Last updated : 9th November 2012
|Story Synopsis||The murder of a CI5 agent leads to the discovery of a man dying from plutonium poisoning.||Writer||Dennis Spooner|
|Guest Stars||David Collings, Pamela Stephenson, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Barry Jackson, Peter Armitage, Tony Osoba, Andy Bradford||Director||"Benjamin Wickers" (see Sidenotes)|
& Filming Dates
|Block 1, Ep 12
|Original UK Transmission||Season 1, Ep 10
3rd March 1978
I know most of the ladies in the audience love this episode because of the interaction between the Lads (and something to do with certain camera angles as Martin Shaw scoots down the bowling alley!) but story-wise, it is surprisingly weak with a lot of 'padding' – not even gorgeous Pamela Stephenson (as a junkie) can improve it! It really is that bad!!
However there is plenty of funny banter between the boys - see the Dialogue section below. On the other hand dialogue in some scenes, notably the helicoper ones, is truly dire, with characters hysterically repeating each others lines.
One strong "establishing" scene at the start is where Cowley instructs the lads to go to the bowling alley: not all of CI5's activities are action-packed!
Some of the sideline characters provide reasonable interest, humorous moments and nice red herrings. CI5 op Benny (Trevor Adams) puts in a nicely comedic turn.
Betty has been inexplicably replaced in this episode with another character, Sarah - see the Sidenotes section below.
Although fans tend to delight in the occasional political incorrectness of the show, the end titles crediting actors with character names of "Attractive Blonde" and "Handsome Negro" are a regrettable reflection of the times... the latter being particularly ironic given that the anti-racism piece, 'Klansmen', was in production simultaneously.
Bodie and Doyle Save London from an A-Bomb?
No, that's not what this story is about. If it were, I'd never watch it again. The plot is ludicrous, the setting is beyond boring, the pacing sucks, but the relationship...
Ah, the relationship. Bodie is vocally and visibly upset at Frasier's death. Doyle blows it off at first, but when he realizes his partner is serious he gets serious himself and we get a very nice private exchance in the midst of Cowley and others moving about doing their job. Many good personal moments here.
Unfortunately this is the worst episode for the Wardrobe-Challenged. Doyle in plaid and stripes and Bodie in a polyester sweater and a shirt dotted with hearts is a bit more than the discerning eye can stand (no wonder Pam Stephenson didn't fancy him! – Dave). They don't look good in this one, (well, ok, Doyle from the rear once he loses the plaid coat is fine and dandy) but their banter and teamwork is marvelous. This is also the first show where the direction and camera work clearly take advantage of Lewis' comedic timing and talents. Watch his face when he heads off screen with the bowling ball. There are numerous "little" scenes throughout that add almost nothing to the plot but let The Lads play nicely.
Notice, please, that Doyle's feet are a size bigger than Bodie's.
Benny's here again.
When they enter the bowling alley, Doyle-as-former-cop is clearly ahead in know-how, but in spite of his age and greater level of experience, Doyle's temper gets the better of him Bodie gets first to keep him under control and then to let him commit some much needed mayhem. This is an ongoing character theme that plays out in other shows, most noticably in 'The Rack'.
I play the "wrestling scene" (between B & D) over several times when viewing this episode.
Cowley: "Get over there, the pair of you, and stake it out."
Bodie: "Well what do we look for?"
Cowley: "Don't ask me, Bodie - that's your job, what you're paid for: sniff hard, be alert, anything unusual!"
Doyle: "Yes, sir - we understand, sir!"
Cowley: "I should hope you do!"
Bodie, decidely unenamoured by the idea: "Stakeout!"
Cowley looks daggers at him.
Bodie: "Running all the way, sir!"
Bodie, bored and eyeing up the people around the bowling alley: "Can you see anybody acting suspiciously?"
Doyle: "Yeah - us!"
Blonde, apparently waiting for somebody: "Have you got the time?"
Bodie: "Yeah - if you've got the inclination!"
Doyle, unsure about the rules of bowling: "How do you score?"
Bodie, noticing that the blonde girl is looking at him: "Don't know - I just get lucky, I guess!"
Doyle, about to play: "What's up with you?"
Bodie, bored: "Stakeouts are a waste of time."
Doyle: "Yeah, nine out of ten of them are. Still, look on the bright side!"
Bodie: "What's that?"
Doyle: "I'm winning!"
Bodie, suspecting the blonde girl is in trouble: "I should go to work there."
Doyle: "That's not what we're here for."
Bodie: "It could be exactly what we're here for."
Doyle: "Yeah, alright then - chat her up."
Bodie: "That's a very coarse way of putting it!"
Doyle: "Oh, you mean there's another way?!"
Bodie, mock seriousness: "Yes, I prefer 'interrogation' or 'investigation' - on account of the fact that I'm very conscientious about my work. Cheerio!"
Blonde, desperate for money to buy a fix, snogs Bodie: "Is that what you wanted? About thirty pounds."
Blonde: "Alright... twenty-five."
Bodie: "I hope you're a good dental receptionist, love, 'cos you make a lousy hooker!"
Blonde: "OK, call it twenty pounds and you can come back to my place."
Bodie, referring to CI5 HQ: "Oh, no - you are coming back to my place! Take her in, Benny."
Bodie, bundling the girl into the back of Benny's car: "Wouldn't waste your time on him, darlin': he doesn't know what twenty quid looks like!"
Bodie rescuing Doyle from a fight: "You'd blow your cover, wouldn't you? Little David like you smashing a Goliath like that into a jigsaw puzzle! How would that look?"
Doyle: "Very good just now!"
Bodie: "Yeah well on stakeouts, Raymond, you are a seven stone weakling and let people kick sand in your face!"
When we first see Pam Stephenson she has crimped hair - yet in all her later scenes it is perfectly straight! I'd forgotten about that one (I'd forgive SuperPam anything, I suppose) - thanks to Sarah Murphy for reminding me! As noted below, technical difficulties caused by the Bowling Alley led to a protracted shooting scheule, so it's not too surprising that continuity errors like this arose.
As loads of us have spotted, the timer display on the bomb is all over the place!
Towards the end of the episode, the helicopter is getting battered with rain, yet it is perfectly dry on the ground!! (Thanks to Louise Lewis)
The bomb-disposal Major wears the badge of a Royal Engineer soldier, depicting laurel leaves. The design should be one of a flaming grenade. (Thanks to Mathew Hardy)
By December 1977 production on this first season had fallen severely behind schedule. In an attempt to get it back on track, this episode was deliberately written to be shot very quickly, hence the use of few locations and the exteriors being shot after dark (while production on a few other episodes was still in progress during the daytime). However the acoustics in the Bowling Alley made it extremely difficult to record usable audio and the story actually took over a month to complete! This led to casting problems, too...
For this episode Cowley's usual assistant Betty is replaced by Sarah, played by Sarah Grazebrook (although it sounds as though she was voice-dubbed by another actress). Bridget Brice - who may have been hired on an episode-by-episode basis rather than retained on a single, season-long contract - had previously notified Mark 1 that she would be on holiday from the latter half of December 1977.
* Although Ben Bolt was officially signed to direct this episode, the aforementioned audio problems and other difficulties led to the two other directors sharing the workload. "Benjamin Wickers", as noted on the credits, was actually a combination of Ben, David Wickes and the first season's producer, Sidney Hayers!
David Collings (Frank, the bomb-maker) starred as mysterious "element" Silver in the bizarre Joanna Lumley/David McCallum series Sapphire and Steel. Would later appear with Martin Shaw in the latter's popular police procedural show The Chief.
Barry Jackson (Bob who runs the bowling alley) usually plays a villain or a copper in shows such as Bergerac, Lovejoy or, more recently, The Midsommer Murders. Passed away in 2013.
Tony Osoba (the, ahem, "handsome negro") was a regular in the much-loved 70s prison sitcom Porridge and later as the rather bland Chas Jarvis in Dempsey and Makepeace. Cameod as a terrorist in Who Dares Wins. Last seen in, albeit briefly, in a 2014 episode of Doctor Who.
Ronald Leigh-Hunt (the doctor) is best remembered for his leading role of Colonel Buchan in the late 60s/early '70s espionage show Freewheelers. He would also guest in other popular shows such as Ghost Squad, Redcap, The Avengers/New Avengers, The Saint and Van der Valk. His final role appears to have been a 1995 episode of BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. Passed away in 2005.
Andy Bradford (CI5 op Fraser) had a parallel - and prolific - career as a stunt performer arranger.
|Technical Notes||Up until the 2014 DVD and BluRay releases from Network, this episode displayed weak colour depth and has a green tinge all the way through. Reds (like those on Martin's shirt) do not stand out at all. A lot of this is down to the set-up of the telecine machine when the transfers to digital tape were done back in 1992.|
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