From ITC UK show "Man in a Suitcase" mid-1960s. Jack Lord was considered to play the lead McGill in the show.

Check Wikipedia entry for background on McGill...

(This is really not a review, just a summary of the plot; I will do a review with comments later when I have seen more episodes.)


Much of this episode, the title of which – The Whisper -- doesn't make any sense, takes place in “Central Africa.” During some scenes in the show, you can see mountains in the background which look more like the Swiss Alps or even the Himalayas. This is just a painting, however; these scenes are done in a studio, though there are several locations elsewhere in the show that appear to actually have been filmed in Africa.

Father Loyola (Colin Blakely), a Jesuit priest who is friendly with the natives in a village and lives with them, has come to the house of Marcus Spencer (Patrick Allen) to make sure that his workers get paid for overtime they have done recently on his tobacco plantation. Spencer assures him that he will deal with this after he gets back from a trip to England; he and his wife Penelope (Sheila Brennan) are leaving the next day.

The wife, who is kind of a bitch, wonders why he will pay overtime, because the workers will just use the money to “get drunk.” After Loyola leaves, she tells her husband, “We're a long way from civilization, surrounded by them,” and “they” have changed ever since the priest showed up.

It looks like Spencer has already tried to contact McGill in London. When he arrives in England, he meets with McGill at what looks like a “gentleman's club.” Spencer wants McGill to “investigate” Loyola because he says he wants to share some of the profits from a recent record harvest with the workers. He says “the African lacks an even elementary knowledge of money,” therefore he would get Loyola to be in charge of distribution of the funds – but he doesn't trust the priest. He says Loyola is a “mysterious newcomer” who “could be tempted by the money” of which there is “quite a lot.” He adds, “My wife and I look upon the Africans as our children, backward, but our children nonetheless.”

McGill finds this request very odd -- “I don't like the idea of investigating a priest too much” -- but finally agrees to take the job, saying, “It's gonna cost you.”

McGill goes to a Jesuit order who cannot find any “Father Ignatius Loyola” in Africa who is connected with their organization. He also checks with a babe who is the “special Vatican correspondent for the Globe,” which gives him a chance to hang out with her at some “swinging London” club where they dance together. She has checked; there is no “Father Loyola” working with the Jesuits or “any other mission in Africa.”

When McGill tells Spencer what little he has found, the husband says he wants a complete dossier on the priest – which is going to cost him even more. Spencer returns to Africa, his wife continuing their trip to Paris alone. Spencer meets with Loyola at the plantation again, and the priest is still talking about the overtime, getting pushy about it.

Spencer borrows a Bible published by Burns and Oates (a real company) from the priest, which he sends (how quickly?) to McGill in England, who checks it and finds a huge fingerprint on the title page. He forwards the print to a local cop named Samuels (Wallas Eaton) who owes him some favors. Samuels finds out that Loyola is Alfred Porter, wanted for “fraud, arson, robbery and violence,” plus “a bank job,” and there is a $10,000 (or pounds?) reward for his capture ... but he is reportedly dead!

McGill goes to see Porter's father Alfred (Jerold Wells), who lives in England and is an odd duck into stuff like “Tarot, the zodiac, beans, palmistry, tea leaves or spirits.” He talks about his son as if he is dead -- “He's out there in the hereafter.” McGill thanks the old man and leaves, but later he is seen following McGill to the airport.

Back in Africa, Spencer is disturbed to find that his two servants, as well as the workers on the plantation (whom he describes as “ignorant savages”) are all on strike and he suspects that Loyola is behind this. Spencer tells Loyola (based on what McGill has told him so far) that he knows Loyola is “a phony” and “a crook.”

McGill arrives in Africa, and meets with a Major Anderson (Patrick Jordan) who says that Porter, a mercenary who joined with regular soldiers, died on November 16, 1966 after dealing with a rebellion against the plantation owners. One of his soldiers, Corporal Matthew Silinga (Clifton Jones), tells McGill the rebellion was “probably instigated by communists intent on damaging the economy of the country.” Silinga says he witnessed Porter's death, which happened after the rebels were all killed during a subsequent “suicide attack by a bunch of fanatic rebel sympathizers.”

Later, McGill meets Silinga in a club where black people are dancing western style to ethnic-sounding music with flute, guitar and drums. McGill tells Silinga that Loyola is pretending to be a priest, “tricking your people.” Silinga says Porter killed the rebels with a bullet in each of their necks. Silinga was the one who kept reloading Porter's revolver. When McGill says he swears that Porter is still alive, Silinga sarcastically says, “I always believe the white man.”

When he leaves the building, Porter's father is hiding in the car McGill is using and he holds a pistol at McGill's head. They drive away, but it doesn't take much effort for McGill to escape from the old man and overcome him. Ditching the old man, who knows what kind of scam his son is pulling off, McGill hitches a ride on the helicopter which is bringing Spencer's wife back home to the plantation from the airport.

McGill gets together with Spencer and his wife, presenting evidence of Porter's duplicity. Penelope says he should be encouraged to leave, but Spencer says he has “dug his heels in deep.” The wife then proposes he should be turned over to the Africans: “When they discover that their saint is covered in blood, the blood of their own people, they'll tear him apart.” Spencer suggests that McGill should take Porter back to England to claim the reward. Later, the wife tells McGill, “Please, just make him go away.”

Meanwhile, Porter is having emotional turmoil over his dilemma, praying to a crucifix on his hut's wall. We see a flashback of him executing the rebels, which was alluded to at the beginning of the show, without seeing Porter present. When Porter says, as a priest, he has to go and attend to a woman who is dying, he seems sincere, and McGill agrees to this, and will wait.

The sick woman dies, and Porter comes to Spencer's place the next day, where only McGill is present at first. Porter is talking about “salvation,” saying “I've changed a lot.” He can't come to terms with his killing the rebels, saying “I enjoyed it.” One of the corpses from the massacre told Porter in a ghostly manner he must help the people that he had nearly destroyed. When McGill asks Porter why he assumed the identity of a priest, he says, “Because I felt I had become one. I must carry on with His work.”

Spencer and his wife show up as drums are heard in the background, because the natives are having a tribal council, thanks to Spencer, who showed them the documents regarding Porter's past. Spencer tells Porter, “If you don't get out of here, your blood will be on your own head.” But suddenly, McGill has an attack of moralizing, telling Spencer, “It'll be on your head, too ... you lied to me in London ... when you told me the only reason you hired me was to protect the Africans. All you want to do is squeeze the last ounce of work out of them, use them, bully them around in their country.”

His wife says, “How dare you preach morality at us, at least we haven't butchered the beloved savages.” McGill points at Porter, and tells her, “Listen, you were willing to see him butchered, though, weren't you, ma'am?”

This outburst does not go over well with Spencer, who tells McGill and Porter to get out of his sight.

Spencer's two servants show up from the council meeting, and one of of them, Memba (Dick Offord), asks Porter if he took part in the massacre, and Porter says yes. Porter leaves with the two to go back to see the village chief. McGill tries to keep Porter from leaving, saying he is committing “suicide.” But Porter knocks McGill out and leaves.

Later, predatory birds are seen and heard in the sky, suggesting that Porter is dead, but McGill finds him lying on the road near the village. Porter says the natives have “forgiven” him, but he is “banished ... exiled ... they don't want me here any more.” Back at his house, Spencer is glad that everything is “all over,” but he gets a visit from Memba, who brings up the issue of overtime again.

Meanwhile, McGill and Porter leave on the same helicopter which brought McGill there recently, both of them returning to London.