EDitorial ± 1-Feb-2021

80,000 Suspects: Smallpox in Bath

A Tweet from James Harrison (BBC archive researcher) pointed me to 80,000 Suspects (IMDb), a black & white film from 1963 about a smallpox outbreak in Bath. What with one thing and another -- the current situation -- it makes for fascinating viewing.

For those interested in the Bath filming locations, of which there are many, there's no better resource than Reel Streets which compares film stills against present sites.

— Identify All Primary Contacts —

"The top priority now is to identify all primary contacts and the immediate vaccination of all police, emergency services, postal staff, in fact every public servant in the city."

Basil Dignam takes charge.

— This Virus Is A Killer —

"I cannot say this too emphatically. This virus is a killer. Yes, we do only have three cases but tomorrow it could be 33, in two weeks 1003 unless we contain it now."

Asked if this is an over reaction by the town clerk, Basil Dignam slaps him down.

— An Unidentified Coffee Bar —

"We have a list of all the places the boy Davis can remember going to... The theatre, two cinemas, Pump Room dance, Colonnade restaurant and an unidentified coffee bar."

Mervyn Johns is Mr Track & Trace.

— 16 Days —

"Our urgent job is to find every person who was in any of those places on the dates he was there."
"And when we find them?"
"Report their names and addresses to the doctors. They'll be vaccinated, isolated to their houses or wherever they are for 16 days."

There's gonna be a lot of tracking and a lot of tracing.

— Stay In Your House —

"Do you understand how you can help us by staying in your house for a couple of weeks?"
"What about my job? Supposing they stop my wages?"

Norman Bird's son is home from working on a cruise ship and has unwittingly brought the disease into beautiful Bath. Basil Dignam heads round to spell out what the family must do.

— No One Must Go Out —

"Your groceries and things will be delivered. They'll be put in a special bin outside so they'll keep clean and dry. You do understand: no one must go out for any reason whatsoever."

Fortunately Norman Bird didn't have to wait for a Tesco slot.

— Theatre Royal —

"Anyone who visited the Theatre Royal for the evening performance on December 20 should likewise go to their doctor for immediate vaccination."

The perils of going to see Mother Goose.

— They'll Still Hold The Football —

"I suppose they'll still hold the football on Saturday."
"Mind you, I don't really believe in it but if it's free why miss it?"
"You'd think they'd organise it better, wouldn't you?"

Of course the football will be going ahead. And it seems there's a conspiracy theorist in the queue awaiting vaccination.

— You've Had This Before —

"Oh, come on, you've had this before, haven't you?"

That'll be me, breaking out in a sweat at the sight of a needle.

— House Quarantine —

"Although many hundreds of people are still under observation in house quarantine, the Ministry of Health state that all steps are being taken to prevent the outbreak from spreading to other districts."

As ever, we're in the best possible hands.

— More Than 21,000 People —

"According to reports more than 21,000 people have been vaccinated since the beginning of the outbreak just over a week ago."

Pfizer? AstroZeneca?

— Have We Licked It? —

"I can't go on saying it's all under control. What else can we publish?"
"Plenty of sunshine cruise pictures, football and comic strips, that's my prescription."
"They don't want to escape, they want to be told: have we licked it or haven't we?"

Arthur Christiansen, "the greatest editor in the history of Fleet Street", plays the local newspaper chief two years after a very similar role in The Day the Earth Caught Fire.

I rented 80,000 Suspects from the BFI Player but it pops up sometimes on Talking Pictures TV.