Cribb (1980–1981)
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The Last Trumpet 

The police are guarding Jumbo, the elephant that is one of the prime attractions at the London Zoo, because certain people are up in arms about his being sold to American show-man P. T. ... See full summary »




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Episode complete credited cast:
Alan Dobie ...
David Waller ...
William Simons ...
Mrs. Pennycook
Abraham Bartlett
William Newman
Matthew Scott
Sebastian Napier
Lee Whitlock ...
Norman Mills ...
Turnstile Keeper
Alfie Curtis ...
John de Frates ...
Wine Vintner


The police are guarding Jumbo, the elephant that is one of the prime attractions at the London Zoo, because certain people are up in arms about his being sold to American show-man P. T. Barnum and scheduled to be shipped across the Atlantic. Despite being told that Jumbo has occasional attacks of musth (a hormonal condition in mature bull elephants characterized by highly aggressive behavior) which makes him periodically unsafe for giving visitors rides around the zoo, eccentric old Mrs. Pennycook leads a protest against the export - writing anthemic songs about Jumbo to swell her cause. Then she is found murdered. Could the killer have been Barnum's representative or Jumbo's keeper, both of whom were her opponents and who will soon be leaving the country with their four-legged charge? Or was the killer closer to home and the motive more opportunistic? Written by don @ minifie-1 (corrections by ignazia)

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Crime | Drama | Mystery




Release Date:

5 April 1981 (UK)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

A National Scandal Connected With A National Treasure
28 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The success of the series of novels by Peter Lovesey regarding the hard working 19th Century Scotland Yard Detective Sgt. Cribb (Alan Dobie) and his "Watson" Constable Thackeray (William Simmons) led to the series of television versions of the novels that appeared (in the U.S.) as part of the "Mystery" series. But soon the actual novels by Lovesey were used up, so he had to write stories meant for the screen. THE LAST TRUMPET was an unusual one, and worth commenting about.

In 1882 (as I mentioned when discussing the movie JUMBO) Phineas Taylor Barnum heard news of interest to him. One of the great attractions of the London Zoo, at that time, was the large, and lovable elephant Jumbo, who was big enough to hold a number of children as passengers on his back - and did so several times a day at the zoo. But the zoo was interested in secretly selling this attraction. Jumbo (unknown to the public) had a disease (I believe it is called "the mange", but I'm not certain) that occasionally turned the normally docile animal into a more violent one. It meant that the elephant was less and less likely to be able to be used to entertain children as it had been for several years. Barnum knew of this, and offered a fair price for the elephant.

However, many in England were outraged by this cheek by the notorious Yankee showman. A number of years earlier he had offered to purchase the decrepit and deteriorating home of William Shakespeare in Stratford on Avon, and Charles Dickens, in anger, led a movement to purchase the house and start preserving it so that Barnum could not buy it. Now many in England (who did not know of Jumbo's health problems) were opposed to the idea of their children being denied the opportunity of enjoying their lovable friend.

This is the background of the story or this episode. Joyce Grenville plays an elderly, wealthy woman who is leading a growing campaign to counter Barnum's offer for Jumbo with one of her own to keep the elephant in the London Zoo. Nobody can convince her to drop this fight (she even writes songs and poems about "the lovable Jumbo". Cribb and Thackeray are called in by their boss, Inspector Jowitt (David Waller) to keep an eye on this matter. Jowitt tells his Detectives what is the real state of Jumbo's health, and why the deal with Barnum happens to be a good one. But Grenville is stirring up the public anger that there may be civic unrest over this.

Then, in the middle of the matter, Grenville is found dead in her home

  • supposedly of a heart attack. But it soon becomes evident she was
poisoned. And Cribb and Thackeray have to figure out who did it: a representative of Barnum or of the zoo, or Jumbo's keeper (who is looking forward to having a better paying job with Barnum), or Grenville's solicitor who may have his motives, or ... possibly someone else. A bit fast in it's conclusion perhaps (due to time considerations) it was an interesting episode based on a forgotten event in 19th Century London social history.

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