Last updated : 15th November 2015





Episode 'Backtrack'
Story Synopsis A cat burglar unwittingly uncovers a gang of drugs and arms smugglers . On the run, not even the police can safely protect Writer Don Houghton
Guest Stars Michael Elphick, Liz Frazer, Brian Gwaspari Directors Tom Clegg (1978), Christopher King (1979)
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 2, Episode 11
30th October to 7th November 1978Main shoot - cut short due to Lewis Collins' parachuting accident.
9th and 10th April 1979Reshoot of most scenes at Margery Harpur's shop, using a different location and recasting with Liz Fraser.
11th April 1979Exterior shots of lads breaking in to Kammahmi's place and Pulman attempts to escape down the street.
17th April 1979Shootout on wasteland - John Bennett now cast as Inspector Truitt.
18th April 1979The lads pursue the sniper and discover a bomb under the car.
19th April 1979Interior scenes of the lads breaking in to Kammahmi's house.
20th April 1979Alf notices two men acting suspiciously outside Marge's shop and scenes of Truitt, Sammy, Cowley and the lads all driving to wasteland rendezvous.
8th June 1979Cowley drives to meet Miller, all interior and exterior scenes at Cowley's flat and en route to the Eccleston Manor massacre.
Original UK Transmission Season 3, Episode 2
3rd November 1979
Dave's Comment
Story
Action
Pace
Humour
Violence

The amusing "affair" between Doyle and Liz Frazer's character - with some hilarious dialogue between them - makes up for an otherwise routine storyline, though the interplay between the lads during the house surveillance scenes is great fun, too - particularly when Doyle casually lobs the incendiary bomb at Bodie. Sharon covers the other comedy scenes below.

I like the way we see Bodie ferreting through the box of guns while Cowley, out of camera and, in fact, in another room can be just heard to complain about how easy and cheap it is to buy arms in London "We're bargain basement, Doyle - you can buy anything here. And we're so damned tolerant. It takes a massacre to get us off our backsides!". Very effectively filmed, that little scene.

Apart from Doyle's "girlfriend" and the other humorous moments Sharon mentions, the ep is all pretty much run-of-the-mill stuff.

Marge to Doyle: "Nice boys like you are few and far between...," turns to regard Bodie: "Louts are everywhere!"

Sharon's Comment

Another favorite. This one combines a good plot with the sort of comedy-action-tension balance that makes Pros such a great show. The boys look much better, too.

Wondrous moments:

Bodie pushing Doyle to safety first in the opening segment when it looks like an incendiary is likely to explode in their faces.

Doyle shaving while leaning against the wall at Cowley's place very early in the morning.

Cowley is in great form here: fierce, fussing and short tempered. Doyle brings up the topic of a salary rise again and toward the close of the story gets quite short with Cowley about an expense chit.

The shootout where Bodie saves Doyle's life is an excellent scene. Chattering away about the defective gun, Bodie casually takes Doyle's thanks. So much implied, so little said. I especially enjoy the exchange with Cowley that occurs next. Good writing!

And, of course, there's Margery Harper (wonderfully played by Liz Fraser). The scenes with her have to be about the funniest in Pros. Bodie's facial expressions are priceless, and Doyle's efforts to play it straight are almost painful.

The Boys in Black Leather are worth watching the entire episode to see. Bodie pulling on that glove.... yum.

The whole cat-burglars bit is fun. A little comedy, a little tension. Bodie perusing a girlie magazine while Doyle toils. Bodie opening a music box when silence is life. Doyle working so diligently only to miss the important alarm connection. The only criticism is the darkness can't see them in their leathers well enough.

I wish Cowley would not taste the "heroin". But that was standard in 70-80's TV cop stuff so I suppose he can be forgiven.

The secondary characters in this one shine and have genuine depth. Only a few silly cardboards to tolerate.

A good episode. Nice work all around.

Dialogue

Bodie: "Every professional thief has got a pet 'fence'."

Doyle: "Who handled Sammy's stuff?"

Sergeant Garbett: "Look, I can't tell you that - she's a very valuable grass."

Doyle: "One of your own divisional officers has been killed!"

Garbett: "I bloody know that, son - I've just had to tell his missus!"


Garbett: "This one's Alf - and this one's Herbert. Marge's own personal 'Berlin Wall' - nobody gets past them!"


Marge: "Difficult life, woman on her own. I've always had to make my own way - and I've got my way through four husbands in the process! The third was a ponce. He wanted to send me out on the streets to 'tart' for him."

Doyle: "You'd have a made a fortune, Marge!"

Marge, not twigging the sarcasm: "Oh, that's one of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me!"


Marge: "What's that?"

Bodie: "I'm just making some notes."

Marge: "No notes! You know, I haven't made my mind up about you, sonny boy. Pretty enough, yes - but you've got shifty eyes!"


Marge to Doyle: "If you go the same way as Sammy, I'll be very upset. Nice boys like you are few and far between!..."

Marge, turning to regard Bodie: "LOUTS are everywhere!"


Cowley, not entirely concerned after the lads are almost blown up: "Narrow squeak, lads - did they save the car?"

Bloopers

Bloopers aplenty! Some of these are possibly attributable to the long break in production on this episode - see the Sidenotes section. Confusion over character names perhaps came about because production and draft scripts got mixed up?...

First off fan Mark Houlker spotted that in the aftermath of the (unseen) shoot-out at the country house, one supposedly dead Arab moves his fingers under his jacket when he is being covered up with the blanket.

Sammy Blaydon's middle name is Augustus in one scene and a short while later is Thomas!

And Sir Lionel Laverton is actually called Arnold, according to arms-dealer Miller!

Also note Cowley's Granada briefly wears the silver Capri's license plate (UOO 303T)!

Doyle's hairstyle is different in the scene where he and Bodie are waiting outside Cowley's apartment block - see Sidenotes section.

Sidenotes

This was the episode that was interrupted by Lewis' parachuting accident. Originally actors Annie Ross and John Rhys-Davies played Margery and Inspector Truitt respectively. When production resumed five months later both were unavailable, hence all the scenes previously shot with them required refilming - now portrayed by Liz Fraser and John Bennett.

The disruption to the episode led to some unfortunate omissions of credits for some of the cast and crew who were only required or available for the scenes shot in 1978 - notably actor Geoffrey Bateman as CI5 op Anson and director Tom Clegg.

In the scene where the Granada's windscreen is hit by the sniper, the picture appears to jump (play it in slow-motion) and Martin Shaw suddenly turns into stuntman Peter Brayham! As Lewis once said, he and Martin were doubled whenever flying glass was involved.

Luke Hanson, as one half of Marge's "personal Berlin Wall", had previously appeared briefly in the opening airport scene of 'Where the Jungle Ends'. In 1968 - under his real name of Hans de Vries - he had been a finalist in the auditions to replace Sean Connnery as James Bond.

Deja Vu

Liz Fraser (Margery) was a semi-regular in the Carry On films and other comedies, including some of the dire Confessions series. Still acting today, occasionally guesting in stuff like The Bill.

Michael Elphick (Garbett) apparently was never out of work between 1970 and 1990. And for sure he had a promising career throughout the 1980s, initially to be seen as psychotic Irishman MacGowan in the first season of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and then on to his own series, the long-running Boon. But there were lowlights such as the feeble sitcom Three Up, Two Down and the mundane newspaper drama Harry. Alleged drink problems - exacerbated by the death of his partner - led to fewer offers of work and he ended up in the soap EastEnders. A massively overweight Elphick promoted Granada Plus' rerun of Boon shortly before his death in 2002 at the age of 55 - a sad departure for one of Britain's favourite actors.

Brian Gwaspari (the solicitor Pulman) was a regular face in crime dramas of the 1970s, including the second Sweeney film and a recurring character in The Gentle Touch. Also appeared in the hugely successful police drama Between the Lines.

Locations
The squad is keeping watch on a group of Arab terrorists holed up in a house in Freston Road, Hammersmith, though the "People's Hall" seems to be just about the only building to have survived today.
Meanwhile small-time thief Sammy Blaydon is being chased along Carlton Gardens.
Caught by local coppers, the police station interior shots were filmed at Cadby Hall, Hammersmith, demolished in 1983.
Next day Cowley summons the lads to his flat, Hurlingham Court on the southern side of Ranelagh Gardens (presently it's not covered by Google Street View). The later scene of Cowley meeting friendly arms dealer Miller was also shot here.
Hearing of a massacre at Ecclestone Manor, Cowley suspects there is a connection with the arms find. He and the lads thunder along the B3024 road, cross the M4 motorway. Admittedly it's difficult to get a view that ties in with what we see in the episode as the surrounding greenery has evolved considerably over the years!
Ecclestone Manor is actually Warfield Hall, Warfield. It was also used as the interiors for the homes of Sir Lionel Laverton and Kammahmi, later in the episode.
Meanwhile Inspector Truitt interviews Sammy, who claims he was scared off his last job after uncovering evidence of heavy finance for illegal arms. Agreeing to meet with Truitt, the lads and Cowley take the A40 Westway...
Sammy and Truitt head for the rendezvous. This one is very difficult to spot because the shot's use of an extreme tele-photo lens throws out any genuine sense of perspective and distance. However the street appears to be Talbot Road leading to Blenheim Crescent. The only usable point of reference in the screenshot is the yellow-coloured building behind the car, as highlighted in the Google Street View.
... Sammy becomes convinced that he and Truitt are being followed - glancing through the car's rear window, this is Talbot Road again, thankfully much more recognisable this time!.
The rendezvous is interrupted by a shoot-out at Southall Gas Works.
The lads approach Sammy's fence, Margery Harpur. She owns a shop at 73 Artesian Road.
Suspecting a link between Sammy's final job with the weapons found in CI5's earlier raid, Cowley seeks information from arms dealer Miller. Setting off for a meeting, Cowley drives via Grimston Road, Fulham.
Narrowing down possibilities as financiers for the illegal arms, Sir Lionel Laverton and Abdul Kammahmi, Cowley sends the lads on a cat-burgling mission. The exterior shots were filmed on Halkin Place, Kensington.
The exterior of Kammahmi's house and the scene of Pulman trying to escape were shot on Carlton House Terrace.



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