Last updated : 23rd May 1999

Episode 'Hostage'
Story SynopsisAn Albanian VIP is held hostage in a TV studio by fellow countrymen determined to expose him in a globally broadcast "trial". Matters become complicated for CI5, who find themselves working against the police when each unit receives contrary orders on how to deal with the situation.
WriterBrian Clemens DirectorJohn Davies Sweden Tx Date24th September 1998
Dave's Comment

Good storyline, some excellent scripting and John "Shotgun Tommy" Castle is brilliant. Dennis Lill (who previously appeared in the 1980 story 'Hijack') does well, too.

To be honest the guest stars outshine the principals, though Edward puts in a solid performance.

At one point Malone is heard to utter "Over my dead body!": a cheeky reference to Edward’s 1990 TV series?

Backus gets to wave a gun around a bit and shout "Freeze!" – she’s obviously been watching Charlie's Angels again. (If Malone's codename happened to be 'Angel', we could rename the show Angel's Charlies!)

I found the final storming scene a little unconvincing: it really needed to be a lot faster-moving with flying bodies akimbo. Instead we get an A-Team style scene with lots of gunfire but not so much as a fractured eyelash.

Overall, though, one of the better episodes.

Ann's Comment

This is one of my favourite episodes, not least thanks to John Castle who is brilliant as the white-haired, I, Claudius look-alike Panos, the man in charge of the "trial". Dennis Lill is equally convincing as the Albanian VIP, Eliz Risha.

Basically this is a story of crime and punishment, and ultimately of justice. In this case, the matter of who is the criminal is as intricate as who is supposed to play judge and jury. While not exactly flattering as far as the police force and government are concerned, it does make you wonder just how much a life is worth when a country's reputation might be at stake. It is also a sly take on the power held by journalists and the media on the whole.

The plot is intelligent and well performed, being plausible with an interesting twist at that. The only thing that's oddly inexplicable is how, when he hears Risha address him by name, Panos triumphantly states that contrary to his claims, Risha does know him – yet the first thing Panos did in that studio was to introduce himself as Enver Panos to the world and Risha!

Again there are some teeny enlightening insights (which I wish were longer, or fuller, or preferably both) into the ops' lives, this time reflecting what they do in their spare time (or at least that night, before being called back on duty). Curtis is found working out in the gym and is quite annoyed when summoned. Keel takes his call in a pub, where he's telling a woman an amusing anecdote about this live gig that went all wrong. (Funny - I can actually visualize him being a musician, sort of...)

Since the focus is mainly on what happens in that TV studio, the action and violence is for the most part not there, with two main exceptions. First, Keel gets involved in a fight with some unlikely adversaries. Secondly there's the SAS-inspired rescue attempt. The whole procedure is very smooth and highly enjoyable to watch.

Once again, Backus gets in on the action (along with Spencer and some other fellow ops), although she seems to mainly scout around the empty corridors.

Jack's Comment

This should have been called 'The John Castle Show', with a special guest appearance by the New Professionals. That accurately describes the exposure the performers get. After six minutes, CI5 has done nothing and the ad break has commenced. At times, 'Hostage' looked as though it would recapture the old magic: Curtis and Keel called back after hours from the gym and a date (see 'Blood Sports' and 'First Night') and Malone phoning the PM to sanction CI5 involvement – Cowley never had problems accessing the highest levels at Westminster. (Edward Woodward is slightly better in this episode.) It also seems Backus might do more than hand faxes to Malone as the story unfolds: like the other two, she is called back – from dinner on a floating restaurant with some of her friends. Even the score starts off well: nice piano work with a Johnson flavour.

But there is little plot: Panos (brilliantly acted by John Castle, who would have made a more worthy successor to Gordon Jackson) spends most of the hour accusing Risha of crimes against humanity, while Curtis, Keel and Backus run around Teddington Studios.

The lack of cooperation from the police seems ridiculous to fans of the originals – they were never this disrespected by fellow law enforcement agencies (e.g. 'Foxhole on the Roof'). Malone's umpteenth disagreement with the Minister (Charlotte Cornwell) demonstrates how little regard Westminster now has for CI5.

Most of the story is easily guessed and the entire thing lacks suspense. It's another content-less episode from Brian Clemens, and extremely slow to boot. Think 10 minutes of story stretched out for the entire 45 minutes. If you must watch it, watch the first 13 minutes, then fast forward to the 42nd minute, and you'll enjoy it a lot, lot more.

And to think, it could have been given the Die Hard treatment easily, with Curtis, Keel and Backus disabling armed Albanians (or more coppers) throughout the episode!

Gentlemen will be more impressed by Miss Doig in a little black dress – as producer Wickes said, her presence is to attract male viewers; certainly the LBD is her most figure-hugging outfit since the series began. Watch that scene, lads; then turn off your TV and remember the way The Professionals used to be.

Rating: 1/10

CI5 vehicles: Range Rover (Malone), Nissan 200 SX (Curtis), Nissan Almera GTi (Backus's? – parked by the restaurant).

Cast List Spencer – Adrian Irvine
The Minister – Charlotte Cornwell
Enver Panos – John Castle
Eliz Risha – Dennis Lill
Shkoda – George Jackos
Derbeg – Gerald Kyd
Pia – Nina Marc
Superintendent – Michael Carter
Studio Tour Guide – Katharine Levy
Jake Venner – Timothy Ackroyd
Chairman (Mr Fenton) – Rupert Vansittart
Director – Andrew Whipp
Sergeant – Paul Whitby
French Newsreader – Juliet Dante
Harling – uncredited
Bueno – uncredited
LocationsFilmed on location at the Teddington Studios – where DWTV were actually based.

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