Last updated : 19th May 2013
|Episode Title||First Night|
|Story Synopsis||An Israeli minister is kidnapped in London and CI5's only clue to his whereabouts is a poorly shot photograph.|
|UK Episode #||B03|
|UK Tx Date||21 October 1978|
|Production #||Block 2, Ep 3|
|Approx Filming Dates||3rd - 14th July 1978|
|Guest Stars||Julian Holloway, Arnold Diamond|
Plenty of action, as usual, particularly the opening kidnap scenes which are a marvel of direction. The entire episode also makes good use of locations.
The actual plot is rather run-of-the-mill but more than made up for by plenty of terrific, acidic banter between the lads ("Just 'cos you forgot to bring your vitamins!") and the idea of these two tough guys being forced onto London City Transport buses is a hoot!
Fave scenes are Bodie's "Half an ear, perhaps?" comment, the 'private dining-room' scene ("Is this golly annoying you?") while Bodie's "But I've just got my Spotted Dick!" (shades of Are You Being Served?, perhaps?!) and Doyle's "The hero had an operation to take his hand off his hip" are classic examples of the Prof's offbeat humour at its most camp!
Glad to see the lovely Ruth getting a bit more to do this time, though she is still woefully underused. (Fetching Cowley his morning coffee??). And given the little exchange between Doyle and her - see below - it's obvious the show doesn't solely rely on Martin and Lewis for its humour.
The episode finishes in the usual action-packed mayhem and nicely rounded off with more humour. The manner in which Bodie breaks into the house is simultaneously inspired and hilarious!
Although not one of my personal favourites, I seem to enjoy it just that little bit more every time I see it. And given the tremendous mix of elements, I can easily see why it is a fave for many fans.
Doyle gets out of Ruth's car: "Your clutch is slipping."
Ruth, suggestively: "My clutch... or my touch?!"
Doyle: "All we need is the time and place!"
Ruth: "You're as bad as Bodie!"
Doyle: "Oh, be fair... nobody's as bad as Bodie!"
'First Night' is another of my favorite episodes: excellent dialogue/banter, bits of background, lovely lads, decent plot. The best parts have nothing to do with the story, however. They are the little slice-of-life peeks that make The Professionals unique, timeless and forever rewatchable. (Bring on the DVD)
We're given evidence the agents' social lives suffer from the demands of their jobs. One has to wonder what ever gave Ray the idea that a "greetings telegram" might soften the heart of a dumped date? This is not a young man with a smooth social line! (see 'Hunter/Hunted' for further proof.) Bodie, on the other hand, chooses flowers. He'll have another chance.
The short exchange between The Lads at the opening is most interesting. When Ray asks (about a gun) "That's not where you got mine" is he referring to a gift from Bodie? And the "big gymnast" is mentioned again. Who is this person?
We get to see Cowley in full cry here. Most of the scenes with the three of them are marvelously done – very natural, believable dialogue, acting and movement. They really do seem a well-polished crime-solving team rather than three skilled actors playing at roles!
Clothing: the Return of the Plaid Jackets. This horror is compounded by Bodie's Brown Cardigan, but softened by the nice tight beige polo he wears with the shoulder holster. If you look carefully you can see the lines of a vest underneath. Bodie has no spare tyre now – that shirt would reveal it. Ray wears the black shirt from Rack and the moss green one half-unbuttoned. Nice.
One of the best "car talk" scenes here. Bodie drives and the camera shoots across him to focus on Ray who is mostly focused on Bodie. Teasing, caring and revealing dialogue. Male bonding at its finest. We're given another hint here that Doyle eats health food and Bodie chows down on anything that doesn't move away fast enough. This exchange is so natural!
In fact so much of the dialogue between the three main actors is so good everything else suffers by comparison. It's jarring to jump from a "real" scene into a staged one, and that's about my only criticism of this episode.
The slice-of-life moment in the police cafe is terrific and leads into the "bus scene" – another favorite of mine. (From the way Lew keeps glancing around I wonder if the bus is filled not with extras but with real people.) Then there's the rest room scene with Bodie shaving (nice tee, Lew!) and advising Cowley on fashion. Marvelous!
And <snicker> "the hero had an operation to take his hand off his hip" is priceless. Understand that got left out of the Granada Plus version. Spoil-sports! The following section in which Bodie and Doyle continue to talk to one another while the main dialogue is going on is just one more example of terrific natural acting. I keep harping on this, but it is so outstanding throughout the episode that it bears repeating.
Bodie stuffs his face with junk food yet another time here – Swiss Roll now. You can almost see Ray grimace.
Good directing in the sequence where the ministers and "suits" discuss the problem while the street agents work at solving it. Good to see Doyle teamed even momentarily with Ruth.
Toward the finale, Bodie is having a ball! Lewis does a wonderful job here of physically showing us how delighted the character is to be part of the impending rescue and mayhem! He bounces along and practically chortles over the attack machinery! This is a man who adores a good fight!
Definitely in the Top Ten.
The kidnap scene appears to have been filmed in two separate sessions as the road and pavements outside the Festival Hall switch between dry and wet!
More call-sign trouble (see 'Hunter/Hunted') with Bodie answering as 3-6.
In the "Running all the way, sir!" scene, a boom microphone can be seen reflected in the mirror. (Thanks to Chris Swindells)
On arriving at the telephone box, Bodie's Capri is missing its near-side door mirror (thanks to Wendy Burnett)
There seems to be a previously-unseen kidnapper in the house in the final shootout. Not sure whether this counts as a blooper!
Lewis Collins and stuntman Del Baker were lucky to survive this episode. In the scene where a crane is used to smash through the house's top window, Lewis was keen to tackle the "gag" himself. On advice from the stunt team, though, it was declared too dangerous and Baker stepped in. It was a wise move as the crane proved to be highly unstable (as can be witnessed when watching the ep). In the first take it wobbled and struck the house's brick wall. Leaping out of cage at the last second, Del managed to avoid serious injury or worse!
Despite having some lines of dialogue, the actor playing Cowley's driver is strangely not credited.
Tony Vogel (the grey-haired kidnapper) played the eponymous lead in the 1979 television adaptation of Dick Barton - Special Agent, originally a classic 1940s radio serial.
Julian Holloway (Harvey, the police inspector) was a well-known character actor in the 1970s, guesting in most of the popular series of the day such as The Likely Lads, The Sweeney, The New Avengers and Minder. Also a regular in the Carry On films. Not seen much at all these days, though still working apparently.
John Nettleton (the Minister) is not to be confused with John Nettles of Bergerac fame! Nettleton's best remembered role is that of civil servant Sir Arnold Robinson in the classic sitcom Yes, Minister/Yes, Prime Minister and a similar role in the fabulous, anarchic Rik Mayall comedy The New Statesman.
Click for the complete List of Episodes