Last updated : 15th November 2015





Episode 'Runner'
Story Synopsis A gangland breakaway faction are trying to start up a street war, but the leader has an ulterior motive. WriterMichael Feeny Callan
Guest Stars Michael Kitchen, James Cosmo, Ed Deveraux, Barabara Kellerman, Billy Murray DirectorMartin Campbell
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 3, Episode 2
8th to 21st May 1979Main shoot.
22nd June 1979Additional scenes to make up for episode under-running: Raid on gaming club and Doyle meets with Alice.
27th June 1979Additional scenes to make up for episode under-running: Doyle meets Morgan at the lorry park, the lads meet up after trawling various pubs, more shots of Doyle driving to gun shop raid and pick-up shots for gaming club raid.
Original UK TransmissionSeason 3, Episode 7
8th December 1979
Dave's Comment
Story
Action
Pace
Humour
Violence

A fast-paced, complicated episode that really needs watching a few times to try to make sense of what is happening! The ep is also high on well-choreographed action sequences. In fact the chase scenes involving the RS2000 are fantastic! Much of the dialogue is clipped and snappy, too. However the ep as broadast has a number of problems...

The plot concerns a crime/terror group with certain political aims that is currently enjoying a period of peaceful negotations between its head, Mr Albie, and the authorities. However two of its members, Duffy (Michael Kitchen) and Glover (James Cosmo), are vehemently opposed to the talks and want to get the Organisation "active" again. They decide to frame Albie for raids on a gun shop and a casino and, ultimately, a bomb planted outside some Government buildings. The two villains carry out these acts themselves but precede each with an anonymous tipoff to CI5 with a codeword usually used by the Organisation. As anticipated, Cowley's mob and the Organisation are soon at each other's throats, the latter protesting its innocence. Although Albie suspects Duffy and Glover, after a frosty meeting with Cowley, he elects to deal with them himself, rather than ask CI5 to help. An ex-CI5 man, Morgan, becomes embroiled in proceedings as he had once tried to infiltrate the Organisation, while his girlfriend, Sylvie, works at a club frequented by Organisation men. Using the ensuing confusion to his advantage, Duffy pursues an additional agenda: he also wants to hit back at Doyle in revenge for the shooting of his brother a few years previously.

All this should have made for a superb rollercoaster ride of an episode but unfortunately the wheels fall off as too many little elements just don't figure or connect...

In fact I'm going to have to use spoilers here to try to explain the myriad problems, so if you'd rather not know what happens, look away!

The political motivations of the Organisation are never explained at all, so Albie and co simply come across as murderous gangsters.

Although the sequence where Bodie is almost "knee-capped" makes for some great action, it doesn't make sense in the context of the story. Following Bodie's brief detention of one the Organisation's henchmen, Albie sanctions revenge - in which he is happy for Doyle to be hit, too - yet has told his deputy, Ted, that he doesn't want to start a "war" with CI5. Huh?

Morgan's motives are utterly obscure. Having been thrown out of CI5 (for reasons never explained), he makes it clear that he doesn't want to get involved with helping Doyle to investigate the gun robbery as he now has a new life. Yet throughout the episode he wants to know what is going on in the Organisation. Is he looking for a way in to hit back at CI5 ?...

We learn that Morgan was felt ideally placed to infiltrate the Organisation because his wife at the time, Alice, had relatives who were connected with it. Doyle meets with Alice who claims she is now "well out of it" but immediately following the conversation Doyle catches her making a mysterious phone call (her claim that she was trying to reserve a room at the high-class hotel Claridge's was clearly sarcastic). Naturally he suspects that she was warning somebody in the Organisation that she had been approached by CI5 but we never learn who she was calling and this thread of the story is never taken any further.

Later we see a surveillance photo of Duffy and Morgan talking together but it's not explained why they would associate with each other - particularly given their stand-offish chance encounter at the club. And when Morgan later tells Doyle he has some information somebody gave him, what exactly is this and from whom did he get it? Presumably he was referring to Sylvie and the fact that she has been told of the planned casino robbery. But who is Morgan referring to when he says he wants to "see somebody who deserves to be pushed aside get what's coming"? Does he mean Duffy? Again, all this is left unexplained.

Sylvie's involvement with proceedings is confusing to say the least! Although the audience knows that Duffy feeds her the information about The Organisation being "active" and the planned casino robbery as a further ploy to frame the group, surely both she and, especially, Morgan should have been suspicious that a barmaid would be freely given such information?! Of course we know that she and Duffy have started an affair but Morgan isn't aware of that.

My take on this is that Duffy discovered from Sylvie that Morgan was Doyle's contact. So Duffy used Sylvie to ensure Morgan received more "dirt" about Albie in the full knowledge that Morgan would run to Doyle with it, thus bringing the latter out into the open to be killed with the one gun that he had kept from the earlier raid. So Doyle would be dead, killed with a gun apparently stolen by the Organisation: Duffy would have achieved both of his aims.

When Doyle meets Alice again, he makes no mention of her ex-husband's fate - he acts as though nothing has happened.

The ending is rather unbelievable, too. A bomb is planted somewhere in a vast car park containing hundreds of vehicles, yet the lads discover it in a matter of seconds!?!

When watching this episode, you really have to forget trying to piece together the plot. Although Duffy's motives are very clear, those of other main characters such as Morgan, Alice, Sylvie and Albie are anything but. Despite the confusion, all cast members put their hearts into it with great and believable performances. There are also some nice subtleties such as the scenes of the carefree children playing in the park set against the deadly world that the episode centres around. And the final stand-off between Duffy and Doyle compensates to a fair degree for all the problems.

Some great action - as one would expect from director Martin Campbell - and a nice underlying theme but, while writer Michael Feeney Callan drew up numerous sublime elements, he failed to knit them together into a cohesive whole. One also has to ask question what Script Editor Gerry O'Hara was doing when this was presented to him.

This could have been one of the best stories of the entire series but it is actually by far the worst because so many fundamental plot points simply lack coherency. I agree with Sharon's suggestion below: this should have been a two-parter.

Sharon's Comment

This is an episode with so much backstory that one viewing is not enough to even begin to understand what's going on. Great failure in overplotting - this should have been done as a two hour film or a to-be-continued in order to give us all we need to know to follow the main plot. As it is, Duffy acts in inscrutable ways and has the oddest connections and very late in the story tells us why he hates Doyle, but... It never, ever gels. Which is too bad because it has great potential.

Further, for non-UKers the "Organization" means nothing. (See the Sidenotes section below -Dave) After a few viewings I figured out it was "organized" crime, but, hey. A little info would have saved a lot of "huh?"

Morgan's character, his ex-wife, Sylvie and Doyle's connection with the first two are all murkily defined. When I show it to newbies I just tell them to watch The Lads and forget the plot.

That said:

It's nice to see Bodie snarling at Cowley (again, there must have been something in the past to make Bodie so touchy here). And Cowley snarls right back to the point of humiliating Bodie in front of others, notably Doyle, who seems quite appalled at the put-down and does his best (the wink) to make Bodie feel better as soon as he can. Bodie is clearly hurt and pouting. Nice, matey stuff there.

Bodie at work causing mayhem with the sunglasses and the attitude is fun to watch. Doyle plays a good counterpart to him in this episode. And the finale with the bomb and the two of them less than a second from death, then giggling in relief, is marvelous.

We get to see a bit more Bodie-skin (a rare and choice treat) when Doyle wakes him up in a girlfriend's flat. Since her keys were still in the door, according to Ray, Bodie must have been very preoccupied the evening before to have been so careless. <G> The dialogue here indicates how close the two men are in matters outside the job, IMO.

Fun to watch: the entire scene where Bodie is nearly shot in the knee. They run and scramble so nicely. Bodie in the betting shop, being brutal. The girlfriend's bedroom scene: are there handcuffs on the bedside table? The bomb defusing. Bodie pouting and Doyle winking. Both Lads walking and talking right after leaving a pub. Doyle from the waist down right after Sylvie shoots Duffy another grand slo-mo moment.

Good viewing, all in all. But ignore the attempt at a complex plot. It doesn't work.

Dialogue

Cowley: "One more sniff of your lot and every Organisation man between here and Inverness spends Christmas in the nick!"


Duffy, on the condemned apartment block where he is hiding out: "Apologies for the regal splendour - the butler's on holiday!"

Bloopers

A few bloopers related to clothing here: firstly Doyle's sunglasses keep disappearing when he and Bodie are ambushed. The same happens to Bodie when he raids the betting shop. And when Doyle is chasing Glover after the casino robbery, his jacket changes! Actually, it's clear from the changes in the weather that the sequence was filmed over two different days... indeed the registration number of Glover's Datsun 180B car changes as well (from FLA 941T to its genuine UMD 25P)

Sidenotes

Linda Clarke kindly advised me that "The Organisation" is a term used in Ireland to mean the IRA. Given that one of the characters in the story is Irish, knee-cappings are widely used by the IRA as a form of punishment and Albie's comment that "things are politically favourable for us at the moment", I think this story could very well be about that particular group, though it seems odd that Albie is clearly an Australian!

In the episode's original script, when the lads try to make the car park bomb safe, they discover that Glover has forgotten to wire up the detonator, rendering the bomb useless. Perhaps Glover simply didn't have the stomach to go through with the bombing? We'll never know.

Deja Vu

Michael Kitchen was a long-time boyfriend of Joanna Lumley in the 1970s. Previously seen in an episode of Brian Clemens' Thriller series and a string of guest spots in many TV shows during the 1980s. But didn't really come to prominence until playing Prince Charles in the controversial mini-series To Play the King in 1994. More recently has appeared in a couple of Pierce Brosnan Bond films and can presently be seen alongside Martin Shaw in Always and Everyone.

Barbara Kellerman (Sylvie) played a lead in the Edward Woodward series "1990" and starred as the White Witch in the BBC's Chronicles of Narnia. Also landed a tragic role in my fave horror flick The Monster Club (yes, I just had to give it another mention!)

Australian fans may remember Ed Devereaux (Mr Albie) for the 1960s childrens' series about a cuddly kangaroo, Skippy. He also appeared in The New Avengers episode 'The Midas Touch'. In fact he shuttled between the UK and Oz quite a bit, appearing in some of the early Carry Ons, while landing hard-men roles in The Sweeney and the neat Oz thriller Money Movers. Turned to comedy in Whoops, Apocalypse! and a guest role in Absolutely Fabulous. Passed away in December 2003.

James Cosmo (Glover) has been a very busy character actor throughout the last three decades, notable roles including episodes of The Sweeney, Minder, Spender. Was a regular in the BBC drama series Warship.

Billy Murray (Morgan) went on to great success as a dodgy CID sergeant in The Bill. Now a regular in EastEnders.

Technical Notes For current TV transmissions and earlier VHS/DVD releases, the picture quality on this episode benefits from a virtually no dirt or damage. However the dialogue track is rather muted in comparison to the music & effects track. There is also a brief audio problem towards the end of the ep: Duffy fires two shots at Doyle which slam into a chimney stack but there is no accompanying sound effect - presumably the Music&Effects track was damaged at this point and it was decided to remove it altogether. Happily this is not a problem on Network's BluRay and (future) DVD releases.)
Locations
As part of their campaign to get "The Organisation" active again, Duffy and Glover raid a gunshop on 78 High Street, Shepperton, though it is now the "Ivory Tusk" restaurant - swing the Google Street View camera to the right to see it.
CI5 HQ alerts Doyle to the robbery - here we see him driving north-west along Exeter Road, Willesden Green...
... and then he zips along Walm Lane, Willesden Green. Tricky to spot this one as although the white-topped gateposts are still present, they're now a muddy grey colour!
Next we see Doyle motoring along Cranhurst Road, Willesden Green.
Duffy and Glover head for a lockup garage. This is documented as being on the site of Clare Hall hospital, Blanche Lane, Ridge, Hertfordshire.
Still en route to the gunshop, Doyle heads up what is documented as Hornsey Lane, Hornsey, though it's such a "close up" shot, it's impossible to verify!
Duffy and Glover ditch the guns in Black Park Lake, Fulmer.
Doyle starts his investigation by visiting ex-CI5 man Morgan, though he seems unwilling to help. His flat is documented as 26 South Villas, off Camden Square, Camden, though we only ever see the interior. The same place was used later in the ep for Bodie's latest "conquest"!
Still needing information, Doyle tries Morgan's ex-wife, Alice in Alexandra Palace Park, The Avenue, Muswell Hill...
... After an embittered exchange, Alice makes a mysterious telephone call. Doyle spots her and spins his car around to investigate. Again this is on The Avenue, Muswell Hill. Annoyingly the house in the background is now obscured by greenery.
Duffy and Glover seem to share the same apartment block, documented as Brambledown Mansions, Heathville Road, Crouch Hill, though we only see the interior...
... apart from a brief shot of Ted and Davis walking away from Glover's place towards Blythwood Road, Crouch Hill. (Difficult to get a useful angle on this because of trees!)
Bodie decides a more "applied" approach is required and organises a raid on a betting shop known to be used by Organisation men. It was at 32 Topsfield Parade, Tottenham Lane, Hornsey, though it's now a Charity Shop. However next door Topsfield Quality Dry Cleaners is still there! (Very difficult to get a useful angle in Google Street View here.)
Organisation man Philo legs it and disappears in Elder Avenue, Hornsey.
Trawling the pubs and clubs for any leads on the Organisation's activities, the lads try "The Favourite" on Beaumont Rise, Upper Holloway, though, as can be seen, the building has undergone a complete makeover since 1979.
Bodie decides to check the club where Morgan's girlfriend Sylvie works - and another one in which Organisation members frequent. This is documented as Skindles Nightclub on Mill Lane, Maidenhead - but it has since closed down.
Seemingly offering the chance to discuss the gunshop robbery, the lads are invited to meet with the Organisation's head, Mr Albie, and his sidekick Ted. The lads travel via Crouch Hill.
The rendezvous doesn't go quite to plan! The location is the aforementioned Clare Hall hospital, Blanche Lane, Ridge. In this screenshot, the derelict building - since restored - tallies with the Google Street View: the roofline is the giveaway here.
Doyle tries Morgan again, meeting him at a construction site. This is documented as having been on Cromartie Road, Crouch End, though the area has, of course, been developed since.
Meanwhile mechanic and part-time villain Harry is offered a casino blag by Glover who, as with the gunshop robbery, intends to tip-off the authorities in order to finger the Organisation. The documentation seems to indicate that the location of Harry's workshop is Arch 9, St James Lane, Muswell Hill.
The casino raid was filmed at the now closed Green Man pub, Muswell Hill.
Overseeing the raid, Glover finds himself pursued by Doyle, firstly along Hornsey Rise Gardens, Crouch End...
Glover turns into Highcroft Road, Upper Holloway...
... and finally into Heathville Road, Upper Holloway (which presently can't be seen fully in Google Street View). Mr Albie and Ted waiting for him but he escapes when they are distracted by Doyle's arrival.
The lads meet Cowley for a progress update on Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park. This one is difficult to recognise as the street's shops have changed completely since '79. The screenshot I've used here partially reveals the strange frontal architecture that can still be seen on the 'Cherry Bean' boutique.
Albie and Ted realise that the raids have been staged to stir up trouble for The Organisation. They suggest anoher meeting with CI5, in Black Park, Fulmer but Cowley isn't convinced. (The location was used again in the subsequent meeting between Morgan and Doyle.)
The lads discuss a series of surveillance photos they've taken. They are sat in Cowley's car on Mount View Road, Stroud Green.
Doyle still needs help from Alice and meets her for a second time on Duke's Avenue, Muswell Hill. This is a tricky one to spot but the woodwork and arched effect of the windows and front door in the background of the screenshot tally with the house seen here on Google Street View.
Aware that Morgan's girlfriend Sylvie has knowledge of local Organisation activity, she is brought to Ted's house for interrogation. It's 5 Heathville Road, Crouch Hill - unfortunately it's not presently completely covered by Google Street View, so I can't get a useful angle on it.
Doyle follows Sylvie as she walks to the bus stop near the junction of Ashley Road and Crouch Hill.
Duffy and Glover decide to hole up in a derelict tenement block. This is documented as The Highlands, Crouch Hill, though naturally it's not there today!
After a surprise phonecall from Morgan, the squad discuss his possible ulterior motives while driving up Oakfield Road, Stroud Green. In the screenshot, Bodie crosses Ridge Road without checking for oncoming traffic. What a guy!
Sylvie contacts Doyle to arrange a meet, claiming she has some information for him. Here he is en route via Station Parade, Willesden Green...
... Next he's travelling south, here seen at the junction of Lydford Road and St Gabriel's Road, Willesden Green. The highrise in the background is now obscured somewhat by trees.
After being ambushed at the derelict tenement, the rooftop chase with Duffy is actually a location cheat for the action has now switched to Lochbie Mansions, Warltersville Road, Crouch Hill. The other apartment block shown in the screenshot still stands, too.
En route to some Government offices where Glover has planted a bomb, Bodie flies down Crouch Hill...
... and Doyle's hot on his heels - this shot taken a little further down the same road!
Doyle continues down Cranhurst Road, Willesden Green - identifiable from the decor on the house apex.
Bodie blasts along Mount View Road, Upper Holloway.
The "Darrow Lane" car park is actually Shenley Road, Elstree. The car is parked by the town's Civic Centre.



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