Last updated : 15th November 2015
|Episode 'Slush Fund'|
|Story Synopsis||European officials employ a hitman to eliminate a reporter who is about to publish a damning report on their new fighter plane said to be a potential death-trap.||Writer||Roger Marshall|
|Guest Stars||David Swift, Jeremy Young, Lynda Bellingham, Stuart Wilson, Matthew Long.||Director||William Brayne|
& Filming Dates
Block 3, Episode 10
|Original UK Transmission||Season 4, Episode 9
2nd November 1980
The story appears to be based on real-life events - see the Sidenotes section.
On the surface this a fairly "bread and butter" storyline but, as ever, Roger Marshall injects his top-notch dialogue with witty one-liners and bags of characterisation for major and minor characters.
A trait seen in many Marshall scripts - often coupled with off-the-wall humour - is that of "cameo" roles. For example in the scene where Cowley is speaking to Hope's editor in a club, an elderly chap is seated close by and snoring his head off. Cowley shouts at him - "Damned steak-and-kidney pudding - it always sends him to sleep!". No connection to the plot at all but just wonderfully bizarre!
Stacks of other humorous elements, too. Such as Bodie being caught in the Hope's house and "disguising" himself as a Scouse robber - bet Lew enjoyed that! The scene involving the acoustics report is one of very few where Cowley gets in on the daft banter: a shame there weren't more like this throughout the series.
Although the runaway Jaguar scene was fun to watch (especially the joyrider's head falling off! <G>) it served absolutely no purpose in terms of the story! Perhaps this was added in because the original script didn't quite fill the usual fifty minutes? Either way, the plot at this point is rather contrived: why does Van Neikerk dump Doyle in the boot in the first place - and it seems a huge coincidence that this is the car the youths happen to steal.
But there is some great drama, too - and a surprisingly strong level of violence. As Sharon notes below, witness the contrast between the highly-charged scene where Bodie and Cowley are furious with each and the former's subsequent glee at finding his partner alive. It's stuff like this that makes Marshall's work so superbly "rounded".
Having said that, some elements of the story are confusing and left unexplained. I liked Doyle's young ladyfriend (not sure I'd want to take her home to meet mother, though!) but I couldn't figure out just what she was all about. She appears to simply pick him up at the hotel but then says "How will you do it? With a gun or a knife?" - so she seems to be in on the assassination... but this is never furthered in the plot. Also, it's not made clear what brought about the events at Sir Kenneth's house.
Considering Martin Shaw's attempts at accents in other films/shows are often unfathomable, his South African seems very good indeed - as is Stuart Wilson's.
A good, albeit flawed, ep with some humorous moments - one of the best from the fourth season.
"She'd stiffen up your chewing-gum for ya!"
After the first viewing of this episode I dismissed the plot, fast-forwarded through anything not directly involving The Lads and enjoyed it thoroughly. 'Slush Fund' has some of the best dialogue - natural and funny - to be found in Pros. Both men look terrific as well.
Doyle with a South African accent is a joy to hear! MS is outstandingly viewable throughout. I do like watching the man kiss. <G>
The scene between Bodie and Cowley over the tape recording is marvelously done by both actors. (I'll bet a fiver that Lewis said something besides "Sounds like a burp" the first time round.) The relationship between Bodie and his boss comes out nicely in this episode. When I first watched it I couldn't figure out why they were shouting at one another after Van Neikerk escaped, but now that I'm immersed seriously in Pros I think the scene is brilliant. I don't believe Bodie is referring to being caught at snooping, either. It's about his partner. They're angry and frightened for Doyle and they take it out on one another. Almost as if they are equals rather than agent and boss. The earlier tape scene dialogue also gives an indication there's more friendship involved than we get on screen. Very good work by the writers, and, of course, the actors.
Doyle on the radio with Cowley while watching the flat is also good. Snappy, witty dialogue. Nice, nice viewing of MS through the wind screen and the bit with the kid on the bike is priceless – just a little touch that wasn't necessary yet makes the episode memorable.
Bodie as a down-on-his-luck burglar. Ah. <G> So perfect. Note that his lower lip trembles ever so slightly.
The scene between Doyle and Bodie at the obbo flat is almost useless as a plot device but I love every second of it. Perfect delivery, perfect dialogue, perfect expressions from the two of them. Fine, fine work by all people involved- writers, director, camera people and, of course.... actors.
While Doyle and the (gag) "kookie girl" pickup also has absolutely nothing to do with the plot or character development I'm rather glad it was tossed in. It made for some lovely Doyle-as-sex-object moments and gave Bodie a chance to be terrified for his partner.
When he goes into Doyle's suite and finds a body in the bath the absolute blankness of his expression gives away far more than if Lewis had "acted" it out. The contrast then when he picks Doyle up and cheerily teases and taunts his mate is wonderful. It shows us how relieved Bodie is to have Doyle back in one relatively healthy piece. Bodie is a man who would never say "I was so afraid for you." No, he'd just drive you nuts once it was established you were all right by acting silly out of sheer relief. Was this done deliberately by the writers or did it just evolve naturally out of the relationship as it's come to be over the three plus years of development? One wonders. Because it's marvelous!
The action-shootout finale is boring and predictable. The last bit of dialogue exchange too enigmatic to make much sense. Bodie, I suppose, is acting the fool to amuse Doyle but it doesn't work. He might not have known the implications for his partner of the headband. Uh- okay. Not a good end.
But the episode is a keeper.
Cowley, reading the voice analysis report: "He said fifteen words. Fifteen and they write this much! 'Educated Swiss/Zurich type - could possibly be German'."
Bodie, sarcastically: "Well that narrows it down!"
Cowley: " 'Short sentences, consistent with giving instructions' - I think we might have worked that out! 'Ambition of effects'."
Bodie: "What the hell's that?!"
Cowley, "Och, these things get more high-fallutin'! 'Gap between the first and second...' Och, we'll just listen..."
Geiser's voice on the tape: "Van Niekerk?"
Doyle's voice on the tape, posing as Van Niekerk: "Hang on a sec, I'm just taking a shower."
Bodie, sarcastically: " 'Bout time!"
Cowley, hearing a strange noise and rewinding the tape: "Let's play that again."
Geiser's voice on the tape: "Van Niekerk?"
Doyle's voice on the tape: "Hang on a sec, I'm just taking a shower."
Bodie, mischievous: "Just said that!"
Cowley, irritated: "Och, just listen - this is no time to be facetious!"
Bodie: "Sounded like a burp!"
Cowley: "Well, according to Acoustics or Phonetics or whoever... it's a hooter on a Thames pleasure boat!"
Bodie: "Oh! I used to work on the Southend run myself. Sick for a quid - drunk and sick for two!"
Cowley, sarcastically: "Ah, that's when you were filling time between Eton and Trinity!"
Bodie, playing along, adopting Neanderthal bearing: "Uh, yur - that's right!"
Cowley: "Well it's called 'The Star' and goes from Tower Pier to Westminster and back. So we concentrate on that area."
Bodie: "Well as long as he wears leather shorts, braces, hat with a feather in it and yodels, we've got a chance, haven't we?!"
Bodie: "Put a tap on his telephone?"
Cowley: "Well let's say that the GPO* is being very 'co-operative'."
Bodie: "Wish you'd have a word about my mail."
Cowley, teasing: "Maybe she doesn't love you anymore!"
Cowley, spluttering on the "drink" Bodie has given him: "What is this?!"
Bodie: "With Vodka!"
* GPO = General Post Office, a nationalised body which ran the telephony and mail services of Great Britain at the time.
Bodie, caught by Mrs Hope at the top of the stairs: "I can explain! I saw you go out and thought 'A couple of fivers in a dresser - why not?'"
Mrs Hope: "What are you doing up there, then?"
Bodie: "Well, filing cabinet, jewellery, deed box - never know your luck, like."
Mrs Hope: "Can't you think of anything better to do?"
Bodie: "It wasn't always like this. I used to have a duplicating shop - 10p a photostat, that kind of thing. A copy of yer Uncle Charlie's will, like."
Mrs Hope, becoming sympathetic: "What went wrong?"
Bodie: "Oh, I just couldn't compete. Fifteen percent tax - terrible!"
Mrs Hope: "This isn't the sort of house that has fivers in the dresser!"
Bodie: "Yeah, I know but by the time you've found out, it's too late, isn't it?"
Mrs Hope: "I despise people like you - what's wrong with National Assistance?"
Bodie: "Well I was self-employed, wasn't I?"
Mrs Hope: "Any reason why I don't telephone the police?"
Bodie: "No, s'pose not."
Mrs Hope: "Have you got children?"
Bodie: "Yeah. Two. Little girls - our Jane and our Kelly - great little kids! I've got a photo of them..."
Mrs Hope: "No! Get out - and find something better to do!"
Bodie: "Ta - you're a brick!". He legs it!
Bodie spying an attractive blonde woman approaching the Hopes' house: "Whatever she's sellin', we need it!"
Doyle: "Yeah! She'd stiffen up your chewing gum for you!"
Bodie, offering Doyle a sandwich: "How about a CI5 special? I think it's cheese'n'onion."
Doyle: "On white?"
Bodie: "Well, sort of 'off-grey'!"
Cowley: "What's Hope's book about?"
Seymour, cautiously: "If I tell you..."
Cowley: "If you don't, your author list is likely to be one name short! A professional killer: that's how we got into this thing."
Seymour: "Oh! Strictly between the two of us?"
Cowley: "For the moment. That's all I guarantee."
Seymour: "It's an exposé of an aeroplane used throughout the NATO Defense System: the Fohn Fighter."
Cowley: "That's the one built by a consortium."
Seymour: "Fuselage and tail from Germany. Nose and final assembly, France. Wings and flaps, the UK."
Cowley: "How destructive a document is this?"
Seymour: "Lethal. Basically it was a rush-job. Politically expedient not to buy American: Europe flexing its new-found muscle. Short-cuts, insufficient testing, flaws in design. Wholesale bribes: governments, royal families, ministries: muddy footprints in the 'Corridors of Power'. He has hours of material, tapes, interviews. No-one likes the damned thing - over forty of them have crashed... and they're just the ones we know about."
Cowley: "Surely Hope can't be the only one to voice these doubts?"
Seymour: "Far from it - he's articulating what dozens of others feel. A top German draughtsman who worked on the engine mountings said much the same thing."
Seymour: "He was drowned last August."
Cowley: "Och - lots of people drown every August!"
Seymour: "True... but not many of them are ex-Olympic swimmers!"
Bodie, on discovering Van Neikerk has slipped his CI5 guard: "Dozy bastard!"
Cowley: "The best you can say?"
Bodie: "Typical - useless, absolutely use..."
Cowley: "Van Neikerk's a killer: ruthless, efficient."
Bodie: "Yeah, well we knew that, didn't we?! And now we've blown it like a bunch of bloody amateurs!"
Cowley, indicating the guard: "Do you think he wanted it this way?"
Bodie: "I don't give a toss about what he wanted. Like Churchill said: 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen'."
Cowley: "It wasn't Churchill, it was Harry Truman."
Bodie: "Well, so what? The point is that we've left Doyle hanging by his thumbs in the middle of this!"
Cowley: "So we warn him."
Bodie: "If it's not too late. Another foul-up - another piece of incompetence."
Cowley, suspicious: "'Another piece'? When was the last?"
Bodie, realising he's nearly dropped himself in it after being caught by Mrs Hope: "Well... who remembers? It's all the same, isn't it? Sending boys to do a man's work - I mean this one hasn't even begun to shave yet!"
Cowley: "You never fouled up? Your record's so immaculate?"
Bodie: "Look if you want my resignation, just ask for it!"
Cowley: "I'll tell what I want! Get on that phone, warn Doyle and stop behaving like a primadonna!"
Bodie: "I meant what I said!"
Cowley: "Now! Is that clear?!! And remember the world is full of 'Monday morning footballers'. On your bike, boy!"
Martin Hope: "This is your world, Mr Cowley: assassinations, intrigue, violence..."
Cowley: "You're stepping on very important toes."
Hope: "I must be naive - I thought they'd be grateful!"
Cowley: "'Grateful'? For telling them their brainchild is defective? That they'll be bankrupted, litigated against, perhaps imprisoned. All that and you expect gratitude?!"
Bodie, not entirely sympathetically: "Aw, you've banged your head!"
Doyle, injured and grouchy: "I'll bang yours in a minute!!"
CI5 op, via R/T: "Van Niekerk has fixed a rendezvous with Hope at the newspaper premises. Your instructions are to get there as fast as possible!"
Bodie, in excited schoolboy mode: "As fast as possible!"
Doyle, sarcastically: "Evel Knieval rides again!"
Bodie, performing Mr Magoo impression as he accelerates: "Wish I knew what I'd done with me contact lenses!"
Script blunder: At the hotel Geiser surreptitiously provides Doyle - posing as Van Niekerk - the details of Martin Hope as the "hit". Yet Doyle later asks Cowley why CI5 is interested in Hope.
The (unintentionally) hilarious scene of the Jaguar driver literally losing his head!
Fan Sue Law kindly advises me that the "Fohn Fighter" used in the story appears to be based on the real-life Lockheed Starfighter. The original craft, as used by the USAAF, was a fine machine but when the Germans signed up for it in the early 1960's, they requested major modifications (in an attempt to make it a fighter/bomber) which ultimately affected its stuctural integrity and stability... wings used to fall off in mid-air, for example! But political pressure forced the German government to continue with them and about forty crashed before they admitted defeat. Dubbed "The Widowmaker" by the Luftwaffe, most fatalities were due to the fact that the ejector seat often failed at low altitudes.
Matthew Long (Martin Hope) guested in shows such as The Sweeney, New Avengers and Between the Lines.
Lynda Bellingham (Mrs Hope) started her TV career in the soap General Hospital (the UK one, not the American show of the same name). She guested in one regular Sweeney episode and subsequently (somewhat surprisingly) had to get her kit off for the first movie. She replaced actress Carol Drinkwater as Helen Herriot in the popular vetinary drama All Creatures Great and Small . Now better known for her long-running ads for Oxo gravy stock and leads in sitcoms including Faith in the Future, Second Thoughts and At Home with the Braithwaites.
David Swift (Sir Kenneth) had previously starred as a gold-obsessed professor in a New Avengers episode but is best remembered as old hack Henry Davenport in the hugely popular sitcom satire on satellite news broadcasting, Drop the Dead Donkey.
Jeremy Young (Geiser) guested in three Avengers stories plus one from The New Avengers. Briefly played a troublesome reporter in Brookside. May have retired from acting now.
Timothy Carlton (Seymour, the newspaper editor and Cowley's contact in the Gentlemen's Club) specialised in playing upper-crust characters, though never won a leading role, as far as I know. Still acting today, though.
Victoria Burgoyne (the, ahem, "kookie girl") appeared in the Douglas Admas-scripted Doctor Who story 'Shada', the filming of which was abandoned and never completed due to industrial action at the BBC. She then had a starring role in the short-lived sitcom "Doctor's Daughters". Has anyone seen her in anything else? And have you got any videos? :-P
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