SPIDER SCOTT

 
Full Name: William 'Spider' Scott
Series Name: The XYY Man
Nationality: British
Organization: MI-5
Occupation Agent

Creator: Kenneth Royce
Time Span: 1970 - 1986
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Spider Scott is an agent with MI-5.
       Together with his younger brother, Spider Scott was on his own from a fairly early age. It was at this young period in his life that he is 'nicked' and sent away for the first of three different stretches behind bars. As a juvenile, however, he wasn't in for long.
       Reaching maturity, though, did not stop the propensity for thievery and Spider became quite an accomplished second-story man. Nevertheless, he did not pick his associates as well as his targets and he soon did another short stretch. It was during this period behind bars that the doctors realized the presence of the extra chromosome and Spider found himself having to deal with snoopy doctors intent on studying him in addition to the normal unpleasant jailers.
       Upon his release, Spider resumed his chosen profession. He was good at it. He liked it. It seemed the thing to do. For a few years, it certainly did well for him but once again he did not pick those with whom he dealt too carefully and this time it cost him five years behind the bars of the toughest prison in Britain.
       Finally, getting out of this much-despised establishment, Spider Scott vowed he would never go back. Even if it meant finally going straight!
       While Scott got into trouble from the beginning with the law, he did so with a very strict set of rules that made him popular with both the cops and the robbers.
       First and foremost, Spider did not 'grass'. No matter the provocation or how it might benefit him to spill what he knew, the idea of snitching was anathema. This would cause him trouble during the chronicled adventures when there would be several times speaking up would have saved a lot of anguish but he almost always held to the belief that grassing was wrong.
       Secondly, he abhorred violence and would have leave a site alone than risk the chance of an altercation. As the time dealing with MI-5 (then called DI-5) passed, his need to defend himself increased but his hatred of it never wavered.

       After the first five books were published, in 1976, the series was turned into a television three-part series on Britain's Granada TV. Stephen Yardley played Scott. It did well enough to get another ten episodes the following year.
       
       This series has the unique distinction of having created a spin-off greater in popularity, at least on television, than the original. One of the characters in both the book and the TV show was an offensive police detective named Bulman. While important to the flow of the book, he was by no means the main part of the story. Still, he proved interesting to producers and viewers and two years later returned to the screen as one of the main characters in the series Strangers, a show in which Bulman and others are transferred to a police squad in northern England where they would be strangers to the opposition. The character was made considerably softer, easier to deal with, and a whole lot quirkier. This show lasted 32 episodes over 5 years, averaging 6 shows per season. The last show was aired in October of 1982. After another hiatus, Bulman returned to television as a man who has left the police department to become a clockmaker and part-time private detective. The man is even nicer than before, truly mellowing with age, and the show has a slower pace than the others. It lasted 20 episodes from 1985-1987. Interestingly, the activities of Bulman in the books #6 and #7, written during the hiatus between Strangers and Bulman, seem to have acted like a bridge in timing and in character development.

       At the same time the series with Bulman the private eye was starting, the author brought the original character, Scott, back in two new adventures.

BOOKS

Number of Books:8
First Appearance:1970
Last Appearance:1986

1 The XYY Man The XYY Man
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1970

Spider Scott is pressured into pulling job for MI-5. All he had to do was steal one small box from one easy safe. But it was inside the Chinese Legation and Spider was being set up by his own government.

2 The Concrete Boot The Concrete Boot
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1971

Spider Scott is on edge when a crime lord forces him into breaking into an empty house and the house turns out to be the hiding place for the former Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Prime Minister, now wanted for selling secrets to the Soviets. MI-5 is also curious.

3 The Miniatures Frame The Miniatures Frame
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1972

Getting a reputation for his last two escapades, Spider Scott's legitimacy is put to the test when he is invited by the government to take part in a Royal Commission on the state of prisons, something Spider knows a lot about. Unfortunately, the head of the Commission is determined to get Scott either fired or killed.

4 The Masterpiece Affair The Masterpiece Affair
aka Spider Underground
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1973

The framing of his brother was the only reason that makes Spider Scott agree to help in the heist of artwork from the prestigious, and extremely secure, Tate Gallery. He is faced with having to help the bad guys while not getting nicked himself.

5 Trap Spider Trap Spider
aka The Trap
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1974

Having given up his life of crime for good, Spider Scott is approached by a wealthy man who wants him to find the man's son and talk him out of hanging with the bad crowd he has been with. Thinking it a simple little job, Spider takes it and is soon in the middle of a large gang war.

6 The Crypto Man The Crypto Man
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1984

Bulman makes a return in this adventure in which Spider is asked by the former head of MI-5 to help investigate the 'suicide' of a prison inmate and ends up with a 40-year old mystery that threatens his life and the safety of the country. When his fiancé, Maggie, disappears, things shift into high gear.

7 The Mosley Receipt The Mosley Receipt
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1985

The death of an old friend of both Spider Scott and Bulman brings the two men back together to find the truth. This involves Scott agreeing to go undercover as an inmate in prison only to discover that those behind the death, people high up in the Foreign Office, have managed to keep him there long enough to be killed.

8 No Way Back No Way Back
aka Hashimi's Revenge
Written by Kenneth Royce
Copyright: 1986

Hashimi Ross is a highly trained and capable terrorist. He is also the grieving man who wants revenge for his girlfriend's murder and is a man who will stop at nothing to get it. The Security Services order Spider Scott to aid in catching him but Spider owes Ross his life and is caught in the middle.

TELEVISION

Number of Episodes:13
First Appearance:1976
Last Appearance:1977
Network:ITV

REGULAR CAST
Stephen YardleySpider Scott [ 1-2 ]
Don HendersonDet. Sgt. Bulman [ 1-2 ]
Dennis BlanchDe. Con. Willis [ 1-2 ]
Paul FreemanRay Lynch [ 1-2 ]
1 The Proposition
Episode 1-1, first aired 07/03/1976
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Ivor Marshall
Guest Stars: Mark Dignam as Fairfax, Peter Ellis as Trevor

Out of prison, Spider Scott is determined to go straight but Fairfax of British Intelligence comes to call with a request for help.

2 The Execution
Episode 1-2, first aired 07/10/1976
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Ivor Marshall
Guest Stars: Peter Birrel as Groot, Roy Boyd as Brian, Mark Dignam as Fairfax, Stanley Page as Dawson, Tania Rogers as Lucy

Spider is used to hiding from the police but not from enemy agents who want a photograph that he stole which can bring down the government.

3 The Resolution
Episode 1-3, first aired 07/17/1976
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Ivor Marshall
Guest Stars: Peter Birrel as Groot, Roy Boyd as Brian, Ted Carroll as Foreman, Gerry Cowan as Simmonds, Mark Dignam as Fairfax

Reluctantly, Spider agrees to help Fairfax by agreeing to sell the photograph to a Chinese agent knowing his life is on the line.

4 Friends And Enemies
Episode 2-1, first aired 06/27/1977
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Tim Aspinall
Guest Stars: Jim Breaks as Micky, Brian Croucher as Reisen, Pamela Cundell as Norah, Fiona Curzon as Penny, Sally Gibson as Librarian

Spider is hoping to go straight by investing in an aircraft charter service but right after one of his first customers turns up to be an old crime buddy, another old friend turns up dead.

5 The Missing Civil Servant
Episode 2-2, first aired 07/04/1977
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Tim Aspinall
Guest Stars: Roy Barraclough as Charlie, Brian Croucher as Reisen, Pamela Cundell as Norah, Fiona Curzon as Penny, Stephen Davey as Bob, Arnold Diamond as Dodson

His former colleague is using considerable pressure to get Spider to join in a smuggling operation.

6 The Big Bang
Episode 2-3, first aired 07/11/1977
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Tim Aspinall
Guest Stars: James Coyle as Tony, Brian Croucher as Reisen, Pamela Cundell as Norah, Fiona Curzon as Penny, Stephen Davey as Bob

As Spider pretends to go along with the smuggling plan, he does so not knowing he is being step up to take the fall.

7 At The Bottom Of The River
Episode 2-4, first aired 07/18/1977
Director: Ken Grieve
Writer: Tim Aspinall
Guest Stars: Joe Cook as Civil servant, James Coyle as Tony, Brian Croucher as Reisen, Fiona Curzon as Penny, Mark Dignam as Fairfax, Peter Ellis as Barman

Spider is now the chief suspect in a murder and Bulman is certain he has him to rights.

8 When We Were Very Greedy
Episode 2-5, first aired 07/25/1977
Director: Carol Wiles
Writer: Murray Smith
Guest Stars: Barry Andrews as Brooks, Anthony Benson as Lord Brasenose, Jimmy Gardner as Smith, Alan Gaunt as Damien, George Hagan as Aldridge, Glyn Houston as Tom Moody

Shortly after being invited onto a committee investigating prison conditions, the chairman of the group applies pressure to get him to quit and Spider is curious why.

9 Now We Are Dead
Episode 2-6, first aired 08/01/1977
Director: Carol Wiles
Writer: Murray Smith
Guest Stars: Barry Andrews as Brooks, Ron Bain as Danny, Amanda Boxer as Nina Thresher, David Fleeshman as Newscaster, Glyn Houston as Tom Moody

When a simple snoop job goes badly, Spider is certain someone tipped off the police what his plans were.

10 Whisper Who Dares
Episode 2-7, first aired 08/08/1977
Director: Carol Wiles
Writer: Murray Smith
Guest Stars: Barry Andrews as Brooks, Ron Bain as Danny, Rachel Davies as Sheila Watts, Alan Gaunt as Damien, Glyn Houston as Tom Moody, Ronald Lewis as Peter Thresher

Someone has approached Spider's girlfriend and threatened her and Spider takes offense at that a great deal.

11 Law And Order
Episode 2-8, first aired 08/15/1977
Director: Alan Grint
Writer: Edward Boyd
Guest Stars: Ray Armstrong as Trevor, Sarah Bullen as Lucy Mahler, Martin Fisk as Langton, Garrick Hagon as David Wiseman, David Hargreaves as Shayne Wentworth

Spider finds himself facing a murder charge when Fairfax approaches him with an offer of help, assuming Spider will go back to prison to help another prisoner break free.

12 The Detrimental Robot
Episode 2-9, first aired 08/22/1977
Director: Alan Grint
Writer: Edward Boyd
Guest Stars: Andrew Abrahams as Policeman, Sarah Bullen as Lucy Mahler, Christine Early as Girl in hotel, Freddie Fletcher as Chauffeur, Garrick Hagon as David Wiseman, Lydia Handscomb as Deaf-mute girl

Able to break himself and the other gentleman out of prison, Spider now is on the run and it is not just the police that are after the two.

13 A View To A Death
Episode 2-10, first aired 08/29/1977
Director: Alan Grint
Writer: Edward Boyd
Guest Stars: Jonathan Barlow as Police Cadet, Philip Bretherton as Police Cadet, Sarah Bullen as Lucy Mahler, Freddie Fletcher as Tommy, Garrick Hagon as David Wiseman

Spider is caught but then is given a chance to walk away, assuming he will help catch an enemy spy.

MY COMMENTS

       The idea of a criminal being enticed or coerced into working for an Intelligence agency is by no means unique. Alexander Mundy of "It Takes A Thief" did it before millions on television several years before.
       The uniqueness of the Spider Scott series comes in the high quality of the writing, plot development, and the characterizations. The author, Mr. Royce, is certainly no stranger to spy-fi and has accounted for many excellent adventures. But no where, in my opinion, better than in the Spider series where the pacing and the mystery competes wonderfully with the characters.
       I strongly recommend this fun, exciting series.

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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