Lord Peter Wimsey

Season 1 Episode 5

Clouds of Witness, Part 5

Aired Wednesday 8:15 PM May 03, 1972 on BBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Clouds of Witness, Part 5
As the trial of the Duke of Denver starts in the House of Lords, Lord Peter travels to New York in a last effort to find out the truth about Cathcart.

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  • More amusing than suspenseful. Enjoy this for what it is.

    The final episode of this five-parter has all the strenghths and weaknesses of the previous episodes. Plenty of banter, rather sudden plot twists, and a crime solved because the amateur detective can remember the plot of a eighteenth-century novel. Don't watch this show if you're expecting a 1928 version of Law & Order London, accept this as a comedy of manners involving a crime.

    Warning! Spoilers ahead. At one point in this episode Inspector Parker points out that there were too many clues in this case. It's as if Dorothy L. Sayers was aware of the problem and apologised for it. A rather complex story, full of red herrings (a tradition in this genre), with a rather weak ending. So it turns out Cathcart wasn't murdered at all? Suicide? Wouldn't the police or the coroner have noticed evidence of that? No, this is all about the world in which Lord Peter Wimsey lives: the idle class, unhappy marriages, amateur socialists, mistresses, trips to Paris, upper-class people running out of money. A crime gets solved because Lord Peter knows his classics and discovering that the victim has read a particular book sends him on a wild goose chase ... that eventually proves successful. Because Wimsey's brother is originally accused of the crime, we get a murder trial in the House of Lords. Lord Peter isn't involved in these scenes, as he's off to New York. (One of the funniest bits in this episode is that he gets a special permission from the American ambassador after tracking the official down at a Royal function.) His perfectly timed return (and the perilous journey by plane) could easily have come straight from a cheap melodrama. But we don't care, we've enjoyed the silliness of it.

    Ian Carmichael claims in an interview on the DVD that he was actually ten years too old for the role. He might be right (his Wimsey would have been in his forties in World War One), but he makes it work because he can switch from light comedy to sudden, honest emotion. The silly dialogue comes straight from Dorothy L. Sayers. We can't blame him for that.moreless
Georgina Cookson

Georgina Cookson


Guest Star

Stuart Nichol

Stuart Nichol

American Ambassador

Guest Star

Francis de Wolff

Francis de Wolff

Sir Impey Biggs

Guest Star

Mark Eden

Mark Eden

Det.-Inspector Parker

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Lord Peter: If I come up with the goods, old Impey will just have to arrange for an adjournment or something.
      Parker: Peter, this isn't a common court of law, you know, this is the House of Lords. You can't get all that scarlet and ermine assembled and then ask for adjournments.

    • Simone Vonderaa: You are an extraordinary man, Lord Peter. I like you.
      Lord Peter: Thank you, Mademoiselle Vonderaa. Why extraordinary?
      Simone Vonderaa: You arrive out of nowhere, you break upon me like a storm and in a few minutes I tell you the story of my life, things I would speak of to no-one I know.

    • Parker: You know the trouble with this case? There were too many clues.

  • NOTES (0)


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