Last updated : 1st August 2016
|Episode 'No Stone'|
|Story Synopsis||A young woman turns against her wealthy background and the British Justice system, which she sees as corrupt. With the help of a sympathetic solicitor, she plans the destruction of key legal establishments around London and revenge against an ex-comrade. Attempting to halt the terror campaign, CI5 becomes collateral damage.||Writer||Roger Marshall|
|Guest Stars||Sarah Neville, Michael Praed||Director||Chris Burt|
& Filming Dates
|Block 5, Episode 4
|Original UK Transmission||Season 5, Episode 11
6th February 1983
As per most Roger Marshall stories, this one has a nicely multi-layered plot... and a number of problems...
The role of the gang's solicitor, Hockley, is rather odd: he may sympathise with their anti-wealth stance but this doesn't stop him from owning a premium apartment and a brand new Porsche!
The scene where Doyle has to break bad news to Cookie's wife is genuinely gut-wrenching – see the Dialogue section below - we never see enough of this kind of thing in the series. And Chrissie Cotterill puts in a searing performance.
The "courtroom" scenes are a tad corny, perhaps because they are slightly overacted. Either way the story arguably falls back on the tired "all terrorists are nutters" ideology. There is the occasional bit of balance in which the viewer is invited to examine the gang's ideals - see below for examples - but if, like 'Operation Susie', the story was trying to depict a strong female leader, this doesn't work, given the manner in which Ulrike subsequently treats Jimmy (let alone the fate of her childhood pet rabbit when its christening of "Lenin" was disallowed). Jimmy may have crumbled under interrogation from the authorities - but there seems to be little doubt that he believes in the cause. Then again perhaps Roger Marshall was deliberately suggesting that the ruthlessness sometimes necessary to maintain a role of leadership is actually a form of psychopathy.
Hockley anonymously sends photos of young Kilpin to the authorities, yet after his earlier visit from CI5, surely he would suspect he was being watched?
Also, it's totally unbelievable that Ulrike happens to fall asleep while being held for questioning. And I suspect the trick with the airport's clocks would have confounded the hundreds of passengers!
The end of the interrogation makes no sense: why does the final bomb "belong" specifically to Ulrike and how did Doyle know that it would? The answer seems to lie in an earlier single line of dialogue in which she hints that hers wasn't the only "cell" behind the bombings. Despite her own gang's impending imprisonment, it won't affect "the others. Today England, tomorrow .. In a year's time there won't be a courtroom in Europe working properly". But if that was the intention of the plot, it's not made at all clear: the episode focuses solely on her gang and thus suggests that it is acting alone.
So after a strong start, the plot totters into progressive nonsense. It's as though Roger Marshall set himself the challenge of getting all the characters into a tricky situation - as per Brian Clemens' original writers' brief - but then couldn't think of a logical way to get them out of it.
The fates of Hockley and CI5 op Robbie Allison are left unresolved.
Looking back at this and previous Marshall scripts for the series, they all suffer from plot-holes, unanswered oddities, characters with obscure motives, loose ends - and this ep is the worst offender. It's too much of a coincidence to put these problems down to oversights in Gerry O'Hara's script editing (though, of course, his role was to address such issues!) or cutting expositional scenes for timing reasons. This is very surprising and disappointing considering the calibre of stories Marshall wrote for earlier series such as The Avengers and The Sweeney. In fairness, though, Roger always set out to write interesting, multi-layered stories that stood out from the pack and I suspect the constant pressure to get scripts ready in time wasn't conducive to ironing out "logic flaws".
The positives, however, include the casting of Sarah Neville, whose talents are ideally suited - in appearance and demeanour - to play the hardened Ulrike. There is the irony of the huge reward offered by Jimmy's father when it was money that the lad rebelled against in the first place - although this is a touch overplayed in the dialogue. The Cookie sub-plot and the Bomb Squad sequence - with a fascinating look at the unit's then-new innovation of the remote-controlled "Hunter" robot - remind the audience that, although the series was peppered with action and humour, it frequently aimed to bring home very real and dangerous issues.
Overall the theme of direct attacks on law enforcement makes for a suitable series closure (at least in terms of original UK transmission) but after the first half, much of the plot's "propulsion" makes little sense.
Cookie, exiting: "Drop in sometime, Ray - June often talks about you."
Doyle, feigning conceit: "They all do, my son!"
Bodie: "What's she like, then?"
Doyle: "Oh, not your sort. Witty, attractive, intelligent, got perso..." - he's stopped by a sudden, unexpected mouthful of cushion.
Doyle taps gently on the door.
June, due to give birth any day soon: "Ray! What a treat! I've got you all to myself - Cookie's on a job."
Doyle: "Yeah, I know..."
June, indicating her pregnancy: "Well, what do you think?"
Doyle, half-heartedly: "Blooming!"
June, unstoppably chatty: "Liar! Looked at myself in the bath last night - yuch! Like Mr Michelin Man! I'm way over what I was with Danny. Can you stay for lunch? I'm filling the freezer - well, you know what Cookie's like! How can you have a name like Cook and be so useless in the kitchen?! Anyway, this time I'm going to have him all stocked up, plenty of instruc... What's wrong?"
Doyle: "Er, sit down, June. It's Cookie."
Doyle, hesitant: "It's worse than that..."
June: "Is he hurt?"
Doyle can't find the words.
June, realising: "No, no I don't believe it..."
Doyle, lifting his hand to steady her: "Listen..."
June, now getting hysterical: "I don't want to listen, don't tell me, go away, it isn't true, I don't want to know!! GET OFF!!! It was you – you talked him into it: more money, more chances. You bastard! Bastard, BASTARD!! It's alright for you – you haven't got anyone: no kids, no wife. You can go on playing cowboys for the rest of your bloody miserable, selfish life!!"
Ulrike: "We reckon your testimony is going to add fifty years to our sentences. You've deprived us of fifty years of life. Well we're going to do the same to you. That's fair, isn't it?"
Tessa: "What are Jimmy's chances?"
Doyle: "Do you want the diplomatic handout or the truth?"
Tessa, her fears confirmed: "That's what I thought."
Doyle picks up a small, tame white rabbit: "Nice little chap, isn't he?"
Bodie: "Yeah. Looks a bit like you!"
Doyle: "Hair's the right colour!" (Seemingly an in-joke as Martin Shaw was greying at the temples.)
Bodie: "And the eyes!"
Cowley, sympathetic but firm: "Mr Kilpin, money can't solve all of life's problems."
Kilpin: "It solves more than you give it credit for."
Cowley: "Don't you see it created your problem? If you'd been averagely well-off, this would never have happened. Jimmy would have had nothing to rebel against - nothing to feel guilty about."
Kilpin: "Cowley, my father never once had more than five pounds in a bank. But he felt guilty! That was real guilt!"
Hockley listens to the recording of him making a call from a phonebox: "That supposed to be me? Could have been anyone from Donald Duck to Mao Tse Tung!"
Bodie: "Sounded very much like you."
Hockley, sarcastically: "It would!"
Doyle: "Yeah. Gonna sound great when the labs have finished with it. Take out the treble, build up the bass, filter out the traffic, pinch of salt. It'll be perfect."
Hockley: "In other words a routine, 'Made in Britain', good old-fashioned fit-up!"
Doyle: "People are going to get killed. Kids are going to lose eyes and limbs. Do you want that?"
Ulrike, unflinchingly determined: "Yes."
Doyle: "Well it won't help you."
Ulrike: "Not us - but it will help the others. Today England, tomorrow Germany, France and Holland. In a year's time there won't be a courtroom in Europe working properly!"
Doyle: "Why attack the law?"
Ulrike: "British law is so wonderfully hypocritical. Kick an old woman to death, that's naughty - get your wrist slapped. But do damage to some property, burn a Rolls Royce, break a few windows..."
During the short scene with Cookie's wife, the clock in the kitchen jumps by almost ten minutes! (Thanks to Petri Kaasalainen).
When Cowley says the team have an hour to find the bombs before they detonate at 5pm, Doyle has just walked past a clock that says 4.10!!
The idea that the Hockley character appears to support the group's aims echoes the infamous Baader-Meinhof Group (or Red Army Faction as they were formally known), whose own lawyers were frequently arrested on the grounds of supporting the terrorists. Additionally the Ulrike Herzog in the story is presumably modelled on Ulrike Meinhof, while Jimmy's Gilpin's fate may have been influenced by the manner of Meinhof's own in May 1976.
The suspicion of the police officers over the Ford Cortina parked in "Fleet Street" possibly requires some explanation - particularly for non-UK viewers. From 1963 to 1983 the final letter on a plate indicated the car's year of registration, with "A" representing 1963/1964, B for 1964/65, right up to "Y" indicating 82/83. (Some letters such as "I", "O" and "Z" were not used). Thus the final "L" on the Cortina's "GUL 748L" plate indicates 1972/73. However the car is the "Mark IV" version which, as the senior officer realises, wasn't launched until 1977. ("Right, Alex - call the Bomb Squad!")
Sarah Neville went on to the excellent TV series Bust concerning a bankrupts businessman's (Paul Nicholas) dodgy dealings in an attempt to recoup his fortune.
All cult TV fans will, of course, remember Michael Praed as the eponymous hero in Robin of Sherwood. After (surprisingly) quitting this series he went on to supersoap Dynasty. Hasn't really done a lot of acting since but starred in a short-lived BBC series called Crown Prosecutor - evidently a rehash of the 1970s series Crown Court.
Simon Dutton plays the strangely-named character "Tree". He became a short-lived reincarnation of The Saint in 1988. (Actually I thought he was pretty good in the role but the series was often hampered by awful scripts). More recently he had a lengthy run in the superb BBC sitcom Not Going Out.
Briony McRoberts, as Tessa Kilpin, went on to Scots soap Take the High Road but tragically took her own life in 2013.
|Technical Notes||The end credits on some TV transmissions and video/DVD releases had a noticeable white scratch indicating that either the negative or inter-neg has suffered poor handling. However this was subsequently addressed - probably via digital restoration techniques rather than actually recreating the negative - in time for Contender's 2005 DVD re-releases.|
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