Last updated : 1st August 2016

Episode 'Foxhole on the Roof'
Story Synopsis A newly-released convict plans to make a fortune by holding a hospital's post-operative ward to ransom. Writer Brian Clemens
Guest Stars Ron Pember, Karl Howman, Stanley Meadows Director William Brayne
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 4, Episode 10
20th to 31st October 1980Main shoot.
7th November 1980All shots of Lewis Collins and Steve Alder - rather than their stunt doubles - climbing and atop the chimney.
18th November 1980Short scene of computer message from RAF asking CI5 to investigate arms theft.
Original UK Transmission Season 5, Episode 1
7th November 1982
Dave's Comment

The fifth season kicks off with a cracker - it needed to!

Brian C proves he can still come up with the goods. This episode is probably unique in that not even Cowley can see a way round the situation - every time he thinks he can catch Roddy, the old lag has another surprise for him. ("He's got us by the short and curlies!" Cowley says - compare this with his remark in the pilot ep, 'Old Dog with New Tricks': "Kick them in the goolies first! Do unto others now what they are only just thinking about!") Although Cowley remains firmly in charge throughout, it's clear even he is beginning to "wobble" - especially with the pressure from the hospital doctor. All these elements keep the episode tense, interesting and watchable.

The police inspector makes a comment that we haven't heard since the early stories: "You boys are always quoting the small-print in your authority: 'Leave it to CI5' - so I did, I am.... and in this case I'm glad to!"

Roddy and Jack (the two ex-cons) discussing the scheme at the start of the episode is well-scripted: "I did twenty years [inside jail] and I'm not gonna do another week. As a matter of fact I couldn't do another hour - it would kill me." / "But, Jack, this one is certain." / "Oh yeah - so was the train!". And Jack later listening to the radio reports adds a further little dimension.

The plot works fairly well - except right at the end, which I'll come back to.

Some great photography with the hospital ward being blasted - the exploding blood bottles and shattering glass are shown in slow-motion - very effective. However I think this aspect of the story is the only thing that lets it down: there's no way Roddy could achieve that sort of accuracy (without hitting the patients) with a machine-gun.

Murphy (Steve Alder) gets his "big break" here - shame they didn't make better use of him in other stories (by the time of the 1981-filmed stories, he had been dropped altogether.)

And whatever happened to Kim Goody? (Stacey's girlfriend)

Although Bodie and Doyle don't have much witty banter to impart in this one (and, indeed, they end up working separately in the second half), Roddy and Paul Stacey do have their humorous moments - when Stacey dresses up as the female hostage his words to Roddy are "Give us a kiss!".

The conclusion doesn't quite make sense, though: Bodie, not realising that Stacey is a fake, still shoots him! Actually this was a problem with the way the scene was shot: the original script (and Ken Blake's subsequent novelisation of the story) made it clear that as Bodie lines up Roddy in his sights, he notices the "girl's" hairy forearms as "she" reaches up to the ropeladder. So now we know!

Must just mention Doyle's bomber jacket - I WANT ONE! Not sure why he's got a dead grey seal attached to the collar, though.

Right at the start of the ep, when Jack refuses to take part in the scheme, Roddy says to him "You just watch the headlines, Jack – you're gonna see me walk away with a cool million - and you're gonna say to yourself 'That could have been me'." Without giving the plot away, Jack says exactly that right at the end - but not in the manner that Roddy was hoping for!

Sharon's Comment

Not one of my favs. This is mostly fast-forward material once you've viewed it for the first time. The story isn't bad but there are many plot flaws. Dave has covered those. I'll concentrate on the important stuff.

Both men look terrific even though they aren't together for much of the story. When they are, it's quite nice. Bodie's a bit on the chubby side, but since I like him that way, it works for me. Doyle's hair is nearly perfect and Bodie's is nicely long and wavy. The staircase scene is great, over far too soon, although someone should have kept Lew from wearing The Awful Gray Jacket under the flak vest.

Murphy and Bodie have NO chemistry at all. Bodie gives it a try with the pout after the "I can't do it alone" line, but it's just not there. Nice close-ups, however. Watch Bodie's face during the pre-climbing set-ups. Is he a happy lad or what! He also looks quite fit during the climbing sequence.

I will refrain from commenting on the symbolism of the tower. Or on the silliness of taking such a risk without sanction. Or Bodie shooting "the girl".

The scene with Doyle and the girl is an excellent "rough cop" one. Played well by both actors - good dialogue and action, excellent direction and camera work there.

Doyle is simply gorgeous. Could those new jeans be any tighter?

The very last scene - watch how Doyle moves close to Bodie as the camera moves away. Think anyone was seriously considering substituting Murph for Doyle?



Roddy: "Not a cent to show between us. They owe us, Jack."

Jack: "Not good talk, Roddy."

Roddy: "It's the only thing that's kept me sane."

Jack: "Roddy, listen to me. You so much as sniff at another train or a bank or a payroll..."

Roddy: "No, no, no. New line of business. Something they can't trace back to us."

Jack: "No, Roddy, no! Not us. I did twenty years inside - and I'm not gonna do another week. Matter of fact, I couldn't do another hour - it would kill me."

Roddy: "But Jack, this one is certain."

Jack: "Oh, yeah, so was the train!"

Inspector: "You boys are always quoting the small print in your authority. 'Leave it to CI5'. So I did. I am. And in this case I'm glad to!"


When Doyle is talking to Cowley on the RT about Dunston, he's driving on a road alongside fields. When the shot goes back to Doyle mid-sentence and about a second later he's driving down an urban residential street. (Thanks to Nik Hodges).

This is a debateable one: in Roddy's final scene towards the end of the episode, we see the helicopter swing back towards the warehouse and fly above some parked cars. There is a police car along with what appears to be Cowley's black Granada and Doyle's Capri - yet the latter is supposed to be parked up at Dunstan's country house in Surrey, some forty miles away! (Thanks to Jesper Antvorskov)


I was quite amazed to see RAF Pirbright - 'cos when I lived there it was an ARMY base (and it still is)!!

This was the most expensive episode shot for the entire series. The script had originally been written in 1979 and intended to be filmed and screened as part of the third season. However despite the low number of locations used, the chimney set-piece and extensive use of helicopters couldn't be budgeted for at the time. The revival of the story the following year was borne of the expectation that the series being saved from cancellation was just a temporary reprieve. With the 1980 episodes apparently being the final ones, it was felt important to have at least one "iconic", big-budget episode before bowing out.

Deja Vu

Stanley Meadows (Roddy) usually played villains in series such as Special Branch and The Sweeney. Also starred in Lynda La Plante's crime mini-series Widows and its sequel.

Ron Pember (Jack) is a well-known face from 1970s, usually playing in villainous types in classic series such as Department S, UFO, Callan, Secret Army, Sweeney, Target and Minder.

Karl Howman (Stacey) usually played Jack-the-Lad types in shows such as Sweeney and Minder and went on to play the leads in the dire sitcoms Brush Strokes, Mulberry and Babes in the Wood. Currently to be seen advertising cleaning agents.

Robert Putt (Inspector Newton) is sometimes credited as Roger Putt for some reason. Starred in the enjoyable Brian Conley sitcom Time After Time.

C J Allen (Sergeant Wood) starred as another copper in the long-running police drama Juliet Bravo.

Kim Goody (Tessa, Stacey's girlfriend) seemed to be one of those actresses, like Suzanne Danielle, who was well-known without ever doing much. I seem to remember she presented a couple of ITV children's programmes throughout the late 70s and early 80s and popped up in TV ads for products such as ice-cream. In recent years has turned her talents to music production for television themes and advertising jingles.

The episode begins with recently-released prisoner Roddy Barker calling on fellow ex-con Jack Cobber. But Jack isn't interested in Roddy's new scheme. The flat is documented as Hurley House, Cotton Gardens Estate, Kennington Lane, Lambeth.
Roddy blags some heavy artillery from "RAF Pirbright", though it is actually Chobham Business Centre, 319 Chertsey Road, Chobham.
Alerted to the theft, CI5 HQ this week is documented as Cadby Hall, Hammersmith - but the site was demolished in 1983.
The heist begins with Roddy and his new associate Stacey arriving at their prepared "foxhole on the roof". This was shot at Chambers Wharf Cold Storage, Chambers Street, Bermondsey - and that actual name is used in the script - but the site was demolished and redeveloped in 2011. The Google Street View angle I've used here is a bit of a cheat so we can at least see some of the housing in the background which still stands today.
The lads are outside a newsagent shop on 162 Thornbury Road, Osterley when they receive a report of a pair of gunmen on a warehouse roof.
The Big A starts to arrive at the warehouse.
With the arrival of the squad at the warehouse, Roddy puts his scheme into action and starts firing at a nearby hospital. It was actually St. Michael’s School, John Felton Road, Bermondsey but this too has been demolished recently. It was also used for the subsequent scenes of Doyle visiting the forensics lab and RAF Records.
Cowley sets up a temporary base, at 33 Bermondsey Wall West, Bermondsey. Many of the buildings have undergone redevelopment since 1980, so little is recognisable now but a brief scene of a young cop arriving with some information helps confirm the location, with the white building in the centre background.
Meanwhile Bodie and Murphy hatch their plan to get a clear shot at Roddy - a nearby industrial chimney. This was next to the Lavender Dock Pump House, Admiral Place, off Rotherhithe Street, Rotherhithe. However the chimney, like so many in Britain, has since been demolished. Recognisable here, however, is the house in the background. (Also note that the chimney was nowhere near the warehouse in reality!). The location for Stacey's flat - for which we only see the interior - is documented as being a house somewhere on Rotherhithe Street.
A thumbprint found on a dropped ammo clip reveals Stacey's identity which, in turn, leads to a third member of the gang, Dunstan, an ex-RAF officer. Suspecting a link with the earlier weapons heist, Doyle heads to RAF Records, via Jersey Road leading into Alderney Road, Osterley. The house with the twin apexes is the clue here.
Doyle arrives at Dunstan's place, Larkenshaw Farm, Stonehill Road, Chobham.

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