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The Toff cover art

The Toff

By: John Creasey
Narrated by: Terence Alexander,full cast,Robert Dorning
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Summary

Terence Alexander stars in these two classic crime dramas, adapted from the novels of John Creasey.

Meet The Honourable Richard Rollison—a.k.a the Toff. A debonair aristocrat and ace amateur sleuth, he's the scourge of London's criminal underworld: sometimes working alone, sometimes hand-in-glove with the police. But wherever he goes, he leaves his distinctive calling card: a jaunty caricature featuring a top hat, a monocle, a bow tie and a cigar. In these two gripping thrillers, he finds himself involved in rural intrigue and a wedding-day mystery....

The Toff on the Farm - When the Toff is offered the opportunity to buy a small farm in Sussex, he politely declines—he's never had any inclination to be a country squire. But when he hears that there's a mystery attached to the place, he agrees to drive down and take a look. On arrival, he discovers that several other potential buyers are keen to get their hands on the property—and the owner's brother has vanished. Can the Toff uncover the secrets surrounding Selby Farm?

The Toff and the Runaway Bride - Barbara Lawn is about to marry the Toff's old chum, Major Guy Lessing, against her father's wishes. But on the morning of the big day, she receives a distressing phone call—and later, at the reception, a letter arrives bearing shocking news. When she flees her husband en route to the honeymoon, the Toff finds himself investigating a heinous case of blackmail and murder....

First published 1958 (The Toff on the Farm), 1959 (The Toff and the Runaway Bride).

Cast and credits:

Written by John Creasey. Dramatised by Roy Lomax. Produced by John Fawcett Wilson. Starring Terence Alexander as the Toff and Robert Dorning as Jolly.

The Toff on the Farm

Gillian Selby—Heather Stoney

Mr Lodwyn/Vicar—Jeffrey Segal

Monty Morne—Terrence Hardiman

Bert—Frank Jarvis

Red Brandt/Eddie Forbes—Ed Bishop

Inspector Bishop—Derek Newark

Smith—Reg Lye

Police Sergeant—Paul Meier

Superintendent Grice—Duncan Lamont

Lola Bridge—Liz Gebardt

Alan Selby—Alaric Cotter

Bert Ebbutt—Douglas Blackwell

William T Brandt—Alan White

Other parts played by the cast.

First broadcast BBC World Service, March 1977.

The Toff and the Runaway Bride

Barbara—Rosalind Shanks

Aunt Gloria—Peggy Ann Wood

Holy Joe/Sergeant/Carruthers—David Graham

Maggie—Frances Jeater

Major Guy Lessing—Alan Cuthbertson

Doctor—Dennis McCarthy

Kevin Brennan—Robert Lawn

Superintendent/Inspector Reno—Godfrey James

Police Officer—Clifford Norgate

Rose Lessing—Denise Buckley

Inspector Ellerby—Roger Gartland

Sergeant—Michael Shannon

Robert Lawn—Kevin Brennan

Police Constable—John Bull

Inspector—Jean Dryant

Other parts played by the cast.

First broadcast BBC World Service, June 1975.

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

What listeners say about The Toff

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  • P
  • 27-07-23

Upper-class sleuth in a mixed bag of BBC crime

I generally enjoy BBC Radio crime serials, but after the first of these 2, I thought I had wasted a credit. The story was thin and the Toff out of place. Terence Alexander was on good form, but couldn't rescue a very pedestrian plot.

The second story, The Toff and the Runawsy Bride, was much better. It starts with a society wedding and proceeds through dashes to country-cottage retreats, returns to Mayfair flats and an attempt to get a flight to Paris "this afternoon". The Toff's ambivalent relationship with various police forces is also to the fore. The rather frenetic pace leaves the listener with no time to think, "Hang on a minute ...

Once again, the acting is just what's needed - Ibsen it isn't. Terence Alexander plays the Toff with a suitably light touch. The other parts, though straight from central casting, are very competenty handled.

Recommended for those who like the "cosy mystery" genre and are untroubled by the class clichés of an earlier age.

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4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great fun

Loved the characterisation and the ‘daring do’ approach. Everyone should have a Jolly in their lives!

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    2 out of 5 stars

Well performed and sometimes exciting.

This is well performed and occasionally exciting and offers the mystery lover a few challenges. My first niggle is that the protagonist and his servant sidekick are a bit generic. To the point almost of parody especially when the Toff is usually the chief cause of his own troubles making needless journeys when a call would do or not trusting the police to offer witnesses protection etc etc.

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

An undemanding, fun enough, listen

Overall I enjoyed this. Spectacularly dated but fun. What made me laugh was the fact The Toff barely solved anything. He just get swept along with the story, not preventing any murders or predicting anything. As I said, good fun though.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Wonderfully Performed, But the Plots are Lacking

This is, as typical for the BBC, a couple of brilliantly produced and performed radio plays.

The acting is great across the board. You get a brilliant feel for the time and place.

If you turn off your brain and settle back, you'll enjoy them quite a bit.

Unfortunately, if you let your brain work for a moment, you'll notice how full of holes the two plots presented are.

Their greatest sin is how both, but especially the second one, could have been solved by people not behaving like utterly idiotic morons.

You soon get the sense that the titular Toff and his manservant Jolly are the only ones with brains in the entire story. Almost all the problems of the second story could be entirely avoided if the main players just acted like human beings with brains.

But they don't. They run around like headless chickens so that the plot can keep moving.

It's one of the worst examples of an "idiot plot" I've seen in a while and is utterly infuriating, really.

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A classic

Excellent vintage production starring the late great Terence Alexander. Brilliant story so well dramatised. Investigate it for yourselves

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  • BJM
  • 09-10-22

Wish they’d made more of these!

Very enjoyable BBC radio full cast mini series from the 1970s. I wish they’d made more of them.

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