Caleb Cluff – Leslie Sands

Leslie Sands had been ariound and on Television throughout the Fifties but his main work was on the stage – he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and toured witht them, quite extensivley. He landed the role of ‘Cluff’ for the BBC in the early sixties and although it was original and entertaining and sucessful to an extent, it did only run for a couple of seasons although a third series was seriously considered

In 1964, Leslie Sands was cast in the BBC series “Detective”, which adapted a number of crime fiction classics in an attempt to find a successor to the long-running “Maigret”.

Leslie Sands later appeared in an episode based on Gil North’s books about Yorkshire Detective Sergeant Caleb Cluff. The BBC spun this series out of “Detective” – in fact the first ‘pilot’ episode was screened under the ‘Detective’ banner

Set in the remote Yorkshire village of Gunnarshaw (allegedly based on North’s birthplace of Skipton), Cluff is described a relentless pursuer, similar to the early Maigret.

Born and bred in the farming community, Cluff used his intimate knowledge of village life to solve crimes, much to the disgust of Inspector Mole (Eric Barker and later Michael Bates), an outsider who preferred order and paperwork, “He had a tidy mind..and Caleb Cluff…fitted into none of his pigeon-holes.”Detective Sergeant Caleb Cluff (Leslie Sands) was a detective, much more at home taking a good walk with his pipe in his mouth, his chestnut walking stick in his hand and his faithful dog, Clive by his side.

The bachelor copper lived alone in the fictional North Yorkshire moorland town of Gunnershaw but received daily visits from his housekeeper, Annie Croft (Olive Milbourne).

Any crook underestimating the tweed-suited detective would do so at their peril because Cluff’s slow methodology belied a skilfully perceptive insight into human nature and behaviour, particularly that of the criminal mind.

Leslie Sands with Wilfred Pickles

His ponderous and slow style was often the cause of much frustration from his superior, Inspector Mole (originally Eric Barker and later Michael Bates when illness prevented Barker from appearing in the second series), but no one could argue with Cluff’s detection rate.

His wife in real life, the actress Pauline Williams, appeared in quite a number of episodes playing the part of Mrs Mole

Caleb Cluff was assisted by his junior sidekick, Detective Constable Barker (John Rolfe).

Caleb Cluff with his dog

Earlier than this though Leslie Sands had played a detective in one of the Edgar Wallace series – ‘The Clue of the New Pin’

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