'The Devil's Sweets', written by Don Shaw, opens with a bizarre scene straight out of 'The Avengers'. A group of beautiful girls, clad in checker board dresses, approach a pair of bowler-hatted city gents, and offer them chocolates, which they gratefully accept. But these, as we will soon discover, are no ordinary choccies.
Pat Hunnisett ( Wendy Hall ), who works as a secretary to 'Doomwatch', turns up late for work because she had stopped at the tobacconist's to buy a packet of 'Checker Board' cigarettes. She had given up some time before, but has restarted again for no apparent reason. Quist discovers that instances of smoking have increased in certain areas, which have been bombarded by 'Checker Board' promotions. The chocs contain a drug that make one susceptible to subliminal advertising, in particular advertising for 'Checker Board' cigarettes. When Pat takes diet pills, they react with the drug and make her very ill indeed...
I was never what you would call a big smoker ( the odd cigar now and then ), but gave it up last year. What happened? Simple. Leafing through an old photo album, I came across a picture of myself with some friends from my school days. At least three are now dead. Killed by lung cancer.
This interesting 'Doomwatch' episode was shown a year before health warnings began to feature prominently on cigarette packets. People smoked for years without a care in the world until 1962 when the first medical reports linking smoking with cancer were published. The 'Checker Board' company is so worried about the decline of their sales that they are have resorted to using drugs to induce people to buy, not caring one jot about the dangers. The wily Quist uses subterfuge to extract an admission from Shipton ( Maurice Roeves ), the man behind the campaign, by pretending that Pat has died.
Poor Wendy Hall never got much to do in this show ( probably the reason why she left after Season 1 ), this story goes some way to redress the balance.
John Comer, seen as a tobacconist, was 'Sid' in 'Last Of The Summer Wine'.
The story's anti-smoking message is still relevant. I would urge anyone who has not given it up to try. The other ( still ) relevant message is
do not take sweets from strangers, even if they are pretty girls!
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