Last updated : 1st August 2016

Episode 'It's Only a Beautiful Picture'
Story Synopsis A gang are stealing and selling arts treasures and industrial secrets to foreign countries, using the blind routine of Customs to their advantage. CI5 decides to set a trap. Writer Edmund Ward
Guest Stars Moray Watson, Neil McCarthy, Prunella Gee, Jonathan Newth, Anthony May Director Denis Lewiston
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 4, Episode 4
28th July to 8th August 1980Main shoot.
16th August 1980The lads talk with various photographers around Soho and Trafalgar Square, Doyle gets a parking ticket, Bodie is overtaken by Doyle on his motorbike, Cowley and Galbraith drives across the Lambeth Bridge, oil refinery scenes, Cowley briefs Bodie by the village pond, Bodie finds Doyle sleeping in the police car, Sangster & co take the motorway to hijack the van, Cowley walks to Galbraith's office, the lads have a picnic.
3rd September 1980"Run-by" as the lads and Cowley drive away from the blast furnace, Doyle contacts the Vice Squad for info on dodgy photographers.
Original UK Transmission Season 4, Episode 15
27th December 1980
Dave's Comment

Not a gripping plot, downright odd in places and with some scenes that serve no purpose at all. But there are some great highlights here and the script is both snappy and occasionally funny. The editing is very fast, made up of lots of short scenes – no hanging about here!

Actually maybe I should just explain the plot as it's not clear on first viewing. Sangster and his mob need a way of "exporting" the stolen goods without them being inspected by Customs. This involves Tibbs making two flights. On the first trip, cohort Sara has deliberately fouled up the paperwork so that it shows one less packing crate than Tibbs actually has on his plane. As planned, the Customs officers spot this and demand Tibbs returns home to get the paperwork sorted. However he asks them to inspect all the crates there and then, including the extra one, which, on this first trip, contains perfectly innocuous goods. A customs seal is placed on the crates and Tibbs returns home with them, whereupon the seal on the extra one is switched to an identical crate which contains the stolen goods. On his second trip, then, it looks as though this crate has already been inspected and so Customs let it through. Easy! I wonder if it would work in reality?

Doyle's undercover work back on the beat is very amusing and thankfully we see a return of some biting humour to the script. "Perhaps your little doggie would like to chew on this electric fire?"

I did enjoy the lads' little tour of London in search of Snapper, with an amazing, jazzy, "sleazy" version of Laurie's theme playing! And all topped off with Doyley getting a parking ticket!

The photographer's fate was well-filmed with the use of the red light of his dark-room - effective and terrifying without the need to resort to on-screen violence. On the other hand the episode is peppered with rather needless murders - a couple of which weren't in the original script.

Cowley refers to the lads as "gentlemen" on a number of occasions - surely THAT was out-of-character! <G>

But can you imagine anybody using a Rolls-Royce to pull off a robbery?? Hardly inconspicious!

Not a bad ep but the direction lacks conviction, including the fist-fight at the end, which is rather poorly photographed. At least Bodie getting arrested along with the gang was funny.

Odd scripting blunder: Doyle says he was never artistic yet we know from the early episodes that he enjoyed art classes.

In terms of original UK transmission, this was not a great choice to end the season on - and not helped by...

... CHEESEY ENDING ALERT: "This exercise, gentlemen, has been a classic demonstration of how to have your cake and eat it!". Silly old Cowley.

Sharon's Comment

Not the best by the remotest stretch but it does have some good moments. My copy is at least third generation translated and the sound leaves a lot to be desired so I missed portions of dialogue. The banter level, however, seems to be high and well-done overall. What I could get was charming. Would be interesting to know how much was ad-libbed and how much had been written in the script. Given the overall quality of the episode, I lean toward the ad-libbing. By now the two actors manage in spite of poor material to keep the characters alive for us. This one is a good example of that fact.

Let's not forget the wardrobes either. Doyle in a lemon tee shirt, Bodie in black leather. Ray changes to a green tee for a while and Bodie goes through his entire collection of leather jackets, wearing black, gray and brown. Doyle spends most of the time looking scruffy while Bodie, except for an action moment or three, looks uncharacteristically mild and harmless.

In the beginning they both seem cynical and bored. Notice that while they wait for Cowley, Doyle solves a small puzzle. The close-ups in the car are nice and we get Doyle's "Oh, very witty" line here.

The crowd scenes are rather fun to watch, but this was where I lost a lot of dialogue. Frustrating because I know it's good. (Yes, I know. I need to get a PAL player.)

DS Doyle, scruffy and offensive, is a delight. He doesn't seem to work too hard to bring out that character.

Bodie the salesman is soft and charming until challenged. Then the hard man returns. Ah.

My favorite moment is the car scene where Doyle is asleep and Bodie wakes him. The picnic scene is nice, too. Too short, but nice.

The ending, while busy with action, is silly. Sloppy writing. Was everyone in that much of a hurry to get it all done?

Not a great one.


Doyle, in the art gallery: "When did Cowley become an art lover?"

Bodie: "When he saw his first pound note!"

Doyle: "Why send us here?"

Bodie: "Improve our minds, he said."

Doyle: "Well with yours, he's got plenty of room for manouevre!"

Galbraith: "The minister wanted us to have a full and frank exchange of views."

Cowley, apparently not completely trusting: "Which means telling each other half the truth... with a sincere smile, naturally. They sent the right man!"

Bodie, on the smuggling of the designs for the smelting process: "Well there goes another urgent consignment for the Diplomatic Pouch!"

Doyle: "Yeah, with Security waving and saying 'Have a nice trip'!"

Doktor Ebert, receiving the designs for the smelting process: "These documents should have been delivered to Germany, Colonel, by you. Not risked to a diplomatic pouch at my culpability and inconvenience."

Sangster: "The last time I delivered, I didn't like my reception much. Machine-pistols waving and arguments about money. I was cheated. Elementary strategy: never take the same risk twice, so I picked home ground, among friends."

Ebert: "I would like to say it's been a pleasure doing business with you, Colonel, but I prefer not to be hypocritical."

Sangster: "I'm in it for the money, Herr Doktor - not for the sunshine of your smile!

Smithson, the head waiter at Cowley's exclusive and grand club: "The minister's asked me to reserve the Evesham asparagus and fresh sea-trout for you, sir. For two. I trust that's in order. "

Cowley: "Very much so. For two."

Doyle, realising that he and Bodie are not invited: "Oh, we'll just grab a sausage sandwich down at Nellie's caff!"

Cowley, reciprocating: "If you have time."

Inspector Ralston, reading "Detective Sergeant" Doyle's report: " 'Sloppy and careless of routine'. I'll keep one foot on his neck and the other not far from his backside!"

Betty, the pub's landlady: "Not in here, Sam Armitage - not with that dog."

Bodie, threatened by the snarling dog, picks up an electric fire: "Perhaps your little doggie would like to chew on this fire? Or maybe you'll just leave - like the lady says."

Armitage, realising he's been beaten: "I'll remember your face."

Bodie: "I'll try to forget yours."

Tibbs: "Nice sense of tactics you have, friend! Where did you learn it?"

Bodie, recognising the military bearing: "Same place as you, Adjutant. Shilling a day."

Doyle: "Get off my back, Ralston."

Ralston, driving: "Inspector Ralston to you.

Doyle: "Yes, Inspector. Have a puncture on me, Inspector."

Ralston: "Sonny, if I do, you'll mend it."

Betty: "I bet you miss London."

Doyle: "Only the gang-fights and diesel fumes. But Inspector Ralston's promised to teach me old-time dancing!"

Galbraith, extremely nervous about delivering Strayton Four into Cowley's care: "I'm still not sure of your methods or reasoning."

Cowley: "They're both desperate. But so were you when you sent for me and started having ulcers on the Minister's behalf. You want a national thieving and exporting syndicate taken apart. You won't get it with an advert in 'The War Cry'. Look, Henry, I know I'm risking a piece of top oil technology but if you're in the trap-setting business, you don't go around moaning about the price of cheese!"

Doyle: "Get lost, Ralston! I've had enough of your needle, 'Fatguts' Gillespie's griping and being a member of Colonel Sangster's bootlicking squad!"

Bodie, spotting Sarah on the radio to Sangster: "Think we had better call for reinforcements, mate."

Doyle: "Not on your R/T - they've got a full-frequency radio."

Bodie: "I'd still like to attract somebody's attention... or we might both end up on the police force!"


When Cowley signs for responsibility for Strayton IV, he misspells his own name! (Thanks to and well spotted, "Wii"!)

A couple of the characters appear to swap names! 'Snapper' Ullmann (Anthony May) refers to his friend in the shop, Sam Wilmot, as "Perce" (Percy) but this is actually Armitage's forename. Betty the barmaid then refers to Armitage as 'Sam'. These problems were due to mistakes in the script, rather than blunders by the actors.

Deja Vu

Moray Watson (Sangster) was rather typecast as upper-crust military types, including the great mini-series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years.

Jonathan Newth (Tibbs) appeared in classic historical dramas The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Poldark, Japanese POW series Tenko and cult BBC classic Day of the Triffics. Also turned his hand to sitcom in the amusing Prunella Scales series After Henry.

Prunella Gee (Sara) played the rather fetching alien Miss Griffin in Nigel Kneale's wacky 1981 sitcom Kinvig. Also played one of the health farm nurses in the "unofficial" Bond film Never Say Never Again. Hasn't done a lot since, surprisingly but apparently she turned up in a few episodes of Coronation Street in 1999.

Neil McCarthy (Armitage) was one of those oft-seen character actors who guested in all sorts of episodic series - usually playing villainous henchmen - but never landed a lead role. Perhaps best remembered as the owner of a seedy, delapidated hotel in an episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Tragically he was struck down by Motor Neurone Disease and passed away in 1985.

William Moore (Chief Superintendant Gillespie) is best remembered for the Ronnie Corbett sitcom Sorry. Passed away in 2000.

Roger Martin (PC Gorton) starred as Roger (the lodger!) in the 80s sitcom No Place Like Home. Tends to pop up in TV adverts more than anything else.

Rogue colonel Sangster has gone into business stealing high value art and industrial designs. The episode opens with his gang photographing the Alconhurst Chalice. This and subsequent scenes of the store containing a smelting process design drawings and CI5 HQ were apparently shot at Kienzle Data Systems at 224 Bath Road, Slough - but this site has long since been replaced.
CI5 becomes aware of a number of thefts Sangster has committed, although have yet to identify him. As part of the investigation Cowley sends the lads to an art gallery (for no obvious reason!). This is documented as The Roan Gallery, 31a Bruton Place, Mayfair.
Cowley visits a smelting works from where top secret designs have been stolen. This is documented as the Bon Accord Foundry, 797 Weston Road, Slough - though since gone.
The lads wait in Doyle's car for Cowley to arrive. Again, this is a scene which seems to serve no purpose. According to the script it takes place outside CI5 HQ however the actual location is not documented - but was possibly by the foundry.
Cowley meets under-secretary Henry Galbraith in Battishill Gardens, Napier Terrace, off Upper Street, Islington, to discuss the potential theft of a new oil drill design, Strayton IV. (If you zoom in to the Google Street View, the strange stone etchings can be seen, albeit rather more weatherbeaten since 1979!
One of Sangster's men, Tibbs, sets off in his light aircraft to prepare for another con on Customs. All airfield scenes in the episode were shot at White Waltham Airfield.
Cowley briefs the lads on the series of thefts. We see them in Doyle's car driving along what appears to be Channel Gate Road, Harlesden albeit almost completely beyond recognition now, other than the chimney stacks of house on the right!...
... Next we switch to Townmead Road, Fulham.
The briefing finishes outside a filling station on Talgarth Road, Hammersmith.
Suspecting that a professional photographer is involved in the thefts, the lads traipse around London questioning potential suspects, kicking off in Trafalgar Square, Westminster.
Investigations continue amongst the seedier streets of the capital, Walkers Court, Brewer Street and then Rupert Street.
Doyle finds a parking ticket waiting for him in Leicester Square by the junction with St. Martin's Street.
Vice Squad suggests 'Snapper' Ullmann might be worth checking out. The lads head for his studio via Cumberland Gate by Marble Arch.
Galbraith's office is in Islington Town Hall, where he tries to assure a colleague that he is well aware that Strayton IV is a likely target for the next theft.
The lads arrive at Snapper's studio and he admits his involvement with Sangster's activities, although he has never actually met the colonel. At the time this was a genuine photography shop, O’Mahoney Studio, 40 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith.
Meanwhile Sangster and co are waiting for the arrival of some East German customers who are due to pay for the stolen smelting process designs. Sangster's place is documented as Leggatts Park, Great North Road, Potters Bar but it is private land and there don't appear to be any photos of it readily available.
The lads meet Cowley at what's documented as the Naval Club, Hill Street, Mayfair, though we only see the interior.
With no direct evidence to tie Snapper in with Sangster, Cowley sends the lads to work undercover as a salesman and a policeman. They drive to the colonel's small town, Felby, via Holmshill Lane, Ridge, Hertfordshire.
Doyle arrives at Felby's police station, which is documented as being the Territorial Army Centre, Elmgrove Road, Harrow. We don't see the exterior clearly but in a later scene, the street is fairly easy to identify.
Bodie pulls up outside the Sangster Arms pub, actually The Three Horseshoes, Back Lane, Letchmore Heath.
Cowley and Galbraith meet for a progress update at Westland Heliport, Lombard Road, Battersea.
Cowley and Galbraith speed to the latter's office along the aforementioned Lombard Road.
Cowley tries to talk Galbraith into allowing Strayton Four to become bait, while driving along Vicarage Crescent, Wandsworth - the nearby railway bridge can just be seen in the screenshot.
Cowley and Galbraith drive over Lambeth Bridge.
The oil refinery where Strayton IV is being developed is documented as actually being the site of Sellotape on Elstree Way, Borehamwood but it no longer exists.
Doyle, still posing as a Detective Sergeant, is dozing in Ralston's car. There is no indication of where this was filmed but it was probably around the aforementioned Letchmore Heath.
Sangster and co head to the oil refinery via the A1 Barnet bypass, Borehamwood.
In another scene which seems to serve no purpose, Cowley walks along Waterloo Place.
Sangster's mob hijacks a van carrying Strayton Four along Wall Hall Drive, Aldenham. The small garage in the background has since been replaced by a more modern construction and the house is presently obscured by trees but thanks to "David" - whose family worked in the area at the time the episode was shot - for the confirmation.
Tibbs and Armitage take the van down an unnamed track leading off the aforementioned Wall Hall Drive, Aldenham. Unfortunately Google has inadvertently dropped this road from StreetView. (Thanks again to "David" who explained that the track is now a footpath in order to prevent vehicular access to the nearby golf course.)
The lads enjoy a picnic - for no demonstrable reason - in Bodie's estate car but there is no indication as to where this was filmed...
Sangster waits in the Rolls for Tibbs and Armitage to return from dumping the van. Again there is no documentation for this but ostensibly it is a field by the aforementioned Church Lane, Aldenham.

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