Whilst under general anaesthetic at a dental surgery, Claire Stevens begins to talk of a van that killed her
husband. When the dentist passes this information on to Radio West, Eddie, who is nervously waiting to go
"on air", gets his first case.

Eddie meets Claire at the spot where the white van crashed into her husband's car. He asks a local
mechanic if anyone has come for a respray and is brushed off, at first, before being given a photograph which
was in the back of the van.
Eddie meets Claire at the
site of the accident
Nervously beginning his first broadcast
The photograph is of a retired army clergyman, now quite aged. Eddie visits him at his home and his wife tells
him that two men called in an attempt to buy an antique writing cabinet from them, eventually purchasing it.

Eddie and Erica launch a quest to find the cabinet, and it is eventually found in a shop owned by Barbara
Knight. Catching up with Knight at a later auction, Eddie learns that she has been stalling him whilst the van
which had been parked outside, now resprayed blue, had a chance to get away.
A favourable reaction to Eddie's first show
Barbara Knight
The van rams Eddie's car before getting away, and the two occupants have been involved in an antiques and
property scam.

A listener contacts Eddie and tells him that he saw the van heading towards an old garage. Eddie arrives and
finds his car pushed over the edge of a high wall into the river below. After a brief fight with Jeremy and Charles,
the van drivers, a mud spattered Eddie drives back to the mechanic with the van and asks him to identify it.
Eddie's car rammed by surprise
Threatened by Jeremy and Charles
Barbara Knight is in the mechanic's yard and confesses that the two
drivers are in fact her sons. Eddie is unmoved, tells the police.

Back at Radio West, Eddie proudly shows off his "new" car, a second
hand red Ford estate. When Don Satchley complains of the price, as the
car has been bought at the station's expenses, Eddie smiles and points
at the window - he's put a Radio West sticker on itů.
A mud-spattered Eddie
resolves to go to the police
The first of several Shoestring episodes which, following the establishment of the format in "Private Ear",
move at a steamhammer pace. Bob Baker's script presents a myriad of plot twists and leads for Eddie to
follow. Characterisation is to the fore, with an excellent scene in which Eddie beats his nerves "on air", and
several nice touches which cement the Eddie/Erica relationship. The brief car chase among a warren of
sloping streets is a delight, reminiscent of cinematic counterparts in films such as "Bullitt". There's a wry
humour at play here, when Eddie comments that he's just going to "get the AA" after his car has been
destroyed and he's threatened. A mud caked, unconventional fight follows. Another brilliantly conceived and
executed episode.
Eddie seems a little different from later episodes in KFK, a little less sure of himself (which fits in with his
first case as a private ear). Trevor Eve is still feeling his way into the role in this, only the second episode to
be filmed.

A few themes which subsequently play a larger role in the series are introduced for the first time. Eddie
buys his Ford Cortina Estate in this one (his old car is wrecked by the Knight brothers), and sends the bill to
Radio West! Don is none too amused by his new employee's attitude towards expenses. And his first
broadcast looks to be a disaster until he discards the script - results are wonderful, but tempered by the fact
that Don is concerned with the legal implications of off-the-cuff remarks.

And when Barbara Knight asks Eddie to forget the whole thing, he cannot - unlike in PE, when he decided
not to reveal what he had discovered about Sarah Marshall's death as no good would come of it to anyone.
This time his loyalties are to his client Claire Stevens - she lost her husband and their restaurant, and
deserves compensation.

There is also quite a bit of action in this episode, a car chase, and an amusing 'mudfight'. All in all, perfectly
entertaining but the introductory element to the proceedings lends the episode a slightly muted feel.

With half-a-million listeners now working for him, private eye
Eddie Shoestring hunts a killer vanů
Entry from The Guinness Book of TV Facts and Feats by Kenneth Passingham (Guinness Superlatives
Limited, 1984):

"The first television series to feature a private eye operating from a radio station was Shoestring (BBC-2
1980) starring Trevor Eve and created and produced by Robert Banks Stewart. The viewing figures were
between 10 and 23 million and the series was sold to most European countries, some Eastern including
Japan, and to America the right for them to produce their own series based in the US." *

*The US series Midnight Caller (NBC 1988-1991, 61x50m), shown in the UK on BBC One, was a little
similar to
Shoestring in that its leading character also served as a radio station 'tec. However, we are not
convinced that Jack Killian, played by Gary Cole, was in fact a North American Eddie. There was no on-
screen credit acknowledging the BBC original, and in any case these UK/US translations are always well-
documented. The roster of supporting characters in
Midnight Caller do not really equate to its Bristolian
forebear, and Killian himself was an ex-cop who had accidentally killed his partner. However, we don't know
for sure.
Original BBC1 tx:
7 OCTOBER 1979
2115 - 2210hrs,
watched by 20.5 million

Filming dates:
23 March to 6 April 1979
(drn. 49'59")
Series 1, Episode 2:
written by BOB BAKER
directed by ROGER TUCKER