Last updated : 9th November 2014
|Episode 'Old Dog with New Tricks'|
|Story Synopsis||A gangster plans to free his brother from prison by taking a "top cop" hostage. Cowley risks his life in the ensuing siege.||Writer||Brian Clemens|
|Guest Stars||Philip Davis, Pamela Stephenson, John Judd||Director||Sid Hayers|
& Filming Dates
|Block 1, Episode 1
|Original UK Transmission||Season 1, Ep 3
13th January 1978
A great "scene-setting" episode quickly giving viewers an insight into the unconventional methods employed by CI5. The first story to be filmed and ridiculous how it wasn't actually shown first in the UK.
The storyline works well EXCEPT it seems incredulous that the villains don't know what their intended hostage actually looks like!
Favourite bits are the showdown in the carpark (and NOT just 'cos it involves Pam Stephenson - honest!), the "new recruits" lecture and the interrogation of young Billy. The scene where Doyle arrives at Bodie's flat and tells Clare "You must be Betty!" is a great early example of the series' off-the-wall humour. Throughout the story there is so much delightfully politically-incorrect dialogue that one suspects much of it simply would not be allowed in a modern television script.
The pre-titles scene where all we see is the camera slowly panning away from huge door and hear the gunshots is extremely effective, IMO. This seems indicative of Brian Clemens' belief that violence and death should be implied rather than seen. Wonder what happened to that idea?! <G>
I love that funky burst of music that accompanies the lads arriving at the hospital - nice one, Laurie!
Bodie's attitude to "lowly" coppers is demonstrated with his humorous confrontation with the CID sergeant and, as we come to expect, Doyle apologises for his partner's arrogance.
Sharon notes that Martin's dialogue seems "off" and too theatrical. Yes, I would agree this is true to an extent. BUT this was the first episode and the actors needed time to find their roles (though Lew and Gordon certainly settled in very quickly indeed). I also suspect that having to redub their lines later on didn't help, either - it can't be easy to sound spontaneous when you're no longer actually there.
Although the finale to the adventure is hardly action-packed (see the Sidenotes section) but it is rounded off with more biting humour
Fave line: "You CI5 boys think your the cat's whiskers, don't you?" / "Well at least we're at the right end of the cat!"
Many of the "standards" for the entire show are set up in this episode. The first time we see Bodie, for instance, he's eating something. And he peppers his dialogue with jokes in bad taste. Bodie and Doyle seem comfortable with one another most of the time but there's an edge of uncertainty as if they aren't yet completely used to the partnership nor entirely trusting. Doyle's "voice" is off – too deep, too cultured, IMO, Martin is still doing "theater". They both sound like they're reading the lines. Bodie demonstrates his erudition by mentioning Beckett – ongoing theme of Bodie quoting poetry while it's Doyle we see reading. Both men are well, if self, educated. Doyle does a nice bit as the authority figure with the higher ranking cop toward the finale and Bodie does a very good "caged tiger" act while being held hostage.
The plot is well done, multilevelled and nicely resolved. Far more complex than most American cop shows! It needs several viewing to appreciate fully.
Doyle seems more understanding of Cowley at the beginning. Both are concerned about him and both offer their advice and expertise as cop and soldier without stint when in conference with their boss. Bodie does a bit of digging at cops, clearly annoying Doyle. Bodie's flat has no security - Doyle behaves rather oddly with the girl, almost as if he resents her. Throughout Doyle drives while Bodie rides as passenger. The episode closes with them walking off together.
The furry blanket on Bodie's bed is, um, remarkable! Also one of the few times we see his hair mussed and a bit of skin. <G> Nice, that!
One of my favorite parts of the entire series is the interrogation scene with Billy: LOVELY stuff with the macho posturing and the implied physical threats. And Bodie's comment to Cowley about "just stimulating his imagination..." Terrific writing and acting there!
Morgan: "How's Henry? Still running the show in there? Still got the 'screws' jumping?"
Charley: "He's not gonna make it! His eyes - I know that look. We've gotta get him out!"
Morgan: "But, Charley, he's on the top security wing - there's no chance!"
Charley, eyeing a newspaper headline about a hostage exchange: "Not the old way, no... but they do things differently these days!"
Doyle, examining the bodies of the Irish terrorists: "You were in Belfast, weren't you?"
Bodie: "Yeah. But if you think you're gonna draw me in on that one, forget it! Strictly keeping the peace... "
Doyle, challenging: "Whose peace?"
Bodie, ignoring him: "... and a head on my shoulders!"
Cowley with an intake of new recruits: "CI5: Criminal Intelligence. 'The Action Squad'. 'The Big A'. The Squad! Alright, so we may have half a dozen names but only one job: to see that no-one messes on our doorstep. That means preventive detection, preventive action. 'To detect, determine and prevent or take suitable action against those trangressors against the law outside the norm of criminal activity. To contain and render ineffective such... by whatever means necessary.' That's our official brief: 'by any means necessary'. That's our loophole! Now I'll tell you my interpretation - I'll tell you what it's really going to be like. You'll be paired off and from then on you're The Bisto Kids: the slightest whiff of anything and you move in, shake 'em down and crush 'em before they even start to grow, like an alley fight! And that's what this is: an alley fight! So kick him in the goolies first: do unto others now what they're still thinking about! Oh, there'll be squeals and once in a while you'll turn a law-abiding citizen into an authority-hating anarchist. There'll be squeals and letters to MPs... but that's the price they have - and we have to pay - to keep this island smelling, if ever so faintly, of roses and lavender. You make a mistake like that and I'll back you to the hilt. But make the other kind of mistake - the kind that ends up with innocent people bleeding all over the high street - and the only backing you'll get is with my boot, right out of this organisation! Any questions?".
Recruit: "Er, rank, sir. If we are to be paired off, obviously one has to be senior to the other."
Cowley: " 'Obviously'? Why obviously? Two fellows on the roof arguing over who's in charge, they'll both get shot! You're a team... like footballers are a team. They don't have conferences in front of the goal, do they? Too bloody right they don't: first one there kicks the ball! Have anything to discuss then do it before or after the game, preferably after!"
Cowley: "Enjoy the lecture?"
Bodie: "Oh, we always do, sir!"
Cowley, detecting a catch: "But what, Bodie?"
Bodie: "Well, a bit 'heavy'... sir. Fascist overtones."
Cowley, seething: "Fascists? What do you know about them? Fight fire with fire."
Cowley as the lads saunter into his office: "It had better be important: you know my feelings."
Bodie, seemingly quoting Cowley: " 'Our place is out in the street. Any man standing around here isn't doing his job.' "
Cowley speculating on the purpose of the arms theft: "Criminals, setting up a bank raid. It was the guns they were after. The grenades were just an unexpected bonus."
Doyle, sarcastically: "That's comforting!"
Bodie, seeing Billy with his hostage: "Yeah, could be our man. He's holding a Webley 44 along with a... 38B cup!"
Doyle, grabbing the binoculars: "What??!!"
Bodie: "There's wandering hands with a vengeance!"
Bodie: "Listen, it's a stalemate, right? Now you give Billy what he wants - and then what? He'll shoot Brook and then blow himself up."
Doyle: "We don't know that."
Bodie: "Yeah, we don't not know that, do we?!"
Doyle: "The right technique is to keep him talking, play him and tire him out."
Bodie: "Yeah and suppose his left hand tires first? It takes about four pounds of pressure to keep a hand-grenade lever clamped down. But after an hour, it feels like eight... and then twelve... and then cramp sets in. And then suddenly it's raining Nurse Emma Bolding!"
Bodie: "Bet your eyes fell out on to your cheeks!"
Doyle: "I told you: it was impersonal. Like doctor and patient."
Bodie: "Oh, yeah, how many doctors have you known? 'Impersonal'! I shacked up with a doctor in East Africa and she was an absolute raver! Every time we did it, she took my pulse!"
Doyle, mock seriousness: "What, to see if you were still alive?!"
Bodie: "To see how soon I'd be ready to do it again! She said I was a perfect physical specimen!"
Doyle: "Well, I mean, East Africa! She was probably comparing you to the red-arsed baboon!"
Bodie: "Level with me, Doyle. These 'art classes' you used to go to: you mean to say that it didn't 'disturb' you in any way at all? You'd have to be crotchless!"
Doyle: "No, it was impersonal. They were just models."
Bodie: "Bet if a bird posed nude with an apple, you just painted the apple!"
Doyle, laughing but fondly reminiscing: "They were nice girls."
Bodie: "All girls are nice girls. As long as they're under 50, still warm and come across!"
Billy, clearly scared: "I want a lawyer!"
Bodie, playing on the fear: "Why, son? Do you want to make a will?"
Cowley: "Did you have to lean on Billy?"
Bodie: "Too scared - all we did was stimulate his imagination!"
Cowley: "Bodie, you did well today, both of you - even if you did break all the rules!"
Bodie: " 'Rules', sir?!"
Doyle: "You broke the rules!"
Bodie: "Well, you know the form: 'dog eat dog'!"
Doyle: "Oh, that's OK.... as long as you're not a dog!"
Police Sergeant: "You CI5 boys think you're the cat's whiskers, don't you?!"
Bodie: "Well at least we're at the right end of the cat!"
Doyle, turns to admire Bodie's new girlfriend: "You must be Betty - he's told me a lot about you!"
Claire looks daggers at Bodie.
Bodie looks daggers at Doyle: "You b..."
Shortly afterwards, Bodie: " 'You must be Betty'?!"
Doyle: "Well I had to say something"
Bodie: "Not that - not to her - her name's Claire!"
Doyle: "Yeah, I know! I was doing you a favour: I was adding an extra spice of jealousy to your relationship!"
Bodie: "It was getting enough spice without that!... It was!"
Cowley: "It's the new system, Charley, to avoid panicking the public. Seal off the area - tell them a gas main has blown, something like that."
Henry Turkel, anticipating imminent freedom, proffers his shackled wrists: "Ha! Charley did it! He got one over on all of you!"
Doyle to detective constable: "No, leave him cuffed."
Doyle points a shotgun at Henry's head and addresses the officers: "You lads know all about the Official Secrets Act, I hope."
Cowley trying to get Turkel to surrender: "No press, no public within half a mile. In fact nobody knows what's happening in here. Nor will they ever know exactly. Oh, we'll make a press release eventually, give them the bones of the story. You demanding your brother's release, a double-cross... and poor old Henry Turkel got his head blown clean off his shoulders!"
Cowley, sensing that Turkel's venture is about to explode into a shootout: "One shot and your brother won't have anywhere to lay his hat!"
Bodie: "Permission to be admiringly insolent, sir? You're a brave old bastard!"
Cowley: "Permission denied. Besides, it's inaccurate: I'm not brave!"
More of a "budgetry efficiency", really: the van the gang use to hi-jack the police station in Windsor is the same van Doyle uses as a mobile HQ (thanks to John Hammond).
According to Bodie, Turkel's mob have made off with .44-calibre Webley revolvers and Armalite rifles, yet the villains use Brownings, Colts and British Army SLRs in the subsequent siege. (Thanks to "Ashley".)
In the police station scenes, a supposedly parked blue Triumph near Cowley's Rover keeps moving about! This probably came about because the scenes took several days to shoot, particularly with Gordon Jackson's initial unavailability.
The first episode to be filmed and a rather problematic beginning led to delays in completing it. Gordon Jackson was unavailable for the first three weeks due to commitments on the Richard Burton movie 'The Medusa Touch', so the shooting schedule was rearranged to accomodate this. Then, of course, Anthony Andrews was dropped from the production, thus some scenes required reshoots with his replacement, Lewis Collins.
According to Brian Clemens in an interview he did for Timescreen magazine in 1992, the final scenes were reshot three times as London Weekend Television wasn't happy with the original turn of events. But Brian himself wasn't happy with the final version! However the production notes don't appear to reflect the need for the re-shoots.
The bulk of this episode was shot during June and July 1977. However the siege scenes show various characters wearing distinctly autumnal clothing - notably the radio man in the back of the police van, the lady who submits her driving license and a woman and boy who enter a shop in one of the scenes with Doyle waiting outside the station. Certainly my own recollection of the period (memorable as it was the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations) are of generally warm weather - at least in the north of England. However records for the period show that particular days in June were uncharacteristically cold in the south, with ground frost forming in some areas!
The siege scenes had to be split over several days spanning two weeks due to Gordon's initial unavailability - and possibly explain why a potential continuity problem with Lewis' costume was covered by Cowley ordering Bodie to change out of casual wear into a suit!
Phil Davis (Billy) continues to appear quite regularly in lead roles of TV dramas - such as Births, Marriages and Deaths, Inspector George Gently (with Martin Shaw in the eponymous role) and Face (with Robert Carlyle), though has also turned to directing in recent years (eg Prime Suspect V). Older productions include Quadrophenia and Robin of Sherwood.
John Judd (Inspector) seems to be forever playing police officers (as he did in 'In the Public Interest') but also appeared in the highly controversial juvenile prison drama Scum and the recent BBC's 1990s remake of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Appears to have dropped out of film and television acting since the late 1990s
Pamela Stephenson (Nurse Emma) reappeared in 'Stakeout' and 'Rogue'. She went on to great success with the comedy series Not the Nine O'Clock News and later married comedian Billy Connolly. Unfortunately she was then landed with bimbo-ish roles - eg the daffy blonde in Superman III. She dropped out of acting in the late 1980s (a great loss to us all!) and took up psychiatry.
Johnny Shannon - wearing a toupe and actually having his voice redubbed by a different actor! - would reappear briefly in 'A Man Called Quinn'. He also appeared in both Sweeney movies. Sporadically appeared in various TV roles until 2005.
Anthony Morton appeared as a regular in the laughable Crossroads, I think (played a chef?). Both he and the aforementioned Johnny Shannon appeared in Mick Jagger's film Performance in 1970. Passed away in 2001.
Sammie Winmill (lady at the Police Station) appeared in the early seasons of the cult kids show The Tomorrow People. She appeared (for about two seconds!) in the first episode of The New Avengers as the inn's barmaid but was uncredited and unfortunately her scenes were snipped during final editing. Her Professionals appearance appears to have been her last television role, although she continued a stage career.
On the Contender VHS and DVD releases and UK satellite screenings, the Music&Effects audio track, as sourced from digital print made by ITV's British Independent Television Enterprises in the early 1990s, exhibited a high level of hiss. In an attempt to ameliorate this problem, noise reduction had been applied but it was overdone, resulting in completely silencing some distant background noises such as birdsong, rustling trees and traffic. The problem was particularly noticeable during pauses in dialogue...
Additionally the BRITE digi-print had had the original "Assault Course" opening titles replaced with the "car-through-glass" one and the joins manifested itself as a white-coloured marks, which, as we later discovered, meant that the cut'n'splice was actually carried out on the episode's film negative (as was the case with all first-season eps), which should have been regarded as untouchable! Naughty!
Thankfully none of these faults are present on the 2014 BluRay and DVD releases from Network.
Click for the complete List of Episodes