The Champions: Season 1, Episode 23

The Night People (5 Mar. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Adventure | Sci-Fi | Thriller
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A poacher is killed by white-robed figures he sees round a fire near Trennick House in Cornwall. Sharron investigates, posing as a student of architecture ,but her cover is blown and she is... See full summary »

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Title: The Night People (05 Mar 1969)

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Cast

Episode credited cast:
Stuart Damon ...
Alexandra Bastedo ...
William Gaunt ...
Anthony Nicholls ...
Terence Alexander ...
Douglas Trennick
...
Mrs. Trennick
David Lodge ...
Porth
Anne Sharp ...
Jane Soames
Michael Bilton ...
Dan
Walter Sparrow ...
George Whetlor
Jerold Wells ...
Hoad
...
Clerk
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Bank Robber
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A poacher is killed by white-robed figures he sees round a fire near Trennick House in Cornwall. Sharron investigates, posing as a student of architecture ,but her cover is blown and she is captured by local landowner Trennick who sends an impostor to meet the boys when they come looking for her. Trennick's wife, curator of the local witchcraft museum, tells Craig that witchcraft is still alive in the area but Richard discovers that the supposedly supernatural meetings are a cover for illegal uranium mining with a view to sale to the Russians to aid them in the space race. First,however, he and Craig must rescue Sharron. Written by don @ minifie-1

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5 March 1969 (UK)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

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1.33 : 1
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Death in Cornwall
22 July 2012 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

Donald James' 'The Night People' opens in Cornwall. Poacher 'Dan' ( Michael Bilton ) is warned by 'Porth' ( David Lodge ), landlord of 'The King's Head' pub, to stay away from the Trennick property. He takes no notice, and, after finding a burning cross in the woods, is surrounded by ghostly figures dressed as monks. He drops down dead. Sharron Macready has her request to study Trennick Hall turned down by its owner - 'Douglas Trennick' ( the late Terence Alexander ) - on the grounds that a National Trust survey is presently underway there. She discovers that the property is not owned by the Trust. Furthermore, she spots an electrical cable in the grounds, and senses she is being watched. Craig and Richard cut short their Caribbean holiday to investigate. They find Sharron missing, and an impostor - 'Jane Soames' ( Anne Sharp ) - in her place. It seems a witchcraft cult is at large...

As was the case with 'The Gilded Cage', this is a cracking episode for three quarters of its running time ( we will overlook the fact that Sharron could have escaped from the house at any time ). The Cornwall setting, the ghostly monks, people dropping dead after pins are stuck into dolls, all are redolent of the halcyon days of Hammer horror. Also a top-notch cast - apart from those already mentioned, there is also Jerold Wells ( he was the waiter in 1973's 'Vault Of Horror' ) as 'Hoad', the creepy butler, Frank Thornton as a clerk with a habit of blowing dust into people's faces, and an uncredited cameo from Josephine Tewson as a telephone exchange operator. Where it badly goes wrong is in the final ten or so minutes - Trennick has bought up tracts of land containing uranium deposits, and is printing fake Government White Papers claiming a nuclear test treaty has been broken by America and Britain. He hopes to provoke the Russians into testing nuclear weapons again, thereby creating demand for uranium. To save the day, Craig jumps off the top of a van, Richard kicks a gun out of somebody's hand, and Craig catches it. End of story. Very disappointing. The 'fake Sharron' idea was clearly swiped from the 'Avengers' story 'The Girl From Auntie'. I loved the 'tie beam', though!

The urbane Alexander, best remembered as 'Charlie Hungerford' in the B.B.C.'s long-running 'Bergerac', makes a fairly uninteresting villain, but its the script's fault rather than his. Similarly underdeveloped is Adrienne Corri's beautiful white witch. You expect a fight between her and Sharron to break out, but it does not. Sharron instead crushes underfoot a doll made to look like Mrs.Trennick - and the silly woman faints! Like 'Shadow Of The Panther', the supernatural element is simply a cover for a criminal operation, but here it does not work as the villains' master plan - printing fake Government leaflets - is none too thrilling. It would have been better if the witches' cult had turned out to be genuine. For a more exciting version of the same idea, see the 'Adam Adamant Lives!' episode 'The Village Of Evil'.

This is almost a Tremayne-free episode. The old boy pops up at the end, however, and the Champions give him a witches' doll as a souvenir of their 'holiday'. As the NEMESIS boss stares at it, he hears what sounds like a gurgling baby, a most disturbing ending by 'Champions' standards.


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