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Recap / The Brittas Empire S1E6: Assassin

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Helen: It's quite an achievement, really - filling an entire hospital intensive care unit single handed. It's a good score, even for Gordon.
Helen Brittas on the topic of her husband's latest fiasco.

  • Date First Aired: 14/02/1991
  • Alternative Title: "Murder!" or "The Assassin"

We open the episode on Brittas annoying Helen with his finger twanging. He's concerned about the numbers, since they only had 43 over the weekend. As Brittas and Helen go to the centre, a man is seen watching them with a wire cutter...

At the centre, Brittas finds that Helen has been in a car accident, courtesy of the brakes having been cut. Luckily, she'll live, although she has an injured arm. Brittas, still worried about the attendance, decides to set up a series of special offers. However, Laura complains that they're quite complicated; one in particular is that anyone not in full time education who uses the pool for more than three but less than five sessions at a weekday is entitled to a third of the price of any general weekend session, which she finds not as snappy as "two for the price of one". He also considers finding out the extras provided by the nearby Health and Fitness Club and improving on them and an incentive to improve the staff (e.g a "Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre Staff Courtesy Challenge Cup" which they have to give back).

As Brittas is putting up pamphlets, the mysterious man puts up a Trip Trap, although Brittas notices and removes it. Meanwhile, Carole's pregnant again. This will be important in future episodes.

Meanwhile, Gavin's got more stars for the star chart, which annoys him enough that he gives them to someone else. However, Brittas notices and gives yet even more stars, much to his horror. Brittas has also been challenged to a badminton game "to the death" - as in to the death - the mysterious man is hoping to pump car gas into the court and kill him. However, he ends up getting the wrong court. He eventually goes to Gavin. Apparently, he's called Larry and he's trying to kill Brittas because his presence in the choir was causing people to leave it. He plans to do so by staging a suicide attempt and he want's Gavin's help. Gavin considers not doing so but when Brittas tells him to spy on Tim (due to a belief that he is gay), he lets Brittas go to his fate. Brittas and Larry talk and Brittas agrees to leave the choir but Brittas ends up accidentally blowing Larry off the roof.

Later on, Brittas is hit by a treacle lorry and is put into intensive care. Helen almost considers letting Brittas die by pulling his life support but Laura tells her that she'll miss him, so allowing Brittas to live another day.

Tropes featured in this episode:

  • And Your Reward Is Edible: The intended award for Brittas' Good Behavior Points system is dinner at the Berni Inn with him.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Larry is completely unsuccessful at killing Brittas.
  • The Bet: One tennis player bets the other £5 that they won’t play a tennis match in the leisure centre. They end up redirected to a sports shop without playing and he gets the £5.
  • Brick Joke: Helen puts forward how she believes that Brittas will one day get hit by a car and that as she's cradling him in her arms, he'll say "Don't worry, my darling, it was my right of way". At the end of the episode, these are indeed basically the first words said by Brittas upon regaining consciousness from being hit by a treacle lorry.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Carole is horrified at the fact that she's pregnant again, seeing as she only had Ben six weeks ago.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Tim gleefully mentions how he's always liked Larry when Gavin tells him of Larry's plan to kill Brittas.
      Gavin: I've just seen Larry Whittaker. He says he's going to kill Brittas.
      Tim: I've always liked Larry.
    • Helen pulls the plug on Brittas and only puts it back in when Laura says she'd miss him.
  • Characterization Click Moment: Beforehand, Brittas was portrayed as a Jerkass with little redeemable value. However, Laura's speech about him portrays a more sympathetic side by emphasising his desire to help out and his lack of hatred for others, and it's this description which becomes more true of him starting with Series 2.
  • Characterization Marches On: Brittas seems to be completely unconcerned with the fact that his wife had been put in danger by a car crash, being more worried about the state of his car. Later episodes would have him more appropriately worried when his wife does get put in danger.
  • Continuity Nod: When Brittas goes out to try to talk Larry out of his (fake) suicide attempt, he mentions being a trained Samaritan, something previously revealed in "Stop Thief!". Colin is also still sporting the injuries he received at the end of the same episode.
  • Deadly Gas: Larry's third attempt to murder Brittas involves gassing a court. He gets the wrong one and it's implied that two women died as a result.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Larry's response to Brittas' presence in the choir making people leave it is to try to murder him.
  • The Door Slams You: Brittas manages to slam right into Colin with the door to the Staff Room.
  • Dramatic Irony: Brittas wants Gavin to spy on Tim believing him to be a homosexual, unaware that not only is Gavin himself gay, but that he is in a loving relationship with Tim.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: The usually dumb-as-bricks Colin points out the valid point of the difficulty of promoting offers to people when there's no one at the centre to find out about them in the first place. It's telling that Brittas' response is to simply tell him to make the coffee, although he does eventually take Colin's advice.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The episode implies that the father of Carole's future child is her landlord, Mr. Wilson, and that this is something she's fully aware of. Later episodes clarify that the real father is Gordon Brittas himself and that she is unaware of who the father is.
    • Brittas actually suspects that Tim is gay, to the point of wanting Gavin to spy on him to check for it. Later episodes would have him completely oblivious to both Tim and Gavin's sexuality.
  • Foreshadowing: Helen is annoyed by Brittas' tapping on the table and makes a very veiled threat to kill him. The end of the episode has her almost actually do the deed by taking him off life-support.
  • Gay Euphemism: Brittas uses the term "left-footer" to refer to Tim's suspected homosexuality.
    Mr. Brittas: I'm just getting a little bit worried lately that he might be a bit of a left-footer.
    Gavin: You think he's a homosexual?
    Mr. Brittas: Good heavens, I wouldn't put it as strongly as that!
  • The Ghost: Gavin mentions an employee called Tony, but he never appears on-screen.
  • Good Behavior Points: Brittas uses a sticker-based award system, with the eventual award of dinner at the Berni Inn with him. Of course, since Brittas is a Pointy-Haired Boss, we see Gavin trying to get out of it by removing his stickers and giving them to someone else. However, he is caught by Brittas, who gives him more stickers for what he perceives to be a good act.
  • Hospital Epilogue: The episode ends with Brittas lying in intensive care after having been run over by a treacle lorry.
  • Injured Limb Episode: Helen spends a decent proportion of the episode with a broken arm following a failed murder attempt against Brittas.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: Whilst most of the plot is about someone trying to kill Brittas, Carole briefly gets a scene where she's shown crying over the fact that she has somehow become pregnant again, something which will become important come the next series.
  • Jerkass: Helen pulls the plug on a severely injured Brittas without a second thought.
  • Look Both Ways: Brittas has a nasty habit of going on to the street without looking both ways (out of the belief that the pedestrian always has the right of way). This ends up biting him in the butt when he gets run over by a treacle lorry and put into intensive care.
  • Low Count Gag: There are only seven people in the centre that day, with four of them only being there because they're still trapped in a lift.
  • Made in Country X: When Helen informs Brittas that the brakes are missing, Brittas notes that that'll "teach me to buy British!".
  • Misophonia Gag: Brittas taps his fingers on the table whilst he is going over the (low) attendance figures for the leisure centre. This annoys Helen to no end, who brings up how a wife snapped and killed her husband after many years of having to withstand him clicking his teeth, with the implication that she's considering doing the same herself.
  • Mistaken for Suicidal: Invoked by Larry, who fakes a suicide attempt in a bid to lure Brittas in so that he can kill him by electrocuting him off a ledge. It doesn't work.
  • Mistaken Identity: Laura actually thought that the injured man that Helen was with at the hospital was Larry until Helen clarifies that it was Brittas, having been recently hit by a treacle truck.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Larry's response to Brittas being accidentally responsible for low choir attendance? Murder him.
  • Near-Death Experience: Brittas is put near death when he is run over by a treacle lorry. Luckily, in spite of Helen's attempts to do him in, he survives.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Once Brittas makes peace with Larry, he accidentally makes him blow himself off the roof and is put in Intensive Care.
  • Noodle Incident: Apparently, four people became trapped in a lift a day before the events of the episode, although how is never explained.
  • One-Shot Character: Larry Whittaker, Gerry and Steve.
  • One-Word Title: Two of its known names are "Assassin" and "Murder!".
  • Season Finale: Of Series 1.
  • Privacy by Distraction: Brittas makes Tim go on a wild goose chase for a non-existent racket just so that he can air his concerns to Gavin that he thinks that Tim is a homosexual and to ask him to keep an eye out for signs.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Gavin was going to tell Brittas about Larry's intentions on killing him, but he decides against it after Brittas both decides to act homophobic and tries to get Gavin to spy on Tim.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: After spending the entire episode trying to kill Brittas, Larry is defeated when he accidentally presses on the trap he was going to use to kill Brittas and sends himself falling down the building.
  • Skewed Priorities: Brittas seems to be more concerned with the state of his car than the fact that his wife has been injured in a car accident.
  • Shout-Out: Brittas once again mentions his time with the Samaritans.
  • Taken Off Life Support: Played for Laughs when Helen takes a severely injured Brittas off life support simply because she wanted him dead. Luckily for Brittas, Laura is able to convince her to put the plug back in and he makes a full recovery.
  • The "The" Title Confusion: Although the most common title for the episode is "Assassin", one VHS boxset of the series uses the episode title "The Assassin".
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: Helen mentions a wife murdering her husband for clicking his teeth, with the heavy implication being that she's considering doing the same to Brittas. She ends up almost doing the deed when she pulls the plug on him, only backing down when Laura admits that she'll miss him if he goes.
  • Tragic One-Shot Character: The only reason Larry wanted Brittas dead was that he wanted him to leave the choir. When Brittas does agree to leave, Larry accidentally blows himself off the roof.
  • Trip Trap: Larry's second attempt to kill Brittas involves tying up a piece of string on the top of one of the centre's staircases, with the expectation that he would trip over and fall down to his death. Unfortunately for him, Angie points it out to Brittas just as he was about to go down the stairs and he removes it.
  • Uncertain Doom: Larry is last mentioned to be in Intensive Care after accidentally being electrocuted off the roof. The fact that he doesn't appear again despite the reason he was out to kill Brittas in the first place not being resolved suggests that he didn't make it, but he may also have just been too severely injured to pursue the matter any further.
  • Undesirable Prize: Judging by Gavin’s attempts to get out of it, the award of dinner at the Berni Inn with Brittas is clearly not a prize that he wants.
  • Unknown Rival: Brittas never does find out that Larry was trying to kill him.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Larry's first attempt to kill Brittas is to remove the brakes of his car. Whilst this doesn't lead to Brittas being killed, Helen is injured as a result.


The Star Chart

Gavin is not pleased that he's earned stars for rescuing a little girl.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / GoodBehaviorPoints

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