Bodyguards – Target

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A shady businessman called Steven Ballard (John Bowe) is making a brief return to the UK in order to give evidence to a Commons Select Committee.  Various vested interests, apparently from the Middle East, would sooner he kept quiet, so he’s targeted for assassination …..

Ballard and Liz rather hit it off.  He might be a ruthless type in business, but he also possesses a considerable amount of charm and whilst Liz doesn’t bend, possibly she buckles ever so slightly.

Liz, Worrell and a third agent, Stuart Robbins (Ashley Barker) take it in turns to guard Ballard.  Since we’ve not seen Robbins before it shouldn’t be too hard to guess the way things turn out (if he had been wearing a red shirt it would have been even clearer).

Once again, the way the Close Protection Unit handles their charge is a little eye-raising.  Ballard stays in his own property – a fairly substantial building – with only one agent guarding him.  When a cat apparently triggers the alarm sensors it rather highlights how stretched they are – if Liz is by the window shooing the cat, who’s looking after Ballard?

During Robbins’ tour of duty things go badly wrong.  An assassin breaks in, shoots Robbins, then shoots a figure in the shower (which turns out to be Ballard’s maid) and is only frightened off after Ballard hits the alarm.  Not exactly the Close Protection Unit’s finest hour ….

David Saville is on good form as Nigel Henderson, a rather shady government type who’s quite keen to sweep this unpleasantness under the carpet.  After all, the maid was an illegal immigrant so there shouldn’t be any problems there.  Liz later raises the intriguing possibility that the British government might be the ones who would be happy if Ballard didn’t testify.

There’s also the possibility that Ballard’s security was compromised by someone inside his own organisation.  We don’t see many of Ballard’s people, so it seems obvious that his trusted right-hand man Greg Burns (Nick Reading) is the guilty party.  Or is that just too obvious?

Julian Jones penned four episodes of Bodyguards in addition to contributing to a score of popular series during the nineties (Taggart, Perfect Scoundrels, Stay Lucky, Soldier Soldier, Between the Lines, 99-1, Wycliffe, The Bill, The Ambassador) and more recently created the popular Saturday evening drama Merlin.

Target, by playing up the angle that no-one (not even their own masters) can be trusted, ups the ante a little, and whilst the nature of episodic television means that the reset switch has to be hit at the end, it helps to make the episode a cut above the norm.  The gun-heavy climax is entertaining as well.

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