11 July 2020 | canndyman
Colour by numbers...
This episode certainly makes for uncomfortable viewing, and was even deemed unsuitable for broadcast by ITV in 1978, when it was pulled as the final episode of season 1.
The story's aims were admirable - to expose and highlight the racism of abhorrent organizations such as the National Front and British Movement, who were prevalent in late 70s multi-racial Britain, and to call them out for what they really are.
This anti-racism story sits rather uneasily though as an episode of the often delightfully rather un-PC Professionals - it seems to rely itself on racial stereotyping, and the rather out-of-character proclamations of a mildly-racist Bodie jar with the way the he's usually portrayed as a tough and well-meaning CI5 action man.
The story centres around Bodie and Doyle investigating the corrupt and racist Empire Club - but soon falling foul to some unexpected violence of their own, that leaves them both exposed and vulnerable. But are things at the Empire Club really as they seem?
It's easy now to see the huge flaws in this episode, and the cack-handed way the subject is occasionally treated. To be fair though, it's very much of its time, and needs to be seen through that filter to be properly appreciated.
It's ultimately a brave attempt to tackle a toxic issue by 1977 standards - but with hindsight maybe could have been handled in a less simplistic and obvious way. Certainly an episode that raises lots of issues, and one that leaves a lasting impression.