Hancock is standing idly on a street corner when a policeman strolls up. Tony chats about the inclement British weather ( for which he blames atom bomb testing ). The policeman has observed Hancock on the same street corner every day for weeks, and wonders what he is up to. Hancock claims to be merely 'people-spotting'. Like train-spotting, only with people. He claims to be fascinated by the human character.
After an altercation with an elderly news vendor ( Wilfrid Lawson ), Hancock spots what seems to be a man furtively passing an envelope to a woman. Convinced he has just witnessed spies at work ferrying stolen secrets, he tries to contact M15...
This was one of a number of episodes written by Godfrey Harrison, writer of the popular B.B.C. radio comedy 'A Life Of Bliss'. Harrison was infamous for his late delivery of scripts, and one suspects he was still working on this one as the cameras started rolling. The dialogue is good, but the basic plot of Hancock becoming an agent for Her Majesty's Secret Service ( 'Number 13 - codename Canteen' ) is silly and unbelievable. Why does Colonel Beresford ( Geoffrey Keen ) so readily accept Hancock's claim? And whose canteen does Tony succeed in reaching by phone? M15's?
There is some fun to be had watching Hancock being 'James Bond' even if it does fly in the face of his long-held desire to create realistic comedy. I half expected him to wake up at the end and find the whole experience to have been a dream.
Geoffrey Keen and James Villiers went on to appear in bona fide Bond movies - the former was Minister of Defence 'Sir Frederick Gray' in several Roger Moore films including 'Moonraker', while the latter ( for one film only ) portrayed 'Chief Of Staff' in 'For Your Eyes Only' in 1981. Sheila Burnette is one of the canteen women who humours Hancock by making him think he is talking to someone in M15.
Funniest moment - allocated the number 13 by Colonel Beresford, Hancock asks what happened to his predecessor. "I can't tell you that!", says the Colonel, "And you won't find out from his widow either!".
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