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Series / Man in a Suitcase

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Man in a Suitcase was a British TV series produced by ITC Entertainment that aired for one series (196768) on ITV. Its only regular character was McGill (Richard Bradford), a former American intelligence agent based in London, who was misblamed for a Western scientist defecting to the Soviet Union. Unable to either clear his name or return to the US, the disgraced McGill hires himself out as a Private Detective and Bounty Hunter, often to clients who plan to take advantage of him.

Tropes in a Suitcase:

  • Anachronic Order: Like many ITV series of the time, the order in which the episodes were aired was wildly different to that in which they were produced. The most significant consequence of this was that "Man from the Dead", the intended pilot episode, which revealed McGill's backstory, ended up being broadcast sixth.
  • As You Know: In "Man from the Dead", the intended pilot episode, McGill's former CIA superior remarks to him that McGill has spent the previous six years as a private detective and bounty hunter across Europe. McGill, of course, is fully aware of how he has spent the past six years; the conversation is for the benefit of the audience. Unfortunately, due to the series Anachronic Order, the audience does not discover McGill's backstory until Episode Six.
  • Berserk Button: McGill really does not like to be reminded that he is officially a traitor. In one episode ("No Friend Of Mine"), he even punches a man in the face for bringing it up.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most episodes can be categorized as this to a greater or lesser degree. The series stood out from its contemporaries in its general eschewing of conventional happy endings.
  • Brownface: The episode "The Revolutionaries" features numerous Arab characters, all played by white actors in make-up.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Often outnumbered and facing several people at once, McGill has to be this in order to survive. A memorable example is this comes in "Day of Execution", when, facing three people shooting at him with guns, he defeats them by launching a Molotov cocktail at them while hiding behind a door.
  • Compilation Movie: To Chase a Million, spawned from the show's only two-parter "Variation on a Million Bucks".
  • Darker and Edgier: Than other ITC Entertainment action/adventure series of the time, such as The Saint, largely due to Bradford's insistence that the show maintain a level of realism. For example, Made of Iron is averted; when McGill is injured, he needs time to recover and occasionally has to be hospitalized.
  • Everybody Smokes: Even by The '60s' standards, there is a lot of smoking in this show. McGill frequently delivers his lines and performs his action scenes with a cigarette dangling between his lips.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Part of McGill's Origin Story, as revealed in "Man from the Dead". McGill tried to stop western scientist LeFarbe from defecting to the USSR, but his superior Harry Thyssen told him to stand down and let it happen, then died before he could clear McGill's name. The truth: LeFarbe is a Fake Defector and Double Agent; Thyssen faked his own death, assumed a new identity, and now conveys the information LeFarbe gives him to the West; and McGill can't be cleared since it would ruin the whole setup. Basically, McGill became The Scapegoat because he did his job too well.
  • Good is Not Nice: McGill is deeply embittered and cynical with a surly, abrasive demeanour, rarely showing outward warmth to anyone. However, he clearly as a strong sense of morality and integrity, will go out of his way to help victims of injustice, and will always seek to stop the innocent from getting hurt.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: McGill has been dealt a rough hand in life through no fault of his own. He has been rewarded for doing his old job well by being exiled in disgrace. He is consequently under no illusions that Wide-Eyed Idealism will bring any rewards. Despite his cynical outlook, McGill still holds himself to a moral code. His loyalty to his clients is such that he will never accept a bribe to abandon a case, even if he is offered more money to do so than his client paid in the first place. Furthermore, he will always do his best to keep the innocent out of harm's way.
  • No Full Name Given: McGill's first name is never revealed. He actively chooses to conceal it; when asked what his first name is, he replies "Mister". The closest we ever get to learning his first name is a letter being addressed to "R. McGill Esq." in one episode.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: McGill's hair is significantly greyed despite being in his early thirties. This is a case of invokedActor-Shared Background with Richard Bradford, whose hair started going grey when he was 16 years old.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Due to its international travelling, the series features many scenes in languages other than English; they are never subtitled. However, the script will often have the characters switch to speaking English for an in-universe reason.
  • Run for the Border: The climax of "Somebody Loses, Somebody...Wins?" features McGill in car chase, pursued through East Germany by the police to the West German border, which he manages to cross to safety.
  • Short-Runner: One season of 30 episodes.
  • Spoiler Title: The episode "Why They Killed Nolan", in which the character of Thomas Nolan dies twelve minutes in, i.e. nearly a quarter of the way through the episode.
  • Two-Part Episode: "Variation on a Million Bucks", Parts One and Two.