The series was conceived as a reaction against the flashy and violent American TV detectives dominating the airwaves at the time. What distinguished Frank Marker from his peers was an old-fashioned professionalism and his pride as a small businessman. He always insisted on the term “enquiry agent” rather than “private detective” when dealing with clients. Frank rarely encountered death--his meat and drink was the small-time case, which called upon his discretion and knowledge of human nature.Burke also starred during his long career in the long-running series The Bill, the excellent teleflick Longitude, episodes of The Saint and The Avengers, the TV mini-series The Borgias and Treasure Island, and the 2002 big-screen feature Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Over seven series, the tone remained consistently downbeat, as Frank struggled to pay his bills and keep faith with the often cynical world he encountered. Burke’s engrossing performance was central to the programme; friendly but distant, Frank was a quiet, almost scholarly man, driven by a sense of fairness. Courtly but cautious, polite yet often steely, Marker pounded the mean streets of Chertsey, Brighton and Windsor with nothing but his thoughts for company.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Squeezegut Alley’s Nicolas Pillai has alerted me to the recent death, at age 92, of Alfred Burke, who played Frank Marker, the lonely, unglamorous star of Public Eye, a 1965-1975 British TV series. To my recollection, I’ve never seen a single episode of Public Eye--which is a shame, because Pillai calls Marker “as important to the story of British TV detectives as Jim Rockford is to the U.S.” He writes: