|Original broadcast date:||(UK) 27 November 1999 on BBC1|
|Filmed in:||16:9 aspect ratio|
Stuart Milligan as Adam Klaus
Griff Rhys-Jones as Jeremy Sangster
Andrew Tierman as Lenny Spearfish
Rachel Power as Alice Spearfish
Adjoa Andoh as Anthea Spacey
Debbie Arnold as Sadie Bechenstein
Stuart Myers as Saul Bechenstein
Maxine Peake as Marion Cretiss
Brett Fancy as Troy
Louise Barrett as Call Girl
Alan Corser as Old man
Peter Hughes as Coroner
View guest cast
Jonathan has been persuaded to go to a dinner party with Maddy. Maddy arrives early at Jonathan's windmill and asks if she could borrow his washing machine before they leave as hers packed up that morning. Jonathan agrees without realising how much washing she was talking about, "It's like the relief effort to an earthquake zone!" he quips as she empties a number of black plastic dust bin liners on his kitchen floor. She'll never get it all finished before they have to leave at 7pm he says. She doesn't expect to, "Are you mad? I thought you could finish it tomorrow", she says.
Jonathan comments that he can't be late back from the dinner as he has to be in court tomorrow. His boss Adam Klaus is on trial, and he may be called as a possible character witness.
Jonathan and Maddy are off to see the Bechenstein's, Sadie and Saul. Maddy met Sadie at a press thing a year ago and ever since has been trying to get Maddy round for dinner. Maddy believes it's because Sadie thinks she's Jewish! Jonathan looks at her in a funny way as if assessing her heritage! But they know he's not Jewish, he asks. Of course! Maddy replies...because if Maddy's been telling lies again...
They arrive at the Bechenstein's and Sadie answers the door, "Doctor Creek!" she cries. Jonathan doesn't say anything and Maddy just smiles at Sadie. They go through and get introduced to the other people at the dinner party. They are Sadie and Saul's new neighbours, Alice and Lenny Spearfish. They seem unhappy, but don't say anything.
While eating dinner, Sadie asks what Maddy thinks of her husbands yarmulke (the Hebrew word for skull cap - thanks to Niki Walton for letting me know!). Maddy gets ready to say that the food is lovely, but stops when Jonathan makes a noise and strokes his head. Sadie means the Jewish cap her husband is wearing, not the food! Sadie then comments on her husband's stitching, as he made the cap himself. She turns to Jonathan and says he's probably handy with a needle himself. Jonathan pauses in mid eating and looks at Sadie - Maddy has told her he's a gynaecologist! Sadie then asks if she can talk to Jonathan later about some personal problems she's having on a professional basis! Before Jonathan can correct her Maddy changes the subject and asks what Lenny does for a living. The house they've moved into is very expensive, so they are obviously doing well financially.
Alice replies that they've come into some money recently, purely by chance. Lenny then pips in that they can share their secret - he sold his soul to the devil and ever since they've been doing well. Naturally conversation stops for a while, but then Lenny goes on to explain, much to Alice's embarrassment.
A couple of months previously, things had been looking extremely bleak. After three years of marriage they were in debt and their house wasn't worth what they bought it for (negative equity). Things were bad, and one day Lenny decided to spend his giro on drowning his sorrows. On the way home he passes a shop. It's well known for selling weird things, and for some reason he decides to go in. The shopkeeper asks what he's looking for, but Lenny saw nothing he wanted to buy. So, perhaps you have something to sell the shopkeeper asks. The shopkeeper then brings out a piece of paper and Lenny picks his finger and signs the contract in blood. He knows it's all a con, but by now he's beyond caring.
The following day, Lenny is finally digging up the old tree in their garden when he finds a box buried near the tree. It's full of jewels over 200 years old. A corners inquest is held, and the jewels are ruled to be the property of Lenny Spearfish. Over night, Lenny and Alice have become £1.3 million pounds richer. They decide to move out of their house, and on the day they move Alice finds Lenny's contract with the devil. Alice is a firm believer in God and the bible, so obviously she's not best pleased. Lenny tells her it's nothing and screws up the contract and throws in a tea chest with a load of other papers as they walk out their front door. They return to find their house in flames. The fire brigade suspect it could have been a wiring fault, but the loss adjuster said it started in the hall, perhaps in one of the tea chests, maybe. Everything is ruined - their entire life up to that point.
Driving home, Jonathan comments on what another fun filled night they'd just had! He clearly isn't happy, especially with Maddy telling them he was a doctor. After Lenny's revelations, he spent the evening talking with Sadie about problems of the female variety! As they drive they notice Lenny and Alice. Alice gets out of their car, and says if Lenny wants to go and gamble their money away, he can do it on his own. Maddy stops to offer Alice a lift home, which she takes. She's upset, and says that Lenny wasn't always like this.
Meanwhile, Adam is in court. He's in the dock while the woman whose accusing him of indecent assault is being questioned. A chambermaid at his hotel brought him up breakfast, and says Adam made some suggestive remarks and advances that weren't welcome. Of course Adam denies the accusation. When he said, "Let's have it over there on the table," he meant his breakfast! If this wasn't bad enough, the ticket sales for his forth coming French tour are terrible. The tour may have to be cancelled if ticket sales don't increase within the next seven days.
Back at the Spearfish Mansion, Lenny is talking with a consultant about where to invest his new found wealth. Alice protests that this consultant, Anthea Spacey, is simply a parasite who'll take a fat commission. Lenny tells her not to be so paranoid.
Later that night, Lenny is seen at a casino. He's gambling away and drinking a lot. A woman notices his gold credit card, and with the help of a friend, slips him a drug. She then suggests they go upstairs to her room. After a night of passion, Lenny wakes up and realises what he's done. Before he can get out of the room, a man bursts in and shoots the prostitute. It would seem she was double crossing him. Lenny makes a noise, alerting the man that there is someone else in the room. He shoots at Lenny twice and he falls to the floor. The man then leaves.
A few moments later Lenny starts moving. He finds the bullets on the floor and then feels his chest. He discovers two black marks, and corresponding holes in his blue shirt. Lenny was shot twice and the bullets appear to have bounced off his chest.
Back home Alice is clearly upset at the thought of her husband paying for sex. However he says he was barely conscious at the time, and besides she's missing the point. A man fired two shots at his chest and they bounced off - no bullet proof vests, and as the gun had killed a woman before hand, it wasn't firing blanks. It's like he can't loose anymore.
At the court house, Adam's case isn't going well:-
"Look, at no time did I incite her to have sex with a fish! Like I said, she'd just dropped the tray of breakfast things on my foot. She said something like 'there goes your kipper'. I said 'Oh f-" Adam says.
"Yes, Mister Klaus?" says the Jeremy Sangster, the prosecution lawyer.
"Forget the kipper, sod the kipper, blow the kipper! I don't know, I, I, I, I can't remember."
"Mister Klaus, isn't the truth of the matter that you were physically aroused by this woman from the moment she walked in?"
"I was not aroused! I just had a tense night." The audience in the public gallery start laughing and Adam continues, "As any man will know, sometimes it's just like that in the morning. If you're all on edge..."
"Like waking up with a stiff neck?"
"Yes. Yes, exactly like that!"
More laughter ensues from the balcony.
"Mister Klaus, do you deny, that when Miss Cretiss cried out in shock that your response was to perform in front of her an act of gross indecency with a Union Jack?"
"No! I just grabbed out for something to cover myself up. There were some props, from one of my tricks, on a chair, I just..."
"Mister Klaus! Yes or no? When this poor lady screamed did you or did you not, hang a flag on it!?"
Outside the court room, Jonathan is still waiting to be called as a possible character witness. Maddy pops in to tell him things are getting even stranger with regard to the Spearfish's. Jonathan can't leave as he has to be at the theatre by six O'clock. Maddy decides to go alone, and Jonathan tells her to see if the marks on Lenny's chest come off with soap and water.
At the Spearfish mansion, Maddy is talking with Alice while Lenny does laps in the swimming pool. Maddy says the problems with things like this is you can start to believe them if you're not careful. The contract with the devil bursting into flames? There could have been something else in the tea-chest. No, Alice replies, the chest was full of old papers from the loft. Some old letters and diaries of her mums, some stuff of her dads. Alice speculates what her her parents would have made of it all. Her parents were very proper people. Her mother had been in service to dukes and lords, and had raised her knowing her place and giving her a sense of what was right and wrong.
As for the prostitute thing. As soon as Alice found out, she rang the police and Lenny went down to identify the body. The prostitute had been double crossing the bloke she worked for and he just let her have it. Lenny then gets out of the pool and says if Maddy is going to put this all in her book, then she should inspect the evidence. He towels off and then lets her touch the marks on his chest. There are still there. Even the police surgeon was baffled, Lenny explains but stops in mid sentence. The man who killed the prostitute is standing on the other side of the pool and he has a gun in his hand. He clearly doesn't intend to leave any witnesses behind.
Lenny just stands there, and defies the man to fire the gun. The man suddenly starts shaking and can't pull the trigger, eventually he collapses and hits his head on the side of the pool. He's dead.
Maddy tells Jonathan about it the following day at his windmill. He's busy ironing all her laundry she brought round previously. He asks what colour the shooters face was, after all he could have been fitting or something. Maddy says that all she saw, or thinks she saw was a little red birthmark on his face, that was there one minute, but gone the next. It's all a bit weird she says, "like something out of a Frank Kapra movie."
There were no marks on the body, no poison tipped darts... Jonathan then takes one of Maddy's bras out of the basket and proceeds to starch and iron it, much to Maddy's surprise. "Take no pride in your laundry of any kind?" he says.
Maddy then presents a theory that Lenny somehow pulled of a fabulous jewellery heist and to hide it from his wife pretended to dig them up in the back yard. She also reckons the guy by the pool was in on it, but he screwed up and accidentally killed himself by cracking his head open on the pool. In his usual style, Jonathan doesn't believe her. A trick needs planning, etc. But most of all a trick needs an audience, "otherwise, what's the point?" he says. The only one to get spooked by the bullet thing was Lenny himself. Then Jonathan stops. A thought occurs, something about what Maddy said about a Frank Kapra movie...but as quickly as it comes, it goes again.
Maddy then picks up a mirror and looks at herself. She begins to wonder whether everyone's right and she is a bit Jewish. After all there's no telling what lurks in her family tree. She never knew who her father was, let alone if he had a foreskin or not!
At the Spearfish mansion Jonathan goes over Maddy's notes from the night before, while Maddy fidgets with her bra...Jonathan used starch on it, and she's feeling the pinch. Jonathan has a look around the pool when Lenny comes up to him. Jonathan notices he's wearing a Rolex watch and asks if he saw the disappearing birth mark Maddy saw. Lenny just shrugs.
Inside the house Alice tells Maddy that there is no-one called Anthea Spacey on any of the professional registers. It would seem that Lenny's new found investment advisor isn't all she appears.
Jonathan asks Lenny if he believes he's suddenly got a mystical power in exchange for selling his immortal soul. Lenny doesn't really know what to believe, but he does know his life has turned around at last, he's not going to question how or why.
Anthea Spacey then proceeds to tell Lenny how much money he's made in the last 24 hours. We never hear an exact figure, however it's obvious it's well above expectations. Meanwhile Jonathan has a look at the family photographs of Lenny and Alice along the mantelpiece. Anthea then goes to the loo. Maddy decides to take this opportunity to go and have a look around Anthea's car to find out who she really is. She tells Jonathan to keep Anthea talking after she gets back from the loo.
Maddy gets into the car and moves Anthea's seat forward while she tries to go through some files on her back seat. Sadly she doesn't get very far before Anthea comes back. She moves her seat back again, crushing Maddy in the back! She then drives off. Maddy overhears Anthea on her mobile phone, but we don't know who she's talking to,
"Well let's just say it's not getting any easier. To be honest I'm running out of ideas. But, we'll see." Anthea says.
Maddy manages to scramble out of the back seat when Anthea stops to fill up with petrol. She starts clutching her breasts as they have been crushed. Something which isn't helped by an over starched bra! Sadly a policemen sees her antics, and she covers up by pretend to be looking for a tissue under the car. She manages to find a tacky old tissue, and pretends to blow her nose.
Maddy has a mobile phone with her, so she phones Jonathan to come and pick her up. She sits on a wall and sees her car coming down the road, at a snails pace with a growing cue of cars behind it all honking the car. Maddy gets in the passenger side and asks if Jonathan has trouble driving an automatic,
"Good God you took your time. You never driven an automatic before?"
"I've never driven a car before! I didn't want to risk anything."
The car immediately stops and they swap seats.
Maddy then fills Jonathan in on what Anthea said in the car. Jonathan comments that things are starting to get clearer, and asks Maddy if she took a look at Lenny's wrists when she was inspecting the bullet marks?
In a pub Jonathan goes over what he's figured out so far. They know Lenny likes to drink and gamble. (The following scene is inter-cut with flashback scenes of Lenny at a casino). Lenny is clearly loaded, and seen using a gold card. This makes him a prime target for a high class hooker who proceeds to slip him something in his drink which makes him woozy. Jonathan then assumes that for some large amount of money the hooker will perform some "special" services. We then see Lenny being hand cuffed to a bed. Jonathan doesn't believe the marks he saw on Lenny's wrist were made by his Rolex! The hooker then proceeds to stub out her cigarette on Lenny's chest through his shirt. A few hours later, the man the hooker was double crossing arrives and shoots her. Lenny still isn't quite aware of what's going on around him. The bloke fires two shots missing Lenny completely, but Lenny gets up and feels a pain in his chest and assumes that the bullets have bounced off his chest.
Sadly Jonathan doesn't know how this all fits into the grand scheme of things....yet. It tells them how the marks appeared but it still doesn't get them any closer as to why things have been happening. Where do they go from here he asks?
"My place?" Maddy replies.
Maddy closes her front door whilst moaning about how much starch Jonathan used on her bra. She then takes his hand to show him exactly where the bra is pinching her... Sadly before they get very far the doorbell rings, it's Alice. She tells Maddy that her marriage is over. She can't take any more, so even though she loves him, she can't live with him anymore. Maddy says Alice can stay the night. Alice takes Maddy's bed whilst Maddy and Jonathan sleep on some sofas.
The following morning while Maddy is still sleeping, Jonathan is doing a bit of surfing on the Internet. He finds what he's looking for - an answer to the riddle of the disappearing birthmark. However he can't tell Maddy about it now as he's late for court.
Jonathan arrives at court to find Adam in much better spirits. Apparently the ticket sales for his tour of France have increased to 14 sell out shows and pleas for an extended run. It would seem the whiff of a sex scandal has done his public profile the world of good in France!
Meanwhile, Lenny talks with Anthea on the phone. He tells her about Alice walking out. Anthea then suggests he could use this to his advantage. If he could get Alice to sign some sort of waver, it would mean she wouldn't be able to get any of his new found wealth if they divorce. Lenny agrees, but he doesn't seem to happy about it.
Back at the court house, the prosecution are questioning Jonathan. He's being asked to describe Adam's relationships. And sadly Jonathan is under oath, so he must say no when asked if Adam is a one woman man! Jonathan then spies Maddy arriving late and finding a seat in the public gallery. She sits next to a Jewish man and Jonathan acquires his famous "It's all clicked into place" face.
Outside the court room Maddy tells Jonathan about the document Lenny wants Alice to sign renouncing any claims to the money which of course is all in Lenny's name. Maddy says she must be barmy, but Alice is all for signing. Alice is aiming to get to the house for three O'clock. Jonathan says this will give him just enough time to fill Maddy in on what's been happening.
At the house, Alice is reading the document Lenny wants her to sign. She can't believe it's come to this. Anthea says they need two witnesses to the signature. She signs as one and asks Maddy to sign as the other. Maddy doesn't want to sign, but Jonathan takes the pen and signs as the second witness, "well I think they've pretty much made up their minds, why drag it out?" he says. He then passes the pen over to Alice who takes it and signs the document. She then says goodbye and runs out into the garden, crying. Anthea picks up the pen and hands it to Lenny, who after a few moments starts to sign it and then scribbles it out voiding the document. He runs out to his wife and they hug....looks like they won't be getting a divorce after all.
Anthea comments that she must have misjudged the pair. Maddy replies she thinks Anthea judged them to perfection. The object of the exercise wasn't to separate Alice from the money, as Jonathan explains...
Maddy had it right when she said it was like a Frank Kapra movie. Frank Kapra's most famous film was It's a Wonderful Life, a film all about how a man was saved by a guardian angel. Everything that has happened seems to have been engineered to take Alice and Lenny to the wire and back again. Someone with money and influence.
However, you can't just assume someone is about to dig up an old tree to discover buried treasure, that suggests surveillance - of the professional kind. The thing with the bullets is a fluke, but the incident by the pool - that's another matter. By now Lenny is on a high, thinking nothing can kill him, the devil will look after him. The only clue to how it was worked was the disappearing birth mark on the would be killer's face. Thanks to Jonathan's search on the Internet, he's discovered how it was done. The mark was a laser gun sight to an air-taser. A weapon that sends an electric current through the victim, electrocuting them and leaving no traces. A long distant stun gun. The person involved clearly has a lot of clout in order to order such a strike, so much so it's frightening. Jonathan reckons if it's not MI5, it MI something...
In the court room it all fell into place. Maddy's comment about what's lurking in her family tree. Jonathan had already seen something odd about Alice's family tree in the house yesterday. There was a picture of Alice with her parents, showing two blue eyed parents and a brown eyed Alice - genetically most unlikely. All the protection and surveillance had been for Alice, not Lenny. It would seem Alice's mother who was in service, had a fling with someone of noble, even royal blood. Maddy asks how high up it goes, but Anthea refuses to say - it's more than her jobs worth. Obviously it's high up enough to warrant the destruction of any telltale letters or diaries in a tea chest fire using some remote gadget.
"Let's just say it was thirty years before the facts became clear," Anthea says, "The brief was to see that he and her family were well provided for without alerting them of course to the truth. Budget and resources weren't a problem."
Budget and resources weren't a problem, but Lenny Spearfish was. They had to stop him gambling it all away. And of course they couldn't leave Alice on her own while the gunman (who killed the prostitute) was still on the loose. Something told Anthea that underneath the marriage was still solid enough, all they needed was shaking up a bit.
Anthea leaves, and Maddy asks Jonathan who he reckons Alice's father is. He scribbles a name down on a piece of paper, but we never see it. "I wouldn't put it past him," Maddy says.
Back at the court house, Adam is giving a statement to the press. The case has been thrown out due to eleventh hour evidence. Adam managed to get a number of statements from previous guests of the hotel. All men of stature who had paid off Miss Cretiss in order to keep scandal out of the press. She was forced to admit it was all a scam. Maddy points out that the depositions were dated five weeks ago, Adam could have stopped it from ever coming to court. "And averted all that juicy publicity that got our ticket sales moving in France..?" Jonathan says.
Adam then sees the press again and says that he's come through without a stain on his character. Miss Cretiss chooses this moment to throw a drink all over him! Maddy says she can recommend a good laundry service - in fact if he needs a gynaecologist...? Jonathan promptly puts a hand over her mouth and says, "Jewish humour - don't you just love it?"