Doctor in Charge: Season 1, Episode 8

Climbing the Ladder (28 May 1972)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy
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Dick shows an interest in joining the Freemasons so the other doctors send him a spoof letter, allegedly from the Masons, inviting him to spooky Wookham Priory at midnight. Here they ... See full summary »

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Episode cast overview:
Robin Nedwell ...
George Layton ...
Geoffrey Davies ...
Ernest Clark ...
Peter Stephens ...
Chairman of the Board
Joan Benham ...
Edward Harvey ...


Dick shows an interest in joining the Freemasons so the other doctors send him a spoof letter, allegedly from the Masons, inviting him to spooky Wookham Priory at midnight. Here they terrify him, before revealing themselves so when Dick issues an invitation to an orgy at the Empire Hotel, Duncan assumes this is a wind-up and rings the police. When the police turn up it's actually a masonic meeting which they interrupt - involving the Chief Constable. Written by don @ minifie-1

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28 May 1972 (UK)  »

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"Off with his knickers!"
18 April 2008 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

One of the very best 'In Charge' episodes.

Keen to improve his social standing, Dick wants to join the Freemasons. His formal request for membership is refused by Loftus on the grounds that it is by invitation only. Intercepting the note, Duncan and Paul decide to have some fun. They rewrite it to make it look as though Dick has been granted probationary membership. First, he must undergo an initiation ritual.

At midnight, Dick arrives at Wookham Priory, where he is greeted by cowled figures in white, not unlike members of the Ku Klux Klan. A pentagram has been drawn on the ground, a fire raging at its centre. A tethered goat awaits ritual sacrifice.

The leader of the 'Freemasons' commands that Dick should be stripped naked. Terrified, the anaesthetist runs. The joke over, a laughing Duncan and Paul rip off their masks.

Determined to get his own back, Dick issues invitations to an orgy at the Leather Room of the Empire Hotel. Suspecting a trick, Duncan makes an anonymous call to the police, who raid the place.

But the joke is on him. The 'orgy' is fact a Masonic dinner, one in which Loftus is present...

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy once made a movie called 'Tit For Tat', which would have made a suitable title for this Garden and Oddie penned episode. I recall a 'Monty Python' sketch in which John Cleese's architect pleaded with Michael Palin and Terry Jones' town planners to be allowed to join the Freemasons. Although Dick isn't as upset as Cleese was when his application was rejected, the episode is just as funny. Very unusual to find 'orgies' mentioned on a peak time sitcom in 1972.

The Wookham Priory sequence is genuinely creepy, straight out of a Hammer adaptation of Dennis Wheatley. There's even a beautiful young woman ( one of the nurses, presumably ) about to be sacrificed! Garden and Oddie revisited the genre with their 'Goodies' episode 'That Old Black Magic'.

Funniest moment - thinking he has been approved for membership, a smirking Dick winks at Loftus. The Professor is baffled by his actions.

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