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
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 2, Episode 3
3rd to 17th July 1978Main shoot.
30th August 1978Scene at the tennis club, Bodie drives away from it, Doyle drops off Debra and the "boffin" sneaks into the house.
31st August 1978Ruth gives Cowley a flask of tea after all-night stakeout and Doyle en route to the Royal Festival Hall after the kidnapping.
1st September 1978Scenes of the police cars driving by the Embankment attempting to catch the kidnappers.
11th September 1978"Sandwich/vitamins" in-the-car banter.
13th September 1978Close-up shot of Biebermann straining at the chains around his hands. The lads arriving at and departing from the landed helicopter
(See Sidenotes below.)
Original UK Transmission Season 2, Episode 3
21st October 1978
Dave's Comment

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.

Sharon's Comment

'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?

Deja Vu

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.

Israeli minister Biebermann is kidnapped during a deadly assault outside The Royal Festival Hall.
Cowley is buying a newspaper in Trinity Square when he hears of the attack.
Various police cars converge on the South Bank. The sequence starts on Bankside, near Southwark Bridge. Most of the area has been completely transformed since the episode was made.
The blue police car turns from Shad Thames into Curlew Street...
... and another angle on Shad Thames, this time near Gainsford Street. The only recognisable building left today is the one with the apexed front wall on the right-hand side.
Cowley joins in, being driven along Victoria Embankment.
Cutting back to the white police car and we're now on Park Street and Sumner Street. The building in the background of the screenshot is just recognisable today.
Another shot from Bankside looking across to St Paul's Cathedral.
The police car action now switches to the north bank of the Thames, here on St Katharine' s Way - unfortunately subsequent redevelopment has blocked the view of Tower Bridge!
The villains flee with hostage Biebermann by boat and land at what was known as Western Dock. The area has undergone massive redevelopment since 1978, with the dock itself now filled in and occupied by the News International office. In the screengrab, the only recognisable landmark is the highrise in the top left corner, Oswell House on Raine Street, which was south-west of the dock.
Conceding defeat, the cops finally give up the chase in what's documented as Emerson Street and New Globe Walk. It's not very recognisable now: the large post-box is (just about visible behind the police car in the screenshot) is practically the only remnant from 1978!
Cowley calls in Bodie who abandons his tennis match at the courts on Burlington Lane, Hounslow. The giveaway to identifying the location here is the strange "castellation" on the house seen in the top right-hand-side of the screengrab.
Doyle dumps girlfriend Debra on King Street, Hammersmith. A little difficult to recognise now but the roof of one of the buildings in the background seems to tally.
Bodie rockets down Burlington Road, Hounslow...
Doyle drives along Talgarth Road, Hammersmith - the underside of the flyover and the fascia of the building in the background are still recognisable.
Having switched to helicopter, the villains land at what is documented Hillingdon Ski Centre
Various law agencies gather in a local police HQ as a base of operations, including the canteen. This was shot at Lee Studios in Wembley.
Having swapped from helicopter to car, the villains almost run down a pedestrian in Beechcroft Gardens, Brent.
Cowley is summoned to a meeting with his Minister, whose office is in the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place
Meanwhile the kidnappers take Biebermann to 7 South West India Dock Entrance. (In one shot there is a sign saying "Woolaston Avenue" but this was merely a prop to comply with a fictitious reference earlier in the script). Most of the little housing estate was replaced, apparently not long after the episode was filmed.
A military unit finds the helicopter and the lads drive to it via Burnt Oak Broadway - the screenshot shows them passing the junction with Redhill Drive...
We discover that Bodie's Capri has a police siren when he blasts along Burnt Oak Broadway. (A different take of the same shot is used a moment later as a location "cheat")...
... and then queue-jumps at the junction with Camrose Avenue. A tele-photo lens appears to have been used here, hence why the high-rise building in the background seems a lot closer to the junction than it is in reality.
The lads join Cowley and the Minister at the aforementioned National Liberal Club
The kidnappers leave a recorded message at the phone box in Jubilee Gardens, just south of the Festival Hall.
The kidnappers' message included a photograph of Biebermann. Analysis suggests it was taken in an upper room of a building which had an air vent in the window and a telegraph pole outside. Cowley decides the only way to find it is to get the whole squad touring around Greater London on double-decker buses! The lads' route takes them along Hillingdon Road, Uxbridge - St Andrews Church can be spied in one shot...
... and then by the junction of Hillingdon Road and Orchard Waye, Uxbridge.
On the reasonable assumption that the kidnapping is political, Cowley speaks with an Arab contact but to no avail. This was shot at Lee Studios on Wembley Park Drive. The top-left corner of the screengrab reveals a house apex with markings that appear similar to the Google Street View.
Finally CI5 gets a breakthrough. A mother and child living next door to the kidnappers' house are led to safety, initially taken for a debriefing at an old cinema. This was on Connell Crescent, south Wembley. Notice how roadsigns were far more helpful back then!
Joining the stakeout of the housing estate, Cowley parks just off Brook Green, Hammersmith... which, in reality, is nowhere near the house!!
The next day Frank the kidnapper buys a newspaper at Willesden Underground Station...
... and proceeds south along Walm Lane to jump on a bus.
The bus proceeds past the junction of Walm Lane and Rutland Park, with Ruth and Doyle maintaining a discreet distance behind...
... However there is a "cheat" here: all bar the final shots taken from inside Ruth's car were filmed on The Ridings, Ealing.
It's not a long bus ride: Frank gets off on the opposite side of the road!!
He then goes to a phone box further along Walm Lane - again the background buildings are the giveaway here...
Hopping on the second bus, this is documented as being just around the corner in Station Parade - the road geography and buildings seem to match the Google Street View.
Meanwhile Bodie is building an, ahem, "homewrecker" behind the aforementioned cinema.
Frank alights in Lydford Road.

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