Last updated : 9th November 2014

Episode 'The Rack'
Story Synopsis After a suspect being held by CI5 dies, seemingly as a result of a punch delivered by Doyle, a public enquiry is ordered and an influential lawyer calls for the squad to be disbanded. Cowley is fighting for the survival of the squad! Writer Brian Clemens
Guest Stars Lisa Harrow, Christopher Ellison, Michael Billington, Ken Campbell Director Peter Medak
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 2, Episode 4
17th to 28th July 1978Main shoot.
2nd August 1978Scenes of attack on Parker in the snooker club, pick-up shots of the battle at Coogan's place and a reshoot (for unspecified reasons) of the scene in which the lads discuss the possibility that Paul Coogan's death may have been caused by somebody else.
Original UK Transmission Season 2, Episode 2
14th October 1978
Dave's Comment

For once it was CI5 who was afraid of the law! A splendid episode marred a little by a slightly unsatisfactory resolution. But Lisa Harrow puts in a tremendous performance as the sharp, shrewd, firespitting lawyer!

In fact performances from all the cast are excellent. And the plot stands up very well indeed... except for the ending, which I think was a bit of a cop-out. It's an outstanding piece of drama which, like many other episodes, lifts the series way beyond the standard "action show" format. Perhaps even Martin Shaw enjoyed this one!

The arguments presented on both sides are convincing Brian Clemens was obviously well aware of the controversial nature of his own creation.

The entire episode, particularly the court scenes, are extremely well-scripted and Cowley's final, desperate plea to the press is unforgettable. ("A man died and you want to close down the whole hospital!" is just one example.)

But why did Coogan decide to beat the informant Parker senseless? He's a thug, true, but certainly not stupid. Did he actually intend to kill Parker to prevent him testifying? Hmmm.... seems to provide a bit of an easy way out for CI5.

Sharon's Comment

This is the ultimate "beautiful Doyle" episode the camera loves him, the clothes are right, the hair is right, the eyes are big and green and the camera angles are perfect. He becomes, for a moment, a gorgeous "Angel of Death", when Bodie announces that Paul Coogan is dead.

Bodie's not half bad in this one either. <G>

Also contains the best "buddy scene" I've ever run across in TV action/cop shows. It's a classic. When Bodie appears in Ray's living room and shakes him out of his depression into action, the dialogue and the acting is perfect Very, very good work from everyone- writers, actors, director and camera.

Note that Benny has a small and undistinguished role in this episode.

The "Perry Mason" ending works for me because the problem starts with Parker grassing and therefore the less-than-conclusive ending acts as a frame for the rest of the story. The plot is quite complex and doesn't really fit in the 50 minute format. Too bad they didn't decide to make it a two-three parter. The issues alone are worth more exploration.

Oh, yes. I like it that both Lads wore black shirts for the interrogations. Nice, if unaware, bit of symbolism there.

We learn a great deal about Bodie and Doyle from their resumes which are paraded as evidence of their subhumanness- at least we can be grateful for that. The rest of the strident, outraged lawyer act leaves me gagging. In 'Klansman' I griped about medical reality here I can't even count the number of legal mistakes made. Ah well.

It's good to learn about The Lads no matter what the source. We also learn that Doyle eats "organic food". That he reads when upset (listen for the tiny sigh when the living room scene first opens), that Bodie (again) watches out for him, emotionally as well as physically. Bodie drives in this one.

LC does a very nice job when he's in the hot seat with small facial changes to indicate what's going on inside Bodie's mind. Fine work there.

The "inquiry" provides Cowley with a good forum. Since the concept of CI5 is a bit beyond the pale, civil-rights wise, to most Yanks, Cowley's speech is an excellent reminder of what urban life was like during the time of the show and why such an organization might have been necessary.

Annoying moments, great moments and all in all one of the better episodes.


Cowley: "A Court of Enquiry? Questions and answers in the open?! The strength of this organisation is its anonymity!"

Minister: "Many people are saying it has too much strength. It's been agreed at a higher level than even I can buck. The Court of Enquiry convenes on Thursday. Who will you want as counsel to present your side of the affair?"

Cowley: " 'Counsel'? My God, I founded this organisation, I will answer for it!"

Cowley at CI5 HQ, referring to Geraldine Mather: "She wants to hold the enquiry here?"

Minister: "In the room in which Paul Coogan died."

Cowley: "Oh, for pity's sake!"

Minister: "Her argument is that it will save time if the Court wishes to visit the 'scene of the crime'. I've already agreed to her demand, George."

Cowley: "Oh, you have, have you?!"

Minister: "If we don't, she'll only make further capital out of it."

George: "And if we do, she's already ten points ahead on sheer emotional appeal. Och, let her have the room - she doesn't frighten me!"

Minister: "She should - a good, healthy respect, at least. She's out to break CI5, George - and you with it!"

Bodie: "It was an accident."

Doyle, sarcastic: "Yeah, he ran right onto my fist!"

Bodie: "Cowley's got a job for us."

Doyle: "Not me, mate, I'm suspended, remember?"

Bodie: "Yeah, me too. Material witness now, you know: I saw you beat that innocent young man to death!"

Doyle: "Don't make jokes, Bodie!"

Bodie: "Yeah, well it's the only way I can get through to you, isn't it?! Come on, Ray - the old man needs us. He's fighting for his life out there - I've never seen him like this. We owe him one!"

Doyle, laughing incredulously: "Listen to him: 'we'! Whatever happened to the 'Look after number one' credo, then?!"

Bodie: "Yeah, well don't do as I say, do as I do!"

Doyle, sarcastic: "Yeah!"

Bodie: "OK, well I'll leave you to wallow in your own self-pity and handle it myself!"

Doyle: "Since when did you ever handle anything on your own?!"

Bodie: "Yeah, well since when did you?!"

Cowley, considering what he'll be up against in the enquiry: "They can't destroy us."

Minister, not as optimistic: "They can. They might."

Cowley: "What am I really up against tomorrow?"

Minister: "Geraldine Mather!"

Cowley: "Och, I know about her. I'll take my chances with her - meet her fact-for-fact. She doesn't scare me... well, not much! What else?"

Minister: "The enquiry board. There's Stannard..."

Cowley, growing in confidence: "Now he's a fair man - got a mind, too. Won't be swayed by pure emotion."

Minister: "The enquiry will be presided over by Judge Hall. No problem there - he'll only be interested in the pure facts of the matter. But then there's Harold Mackay - a man that's opposed CI5 since its inception. He'll be seeking to make political capital out of this. And he'll try to make it over your broken back!"

Cowley, sarcastically raises his glass: "Cheers!"

Mather, discovering the cell in which Coogan died being given a fresh lick of paint: "Stop that! I thought you might try to do something like this!"

Cowley: "Do what?"

Mather: "Remove or destroy evidence. I must insist that this room remains exactly as it is."

Cowley: "I was just trying to make it more habitable."

Mather: "You don't regard it as habitable at this moment? Yet quite habitable to conduct your interrogations in."

Cowley: "Very well. But you won't mind standing for a whole day, then? Or maybe you could sit on my knee!"

Mather, indicating one of the few rickety chairs in the cell: "Oh, I anticipate the enquiry will take several days, Mr Cowley. Of course there must be chairs. But these chairs: I want the Board of Enquiry to know the kind of 'comfort' you offer your unfortunate prisoners. I want them really to feel it."

Judge Hall to the press pack: "You are here as a matter of courtesy, not as a right. It may well be that certain testimony will be subject to the Official Secrets Act and that this court will instruct that such testimony may not be printed..."

Mather, objecting: "I reserve the right to question and protest any such instruction, Mr President."

Hall: "Miss Mather, may I point out to you that this is not the sort of court to which you are accustomed. Ultimately we have no judicial powers - we can merely make findings and recommendations."

Mather: "I am aware, Mr President, that this is not a court of law - but I hope we shall find it is a court of justice!"

Mather, wandering around the rundown cell: "I wanted you all to sample the kind of hospitality offered by CI5 to its unfortunate suspects. Try to imagine what it would be like to be held incommunicado in a place like this. What would run through your mind?"

Hall: "Miss Mather, I think we have all taken your point. Now perhaps if you would remain in the body of the court..."

Mather: "CI5. Criminal Intelligence. A secret organisation. A dangerously omnipotent organation... and one, it seems, that is answerable to nobody other than its own controller!"

Minister, very angry: "Mr President!! I must object! We are not here to enquire into CI5. The object of the enquiry is to look into the death of Paul Martin Coogan."

Mather: "Very well - I concede. We will confine ourselves to the murder of Paul Coogan..."

Hall, interrupting: "Miss Mather, I know you to be a very skilled counsel but these cheap tactics do you no credit - especially when they appear to be aimed at the press."

Mather: "Mr Cowley, you admit that you launched to what amounted to a full-scale attack on Mr Coogan's house?"

Cowley: "I ordered a squad operation."

Mather: "Ten men?"

Cowley: "Eleven - including myself."

Mather: "Most of them armed?"

Cowley: "All of them were armed.

Mather: "So my 'full-scale attack' sounds more accurate than your 'squad operation'?! You ran your car down the driveway, broke down the front door and then proceeded to rampage through his house!"

Cowley: "We searched it."

Mather: " 'Searched it'?! Carpets ripped up, furniture torn apart, wallpaper stripped away..."

Cowley: "We were looking for something small - drugs."

Mather: "Something small? Ten pounds of heroin?"

Cowley: "They could have split it up - concealed it in a dozen places."

Mather: "But they hadn't, had they, Mr Cowley? The fact is that you found absolutely nothing! Furniture, carpets - damage estimated at several thousand pounds... all for nothing! And without a search warrant!"

Cowley: "I don't need a warrant!"

Mather: "Oh, I see - you are outside the laws of this country?"

Cowley, wearily beginning to realise that Mather has a point: "It's in my brief."

John Coogan: "They held me in a room just along the corridor."

Mather: "Were you handcuffed?"

Coogan: "Yes, all the time. And tied, too. My hands swelled up for quite some time after."

Mather: "How many men were in the room with you?"

Coogan: "Three."

Mather: "Three against one? Why? Did you resist in any way?"

Coogan: "No, all I kept doing was asking for my lawyer."

Mather: "Which they denied you?"

Coogan: "Yes."

Mather: "They denied you the legal and fundamental right of every citizen!"

Cowley: "We'd made no charge against him."

Mather: "Which, in my view, makes it even more despicable!"

Hall, referring to Williams: "Mr Cowley, do you wish to cross-examine?"

Cowley: "No, no questions."

Minister: "George, are you sure?"

Cowley: "What's the point? He'll only lie through his teeth and just cloud the issue further."

Bodie, after Doyle's grilling before the panel: "How did you get on?"

Doyle: "Lousy she made a monkey out of me."

Bodie: "Well you did give her a head-start!"

Mather: "William Andew Philip Bodie."

Bodie: "Yeah, all the princes - I was such a regal-looking baby!"

Mather, after running through Bodie's career: "Your chief talent is dealing with death, violence, mayhem. How many men have you killed, Mr Bodie?"

Bodie: "I can't remember."

Mather, to the panel and press: "Do you hear that?! This is a member of the CI5 and he can't remem..."

Bodie, recalling his army days: "Look, when you throw a grenade into a bush, how do you know how many guys you kill? In the jungle..."

Mather: "Ah, the jungle! Yes, Mr Bodie, I think that is where you belong!"

Doyle, after Bodie's grilling before the panel: "How did you get on?"

Bodie performs a monkey impression.

Cowley: "Miss Mather has used me as a whipping boy because I founded CI5. But I didn't: you did. Society did... If there were no fires, you wouldn't need firemen. In God's name - and I invoke it sincerely - I wish you would make my job and my organisation redundant! I wish you would make the streets clean again. I wish you would give every man, whatever his colour or creed, the right to be and to feel safe again. But that's not to be - at least, not yet... and so you need me: like it or not, you need CI5. That's why I'm asking you, pleading with you: don't destroy us, don't cut us down - not until you've got something better to put in our place. Miss Mather has seized upon the word 'jungle'... with mad beasts crawling through it - and we are the hunters. That was your argument too, did I set out to hunt Coogan down? Well the answer is 'yes' - and it will always be 'yes' as long as there are beasts like Coogan left to hunt. You showed us photos of [Coogan's] carpets ripped up and cars dented - but what about these photos: faces grown old before they were ever young, destroyed and wracked by drug addiction, girls scarcely out of their teens selling their bodies, their 'experience'. Respectable businessmen beaten up because they bucked the price of extortion and bully-boys. These are the streets we have to walk - not the bright streets, the mean ones - devoid of hope and all humanity. We walk them and brush aside some of the dirt: not much - just some... so that there's less to offend when you come along. And now you are trying to take away whatever teeth we've got left. Why? WHY?! Because somebody got hurt? Because a man died? And I regret that, I didn't want that. A man died and you want to close down the whole hospital. Because, like it or not, that's what we are: the surgeons. A messy, sometimes bloody job... and, oh yes, the knives are sharp. And we have to operate fast and quickly and even clumsily on occasion to cut out the disease. The disease hurts but so does the surgeon's knife. Which would you prefer? It's your choice."

Miss Mather: "Mr Cowley, it would be untrue if I was to say to you I wasn't moved by your final plea: a passionate plea from the heart - and made even more poignant because I know that you really believe everthing you said. Misguided as it is, you believe in your own twisted argument and your own omnipotence. And that is the very real danger here. A young, innocent man has already lost his life!"

Bodie on Doyle: "I suppose he'll get over it."

Cowley: "No, never... but he'll learn to come to terms with it."

Bloopers The episode has always borne an erroneous copyright date of 1979.

This episode was written as a reaction to complaints about the violence depicted in the series. Ironically its original title, 'An Inquiry into Violence' was thought to be too contentious by LWT!!

When the lads go looking for Parker, they go to his last known address and the door is opened by the lovely Jenny Lee-Wright. We never learn her character's name and her screen-time is just a few seconds, yet she receives a credit, fairly high in the list, as 'Lorna'. Jenny was quite well-known at the time for her appearances on Benny Hill and I would guess that originally she had a bigger part in this episode which was later trimmed at the editing stage.

Many years after the episode was filmed, Michael Billington reminisced about his appearance as main villain John Coogan. He had been auditioned a couple of times as a replacement for Roger Moore in the James Bond franchise (though, of course, Roger ultimately decided to continue in the role) :

"About the time of doing [this episode of] The Professionals I had just come back from Paris where I had been doing some tests at the time of [James Bond film] Moonraker... I can remember that The Professionals was a good set, very fast and professional. I can recall getting on pretty well with Lewis Collins who had a good sense of humour!

"I can recall that I plucked my eyebrows completely off to play the role of the ex-boxer Coogan because it made me look a bit insane! It was a bit of a nuisance afterwards because it took YEARS for them to grow back completely.

I also had a difference of opinion with (director) Peter Medak over the way I played the courtroom scene. To show Coogan's deviousness I played his as though he was innocent and sincere! Peter wanted me to play him callous and hard! Maybe he was right! I think it came out somewhere in the middle!"

(Thanks to Gareth Bevan for the quote).

Deja Vu

Michael Billington (John Coogan) is best remembered for Gerry Anderson's UFO series, though also starred in the BBC's 1970s shipping drama The Onedin Line (pronounced "O-nee-din"). He auditioned to play James Bond in the early 1970s but ended up with a minor role in The Spy Who Loved Me, getting shot by Bond after trying to ambush him in the exciting ski-chase that formed the prologue to the movie. He guested in American shows such as Hart to Hart and Magnum but has not worked in TV or movies since the late 1980s. Passed away in June 2005. (Thanks to James Harris, Barrie Taylor and Andrew Houghton)

Lisa Harrow (Geraldine Mather) starred in the infamous 1976 sci-fi series Star Maidens but went on to better quality stuff with Edward Woodward in the 1977 apocalyptic drama "1990" (would love to see this!). Most recently seen in the barrister drama Kavanagh QC with the late John Thaw.

Cyril Luckham (Judge Hall) was a familiar name in the 1960s and 70s, guesting in ITC series such as Randall and Hopkirk, Department S and Return of the Saint and played one of the leads in the short-running wartime soap The Cedar Tree. He also played the vicar in Michael Crawford's classic sitcom Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Meatier roles came in the form of mini-series such as To Serve Them All My Days and The Barchester Chronicles. He died in 1989.

Ken Campbell ("Nosey" Parker) doesn't normally play this sort of role. He is essentially a comedy performer, usually playing quite zany characters. Perhaps best remembered as Alf Garnett's long-suffering neighbour in the 1980s revival of Till Death Us Do Part. He's also a theatre director and launched a stage version of The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 1979. Passed away in 2008.

Jenny Lee Wright (Lorna) is best known for her appearances in over a decade's worth of Benny Hill shows. She also co-hosted (with William Franklyn of Schweppes ads fame) the 1978 gameshow Masterspy. Sadly for us boys, she's been working behind the cameras as a sound effects ("Foley") artist since the late 1970s.

Athar Malik (cameoing as the hospital doctor) is better known as Art Malik and spent a lot of time in mini-series such as The Far Pavillions and A Passage to India during the 1980s while playing the rebel leader who teams up with Bond in The Living Daylights. Still works occasionally today but high-profile roles seem to elude him now. Also seen playing another doctor in 'Rogue'!

Technical Notes

Prior to the excellent and properly-restored BluRay release from Network, this episode - perhaps more than any other - bore all the hallmarks of LWT's cheap'n'nasty approach to "remastering" in the 1990s. Although we saw strong colours and laudable sharpness in the digital print, it was beset by a "gauze"-like effect, particularly noticeable in the "courtroom" scenes. The telecine machine had been set up to be far too sensitive to white lights, the white lettering on the titles and even moderately light coloured things such as Lisa Harrow's blouse: most significantly with "glow" around edges and extreme "bleed" to the right.

Most of the old "analogue" prints used as sources for the 1992 digital transfer of episodes had separate audio tracks but here the slightly muffled soundtrack appeared to come from an audio track that was an integral part of the film negative (aka "optical" sound), which was a cheaper way of doing it at the expense of sound quality.

As with most of episodes in the second season, Cadby Hall acted as CI5 HQ. (The Holy Trinity Roman Catholic church can be spied in the background.)
The lads meet Parker at the South Lambeth Freight Yard on Nine Elms Lane. It's difficult to pinpoint the exact location, though the gas-holders in the background of the screengrab and the lower left of the Google aerial shot may be a legitimate tell-tale.
With Parker's information about a major drug deal, the squad heads to the John Coogan's place, along Tilehurst Lane, Binfield.
Coogan's place is Binfield Manor. The gateposts are in the Google Street View are instantly recognisable from the episode.
With no evidence being found and Paul Coogan having died shortly after a brief punch-up with Doyle, Cowley is summoned to his minister's office. This is documented as having being filmed at the Tower Theatre, Islington, though we only see the interior.
Experienced prosecutor Geraldine Mather is invited to demand a formal inquiry into CI5's methods. The location of her office is not documented - perhaps it was the aforementioned Cadby Hall?
The burial of Paul Coogan takes place at Islington Cemetery. Lovely old Citroen CX estate there!
With Doyle suspended from duty, he mopes around at home. As in the previous episode, Doyle's place is Cliff Road Studios, Camden
Despite being suspended, Doyle accompanies Bodie on a search for Parker. Aware that he frequents "ladies of the night", they try the home of a local prostitute (The gorrrrrrrrrrrrrgeous Jenny Lee-Wright appearing far, far too briefly!!) - at 20 Cliff Villas, Camden.
Meanwhile CI5 op Benny stakes out Parker's own house in Southolm Street.
Suspecting that the root cause of Paul's death may have been a boxing match with his brother, the lads head to the Coogan mansion again, this time via Sudbury. We see them pass the junction of Harrow Road and Gauntlet Court...
... and then Watford Road.
John Coogan discovers the Parker connection and suspects the grass is at the snooker club, the exterior of which is documented as the Vale Farm Sports Centre, Sudbury, in which case the "Garratt's Club" sign must have been a prop...
... The lads are close behind and park in Trewint Street, Earlsfield.
The lads find Parker badly beaten and rush him to what's documented as the Royal Northern Hospital, Holloway, though we only see the interior and it has since been demolished.

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