11 February 2005 | johngammon56
Fine downbeat series
Public Eye was a fine series and deserves a place in the British TV Hall of Fame. It's a shame it's not shown regularly on terrestrial TV, but I'm glad to see it's now available on DVD.
It was part of Alfred Burke's brilliance in the part that Frank Marker was a character with no real character traits. We knew nothing about his background, a mystery which was never solved for us by the writers. Originally, the character of Marker was going to be a tough, Lee Marvin figure, but casting Burke was an inspired move on the part of the producers. With his lined, seen-it-all face and his sensitive, laconic manner, Burke rooted the concept firmly in reality. Marker dealt with the dark, petty underbelly of the world, and was only ever a few pounds short of bankruptcy. It seemed only natural that one day he would be arrested (framed for handling stolen goods) and go to prison (ending the original ABC TV series). When he emerged some time later (Thames TV taking over production), Marker has quit Birmingham for seedy Brighton for a masterly 1969 series entirely penned by Roger Marshall. Here, Marker is dealing as much with the repercussions of his own lonely, solitary character as he is with the shadow of prison. Later (with the advent of colour TV), the character moved from there to the more upmarket locale of Windsor, where for a time he became partners with the sharp, ambitious alpha-male Ron Gash.
Marker always eschewed the term "detective" in his dealings with clients, preferring the term that real British private eyes use, "enquiry agent"; at a stroke, this narrative move cut Public Eye off from all other detective series and encouraged a more downbeat approach. In this, it followed its source: Anthony Marriott was a real-life enquiry agent whose techniques and experiences were the basis of the show. A movie made from the material might have been a British classic.
One other point: the haunting bluesy theme for some reason is rarely mentioned, was never released on record, and is not credited on IMDb.com. It is by veteran TV bandleader Bob Sharples (under the pseudonym Robert Earley).