Monday, 28 February 2011

Alfred Burke R.I.P.

Alfred Burke, who died a few days ago, was a very good actor whom I remember with affection and admiration for one particular role. Over the course of about a decade, he played the part of Frank Marker, the down at heel gumshoe in the long-running ITV series Public Eye.

Public Eye began in the 1960s and I didn't start watching it for quite some time. However, my father was a fan of the show, and one night I watched an episode – after which I was hooked. And I think it is widely agreed that the show reached its peak in the early 1970s.

There was a downbeat realism about the series that set it apart from the competition. The scripts were good, but Alfred Burke's performance was special. Frank Marker was a decent man with a moral code, even though he had a spell in prison. The series when he came out of jail and tried to start again in Brighton was very good indeed. The cases that he investigated were far less dramatic than the adventures of people like "The Champions" or "The Persuaders", but far more believable.

Like most good detective series, Public Eye benefited from a haunting theme tune (there are various versions of it on YouTube) and it is scandalous that, apparently, some of the early programmes have been lost. I would rather have liked to have caught up with them at some point. But above all, I remember Public Eye for Alfred Burke, and I'm sure that plenty of people of similar vintage to me will share my appreciation of his splendid interpretation of the part of marker, who really did become a three-dimensional character.

Tomorrow, alas, another obituary - this time of a crime writing friend.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I'm not familiar with Public Eye, but you've intrigued me. I'll have to see if I can find the series at the library (which seems to have a good selection of DVDs.)

Martin Edwards said...

Elizabeth, I think you will like them - he was a good actor and the scripts were very sound.

Unknown said...

I've only become familiar with 'public eye' thanks to 'Talking pictures' TV. Of course it's dated but Burke is excellent as 'Marker'. It's better actually than slot of the stuff today. Stout fellow!!