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.

No comments:

Post a Comment