Raymond Menmuir’s first move when he took over for the second series was to get the show out on the streets of London. His main aim was to heighten the action content and that I think was his plan in bringing in a movie hack like me to put more pace into the show – short snappy dialogue, mostly played on the run, with increasing high endings to each commercial break and with a whizzbang climax to knock your socks off.
So – my idea for FIRST NIGHT. Looking down on the National Theatre I dreamt up an opening scene. Smart folk arriving for the first night of a new play. The Israeli Ambassador arrives. Suddenly a group of terrorists pull on their face masks and haul out their Sten guns. The ambassador is hustled down the steps to the river where a speedboat roars up and he is whisked away before anyone can shout “Call the cops!”
A couple of minutes later they run the speedboat ashore at a patch of waste ground, a helicopter lands, in goes the Ambassador and he is flown away to wherever…. that is as far as I got before Ray came back to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on our deal. I didn’t tell him that I had just come up with my first show.
When it played on TV months later the series increased its ratings, especially over the ending where Bodie rescued the ambassador by crashing an armour-plated forklift through the first floor window of a terraced house in the suburbs. Ray was pleased, grudgingly, but he let me know over a few large ones that the window ledge had been damaged and that the repairs were down to me …. only joking.