In 1913 the British government, hearing that the Germans are planning World War I, ask top agent Whinfrey to intervene, but instead he decides to go on holiday to Cornish fishing village ... See full summary »



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Episode complete credited cast:
Gerald Whinfrey
Mrs. Otway
Admiral Jefferson (as Antony Carrick)
Mr. Girton
Jack May ...
General Chapman
Gerald Sim ...
Lord Raglan
Old Lady (Lotte)
Michael Sharvell-Martin ...
Smooth German
Mr. Ferris
Anthony Woodruff ...
Portly Man
Roy Sampson ...
Army Captain
Phillip Clayton-Gore ...
Another Eddie
Patrick Bailey ...
Steve Conway ...
Meat Porter


In 1913 the British government, hearing that the Germans are planning World War I, ask top agent Whinfrey to intervene, but instead he decides to go on holiday to Cornish fishing village Torpoint. Here he believes he has stumbled upon a smuggling ring, but in fact they are Germans who are masquerading as locals in an advance invasion party. The British arrive and arrest them, believing that Whinfrey deliberately planned everything - though it is apparent that he did not. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Adventure | Comedy





Release Date:

10 October 1979 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Because a strike altered recording dates a number of performers had to drop out and be recast. See more »


Gerald Winfrey: Truth be told, I was jolly fed up with being a hero. Having to save the country two or three times a week meant I could get nothing done at all.
See more »


References The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) See more »


"Agitato' (uncredited)
Music by Else van Epen-de Groot' (as Derek Laren)
De Wolfe Music Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

Skullduggery in Cornwall!
21 April 2014 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

After a two-year gap, Palin and Jones' 'Ripping Yarns' returned for a second, shorter season ( it was an expensive show to make ), of which 'Whinfrey's Last Case' was the first. It is 1913, and British Intelligence has learnt that the Germans intends to start The Great War a year early. Britain is not ready yet ( not enough spoons, for one thing ), so in desperation, that dashing adventurer 'Gerald Whinfrey' ( Palin ) is called in. To everyone's amazement, he passes on the job despite it being of great national importance, saying that he is tired and in need of a holiday. He goes to Cornwall to take up residence in Smugglers Cottage. But there is a mystery waiting for him...

Alan J.W. Bell ( of 'Last Of The Summer Wine' and 'Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy' ) took over as producer for this and the next episode 'Golden Gordon'. It boasts some stunning location shots of Cornwall and the strong supporting cast includes Maria Aitken. the late Edward Hardwicke, Richard Hurndall, Jack May and Mark Kingston. As well as the Bulldog Drummond-like Whinfrey, Palin also reprises the role of 'The Introducer' from 'Tomkinson's Schooldays'. He gives a lecture about Whinfrey's London home, completely unaware that a large van has pulled up behind him and the house can no longer be seen by the audience.

The episode received complaints on its original transmission due to the louder-than-usual laugh track. George Harrison attended the taping, and it is his laughter than caused the problem. It was mixed off the soundtrack in time for the repeats.

Despite its many plus points, 'Whinfrey's Last Case' is never as funny as it ought to be. At times it resembles a period 'Avengers' ( 'The Town Of No Return', in particular ). The movie 'Bullshot' ( made by Handmade Films, also responsible for 'Life Of Brian' ) covered the same genre a few years later and was funnier by far.

Funniest moment - Whinfrey, trapped in his bedroom at the cottage, discovers not one but 23 different exits!

Second funniest moment - at the inn, Whinfrey is introduced to several local men, all of whom have beards and are named either Tony or Eddie. "Good to be among sane people again!", remarks Whinfrey. The camera then cuts to a man who looks anything but.

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