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'Special Branch-Warrant for a Phoenix' (1970)

The latest episode of the original (1970) ‘Special Branch’ series on Talking Pictures TV was a fairly routine ‘Warrant for a Phoenix’  but it was still good entertainment.

For those new to ‘Special Branch’, we are now in the final Series 2 of the original series and at Episode 5 of 13, so getting close to the halfway point of the run. Fulton McKay is fully into his spring playing the sparky DCS Inman the boss of DCI Jordan (the uber trendy Darren Nesbitt) but Inman is seriously frustrated by spooky and shady boss from the Home Office Charles Moxon (Morris Perry). Jordan always needs female company of course and here he is aided by female DC Jane Simpson (the lovely Anne Rutter).

The episode -written by ex-Communist and Daily Worker writer (and High Priest of a Wicca Coven –true fact!) -Stewart Farrar, revolves around a Greek history professor and opponent of the Greek military junta regime (Kazakos –played by Paul Stassino), who is accused with his wife (Monica Vasileiou) of bringing into the UK one of his country’s national treasures – a Phoenix.

Moxon is keen to agree with the request of the Greek junta for  both the treasure and Kazakos to be returned to them. DCS Inman is not so sure because a) he does not trust Moxon and b) Jordan’s discussions with the Greek in Brixton nick (where else) suggest he is no thief. Whilst Inman and Jordan sort out whether he should be sent back to Greece or not, DC Simpson takes his wife shopping in the local 1970s boutique –what else would a Special Branch copper be doing!

It emerges later on that the phoenix that Kazakos has in his possession is in fact a fake so that Special Branch have no grounds to honour the Greek extradition request and that the junta had set him up to be arrested in the UK to embarrass someone they want to view as an outspoken exile. So Inman, Jordan and Simpson accompany Kazakos and his wife to the airport when it emerges that his wife has the original and real phoenix in her luggage and that she is planning to fly to New York to sell it for 150 grand and shack up with a boyfriend she has.

The plot is pretty shaky it has to be said but it was a good vehicle for Anne Rutter to show what a fine actress she is. She is still acting at 81 and was fairly recently in an episode of Still Open All Hours. The best line in the episode however, is as ever, spoken by Fulton McKay at Moxton’s expense when he shouts out “I know who I would like to exorcise!”.

But don’t worry Special Branch fans – the delectable Sandra Bryant is back in the next episode ‘The Pleasure of your Company ‘…..

Tags: Special Branch Derren Nesbitt Fulton McKay Talking pictures TV, Greece