Episode 1 – “Return to Yesterday”

IMDb Link: “Who Pays the Ferryman?” Return to Yesterday (TV Episode 1977) – IMDb

Title caption

Synopsis: Alan Haldane, an Englishman, returns to Crete, where he fought with the Greek Andartes (partisans) in World War II, to reunite with a girl he met there, called Melina. He meets Annika and is instantly attracted to her. He meets his old friend from the war, Babis, who tells him that Melina had passed away and that he had a child with her, called Elena. Haldane moves out to Crete to be near her (whilst not telling her how he’s actually related to her), as he has nothing back home in England.


The episode starts with an Olympic Airways Boeing 737-200 “ΑΙΑΣ” (“AIAS” – hero of the Trojan War), registration SX-BCD, landing at Crete’s Heraklion International Airport, runway 27.

The aircraft approaches from the east over the water as seen in the opening clip.

A short clip of the interior of this particular aircraft can be seen here – the newspaper being read is from 28th June 1977:

Marshalling the aircraft to its parking on the apron
Heraklion Airport Terminal

Haldane alights from the airstairs. Notice the control tower and the two red and white poles – these are floodlights for the apron.

The two (leftmost) poles are visible in the departure photo below in front of the control tower, but the terminal building has been extended and re-clad. The pole on the right is the one behind the person marshalling the aircraft to its’ parking spot on the apron, screenshot above.

In the below Bing Maps screenshot, I have outlined where the aircraft would’ve been parked, the three floodlight pylons, and the control tower.

Haldane goes inside and collects his luggage. It’s not possible to get a view of the interior of the airport from back in ’77 unfortunately.

Arrivals baggage claim
Flagship Boeing 747 model in Heraklion Airport

The two men are sat at a cafe off Eleftherias Square in Heraklion, with the Cine Astoria (now called the Astoria Cinema) behind. To the right of the cinema (off-screen) is the hotel Haldane ends up at.

The central square is behind them (where the phone box is located in the screenshot above). So they are sat at the cafe’s on the perimeter. In the screenshot below of the second time he looks onto the square, the seating area is visible. In the below Street View, the Astoria Cinema has the orange frontage.

Haldane gets a cab from the airport to a hotel in Heraklion town. The taxi ends up at the Astoria Hotel, now called the Capsis Astoria Heraklion.

As you can see, the kiosk outside is still there. Where the lady is sat smoking and drinking coffee is next door to the hotel, which currently looks disused. The building in the background with the glass panes (the Heraklion Archaeological Museum) is still there.

Haldane goes up to his room…

Note the lack of headboard on the bed

…and looks across Eleftherias (Freedom) Square.

He is looking across the square towards the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos (circled). The statue is on St. George Gate. This forms part of the old Venetian wall of Heraklion.

This is the second shot of him looking out of his hotel window onto Eleftherias Square. This is looking to his right from his viewpoint on his hotel room balcony position above.

The road in the screenshot above is a sharp right (where the white Seat is turning in the shot below), but nowadays there is another single file road that goes round through where all that seating was (where the bus is going below).

This is where Haldane has a flashback to the conversation with his brother before leaving for Crete. This conversation is in a house in the Heybridge Basin, at Lock Hill, Maldon, Essex.

The following is a photo from local estate agents Zoe Napier. The property, called ‘Miranda Cottage’ was on the market in 2020 for £320,000.


He goes to see his “brother” from the war, Babis, who has an office in Heraklion.

This is located on 25th August Street, walking southbound. In the shot above, Babis’ office is where the Doric columns are just after the Budget rent-a-car. Where Budget was, is now a branch of Chania Bank.

We can prove this location by the tall doorway on the right further down (in the Street View below), now painted green. This matches the tall diagonal doorway on the right in the screen capture above.

He finds Babis’ office.

Shot of the upstairs window

Babis is away, so Haldane goes to rent a car to drive up to the mountains to the olive groves where he fought, and to the Kera monastery. The rent a car company he ends up at (Kafetzakis rent-a-car) was established in that year (1977) and was a few minutes’ walk from Spiridakis’ office.

I emailed Kafetzakis Rent-a-Car and the son of the original owner at the time of filming now ran the company. When I showed him the below photo he was able to tell me exactly where the lot was, but couldn’t tell me whether that Opel Kadett, registration ZA-1736, was one of theirs. The company has since moved further down Epimenidou Street to the east, and as you will see, a new building has been built in its’ place.

This view is down Antoniou Patros Street at the junction with Epimenidou Street. The church dome in the distance is Ayios Titos. Unfortunately a building has since been erected that gets in the way of the dome, but this shot shows just how much camera lenses foreshorten the distance of background objects. We’ll see this a lot in the series.

In the Google map above, i’ve marked Haldane’s entrance to the rent a car with a left-hand arrow at the top. The camera view is the second line pointing down Antoniou Patros Street. The church dome is circled bottom, but looks closer than it actually is in the programme.

Once he rents the car, he drives up 25th August Street (which nowadays is pedestrianised) and at the roundabout turns right.

He follows Motorway 90 east. The first shot of him driving on the motorway is in Selinari Canyon.

If you look at the map below, the scene matches if you go westbound. The concrete armco barrier is there, as well as the sliproad opposite. This joins the old E75 motorway and also leads to St. Nicholas church.

The concrete armco from the screen grab is visible in the Google Street View image below.

The shot matches if you zoom in from the below Street View up in the mountains.

The second shot of him driving is through the tunnel to the west of Neapolis on the same road (west to east).

From the elevated camera position in the screenshot above, the pin shows where the camera would’ve been placed – the path that runs across the top of the entrance to the tunnel.

The location in the following screen grabs was difficult to find. As he drives to Vrachasi, the Kera Monastery and some others along the coast near Ayios Nikolaos, this could be one of many places, so doesn’t necessarily mean it’s on the same motorway as the locations above. In this scene, there is an awful lot of flat land so he looks to be near the coast, and the surrounding area is very underdeveloped.

Just after the above building, in the distance is what looks like a hotel under construction. Hotels of this size and design aren’t usually inland.

It looks like this is the Sirens Beach Hotel in Malia. I found the following photo online which is from the same general angle, albeit higher up, so Haldane could be driving north on Dimokratias Street in Malia. The features of the hotel are very similar (number of floors, windows, concrete posts at the middle angles, detail on the roof etc). It would also explain the lack of built-up area, as the Sirens Beach is in the newer tourist area right next to the sea, and is well north of the old town. In 1977 this would have largely been empty space.


Then Haldane drives up into the mountains. This is actually near the ‘Meligala’ location from episode 6. It looks like the production team filmed a load of driving footage then just put scenes together that suit the phase of his journey.

He stops for a flock of sheep to be herded cross the road, then continues his journey.

The ‘smooth’ section of rock behind Haldane is clearly visible in the Street View below. This is just north of Annika’s house, parallel to the motorway, far from where the previous scene was shot.

That ‘path’ coming down the side of the mountain looks like it’s made of concrete if you zoom into it.

He parks just north of the house and climbs the bank near the trees and meets Annika for the first time.

It looks like there’s a path or steps of some sort hidden in the hillside.

It looks like the path is hidden where the ridge of trees is (where the fence ends).

On his way back to the car, this long shot shows that the car is parked in the lay-by just north of the house, between the “leaving Vrachasi” sign and the 40kph speed limit sign further ahead.


When he leaves, he drives to the Monastery Panagia Kera Kardiotissa in Kera.

The road and large rock formation to the left are just visible through the foliage by the roadside.

This is actually the other side of the Monastery to Annika’s house.

He continues his drive to Kera Monastery.

He finally reaches the Monastery.

And a more up-to-date picture of the same courtyard, from the Michael J Bird tribute site.

And this one from the Wikimapia website:


When he leaves the Monastery, he is just to the north of it, driving south towards it.

Roza Gorge is the rocky formation on the left, the cream coloured rocks above the road and mountain are visible in the Google Street View below.

He eats at a restaurant on the way back down to the coast.

Note the staircase behind Haldane, to the side of the building.

This is the Vrachasi Cafe Mezedopolio in Vrachasi, actually just down the road from Annika’s house.

Where the gentlemen sit is actually across the street from where Haldane is seated, directly outside the restaurant. There are tables on the other side of the road that belong to the taverna (and possibly to the restaurant directly beside it, called Kivernitis). The mountains behind the seated customers match.

“Stin iyia mas!”

He then reminisces on his past further by driving down to the coast. I’ve located the mountain range behind in the next photo, he’s on the Elounda side of Mirabello Bay looking across it towards Kavousi, probably from Ayios Nikolaos. I do recall on a past visit to Ayios Nikolaos in the 1980s that there were lots of these rectangular blocks, somehow they largely seem to be gone now.

The only rectangular blocks like this that I can find nowadays are on the southern edge of Akti Papa Nicolaou Pagalou in Ayios Nikolaos, although much of it looks like it’s been removed to make way for the recently-built headland and sculpture there.

He then observes a WWII pillbox. From researching these, this particular one looks Italian rather than German. The Italians landed on Crete and were based in specific areas in the East of the island, which will help us narrow down the location. Dr. Alexandros Roniotis of cretanbeaches.com kindly asked around for me, and his contacts think it could be near the Almiros Beach area just to the south of Ayios Nikolaos.

The following photo is a big clue as to the location of this pillbox however. After Haldane looks at the pillbox and photo of Melina, he gets in his car and drives off. We should be able to find this location, especially when we can see the two white buildings in the background. At the very least, it’ll tell us where Haldane parked the car and where the headland in the background is.

The headland behind him is (as mentioned above), is indeed in the Almiros area, you can see it jutting out just below the pin in the following Google Maps view.

Unfortunately you can’t get a decent Google Street View shot of the scene above, as the area between the layby and the shore has been lined with trees (as has most of Crete in all honesty!). You can just about make out the headland behind the trees in the below attempt.

From the Street View further up the road, you can zoom in and see the headland.

A contact in Crete says this is the location of the pillbox (but would still require verification obviously):

He then drives back to Annika’s house to see her, where an already-envious Matheos notices her excitement at his return.

This is, of course, facing away from Annika’s house. The mountains are the key here. The large one in the centre is the same as the one behind the people at the restaurant where he eats earlier.


Matheos visits Katerina Matakis at her home and tells her an Englishman called Alan Haldane visited her daughter’s home, which causes her some distress. She is supposed to live in Neapolis, although we never actually see the front of the house in the series, just an archway that people walk through. From studying every approach sequence to the house in every episode, I have found that this location is in fact the Monastery of Kremasta near Vryses (where the post-crash sequence happens).

Here is a wider shot of the doorway from another episode.

And here is this location today. Apart from the cladding it’s pretty similar to how it was. The archway, telegraph pole and door to the right (in front of the FIAT) are all visible and recognisable from the series. For the other scenes showing steps and other angles I believe these were also filmed in the Monastery.

When Haldane meets Babis for dinner and they dance the Pentozali (which is a traditional Cretan dance), they are in a taverna. In the novelisation, this is noted as being in a taverna on the outskirts of Heraklion. However, from speaking to Andrew Morgan, he said that it was in a taverna on the perimeter of Limni Voulismeni, in Ayios Nikolaos. It’s a restaurant the crew ate at whilst there. Note the smooth floor, and what looks like bamboo on the walls behind the crowd, and in the last photo, the patio doors.

Note the tiles on the wall behind Babis – they are sitting at the bar inside the taverna. Previously when they stopped dancing, they sat next to the dance floor, which I assume was still outside. They look like they’re now inside the premises.

After Haldane finds out the whereabouts of his daughter Elena, he drives to Elounda to see her. This looks to be the St. Nicholas to Vrouchas road.

He ends up at the Taverna Vassilakis, now known as the Ferryman Taverna.

He parks on the quay behind it, and takes in the sights of the quaint fishing village.

This is a similar view of the mountain from the pier where Megaro restaurant is nowadays. The shot above was taken from the seafront behind the taverna. The small village in the hills surrounded by woodland is Mavrikiano.

The steps in the screenshot above are barely visible underneath the current platform.

He enters the taverna and after speaking to Elena and Nikos, realises that they are quarrelling about something.

Babis tells him what the problem is, so Haldane calls his brother from his hotel to sell his house – he’s seen enough to make some sort of commitment to his daughter.

Notice the headboard in the photo. This doesn’t look like the same hotel room as when he landed in Heraklion, even though the walls are again a slight green colour. The cast and crew were staying in Ayios Nikolaos whilst production was under way, so this could’ve been filmed there. Checking the scenes of the taverna’s upstairs rooms in other episodes, this doesn’t look like one of those either.

He visits Annika to tell her he’s staying, but she’s not home.

So he then returns to the taverna to have a drink, where he runs into her.

She tells him that Elena is her niece, and Haldane is instantly shocked as he realises he has now fallen for Melina’s sister. He tells her that he’ll be staying in Crete indefinitely, which tells her that he’s not on the island for a simple fling, and that he’s looking for a relationship.

The episode ends with Katerina Matakis handling the love letters between Melina and Haldane, and slamming her fist on the table.


The credits roll in front of this image.

The shot looks to have been taken from around this area – possibly off the pier in the Street View below. The horizon matches. The main mountainous area in the background is Kalydon, with the small tree-lined headland and mountain on the very left being the mainland.

Credits

Alan HaldaneJack Hedley
Annika ZeferisBetty Arvaniti
Matheos NoukakisTakis Emmanuel
Katerina MatakisPatience Collier
Babis SpiridakisNeil McCarthy
David HaldaneBernard Brown
Elena VassilakisMaria Sokali
Nikos VassilakisNikos Verlekis
Alexis VassilakisAlexis Sergis
GeorgiosLambros Kotsiris
AriadneMarina Sirtis
Production AssistantsAndrew Morgan
Michael McDermott
Production Unit ManagersColin Dudley
Petros Raptis
Costume DesignerTudor George
Make Up ArtistGwen Arthy
Studio LightingBarry Hill
Studio SoundRamon Bailey
Film CameramanMax Samett
Film RecordistArthur Chesterman
Film EditorBill Shapter
ComposerYannis Markopoulos
Series CreatorMichael J. Bird
DesignerMyles Lang
ProducerWilliam Slater
(c) BBC Birmingham 1977