In an attempt to disguise this, the makers tried to suggest, with the aid of a dry commentary by David Stafford, that it was really a film about character, the volatile chemistry that follows from compressing three different charismas in a very small space. This wasn't very convincing either, though, because everyone behaved with smoothing affability on camera (this was an advertisement, after all, so if there were tantrums they had been kept out of sight). Usually I find Mr Stafford's manner as congenial as a knuckle between the ribs, but in this bland non-event you were grateful for his undercutting presence. "Everyone made a thorough test of their underarm gussets," he observed, over one of those arms-wide photo-opportunities, and he tartly concluded a list of the possible catastrophes that might befall the expedition with the most alarming plummet of all: "there could be a fall-off of media attention."
Citizen's Arrest (C4), the very title of which leads you to expect a firm hand on the shoulder at the end of the programme, must have had a better idea that they were on a hiding to nothing, in their film about five Falkirk power-workers deprived of a pools jackpot because the agent had pocketed the stake. Littlewoods, who had already washed their hands of the errant collector, were hardly likely to cough up pounds 2.3 million to avoid looking bad on Channel 4. You would need an awful lot of negative publicity before that sum added up.
It wasn't that there was no story here at all - Mary Ferguson, one of the should-be winners, had decided to fight on, educating herself in company history and engaging in a certain amount of amateur detective work. She had recorded a company official admitting that the agent in question had already been warned for misconduct and she had begun to explore the issue of whether Littlewoods can legally disclaim him as an employee. She is also taking action to change the law on gambling debts.
It was the stuff of a mini-series... a petite Scottish housewife taking on a rich corporation, and in a mini-series it would have ended with jubilation on the courtroom steps. In real life, Littlewoods have been advised by their solicitor not to comment and you fear that the plaintiffs may end up bankrupt or mad, pursuing their common sense justice through courts of increasingly rarefied elevation. Not to be deprived of a conclusion, the film-makers doorstepped Colin Thwaite, Littlewoods' top man, and waved a giant cheque in his face, inviting him to sign then and there. This silly gesture gave them an ending, but seemed likely only to postpone the one that the Falkirk Five are so eager to see.Reuse content