Bugs – tape 2412

It’s mid-90s Saturday Night again, and time for some more super secret spy shenanigans with Bugs.

But before that, there’s the end of the National Lottery show, with Mr Bean himself setting off the machine.

Mr Bean

Also on the show – Wet Wet Wet who seem to be perennial guests.

There’s a trailer for Innocent Victims.  A trailer for Preston Front.

Then we get to Bugs. The Price of Peace starts off with a bang, as Craig Machlachlan and new girl (?) Alex, played by Paula Hunt escape from a huge explosion after a secret jamming device is stolen by some shifty looking military types.

Beckett (Mark Kermode Jesse Birdsall) is sent to protect a top peace negotiator who keeps track of all the foreign factions on his handy Acorn Pocket Book.

Acorn Pocket Book

He and Beckett are kidnapped almost immediately by the two shifty types from the opening, both foreign faction members with curiously good British accents.

Jaye Griffiths goes undercover as the hacker Shelley Lammers to free the negotiator.

Shelley Lammers

When the two shifty faction members have a disagreement, there’s one of those moments where a gun goes off but you don’t know who’s shot who, and they hold this over at least four cuts between them before one of them topples over.

This is hokum, but it has some charm.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 2 August 1997 20.10

More from the lottery before the next episode, with guest Stephanie Beacham. Then a trailer for legal drama In The Blink of an Eye. Then a nice trailer for TW Time Machine.

Then back to the Bugs for the episode Hollow Man, written by Smallville’s Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. A master disc for printing ‘unforgeable’ £100 notes is stolen.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 9 August 1997 20.10

before the next episode, more lottery, then a trailer for new programmes for September, including A Prince Among Men – a Chris Barrie show I have no recollection of.

A Prince Among Men

Then another episode of Bugs. The president of a former Soviet state is being treated in a british hospital. In return the government hope he will decommission his weapons, and choose a British firm to do the decommissioning.

It’s another story which points up a curious stylistic choice the programme makes – when it has foreign characters, they don’t speak with any particular accent. In this episode, in particular, the security chief for the president has a slight scouse accent. It’s an unusual choice, since the characters are supposed to be foreign, and speaking English, so accents would have been entirely realistic.

The episode is called Nuclear Family.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 16 August 1997 20.10

In the National Lottery show before the next episode, Sean Pertwee, star of Event Horizon, releases the balls. (Not pictured – Joe Cocker.)

There’s a trailer for Eastenders all week, and one for The Beggar Bride.

Then, more Bugs with the episode Fugitive. Ros falls under suspicion by another branch of the ill-defined secret services in the show, but the team are sure she’s being set up, possibly by one of the other spies.

Bugs was produced by Carnival Films, the same production house as produced Crime Traveller. Indeed, it shares a certain production aesthetic, although Bugs looks like it’s got a slightly higher pyrotechnics budget. I think Crime Traveller comes off as worse because its slightly higher concept requires commensurately higher quality story and scripts, which aren’t forthcoming. Bugs can get away with more traditional plots because it’s not shackled to something like Time Travel. Also, I think the Bugs regulars have a little more chemistry than the Crime Travellers.

BBC Genome: BBC One London, 23 August 1997 20.10

Following this, recording continues with the September trailer, then a TV Movie, Hunt For Justice (BBC One London, 23 August 1997 21.00) featuring, among others, a young Dean Norris (off of Breaking Bad).

Dean Norris

There’s about 35 minutes of this before the tape stops.

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3 comments

  1. I thoughts Messrs Millar and Gough were both Brits – Gough is, but Millar’s all-American. Then again, I shouldn’t be surprised that a series overseen by Britain’s most US-friendly TV writer (Brian Clemens) should have had some US involvement in the scripting – “Newton’s Run” was also penned by an American, i.e. veteran Calvin Clements Jr.

  2. Frank De Palma, who also wrote for the series, was American too. I uspect it was a deliberate attempt to make the series more like an American series (whatever that might mean).

    1. Which is weird, given that a number of genuinely American series have used British writers, like ITC regular Leigh Vance (who was headhunted for the original “Mission: Impossible” and wound up spending the rest of his career in the US on shows like “Hart To Hart” and “Cannon”) and more recently Patrick Harbinson (with UK shows like “Boon,” “Heartbeat” and “Lewis” and US ones like “Dark Angel,” “ER” and “Person Of Interest” – now that’s what I call range).

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