Out — Killer TV no.46

ITV, 1978

Tom Bell, Brian Croucher, Lynn Farleigh, Peter Blake, John Junkin, Brian Cox
‘Never thought I’d see you in the sewer with the shit up to your neck… I feel sorry for you.’ – Frank Ross to Det Insp Bryce
Identikit: A blagger emerges from prison determined to uncover those who betrayed him and his gang to the police.


Tom Bell completely dominates this hard-edged six-parter as Frank Ross, a gangster released from an eight-year stretch inside and determined to find out who ratted on his gang’s last robbery. Friends and foes, particularly the seedy cops, warn him to leave the past alone, but Ross can’t be deterred – ‘Faces to see, questions to ask…’ Like Walker in Point Blank and Jack Carter in Get Carter, Ross is mean and obsessed with rooting out his enemies, whatever the cost. But this minor classic from Euston Films, written by Trevor Preston, was more than a violent revenge saga. The characters are detailed and troubled, including Ross’s wife, Eve, who’s had a breakdown, and his son, Paul, who’s becoming a delinquent. Where some shows from this era can look sadly dated (try Widows, for example), Out had psychological depth and was packed with a seedy atmosphere and plenty of menace.
Classic episode: the finale, I Wouldn’t Take Your Hand If I Was Drowning, featuring Frank’s showdown with the detective who put him away, Bryce, deftly turning the tables on the morally superior but bent copper. 
Watercooler fact: By the time he died aged 73 in 2006, Tom Bell had had an acting career taking in theatre and 104 film and TV roles. While he gave many superb performances along the way (just watch him in Prime Suspect), he never really achieved the star billing and acclaim he deserved.
NEXT: 45 Homeland
PREVIOUS:  47 The Cops 48 Moonlighting 49 Brotherhood 50 Copper

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