The 21 October 1963 episode of The Plane Makers offers a wry look at The Old Boy Network.

When 63 year old Ernie Wainwright (Bert Palmer) lets a new radar unit get smashed, Joseph Breen (Patrick McGee) gives him a week’s notice. “He’s cost this company more than he’ll ever make in his life, and all we can do is sack him!” fumes John Wilder (Patrick Wymark) as he orders the demonstration flight for African Airlines to be postponed.

Miss Lingard (Norma Ronald) takes a message

Unfortunately, junior executive Nigel Carr (Jeremy Burnham) comes in late with a hangover and doesn’t get the message until after he’d promised African Airlines a date for the test flight.

Union Rep Stan Wallace (Anthony Sagar) asks for Ernie to be given a second chance, and put on something easier. Breen turns him down; “If there’d been anything less responsible, he’d have been on it already!” Meanwhile, Wilder has used his personal connections with the radar company to get a replacement rushed through.

The next day, Nigel confesses to Wilder: “I think I’ve made the most appalling boob!” Wilder covers for Nigel by telling the chairman of African Airlines that the radar was damaged after Nigel made his promise.

But word gets out that management have covered for Nigel while sacking Ernie. Eddie Taylor (Richard Shaw), one of the skilled hands responsible for installing the radar equipment, tells Ernie, “They can’t just phone the Labour Exchange and get someone else to do my job. If me and a half dozen of my mates down tools, the whole factory stops.” For the full story on The Old Boy Network go here