Rumpole of the Bailey: Season 1, Episode 3

Rumpole and the Honourable Member (17 Apr. 1978)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 33 users  
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An MP is accused of raping one of his assistants, and seems reluctant to defend himself. Rumpole is left with only one line of defence; attack the complainant's character, thereby infuriating his son's American fiancée.

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Title: Rumpole and the Honourable Member (17 Apr 1978)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Peggy Thorpe-Bates ...
David Yelland ...
Deborah Fallender ...
Erica
Anton Rodgers ...
Ken Aspen
...
Anna Aspen
Elizabeth Romilly ...
Bridget Evans
...
Julian Curry ...
Moray Watson ...
Derek Benfield ...
...
Henry
Richard Murdoch ...
Noel Johnson ...
Judge Sam Parkin
Reginald Marsh ...
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Storyline

Rumpole defends Ken Aspen, a Labour Member of Parliament who is charged with rape. Aspen's defense is that the victim made the advances and that the sex was consensual. Rumpole's strategy is to prove that the victim set out to entrap Aspen but the defendant is less than helpful with his own defense. At home, Nick visits with his American girlfriend Erica, who keeps hinting that she and Nick should relocate to the USA. When she sees Rumpole in action, she is appalled at his cross examination of the rape victim. Albert, the Chambers head clerk, is accused by Claude Erskine-Brown of thievery. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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17 April 1978 (UK)  »

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Quotes

Horace Rumpole: Go into court on rape - it's like stepping into a refrigerator with the light off. All the men are thinking of their daughters; all the women are sitting with their legs jammed together!
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Opening credits prologue: 1974 See more »

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User Reviews

Disturbing episode
2 December 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I've just watched this episode - I think for the first time. (I think I started watching at the second series.) The early Rumpole episodes addressed some difficult moral questions. Rumpole sticks to the barrister's etiquette book, and never prosecutes, but is he on the side of the right? Is Mortimer hinting that lawyers don't decide on right or wrong? This particular story is painful to watch. An MP, Mr Aspen, (played brilliantly by Anton Rogers), is accused of rape by one of his young, female political aides. His wife is present as he tells Rumpole the story. Stone-faced Mrs Aspen seems unfazed by the details. Oddly, they both use the euphemism "he made love to her" throughout. Aspen doesn't deny having sex with the aide, but was it rape? The case comes to court, and Rumpole attacks Aspen's accuser. This seems uncharacteristic for the cuddly Rumpole, but was more common at the time, and Mortimer was probably making a point. The accuser (who looks uncannily like Mrs Aspen), breaks down, admits to being distressed over a relationship breakup, admits to having had sexual relationships when a schoolgirl, to having had an abortion... I told you it was an upsetting episode. Mortimer may also have been critiquing the (very recently passed) law legalising abortion. (The law still requires two doctors to certify that having a baby would be damaging to the woman's mental health.) The accuser is free of make-up (perhaps to look respectable), and looks very young. She is in contrast with the juror Rupole picks out as sympathetic (a heavily made-up older woman who sits in the jury box powdering her nose). Unfortunately the actress playing the accused is not very convincing. Or is the writing at fault? Or the direction? Mortimer was middle-aged at the time, and his younger characters don't always seem authentic. (The accused is also wearing an unflattering brown corduroy beret of a type I don't remember.) Also in court are Rumpole's son and his American fiancé. They are both shocked by the Rumpole's handling of the case, and Nick Rumpole is persuaded to make his home in Baltimore. He is a much more rounded younger character (and played very well by David Yelland). Fiancé Erica is seems more artificial (her "American" accent slips), though her dowdy clothes ring true (she's a sociologist). Perhaps Mortimer was also having a dig at sociologists. Where are writers as good, or as complex, now? Mortimer learned a lot from Shakespeare. Each episode has a theme, a moral problem, a contrasting secondary moral problem, and sometimes a third. Characters are drawn from all layers of society. There are foolish lords, knowing knaves, tarts with hearts, redoubtable Roman matrons and great ladies. One of whom is even nicknamed Portia. Rumpole and Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed!) are closer than they think. And yes, I'm going to work my way through the whole series.


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