031. The Birdman Of Wormwood Scrubs - Written by Leon Griffiths #3.7
Directed by Ian Toynton

TV Times Listing The Birdman of Wormwood Scrubs Episode Locations

Ernie Dodds, a convicted criminal who got away with a quarter of a million pounds is about to be released from prison after a 14 year stretch. Ernie has organised with a prison officer Spencer, that Arthur will collect him upon his release. Unbeknown to Arthur who takes Terry along with him, Spencer is also in contact with ex-superintendent Billings, an old adversary of Ernie's who Ernie believed set him up. Billings and Spencer, along with Ernie's former partner in crime Grundy and his daughter Kate all believe they have a right to some of the money. In the meantime, Ernie tells Arthur he cannot get his hands on the money as the bank in which he put it requires three days notice. During this period Arthur is subsidising Ernie, who seems to have rather expensive tastes.

When Ernie arrives at the bank to collect his money, he finds out that the bank account was closed in 1975. Also, that his now deceased former bank manager, Mr Knight, knowing Ernie was inside, had done a runner with the money. Without a penny, Ernie is forced to leave the expensive hotel and stays with Terry at his flat. While Kate approaches Ernie and Terry, Spencer and Billings approach Arthur at the Winchester, with both parties claiming they have the address of Mr Knight's widow and that neither pair no longer needs the other.


Cast: Maurice Denham as Billings, Rula Lenska as Kate, Stephen Greif as Spencer, Max Wall as Ernie, Avril Angers as Mrs Knight, Joe Ritchie as Grundy, Frederick Treves as Bank Manager, Charles Rogers as Shop Assistant

Facts: The star of this episode is no doubt Max Wall who plays Ernie Dodds. Max Wall was an English comedian and actor who was popular for many years both before and after World War II.

Parts of this episode are filmed in and around the hotel in which Ernie Dodds is staying, in the vicinity of Tower Bridge. This hotel is now called the 'Thistle Tower Hotel' and was a popular location for many shows in the 70s and 80s. Although the opening scenes find Arthur and Terry at the Winchester Club when Spencer comes to find them, Dave is not behind the bar and Glynn Edwards does not appear in this episode. Arthur refers to the fact that he has children at home in this episode.

Filming Dates: The wintry feel to this episode suggests it was early on in 1981.


Double Take: This is the first of three Minder episodes to star Dennis Waterman's former wife Rula Lenska - she also appears in #6.5 From Fulham With Love and #7.4 The Last Video Show. She also appears in the 1986 promotional film #6.9 Number. Maurice Denham, who plays ex-superintendent Billings also appears as Meredith Gascoyne in #6.7 Minder On The Orient Express.

Bloopers: When the whole cast arrive at Mrs Knight's pet shop, watch closely in the background as there are very many interested on-lookers. Also look closely at the chase scene at the end, it is clearly not Dennis Waterman that is running across the bridge.

Title: 'Birdman of Alcatraz', a 1962 film starring Burt Lancaster based on the life of Robert Stroud, a prison inmate known as the 'The Birdman of Alcatraz' because of his life with birds.


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Last updated : 27th January 2016 by jno

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