Last updated : 9th November 2014
|Episode 'First Night'|
|Story Synopsis||An Israeli government minister is kidnapped in London and CI5's only clue to his whereabouts is a poorly shot photograph.||Writer||Gerry O'Hara|
|Guest Stars||Julian Holloway, Arnold Diamond, John Nettleton, Tony Vogel||Director||David Wickes|
& Filming Dates
|Block 2, Episode 3
|Original UK Transmission||Season 2, Episode 3
21st October 1978
Plenty of action, as usual, particularly the opening kidnap scenes which are a marvel of direction. The entire episode also makes good use of locations.
The actual plot is rather run-of-the-mill but more than made up for by plenty of terrific, acidic banter between the lads ("Just 'cos you forgot to bring your vitamins!") and the idea of these two tough guys being forced onto London City Transport buses is a hoot!
Fave scenes are Bodie's "Half an ear, perhaps?" comment, the 'private dining-room' scene ("Is this golly annoying you?") while Bodie's "But I've just got my Spotted Dick!" (shades of Are You Being Served?, perhaps?!) and Doyle's "The hero had an operation to take his hand off his hip" are classic examples of the Prof's offbeat humour at its most camp!
Glad to see the lovely Ruth getting a bit more to do this time, though she is still woefully underused. (Fetching Cowley his morning coffee??). And given the little exchange between Doyle and her - see below - it's obvious the show doesn't solely rely on Martin and Lewis for its humour.
The episode finishes in the usual action-packed mayhem and nicely rounded off with more humour. The manner in which Bodie breaks into the house is simultaneously inspired and hilarious!
Although not one of my personal favourites, I seem to enjoy it just that little bit more every time I see it. And given the tremendous mix of elements, I can easily see why it is a fave for many fans.
'First Night' is another of my favorite episodes: excellent dialogue/banter, bits of background, lovely lads, decent plot. The best parts have nothing to do with the story, however. They are the little slice-of-life peeks that make The Professionals unique, timeless and forever rewatchable. (Bring on the DVD)
We're given evidence the agents' social lives suffer from the demands of their jobs. One has to wonder what ever gave Ray the idea that a "greetings telegram" might soften the heart of a dumped date? This is not a young man with a smooth social line! (see 'Hunter/Hunted' for further proof.) Bodie, on the other hand, chooses flowers. He'll have another chance.
The short exchange between The Lads at the opening is most interesting. When Ray asks (about a gun) "That's not where you got mine" is he referring to a gift from Bodie? And the "big gymnast" is mentioned again. Who is this person?
We get to see Cowley in full cry here. Most of the scenes with the three of them are marvelously done – very natural, believable dialogue, acting and movement. They really do seem a well-polished crime-solving team rather than three skilled actors playing at roles!
Clothing: the Return of the Plaid Jackets. This horror is compounded by Bodie's Brown Cardigan, but softened by the nice tight beige polo he wears with the shoulder holster. If you look carefully you can see the lines of a vest underneath. Bodie has no spare tyre now – that shirt would reveal it. Ray wears the black shirt from Rack and the moss green one half-unbuttoned. Nice.
One of the best "car talk" scenes here. Bodie drives and the camera shoots across him to focus on Ray who is mostly focused on Bodie. Teasing, caring and revealing dialogue. Male bonding at its finest. We're given another hint here that Doyle eats health food and Bodie chows down on anything that doesn't move away fast enough. This exchange is so natural!
In fact so much of the dialogue between the three main actors is so good everything else suffers by comparison. It's jarring to jump from a "real" scene into a staged one, and that's about my only criticism of this episode.
The slice-of-life moment in the police cafe is terrific and leads into the "bus scene" – another favorite of mine. (From the way Lew keeps glancing around I wonder if the bus is filled not with extras but with real people.) Then there's the rest room scene with Bodie shaving (nice tee, Lew!) and advising Cowley on fashion. Marvelous!
And <snicker> "the hero had an operation to take his hand off his hip" is priceless. Understand that got left out of the Granada Plus version. Spoil-sports! The following section in which Bodie and Doyle continue to talk to one another while the main dialogue is going on is just one more example of terrific natural acting. I keep harping on this, but it is so outstanding throughout the episode that it bears repeating.
Bodie stuffs his face with junk food yet another time here – Swiss Roll now. You can almost see Ray grimace.
Good directing in the sequence where the ministers and "suits" discuss the problem while the street agents work at solving it. Good to see Doyle teamed even momentarily with Ruth.
Toward the finale, Bodie is having a ball! Lewis does a wonderful job here of physically showing us how delighted the character is to be part of the impending rescue and mayhem! He bounces along and practically chortles over the attack machinery! This is a man who adores a good fight!
Definitely in the Top Ten.
Doyle watching Bodie scoffing a sandwich while driving: "You go on munching bread and fried grub, you're not gonna makes old bones, you know."
Bodie: "It's beautiful - gets the adrenalin flowing."
Doyle: "You're just clogging yourself up with cholesterol. Pull over, I'll take the wheel - I've just realised the incredible risk I'm taking."
Bodie: "What are you talking about?!"
Doyle: "Your 'jam tart' - your heart: it could just pop at any minute! "
Bodie, as Doyle makes a grab for the steering wheel: "Get off! Go on, 'ave the other half - that's what you want, isn't it!?"
Doyle: "Get out of it! Want it? I wouldn't be seen dead eating that!"
Bodie: "Just because you forgot to bring your vitamins!"
Doyle: "There's something waiting for us in a telephone box in Jubilee Walk."
Minister: "I don't like the sound of that 'something'."
Bodie, not entrely helpfully: "Half an ear, perhaps?!"
Cowley, as the Minister storms off: "Bodie there are times when I find your ribaldry quite distasteful!"
Bodie, distinctly unimpressed at police canteen food: "I was thinking of having some Aylesbury Duck at Simpsons-in-the-Strand. I suppose you're used to all this Toad-in-the-Hole stuff?"
Doyle, recalling the sandwich fracas: "It's a wonder you don't still eat out of a billy-can!"
Doyle, noticing some empty chairs by a couple of female police constables: "Mind if I join you?"
Brunette WPC: "We're not coming apart! Are you from 'C' Division?"
Doyle: "No, CI5."
Brunette, teasing: "Ooh, big stuff! Shouldn't you be in the private dining room?"
Doyle, playing along: "Isn't this the private dining room?!"
Doyle, as Bodie arrives: "This isn't the private dining room!"
Bodie, mock incredulity: "What?!! But I've just got my Spotted Dick! Morning, ladies. Is this golly annoying you?"
Bodie, looking for the kidnappers' house: "It's crazy - we're the two top operatives and they've got us on top of a bus! We should be where it's at!"
Doyle: "Well how do we know where it's at? Cowley's probably got his auntie on a bus by now!"
Bodie: "I'm gonna pack this job in!"
Doyle: "Ha! And do what?"
Bodie: "Live off some rich woman!"
Doyle: "Oh, they can be very demanding!"
Bodie: "How do you know?!"
Doyle: "I've tried it. Very boring... very repetitive."
Bodie: "Repetitive? You little devil!"
Bodie: "The Israelis have sussed out that we're on to something."
Doyle, concerned at what Israeli interference in any rescue attempt might lead to: "What do they want - another Entebbe?"
Doyle alighting from Ruth's car: "Your clutch is slipping."
Ruth, suggestively: "My clutch... or my touch?!"
Doyle, interested: "All we need is the time and place!"
Ruth: "You're as bad as Bodie!"
Doyle, 'hurt': "Oh, be fair... nobody's as bad as Bodie!"
The kidnap scene appears to have been filmed in two separate sessions as the road and pavements outside the Festival Hall switch between dry and wet!
More call-sign trouble (see 'Hunter/Hunted') with Bodie answering as 3-6.
In the "Running all the way, sir!" scene, a boom microphone can be seen reflected in the mirror. (Thanks to Chris Swindells)
On arriving at the telephone box, Bodie's Capri is missing its near-side door mirror (thanks to Wendy Burnett)
There seems to be a previously-unseen kidnapper in the house in the final shootout. Not sure whether this counts as a blooper!
When edited together the episode was found to be severely under-running the normal 50 minutes. Ironically many scenes had been dropped from the original production schedule, so were reinstated, with filming for them taking place several weeks later.
Lewis Collins and stuntman Del Baker were lucky to survive this episode. In the scene where a crane is used to smash through the house's top window, Lewis was keen to tackle the "gag" himself. On advice from the stunt team, though, it was declared too dangerous and Baker stepped in. It was a wise move as the crane proved to be highly unstable (as is very clear when watching the ep). In the first take it wobbled and struck the house's brick wall. Leaping out of cage at the last second, Del managed to avoid serious injury or worse!
Like 'Heroes' from the first season, there appears to be a "card" missing from the end credits for some actors who had lines of dialogue. For example who played Cowley's driver and the two schoolgirls?
Tony Vogel, the grey-haired kidnapper, played the eponymous lead in the 1979 television adaptation of Dick Barton - Special Agent, originally a classic 1940s radio serial.
Julian Holloway (Harvey, the police inspector) was a well-known character actor in the 1970s, guesting in most of the popular series of the day such as The Likely Lads, The Sweeney, The New Avengers and Minder. Also a regular in the Carry On films. Not seen much at all these days, though still working apparently.
John Nettleton (the Minister) is not to be confused with John Nettles of Bergerac fame! Nettleton's best remembered role is that of civil servant Sir Arnold Robinson in the classic sitcom Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister and a similar role in the fabulous, anarchic Rik Mayall comedy The New Statesman.
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