Last updated : 9th November 2014





Episode 'Not a Very Civil Civil Servant'
Story Synopsis Newly-built houses on a council estate are found to be crumbling and CI5 uncover financial irregularities between the builders and council officials. Writer Edmund Ward
Guest Stars Maurice Denham, Harold Innocent, Derek Martin, Robert Swann, Duncan Preston, David Hargreaves, Brian Hall Director Anthony Simmons
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 2, Episode 7
29th August to 11th September 1978Main shoot.
22nd September 1978Pick-up shot of Doyle in the van outside Gillam's house.
Original UK Transmission Season 2, Episode 7
18th November 1978
Dave's Comment
Story
Action
Pace
Humour
Violence

Seemingly a rather mundane subject but it works surprisingly well, with pacey direction and a storyline that remains engaging right through.

The dialogue is clipped, witty and displays prodigious knowledge of the political chicanery and sharp practices of the building trade of the day. On a lighter note is Doyle tackling the manager of a hardware shop who is suspected of having accepted a bribe: "These [paintbrushes] any good for whitewash... cover-ups... snow-jobs... ?". Logan-Blake's line to the distinctly shadey civil servant Repton when the latter sneaks out to warn about CI5's investigations cracks me up every time: "Good morning, Henry! Without your false beard?!". On top of all that, Denham and Swann's Shakespearean banter give the ep a deft, off-the-wall touch.

Some humorous exchanges, too (see Sharon's notes below) and a fascinatingly bizarre scene with Cowley unimpressed at the Lads' skills in fencing - "Like dancing the Tango with ma Grannie!" / Bodie: "I'm a disco man myself, sir!".

Some acidic teasing, too, such as Doyle's "You'll have to excuse [Bodie's] manners - he hasn't got any!"

When the lads are staking out Gillam's house, Drake and Renshaw appear and Doyle seems to warn Bodie to "Vanish! There's movement on Mars!". Strange slang or some obscure reference to David Bowie? (The 2014 BluRay release doesn't make the line any easier to discern).

The only thing that's missing is a classic CI5 car chase but the action quotient is higher than it may seem, although the pub fight and the scrap with Temple's men in the greenhouse aren't quite as well-staged as you'll find in other eps.

Despite Brian Clemens' instruction (printed on every script's front cover) that regional accents were to be avoided, we have the distinctly northern-sounding Councillor Webb. Great performance by Peter Woodthorpe, though - perhaps the accent was his own idea?

Despite being rather typecast in his small role, Bill Fraser (playing the "Colonel from the Relief of Mafeking" as Bodie christens him) is a delight to watch, too.

In fact everybody turns in a good performance - helped, of course, by the great script.

Overall this episode excels at almost all the elements that made The Professionals such a great show.

Initially certainly not a case for CI5, as Cowley himself protests (and, to be honest, it never really is)... but as one of the earliest episodes to broaden the series' "framework", it's an excellent story, especially for fans of The Cow! Easily one of my top five eps.

Sharon's Comment

In spite of the low visibility of The Lads, I like this one. The plot is good, the issues important and the acting excellent. Cowley gets top billing.

But Bodie and Doyle have some delightful moments. The fencing scene is marvelous, with Bodie, hungover and weary from a night of carousing, grousing about Cowley and Doyle teasing him. Everyone looks quite good in fencing whites, by the way. Fine dialogue among the three of them.

The pub brawl is fun. Note Bodie's "American" accent when he says: "Always like a place where I can spit on the floor." Was that supposed to be a Johnny Wayne moment? Also, use your slow-mo through the fight and see that Bodie acquires a tee-shirt (undershirt, vest) during the last part. Seems his trousers were falling down. <G> Nice glimpses of lower back there. The fight is well choreographed. This is, of course, one of the strengths of The Professionals. (no pun intended)

The fish & chip shop scene is another of those nice slice-of-life bits. Watch Bodie's face. He pays attention to the food and condiments while Doyle queries the informer. It's quite cute.

Bodie and the old Colonel is another good small moment. This episode deals a lot with social class. Here we see Bodie running smack into the military side of it and it gets right up his nose!

Both men look good. Doyle's hair is longer now. They sport the better leather jackets.

Another cute moment: when they wait at the construction site and Doyle says something about "want to build some houses?" and Bodie replies "not in these shoes" to which Doyle comes back with: "I bet your mother's feet are cold." <snicker>

The last scene, again in the fencing studio, gives us a hint that Cowley is indeed grooming The Lads to follow in his footsteps. By training them to see crime outside of physical violence and terrorism, he's expanding their horizons considerably.

Well done!

Dialogue

Cowley, bemused by his summons to the meeting: "I am not answerable to you or this department. Or to Mr Repton, here - widely known as the Cardinal Wolsey of this country's spending in the building industry!"

Minister: "Not a very civil Civil Servant, are you?"

Cowley: "Why us? Why not the Fraud Squad or Special Branch?"

Minister: "Reasons of policy, Mr Cowley."

Cowley: "The usual phrase for two coats of political whitewash!"

Minister, ignoring him: "You are to hold a watching brief in the corruption case due to take place against Temple-Blake Limited. See that justice is done and blame apportioned accordingly."

Cowley: "If you mean I am to see that none of it gets shovelled near you or your department, you've picked the wrong labourer. Because the minute my department gets packed into any politician's Do-It-Yourself image kit, I get very angry! And I know my way around the same 'corridors' as you do!"

Repton, after Cowley has stormed out: "I can see the need for political insurance, Minister... but Cowley is hardly the insurance broker I'd have gone to!"


Logan-Blake, upon Repton arriving on another of his surreptitious visits: "Good evening, Henry! Without your false beard?!"


Cowley, after a fencing lesson: "Like dancing the tango with ma granny!"

Bodie: "I'm a disco man, myself, sir!"

Doyle, brightly: "It's his army training - he's quite good with a bayonet!"


Cowley: "Bodie, there are ways of asking people questions without removing their teeth!"


Doyle, as he and Bodie walk into a rundown pub to meet with Halloran: "Hardly your class of cocktail bar, old man."

Bodie, John Wayne style: "Always love a place where I can spit on the floor!"

Doyle: "You'd miss!"

Bodie: "You sure this is where we're supposed to meet him?"

Doyle: "Yeah. Right down to the betting shop opposite and the 'Knock three times for Fifi" next door!


Colonel Summerville at his club, spotting Bodie dressed casually: "I say, Cowley, did you sign him in?!"

Cowley: "Yes, Colonel - he works for me... if you use the term loosely!"

Summerville: "I remember when this used to be a military club."

Cowley: "He was military once."

Summerville: "Oh, one of those 'rag-and-bone' regiments? Crawling about behind the enemy lines. He looks the type!"

Bodie: "I couldn't find a bowler hat to fit me."


Cowley: "This Temple-Blake case..."

Colonel Summerville: "That'll blow over. Storm in a concrete mixer! Well they're always buying off these fat little councillors or giving motor cars to the sub-contractors. If a contract is a million or two, it's worth greasing a few palms."

Cowley: "What about Temple-Blake itself?"

Summerville: "Well they've only done a couple of contracts with us at the Ministry of Defence. Both shoddy. I won't have 'em on parade anymore! Not that that has stopped them doing well. Bloke called Logan-Blake: he's the sharpy."

Cowley: "Would you say they were crooked?"

Summerville: "Oh, yes - in a big way. Mind, it's not all their fault: when people have a lot of work to offer, they expect something in return."

Bodie: "What do people offer you, Colonel?"

Summerville: "Courtesy and civility, young man! And that is all. They'd get the back of my hand if they offered me a farthing! My advice to you, Cowley, is to find the figures and a good cost accountant. I think you'll find the skimmed milk went into the contract while the cream went into Logan-Blake's pocket!"


Minister: "Thank you on behalf of the department for your efforts in the Temple-Blake case. I think the 'Not guilty' verdict settles it, don't you?"

Cowley: "No."

Minister, taken aback: "Well of course it does. No scandal, no fuss, no repercussions."

Cowley: "And not a single scratch on your shiny armour, Minister. When I'm assigned a case at CI5 it is closed only under my personal signature. I didn't want this assignment: I regarded it as a trivial matter of image protection. But since then a man has died..."

Repton, interrupting: "The verdict was suicide."

Cowley, ignoring him: "... and, in my opinion, a jury has been suborned. It now takes on all the aspects of a case in which my department cannot relinquish interest."

Repton: "You can be forced to do so, Cowley!"

Cowley: "Not by you, Mr Repton - nor by your Minister. I've already put on record my distaste for the department I run should be used for ministerial Public Relations protection, rather than its proper work. We can now begin that work."


Bodie, incredulous at the jury's verdict and indicating Doyle: "Smells worse than his socks!"


Doyle, sarcastically: "Fancy building a house or two while we're here?"

Bodie: "Not in these shoes, thanks."

Doyle, teasing: "Bet your mother's feet are cold!"


Minister: "What do you suggest I do?"

Cowley: "Resign. But we live in a world without much honour, where politicians cling on to office like dirty glue, so I don't suppose you will. Blame is for others."

Bloopers The aforementioned pub brawl and Bodie's T-shirt.
Sidenotes

Original title for this episode was 'Housing and Estates'.

The bombastic music playing on the pub's jukebox is not by Laurie Johnson but a "stock" track from the De Wolfe library called "Dirty Last Night". The entire album, entitled "Badly Bruised, Slightly Stoned" can be heard here. (The final track, 'Real Fine State of Mind' is gorgeously dreamy!)

Brian Clemens was most unhappy with this episode. In the Autumn 1992 edition of Timescreen magazine he recalled having rejected the script on the grounds that he couldn't follow the plot! However as LWT was not prepared to buy another script, they ordered the episode to be made regardless. Clearly I disagree with Brian's view on this!...

... Incidentally the entire interview covers most of the shows Brian has been involved with and is a well worth tracking down. Big Thanks to Jackie Lane for assistance!

Deja Vu

Lots of familiar faces in this one!...

Maurice Denham (Sir James Temple) was born in 1909 and was still acting until his death in 2002. Perhaps best remembered for his stint on Ronnie Barker's classic sitcom Porridge where he played the judge that put Barker's character, Fletcher, away yet found himself sharing a cell with the same when found guilty of fraud. Also appeared in the classic early 70s series The Lotus Eaters.

Robert Swann (Tony Logan-Blake) also appeared briefly in 'The Ojuka Situation'. Did a couple of Sweeney episodes but has been in little else since, though had a turn in EastEnders in 1993. Tragically passed away at the age of 61 in 2006. (Thanks to Liz Morgan).

Harold Innocent (Repton) also starred in 'Operation Susie'. Appears to have started his TV career in the US, guesting in shows such as Gunsmoke and The Twilight Zone. Back in the UK he continued his "apprenticeship" in guest spots for the usual ITC shows and The Avengers. You may have spotted him as the Bishop in Alan Rickman's Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves. Passed away in 1993.

David Hargreaves (Halloran, CI5's informant) has an impressive curriculum vitae when it comes to television roles but seems to have spent much of his career in cop shows, firstly as the ineffective Chief Inspector in Strangers and then on to Juliet Bravo. Lately to be seen in Mersey Beat.

Brian Hall (Sam Burton) is best remembered for Fawlty Towers wherein he played the chef. Otherwise usually played villains in the likes of The Sweeney and movies including The Long Good Friday and McVicar. Perhaps his best acting role, though, was in the excellent childrens' drama Break in the Sun where he played an abusive father whose young daughter runs away from home. Tragically Brian Hall contracted cancer and passed away in 1997. (Thanks to Liz Morgan).

Duncan Preston (Karl Drake, Temple's bully-boy) went on to one of ITV's few decent sitcoms Surgical Spirit but is now better known as one of comedienne Victoria Wood's TV "reperatory company".

Derek Martin (Renshaw, Drake's portly sidekick) guested in various crime shows throughout the 1970s, most auspiciously in the controversial G F Newman mini-series Law and Order, concerning corruption within the legal establishment (which led to real-life controversy between the government of the day and the BBC). He then went on to play the lead (with Nigel Planer from The Young Ones) in the rather good but mysteriously short-lived debt-collection drama King and Castle in 1985. Hasn't worked much in TV since but still seen popping up in various soaps.

Bill Fraser (Colonel Summerville) is best remembered for fifties comedy The Army Game and its spin-off Bootsie and Snudge. Also for his guest role in one of best Avengers episodes 'The Hidden Tiger'. Passed away in 1987.

Locations
After threatening to expose his employers' fraudulent activities over contracts with local councils and substandard workmanship, labourer Halloran is thrown off the Temple-Blake building site. This was on London Yard, Manchester Road, Isle Of Dogs but there's little point going there now!
A government Minister and his assistant, Repton, instruct Cowley to ensure that an upcoming corruption trial involving a local councillor and Temple-Blake is prosecuted fairly. Cowley smells a rat. The Minister's offices are documented as having being filmed at the Tower Theatre, Islington, though we only see the interiors.
Repton sneaks away to Temple-Blake's headquarters to warn of CI5's involvement. Tony Blake's office was actually a room in the Tower Hotel, St Katharine's Way.
Cowley gives the lads fencing lessons - because, of course, that's precisely the skill you need to tackle modern criminals and terrorists - in the Smoking Room of the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place. The same room is cheekily re-used for the magistrates court and the brief meeting with the Colonel. The barbed exchange between Cowley and Repton ("If we functionaries can't stick together, nobody can!") was shot in the same building.
Temple-Blake's senior accountant Robert Gillam starts to get nervous about the upcoming trial and expresses his concerns to Blake and Sir James Temple at the latter's home, High Cannons, Buckettsland Lane, Borehamwood. (Photo copyright and kindly supplied by Alan & Alys Hayes.)
Gillam sets off for home, 7 Frithwood Avenue, Northwood, unaware that Logan-Blake's "fixer", Karl, has been sent on ahead. Unfortunately greenery completely obscures the view of the house nowadays!
Discussing his suspicions with the lads, Halloran takes them to the chip shop at 37 Station Road, Willesden.
Turning his attention to Councillor Webb, Cowley engineers an encounter at the North Middlesex Golf Club, Friern Barnet Lane, Whetstone.
Council residents the Burtons are suffering from Temple-Blake's shoddy workmanship in their new but rapidly crumbling house, 7 South West India Dock Entrance - previously used in 'First Night'. It's now a small private estate and not accessible via Google Street View.
With useful contacts in the Courts system, Logan-Blake is able to acquire a list of jurors for the upcoming trial. His "fixer", Karl, bribes one of them, the manager of a hardware store. This was shot at Burnley Hardware Store, 13 Burnley Road, Dollis Hill (now a car parts store).
Another juror is lecturer Singleton - Karl puts the frighteners on. The college is documented as North London College, Dudden Hill Lane, Brent.



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