. With a straight face, she asks: "Was it something I cooked?".

James Maxwell, Patrick Troughton, Geoffrey Chater, and Charles Lloyd Pack ( father of Roger ) are all on view. My main problem - and it applies to the rest of the series - is Horovitch. Rather like Matt Smith, he just does not seem cut out to play leads. Simon Cadell would have been my preferred choice. Another problem was the title. Which idiot thought it a great idea to call a show 'Bognor'? To the uninformed it probably sounded like a documentary about sunny Bognor Regis or a biography of that boxing genius ( please note the sarcasm ) Joe Bugner. Did someone at Thames think there'd be loads of people dashing home from the pubs or work to catch the latest instalment of...'Bognor'? 'The Simon Bognor Mysteries' would have been better. Anyway, the damage was done.

I'm so pleased Network have brought 'Bognor' back. Yesterday's flops can sometimes turn out to be far more interesting than today's hits.


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