Series One - Episode One: Mystery at Ma Mossop's

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C.A.B Episodes

Series One
Mystery at Ma Mossop's

Ep1: Mystery At Ma Mossop's
Ep2: Break In
Ep3: Danger
Ep4: The Sinister Messenger
Ep5: Prisoner of the Earth
Ep6: The Stranger From The Past
Ep7: A Message From The Past
Ep8: A Message From Ma
Ep9: Nine Lives in Peril
Ep10: Friend or Foe
Ep11: Who's Who?
Ep12: The Missing Links
Ep13: A World in Tatters
Series Two
The Wooden Kamel Mystery

Ep1: The Wooden Kamel Mystery
Ep2: Eel Pie and Custard
Ep3: Message From R Leeder
Ep4: Next Stop Timbuktu
Ep5: It's a Snip
Ep6: Saved By The Bull
Ep7: Ear By Gum
Ep8: Finders Keepers
Ep9: Hellman's Trick
Ep10: Hellman's Reward
Series Links:
Series Index
Series Airdates
Series Three
The Mystery Of The Queen's Beast

Ep1: A Face at the Window
Ep2: The Riddle
Ep3: The Bottle of Hastings
Ep4: Robert the Brute
Ep5: The Chamber Pot Plant
Ep6: Getting Taped
Ep7: Trapped
Ep8: The Great Escape
Ep9: Friends or Foes
Ep10: Nicked in Time
Website Links:
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Episode Details

UK Air Date: Tuesday 23rd September 1986, 16.20pm
Copyright Year: MCMLXXXVI (1986)
Consecutive Episode Number: 1
Fremantle Archive Ref: 33199
IMDB Link: Episode page

Cast & Crew

Colin Freshwater Felipe Izquierdo
Franny Barnes Louise Mason
Ma Mossop Avril Angers
Smith Graham Seed
Mr. Hellman Frank Gatliff
Jo Celina Cherry (uncredited)
Written By Denise Coffey
Theme Music By Adrian Brett
Make Up Pauline Gyertson
Costume Designer Raymond Childe
Graphic Designer Peter Lock
Stage Manager Bobby Webber
Production Assistant Lynn Gomez
Designer Gillian Miles
Executive Producer Marjorie Sigley
Producer Charles Warren
Directed By Leon Thau


Secret Agent Notes

Franny's mum's name is revealed as 'Tracey' and also there's a mention of her little brother but no mention of a sister (also called Tracey) who then appears in series three.

Episode Synopsis

When Franny and Colin are asked by Ma Mossop to look after her junk shop and her cat Tatters, they have no idea what's in store for them. Things are not what they seem - Ma disappears, two strange people arrive and the telephone keeps ringing.

Episode Guide

We see the interior of an old junk shop, the phone rings and Ma Mossop answers the phone to a Mr Grandison, she tells him that he knows what the situation is and that the next move is up to him, she hangs up. She starts to gather some stuff from an old writing bureau. Colin enters the shop and calls out to Ma.

Ma Mossop puts in her hearing aid, adjusts her hair, picks up her walking stick and begins to walk towards the curtain that separates the front and back shop. Colin calls out again and pretends to be shooting, this startles Ma as she walks through. Colin tells her it is all about this book he's reading 'codename intrepid'. Ma guesses correctly that it's a spy story, 'it's always a spy story with you' she says.

Colin asks her if she knows what the most important thing to remember in the secret service is. He tells her that 'nothing is what it seems' reminding her it's the golden rule. He carries on talking about words that secret agents have to use. He then asks if she knows what a dubok is, Ma guesses that it's a furry animal, he explains that it's a secret place for dropping messages, which is what spooks call it.

Franny walks in and tells Colin that he's got a puncture on his bike. Ma asks Franny how her mum is and Franny states that she's going to do some shopping because her mum can't get out yet, she asks if Ma wants anything from the shops but she declines the offer. The phone in the back shop starts to ring and Ma excuses herself. She walks through to the back shop, takes her glasses off and throws her walking stick down. Ma answers the phone to Mr Grandison, telling him 'it's all very well for you sitting there in New York, I tell you that is how it's got to be'. She hangs up and gets a bag and starts putting things in it. Colin and Franny walk through and asks if she is off on holiday. Ma explains she's got to go into hospital for an operation, not that it's serious but she would be away for a few days. She then tells them she can't go into hospital with no-one to look after Tatters. Franny offers their help in looking after Tatters whilst she's away saying they can come in everyday. Ma is hesitant but Franny and Colin persevere with their offer of help, Ma says 'She's very precious to me is Tatters the cat, I couldn't bear it if anything happened to her'. Ma agrees as they walk through to the front shop so she can show Colin how to lock the front door, she asks Franny to get the cashbox from the back of the shop to pay the milkman. Franny walks through and speaks to Tatters asking where the money is. Franny stands up, knocks the table and some books fall over and Franny sees the wooden box which she presumes is the cashbox Ma was talking about. She takes it through to the front shop.

Colin is asking if it's a security lock on the day and Ma laughs. Franny shows Ma the box, Ma gets angry stating 'where did you find that?', Franny says that it was from the back shop and Ma snatches it off her and takes it back saying 'you made a little mistake there dear, that's not it, that's not it at all'. Colin calls Franny a wolly but she retorts that she can mend punctures.

Franny walks into the back shop with Ma. Ma apologises and warns Franny not to tell anyone about that box, not even Colin. Colin then walks in, Ma writes down the telephone number of the hospital in case they need to call her but tells them it is for them only, Colin remarks 'For your eyes only, like James Bond'. She shows them the money in a little tin saying it should be enough for milk and food for Tatters, she tells them that Fred the milkman is a bit deaf so they'll have to speak up, she tells them the milk bill is usually 2.53 but they can work out how much milk they'll need with Fred.

Colin asks who the lady in the painting above the fireplace is. Ma tells them it was painted just after World War II. Colin reasons that Ma must be very old. Colin notices Ma is wearing the same badge as in the painting. Ma informs them that it is the 'cross of Lorraine', Franny asks if it's a French medal but Ma brushes off the comment saying 'Oh the French used to give these out with cornflakes'. She then tells them that it was given to her by the French government, Franny realises it was for bravery but Ma chuckles. The phone rings and Ma answers it, some music is heard through the phone and Ma reacts with 'who is this, who is it?' She hangs up quickly and tells Colin to get her a Taxi but to let two taxis go by and stop the third taxi. When Colin questions why she explains 'cause that's what secret agents always do'. Colin rushes off, Ma begins to hum a tune, Franny asks what it is and Ma tells her that it's 'Lili Marleen', a song sung during the war by all sides in the western desert. Ma starts to sing the song as Franny listens, she's interrupted by Colin calling out that a Taxi's outside. Franny gets Ma's coat whilst Ma gets her bag and says goodbye to Tatters. Colin calls out again that the Taxi is waiting, she walks through to the front shop and passes Colin her bag. She then gives him a dictaphone so he can record all his little adventures on telling him he just needs some batteries that he can get from the shop after she's gone.

Franny calls out for her to have a nice time but regrets what she's just said as Ma is going into hospital. She talks to Tatters as she hears someone come into the front shop, she thinks it's Colin 'the friendly neighbourhood spy'. She calls out to Colin but begins to worry when there is no reply. Suddenly a man pull back the curtains, he says she looks like her mother and asks where she is, Franny questions if he is from the welfare, the man asks if she's changed much looking at the painting. He then reasons that 'Madge is too old to have a child of your age', Franny then tells him her mum is called Tracey. The man asks if the shop belongs to Madge Mossop. Franny confirms that the shop does but it is closed, he asks where she is and Franny tells him that she's away questioning if he is a friend of hers. He asks her name and she tells him, he gives her his card. He tells her that he's here to 'survey urban commercial units with reference to ecological input', when questioned by Franny he tells her he's from the 'space quality European environment control survey' or SQEECS for short. She smiles that it sounds like squeaks but he says that there's several silly names made from initials of important organisations. Franny tells him Mrs Mossop's is not there, she looks at his card and calls him by his name, Hellman. Franny tells him that she's coming into the shop everyday to feed Tatters whilst Ma is in hospital. Hellman then states that this makes it easier for him to do his work collecting statistics about architecture, he claims that it would be too boring for her, stating that she wouldn't be interested in 'the effect on society of modern buildings like that hideous block of flats down the road'. Franny tells him that's where her mum lives on the fourteenth floor, Hellman backtracks by assuming they are nice on the inside but Franny agrees that they are hideous saying her mum can't get out as the lift is broken. Hellman tells her that's what his survey will be for and that he'll be back tomorrow.

Hellman is interrupted by Colin coming into the shop recording a message to his dictaphone, 'agent C.A.B returning to...', he bumps into Hellman as he comes into the back shop, Franny tells him that Hellman is from SQEECS which Colin mistakes for a rat catcher, he introduces himself to Hellman, the phone rings and Franny tells Colin that Hellman is just going, Hellman leaves and the phone stops. After a few moments the phone begins to ring again, Franny answers it as Colin begins to record the telephone conversation on his dictaphone. Someone called Smith is on the phone asking if that is Ma Mossop's place, Franny tells his she's not there and the shop is closed, he ends the conversation with 'ok, no problem'. Colin plays back the end of the telephone conversation from his dictaphone and Franny is impressed. They walks towards the dividing curtain, pull the curtains back and Hellman is there, Franny asks him what he's looking for but he says he is just leaving but he'll be back tomorrow at 10:30. Hellman leaves and Colin tells Franny 'he's a spy if I ever saw one', they argue as Franny tells him he's never seen a spy. She then looks out the front and tells Colin Hellman can't be a spy as he's just got in the first taxi. Franny reasons that Ma Mossop said spies take the third taxi, telling Colin that 'he's just a boring man from some boring council office'. They hear whistling and presume it's Fred the milkman, Franny tells Colin to speak up so Fred can hear them.

The milkman walks in and tells them a knock knock joke: 'Knock Knock', 'Who's there?', 'Yoghurt', 'Yoghurt who?', 'You got a cheek asking me who's there?', Franny asks if he's the milkman, 'who do you think I am, Dangermouse?' he replies cheekily. Colin asks him again twice if he's the milkman, speaking louder the second time. The milkman says that he's not deaf and Colin states that he can't be Fred. He jokes, 'I'm not a-fred of little kiddies like you two' and he laughs. He then states they'll want the usual, '14 pints of milk, twelve dozen eggs and a free holiday in Alicante', Franny tells him they want one pint. He replies 'ok, no problem'. Franny tells him that they want one pint a day and asks him for change of 26p. He tells them that Mrs Wotsit can pay and enquires where she is. Franny tells him she's in hospital, he remarks on this and then asks if they have a box that he can keep his cash in, Franny tells him the shop is shut but he wanders into the back shop to look. Franny and Colin follow him, Franny tells him again that the shop is shut, he replies 'ok, no problem', looks out the back door, drops the latch on the lock and pushes the door closed. As he leaves he tells them to remember 'Never eat jelly with a fork'. Franny questions if he's a milkman as he doesn't know the price of milk, Colin plays back a recording of the man on the phone named Smith and the milkman both saying 'ok, no problem', they agree that it's the same man. Colin thinks he may be from the KGB and Franny says that he was lying as he knew Ma Mossop wasn't there as she told him this over the phone.

A little girl (Jo) comes up in the street to the milkman asking if he's looking at Ma Mossop's shop, he tells her to go away but she stays there until he gives her the two pints of milk he's got left.

Back at the shop Colin is recording his latest message to his dictaphone, 'This is agent call sign C.A.B. This is C.A.B calling'. Franny asks if it stands for 'Colin's awfully batty' but he tells her he got it from the window on the front of the shop, as it stands for Citizens Advice Bureau, 'so HQ will know how to find me'. Franny tells him that it's not a game and she doesn't like the milkman and she now wishes she never said they'd look after Tatters. Franny tells Colin that they need to tidy up. Just as they finish tidying up Franny asks Colin for the time and he tells her it's teatime, Franny worries as she needs to go to the supermarket for her mum. Franny goes to the back shop with Colin and he tells her 'I bet I know where Ma Mossop hid her secret box', Colin shows her the pile of books and takes the box out of the book with the pages cut out inside. Franny asks Colin how he knows but he replies telling her that it was the only place she wouldn't let him tidy up. Colin reasons that if they found it easily that they should hide it somewhere else.

The shop is in darkness as the phone rings, Tatters sits on the chair cleaning herself as the backdoor opens ajar and the episode ends.