Before we watched tonight’s delightful and extremely fun episode of The Persuaders!, Donald James’s “The Man in the Middle,” I told our son to look out for Terry-Thomas. I reminded him that we’ve seen him once before, in Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines, and he’s hardly playing against type here. Thomas specialized in variations of the same part: a comically obnoxious, cowardly aristocrat who’s always happy to stick other people with the bill. One thing that our little sample run of this series has mostly missed is Lord Brett Sinclair’s curious family tree. Here, Thomas is a distant cousin, and Brett is so desperate to get away from him that he completely forgets that two rival intelligence agencies are tracking him and that he has to lay low for the next twelve hours, and walks straight into a trap.
Geraldine Moffat is also in this one, which had the kid guffawing loudly as Danny tries to rescue Brett from the enemy power’s embassy while Archie provides as little help as possible. It’s really very funny. I’ve praised the writer several times over the course of this blog for all the great scripts he penned for ITC, but this was really one of his best even before Thomas got involved and making it even better. I told the kid that we’ll be seeing the actor once more in about a month.
But surprisingly, I didn’t actually pick this episode for its guest stars like I normally do. Always glad to see good guests like Thomas and Moffat, but I chose this one because there’s a bit at the end where Danny tries to build a road block to keep the baddies from driving out of town and it doesn’t work like he’d hoped. I remember that I really liked that gag when Marie and I watched this series a couple of years ago, and I figured correctly that the kid would like it as well. He agreed that was the episode’s best moment, and despite all the other amusing hijinks, fights, and shootouts, I agree.
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