Rumpole of the Bailey (1978–1992)
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Rumpole and the Female of the Species 

Rumpole and the Female of the Species Poster
1:13 | Trailer
Rumpole defends a petty thief on charges of armed robbery while trying to get Fiona accepted into his chamber.


Donald McWhinnie


John Mortimer



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Leo McKern ... Horace Rumpole
Peggy Thorpe-Bates Peggy Thorpe-Bates ... Hilda Rumpole
Patricia Hodge ... Phyllida Erskine-Brown
Julian Curry Julian Curry ... Claude Erskine-Brown
Peter Blythe ... Samuel Ballard, Q.C.
Rosalyn Landor ... Fiona Allways
Ray Brooks ... Tony Timson
Mary Maddox Mary Maddox ... April Timson
Richard Murdoch Richard Murdoch ... Uncle Tom
Jonathan Coy ... Henry
Peter Howell ... Judge Leonard Dover
Denis Lill Denis Lill ... Mr. Bernard
Christopher Good ... Hilary Onslow
Struan Rodger ... Det. Insp. Brush
Terence Budd Terence Budd ... Gerry Molloy


Tony Timson, a petty thief and former Rumpole client, asks for the barrister to defend him on charges that he was the wheel man in a high profile robbery that was out of his usual league. Not only does one of the thieves testify against him, he's at a loss to explain why some of the robbery loot was found in his washing machine. Meanwhile Rumpole plays one personality off the other in his chambers in order to get Fiona accepted as a member. Written by Gabe Taverney (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

1 November 1983 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Thames Television See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Only episode of S3 to feature Phyllida Erskine-Brown, who is made a QC. See more »


Just before Rumpole's bookshelf falls, the wall on the set visibly is rocked back and forward by an unseen hand. See more »


Horace Rumpole: [Grabbing a hammer as he tries to put up a bookshelf] Let's try the Irish screwdriver!
[bangs in the screw with it]
Horace Rumpole: Ha, ha! There you look at that! Steady as a rock, hmm? Most people would have got a man in to do a simple job like that!
See more »

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User Reviews

Rumpole and the Female of the Species
18 November 2019 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

Ostensibly this episode is about Rumpole trying to get off a man accused of being a getaway driver in a robbery. His name was given to the police by a rival family who had an agenda against him. The accused wants Rumpole for the defence.

Good news for Rumpole. Work has been down a bit because he has been rude to solicitors. You are unlikely to be given a brief if you insult the people who instruct you. Now Rumpole can stop putting up the shelves at home, although she who must be obeyed figures, if you want a job need doing, then do it yourself.

The episode is more about women and the law. Rumpole comes to the aid of pupil Fiona Allways to secure her a tenancy. The chambers including Phyllida Erskine-Brown seem to be feel she might not be right for them. Of course back in the early 1980s, female barristers were relatively fewer in numbers. If a set of chambers had one female, they might have thought they had done more than enough for equality.

Rumpole's scheming is bad news for Claude Erskine-Brown who was hoping to take silk. He gets beaten to it by his wife. Phyllida who was once taking tips from Rumpole is now senior to him.

Even the the actual identity of the getaway driver owes more to female power. It is an episode which shows how in some respects the legal profession has moved on.

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