The Major is not the sort of man to crack easily. So why does his wife ring Eddie Shoestring
at Radio West?
Major Hansford has retired from the British Army to open an exclusive school near Bristol, with his wife
Jean. However, Hansford finds himself the target of a series of malicious acts. When the littered bodies of
dead birds in Hansford's office disrupt an interview with a prospective pupil and his parents, his wife Jean
contacts Eddie at Radio West.

Eddie, glad to get away from Don's latest publicity scheme (involving his dressing as a Marlowe character
in a photo-shoot), accepts the case. Jean tells him she knows little of the Major's past, which he refuses
to talk about. Posing as the parent of another prospective child, he visits the school on its open day with
Erica. They witness another attack, in which maggots are smeared over the food in a marquee.

When Eddie contacts the Major directly, he tells him to stay away. Eddie's first suspicion is that
Handford's estranged son Rodney is responsible for the attacks - Rodney having spent time in the same
psychiatric institute as Shoestring.
Eddie reluctantly poses
for Don's "private ear"
promotional shots....
Rodney, now working in a butcher's, denies Eddie's allegations. He hates his father for causing his
mother so much grief, but not to the extent where he'd want to harm him.
Eddie and Erica pose as
prospective parents
Major Hansford
More attacks follow on the major and his wife - the inside of their land rover is ripped apart, and a sniper
shoots at Jean as she walks her dog on the beach. Finally, she is killed when a rope is hauled from a
river bed, pulling her off her horse.

Spotting a figure creeping about in the undergrowth, Eddie is convinced that Rodney is responsible. The
boy says that he has simply changed his mind and is trying to get back in touch with his father.

Visiting an old army contemporary of Hansford, Eddie finds out that the major served in Northern Ireland.
Further investigations lead him to discover that there was a robbery south of the border, involving himself
and another soldier. Hansford escapes with the money, whilst the other soldier was caught.
Eddie and Don discuss the Major
Hansford warns Eddie to
stay out of his affairs
Shoestring follows the Major to a deserted quarry where he meets his ex-partner and he hears Handford's
story. The major shoots his accomplice and turns to Eddie. He raided the bank because he didn't want to
be paid off from the army in favour of a university entrant. The major shoots himself, falling from a ledge in
the quarry to the pit below.
Eddie discusses Rodney
with his old Doctor
Jean is targeted
A fast moving episode with many twists, and the first to
be directed by Marek Kanievska, who manages to
create a visual style that accompanies the theme of the
Major's tenuous 'higher ground' - notably in the
dreamlike opening shots, filmed high over the west
country, and Hansford's fall from the ledge at the
conclusion. "Higher Ground" again combines a series
of set-pieces - the attacks on the Hansfords - with a
coherent, compulsive plot. A strong entry to the first
Eddie talks to an ex-army
contemporary of Hansford
Perhaps the most successful of Marek Kanievska's episodes, where his directorial style works very well
indeed in this story of an ex-Army boys' prep school headmaster being victimised by escalating acts of
vandalism and violence. The scenes involving the unseen, or partially-glimpsed, assailant are particularly

A smaller cast of guests than usual allows for the characters of Major Hansford and his wife Jean more
room to breathe. Both are well-drawn: Hansford himself is a dignified, self-sufficient, guarded man (an
effective performance by Glyn Houston). He and Eddie bear each other mutual contempt. They are total
opposites, which makes for entertaining conflict, especially in the scene in Don's office when he comes to
call Eddie off.

And his wife Jean, who she tells Eddie would have been a "professional spinster" had the Major not come
along, is a tragic character who does not want this last chance at happiness to be spoiled, but feels
frustrated by her husband's refusal to share his past. Unfortunately, thanks to the Major this episode ends
tragically for both of them.

We get a glimpse into Eddie's past, as he goes back to the psychiatric wing of Fordingdale Hospital
(where he recuperated after his breakdown), and even meets up with his doctor, Ben Fischer, played by
Alan David (the character turns up again in Series Two's "WHERE WAS I?"). We learn in passing that he
devoured detective fiction during his stay, leading to his current job - more backstory subtly dropped in.
Original BBC1 tx:
14 OCTOBER 1979
2115 - 2205hrs,
watched by 20.9 million

Filming dates:
21 June to 5 July 1979
Series 1, Episode 3: