Wednesday, 30 April 2014



A death bed confession leads to a cold case being re-opened 
and the discovery of a web of corruption.

001 Let me kick off by saying that this isn’t a particularly good ‘Professionals’ episode, mainly because it moves away from what the show does best. Yes, there is a fair bit of violence and some pithy dialogue, but Bodie and Doyle end up in the fairly run of the mill role of Detectives, at one point reduced to going through old newspapers looking for clues (they also visit a Police records office which has about six filing cabinets: happily, the file they want is there). It’s not bad telly, by the way, it’s just not prime CI5.

002 We begin with a flashback to 1953. We know it’s the olden days because the perennially coot like Gary Waldhorn has hair, or at least he has someone’s hair, glued to his head. In case we weren’t sure, a character is reading a newspaper with headlines pertaining to The Coronation and Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing’s Himalayan triumph, which is extremely useful. If it had been a few days either side, for instance, the headline might have been ‘U.S. trade delegation arrives in London’ or ‘Mr. Teasy Weasy opens new salon’ and it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as clear.

Anyway, in 1953, everyone is acting (in the parlance of the time) a ‘bit queer’. This culminates in Waldhorn entering a hotel room and pushing a bobby soxer out of a surprisingly high window. Nobody tries to stop him, everyone looks the other way. The sight of a blonde haired dummy falling into a dingy courtyard haunts everyone involved, however, even those who didn’t see it happen or, if they did, couldn’t have seen it at that angle. Flashbacks are always a bit of a minefield, aren’t they?

003 After a deathbed confession taken by a ridiculously stereotypical Irish priest (not a particularly competent one, as he reads the Last Rites from a pamphlet), the happenings of 24 years ago are dragged into the open once more. It seems that the young girl was a witness against a powerful industrialist, a ruthless man who paid off the police and legal system and bunged copper Waldhorn enough money to bump her off.

So far, so ‘what has this got to do with CI5?’ Well, it’s a case that puts British justice on trial – and has a lot of very rich and influential people attached to it, so Cowley is asked to take charge. As a rather chummy politician says to Cowley (after saying ‘You look good, George. The leg?’ as if the bloody thing was an entirely separate entity – which, in some ways, it is, I suppose) “You and you alone are equipped to ferret this out”.  Cut to Cowley’s face, keen, perceptive, intelligent, determined, gimlet eyed: just like a ferret, in fact.

004 As soon as the case is reopened, the rich industrialist hires a hit-man to knock off all of the witnesses one by one. It’s a common leitmotif in this show. The single hitman, multiple targets angle creates dramatic tension, of course, but, realistically, wouldn’t it be better to hire, say, four hit men, and knock the witnesses off all at the same time? Perhaps there's a bulk discount. Nobody has aged particularly, although Waldhorn has taken his wig off.

In an interesting casting decision, his wife is played by Kathleen Byron, who you may remember as the bonkers Sister Ruth from Powell and Pressburger’s ‘Black Narcissus’. Ms Byron is in her fifties, but Waldhorn is clearly about twenty years younger than her, with or without his hair piece - which actually draws attention to the fact that he obviously isn’t old enough to have been a police officer in 1953, let alone a retired one married to Kathleen Byron in 1977. It’s all a bit daft and unnecessary, like shooting oneself repeatedly in the foot.

005 We’re introduced to a new CI5 agent in this episode, the very young Tony, played by whassisname out of ‘Dear John’, you know, Kirk St Moritz. He seems a nice lad, and Bodie and Doyle have a bit of fun with him with some incomprehensible banter about Cowley being called ’The Cow’ and his propensity to give milk – they wander off, chuntering away, greatly amused by their self-consciously wacky banter. They’re only a couple of steps away from doing funny voices and bits from Monty Python.

As it pans out, Tony is killed within a few hours, shot by the hitman (as is Waldhorn). Cowley breaks the news to Bodie and Doyle as they are pasting a picture of Cowley’s smiling face (it’s the same portrait that’s in Doyle’s flat) onto a picture of topless model to stick inside Tony’s locker. “He would have liked that”, says Cowley. Still, he’s philosophical about the agent’s violent death : 

“Never send a boy to do a man’s job, 
they’ll only nick his bike”.

006 Tony was posted ‘Far North’, so he was on his own when he died as CI5 don’t usually go beyond Bracknell. The next morning, when Cowley finally arrives at the crime scene, they are only just covering Tony’s body over , so presumably it has lain out in the open all night, despite the fact that Kathleen Byron must have called the Police almost immediately after her husband and Tony were murdered . Poor Tony. There is no sign of his bike.

007 When it is revealed that one of the conspirators, an ex-policewoman, is a lesbian, Bodie and Doyle are surprisingly sympathetic:  ‘it must have been murder for a policewoman back then with a secret like that’. There are a number of aspects I really like about this show (obviously), but I particularly like the fact that the main characters don’t always think how you’d think they’d think.

008 The rich industrialist is played by Richard Greene. Richard was once a male model and had been in films since 1934 (including ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ with Basil Rathbone in 1939) so he’d been around a bit by this point, and was probably best known as Robin Hood (the one who was always 'riding through the Glen with his Merry Men), who he’d played on telly from 1955 to 1960.

Richard died in 1985, so I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that, in this role, he is an absolute shitbag, a sleazy, smarmy, crooked, ruthless, smug, arrogant c***, who’s first question is always ‘how much?’. He plays it perfectly, as his character’s actions are utterly despicable. He throws a drink in Bodie’s face, for fuck’s sake. IN BODIE’S FACE. Doyle doesn’t like him because he dyes his hair and, he reasons, if a man will do that, what else will he do to get his own way?

Happily, the boy’s get to arrest the rotten bastard at the end, gatecrashing his grand-daughter’s disco party to handcuff the old man and haul him off to jail in front of all of his family and friends as he whines and pleads and begs for mercy, for dignity: “What sort of men are you?” he bleats; “The sort of men who catch men like you”, Doyle replies. Oh, and Bodie returns the favour and throws a drink into his face. That’ll teach him, the c***.

009 There’s a lot going on in these pictures. The pin ups, the different sized beer cans, the massive Coke can, the concept of the kitchenette in the top secret government agency HQ. And Bodie at the centre of it, a picture of domestic bliss / latent violence: Fanny Craddock with a licence to kill, perhaps with that plastic spoon. Lewis Collins auditioned for James Bond, of course, but was apparently ‘too aggressive’. Oh well, at least he did ‘Who Dares Wins’.

010 Finally, let’s stand rigidly to attention and listen to Cowley's sage advice. His subject is anger, and there is a lot of it in this episode, so much so that the case begins to feel like a moral crusade. George has this to say:

"You know, my Karate master taught me about anger: 
channel it, he said, take it, he said; let it throb up through 
your body and let it build and grow and then concentrate it -  
let it burst out through your fingers - then UUURRGGH!  
Have a Scotch?" 

Wise words, George, wise words. And, yes, please, I would like a drink - as long as you promise not to chuck it at me.

Thursday, 24 April 2014



Foreign agents engineer an affair between a politician 
and a young girl in order to blackmail him.

001: Guest star Anthony Steel is at the centre of the story, playing a well-respected politician who may become Prime Minister one day. Luckily for the enemies of the UK, he's a puffed up fool who readily believes that a young girl forty years his junior would find him irresistible. What's her motivation for getting involved? Drugs. Drugs supplied by a pimp who is working for the KGB. Jesus Christ. 

Anthony Steel was a standard heroic British type starring in home-grown war films until he was lured to Hollywood, where he pretty much went mental, getting into fights, drunk driving and marrying Swedish boob bomb Anita Ekberg - for a few months at least. After one forgettable film he slunk back to England and tried to get himself back together - but never really did. His later performances seemingly carry the stigma of that very public failure - yes, he's well-groomed and he looks the part, but you know he's going to balls it up somehow. He's perfectly cast here as a Tory love twat: you almost feel sorry for him. Almost. 

002: It's worth mentioning that this episode is remarkably sleazy, revolving as it does around sex, drugs, murder and mother and daughter prostitution. There's also an awful lot of flesh on show, and some of the younger bits of it are mauled by a variety of old, gnarled, grasping hands. It's all pretty distasteful, which is great for the drama as you very much want Bodie and Doyle to kill the dirty, amoral bastards behind it all. And kill them they do. Well. most of 'em, anyway.

003: This is Walter Gotell, a very familiar face who had a long career playing Nazis and Russians. He was in six James Bond films (five as the same character, General Gogol) and had the misfortune to be married to Joan Collins in 'The Stud'. A cultured, elegant actor, he was nevertheless always extremely sinister - here, though, he's positively repulsive. "Please, Sam" says the young hooker, desperate for a fix, "Uncle Sam" he purrs, pawing most un-avuncularly at her breasts.     

004: We first see our heroes at Doyle's flat in the early hours of the morning. They're pissed up and dressed in evening wear, having just been at a works do. They have dates, of course, and Bodie's lady is literally hanging off him. People get a bit predatory after a skinful, don't they? Mind you, I don't blame her, he looks dazzling in his frilly shirt, like a Jon Pertwee Doctor Who figure with an Action Man head. 

A curious detail is that Doyle appears to have a framed photograph of Cowley on his mantelpiece - and it's one of Cowley smiling. Is that what Cowley gives his agents for Christmas, do you think? Or does Doyle just really, really like his job? Perhaps it came with the frame, although that would be a pretty disastrous breach of national security. Perhaps he just got it from this shop.  

005: ‘Hookers are women, you know – they can be nice’. So says Doyle at the beginning of the episode, the last liberal thing he will say for forty five minutes. He’s talking about Ann Seaford (Pamela Salem), who is nice, and a woman, and a hooker. When Anne finds out that her teenage daughter (who was taken from her as a baby and adopted) is now on drugs and on the game, she contacts Doyle for help. Unfortunately for Anne, her daughter is a pawn in a much bigger game, so Anne is drowned in the Thames before she can make too much of a fuss. 

Her killers make it look like suicide, but Doyle isn’t fooled by that, although his keen sense of perception doesn’t seem to have twigged that her dead hair keeps changing colour, length and style. 

006: In any event, Doyle drags the faithful Bodie into a freelance job, i.e. ‘it’s our day off, let’s investigate a murder’ – and bullishly goes about smashing windows and breaking into places while Bodie looks on and pulls faces. When they discover a scrap of paper with the Prime Minister’s private number on it, it becomes an official CI5 job but, as Doyle is keen to tell Cowley: ‘This is personal’. Cowley’s angry response puts the curly headed one firmly back in his Tupperware container: 

"Nothing is personal, Doyle. When you joined CI5 
I made that perfectly clear. The department owns you - 
I own you. I can sell your body to science if I want... 
while it's still alive!" 

I had quite a similar discussion at my last work appraisal. My manager did actually try and sell my body to science, but science declined the transaction. 

007: Their first lead is a witness who saw a big car with a black man at the wheel. Doyle of the Yard uses his Police training to connect the dots. 

"Look, a big, flash car driven by a black guy
Add 'em together and what have you got?" 
"A black guy driving a flash car?" 
"It adds up to a high-class pimp 
for a high-class hooker!" 

Actually, in this case it does, but that’s hardly the point, although it’s good to see Bodie putting forward a less ‘Daily Mail’ suggestion. Another thing – I get the notion of a high-class hooker, but a high-class pimp? Could there ever be such a paradoxical creature? 

008: In a scene reminiscent of Doyle’s visit to the Caribbean Social Club, he visits a seedy dive to question a prostitute and almost immediately starts a fight. This time, however, Bodie is around to sort things out, which he does brilliantly, and literally single handedly, as he has a pint of bitter in his other mitt. This episode also appears to be the debut of the leather jacket which I always associate him with. Hello, leather jacket, it’s good to meet you. Doyle is far from heroic in this scene, by the way, instead concentrating on getting information from a young woman by threatening and squeezing her face really hard. So much for the ‘hookers are nice’ bit. 

009: This robust looking gentleman is Patrick Durkin. Despite resembling Eddie Large, Patrick found steady work as a heavy in a number of film and television productions, not least ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ in which he played a nasty Sherpa working for the Nazis. Here he plays a nasty Russian, working for the Russians. He’s also dubbed. He looks a bit like Leonid Brezhnev with a perm which, as we all know, is exactly what KGB agents used to look like until Putin upped the ante by being so buff. 

Doyle is wounded in the leg in a gun fight with this chubby apparatchik, but manages to shoot him in the chest. An enraged Bodie pumps a few more into him, so it’s spokojnoj nochi for this particular Soviet, who ends up dead on a pile of rubbish. Good riddance to him, and the rubbish, and the communist Russian bullet in Doyle’s leg which, unlike Cowley’s fascist Spanish bullet, went straight through. 

010: In the end, Bodie and Doyle walk (and hobble off) into the sunset after paying their respects at Anne's grave. Doyle is obviously pretty upset, so Bodie tells him being on crutches will be a big plus with the birds, especially if he tells them he injured his leg doing something really dangerous. That seems to do the trick, as Doyle will never mention Anne again.