Two robberies at the homes of patrons of a medium holding séances in their houses seem rather more than coincidence but Jowett belongs to a group investigating the honesty of the medium, ... See full summary »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Alan Dobie ...
Thorley Walters ...
William Simons ...
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Dr. Probert
Georgine Anderson ...
Winifred Probert
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Miss Crush
Christopher Hancock ...
Mr. Strathmore
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Professor Quayle
Mick Ford ...
Peter Brand
Emma Jacobs ...
Alice Probert
David Neville ...
Captain Nye
John Warner ...
Dr. Benjamin
Geoffrey Larder ...
Mr. Cage
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Storyline

Two robberies at the homes of patrons of a medium holding séances in their houses seem rather more than coincidence but Jowett belongs to a group investigating the honesty of the medium, who is wired electrically to a bell which will ring if he moves in such a way that suggests trickery. Unfortunately the wiring explodes and he is killed. Cribb is called to investigate a death that was certainly not perpetrated by somebody from the spirit world. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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25 May 1980 (UK)  »

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The Spiritualism Racket in Victorian England
24 March 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode of the SGT. CRIBB series was based on one of Peter Lovesey's actual novels about the Sgt. and Constable Thackeray. But in this episode, the role of their boss, Chief Inspector Jowitt, was not played by David Waller but by Thorley Waters. It was the only time Waters took Waller's role in the television series.

The Victorians were pretty certain about their ability to understand and measure the universe. Certainly, in terms of material advances, the sciences of 19th Century Europe and America jumped light-years ahead of the previous century. Electricity and Steam offered two power sources for new machines, and transportation and communications advanced so that by 1866 telegraphs were crisscrossing the continents of Europe and America, and the Atlantic Cable was linking to two hemispheres, while steamships were replacing sail on the oceans, and railroads crisscrossed countries and borders. Faraday and Clerk Maxwell in electricity, Brunel in engineering, Lister in medicine, and Darwin in biological theory were all helping to spread this certainty about science. So if one could figure out what the descent of man was, why couldn't anyone determine about the existence of ghosts, poltergeists, and other mysterious psychic phenomenon by measuring them?

The British and Americans did study these psychic phenomenon as carefully as they could. But those scientists who were studying them were frequently too blind about the leeway they granted to various mediums then they should have been, or were personally involved with the psychics (such as Sir William Crooks with Annie Cooks, a medium he studied, according to the historian Trevor Hall).

The story here is that Cribb and Thackeray are forced (due to a case) to get involved with a séance being set up by a social group that Inspector Jowitt belongs to. This group is determined to test a psychic's ability to produced honest results with electric wiring that is set up in a room the psychic is sitting in. The wiring will ring if he moves from a chair in the period that the phenomenon is produced. If it doesn't move, the psychic is presumed to be legitimate. The viewers are aware of the psychic's tricks, so we know he his a fake, but the characters in the episode are not sure.

Instead, however, there is an explosion, and the psychic is electrocuted. Cribb and Thackeray are now forced to interrogate these upper crust friends of Jowitt (under his eyes, of course), and it leads to some difficult bits of investigating. In the end, however, Cribb does solve this case.

It was an interesting look at a forgotten social development of the 19th Century.


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