Last updated : 15th November 2015
|Episode 'Mixed Doubles'|
|Story Synopsis||As Bodie and Doyle undergo training to prepare them to protect a foreign official, two killers are receiving similar training to prepare them to assassinate him!||Writer||Brian Clemens|
|Guest Stars||Michael Coles, Nikolas Grace||Director||Roger Tucker|
& Filming Dates
Block 3, Episode 5
|Original UK Transmission||Season 4, Episode 12
7th December 1980
The episode aims to show that even though the two pairs are on opposite sides of the law, they are quite similar in many ways. The basic plot involves the safeguard of a visiting foreign leader and, as such, is hardly imaginitive BUT this is merely the backdrop to the real story.
That said, the action scenes are terrific and there is a fair degree of humour during the Lads' training exercises.
Excellent performances by everybody here (particularly Michael Coles as Rio and Ian McCulloch as Macklin) and that makes it an even better episode, of course.
The story is very well put together: scenes of Cowley putting Bodie and Doyle through a defence drill cut to similar scenes of Rio training his men to attack. This idea is repeated where both pairs are having their "bedtime chats". Very effective and allows us a peek at the characters' backgrounds: Doyle talks about his time as a "tearaway" kid and how he joined the force to "get some discipline". Meanwhile Joe and Frank, hidden away in the loft, talk of their tough times as youngsters, too.
Some great humour here, too, though: With the possibility of death on their minds, Bodie warns Doyle that Heaven won't be Paradise if Cowley is there as well!
The final scenes are the usual explosive action and Bodie finds irony in the fact that the killers used the outlawed dum-dums – something which he had previously suggested he and Doyle should use.
"I believe in me, 'cos I was born tall, dark and beautiful.... and engagingly modest, of course!"
Now we've come to the episode I consider to be the best of the lot. I know there are problems with the plot but taken as a whole and given what I like about Pros, 'Doubles' stands far ahead as my favorite. The structure is wonderful, the characters perfect, the dialogue excellent and the tension steady and relentless. Though the topic is the grim one of men as cannon fodder and political assassination for money, humor runs a clear path up to the finale. The Lads have never looked better, the settings are wonderful and the secondary characters are memorable and sympathetic.
The editing is incredible. The cuts from one pair to the other, in places even allowing dialogue to overlap makes for almost poetic parallel structure. Again, I am aware of the plot problems – ones I would never allow myself such as the possibility of the meeting at the pub and the brawl, but the overall effect is so good I forgive the flaws.
The entire sequence with Macklin is a true Pros jewel. Bodie in a tee-shirt is a rare treat! And Doyle in red then orange with the necklace – ah. Gorgeous close-ups, amazing use of props as symbols (one does hope that was unintended, particularly in the instance of the gun and cup – though it works at many levels!) and dialogue allowing us insight into the characters rather than merely advancing action. Marvelous, marvelous material.
The "night-before" scenes run a close second if not a tie with the above. We learn more about Bodie and Doyle in a few lines of dialogue than we have in all the shows that have aired before. Again, the direction, editing, acting, writing and camera work is all incredibly good.
Whoever decided that Doyle should wear sunglasses during the finale was a genius! To have both of them so emotionally vulnerable during the "you scared?" confession scene and to cover Ray's give-away eyes was pure art. Bodie can always keep his feelings hidden. With Ray the glasses were needed.
More parallel structure: Doyle shaving, surprised by Cowley and drawing so fast it has to be played over to catch that he uses his left hand and Bodie sitting watching the machine by the stairs and drawing his weapon in less than a heartbeat when Doyle and Cowley enter. The "guns fussing" scene with both pairs. Wonderful camera work.
Toward the end the scene showing both agents as watchers: they've never looked more "real". They prowl like panthers on guard. Perfect work by all concerned.
The Bodie-recognition moment is a classic. No one goes from friendly to deadly as quickly or as effectively. Again this episode shows us who these men really are!
Ray Doyle at the end, having killed his opposite, is a dirge made visible. He passes by the body without a glance and hunkers down by the water (wash my sins away?) to contemplate his weapon. It would be easy to imagine the character resigning from CI5 at the next opportunity, only to be talked out of it by his partner. One cannot exist without the other. By now their need for the balance they give each other is so great it's impossible to imagine them alone ever again.
Far and away my favorite episode. It's a brilliant piece of television art.
Macklin, unimpressed with the lads' combat skills: "Towser, don't break any bones but just take them apart. Then we can start putting them together again!"
Bodie: "Dead or dum-dums, what's the difference?"
Doyle, quietly furious: "I didn't come into this mob to use dum-dums."
Frank Coney, irritated at the repeated practice runs: "You're making us tired!"
Rio: "I am making you efficient - keeping you alive!"
Coney, discussing a romantic tryst in his past: "I don't often run. In fact I never do. But when that door burst open and her old man was stood there with a meat-cleaver... a meat-cleaver!!... well I was out of that window and down the High Street like bloody Concorde! Supersonic I was! The papers reported a streaker next day! Mind you, there was some compensation: as I passed an old biddy by the supermarket, she called out 'Hello, big boy!'."
Bodie, challenging Doyle's view of life after death: "... Then it's up to the Pearly Gates and Paradise... Or maybe not! You know Cowley punches the Bible - reads the lesson? Well he's not even on 'standby', mate - he's got a fully paid-up ticket... and he'll be up there with you... so where's your Paradise now, eh?! Luckily I'm going the other way!"
Rio says that after the pay-off Frank will be able to buy a couple of Rolls-Royces. Frank replies "Always fancied a Ferrari myself." Brian Clemens, who scripted this story, was a big fan of Ferraris!
The episode uses a small area of Southall for many of its scenes, which should have helped to keep its production on schedule. However filming overran considerably for reasons which are not clear. David Beames, Nikolas Grace and some of the crew had to be re-contracted for a day's filming during the production's official summer break in order to shoot the scenes in the loft.
All the material shot for the episode ran to about 53 minutes. This led to much of the "history" and "philosophy" discussions between the two pairs being dropped during post-production editing (which was a shame as they contain much excellent dialogue). Also the shoot-out at the climax of the story was far more violent originally, with several deaths. In the finished episode all we see is one of Parsali's male aides being hit in the shoulder but in the aftermath Cowley, bemoaning the use of dum-dums, steps over a dead woman. It's not clear whether the "lost" camera shots were dropped for concerns over the level of violence or simply to help the episode get down to the normal runtime - possibly a combination of both.
Michael Coles played one the Thaals in Peter Cushing's first Doctor Who theatrical adaptation. He starred in a couple of early 70s Hammer horrors and the vicious leader of a team of hitmen in the first Sweeney movie (plus a spot in a regular episode). Very rarely seen on TV thereafter and passed away in 2005.
Ian McCulloch (Macklin) is best remembered for his long stint in Survivors. But his fortunes flagged and he ended up in a series of extremely gory horror flicks, some of which I believe were banned in the UK.
Nikolas Grace (Joe) is best remembered as the sherriff in Robin of Sherwood. Also starred in the classic mini-series Brideshead Revisited and alongside Martin Shaw in The Last Place on Earth. More recently seen as an ineffectual MP in The Final Cut. Otherwise he seems a rather busy theatre actor.
Mark Wingett (punk) will be instantly recognisable to fans of The Bill.
|Technical Notes||On current TV transmissions and earlier VHS/DVD releases, the digital print does not appear to be a product of the flawed Bosch telecine process that was used by LWT in the early 1990s. Although the visuals are rather "soft", they thankfully lack the usual horrible "gauze-like" effect and have much warmer skin-tones.|
A very limited range of locations for this episode, many of which no longer exist.
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