Last updated : 17th October 2004
|Episode Title||It's Only a Beautiful Picture|
|Story Synopsis||A gang are stealing and selling arts treasures and industrial secrets to foreign countries, using the blind routine of Customs to their advantage. CI5 decide to set a trap.|
|UK Episode #||D15|
|UK Tx Date||27 December 1980|
|Production #||Block 4, Ep 4|
|Approx Filming Dates||28th July - 8th August 1980|
|Guest Stars||Moray Watson, Neil McCarthy, Prunella Gee, Jonathan Newth, Anthony May|
Not a gripping plot but there are some great highlights here and the script is both snappy and funny. The editing is very fast, made up of lots of short scenes – no hanging about here!
Actually maybe I should just explain the plot as it's not clear on first viewing. Sangster and his mob need a way of "exporting" the stolen goods without them being inspected by Customs. This involves Tibbs making two flights. On the first trip, the paperwork is deliberately fouled up so that it shows one less crate than Tibbs actually has on his plane. As planned, Customs spots this and demand Tibbs returns home to get the paperwork sorted. However he asks them to inspect the "spare" crate there and then, which, on this first trip, contains perfectly innocuous goods. A customs seal is placed on the crate and Tibbs returns home with it, whereupon the seal is switched to an identical crate which contains the stolen goods. On his second trip, then, it looks as though *this* crate has already been inspected and so Customs let it through. Easy! I wonder if it would work in reality?
Doyle's undercover work is very amusing and thankfully we see a return of some biting humour to the script. "Perhaps your little doggie would like to chew on this electric fire?"
I did enjoy the Lads' little tour of London in search of Snapper, with an amazing, jazzy, "sleazy" version of Laurie's theme playing! And all topped off with Doyley getting a parking ticket!
The murder of the photographer was well-filmed with the use of the red light of his dark-room - effective and scary without the need to resort to on-screen violence.
Cowley refers to the lads as "gentlemen" on a number of occasions - surely THAT was out-of-character! <G>
But can you imagine anybody using a Rolls-Royce to pull off a robbery?? Hardly inconspicious!
Not a bad ep but the direction lacks conviction, except for the great scrap at the end. And then Bodie gets arrested along with the gang! Great fun!
Odd scripting blunder: Doyle says he was never artistic yet we know from the early episodes that he enjoyed art classes.
CHEESEY ENDING ALERT: "This exercise, gentlemen, has been a classic demonstration of how to have your cake and eat it!". Silly old Cowley!
Fave line comes from Doyle in the scene in the posh Club: "We'll just grab a sausage sandwich down at Nellie's caff!" (Doesn't sound funny, I know but, well just watch the ep!)
Not the best by the remotest stretch but it does have some good moments. My copy is at least third generation translated and the sound leaves a lot to be desired so I missed portions of dialogue. The banter level, however, seems to be high and well-done overall. What I could get was charming. Would be interesting to know how much was ad-libbed and how much had been written in the script. Given the overall quality of the episode, I lean toward the ad-libbing. By now the two actors manage in spite of poor material to keep the characters alive for us. This one is a good example of that fact.
Let's not forget the wardrobes either. Doyle in a lemon tee shirt, Bodie in black leather. Ray changes to a green tee for a while and Bodie goes through his entire collection of leather jackets, wearing black, gray and brown. Doyle spends most of the time looking scruffy while Bodie, except for an action moment or three, looks uncharacteristically mild and harmless.
In the beginning they both seem cynical and bored. Notice that while they wait for Cowley, Doyle solves a small puzzle. The close-ups in the car are nice and we get Doyle's "Oh, very witty" line here.
The crowd scenes are rather fun to watch, but this was where I lost a lot of dialogue. Frustrating because I know it's good. (Yes, I know. I need to get a PAL player.)
DS Doyle, scruffy and offensive, is a delight. He doesn't seem to work too hard to bring out that character.
Bodie the salesman is soft and charming until challenged. Then the hard man returns. Ah.
My favorite moment is the car scene where Doyle is asleep and Bodie wakes him. The picnic scene is nice, too. Too short, but nice.
The ending, while busy with action, is silly. Sloppy writing. Was everyone in that much of a hurry to get it all done?
Not a great one.
Letchmore Heath near Watford is used extensively in this episode. (Thanks to Paul Fretwell)
The Sansgters Arms is actually the Three Horseshoes pub in Letchmore Heath and was also used for a few Avengers episodes. (Many thanks to Gary Whittaker for info and original pic)
Bodie meets Cowley about fifty yards down the road from the pub.
The airfield is White Waltham near Maidenhead. All the action takes place on the east apron. The shed used by the villains still stands and is part of the "Robin" hangar now used to store the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. (Thanks to Jo Davison and Steve Sharpe)
Moray Watson (Sangster) was rather typecast as upper-crust military types, including the great mini-series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years.
Jonathan Newth (Tibbs) appeared in classic historical dramas The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Poldark, Japanese POW series Tenko and cult BBC classic Day of the Triffics. Also turned his hand to sitcom in the amusing Prunella Scales series After Henry.
Prunella Gee (Sara) played the rather fetching alien Miss Griffin in Nigel Kneale's wacky 1981 sitcom Kinvig. Also played one of the health farm nurses in the "unofficial" Bond film Never Say Never Again. Hasn't done a lot since, surprisingly but apparently she turned up in a few episodes of Coronation Street in 1999.
Neil McCarthy (Armitage) was one of those oft-seen character actors who guested in all sorts of episodic series - usually playing villainous henchmen - but never landed a lead role. Perhaps best remembered as the owner of a seedy, delapidated hotel in an episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. Tragically he was struck down by Motor Neurone Disease and passed away in 1985.
William Moore (Chief Superintendant Gillespie) is best remembered for the Ronnie Corbett sitcom Sorry. Passed away in 2000.
Roger Martin (PC Gorton) starred as Roger (the lodger!) in the 80s sitcom No Place Like Home. Tends to pop up in TV adverts more than anything else.
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