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Clouds of Witness

“Clouds of Witness” – 1972

Hugh David


Dorothy L. Sayers  novel
Anthony Steven


Richard Beynon producer





Ian Carmichael – Lord Peter Wimsey
Anthony Ainley – Capt. Dennis Cathcart
Judith Arthy – Mrs. Grimthorpe
Richard Beale – Dr. Thorpe
Ivan Beavis – Insp. Craikes
Kenneth Benda – Sergeant-at-Arms
Edwin Brown – Fleming
John Bryans – Monsieur Corbeau
Bill Burridge – Policeman
Helen Christie – Mrs. Marchbanks
Noel Coleman – Col. Marchbanks
Georgina Cookson – Helen, Duchess of Denver
George Cormack – Royal Personage
Richard Cornish – Jocelyn Peake
George Coulouris – Mr. Grimthorpe
Gerald Cowan – Jake
Pamela Denton – Bet Watchett
Anne De Vigier – Mlle. Chataigneau
Francis De Wolff – Sir Impey Biggs
Mark Eden – Det. Supt. Charles Parker
Petronella Ford – Rachel Arbuthnot
Eric Francis – Landlord of The Duke’s Head
John Franklyn-Robbins – Coroner
David Hargreaves – George Goyles
Malcolm Hayes – Concierge
Rachel Herbert – Lady Mary Wimsey
Christopher Hodge – Old Groot
Charles Hodgson – Freddy Arbuthnot
Glyn Houston – Mervyn Bunter
Anthony Jacobs – Sir Wigmore Wrinching
Isabel Jeans – Dowager Dutchess
Frances Jeater – Erica Heath-Warburton
Alan Judd – Lord High Steward
Merelina Kendall – Ellen
David Langton – Gerald, Duke of Denver
Graham Leaman – Clerk of the Crown
André Maranne – Monsieur Briquet
Stuart Nichol – U.S. Ambassador
Kate O’Mara – Cynthia Tarrant
Bert Palmer – Ned Rowbottom
Dorothea Phillips – Madame Leblanc
Dora Reisser – Simone Vonderaa
Graham Rigby – John Hardraw
Toke Townley – Tim Watchett
James Walsh – Lucius Grant
Lockwood West – Sir Andrew Tarrant
John Wyse – Murbles


Based on the series of novels written by Dorothy L Sayers in the 1920s and 30s, Lord Peter Wimsey was dramatised for TV by the BBC between 1972-5. Ian Carmichael, veteran of British film comedy, played the genial, aristocratic sleuth; Glyn Houston was his manservant Bunter. The pair are similar to PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Bertie Wooster (whom Carmichael played in an earlier TV adaptation) though here the duo are equal in intelligence, breezing about the country together in Wimsey’s Bentley and stumbling with morbid regularity upon baffling murder mysteries to test their wits.


Those for whom this series forms hazy memories of childhood might be surprised at its somewhat stagy, lingering interior shots, the spartan paucity of music, the miserly attitude towards locations, especially foreign ones, and the rather genteel, leisurely pace of these programmes, besides which Inspector Morseseems like Quentin Tarantino in comparison. It seems that initially the BBC was reluctant to commission the series and ventured on production with a wary eye on the budget. The Britain depicted by Sayers is, by and large, populated by either the upper classes or heavily accented, rum-do-and-no-mistake lower orders, which some might find consoling. However, the acting is generally excellent and the murder mysteries are sophisticated parlour games, the televisual equivalent of a good, absorbing jigsaw puzzle.


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70’s Televison

What an amazing piece of kit our telly was. Can you imagine having to change channel by turning a knob to tune in BBC2 and forever getting up to realign the aerial and contrast, and the only way to stop the picture from rolling was to give the set a good thump? Do you remember that we only have three channels to watch? Thinking about it, the conversation was better at school next day as everyone seemed to be watching the same thing unlike nowadays where we have too much choice. Aye, the quality of programmes seem to have dwindled when you think back to what we had in our days.

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