Last updated : 27th March 2013
|Story Synopsis||Members of a "Keep Britain White" group are attacking black people to try to get them to leave the area – but two of the members have an ulterior motive.|
|Writer||Brian Clemens, based on a story by Simon Masters|
|UK Episode #||A13|
|UK Tx Date||Never transmitted in the UK! Bah, humbug!|
|Production #||Block 1, Ep 13|
|Approx Filming Dates||6th - 19th December 1977|
|Guest Stars||Anthony Booth, Edward Judd, Sheila Ruskin, George Harris|
This excellent episode had its transmission banned in the UK because its subject matter was deemed to be potentially offensive to some viewers. The story ends with a real sting.
The plot is very solid indeed.... until the last minute: I find it impossible to believe that Dinny and Merv have never actually met Miller. Still, if we can overlook that little flaw, it is indeed a tremendous episode.
Many people consider Bodie as being portrayed out-of-character here. I'm not sure: it's certainly plausible that his experiences in Africa could have tainted him. As Sharon says, though, it is a side of him that we haven't seen previously, although it reappears very briefly in 'Involvement'. (again, written by Brian).
The script is indeed peppered with racist terms but I don't feel this was in any way over-the-top or gratuitous. The script tackles a tricky subject and handles it very well indeed.
There are some terrific scenes in this ep. For example the opening with Zadie outwitting Merv and Dinny; Zadie being attacked and Helen rushing out to help him (a superb build up to the titles); Doyle shouting at Cowley, insisting he be kept on the case (perhaps a little bit over-the-top on the part of both Martin and Gordon, but a terrific moment nonetheless).
The make-up effects on Martin after Doyle's beating are awesome!!
One note of disappointment: the actor Lawrie Mark (who plays Tommy) is awful!! An extremely wooden performance most of the way through. The part would probably have been recast but the production was behind schedule and everyone was keen to wrap up for Christmas.
The "fairy-tale" ending with Bodie walking off "into the sunset" with the black nurse is a little too sweet but the scene is rounded off on a humorous note as a jealous Doyle decides it's time to "get rid of some of these damned whites!"
For a much more detailed breakdown of the story, click here.
Good plot, nice twisty one. Plenty of holes and flaws, but it still works. I like the idea that bad guys exist in all areas of society and that preconceived notions can backfire once truth is revealed.
My copy has the original opening.
Bodie is shown out-of-character here. Bodie can be annoying and thick, but he is not petty. To make him racist and jealous without serious explanation was a silly move. It doesn't take much depth of viewing to see that Lewis is uncomfortable with the role as well. Bodie-the-character may well be touchy on account of experiences in Africa but there ought to have been more indication of actual racism before giving him the "cross in a spade's garden" line. Oh, he does make the odd out-of-good-taste joke, but this time he seems too serious. Given that there were opportunites in 'Annie' and with Jax even earlier, the character flaw does not work, imo. This is an issue that's easy to beat to death, so I won't.
Could also beat up on the way the seriously wounded/ill Bodie is portrayed. Medical reality was tossed aside for effect here. C'mon, guys. And to drop a deep prejudice because a black doc treated him and a pretty black nurse held his hand? Gosh.
On to the positive:
Doyle shines here. Even when his partner acts and speaks like a prejudiced, small-minded idiot, Doyle believes in him: the line to Cowley, delivered with a nice smile: "maybe he has something on his conscience" shows that Doyle knows Bodie is trying to change. Doyle crying over the wounded Bodie while he berates him is a high point of male bonding. Doyle really cares as demonstrated by the unaware tears on his face, but instead of saying so he fusses: "...you half-Irish son-of-a..." I like that. And Doyle is a pit-bull about the case - no way is even George Cowley going to take him away from it! This scene gives Cowley the opportunity to deliver his "a cow gives milk, a cow looks after its own" speech. A nice Doyle line here, too: Cowley says something about Ray being on his own and Ray responds: "..be that anyway, sir, while Bodie's laid up."
The best part of the show is the section where the black kid, Tommy, and Doyle interact. While the kid is wooden before, once he begins to work with MS, his dialogue & character become alive! Great line from Doyle when Tommy asks if Cowley is black: "I forgot to ask."
Doyle suffers marvelously here. Nice make-up job, and the whimpers and grunts of pain are very believable. No stoic silence for Our Ray! And I love how his voice breaks when he talks about Bodie.
Something to note here: The Lads are quite vulnerable when they are separated. Together, they are unbeatable.
Jax is back and has some good parts, though his showing up Just When Doyle Needs Him by the telephone booth is a bit much.
A strange episode but well worth viewing just to see Doyle at his best.
In an interview for BBC Radio 4 in December 2009, Tony Booth (Dinny) recalled that during filming, several of his black co-stars felt that he played his role with such conviction that they suspected he was a racist in real life. Tony seems pleased that his performance was so convincing!
Tony Booth (Dinny) is best remembered for his portrayal of "randy Scouse git" Mike in the long-running controversial sitcom 'Til Death Us Do Part. However alcoholism saw him sink into the "Confessions" sex comedies of the mid-to-late 70s and a career that soon fizzled out. However he has been a tireless campaigner for elderly people's rights and occasionally clashes with his son-in-law, Prime Minister Tony Blair! In the late 1990s he began to be offered new acting parts, most recently in the Channel 5 soap Family Affairs.
George Harris (Arty) appeared in the first (1986) season of Casualty and recently had a small role in the action blockbuster Black Hawk Down.
Sheila Ruskin (Helen Zadie) guested in many shows as diverse as I, Claudius, The Sweeney (in which she was the intended target of the hit-and-run which killed Carter's wife), Blake's 7, Doctor Who and Rumpole of the Bailey but never won a leading role. She returned to The Professionals in 'Cry Wolf'.
Lawrie Mark (Tommy) had previously starred in the 1976 sitcom The Fosters, Britain's first ever television series written for black characters. Quit acting at the end of the 70s.
|Technical Notes||If you want to see this episode as it was first broadcast, track down the Video Gems release as it has the original opening and the closing "London" titles! The BRITE version loses both of these, of course, but also appears quite "washed out" in terms of colour strength.|
Some key locations in this episode were filmed along White Street in Southall, shortly before its crumbling properties were completely demolished. Although the road still exists, it is now swallowed up by British Gas and cannot be navigated by Google Street View.
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