One to watch: NCIS - Five, 9pm

The NCIS cast are back for another series. Far right, David McCallum.
The NCIS cast are back for another series. Far right, David McCallum.

They may have a seemingly unhealthy obsession with killer sharks and botched surgical operations, but give Channel 5 their due: they do screen some of the best imported dramas on the box.

And over the years few slick procedural dramas have been quite as entertaining as NCIS, aka Mark Harmon and David McCallum’s high-octane Naval-gazing saga/pension plan.

The latter has appeared in various acclaimed and popular series over the years, including The Man from UNCLE, Colditz and Mother Love, but none have lasted as long or reached quite so wide an audience as this has.

NCIS celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013, the same year that McCallum turned 80. He surely can’t possibly have imagined that the show would stick around so long when he read his first script back in 2003?

“You don’t think about it in those terms,” says the Glasgow-born veteran. “You don’t really think about the consequences until it’s all put together, usually at lunchtime when we’re all sitting together.

“We have an extraordinarily smart group of people running this show. There are no egos in cast, crew, or in the production.”

He adds: “You’re really looking at it in terms of congratulating people on how good they are or suggesting ways that you can improve things.

“Everybody does that on this show to this day, even 11 years later, they’re still extremely careful about what they do.”

The opening episode of the latest run is certainly one of the best episodes for many a moon - and should tie a few things up following the cliffhanger ending to season nine.

Here, rescue crews sift through the wreckage of Harper Dearing’s attack on NCIS HQ. While Abby, Gibbs, McGee and Vance are okay, Ziva and Tony are stuck in a lift which is hanging by a wire.

Things aren’t looking too good for McCallum’s alter ego, forensics expert Ducky, either. He suffered a heart attack after hearing news of the catastrophe.

Meanwhile, NCIS’ public enemy number one is busy seducing a woman in an electronics store.

They wind up back at her place, but their liaison is interrupted by an FBI SWAT team and another killer explosion.

As you may have gathered, Dearing is the instigator of lots of pyrotechnics, but manages to evade capture on several occasions.

Have Gibbs and company finally met their match?

McCallum won’t answer that question, but he does reveal that there’s a major cast change on the way: Cote de Pablo’s character Ziva David leaves the show after the first two episodes, and her position as a Mossad contact will be taken by Emily Wickersham as Eleanor Bishop.

“In order to bring Emily in and make her a part of the show has been the main thrust of filming,” says McCallum.

“So I haven’t really done any wildly fascinating Ducky episodes so far, but what we have done has been quite wonderful.”

And you can bet that the show’s British fans can’t wait to see the results.