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Touch of Frost, A (1992-)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'Care and Protection', originally transmitted on ITV, 6 December 1992
Written by Richard Harris, produced and directed by Don Leaver

In Denton, young Tracy Uphill goes missing. That evening, Detective Inspector Frost arrives home late to relieve nurse Shirley Fisher, who is looking after his terminally ill wife. The next day, a taskforce headed by Chief Inspector Allen begins searching for Tracy. Meanwhile, Superintendent Mullet assigns Frost a new partner, Detective Constable Clive Barnard.

Frost and Barnard discover that Tracy's mother, Linda, is a prostitute working from home. She missed meeting Tracy because a client was late. Frost suddenly finds himself in charge of the investigation when Allen collapses with a perforated ulcer. Further questioning leads Frost to the eccentric Annie, who looks after a house full of cats. She complains about being taunted by the local children, but denies seeing Tracy.

During the search, the bones of a male arm chained to an empty metal box are discovered. Frost learns that in 1961, a bank clerk, Felton, disappeared with a box containing £40,000 chained to his wrist. His partner on the journey, fellow clerk Ronald Garwood, remembers nothing, as he was knocked out. Visiting Garwood for further questioning, Frost and Barnard find him murdered. Later, Frost realises that the large debts of bank manager Gerald Powell's son would have been a strong motive for theft. Frost's wife dies and he reveals to Shirley how unhappy his marriage was and that his George Medal was won in a reckless, suicidal act.

Confronting Powell, Frost is held at gunpoint. The pensioner confesses that he stole money from his bank; Felton discovered this and was blackmailing him. When the £40,000 became available, the two men both decided to take the money. The staged robbery went wrong: Powell forgot his keys and was unable to unlock the box from Felton's wrist. When Garwood began to recover, Felton panicked and attempted to kill him. Powell shot Felton and buried him in the woods, severing the arm to conceal that the strongbox was empty (the money never left Powell's office). Garwood was killed in order to silence him. There is a scuffle: Frost is stunned and Powell shoots his ill wife and then himself.

Tracy is found; a blanket with her is covered in cat hair. Barnard and Frost return to Annie's house and learn that the old woman knocked Tracy out in retaliation for the girl tormenting her cats. Knowing that she would be punished, Annie has killed and burnt all her animals.