DS Cole (Del Henney) arrives from London. An informant of his, Arthur Roberts, was discovered murdered on the moors and Cole has come to identify the body. His role should then be at an end, but the dogged Cole is determined to work out what happened and Jean is keen to assist ….
The first of three different Juliet Bravo roles for Del Henney, Cole is initially presented as a dour, humourless man. He’s less than impressed that the body’s been moved to the mortuary (he would have preferred to have viewed it in situ), seems incredulous that the scenes of crime officers haven’t found anything and is disgusted that so many people have trampled over the site.
The fact he’s been given PC Roland Bentley (Mark Drewry) as a driver seems to be yet another irritation for him. The garrulous Roland and the taciturn Cole seem like a match made in hell. But when Cole wryly grins after overhearing Roland on the radio, telling the station that Cole is a “right one”, it suggests that he might not be quite as dour as he initially appeared.
Roland is the first of a series of PCs who appear throughout the six series. Some are more gormless than others it has to be said, with Roland being somewhat high on the gormless scale. He’s long-suffering (tutting when Cole drags him on a trek across the moors), petulant (when Jean and Cole leave him alone on observation) and ever so slightly sickly (but as he tells Jean, he doesn’t often get car sick now and rarely when he’s driving ….)
Cole is received politely, if condescendingly, by Detective Superintendent Brunskill (John Rowe). Jean later confides to the Sergeant that Brunskill was hardly going to welcome him with open arms – a murder in this area is something of a rarity, so the thought of a London copper stealing their glory wouldn’t be appreciated. Cole solving the case doesn’t concern Jean, but she is bothered about the way that Brunskill’s men have commandeered her nick.
Henney’s greatest strength in this episode is his stillness. As befits Cole’s solitary nature, he’s much more of an observer than a talker (although he can be articulate when he wishes). The best example of Cole’s ability not to react can be seen when he finds himself on the end of a boozy diatribe from Joe Beck. Joe is celebrating twenty two years on the force (confusingly, he refers to this as his “silver handcuffs” which surely would be twenty five) and everybody – including Cole – has convened to the local pub for drinks.
But Joe, a man who’s had dealings with Flying Squad officers like Cole before, is keen to vent his spleen about those flash London coppers. Henney’s the picture of control during this scene – allowing a range of expressions (from amusement to irritation) – to play across Cole’s face. That Cole doesn’t confront Joe in public but does so instead in private (in the toilet shortly afterwards) is an interesting choice. Sparing Joe a public humiliation?
The rift between Jean and Joe now seems to have been healed (although they don’t exchange more than a few words during this episode). But after being rather stroppy in Shot Gun and now drunkenly boorish here, it’s fair to say that Joe hasn’t made a good early impression.
The relationship between Cole and Roberts is teased out as the episode continues. Cole respected his skill as a blag draughtsman and regrets his death. But the main reason why he carries this regret is that he was hoping to pin a really big crime on him one day. For Cole, everything – including relationships – comes back to the job eventually.
With Roberts represented on screen only by an unseen body under a mortuary covering, the script has to work to build up a picture of him. And his criminal associates are also – until the last few minutes – equally shadowy characters (spoken about, but only briefly seen). When they do appear, it’s the cue for a mild action scene as villains and police have a bit of a bundle. The Sweeney it isn’t (director Paul Ciappessoni wasn’t really an action director like, say, Douglas Camfield).
The dichotomy of Cole – he delights in roughing up the villains but also digs into his own pocket to buy a headstone for Roberts’ grave – means that by the end we still don’t really know what makes this enigmatic man tick. Henney would return but Cole wouldn’t, which is a bit of a shame as it would have been interesting to return to the character at a later date.