Last updated : 15th November 2015

Episode 'Need to Know'
Story Synopsis An old colleague of Cowley's is arrested for being a double agent, which, in turn, implicates the CI5 chief. WriterBrian Clemens, from a story by Chris Menaul
Guest StarsSimon Oates, Tom Georgeson DirectorWilliam Brayne
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 3, Episode 6
9th to 20th July 1979
Original UK Transmission Season 4, Episode 5
5th October 1980
Dave's Comment

A well-plotted story with a neat, if a little predictable, denouement. This Clemens script arguably provides the best actual plot of the fourth season.

Arguably it's a little too contrived – Cowley is taking a HUGE gamble that the Russians will do exactly as he predicts. And how could he be sure Number One would be used to debrief Drake? Nevertheless this is a thoroughly enjoyable story – particularly watching Niall Buggy's understated performance as the crazy commie (more Avengers influence?) and the scenes with the lads dressed up as coppers add a touch of humour.

This is another ep where Cowley does all the thinking and the boys do all the legwork – again without really knowing what the "wily old fox" is really up to.

Despite Cowley insisting on interrogating a double-agent "for hours, months, years even", the chief dispatches him moments later - and in a most unchivalrous manner! Cowley may be understandably hungry for revenge but this didn't really make sense.

Overall this doesn't fall into my personal Top Ten but it does have its moments.

Strange event: Cowley picks up the lads after the abduction and they all drive off but leaving the unconscious Choy sprawled out on the tarmac!?!

Sharon's comments

While I fast forward through a great deal of this episode to get to the parts where The Lads are, I do like it. The story is twisted and unresolved until the end.

Two criticisms: the Soviet characters are ludicrous and the finale when Cowley shoots Manton is wooden and without impact. Poorly done given what happens: Doyle's predicted officially sanctioned murder.

Good things: Bodie's faith in Cowley has never been clearer and when he has to face the fact that his boss has caused him and Doyle to be hit with stun grenades, he is very sullen and hurt. Doyle, on the other hand, is just plain angry. Several nice scenes revolve around that incident.

Pleasant to see The Lads in Uniforms. The fight scene in the Chinese gambling bar was a bit contrived and didn't feel "real". But as usual now the patter between the two leads makes up for other failings. Listen carefully to what they say - it's worth it.

Notice the "art" on the walls of Bodie's flat.

Cowley's character comes through strong and clear– nice work when he begins to control his own interrogation. The man is driven by his goals and will not let anything or anyone stand in his way. Like Doyle appears to be, I'd be very nervous working for such a boss! Bodie, however, just pouts.

And Cowley gives him an extra comforting pat when he's administering oxygen. Who's the Blue-Eyed Boy, then? Actually that scene with Cowley tending The Lads is one of my all-time favorites as is the following one where Bodie just glares and Doyle fusses.

And let us not forget the dialogue surrounding the tulip in the granade box! Little touches that make Pros so great! Lewis is perfect when he's sputtering about privacy.

Skid marks on the road - they practiced. <G>

Not a great episode but certainly one worth rewatching.


Doyle, dressed as a police constable: "'Ello, 'ello, 'ello!"

Bodie, similarly attired: "Evenin', all! Alright, let's get it over with."

Doyle: "Have you synchronised your watch?"

Bodie: "Eh?!"

Doyle: "Well somebody might wanna ask you the time!"

Doyle: "It doesn't feel right, mounting an op against our own."

Bodie: "Ours not to reason why, mate."

Doyle: "Yeah, well I have been. Snatch Drake, haul him away for questioning for as long as it takes. They're not gonna release him to talk, are they? Accessories to murder, mate, that's what we are. Either that or magnificent bloody patriots."

Cowley: "Minimum of force: no shooting unless we absolutely have to, and then no kill-wounds."

Bodie, already annoyed with the chief's cavalier attitude to his men's safety: "We could go in with our hands tied."

Cowley: "I had you both covered - I'm a very good shot."

Bodie: "Yes, I saw that. Nevertheless, what if something had gone wrong?"

Cowley: "Oh, in that case, I'd have arranged for a nice headstone for the two of you... out of my own pocket, of course!"

Doyle: "Permission to make an observation, sir. You're a ruthless old bastard!"

Cowley: "Not so much of the the 'old', sonny!"


The lads' police caps disappear when they are in the club but reappear later!

In the scene where Ryan is being handcuffed while unconscious, the actress (Karin McCarthy) appears to instinctively raise her hand to help the other actor, realises she shouldn't and lets it fall again! (Thanks to Sue Law for reminding me of this one!)

Not really a blooper but watch the scene where the lads spin the Capri and "ambush" the police van. There are already skid-marks on the road. Either Lewis had a few practice runs or the shot required retakes!

After Cowley picks up the lads in the aftermath of the gas grenade attack, he begins to unveil the plot to them. In a couple of shots however, we hear him speak but his lips aren't moving. (Thanks to Baz Taylor).

Towards the end of the story, the lads are prowling around the farmhouse, looking for a safe way in. Our heroes go via an outer door, despite the fact that there is a direct route to the inner one! (Thanks to Andrew Williams).

Sidenotes Although credited as being based on a story by Chris Menaul, he actually wrote the original script for it - which Network included on the 2015 DVD and BluRay releases. This version is drastically different, with little presence from Cowley as the lads are seconded to Manton's team to maintain surveillance on a prison official suspected of assisting the Russians to snatch Drake. It's a somewhat linear, predictable plot with none of the twists, intrigue or humour that Brian Clemens injected into his rewrite.
Deja Vu

Simon Oates (Tully) starred in a number of Avengers and New Avengers episodes and actually played John Steed in the 1971 stage version of the show. Best remembered, though, for the apocalyptic drama series Doomwatch. Passed away in 2009.

Bernard Gallagher (The Minister) is best remembered for the early episodes of Crown Court and Casualty. Passed away in 2016.

Karin McCarthy (Ryan) appears to have dropped out of acting shortly after this episode was filmed, having never found much success. Perhaps her best-remembered role was that in the mid-seventies office sitcom The Squirrels, wherein, if I recall correctly, her male colleagues were perpetually enamoured by her knee-length leather "kinky boots"!

Anthony Chinn (Sikor, one of the two "planted" Chinese agents) often pops up when a TV production needs an oriental "heavy". Can be spotted (usually uncredited) in several early Bond films. Was a regular in the first season of Gerry Anderson's bland 1973 series The Protectors.

MI5 agent Drake returns from holiday to find his house burned out! 32 Milton Park, Highgate. Special Branch man Pymar has found documents in the charred mess that suggest Drake has been divulging information to the Chinese...
As the man who recommended Drake's enrollment into MI5, Cowley also comes under suspicion. The lads are ordered to arrest him outside his house, 21 Ennismore Garden Mews, Knightsbridge - also used for interior scenes.
Cowley is escorted to 'Rapworth Hall' - in reality Stanmore Hall, Wood Lane, Stanmore. Also used for the interior shots.
KGB agent Gorky hears of Drake's and Cowley's arrests and begins to formulate plans to take advantage of the situation from his embassy at 4 The Grove, Highgate. All exterior and interior scenes for the embassy were shot here.
Cowley anticipates the KGB's interest and starts to put a counter-plan into operation, commencing with Bodie and Doyle posing as police officers. Doyle picks up Bodie at his house, which is documented as 44 Landsdowne Crescent, Notting Hill. This was previously used in 'The Purging of CI5', though on this occasion we only see the interior.
The lads go to a Chinese club and pick up a drug dealer. This was 'The Dock', Port-A-Bella Dock, Ladbroke Grove. It no longer exists.
Drake's lawyer is snatched and taken to Gorky's safehouse, Rowley Farm, Black Park Road, Fulmer.
Drake is moved from prison - in reality it's Windsor Police Station which was on St. Leonards Road at the time (and previously used in 'Old Dog with New Tricks').
En route to Cheltenham, the prison convoy travels down Shurlock Row, Waltham St Lawrence. The house seen in the background of the screenshot appears to have been replaced but the unusual pentagonal drain cover in road is a tell-tale here.
The lads stage an ambush but lose Drake on Binfield Road, Reading just south of its bridge over the M4 motorway.
After Cowley finally reveals his plan to the lads, they all meet up with Special Branch man Pymar. The location of this isn't documented but it may have been somewhere along Black Park Road, Fulmer.

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