Wednesday, 7 May 2014



An injured Bodie takes on an international terrorist group.

001 ‘Close Quarters’ was first broadcast on 10th February, 1978, and I can remember watching it at my maternal Grandparent’s house. They lived five miles further south than us, so, although their telly wasn’t as big or as good as ours, it picked up Anglia and Southern TV and London Weekend Television which was very exciting. On Saturday mornings, my parents used to drop me off there so I could watch repeats of the sixties ‘Batman’ series – the most colourful, pop arty show ever made – in humble black and white.

002 This episode is fantastic. It’s all about Bodie, and he’s up against a ruthless political terror organisation (no, not The Angry Brigade) called the Myer-Helmut group, a bunch of hard faced, hairy German radicals who travel around Europe killing working people to make some sort of point about how the system oppresses the common man. They’re a lot like Baader-Meinhof, even down to the mentally unstable female leader, Inge Helmut, who spends half of the episode in tears and the other half shouting and firing a machine gun. Inexplicably, the group are pursuing the cause of anarchy in Maidenhead.

003 In a refreshing change from Cowley’s leg, this episode is all about Bodie’s hand. Bodie got shot in it, and is on the sick (makes a change from diarrhoea, I suppose). Crucially, his injury means that he can’t hold a gun properly, so he’s surplus to requirements until he is able to kill again. For some reason, he and the Doctor are flirting with each other so, when the Doctor rather archly tells him: “give it a little gentle exercise, but don’t overdo it’, his raised eyebrows and pursed lips make it clear that he’s talking about masturbation. Very shortly, Bodie will need that hand for more than wanking – he’ll have a load of German bastards to wipe out.

Later, captured terrorist Myer taunts Bodie about his injury, sneering that it will make him easy meat for the rest of his gang. Bodie’s response is to wrap his sore paw around his pistol butt and to squeeze it so tightly that thick, dark blood blots his bandages and runs down his hand. Injured or not, he’s rock hard, Bodie, and it’s never a good idea to take the piss out of him.

004 David Bradley is an actor who has only really come to prominence in the last decade or so, gradually becoming one of Britain’s best known character actors (the Harry Potter franchise, ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’). Curiously, despite his long career, I couldn’t remember ever seeing him in anything before the year 2000, but here he is, not exactly young, but younger. He has a lot of screen time, but only a couple of lines. After about forty minutes, Bodie shoots him dead – a lot.

Or does he? The bloke who falls off the roof looks more like Harpo Marx.

005 Like much of the series, the episode was filmed in Home Counties environs (locations were in Berks, Herts and Bucks), and some of the action takes place at a very interesting looking weir that features in any number of British film and television productions of the time (including ‘The Sweeney’, ‘Voices’ and, um, ‘Suburban Wives’). Not surprising, really, as it’s picturesque but also dramatic and implicitly dangerous. It's apparently called Boulter's Lock, and it's in Maidenhead. I’d like to go, maybe have a fight and fall in.

006 Let’s hear it for the ordinary people who inadvertently facilitate events that are far more exciting than anything that will ever happen to them, the bit players whose very bad days never make the headlines. This bloke, for example: yes, he dresses like a bloody idiot, but all he wanted was a nice day on the river in his dinghy. Not only does Bodie nick his car and his boat, he also nearly gets knocked down by a car full of terrorists. Later on, the boat will come off the roof of the car and the Germans will crash into it and his car will be abandoned in the woods miles away. All he wanted was a nice day on the river in is dinghy, now he’ll have to call the RAC and get his brother-in-law, Roger, to come and pick him up, and Roger can be a right twat about things like this.

007 In all the excitement, I forgot to mention that Bodie is accompanied throughout by his girlfriend, Julia, played by the large chested, small headed star of, um, ‘Surburban Wives’, Gabrielle Drake. Julia doesn’t take too well to her date turning into a desperate fight for life, especially when she realises that Bodie is a stone cold killer as well as a wisecracking smoothie. Not dealing with this sort of thing on a regular basis, of course, she’s rather naïve - but she doesn’t stay that way for long, and ultimately saves the day by finding her own inner brute. Interestingly, even when things are going terribly wrong, she still calls him Bodie.

008 Bodie and Julia take the captured Myer to a Vicarage in the middle of nowhere, crashing in on the Vicar and his Housekeeper and turning their home into a stronghold. The Vicar, who is a bit of a jittery dick, takes the terrorists’ advice and decides to leave. They shoot him before he even gets out of the window. It’s a brutal, sobering lesson for those inside the house– it’s also a strange move on the part of the terrorists, as they’ve spent the last twenty minutes saying that they don’t want to hurt anyone.

Those inside the house are caught like rats in a trap, but when one of the rats is Bodie, the odds are somewhat more evenly distributed. The terrorists seem to take a somewhat existential view, accepting a violent demise as an occupational hazard: “Hans is dead!” Bradley says to Inge Helmut, who sardonically replies “we’re ALL dead”. Bodie, of course, is a survival machine: the fact that he is out-gunned, outnumbered and under par is inconvenient, nothing more. When Julia asks him why he doesn’t just let Myer go, he says:

“I don’t know why. 
Because I hate his kind? 
Because I don’t like to lose? 
I don't know why. BECAUSE I SAY SO!” 

There’s an idealism there under the instinct and training, a fanaticism that prompts Myer to say to Bodie “we aren’t so very different, are we?” - Bodie punches him in the face.

009 When Julia gets a little hysterical (not surprisingly, really, it’s been a hell of a day) Bodie hits her. Now, there is absolutely no good or recommended way to hit a woman, but Bodie doesn’t give her the cliched 'bring her to bring her back to her senses' tap, he doesn’t even slap her, he punches her - hard.

In a few minutes, having learned the law of the jungle, this nice, gentle woman will kill Inge Helmut to save Bodie’s life. Whether she does it out of love, fear or obligation is uncertain. Funnily, enough, there’s no mention of another date.

010 The episode ends with Cowley laughing, really laughing. It doesn’t happen often but, when it does, it’s fucking terrifying.


  1. I believe that weir is also the setting of some heavy duty Action by HAVOC in 'The Ambassadors of Death', with Liz Shaw coming a cropper in those very waters.

  2. Your blog continues to expand my horizons, Chief!
    I'd never read/heard of Gabrielle Drake being described as "large chested, small headed" but then again my primary reference point for her pulchritude is as Lt. Gay Ellis of U.F.O. so I suppose her breasts were a little downplayed under Sylvia Anderson's silver space-duty uniforms.
    At the same time, seeing Drake handling a Browning 1935 pistol and about to bust a cap on some sociopathic terror-witch is also a new experience. Years ago, I professionally trained MANY women to shoot but seldom did I ever train one as beautiful as Drake...or with a focused malevolence as depicted in her face in your second-to-last photo.
    She does need to tighten her grip with her last finger, though...

  3. 'looks like Harpo Marx...'
    'go there, have a fight, and fall in...'