Friday, 8 April 2016

373 Danger UXB

First  viewed : Winter  1979

I  never  saw  very  much  of  this  wartime  drama  series  made  by  Euston  Films  ,  either  because  it  was  on  at  9.00  pm  on  a  Monday  or  because  Mum  preferred  the  Nine  o  Clock  News  to  something  with  the  loathed  Iain  Cuthbertson  in  it  or  a  combination  of  the  two.

The  series  followed  a  young  lieutenant  Brian  Ash ( Anthony  Andrews )  who  unexpectedly  finds  himself  in  charge  of  a  bomb  disposal  unit  in  London  during  the  Blitz. He  has  to  deal  with  unexploded  bombs  as  the  Germans  make  their  fuses  progressively  more  complicated  and  his  life  ever  more  dangerous. His  love  life  becomes  equally  complicated  when  he  starts  an  affair  with  Susan  ( Judy  Geeson ), the  married  daughter  of  the  boffin  Dr  Gillespie  ( Cuthbertson ) with  whom  he  is  working. There  was  a  strong  supporting  cast  with  stony-faced  Scot  Maurice  Roeves  playing  his  loyal   Sergeant, George  Innes  as  his  shiftless  Corporal  and  first  regular  TV roles  for  Kenneth  Cranham  and  Robert  Pugh  ( the  priest  in  The  Lakes ).

The  series, based  on  the  real  life  adventures  of   a   Major  A  B  Hartley,  made  for  good  drama  with  plenty  of  nailbiting  tension, a  high  mortality  rate  and  plenty  of  gallows  humour. It  only  lasted  for  one  13-part  series  but  that  was  probably  for  the  best; there's  only  so  many  bomb  de-fusings  you  can  screen  without  the  series  either  getting  boring  or  needing  a  replacement  lead  character  on  a  regular  basis.

Andrews  went  on to  Brideshead  Revisited  but  aside  from  the  forgotten  Breakaway  this  was  the  last  regular  British  TV  series  for  Geeson  before  she  emigrated  to  LA  in  1984.


  1. Love this one. Still holds up remarkably well, in ways that many shows of the same era do not. Perhaps because it was set in the past, it somehow feels less dated?

  2. You're right but I think high production values and a quality cast help too.

    1. Absolutely, impeccable cast. But it just feels fresh right across each and every ep whereas its contemporaries - other Euston Films productions like Special Branch or The Sweeney - can sometimes be quite cringey to watch and offer just nostalgic interest (not that I don't hold The Sweeney in high regard, it's just that it is very much a product of its time in a way that this isn't)