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"When the Boat Comes In" is a British television period-drama produced by the BBC between 1976 and 1981.The series stars James Bolam as Jack Ford, a First World War veteran who returns to his poverty-stricken (fictional) town of Gallowshield in the North East of England. The series dramatises the political struggles of the 1920s and 1930s and explores the impact of national and international politics upon Ford and the people around him.The memorable traditional tune "When The Boat Comes In" was adapted by David Fanshawe and sung by Alex Glasgow for the title theme of the series. Fanshawe also composed the incidental music.The BBC revived the series in 1981, with the fourth series telling the story of Jack Ford as he returns to Britain penniless, after six years spent bootlegging in the United States, and follows him as he sets up in London.

Genres: Drama
Station: BBC One (UK)
Rating: 0/10 from 0 users
Status: Ended
Start: 1976-01-08

When the Boat Comes In Season 4 Air Dates


S04E01 - Back to Dear Old Blighty Air Date: 17 February 1981 00:00 -

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Jack has made a fortune from bootlegging and lost it in the Wall Street Crash. An alcoholic and in debt to gangsters, he flees New York as a stowaway. In Liverpool he meets Canon Penfold, who gets him a room in a hostel. He has to share with Charlie Rowse, an embittered ex-teacher who forces him to drink and beats him up. Jack hits back at him and quits the hostel. Morty Black, an old business friend from New York, offers him money.


S04E02 - A Gift from Heaven Air Date: 24 February 1981 00:00 -

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Jack returns to Gallowshield and lodges with Sarah, who tells him that Matt drowned in a boating accident. Jack learns from the boat's owner, Doughty, that Matt killed himself having stolen union funds to support his mistress, Thelma Clark. She is now dating Sarah's brother, Harry. Harry has photographs of Doughty's smuggling activities with which to blackmail him. Jack steals them and sells them to Doughty. They have Harry beaten up and run him out of town. Jack burns Matt's love letters to Thelma to convince Sarah that he was not unfaithful.


S04E03 - A Medal for the Argentine Air Date: 24 February 1981 00:00 -

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Jack meets Margaret Carter-Brown, the niece of Lewis Bishop's managing director John Hartley. She is a Socialist researching the plight of the unemployed on Tyneside. He takes her to see Danny Lockhart, who is unemployed and has sold his war medal. Hartley learns that the Argentine navy want a warship and asks Jack to use his contacts to win the contract for Lewis Bishop. The deal fails, but Jack is able to win another order for an American millionaire and uses his fee to buy back Danny's medal.


S04E04 - Flies and Spiders Air Date: 10 March 1981 00:00 -

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Doughty introduces Jack to Captain Bauer, who offers Jack work guarding an air-strip in South America against local tribes. Learning that Bauer wants the locals killed for the oil on their land, Jack refuses. He buys fire damaged goods from Bauer and he and Sarah sell them in Gallowshield market. Margaret becomes engaged.


S04E05 - Oh My Charming Billy Boy Air Date: 17 March 1981 00:00 -

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Schoolteacher, Sid Meek, tells Jack about Matt's nephew, Bill Pierce. He is a law student at Oxford but wants to drop out to get married. Sid is secretly in love with Bill and supporting him financially. In Oxford, Jack meets Bill, his patron, Labour philanthropist Violet Laurence, and her niece, Imogen Lorrimer. Jack loans Bill money to pay off his debts.


S04E06 - Friends, Romans, Countrymen Air Date: 24 March 1981 00:00 -

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Jack has been living in London for three years with Imogen. She leaves him to avoid scandal as her aunt is standing to be Labour MP for Gallowshield. Tipped off about oil by Geordie Watson, Jack buys cheap land in Gallowshields to sell to the interested company. At a toga party given by Mrs. Laurence for the Tyneside hunger marchers, Jack meets Jessie. Although still married to Arthur, she is seeing upper class socialist Robin Cunningham. She opposes the land deal, but Jack buys her silence by threatening to tell Arthur about Robin.


S04E07 - The Bright Young Things Air Date: 30 March 1981 23:00 -

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Having made money from his deal with the oil company, Jack is mixing in London high society. His land agent, Frank, asks Jack to broker the sale of an expensive emerald necklace to Morty Black. The necklace is owned by Philip Martin whose sister, Jane, is unbalanced and would kill to get the necklace for herself. The sale goes ahead. When Jack learns that Morty paid off the mobsters who were after him, he waives his share of the price.


S04E08 - Action! Air Date: 06 April 1981 23:00 -

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Lady Caroline invites Jack to visit her in Northumberland. Sarah is seeing Stan Lidell. Jack helps shopkeeper Manny Goldstein who is being persecuted by Blackshirt thugs. At a function given by Caroline's husband, Edward Mostyn, Jack argues with the local Fascist leader, Hector Smith-Jameson, which attracts him to socialist guest, Tania Corley. Jack buys a share in Manny's shop and when the thugs attack it again, he forces Smith-Jameson to pay compensation or face prosecution, and then exposes him for having paid money to a Jew.


S04E09 - Comrades in Arms Air Date: 13 April 1981 23:00 -

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Tania's mother, Lady Leamington, gives a party to raise funds for the victims of Franco in the Spanish civil war. Billy treats Bob Randall, son of Jack's old sergeant-major Fred, wounded fighting for the Spanish Republicans. Jack considers himself in debt to Fred who once saved his life. Jessie and Billy get Fred to persuade Jack to smuggle guns to the Republicans. Using a pleasure cruise as cover, Jack sails for Spain with Tania, Jessie, Billy and communist Nigel Scott-Palliser.


S04E10 - Roll of Honour Air Date: 20 April 1981 23:00 -

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Jack learns from Ceddie Corley that Scott-Palliser is planning to have him arrested for gunrunning. He sends Tania home, warns the ship's captain and goes ashore with the ship's steward, Raoul Savory. Jessie is shocked to discover that Scott-Palliser plans to give the guns to the Communists and not the Socialists. Raoul diverts the Communist convoy. Jack, Jessie, Billy and Raoul set off to deliver the guns to the socialists. They fight off Franco's Moorish cavalry, but Scott-Palliser is lying in wait and shoots Jack.

When the Boat Comes In Actors

John Nightingale(Tom Seaton)

James Bolam(Jack Ford)

Susan Jameson(Jessie Ashton née Seaton)

Malcolm Terris(Matt Headley)

Jean Heywood(Bella Seaton)

James Garbutt(Bill Seaton)

Edward Wilson(Billy Seaton)

Madelaine Newton(Dolly)



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