Gideon's Way: The Firebug
I have no idea whether the episodes are in original broadcast order, but there is the slight drawback that this one about a deranged fire setter follows straight on from one about a man traumatised by being in a concentration camp who also has a plan, just for an explosion, with the same motivation of drawing attention to his issue.
You all know how I don't like the same actors appearing in different shows? In this one George Cole is cast as the fire starter. It is an unusual role for him, and he plays it superbly - he really does come across as absolutely deranged and it is even worse that the death of his wife and child in a fire has driven him to this state. The character is all the more chilling because he discusses his arson with his deceased daughter's only surviving doll and almost thinks it is divinely ordained.
I didn't realise that the whole of this series is based on novels written by John Creasey - he is said to have written over 600 novels using a number of different pseudonyms. He often addressed the ongoing effects of the second world war in these novels, and was also very politically active. The concentration camp background of the previous episode is self explanatory but the issue addressed here is the terrible living conditions of people, which often continued up to the 1970s. The background to many of these shows is the drive to improve this situation. The story has been slightly simplified from the novel, and you can find a summary and appreciation here.
This is another show which benefits from repeated viewing: I usually watch an episode at least twice when I write a post, and can testify that this is even more horrifying on the second viewing!
What I don't like about this episode, and which I haven't felt in the others I have seen, is that at points it feels a bit overly moral. I can't think of an example off the top of my head but it feels like the show is making conscious moral points at times. Surely we all know that arson ruins lives? My main criticism is a plot point though, that he gets hold of four sticks of dynamite because they are stored in an unlocked building. I haven't been able to find the legal situation of the time as regards storage, because a lot of legislation was tidied up into the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), and had he lived our arsonist would have been charged under the Explosive Substances Act (1883), but surely in the 1960s it was illegal to leave dynamite just lying about? I would expect the police at least to comment that it's not been locked up.
I love the shots of the London of the time in this show - it is definitely Avengerland, but it is the one of the earlier series. Of course you can't go wrong visually with a conflagration can you.
So apart from the dynamite left around to be taken, this is a superb show