‘I will take one of them’ – The foreboding words of a sinister clown underplays an apparent change in tone for this week’s episode. This is an ostensibly ‘fun’ one based around a charity-obsessed fund-raiser, and also takes a few wry blows at the whole charity phenomenon.
While ‘Children in Need’, Red Nose day and the like are commonplace now, along with the obsession to ‘give’ to every charity via every conceivable form of payment, back in 1981 those ‘wacky types’ running marathons in a wet-suit or sitting in custard for a month for a good cause were a relatively new trend. As Ray mentions, ‘I hope they don’t start doing this every bloomin year’.
This episode features a superb cameo by Shaw Taylor and a great take on Police 5 (for those who are not old enough, Police 5 was a pre-cursor to Crimewatch.. only better!), who bring to the public’s attention a robbery committed on Gil Hollis, the aforementioned, bean-esconsed fundraiser.
When the entire crime is re-enacted by dodgy porn-a-like jobbing actors, and Shaw Taylor once again reminds people to ‘keep them peeled’, you know full well you are onto a good episode. Yet again Ashes to Ashes manages to mix the right of ingredients together, to bring another superb bit of drama to our screens.
As the episode progresses, things – as usual – are not what they seem: the crime that was so diligently re-enacted did not exactly take place as the victim initially claimed, and Alex finds that Gil suffers from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and that – with a bit of regression therapy and a few bumps and bruises courtesy of Gene – the team eventually discover that the entire robbery was not as cut-and-dried as first thought.
We also get to see Gene ask Alex out for a date, in a roundabout sort of way, and she accepts (gasp!). We also get a superb set-piece when Gene is coerced to appear on TV to appeal for witnesses to the crime committed against Gil. In ‘real life’ Gene is brash, cocky and brimming with confidence; once a camera is pointed at him and he is out of his element he finds himself faliing to pieces and tripping over his own words on live TV.
With a group of ska-loving youngsters helping out the ‘fascist pigs’, understanding by Alex, a few more continued beatings by Gene and a dodgy blood-stained Garfield toy, our valiant boys and girls in blue get to the bottom of the case. However with the help of Alex’s love interest/mothers toyboy/potential baddie (he has a beard.. hence must be evil), Evan White Gil is released from custody and brings about the evil clown’s premonition when one of the team is ‘taken’.
The episode concludes with a heart-wrenching climax, and proves to be one of the strongest to date, with the narrative leading up to a thrilling showdown and eventual resolution that delivers on all cylinders, whilst neither wrecking the status quo nor opting for the soft cop-out (sorry about the pun).
Overall this episode delivered everything you could want from the show: thrills, fun, adventure, mullets and Police 5 all wrapped up in a superb 60 minutes. While Gil may well be one of the most irritating characters to have graced our screens in a long time, as an unintentional protagonist he fits into the entire drama perfectly, leading Alex to question what she is doing in 1981 and bringing her ever closer to the potential death of her parents.