Last updated : 9th April 2006
|Episode Title||The Acorn Syndrome|
|Story Synopsis||A British Government engineer working on a defence project must betray secrets to enemy agents in return for his kidnapped daughter.|
|UK Episode #||D01|
|UK Tx Date||07 September 1980|
|Production #||Block 3, Ep 9|
|Approx Filming Dates||10th - 21st September 1979|
|Guest Stars||Ronald Hines, Alan Igbon|
A greatly over-used plot, of course, but the pacing keeps it going well and the chase scene with the antique desk is hilarious!
At the end of the chase, Lewis rounds the corner and bashes the car onto the kerb – I suspect this wasn't supposed to happen! Apparently the car was badly damaged and required a suspension rebuild.
There's also some great banter, too – again, usually in the famous "car scenes". For example after Cowley discovers the fate of his desk, the lads race off in the Cortina and Bodie says: "Don't look back! Cowley'll turn you into a pillar of salt!"
And the scene with B, D, C, Lucas and McCabe watching the footage of Guthrie is great, camp stuff. Cowley: "I suppose you heard what happened to my desk? Smashed beyond recognition... minus its drawers." / Mac: "Nasty. On that evidence I'm surprised you don't charge them with anything less than rape!". Doyle then sees the Apex Macinross plant on the surveillance film: "Bet there's plenty of desks going spare in there!". Cowley is NOT amused by any of this! (And one marvels at how Gordon managed to keep a straight face!) Bodie simply keeps quiet.
Doyle reckons that England will soon have electric fences and guard dogs around every house. Well that ain't happened yet and it's the only occasion I can think of where social commentary from the characters doesn't stand up.
The hostage-taking scene, although not overly violent, is heart-stopping - top marks to director Martin Campbell. In fact the siege (and preceding car chase) is undoubtedly inspired by the infamous Balcombe Street siege of December 1975 in which a small IRA unit, being chased by police through London, burst into a Marylebone flat and took the occupying couple hostage. (The siege lasted six days, with full television coverage throughout and thankfully ended peacefully.)
The ep moves along very nicely and even Doyle's long drive around the countryside isn't drawn out. The scene with Mrs Forbes (Sue Nicholls) was fun - did Doyle fancy this attractive, well-to-do woman? We'll never know!
My only real gripe - and this is in direct opposition to Sharon's comment - is the ending where Doyle shoots the kidnapper: far too dangerous with the young girl being in the way and seemed like too much of an easy way out. A similar situation arises in 'Cry Wolf' but Bodie doesn't take such risks.
A routine story but dressed up in some terrific individual scenes.
FAVE LINES. After the assassins have escaped from the housing estate, Cowley is not pleased. The lads opt to scarper in the Cortina....
B to D: "Don't look back!!"
This was a good episode to start off the fourth series. It begins and ends on a light note, both Lads look great and the dialogue is excellent. While the "chase scene" with the desk is pure burlesque, the rest of the hostage segment is played with such excellent direction and attention to small detail we might as well be at a real crime scene.
Notice the frequency here of "exchanged glances" between the two men. They have their characters now to where one knows what the other is thinking and vice-versa. (Keep this in mind for 'Wild Justice'.) Very believable partnership. Also a nice touch with Cowley having sent them on a personal errand on their day off – they gripe but they do it.
Once Bodie loses the Awful Gray Jacket, the visuals take on a new level of enjoyment. Bodie in Black with the brown leather jacket is a delight to behold. And could Doyle's trousers be much tighter? Don't think so. When he dons the high boots late in the show – are those "wellies" (yes – Dave) – it's not just the "handsome country matron" who's salivating. <G>
The scene at the school with the well-mannered young lady and Doyle in dialogue is terrific fun. Oh, forgot to mention: in this show we get several examples of Doyle laughing at his own jokes. Nice use of an ongoing annoying-but-endearing character trait by Martin Shaw.
Lovely series of Bodie close-ups during the stake-out of the house. Lewis does look good through a night filter. And Bodie in Black, running and laying down on the porch to read the ransom note – Yum. I also enjoyed Bodie stranded and whining about it.
The final scenes are well done with cuts to show what both Lads are up to. Doyle's killing the bad guy was clean, neat and very professional. Easy to forget with the cuteness that these men are deadly!
An enjoyable show.
The desk is collected from a furniture warehouse on Ossian Road, Finsbury Park N4 (Thanks to Stephen Carter)
Although part of the chase is filmed in Muswell Hill (specifically specifically St James' Lane, Ellington Road and Linden Road) as per references in the script, the siege house is in Pankridge Flats, The Hoe in Oxhey, just outside Watford (Thanks to Tony Mackay, Bob Rocca, "Neil" and the Horton family of Muswell Hill).
The lads chase the black BMW down Aldenham Wood Lodge, Butterfly Lane and Watling Street in Elstree. (Thanks again to Tony)
Tony also thinks the school is Eton College but Bob says he found no resemblance at all when visiting the site. Reverend Michael Leathem, however, is confident that it is All Saints Pastoral Centre, Shenley Lane, London Colney, Hertfordshire.
On going to rescue his daughter, Copeland is instructed to swap cars in Stratfield Road, Borehamwood (Thanks to Tony again).
The factory works used towards the end of the episode is at Slough. At the time it belonged to North Thames Gas and is now owned by Transco. Although some of the brick buildings remain, much of the pipework is long gone. The building below appears briefly in the scene. (Thanks to Sue Curtis for info and pic!)
The initial car chase seems to have been filmed on different days as interior shots of the lads' car seem to show raindrops on the windows, yet the exterior shots show it is clearly a fine day. (Thanks to John Herring).
When Copeland turfs the lads out of his house, Doyle and Bodie respectively go to the driver's and passenger's doors of the Capri - yet in the next scene it is Bodie who is driving. (Thanks to Ian Bradbury)
Bodie bounds across the road to plant a tracer on the blue Hillman Avenger but the bug promptly falls off the speeding car! Playing the scene in slo-mo helps here. (Thanks to Tom Moorcroft)
When Doyle reverses the truck, the camera crew can be clearly seen in the reflection of the window. (Thanks to Scott Boydle).
Actress Lynda Marchal (Mrs Copeland) is now better known as TV crime thriller writer (Prime Suspect, Widows, etc) Lynda La Plante.
Michael Craig (Guthrie) is probably best remembered (though doubtless he'd like us to forget it!) as the ship's captain in the BBC's infamously ludicrous soap Triangle. According to the IMDB he also co-created a great little 1976 Australian series called The Outsiders about a couple of wealthy guys who turn their backs on the high-life and head off into the outback - anybody remember this show?
Alun Lewis (McCabe) starred in the naff but long-running sitcom Birds of a Feather and had a long stint on farming soap Emmerdale. Is brother of Shelley star Hywel Bennett.
Nigel Humphreys (Joe, the curly-headed villain at the farm) starred as a prison officer in the BBC's highly controversial 1975 drama Scum and its 1979 film version. Also starred in Who Dares Wins as the officer who leads the rescue of Skellen's wife and child. More recently seen as a semi-regular on The Bill.
Alan Igbon (the black student) will always be remembered as Loggo in the classic anthology series Boys from the Blackstuff. Also starred in the contraversial Borstal drama Scum and played a villain in a few episodes of soap Brookside during its heyday in the mid-1980s.
Sue Nicholls (Mrs Forbes) is of aristocratic extraction but chose singing and acting as a profession. Best remembered roles are the for classic sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and a very long stint in soap Coronation Street. Fans of classic kids' TV may also remember her regular appearances in Pipkins and Rentaghost.
Hilary Crane (Miss Kendall, Guthrie's PA) played the long-suffering mother of Tucker Jenkins in Grange Hill.
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