Travelling Man (TV series)

Travelling Man is a Granada TV series broadcast in the United Kingdom in 1984 and 1985. Created and written by Roger Marshall,[1] one of the original writers of The Avengers, the series starred Leigh Lawson as Lomax and Lindsay Duncan as his girlfriend. Broadcast in the 9pm slot on ITV, the series drew audiences of up to 13.2 million. Each episode had its own story, within an overarching plot of Lomax searching for his missing son and hunting down those who framed him.

Travelling Man
Travelling Man DVD Cover.jpg
DVD cover
Written byRoger Marshall
Directed bySebastian Graham Jones et al
StarringLeigh Lawson, Lindsay Duncan, John Bird, Alan Cumming
Theme music composerDuncan Browne
Country of originUK
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes13
Production
Producer(s)Granada TV
Release
Original release1984 (1984) –
1985 (1985)

Series oneEdit

On his release from prison, Lomax finds his wife has emigrated and is suing him for divorce. His son Steve has gone missing. Returning to his beloved narrowboat, Harmony, Lomax embarks on a long search for his son - and for the man who framed him. He is pursued by the police, who have him under surveillance, various underworld figures, and a journalist named Robinson - all of whom believe that he has a hidden stash of drugs money and will lead them to it.

Series twoEdit

Robinson asks Max to look after his godchild, Billy. Max spends a weekend away from Harmony looking after a hotel, where the only guests are a mysterious couple. He is helping out in a pub, when a gang of motorcyclists are upset. Steve, his son, challenges him to prove his innocence and robs a betting shop. Unknowingly he upsets the local gang boss Jack Ormand. Max meets up with an ex-cellmate, 'Granny' Jackson. Max finally gets closer to finding the man who set him up. An ex-girlfriend gives him the name 'Len Martin', but he remains one step ahead.

A further run of thirteen episodes was commissioned but Leigh Lawson chose to leave, following an earlier disagreement with Granada which had refused to release him from his contract to take the lead role in Roman Polanski's film Pirates. Consequently, the cliffhanger ending of the final episode of series 2, which was intended to lead into series 3, had to be resolved with a brief voiceover on the closing credits by Terry Taplin.

Leigh Lawson as of 2010 has gone on record and said the main reasons for him not continuing into a third series were artistic. He was not happy with the fact it was being filmed on video, which it has to be said, does degrade sound and visual quality significantly in certain scenes. He also stated he was against one of the central story arcs being brought to a conclusion too early - namely the search for Lomax's son, Steve.

BackgroundEdit

Marshall drew on his previous writing, in particular Frank Marker, the private detective he co-created for the 1960s/1970s drama Public Eye. Lomax shares some of Marker’s traits and moral dilemmas, their good intentions compromised by their time in prison. Both men will be pre-judged about their actions and plans, based solely on their 'shady' pasts. Marshall wrote each episode himself, adding a sense of continuity to the self-contained episodes. The Macclesfield Canal and the Chirk Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal were amongst the many locations used in the dramatisation of the waterway film sequences.

CastEdit

Series One
Episode Broadcast Synopsis
1: First Leg 7 November 1984 Max is released from prison and returns to London to find that his wife has emigrated and that his son is missing. He leaves London and embarks on his narrowboat Harmony. He takes up with a young woman, Andrea, and sorts out a demanding drug dealer for a former nurse who has become addicted. He gives her the drug dealer's money so she can book herself into a clinic.
2: The Collector 14 November 1984 Max continues his search, accompanied by Andrea. Max has to visit his sick mother in London. While he is away, Naylor interrogates Andrea about 'The Money' and sets fire to the boat. On his return Max seeks out Naylor at home and warns him off. Naylor gives chase on his motorbike, but ends up crashing through the barriers of an elevated motorway.
3 The Watcher 21 November 1984 Max's quest leads him to a village in Wales, where he immediately comes under suspicion when a local girl goes missing.
4: Grasser 28 November 1984 A hit man accidentally sends a bullet through a window on Harmony, and Max thinks someone is out to get him.
5: Moving On 5 December 1984 Max continues his search for Steve, and a girl thinks she recognises him.
6: Sudden Death 12 December 1984 Max attends his mother’s funeral in London, not knowing that Steve was also there. He meets Neil Pember, a former police colleague.
Series Two
Episode Date Broadcast Synopsis
7 A Token Attempt 3 September 1985 Robinson asks Max to look after his godson, Billy. A Fleet Street favour ends in tragedy.
8 Weekend 10 September 1985 Max spends a weekend away from Harmony, looking after a hotel, where the only couple staying are a mystery. Lomax is left to play host to a married couple when he calls on an old friend and, later, becomes involved in a mystery when the wife is abducted.
9 The Quiet Chapter 17 September 1985 A birthday barbecue at a Cheshire country house is gate-crashed by a motorcycle gang. Lomax, who is working as a part-time barman, attracts the attention of a tipsy woman, the mother of the party girl, who demands he drive her home. They arrive back at the country house as the police are dealing with the gate-crashing bikers.
10 Hustler 24 September 1985 Lomax and Steve, Max's son, spend a week together on the canals; Steve challenges Max to prove his innocence. He knows his father needs money to finance his quest and robs a betting shop. However, the shop belongs to local gang boss, Jack Ormand, who sets his heavies on the trail.
11 On the Hook 1 October 1985 It is winter; Lomax, holed up in remote farmland, becomes a suspect in a rustling case. He meets up with an ex-cell mate, Granny Jackson, who gives him a lead to the real thieves.
12 Blow-Up 8 October 1985 Lomax is coming closer to the man who framed him. A Fleet Street hack thinks he may be able to help, but most assistance comes from Lomax's girlfriend, Maureen, who gives him the name 'Len Martin', but Martin remains one step ahead.
13 Last Lap Lomax at last catches up with Len Martin, the man who framed him, causing his prison sentence and eventual disgrace. A chase ensues. Len Martin dies, impaling himself improbably on an old ship. Max's quest has failed. The series ends abruptly.

CritiqueEdit

Travelling Man has often been compared to the mid-1960s American series The Fugitive, on which it draws both structurally and thematically. While protagonist Alan Lomax is not actually 'on the run', having served his time, it is clear from the start that the authorities still believe him guilty. While The Fugitive leaned heavily on the open landscapes of America, Travelling Man is set in the drug-infested world of the mid-1980s and in a location which adds a uniquely English slant to the fugitive subgenre: the canals and inland waterways of Britain. Although providing Lomax with both a home and a means of transport, the canals also exude a sense of quiet menace. There is an advantage, as he wryly observes in the opening episode: "One thing about quiet waterways, you can hear footsteps." For many viewers, the canal network offered an unfamiliar environment, a sense of ‘otherness’, cut-off from the modern world, reinforcing the impression of Lomax as both an outsider and an alternative hero. In addition, the slower pace allows Lomax time to explore other people’s narratives and provides his pursuers ample opportunity to spy on him and follow him at their leisure. Following the Western idea, Lomax’s boat Harmony represents his faithful horse and his wagon.[3]

SoundtrackEdit

In 1984–85 Browne composed and performed the music for the British television series Travelling Man, in collaboration with the programme's producer Sebastian Graham-Jones.[4] The soundtrack was released on vinyl and CD as Travelling Man - The Music from the Granada TV series. The track reached number 68 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1984.[5][6]

All tracks are written by Duncan Browne & Sebastian Graham-Jones.

No.TitleLength
1."Max's Theme"3:10
2."Steve's Theme"4:13
3."Lament For Billies"2:16
4."Andrea's Theme"2:32
5."Berceuse"3:26
6."The Family"0:52
7."Winter"4:20
8."The Chase"2:56
9."Day For Night"1:21
10."Morag"2:56
11."Zoot"3:00
12."Travelling Man"1:35
13."Old Flames"3:23
14."End Of The Line"3:43
Total length:39:43

DVD releaseEdit

The series has since been made available on DVD by Network and includes a short critical guide written by Marshall's son.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Roger Marshall at Avengers TV
  2. ^ Actor talks about his first TV role
  3. ^ Based on DVD notes by Roger Marshall's son
  4. ^ Travelling Man at Discogs
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 82. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ Leigh Lawson interviewed by Granny Buttons

External linksEdit