Like many duckers and divers, the legendary blonde bombshell Diana Dors preferred to deal in cash only. Her son Mark remembers coming across whole cupboards literally stuffed with banknotes. Long after her death, he would remember this as a clue to the mystery of her lost fortune, supposedly £2 million, hidden in various bank-accounts listed in code on a sheet of paper she gave him at their last meeting - the code being known only to her husband (Mark's stepfather) Alan Lake. The problem was that Alan had committed suicide soon after her death.
More than one person was ready to ridicule this story, not least because she'd always lived well beyond her means and had been declared bankrupt. One of them, Michael Winner, joked that Mark, who was a show-business manager in Hollywood, had probably been watching too many movies.
Yet Diana and Alan must have had a reason for organising such an elaborate plan for concealing funds, and Mark is not ready to give up easily. At Bletchley Park, a 90-year old codebreaker identifies the top line of ciphers as a 'substitution code', which has to be converted into a password to unlock the rest of the puzzle. Mark's stepbrother says he recognises the ciphers from the 'black book' that Diana and Alan used for their accounts, which was auctioned-off after her death to a besotted fan, whom Mark is allowed to visit. The dates of the many deposits, paid into several different bank-accounts, provide enough clues for a decryption analyst to establish the password. Suddenly a whole page of jumbled characters sorts itself into a set of surnames linked to various towns. Clearly there must be a second page somewhere, that will provide the first names and the bank details. But there is no sign of this second page. So near and so far...
Along the way, we discover that Diana had set-up the false bank-accounts with a little help from the Kray twins. (Yes, she loved gangland as much as it loved her.) Also that her father had been a freemason, and that Diana had used a masonic encoding system dating from the 16th century.
All of this serves to rubbish the sentimental view of Diana as the innocent damsel at the mercy of unscrupulous male networks. Her later TV appearances revealed a surprisingly shrewd mind and a lightning wit. One of the Kray associates, interviewed here, declared that she was the best liar he'd ever known.
And Mark? Brought up mostly in America, well away from Diana's shadowy world, he seems quite an appealing and well-adjusted character, big enough to cope with the anti-climactic end to his search. "I leave here with the knowledge that I have been brought closer to my mother. Perhaps that's better than the money."
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