Cribb (1980–1981)
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The Horizontal Witness 

Joe Calhoun, a key player in London's vice world, is found dead in one of his own brothels. Unreliable witness Charlie Vokins, who had a score to settle with him, claims to know the ... See full summary »




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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Dobie ...
David Waller ...
William Simons ...
Elizabeth Bennett ...
Sister Armstrong
James Hepplewhite
Joe Calhoun
James Coyle ...
Charles Vokins
Jennifer Guy ...
Jean Warren ...
Linda Robson ...
Bessie Hardicker
June Page ...
Lucy Alcock
Molly Veness ...
Eric Kent ...
First Rough
John Cannon ...
Second Rough
Russell Denton ...
First Customer


Joe Calhoun, a key player in London's vice world, is found dead in one of his own brothels. Unreliable witness Charlie Vokins, who had a score to settle with him, claims to know the murderer but wants to make a deal with the police. As well as the deceased's brother the other major suspect is Dr. Hepplewhite who owed gaming debts to the dead man. Const. Thackeray is due to have an operation and Sgt. Cribb arranges for him to be admitted to the same hospital where Charlie Vokins was taken to recuperate from a severe beating. Dr. Hepplewhite therefore becomes the surgeon due to operate on Const. Thackeray and Cribb is anxious to keep his constable safe - particularly as he is a bad patient, constantly exasperating the Matron, Sister Armstrong who is secretly in love with the surgeon. Written by don @ minifie-1 (corrections by ignazia)

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Crime | Drama | Mystery



Release Date:

4 May 1980 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

Hoist By His Own Petard
29 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

As mentioned when reviewing THE LAST TRUMPET, not all of the Sgt. Cribb episodes on "Mystery" were based on the actual novels by Peter Lovesey. Several like that one, THE CHOIR THAT WOULD NOT SING, and this one, THE HORIZONTAL WITNESS, were written by Lovesey for the television series. They usually kept up the interests of the viewers in forgotten by-ways of the Victorian world, and by our amusement at the travails of poor Cribb and his even more put-upon assistant Constable Thackeray.

This one actually put Thackeray (William Simons) at center stage for reasons of the plot. Cribb (Alan Dobie) is assigned to another ticklish murder case by Inspector Jowett (David Waller). It seems that a notorious malefactor has been killed, and while even Jowett feels that the man is no real loss to society his death can't be ignored. The man was like a 19th Century Kray Brother, in that he was the head of the most powerful gang in London. But like the Krays, he also was smart enough to cover his risks by buying large amounts of property and businesses. So he owned half of the East End of London. This makes him (despite being generally disliked and disdained) important enough to have to solve his murder.

There was only one witness: an unsavory little worm (Charles Vokins) who saw a gang of roughs attack the victim, and (before he got knocked out) claimed he saw who gave the fatal wound to the Victim. But he himself is suspect (he had been mistreated by the deceased in several ways), so he won't talk unless a deal is arranged. Cribb in the meantime has been looking over other suspects - but without his sidekick Thackeray. Thackeray has hemorrhoids, and has gone to a hospital (much against his own will - in the late 19th Century most people only went to hospitals if their illnesses were such as to be inevitably fatal) to have an operation. The Constable is not happy there, and is constantly having problems with the head nurse, (Elizabeth Bennett). Cribb narrows down the list of suspects to two, the deceased's brother and heir(Norman Jones) and a leading surgeon (John Ringham) who has a gambling habit. The Sergeant is dismayed to find that Ringham is also the surgeon scheduled to operate on Thackeray, and has a close romance with Bennett.

But duty calls and Cribb keeps up his own form of polite pressure to figure out who did in the Victim, while Thackeray makes himself a general nuisance to the hospital staff. And leave us not forget our witness, who is still offering his final identification of the perpetrator but only if he gets guarantees.

This episode turned out to have one of the simplest solutions of the entire series, and one of the most logical. It also made a final, hysterical use of a semi-conscious Thackeray in the conclusion of the case.

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