This is one of the best episodes from the fourth series of Public Eye, and one of the best overall. As with the other episodes of this series, the focus is more on Marker than on his case, although curiously centre stage is taken in this episode more by Joe Melia, who turns in an astounding performance as disillusioned comic Billy Raybold. All the episodes from the fourth series were written by series co-creator Roger Marshall, and they are some of the best written pieces the series saw. More than that, Marker's character is written with more care we know this is the real Marker, what his creator would have him say.
Marshall writes Raybold with the same care. He is a remarkably layered and complex character, considering he is appearing in one 50 minute episode of a long running series. He laughs and jokes endlessly, but in between this are glimpses of a truly lonely and depressed man, who realises his failures and faults. The audience quickly sympathise with him, despite his faults, and this creates a curious dilemma for the viewer when Marker and Raybold argue both characters are basically good, and neither understands the other properly. Indeed, only the audience sees every side of Raybold he does not pursue the young girl who has joined the act (and whom Marker is searching for), he is too old and tired. Marker presumes the two are having an affair, as does the girl's Aunt, but Raybold makes no effort to correct him. He tries to warn the girl from joining a profession which offers only disappointment, but does not help Marker find her. He is a unique, self pitying but sympathetic figure, a man of character (a word, Raybold points out, that is very old fashioned).
The episode is not just about Raybold (he just steals it), and it does show some interesting developments with Marker. He is dissatisfied with the Inquiry Agency he joined in the previous episode, 'Case for the Defence', and wishes to set up on his own. This will be difficult, however, as he is on parole and can not find funding. His relationship with his landlady, Mrs. Mortimer, also develops: she offers to help him financially and also asks that he call her Helen, a big move for the very reserved Marker.
An excellent, if slightly downbeat, episode, 9.5/10.
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