Last updated : 27th March 2013
|Story Synopsis||The murder of a CI5 agent leads to the discovery of a man dying from plutonium poisoning.|
|UK Episode #||A10|
|UK Tx Date||03 March 1978|
|Production #||Block 1, Ep 12|
|Approx Filming Dates||22nd November - 2nd December 1977|
|Guest Stars||David Collings, Pamela Stephenson, Barry Jackson, Peter Armitage, Tony Osoba|
I know most of the ladies in the audience love this episode because of the interaction between the Lads (and something to do with certain camera angles as Martin Shaw scoots down the bowling alley!) but story-wise, it is surprisingly weak with a lot of 'padding' – not even gorgeous Pamela Stephenson (as a junkie) can improve it! It really is that bad!!
However there is plenty of sharp banter between the boys ("Well, look on the bright side.... I'm winning!". Or "How do you score?" / "Dunno – I just get lucky, I guess!"). On the other hand dialogue in some scenes, notably the helicoper ones, is truly dire, with characters hysterically repeating each others lines.
One strong "establishing" scene at the start is where Cowley instructs the lads to go to the alley. Bodie: "What do we look for?" / Cowley: "Don't ask me, Bodie – that's your job, what you're trained for. Sniff hard, be alert, anything unusual!"
Some of the sideline characters provide reasonable interest and humorous moments, particularly CI5 op Benny (Trevor Adams). Oddly Betty has been inexplicably replaced in this episode with another character.
Although fans tend to delight in the occasional political incorrectness of the show, the end titles crediting actors with character names of "Attractive Blonde" and "Handsome Negro" are a regrettable reflection of the times. Yet, ironically, the next episode to be produced was the anti-racism 'Klansmen'.
My fave dialogue scenes here centre around Pam Stephenson's character, the dental receptionist credited simply as "The Blonde":
Bodie and Doyle Save London from an A-Bomb?
No, that's not what this story is about. If it were, I'd never watch it again. The plot is ludicrous, the setting is beyond boring, the pacing sucks, but the relationship...
Ah, the relationship. Bodie is vocally and visibly upset at Frasier's death. Doyle blows it off at first, but when he realizes his partner is serious he gets serious himself and we get a very nice private exchance in the midst of Cowley and others moving about doing their job. Many good personal moments here.
Unfortunately this is the worst episode for the Wardrobe-Challenged. Doyle in plaid and stripes and Bodie in a polyester sweater and a shirt dotted with hearts is a bit more than the discerning eye can stand (no wonder Pam Stephenson didn't fancy him! – Dave). They don't look good in this one, (well, ok, Doyle from the rear once he loses the plaid coat is fine and dandy) but their banter and teamwork is marvelous. This is also the first show where the direction and camera work clearly take advantage of Lewis' comedic timing and talents. Watch his face when he heads off screen with the bowling ball. There are numerous "little" scenes throughout that add almost nothing to the plot but let The Lads play nicely.
Notice, please, that Doyle's feet are a size bigger than Bodie's.
Benny's here again.
When they enter the bowling alley, Doyle-as-former-cop is clearly ahead in know-how, but in spite of his age and greater level of experience, Doyle's temper gets the better of him Bodie gets first to keep him under control and then to let him commit some much needed mayhem. This is an ongoing character theme that plays out in other shows, most noticably in 'The Rack'.
I play the "wrestling scene" (between B & D) over several times when viewing this episode.
This is a very odd one indeed: when we first see Pam Stephenson she appears to have crimped hair - yet in all her later scenes it is perfectly straight! I'd forgotten about that one (I'd forgive SuperPam anything, I suppose) - thanks to Sarah Murphy for reminding me!
As loads of us have spotted, the timer display on the bomb is all over the place!
Towards the end of the episode, the helicopter is getting battered with rain, yet it is perfectly dry on the ground!! (Thanks to Louise Lewis)
The bomb-disposal Major wears the badge of a Royal Engineer soldier, depicting laurel leaves. The design should be one of a flaming grenade. (Thanks to Mathew Hardy)
For this episode Cowley's usual assistant Betty is replaced by Sarah, played by Sarah Grazebrook (although it sounds as though she was dubbed by another actress). It isn't clear why Bridget Brice didn't reprise her role as Betty. As her character hadn't been required in all the stories anyway, I suspect she had been hired on an episode-by-episode basis, rather than be held to a season-long contract. If that was the case, then she would have been free to take other acting jobs if they were offered to her - or indeed turn down appearances as Betty if, as in this episode, it would have involved just three lines of dialogue!...
With production on the first season being severely behind schedule at this point, this episode was deliberately written in a way that required very few locations and could be shot entirely at night-time. There has been a suggestion that, while no official documentation exists anymore, the daytimes were being used to catch up on other episodes. Thus with only limited time available each evening/night to work on Stakeout, it still required the usual ten "days" for filming.
David Collings (Frank, the bomb-maker) starred as mysterious "element" Silver in the bizarre Joanna Lumley/David McCallum series Sapphire and Steel.
Barry Jackson (Bob who runs the bowling alley) usually plays a villain or a copper in shows such as Bergerac, Lovejoy or, more recently, The Midsommer Murders.
Tony Osoba (the, ahem, "handsome negro") was a regular in the much-loved 70s prison sitcom Porridge and later as the rather bland Chas Jarvis in Dempsey and Makepeace. Cameod as a terrorist in Who Dares Wins. Not seen much these days but last seen in an episode of Jonathan Creek.
Ronald Leigh-Hunt (the doctor) is best remembered for his leading role of Colonel Buchan in the late 60s/early '70s espionage show Freewheelers. He would also guest in other popular shows such as Ghost Squad, Redcap, The Avengers/New Avengers, The Saint and Van der Valk. His final role appears to have been a 1995 episode of BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. Passed away in 2005.
|Technical Notes||As seen on DVD and most recent TV broadcasts, this episode displays weak colour depth and has a green tinge all the way through. Reds (like those on Martin's shirt) do not stand out at all. A lot of this is down to the set-up of the telecine machine when the transfers to digital tape were done back in 1992 and sadly this is what we now have to put up with unless/until someone stumps up the cash to do it again properly!|
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