Last updated : 9th November 2014

Episode 'In the Public Interest'
Story Synopsis A city's Chief Constable has imposed a virtual police state, resulting in little crime – except from his own officers who infringe suspects' rights in their pursuit of "zero tolerance". Writer Brian Clemens
Guest Stars Stephen Rea, John Judd, Tom Georgeson Director Pennant Roberts
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 2, Episode 6
14th to 25th August 1978Main shoot, though behind schedule, hence...
11th September 1978... PC Edwards repeatedly stops the lads in their car.
Original UK Transmission Season 2, Episode 5
4th November 1978
Dave's Comment

An interesting idea: is it possible to curb crime completely and still remain true to the law yourself? An excellent story. Strange, though, why the actual name of the town is never used: one could easily have invented one without offending anybody.

Of course the irony here - and one that Brian Clemens, ever mindful of the dubious morals of CI5, deliberately worked into the dialogue - is that Chief Constable Green's tactics and self-appointed powers are uncomfortably close to Cowley's. For example Green encourages Inspector Chives to make judgments based on intuition: "I like instincts: they can't be put down on paper!". This is alarmingly close to the CI5's "Sniff hard, be alert" and "By whatever means necessary - that's our loophole" attitudes espoused in the first season. Indeed Cowley even protests about Green exercising "unbridled power! That's the thing I've been fighting against all my life! " - yet, as we know, CI5's own remit is challenged as being omnipotent throughout the series - the earlier 'The Rack' being the prime example.

There are some great humorous moments: see Sharon's "eyelash" comment, the lads in their hotel room, the drunken man and his Nazi salute (which counterpoints with an earlier comment by Cowley).

Great to see the excellent Allan Surtees back as the Minister - and wonderful chemistry with Gordon/Cowley. A pity he didn't become a regular fixture in the show.

Paul Hardwick plays the Chief Constable as paternal and caring, genuinely believing in his own ideals, although clearly knowing that his own men have to bend the law to achieve them - again, so reflective of Cowley and CI5. And the script beautifully "plays" Green on this: his ego leads him to believe that the real purpose of Cowley's visit is to hand over the reins of The Big A!

As ever with this show, the support stars are super, too, especially those playing Green's men. John Judd gives a wonderfully steely performance as Chives, a copper who clearly relishes being his boss' "enforcer". The underrated Colin McCormack, sadly no longer with us, plays Sergeant Edwards' attitude as nicely ambiguous until realising that the situation has been pushed too far. Even brief roles such as Terry the small-time villain and the unnamed hotel receptionist (oddly, Saba Milton's last acting role, apparently) are a joy to watch.

An excellent episode, this is definitely one of my faves.

Sharon's Comment

A truly excellent story. The idea that good intentions put before proper legalities leads to a corruption of the system and those with power in it is one that can never be repeated enough. I like George Cowley here too. Very much.

It's also a great Lad-watching episode. Both look terrific and the "gay" role they have to play in the second part makes it even more fun. The irony of Stephen "The Crying Game" Rea as a man who says: "I'm not a homosexual myself, but many of my friends are" is too precious!

We get some personal background on Doyle. He's from Derby, but went to school elsewhere (wherever "the lousy town" is) and was precocious sexually. "Whatd'ya mean 'first time?' I was nearly fifteen!". And he snuck into adult films using his father's overcoat. Naughty laddie.

Bodie wears black or dark brown much of the time and Doyle, with sunglasses, chest hair, silver chain, tight jeans and leather jacket, doesn't get much better ever!

The car park scene shot with the night filter is visually bothersome, but it does make both heroes look marvelous.

Note that Bodie hauls the heavy luggage, lumbering along in Doyle's wake. This is an ongoing theme we'll see over and over. There is speculation that this became an inside joke between the two of them.

The campy acting and dialogue when they check into the hotel for the second time is delightful. A frequent rewind and replay moment. Watch Ray closely when he gives his little "fractured eyelash is so much better" speech.

Watch how they know one another's physical positions when they're unloading the car. Teamwork, no matter what the task.

Bodie's (Lewis's) skin in this one is on gorgeous display. The first time I saw the episode in PAL I went wild over the pearlescent glow. No one has skin like that man! And of course, during the aborted whipping scene, we get to see more of it than usual. A very big round of applause to the writers for that bit of pleasure! That scene is well done by both actors, though the baddies are a bit boring. Would have liked a little more nastiness, but I suppose once they saw the CI5 IDs they knew they were done for.

Notice that Bodie uses Ray's first name when he spots the cops closing in on them. This happens often when things are really worrisome. Otherwise he calls him Doyle.

Doyle's trust in police as a whole is put to the test in this story and he emerges triumphant. Nice, understated byplay between them on this issue starting from the first encounter when Bodie declares that he doesn't like arrogant coppers. When Doyle dictates they surrender, Bodie's behavior and expression show just how fond of the notion he is but he does it because Doyle thinks they should.

And observe the fury in Doyle's face when Bodie is struck.

A good story of right-mindedness gone wrong.


Minister: "Green runs a very tight ship, George."

Cowley: "So did Captain Bligh!"

Minister: "Eh?! George, we're not thinking of rocking that ship, are we?"

Cowley: "Do you trust me?"

Minister: "Totally, utterly, implicitly... up to a point!"

Cowley: "Not a whisper outside this office. No inter-departmental communications. I'd want permission to nose around Green's well-policed city for a wee while."

Minister: "You're not going to tell me why, of course?"

Cowley: "Not for the moment, no. Do I have your permission?"

Minister, reservedly: "Very well."

Cowley, wicked: "Good.... because I've got Doyle and Bodie up there already!"

Chief Constable Green: "This football match on Saturday - if there's any trouble..."

Detective Inspector Chives, interrupting: "Oh, there's bound to be that, sir - the visiting supporters have got a reputation for it."

Green, warning: "The match is being televised: I don't want any accusations of police brutality."

Chives: "That's why I've cut the uniformed men down to the bone, sir. My boys - my "special" boys - will be in plain clothes. You won't be able to tell them from the thugs."

Green: "I won't have them generating trouble."

Chives: "Stopping it before it escalates, sir. A nice, modern media word, that, isn't it sir? 'Escalates'. They'll be mingling with the crowd and ready. Anyone steps out of line and my boys will have him out of the stadium, into a wagon and away. All very discreet!"

Detective Sergeant Reed: "Did you get the authority you wanted?"

Chives: "Green's leaving it to me - that's all the authority I need."

Reed: "Courts will be full on Monday, then!"

Chives: "Only if we charge them. Be a waste of public funds. No, we'll pull in the trouble-makers, maybe give them a 'talking to' while they're in the cells... and then in the early hours of the morning we'll them take way outside the city and release them. Long after the last train has gone. It will be cold and, if we're lucky, raining, too."

Hotel receptionist: " 'Raymond Doyle, London'. Sorry, I need your full address."

Bodie: "Why, are thinking of writing to him, sweetheart?"

Receptionist: "I'm thinking of the police check. Very strict. They check every day. Twice a day in some districts."

Bodie: "You saw Flynn - what happened?"

Doyle: "He made it sound pretty convincing."

Bodie: "Framed?"

Doyle: "Well most of the evidence was circumstantial. Local hard boy got himself murdered. They didn't have a lead for weeks - usual story. Then they found out that Flynn used to work for him and suddenly all the evidence points to Flynn."

Bodie: "And why should they do that?"

Doyle: "Well Flynn had an answer for that, too. They don't like unsolved crimes in this city."

Minister: "We have nothing to go on but conjecture and rumour..."

Cowley: "... And my instincts."

Minister: "Unfortunately, George, I cannot put your instincts down on paper! I cannot present those as cogent arguments!"

Chives, after failing to fit up the lads on a robbery charge: "Couple of undesirables. Villains, I'd say."

Green: "Anything solid against them?"

Chives: "No sir... but my instincts tell me they might be trouble."

Green: "I like instincts, Chives - they can't be put on paper!"

Minister: "A city sewn up tight but safely. A city where hooligans are kept in check and suspicious characters are forced to move on. For God's sake, George, to most law-abiding citizens, it sounds like Utopia!"

Cowley: "Aye, that's what they thought about Hitler's Germany."

Minister: "Green's done a wonderful job..."

Cowley: "Because he's slamming doors on porn and hoodlums and anyone who doesn't measure up to his particular standards?"

Minister: "And what's wrong with..."

Cowley, interrupting: "Suppose his standards change?! Suppose he suddenly clamps down on those who don't go along with his politics? Or ethnic groups? Or people who grow their hair below the Plimsoll Line? Or anyone who doesn't measure up in his opinion? Unbridled power! That's the thing I've been fighting all my life! It starts wars and it hurts people... and it's damned bloody dangerous! I can go over your head, William. I can but I don't want to..."

Minister: "Evidence! Bring me facts, George - something solid, irrefutable. I can't have you going over my head, George... or then you'd really think you were God!"

Green, after Cowley arrives in the city: "A genuine pleasure! Do sit down. The car was on time, I hope?"

Cowley: "To meet me at the station? Yes. But the route here? I suspect we came the long way, through the park... on your instructions?"

Green: "They said I couldn't hide anything from you! A small conceit, I'm afraid - I'm very proud of that park. A few years ago no woman could walk safely through there..."

Cowley, no time for Green's self-aggrandisation: "I thought the grass needed cutting."

Doyle, brightly to the hotel receptionist: "It's us again!"

Bodie, sarcastically: "We got lucky and had to come back! Aren't you pleased to see us?"

Receptionist, dismayed, makes no response.

Bodie to Doyle: "I think she is pleased, really - she's just too frightened of becoming emotional!"

Receptionist: "Sign here, please - with your full home address."

Doyle, irritated: "Look, we're not itinerants, you know - it doesn't change from day to day."

Receptionist: "Full address, PLEASE! The regulations."

Bodie, recalling the hotel's proximity to a railway yard: "Can we have the same room again, please? It's just that my friend here does a spot of a painting and he finds the view inspiring!"

Doyle: "And the doctor says it's doing his fractured eyelash so much good!"

Bodie, still unable to elicit a friendly word: "You know, the Tourist Board ought to hear about you!"

Receptionist finally yields to the teasing and cracks a smile.


On arriving in the hotel room, Doyle opens his attache case, takes off his shoulder holster, removes the gun, puts it down and puts the holster on top of it. A moment later he picks up the (empty) holster and again takes the gun out to put it in the case! (Thanks to Sue Law)

When the lads are stopped for speeding, they pull up outside some houses. When they drive off again they are outside some shops instead! (See the Locations section below.) Thanks to Sue Beach for that one!

There's another "scene-shifting" flaw when the lads are giving the small-time villain a lift.


The story was partly inspired by Greater Manchester's Chief Constable James Anderton. Although the episode's city is unnamed, a mention of "Canal Street" in the dialogue may have been a (subconscious) reference to Manchester. Appointed to the position in 1976, Anderton's reign commenced with raids on newsagents, bookshops and warehouses to confiscate soft-porn ("Not even a girlie mag" as Pellin notes about Green's "clean-up") and stronger material. Anderton was also accused of undue "policing" of gay communities. Christened "God's Copper" by the media, he took a hard line on criminality and frequently criticised politicians and the judiciary over what he saw as overly-lenient sentencing.

Deja Vu

Stephen Rea (Pellin) is best remembered for the oddball IRA thriller The Crying Game. (Apparently he was once actually married to a former IRA terrorist).

Tom Georgeson (Detective Sergeant Reed) also starred in the episode 'Need to Know' but is best remembered for Boys from the Blackstuff and Between the Lines.

Colin McCormack (Sgt Edwards) had a tiny role in 'The Ojuka Situation', again playing a copper! Sadly passed away, aged just 62, in 2004.

Thomas Pellin runs a Gay Youth office at 304 Kensal Road, Kensington. He comes under attack by masked men and is ordered to leave the city. The office building has since been replaced however the pub the lads later skulk by to photograph Green's men still stands.
Inspector Chives gives his boss, Chief Constable Green, an update on activity in the city. For the police station, we only see two interior sets: the offices of Green and Chives, the latter of which was filmed at what was about to become a mothballed site for Lee Studios, 288 Kensal Road.
Later that day Cowley leaves for home, emerging from the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place.
Although he appears to walk east there's actually some location cheating here as the next shot is south, at the junction of Whitehall Court and Horse Guards Ave
The next three shots picture Cowley walking along Horse Guards Avenue.
Pellin catches up with Cowley at the exterior and lobby area of the latter's flat, in Ranelagh Gardens, Hammersmith...
... However the interior of the flat is documented as being shot at 6 Abinger Road.
Pellin offers Cowley good grounds to suspect that the men who attacked him were police officers. Cowley discovers that Green's force has achieved a remarkable conviction rate. Seeking permission to investigate further, Cowley visits his Minister's office, which was filmed at the Tower Theatre, Islington, though we only see the interior.
The lads arrive in the city, first stopping by what in reality is Shepherd's Bush Green Shopping Centre but, other than nearby greenery, it's barely recognisable now.
The lads book in to a small hotel. According to the documentation it's Kempsford House Hotel, 21-23 St Johns Road, Harrow, though we never see the exterior in the episode. (Earlier paperwork shows that the original intention was to film at 77 Wembley Hill Road, Wembley but it appears as though plans for this fell through for some reason.)
Nosing about the city, the lads pick up small-time villain Terry around the back of Orbit Club on Connell Crescent, Ealing. The same location is used for the tall drunk guy that Chives & co subsequently "arrest".
Posing as villains themselves in an effort to get more information about how the city is policed, the lads chat with Terry while giving him a lift to the local railway station, via Green Lane, Hendon. A tricky one to spot but the building seen in the background behind Bodie's left shoulder tallies. The rest of this sequence alternates individual shots between a number of different streets...
... The action switches to what appears to be the junction of Hendon Lane and a road with the very strange name of 'Crooked Usage', Hendon. Admittedly the rear window of the car being mucky doesn't make this one easy to spot and the house we see in the background appears to have been rebuilt since. Several of the shots in the sequence were taken around Hendon Lane and there seems to have been quite a lot of redevelopment there since 1978...

... Further along and the junction of Hendon Lane and Allandale Avenue, Hendon. The chainlink fence is a bit of giveaway here.
... We then get a brief shot of Doyle driving past what appears to be the junction of Hendon Lane and Waverley Grove, Hendon. The junction itself appears to be correct even if the house we see in the ep doesn't match the one that is there now, albeit the latter does seem to be a fairly new construction.
... We switch back to Green Lane and the subsequent "solo" shots of Terry were done on this stretch, too...
The next shot is difficult to identify. It may have been on the corner of St Mary's Avenue and Cyprus Gardens, Hendon.
In the next shot we're back on Hendon Lane.
The lads drop off Terry at Watford Junction railway station. As this area has changed drastically over the years, I've had to cheat slightly with the Google Street View here to make the background buildings more obvious: although the houses have since gone, the left-hand-side of the NatWest building can be seen on the right of the screengrab.
Terry had accused Green's force of fabricating evidence again petty criminal Jimmy Flynn. Doyle visits Flynn in prison, which is documented as actually Mill Hill Gas Works on Bittacy Hill, Barnet but it's all been redeveloped since the episode was filmed.
Having witnessed at first hand abuse by Green's force, the lads decide to report back to Cowley. The shot here was taken along Orange Hill Road, Barnet, with the boys travelling north-west from the junction with Watling Avenue...
The next shot sees them further along Orange Hill Road, here at the junction with Colchester Road.
Sergeant Edwards stops Doyle and accuses him of speeding (really?!) on Colchester Road by the house that can be seen on the left-hand-side of the screengrab.
After Doyle's first reprimand, we see a location blooper: having clearly stopped by houses, he pulls away from a row of shops! However it's still on Watling Avenue and the exterior stairs seen in the screengrab have since had a "roof" attached!
Doyle gets pulled over again! But this time Edwards flagrantly lies about Doyle having driven through a red tradffic light. By an astonishing production coincidence, Edwards happens to pull up outside a house that looks remarkably similar to one seen earlier on Orange Hill Road. But this time we're on Watling Avenue.
Traffic problems necessitated a slight cheat here: the close-ups were actually filmed on Fortescue Road...
When Edwards walks away we are clearly back on Watling Avenue!!
Cowley makes his own way to the city, though in an "official" capacity. Green, excitedly suspecting that he is being measured up to take over CI5 when The Cow retires, entertains at the Edgwarebury Hotel, Elstree.
After gathering further evidence, the lads find themselves hunted down by Green's cops. A chase ensues around the corner of Adela Street and Kensal Road - the white-coloured building in the background still stands today - it's hidden by the trees in the Google StreetView.
On spying the white police car heading towards them, the lads scarper down West Row.
The pursuit continues down West Row.
Sergeant Edwards picks up an APB. Filmed on the corner of Abinger Road and Bath Road, Chiswick. At first glance this seems an odd choice of location for a single scene as it is miles away from where the other scenes for the pursuit were filmed. However the interior of Cowley's flat was shot at a house close by, as noted earlier.
Edwards pulls up opposite the BBC's Television Centre on Wood Lane - the offices seen in the background of the screenshot were part of the Corporation's site, though have since been replaced.
Stashing their evidence, the lads surrender in a "gasworks". This was shot at the aforementioned Mill Hill Gas Works on Bittacy Hill, Barnet (which has been redeveloped since the episode was filmed.)
After the lads surrender, Inspector Chives drives to the scene along what appears to be the aforemetioned route past the BBC on Wood Lane, judging by the design of the metal gate in comparison to the earlier screengrab.
Chives, keen to dispose of the lads, drives them to the quarry around Springwell Lane, Rickmansworth

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