Last updated : 30th December 2017
This page has all the latest happenings in connection with either the show or the actors. Many thanks to all those who have sent information about Martin and Lewis' latest movements.
As ever, I will be pleased to hear from anybody who has knowledge to impart! Please e-mail me!
|30th December 1977||
No, I haven't fallen through a timewarp! But today marks 40 years since the show made its world debut on our TV screens! The Daily Telegraph newspaper has produced a short article on the cars used in the series, though you need to set up an account with them to read it. (Thanks to Sue Beach).
Happy New Year to all our viewers!
|13th June 2017||
Exactly 40 years ago today, the cameras started rolling on the show's very first episode, 'Old Dog with New Tricks'!
A complete box-set of all 57 episodes is due to be issued on DVD by Network in September. It will contain all the extras that were included on the "single" sets but without Andrew Pixley's written guide for each season. (Thanks to Jesper Antvorskov for the tip-off!)
The 4th of August should see the release of a new film, 6 Days, portraying the May 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in London, which was eventually broken by the SAS. The opening scenes in the episode 'Wild Justice' and Lewis Collins' 1982 movie Who Dares Wins were both modelled on the events. One of the notable stars in the new film is none other than Martin Shaw! (Many thanks to Chris Drake)
|7th January 2017||
Network has issued the entire 13-episode run on the 1990s series CI5: The New Professionals as a DVD boxset.
|27th June 2016||
For a limited time only, all four BluRay season sets are now available in one bundle for a mere GBP70. So for those of you yet to take the plunge, jump into the Capri and get down to Network On Air's 'Deal of the Week' as fast as possible!!
|20th May 2016||
Another Professionals luminary has sadly left us. Raymond Menmuir, series' producer from its second season onwards, actually passed away in late March - but due to his withdrawal from the televison industry, it wasn't widely reported at the time.
Ray instigated and supported a number of improvements to the show's style and production techniques, notably eschewing studio-built sets in favour of real buildings, far more use of exterior locations and speeding up the pace of the stories.
Ray began his career in Australia in the mid-1950s, just as that country's television industry was starting. He produced and/or directed a number of plays and "TV movies". A move to England in the early 1960s brought him to prominence as a director on high-profile shows such as No Hiding Place, The Avengers, Redcap, The Troubleshooters and Hadleigh. In the following decade he directed Gordon Jackson in several episodes of London Weekend Television's Upstairs, Downstairs...
The management at LWT was clearly sufficiently impressed to offer him the huge responsibility of producer on The Professionals. It was a role that often saw him working 14-hour days as he organised scripts, writers, directors and sorted out the day-to-day tensions "on set"!
In the mid-1980s he returned briefly to Australia - with Professionals script editor Gerry O'Hara - to produce Special Squad, which had a number of striking similarities to CI5. After 43 episodes, Ray headed back to the UK and more action as producer on Thames Television's C.A.T.S Eyes.
Like the character of George Cowley, Ray was a man who stood for no nonsense from colleagues, yet commanded respect from management, crew and actors alike. By 1990, however, at the age of 60, Ray decided to retire from the business. Nothing seems to be publicly known of his activities since then - indeed attempts to interview him were usually met with reluctance.
The worldwide, ongoing success of The Professionals is due to a tremendous ensemble of talented writers, directors, crew and actors. Ray's contribution to the series has, sadly, never been properly examined. While Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell are the names that are rightly credited with creating and steering the show, it was Ray Menmuir (and Sid Hayers before him) who "kept the fire fed with coal" to keep it moving!
|8th May 2016||
A few rather belated updates today (as I've been away on a covert mission to oust a corrupt government!). With the BluRay version of Network's "Mark IV" set now out, the DVD version is set to be issued on 25th July. Also Network will be releasing the 1997 series CI5: The New Professionals, albeit on DVD only, on 1st August.
The 1978 silver Ford Capri evetually sold for a whopping £53,000!! Bearing in mind that, inevitably, a lot of parts and bodypanel on the car as it stands today are not the originals, this is an astonishing amount of money. Almost forty years on this series clearly remains "highy prized".
On the topic of cars, last Christmas a company called "Team Slot" released a Doyle Escort RS2000 in a strictly limited edition run of just 200. There is more info here but it sold out within days. Sorry we missed that at the time but there seems to have been zero publicity for it! (Many thanks to Tony Buller for info.)
|23rd March 2016||
Koch Media has just announced that their DVD and BluRay sets for the second season will be issued on 28th April. The "extras" will be the same as per the Network release (however Koch doesn't appear to be including the stills photographs this time) plus the German-language dialogue dubbing. (Thanks again to Tobias Kessler.)
|21st March 2016||
The 1978 silver Ford Capri (as driven by Lewis Collins/Bodie) is up for auction - details here. It's had further restoration work and does look to be in splendid condition... and is expected to fetch at least £35,000 !!!!! (Many thanks to "Paul" for the news.)
|19th March 2016||
Network On Air has just announced a delay for their release of the "Mk IV" BluRay set (covering the 1980 and 1981 episodes) in order to accommodate some further bonus materials. It is now due to be issued on 25th April. More details to follow. A DVD version will be issued too, though there is no date set for that at present.
Meanwhile Germany's Koch Media is to issue their own DVD and BluRay sets for the first season on 24th March. The BBC's newly-created High Definition masters have been used, so the picture quality should be as good as that of the Network release. The extras are similar, though the "Production Notes" booklet and 1996 Channel Four documentary are not present (I'm guessing the latter would have required a separate licensing deal)...
All known German television screenings of the series suffered edits of around five minutes to fit tighter timeslots but, as expected, the episodes are presented uncut here. However this causes somewhat of a problem because although the set provides German-language dubbed dialogue (by different actors), these audio elements are taken from the TV screenings. This means that scenes that were cut out for transmission have no dubbing available and therefore have to revert to subtitles on the Koch set.
(The eps retain the original English audio and English subtitles.)
It looks like Koch will be issuing the second and third sets in April and May.
(Many thanks to Tobias Kessler for info on the Koch release!)
|30th December 2015||
Just as we round the year off, German fans of the series will be pleased to hear that Koch Media are set to release their own BluRay and DVD versions of the first season on 24th March, using Network's remastered & restored prints. The set is due to include German dialogue dubbing (which I guess will be from original German TV transmissions) as well as the original English tracks. Also many of the extras from Network's UK set will be present (although the "Without Walls: The Professionals" documentary from 1996 might not be included - I will try to clarify that.) Meanwhile you can pre-order the set from here. Many thanks to Tobias Kessler for the alert!
|4th December 2015||
The final BluRay set - "Mk IV" - is due from Network on 28th March 2016. This will comprise the fourth and fifth seasons (as originally transmitted in the UK) episodes and thus be the final set. More details here.
|13th November 2015||
In a rather sudden announcement, Network's delayed issue of the "Mk III" set of episodes (from 1979) on DVD is now due next week!!
In the meantime there is still no date formally agreed for the final set (1980 and '81 eps) on either BluRay or DVD. Unofficially it's going to be March 2016 but this is subject to change.
|20th August 2015||
Network is having a discount sale! From now until 2nd September, you can buy the first season BluRay set directly from them at half price!
|17th July 2015||
I've just noticed that Network has sneaked the DVD version of the "Mk III" set (ie the 1979 episodes) onto its roster for release on 12th October. (Not quite sure why they haven't publicised this!). I was half-expecting that the BluRays for the "Mk IV" set - which will comprise the fourth (1980) and the fifth (1981) batches - would be issued on the same day but that's still to be scheduled.
|8th April 2015||
If you placed an order with Network for the Mk III BluRay set but not yet received it, they have actually run out of stock! It seems that the level of demand for it was much higher than expected. New copies should start to be shipped to customers from 18th April.
|30th March 2015|
|8th February 2015||
Network On Air has been rather "shy" about the release of the 13-episode third season set onto BluRay disc but has finally confirmed it to be 30th March 2015 (though strangely they are not promoting it on their main Professionals page).
Once again the episodes will be presented in production order - as opposed to the original UK transmission order which was a bit of a mess! See here for clarification.
The extras presently indicated are of a similar nature to the previous sets.
NB: The packaging shown on the Network website is not the final design... and anyone who spots the mistake on the draft design wins a night out with Cowley!
There is no word yet on a DVD version. However Network is due to issue the DVD version of the second season set on 30th March.
|11th January 2015||
I've just been informed of the very sad news that series creator, writer and Executive Producer Brian Clemens has passed away. More information to follow soon. (Thanks to Dave Rogers and Ray Austin.)
|11th September 2014||
More delays with Network's Professionals releases, unfortunately. The DVD version of the second-season set has been postponed until next year - no reason has been forthcoming. The BluRay version, however, is still set to be available from 29th September. More details here.
Martin Shaw fans will be pleased to know that he is the subject of an upcoming edition of the BBC's popular 'Who Do You Think You Are?', which documents famous people's family history (it's usually more interesting than it sounds!). Martin's edition will air on 19th September.
|8th July 2014||
Despite the delays with the "Deluxe" editions of Network's sets, the standard releases continue with the second season set due to be issued on BluRay, DVD and iTunes on 29th September - more info here. Note that as we continue to follow Production Order (and there are no surprises on that score this time around!), the sets will include not just the ten episodes that were screened for the UK's second season but also the three stories whose production was deferred until 1979 after Lewis Collins' parachuting accident. At present the list of extras is still to be confirmed.
In the meantime the restoration work on the third season is now under way!
|16th June 2014||
Huge congratulations to series music composer Laurie Johnson for being awarded the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours! (Thanks to Steve Kelby)
Network On Air has recently announced that the release of the "Deluxe" version of the first season Blu-Ray set is to be delayed until next year at the earliest - no detailed explanation has been given. Additionally there is yet to be news on a release date for the second season, although the current plan is to issue it at some stage this year.
|23rd April 2014||
Not news as such but for anyone still mulling over whether to buy the new Network set, there are some fantastically positive customer reviews on Amazon.
There have been a number of (ahem) "professional" reviews, too - all of which praise the restoration work. The one on The Digital Fix site is, I think, the best, most balanced and informative one I've read so far. (Thanks again to Jesper Antvorskov for the heads-up!)
Meanwhile the BBC restoration team has been progressing work on the second season episodes for the last few weeks - barring any major problems, there will be an announcement on their release shortly.
|27th March 2014||
Network has issued their own article on the High Definition remastering and restoration process for the first season. It further highlights the significant problems discovered with the film negatives. The article gets rather "technical" in places, so I'll see if I can produce a more "layman" version. (Thanks again to to Jesper Antvorskov!)
|26th March 2014||
A couple of similar articles have appeared today discussing the remastering and restoration work carried out on the series for the upcoming DVDs and BluRays: BBC and 'Televisual'. (Thanks again to Bob Rocca for the heads-up!)
Despite the supposed use of air-tight canisters, here's an example of just how decomposed some of the material had been! In this particular case, the first 13 minutes of the film negative for When the Heat Cools Off turned out to be unusable, so Network switched to using the "inter-negative" for that portion instead, as per the screenshot on the right. (Many thanks to Jesper Antvorskov!).
|20th March 2014||
Nice interview here with Tim Beddows from Network regarding the remastering and restoration work that has been done for the upcoming DVDs and BluRays. (Thanks to Bob Rocca for the heads-up!)
|17th March 2014||
Prior to the upcoming new DVD and BluRay releases (I've got a new page in readiness to cover these in more detail - just agreeing some finer points with Network at the moment!), all 13 first-season episodes can be bought - individually if desired - from iTunes as of today. Be aware that the download mechanism may deliver them to you in 720p resolution by default - in which case you need to ensure you switch to the 1080p option.
|5th March 2014||
I've just received a set of "pre-production" Blu-Ray discs from Network (containing all 13 eps from the first season) and with just the brief opportunity I have had to look through them, the picture quality is astonishing!! The opening and closing title sequences alone reveal "detail" and colour that we never knew existed! Indeed it is now very obvious just how inferior the old film prints which we see on the Contender DVDs and television transmissions were. A fuller assessment - with screenshots - coming soon! In the meantime, though, do remember that you can pre-order the Blu-Ray or new DVD sets directly from Network or places like Amazon!
|5th February 2014||
Just a small update for today - but one that will please fans. Network's publicity for the upcoming Blu-Ray and DVD releases mentions that the "original" end titles will be present on each first-season episode. The question, however, is which is the original?! Most of us will recall the "plain green" version without silhouettes, now only present on 'When the Heat Cools Off'. However in my early discussions with Network, I brought up the subject of the rarely-seen (and barely-remembered!) panning shot of the London skyline/cityscape. (You can see both versions on this page.) I'm delighted to reveal that Network's release will incorporate the latter. Indeed it seems as though this had always been the intended version for original transmission. (Many thanks to Tim Beddows at Network).
|26th January 2014||
Network has posted a short sequence of clips from first season episodes and the restoration work looks stunning!! (Thanks again to Jesper!)
By way of comparison, here are screengrabs showing the diferences between prints used for current TV transmissions or DVD releases of 'Stakeout' and Network's (genuinely!) remastered version. As well as the better lighting and colour acuity, there is more actual picture area - particularly down the left-hand side and the bottom of the frame.
|24th January 2014||
Further news on the upcoming Network DVD and Blu-Ray sets for the first season: they will also be available in "Deluxe" editions that carry further extras. Details here. (Many thanks to Jesper Antvorskov)
|21st January 2014||
Network has issued details of their forthcoming DVD and Blu-Ray released of the first season, due to be available from 31st March. An additional point of interest is that newly-discovered documentation indicates that the latter half of the filming block was shot in a rather different order to what we had originally been led to believe. More info coming soon!
|4th January 2014||
The Collins family has responded to everybody who left their messages of condolence on The Unofficial Lewis Collins website.
|2nd December 2013||
Now that we've had a little time to reflect on last week's news, I just wanted to pay my own tribute to Lewis Collins...
The vast majority of his fans only "knew" Lewis through the dozens of characters he portrayed in television, films and theatre. But the numerous public interviews he gave over the years - often delightfully candid - revealed a man of great charm, depth, (self-deprecating) humour and unafraid to speak his mind. Such attributes enlivened so many of the roles he played.
Although the press only ever attached the "tough guy" label to him, he had a far broader range. His thirty-year acting career encompassed situation comedy, serious drama, stage farce, "whodunnits", action/adventure, musicals and more. He could clearly turn his hand to anything - and did so extremely well. And that was just as an actor. As we know, his career actually began in the music industry, along with his sporting achievements, particularly in terms of marksmanship while still a teenager. (Director Ian Sharp recalled that while preparing for Who Dares Wins / The Final Option, Lewis' SAS instructor was astonished at his abilities.)
The worldwide reaction to his passing from fans and news reports has been astonishing. Unsurprisingly The Professionals received top billing in people's messages but even if most contributors only remember him for that show, his impact was clearly hugely memorable - the vast majority of the world's actors would aspire to that!
Naturally we were disappointed when Lewis moved away from acting (although, of course, he was hoping to dabble in it again with the 1066 movie.) But with its burgeoning tsunami of reality shows, gardening, cooking, DIY and soaps, like many of us he probably recognised that British television was essentially artistically bankrupt - particularly ITV - and had little of worth to offer him...
Besides, I am glad this afforded him more time to dedicate to the most important thing in the world: family. And while it's been eleven years since we last saw him on-screen, thanks to the ready availability of so much of his acting work, his presence and spirit will live on in more than just our collective memories.
Clearly he was a multi-talented guy who carved out a wonderfully varied life for himself. Although his passing came decades before it should have done, he achieved far more in his time than most of us! In that sense, it was a very full life.
Cowley on Bodie's kidnappers: "They hold all the cards."
Doyle: "And aces."
|28th November 2013||
It is with great sadness and shock that we hear Lewis Collins passed away yesterday, at the age of 67 years.
After a hugely varied working life during the 1960s, most notably in the world of music, Lewis enjoyed a flourishing acting career even before being cast in The Professionals. Settling down to married life in the early 1990s, saw him recede from the entertainment business to embrace the responsibilties of a devoted husband and father.
While we fans were treated to a diminishing number of appearances on screen and stage, given the high-profile coverage across the media today, it's heart-warmingly clear to see that he is far from being a forgotten figure amongst the general public.
Tributes, comments and messages of condolence can be left at his fan website, which will all be passed to his family.
|3rd June 2013||
Very, very, very exciting news from Network! The page speaks for itself and I don't think I need to add anything more to it other than to say this really should be a dream come true for fans who have longed to see the show presented in the best possible quality. Early days yet and I know we'll all grow impatient waiting for the first releases next year. But selecting the best available material (more details on that aspect to be confirmed) and carrying out the restoration work is not a job that should be rushed. So I'm sure we'd all far rather the work was done diligently to (re-)construct the episodes so that they outshine even the original screenings from 1977 when the transmission prints were brand new!
|23rd April 2013|
|2nd April 2013||
Although not the actual flat used by Doyle in the episode 'Hunter/Hunted', the one above it has recently been sold and the estate agent posted about 20 photographs of its interior. Amazing to see how some of the furnishings and decor still look like it's 1978! (Many thanks to Mark Antony Richardson and Bob Rocca!).
|14th August 2012||
The 1997 series CI5: The New Professionals will be made available on DVD from tomorrow in Australia. One thing I never knew about the show was that it was actually shot in widescreen and this is how it is presented on the DVDs. Another (potential) bonus is that the episodes are said to be uncut, although David Wickes Television hasn't been able to confirm this as the prints used were not supplied by them. Additionally the first and last episodes are accompanied by commentaries with David Wickes and Brian Clemens.
The set can be ordered from here.
|29th May 2012||
NEWSFLASH! Gordon Jackson's tribute programme in ITV1's "Unforgettable" series is screening tomorrow at 7:30pm!!
|25th March 2012||
Some surprising news regarding the 1990s revival show "CI5: The New Professionals". UK satellite station Movies4Men is rerunning it daily - albeit in edited-down form. However Australian DVD company Madman Entertainment are to issue the entire series - hopefully uncut - on DVD in August. Further details to follow!
|13th September 2011||
A bit more info on the Gordon Jackson tribute. Interviewees were Martin Shaw (who had a couple of funny anecdotes), Brian Clemens, Jean Marsh, Simon Williams, Anthony Andrews, Pauline Collins, John Alderton, Tom Conti and Stanley Baxter. Also Gordon's son Roddy. Yours truly suggested some scenes from various Professionals episodes but with a mere 24 minutes allocated to the programme, there won't be many clips! Transmission date has still to be set but it should screen before the end of the year.
Sweeney fans are also catered for with an edition devoted to John Thaw.
Many thanks to Tom Sutton at North One Television!
|8th September 2011||
Fans of Gordon Jackson will be delighted to hear that ITV will be screening a tribute to him as part of a new series of the long-running "The Unforgettable". Transmission date and more details to follow!
|10th June 2011||
More news on Martin's Shaw's other television series. Expecting Villains to come out later this year, it was actually issued on 21st April - ooops!
Meanwhile good old Network come up trumps again, issuing his second season of The Chief on 18th July.
|21st April 2011||
Martin's Shaw's 1972 crime series Villains is due for DVD release later this year from Network. At the moment they are quoting a release for 31st December which suggests there is no definite date yet. Perhaps they are finalising release rights, which can take often take longer than anticipated. But the fact that they are openly advertising the series indicates that they are confident it will go ahead. More details here.
|31st March 2011||
A movie version of The Professionals has taken a leap forwards in becoming a reality in the last few days with a co-production deal signed between Eighth Wonder Pictures and Lionsgate Pictures.
Eighth Wonder is headed by Richard Whelan and Callum McDougall. Richard's career in the industry spans over two decades, most recently as Producer and First Assistant Director on the upcoming 'Captain America' movie. He also fulfilled 1st AD roles on the movie version of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', 'Wimbledon', 'Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones', 'Band of Brothers' (TV mini-series) and 'Sliding Doors'.
Callum started in the business over thirty years ago and he quickly built up a long list of Director credits. More recently he has acted as Executive Producer on the last two Bond films and 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azbakan' plus co-producer on earlier 007 outing 'Die Another Day'.
Last year renowned director Neil Marshall was attached to the project but as time has moved on his availability will depend upon his other commitments. Other than being described as "later this year", the production's start date has yet to be confirmed.
The script is being written at the moment by newcomer Simon Uttley but it has been confirmed that the story will involve Bodie and Doyle meeting for the first time, although set in modern day.
Casting decisions have still to be taken but there are no plans to involve Martin Shaw or Lewis Collins. Location shooting will take place in the UK.
It should be borne in mind that the movie is still at a very early stage but this news does reflect positive progress. More soon!
(Many thanks to Richard for information.)
|7th March 2011||
The police procedural series The Chief has had its first two seasons issued on DVD and now its third, in which Martin Shaw takes over the eponymous role, should be issued by Network on 18th April
|23rd January 2011||
Some of you may recall that in the early 2000s fan Paul Fletcher-Ridley ran a number of Professionals Location Tours. Well Paul has taken up the challenge yet again! While the details of which locations will be chosen this year are still being researched, you can pre-book a place (and hotel accommodation) through Paul's site - tickets are already selling fast, though!
|26th September 2010||
For anyone who missed last year's BBC Radio 4 documentary Shelved, which tried to find out why the 'Klansmen' episode remained unbroadcast on British television, there will be a repeat on 8th October (Many thanks to Jane Ashley, the programme's producer).
|13th June 2010||
In this weekend's Queen's Birthday Honours List, series creator Brian Clemens has been awarded the Officer of the British Empire ("OBE") for his huge contributions - spanning nearly sixty years - to film and television. Long, long overdue and very richly deserved! (Many thanks to to Ian Dickerson.)
Throughout July the British Film Institute will be celebrating Brian's work. Along with screenings of many television episodes and films written by Brian, he will be participte in two special on-stage interviews. Full details here. (Thanks to Ella Kinight at the BFI.)
|27th April 2010||
Over the last few days director Neil Marshall - currently promoting his film 'Centurion' - has been giving press interviews in which he mentions involvement with a new 'Professionals' movie. As regular readers know, the idea for a cinematic version of the show has been in development. Things have recently taken a leap forward and the chances of realising a movie are better now than ever before...
With a script in the final stages of development, a director attached and a production team now in place, next month the project will be taken to the Cannes Film Festival to attract additional financial support and international distribution deals.
Mark 1 Productions has issued the following official statement:
As makers of the original television series of 'The Professionals' and as executive producers of the forthcoming movie we are delighted that we have the talented director, Neil Marshall, attached to our production.
Brian Clemens and Laurie Johnson
Naturally there are going to be a lot of questions about the proposed film. I hope the following provides some useful answers for the time being!...
Q: What is the basic plot of the script?
A: Details won't be released until much later. At present, though, the script commences with the birth of CI5 and Cowley's recruitment of Bodie and Doyle. This gives the producers plenty of scope for development in plot and characterisation and the possibility of sequels.
Q: It's been nearly thirty years since the original television series finished production. As hugely popular as it remains, can a movie have any relevance to today's cinema audiences?
Q: So the movie will be set in Britain?
A: CI5 will be a British-based agency that will be involved with both domestic and international affairs. The production team wishes to preserve the "parameters" of the original show but still make a film that will have international appeal - just as the television series continues to do.
Q: Will Martin Shaw or Lewis Collins be involved?
A: No casting decisions have yet been made but it is very unlikely that either Martin or Lewis will be involved. While in recent years Martin has come to appreciate the qualities of the TV series, both he and Lewis have made it clear that they would not wish to become involved in any form of Professionals revival.
Q: Eric Bana and Michael Fassbender have been mooted in the press for the roles of Bodie and Doyle. Is this true?
A: This stems from an interview for BBC Radio Five in which Neil Marshall was asked which actors he would favour in the roles. However Neil was merely voicing his own views and preferences and neither of the actors have been formally approached.
Q: If the movie goes ahead, when can we expect to see it?
A: At present the producers are aiming to commence filming later this year, with cinema release to follow in 2011. More specific dates will be forthcoming as financing and distribution deals are settled following Cannes.
In other news Victor Velkov in Australia kindly informs me that the show is presently airing on Channel 7/7TWO on Tuesday nights.
|2nd February 2010||
Rather short notice on this unfortunately but on 9th February the British Film Institute is having a "remakes" evening which will include David Wickes introducing one of his CI5: The New Professionals episodes. More details here. (Thanks to Victoria Humphrys at the BFI.)
|11th December 2009||
After many, many years of waiting, Roy Budd's superb score for Lewis' 1982 action film Who Dares Wins (aka The Final Option) has finally been rewarded with a CD release. Issued a few months ago as part of a large (and very expensive!) boxset, it is now available as a separate CD (albeit also containing the score for Michael Caine's Billion Dollar Brain).
The CD contains a few additional tracks that were not included on the LP release. Also, the faulty master recording of "A Smile You Can't Resist" (that was used for the the vinyl version) has been corrected to a laudable degree.
The CD can be obtained from Soundtrack Corner and I received excellent and fast service from them.
Next year should also see new DVD and Blu-Ray issues of the film, including extras such as commentaries with Euan Lloyd, director Ian Sharp and actress Rosalind Lloyd (who played Jenny Skellen). There is no definite release date yet but the current licensee, Arrow Films, is aiming for 8th March.
|4th November 2009||
Although most fans of The Professionals are aware of the 'Klansmen' debacle, it's not a topic that got significant coverage in the UK media. However BBC Radio 4 is presently making a one-off documentary entitled Shelved which will be examining this infamous episode. Including interviews with Brian Clemens, Tony Booth (who guest starred in the episode) and me, the programme will try to uncover the true reasons for the episode's equally controversial and continued withholding from television screens in Britain.
The programme will also look at the 1979 Doctor Who story "Shada", which was halted due to industrial action, along with the 1970s wartime series Secret Army and the mysterious withdrawal of its final episode, "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?".
Presently Shelved is scheduled to broadcast on Saturday 12th December at 10:30am - more info to come!
Many thanks to Jane Ashley at the BBC.
|7th July 2009||
The second season of Lewis Collins' 1970s sitcom The Cuckoo Waltz will be issued on DVD in the UK on 10th August! (Many thanks to Maxim McDonald at Network DVD).
|20th May 2009||
Having now had the opportunioty to review Bob Rocca's new book on the series - see entry below - it is a fantastic read! For more details click here
|28th April 2009||
We've been waiting an awfully long time but Bob Rocca's definitive guide to The Professionals has finally made it into print! Presently it is available from the publishers, Bear Manor Media, Amazon's US site or Amazon UK.
Compiled over almost quarter of a century (!!), this is more than just an Episode Guide - the book contains stacks of production information for each story, including previously unseen photographs, filming locations, unfilmed and cut scenes, production problems and anecdotes from the crew and actors. A fuller appraisal of the book will appear on this site soon. In the meantime, WELL DONE, BOB!
|24th April 2009||
Network DVD have confirmed to me today that the first season of The Cuckoo Waltz - comprising seven episodes - will be issued on 4th May.
UPDATE: Network kindly sent me an advance copy. The sound quality throughout is excellent considering the age of the show (1975). Each installment opens with the classic blue Granada ident. The opening titles, presented on film, exhibit noticeable scratchiness but the eps themselves - wherein interior scenes were shot on videotape - are virtually flawless and have good colour reproduction. There is, however, a fairly high degree of compression to squeeze the eps on to a single disk but this is only really noticeable if you freeze the picture. There are no extras.
I'm not familiar enough with the series to know whether the episodes are complete but Network have an enviable reputation for tracking down and issuing uncut material.
The show itself is a gentle comedy and certainly provided Lewis Collins fans with an interesting alternative to a lot of the other types of role we associate him with. Although in the first few episodes he is clearly still getting to grips with being on camera, he tends to steal a lot of the scenes (in a positive way!) and it's probably not surprising that Granada chose to put the show on hiatus when he left to join The Professionals.
If sales are strong enough, doubtless Network will consider issuing the other seasons.
(Many thanks to Maxim McDonald at Network)
|17th March 2009||
Lewis' 1970s sit-com "The Cuckoo Waltz" is to have its first season issued on DVD in the UK. The release is presently scheduled for 4th May. More info soon!
|25th June 2008||
Yes, we're still here! I can't believe it's been ten months since the last update.
Anyway this is a quick plug for a new 3-CD set of music by Laurie Johnson, the first disc of which concentrates on music from The Professionals and contains not only the original TV theme but pieces used as incidentals in several episodes. The only downside is that they are in mono (it's not clear whether the stereo versions have been lost or the pieces were simply never recorded that way in the first place.)
The set should be out on 7th July - several online retailers allow you to pre-order it. In the meantime, here is a publicity sheet for it. (Adobe Acrobat)
If this new set sells well, a similar set concentrating on The New Avengers will follow.
Many thanks to Val Jennings at Demon Music.
Martin Shaw's mooted "Apparitions" drama was filmed some time ago but had its transmission held back - apparently additional episodes are currently under consideration, so we are going to see this show... eventually!
More site updates to follow soon....
|2nd August 2007||
Martin Shaw is to star in a new drama named "Apparitions", concerning an exorcist! It sounds fascinating and it's good to see him given the opportunity to move away from the rather "traditional" roles he has had of late. Much more info on the BBC website. (Many thanks to Lin Reid)
|13th June 2007||
No news as such but today marks precisely thirty years since cameras first rolled on an action/adventure series that was to become a global hit. Admittedly - as many readers will be aware - this turned out to be somewhat of a false start as Anthony Andrews, playing Bodie, was replaced a week later by Lewis Collins and much reshooting was required. Nevertheless 13th June 1977 marks the official start of a show that, whichever way it splits critics and viewers, is still fondly remembered - and, thankfully easily accessible - three decades later.
|1st April 2007||
The pilot episode of Martin Shaw's new (old!) police show, George Gently, is to be screened on BBC1 next Sunday, 8th April. Meanwhile you can read an interview with the star here.
|12th January 2007||
Viewers who can receive the BBC's High Definition channel can see a repeat of the current Judge John Deed ep on Sunday night at 10pm. (Thanks to Angela Smyth)
It's been confirmed that Martin has filmed a pilot for the proposed Inspector Gently to be screened some time in the spring by the BBC. Presently there are no definite plans for an entire series - presumably the BBC will gauge audience eraction to this first effort. (Thanks to Lin Reid)
|5th January 2007||
A quick note to say that the last outstanding epiodes of "Judge John Deed" are to be broadcast on BBC1 from Tuesday 9th January. (Many thanks to Helen Moore and Joyce Chumbley).
|24th December 2006||
With 2006 rapidly disappearnig, it's just occurred to me that it has been a relatively quiet year for Professionals. Yet interest in the show continues apace with new DVD releases in the UK, Australia and Japan. The TV Lounge discussion forum has exploded with activity over the last twelve months, boasting several hundred members.
Meanwhile Messrs Clemens and Johnson have been approaching various broadcasters to tempt them into creating a new series. I have to admit there has yet to be definite news on this, though occasional newspaper and radio articles earlier in the year seem to show that the media would support the idea, particularly given the outright success of other "relaunched" shows such Doctor Who.
So what can we expect for 2007? The thirtieth anniversary of the show in June will coincide with the pubilcation of Bob Rocca's book on the series. Those of you who frequent the aforementioned TV Lounge forum will have seen snippets from it and know that it's going to contain a huge amount of previously unpublished information and quotes from actors and crew - it's shaping up to be the definitive "bible" on the series!
Earlier this year it was suggested that Martin Shaw would take on the role of yet another law enforcer, this time Constable George Gently in a series - as yet untitled - set in 1950s East Anglia. As far as I'm aware this project has still to be green-lighted but the indications are that it will go ahead.
Of more immediate interest, next Wednesday at 9pm BBC2 will screen "Beefcake - A Very British Sex Symbol">, featuring the boys from CI5, Special Branch, and The Sweeney in a look at the "no-nonsense, hard-living, hard-drinking British action man". The show appears to be concentrating on the 1970s, so here we have a major broadcaster seeing mileage, albeit probably in a tongue-in-cheek manner, from shows thirty years down the line. (Thanks to every one who e-mailed me about this!)
As ever may thanks to all of you continue to "tune in" and contrubute to the site. I wish you all a great Christmas and all the best for 2007 !
|10th December 2006||
A very sad news item for today. Stuntman Peter Brayham passed away earlier this week, reportedly due to a heart attack. His career stretched right back to the late 1950s and covered over one hundred films and television series. Probably best known for his work on The Sweeney and The Professionals, even popping up in small acting roles occasionally. Still very active and highly respected in the industry right until the end, his most recent work included the new Doctor Who and Life On Mars.
|3rd December 2006||
A very quick update for today to let Lewis Collins fans know that the 1973 Crown Court story "Arson", in which he appeared as a police constable, should be airing on the newly-formed Legal TV station - available via Sky channel 215 - on or about Monday 11th December. I say "should" because Legal TV's website is the only source of listings and they are hopeless at keeping it updated, let alone screening the stories in any sort of predictable manner! For those without Sky, Legal TV also stream over the Internet from their site. More info on definte screening time when I get it.
|19th November 2006||
Two years ago Martin Shaw's Stearman bi-plane suffered a devastating crash from which it seemed unsalvageable. However it is now back in the air and its restoration has been filmed for a documentary to be screened in the UK by the Discovery Real Time channel on December 5th - more info here. (Thanks to Chris Dixon)
|15th November 2006||
With the future of Judge John Deed still to be decided, recent press articles have suggested that a new "vehicle" for Martin Shaw may well be in the offing. From The Guardian newspaper:
Martin Shaw is in the frame for a new role as 1950s East Anglian copper George Gently. Gently features in a series of novels by the late Alan Hunter. A senior BBC source [reported that he] is very keen to do this new drama, and if it gets the green light, which is very likely, Judge John Deed will undoubtedly come to an end.
Thanks to Dave Wicklow and "Maxine" for the info!
Actor John Hallam who played Tug Willis in the Professionals episode 'Lawson's Last Stand' is reported to have recently passed away. (Thanks to "Producer PJ").
|24th September 2006||
Martin Shaw will be presenting a documentary called Over and Out which marks the closure of RAF Coltishall in Norfolk, made famous for its contrubution to the Battle of Britain in WW2. The show will be screened on BBC2 at 7pm next Friday. (Many thanks to Sue Tier).
|23rd August 2006||
Quick update: Martin Shaw's biography has been issued early! The publishers are still saying it won't be available until next month but people who pre-ordered it are now receiving copies, apparently. It seems there may be delays if ordering from Amazon but Play.com have been dispatching copies in the last few days. Disappointingly feedback so far suggests a rush job with the book containing little more than regurgitations of material most Professionals fans will already be familiar with. (Many thanks to "StirringOfDust")
|21st August 2006||
Although the BBC have yet to make an announcement, it appears as though a further series (or, at least, a one-off) of Judge John Deed is presently in production, according to this website. (Many thanks to Lin Reid).
|17th August 2006||
I've had confirmation that the previously-mentioned German Professionals book, Die Profis, by Werner Schmitz is now available to order from Amazon.de. As my grasp of the German language is quite basic, its 540 pages are going to take me a while to get through(!) but there are some great pics to be seen!
Copies signed by director Bill Brayne can be obtained directly from Werner.
Australia's Foxtel and Austar satellite broadcasters are to screen the first season of The Professionals from 19th August - no other details at the mo. (Thanks to Andrew Pollard).
|16th August 2006||
Australian firm Umbrella are due to issue their second Professionals DVD boxset on 4th September - it can be pre-ordered from EzyDVD. Umbrella haven't been forthcoming with information, so I have to assume its content will mirror Contender's 2002 release (hence the apparent inclusion of the interview with Brian Clemens and Laurie Johnson). If true, this will almost certainly mean the picture quality will not match that of Contender's 2005 re-release... (Thanks to "Peter")...
... On the subject of which, thanks to everyone who has sent feedback regarding the new Contender boxsets. The concensus of opinion is that the picture quality shows a tangible improvement in terms of dirt and scratches, though audio quality is no better. (Certainly Old Dog With New Tricks still exhibits an absense of background sounds)....
Having finally had chance to assess a sample myself, a few interesting points emerge: in 'Blind Run' we finally learn Philippa's phone number as the scene in question is now uncut. The various visual glitches previously seen in 'The Madness of Mickey Hamilton' are absent in this release. The audio "thump" and missing film frames that preceded Mickey's first assassination in the hospital is now all fixed, too.
Now none of this "repair" work could have been done by Contender, so it suggests to me that Granada/LWT have had superior prints tucked away all this time - why didn't they supply these the first time around?
Having said all that, colour depth is actually worse: the eps look even more "washed out" and/or over-brightened than before. And they still suffer that strange visual "gauze-like" effect, which suggests that the 1991 digital transfers are still the ultimate source for this set.
The new sets certainly present the best picture quality we're likely to see in the long run. But for those of you who bought the 2002 releases, the overall opinion is that the new ones are only worth picking up if you spot 'em in the Bargain Bins. For those of you who have neither the old or new sets, the new sets are acceptable, though bear in mind the extras have been removed (contrary to statements on the packaging) and the menus - which were brilliant on the old sets - have been badly redesigned.
|29th June 2006||
Martin Shaw fans may like to know that the 1976 horror anthology series Beasts has just been issued on DVD. Martin starred in the ep "Buddy Boy". The series is a bit variable in quality, though. (Thanks to Dave Wicklow for jogging my elbow on this one!)
|24th June 2006||
Thanks to a number of you reminding me, this site is ten years old today!!!
|21st June 2006||
Amazon are currently offering the new versions of the Contender box-sets for a mere UKP12.97 each! (Thanks to Kevin Powell)
|6th June 2006||
A new discussion forum for The Professionals (and The Sweeney) has been started here. (Many thanks to Kevin Powell).
|27th May 2006||
Many Happy Returns to Lewis Collins - 60 today!
|22nd May 2006||
The date: 22nd May 1981. The location: Victoria Deep Water Terminal, London. The episode: 'Spy Probe'. Not latest news but just to say that today marks 25 years since Gordon, Martin and Lewis filmed their last ever scenes for the series! (In Lewis' case it very nearly became the last scene he filmed in his life!!) A quarter of a century on and has anybody come up with an action/adventure series to better The Professionals....?
|18th May 2006||
A biography of Martin Shaw will be published later this year. The authors are Tim Ewbank and Stafford Hildred who have written similar volumes for other stars such as Joanna Lumley. I was chatting to Tim about the book a few days ago and we can expect plenty of Professionals coverage! Amazon are offering pre-ordering on the book here but the proposed publishing date of 29th September has yet to be confirmed. (Many thanks to Tim Ewbank and Claire Bonny).
|14th May 2006||
As an addendum to yesterday's item, the UK's Independent newspaper published a small article on Friday stating that Laurie Johnson is in talks with the BBC (!!!) over the new series. This needs some clarification. It is true that the Beeb has been approached (along with other broadcasters, of course) but has yet to either accept or reject the idea. Either way the Independent's article was quickly removed from their website! (Thanks to Carol Good)
Back to the original series now. Following the success of the first Japanese DVD box set. the Stingray company is looking to issue another, once again with newly-recorded Japanese voice-overs. This time, however, a poll is asking fans to vote for the episodes that should appear on it. I believe the survey is accessible from this site but I can't read Japanese! (Many thanks to Andrew Davies)
|13th May 2006||
BBC Radio 2 DJ Sarah Kennedy yesterday announced that ITV is to make a new series of The Professionals...
Envious at the huge success of the new Doctor Who and finally having to admit their audience share is in terminal freefall, ITV also seem to have been bitten by the "remake" bug, having recently hinted at fresh versions of shows such as The Avengers and The Prisoner. HOWEVER...
When speaking to Brian Clemens this morning, he was astonished to hear the news! As reported last December, Brian confirmed that he is working with an independent producer in the hope of creating a new series but ITV has not been approached about it. And without collaboration with Mark 1, ownership issues prevent the broadcaster from simply launching its own version.
My guess is that if ITV themselves have come up with this story (and how clever to "leak" it to their rival!), they are merely "fishing" in an attempt to see how the idea might appeal to Joe Public.
You can hear the (extremely brief!) announcement on the Kennedy show via the BBC's "Listen Again" site - skip ahead to 1h 15m.
(Many thanks to Gareth Bevan)
|9th April 2006||
I'm getting a lot of enquiries about the new Contender DVD sets with people asking whether they are worth buying or is it better to hold on to the old sets. I haven't invested my own money in the new lot as although some tinkering has brought about better colour balancing, they are still not "remastered" in the true sense of the word. Certainly websites I have seen report minimal improvements.
However to help everybody, I would like to open this up to debate. Anyone out there who has both sets and would like to offer their own views, please do get in touch and I'll publish an overall concensus.
In the meantime, Play.com are offering selling both old and new DVDsets at good prices. (Thanks to June Ferguson)
|1st March 2006||
Japan's "Mystery" satellite channel has just started to run episodes from The Professionals. No further details at the moment but it's looking like they will be screening the twelve episodes that were made available on DVD last year. (Many thnks to Andrew Davies).
|15th February 2006||
Martin Shaw is due to appear on the BBC's new chat show Davina next Wednesday at 8pm. (Thanks to Dave Wicklow).
The pilot episode and entire first season of Judge John Deed will be issued on DVD - current release date is 8th May. The BBC Shop are taking pre-orders. No word on any "extras" yet. (Thanks to Lin Reid)
|23rd January 2006||
British satellite station UK Gold is to broadcast a one-off quiz show called Classic Comeback in which celebrity teams have to answer questions about cult TV. One of the shows to be covered is The Professionals (along with Blake's 7 and Minder) and the production company is currently looking for a Profs fanatic to appear on the show. If anyone is interested contact Kelley Doak. The show will be recorded on 7th February at MTV's North London studio. If the show is a success, a full-blown series will follow.
|22nd January 2006||
Martin's interview on BBC Radio 2 is available for streaming download here. Fast-foward to the 1h25m mark. Actually the interview only lasted a few minutes but it's worth a listen to hear his (quite surprising) views on Judge John Deed. The Profs gets a good mention, too!
|21st January 2006||
Happy Birthday to Martin Shaw who is 61 today!
|17th January 2006||
Photograph agency Rex Features have a website from which you can view and order stills from The Professionals. Matthew Greenland at Rex informs me that he is about to add about 25 new pics of Lewis Collins. The site has a search facilty and I found it best to use the terms "Professionals", "Lewis Collins", "Martin Shaw" and "Gordon Jackson" with the "oldest" option. If you wish to place an order for any pics, you need to e-mail Matthew directly with a list of the index numbers assigned to each pic. Matthew will then respond with a quote. Prices range from 10GBP for 8" x 6" to 30GBP for 18"x12" sizes.
|16th January 2006||
Martin should be appearing on Steve Wright's BBC Radio 2 show this Wednesday - apparently they had to reschedule it for some reason. (Thanks to Linda Lacy)
|15th January 2006||
Martin Shaw will be interviewed on the BBC 1 programme The Heaven & Earth Show (by the gorgeous Kate Gerbeau - another reason to tune in!) next Sunday at 10am.
|14th January 2006||
Well there was no sign of Martin for the Steve Wright show - I seem to rememeber they have "mis-scheduled" previous appearances for him, too. However you can listen to a recent interview he did for Radio 4's Woman's Hour programme here (It's not all girlie-talk, chaps!) - there's even a brief discussion of our fave show! I must say Marty seems much more open to talking about it these days. (Many thanks to Jesper Antvorskov and "Maxine")
An amusing tidbit for anyone who has seen the BBC's new fantasy cop show "Life on Mars" (which concerns a young detective suffering a car accident in modern-day Manchester and waking from a coma to find he has been mysteriously transported back to 1973). The Beeb's website is running a quiz to see if we could cope with life in the 1970s all over again. One of the questions asks us to choose our favourite of three actors: the options are the star of this new series, John Simm, a certain Mr Lewis Collins ("The action man, driving a fast car and seducing the ladies.") and a certain Mr Martin Shaw ("The man for all seasons, enduring and smart")! Of course it would an even better idea to see how Bodie and Doyle would cope with living in 2006!
|9th January 2006||
Martin Shaw will be interviewed on the BBC Radio 2 show Steve Wright in the Afternoon this Friday some time between 2pm and 5pm. (Thanks to "Steve")
|7th January 2006||
Martin Shaw was interviewed on BBC Radio Five Live a couple of days back. Mainly concentrating on A Man for All Seasons and Judge John Deed, there is quite a bit of discussion about a certain other show towards the end! You can hear a playback of the interview here. The playback cuts off abruptly towards the end - presumably because the programme overran slightly - but the missing dialogue just consists of the usual "thank you's". (Many thanks to "Greg" and Sue Tier)
Judge John Deed started its new run last night... "except for viewers in BBC Scotland". Difficult to believe Auntie Beeb is still doing this! No problem, however, our friends north of the border can see the episode next Thursday. (Thanks to Olivia Gaffney).
|31st December 2005||
Quick correction to last week's post - although the re-issued Strange Report DVD set has lost the "extras" disk as reported (which contained script PDFs and a "remastering" documentary amongst other items), the set retains the intro with Martin Shaw - apologies for the mistake and many thanks to Richard Spurr for alerting me!
I've just spotted a trailer for the new - and, as far as I'm aware - final season of Martin's legal drama Judge John Deed, commencing on January 6th! Read more at the BBC's website for the show.
|23rd December 2005||
Wow - another year has come and almost gone! Before my usual end-of-year report, here's are a few regular news items...
For some time now a Professionals DVD set has been available in Japan from a company called Stingray. Because all the sites I saw it on are in Japanese text, it's taken me a little while to establish some details! The set contains a selection of twelve episodes: 'Private Madness, Public Danger', 'Heroes', 'Close Quarters', 'Hunter/Hunted', 'Blind Run', 'The Purging of CI5', 'Servant of Two Masters', 'Mixed Doubles', 'Kickback', 'Foxhole on the Roof', 'Cry Wolf' and 'The Untouchables'
The set is a legitimate release. I understand it is very costly but the discs have an English soundtrack with Japanese subtitles plus the option of a Japanese dubbed soundtrack. The eps have had a small amount of digital "cleaning up" performed on them. I have yet to see them myself, so I can't yet pass judgment on them quality-wise. If the set proves to be a success, more releases will follow. The set can be ordered from here. Many thanks to "Yuko", "Kyo" and "Andy" for info!
I neglected to mention earlier that Lewis Collins fans may like to know that his musical A Night on the Town is now available on DVD. Play.com are offering it for a mere seven quid! (Thanks to Sue Sandy)
Trading card company Strictly Ink are about to launch a set of cards for The Professionals - I believe they can be pre-ordered, though the info on their site is a little confusing at the moment. (Thanks to Tony Buller).
2005 has been one of the quietest years for Professionals fans, though it's been pleasing to see DVD sales continue strongly, now with Japan, Germany and Australia joining the fray. I have recently received enquiries from a number of Mediterranean countries, too!
One worrying trend I've noticed is for DVD companies to re-issue their sets but drop any "extras" they originally contained. We've seen this with Contender's revised Professionals releases and Network's Sweeney. Fans of Martin Shaw need to be aware that the interview he did for Network's Strange Report set has recently been dropped, too. [Addendum -- Ooops! See Bullet-In for Dec 31st].
Martin Shaw's tour of A Man for All Seasons still seems to be going strong. I only just realised the other day that his daughter Sophie is also in the cast! (Pic kindly supplied by Sue Sadler)
Next year promises a lot more action. For starters two new books heralding the series should be hitting the shelves. Werner Schmitz' German-language tribute is presently being readied for the printing presses while in the UK Bob Rocca is hoping to finalise a deal with a publisher for his own examination of the show. More info on these items soon.
Long-term readers will be aware that a Professionals movie has been mooted for a number of years. Lack of progress now seems to have laid the idea to rest. However as I always like to end the year on a surprise note, I can reveal that in place of the movie, we may see a new television series! For the last few weeks discussions have been under way with a number of potential backers and apparently there is a strong level of interest. Should everything come together, production may start in the summer. I should clarify that it will have no connection at all to David Wickes' CI5 - The New Professionals and at this stage it is far too early to think about casting decisions. But with the huge success of the BBC series Spooks and, to a lesser degree, ITV's Ultimate Force, clearly there is still an appetite for the action-adventure-drama genre amongst broadcasters (in the UK, at least).
As ever, many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the site this year and I wish you all a great Christmas and all the best for the new year!
|8th October 2005||
Many of you have been asking about a new DVD release of the first season (plus 'Rogue' from the second) by Contender Video in the UK. Screaming "Digitally Remastered" even more loudly than before(!), could this be the genuine article this time? Given Contender's absolute silence over the issue, I naturally had some doubts!...
Eamonn McCusker from the DVD Times website recently received a promo copy of the new set and discovered that visual quality is indeed improved over the 2002 release: colour balancing has been applied, while the overall picture is sharper - although I assume the latter is due to the use of a higher sampling bitrate.
Somewhat surprisingly Contender have not opted to lease the commentaries recorded by Brian Clemens for last year's Australian release. And as far as I'm aware, the audio is still problematic in places.
The first season has always been the one that needed the least restorative "magic" and Eamonn makes no comment about 'Rogue' which I'm guessing it's still as scratchy as ever... but in the absense of the negatives, a clean-up job on it remains sadly unfeasible.
For Eamonn's complete review and some picture quality comparisons, click here.
Some more dates and venues for Martin Shaw's tour of A Man For All Seasons can be found here - it's clearly been successful up to now! The tour is gradually creeping further northwards, though there's a massive void between Glasgow and Nottingham/Wolverhampton at the moment! (Many thanks to Lin Reid, Sue Sandy, Wendy Burrett and "Tricia").
Martin's recent TV work, The Murder Room is scheduled for a Stateside DVD issue on 25th October. As with his earlier Adam Dalgliesh story, there is still no sign of a UK release.
I forgot to mention that Martin's 1980 TV play Cream in My Coffee is now available on DVD in the UK as a set containing two of Dennis Potter's other works. Here's a link to Amazon (Many thanks to Angela Smyth).
|29th August 2005||
If reports are to be believed, interest in the series' cars has recently reached dizzying heights: apparently the Capri driven by Lewis in the 1981 episodes has been auctioned for a staggering GBP100,000 !!!! I'm waiting for confirmation on this, though, as it seems an absurdly high figure, even with the apparent inclusion of Martin and Lew's signatures on the steering wheel. (Thanks to Bob Rocca.)
Readers may have noticed some UK retailers inviting pre-orders for a new DVD set entitled 'The Professionals (Remastered)'. This is simply a re-issue by Contender - although may be accompanied by new packaging - and unless they have performed some digital magic on their existing copies, do not expect the video or audio to be any different to the that which they have issued previously.
Kabel 1 in Germany are currently running the series but in a heavily-edited form, I understand. (Thanks to Remco Admiraal).
Fans of Mr Shaw may be pleased to hear that his 1980 Dennis Potter play 'Cream in My Coffee' should be available on DVD in the UK from September 12th, while his recent Adam Dalgliesh work 'The Murder Room' will be issued on shiny disk in the USA on October 25th - no word yet on a Brit release. (Thanks to "Maxine")
|1st August 2005||
Fans of Dempsey and Makepeace - LWT's successor to our fave show - will be delighted to hear that Network Video in the UK will be issuing it on DVD sometime in the next twelve months. More info as I get it but given Network's supreme reputation for high-quality, extras-laden product, we could well be in for a proper remastering/restoration job with contributions from the series' stars Glynis Barber and Michael Brandon.
|26th July 2005||
Bill Kenwright Productions has published details of their tour of A Man For All Seasons. (Hey - even The Professionals gets a mention!) Click here! (Many thanks to Angela Smyth.)
|20th July 2005||
A couple of DVD-related items today. The new German set was isued on 14th July (by Universal Playabck) but Gitti Zbiek kindly informs me that at least one episode is cut! The scene in 'Private Madness, Public Danger' (or Gegen die Zeit as it is referred to in Germany) has lost the scene in which Cowley threatens to inject Sutton with heroin. I assume that Universal have used the German TV transmission versions for the DVD rather than record new German-language soundtracks.
A company called Stingray is set to issue a set of twelve episodes in Japan on 11th November. The set will include a selection of twelve episodes across seasons two to five and will have the original English soundtrack with Japanese subtitles plus a dubbed Japanese-language soundtrack. More info here but the site is in Japanese language only. More info soon. (Big thanks to "Kyo").
|11th June 2005||
On-line retailer Play.com (aka Play247) is advertising an item called "The Professionals (Remastered)", due for release in September. Presently I have no idea what this is! Perhaps Play have simply made a mistake (no other retailer is advertising it as far as I know) or it may be a reference to the upcoming German set (although that is due out next month). Whatever - the "remastered" proclamation undoubtedly carries as little validity as all previous releases! (Thanks to June Ferguson and Graham Peacock)
|9th June 2005||
Some tragic and shocking news today. Two of the series' guest stars, Ed Bishop and Michael Billington, passed away earlier this week in separate incidents. Ed starred in two episodes, 'Long Shot' and 'Man Without A Past', while Mike played villainous ex-boxer John Coogan in 'The Rack'. Of course Gerry Anderson fans will know they both had leading roles in UFO. The circumstances of Mike's passing are not yet known but it looks like Ed picked up a fatal virus while undergoing routine treatment in hospital - an investigation is under way. Deepest sympathy to both men's families. More details on Chris Bentley's Fanderson site. (Many thanks to "Zoe").
|27th May 2005||
A quick note just to say that Lewis Collins turned 59 today!
|20th May 2005||
Lewis Collins is to make a brief appearance in a sketch for the new ITV comedy show Monkey Trousers. Originally his episode - recorded last month - was apparently due to air in the autumn but it looks like ITV have actually pulled the series forward - the first episode airs tonight! (I'm guessing that with their latest string of self-inflicted ratings disasters, the broadcaster is desperately juggling its schedule around.) Presently I have no info on which actual episode Lewis will appear in. (Thanks to Nigel McMurdy).
|2nd May 2005||
Not "latest news" as such but Oz fan Di Hughes recently came across a video of a documentary about the 1980 siege on the Iranian Embassy in London. Focussing on the famous SAS rescue mission, Lewis Collins narrates! It looks like this tape was issued in 1996, though Lewis isn't mentioned on the packaging, so it's no surprise we've missed this. Amazon UK have a few left here.
|29th April 2005||
We have confirmation that Martin Shaw will return to the theatre in a new version of A Man for All Seasons, initially at Windsor's Theatre Royal in October with the possibility of a transfer to the West End. (Many thanks to Gareth Bevan and Lin Reid).
|27th April 2005||
A few items for today...
The series is to be issued on DVD in Germany. The present release date is 25th August. However, although details are still very sketchy, it's looking like the usual Contender format will be followed - ie fourteen-episode box sets. Almost certainly the episodes will be taken from Contender's DVD masters. Currently it is not clear whether a German-language soundtrack and/or subtitles will be added. I have just spoken to Brian Clemens to query whether this is a "legitimate" release and he confirmed. However the name of the company releasing the disks had slipped his mind! Anyway, more details as they emerge. (Many thanks to Lars Hennig)
Next up is news that UK satellite channel Men and Motors will be screening episodes from 2nd May (at 6pm). No other details at the moment as there doesn't appear to be a way of contacting them directly. However given M&M's affiliation with Granada Plus, I'm betting they've raided the defunct station's library and we'll be seeing the same butchered copies. Incidentally Freeview owners will be able to pick up M&M soon via Channel 38. (Many thanks to Kevin Bricknall).
A British DVD release for Lewis Collins' action flick Commando Leopard is due on 20th June. It's being distributed by Anchor Bay, a company which usually issues high-quality product, so it should be worth checking out. Amazon aren't listing it yet but you can pre-order it from Play.com. (Many thanks to June Ferguson and "Maxine")
Finally, for those of you thinking the site has gone a bit quiet lately, well I'm currently working on a whole batch of updates, one of which will be a new section to examine the myriad picture and sound quality issues surrounding each episode. Later on I'm hoping to have a definitive, comprehensive breakdown of the series' episode-by-episode production order, too.
|21st March 2005||
Quick - and extremely short-notice! - update for today: Martin Shaw has narrated a documentary concerning the discovery of the 5,000-year old remains of a man. The Iceman Murder airs tomorrow (Tuesday) night on BBC1. (Thanks to Sue Tier)
|21st January 2005||
Congrats to Martin Shaw who is 60 today!
Chasing up rumours of a return to British TV for Lewis Collins, the only response I could evoke from his agent, Susan James, was a rather terse "I don't wish to comment on that at this stage." Make of that what you will!
|4th January 2005||
Hot on the heels of last week, rival TV listings mag TV Times features an interview with Mr Shaw with a discussion about Judge John Deed. Again barely a mention for The Professionals but there are a couple of decent photos. (Thanks to Dave Wicklow).
|30th December 2004||
Judge John Deed is to return to British screens from January 13th with six 90-minute episodes. The BBC have a website for the show here (Thanks to Lin Reid).
This week's Radio Times magazine in the UK features a brief interview with Martin Shaw. Scant mention of The Professionals, though. (Thanks to "Ally")
|30th December 2004||
This week's Radio Times magazine in the UK features a brief interview with Martin Shaw, primarily to promote the upcoming Dalgliesh drama. Scant mention of The Professionals, so one for Shaw fanatics only, really. (Thanks to "Ally")
|23rd December 2004||
As another year draws to an end, here's my usual "annual report" and a glimpse of the treats to come in 2005...
Although the new Australian DVDs increase worldwide exposure for the series, I have to say I can't get overly excited about them. With no inclination to provide quality prints to rival those of the recent Sweeney releases in the UK and even Umbrella's own fabulous Return of the Saint box set, Brian Clemens' two commentaries are probably going to be the only reason to buy them if you already own the Contender sets. At least Umbrella are retailing them as part of their "budget" price - and rightly so. Will The Professionals ever get a DVD release worthy of the show's name?! Of course the mysterious misplacement (or deliberate scrapping?) of the film negatives by LWT doesn't help the situation!
(Incidentally I can reveal that the Umbrella disks will NOT include the original title sequence on each episode as originally hoped for - this has been added as an "extra", though will include the Cowley voiceover and first version of the theme. The London landscape shot - as originally used in the end credits - will NOT appear at all, unfortunately.
As far as I can see, Umbrella will have little to offer by way of extras on subsequent releases. But given Martin Shaw's contribution to the release of the ITC series Strange Report, clearly there is a potential opportunity here.
This year saw the unceremonious dumping of the UK's Granada Plus satellite channel. Although rightly vilified for their policy of indiscriminate butchery and dwindling range of programming, they will be missed. An announcement on their website at the time of the closure tried to reassure us that some of the programmes they screened would eventually find their way to the channel which replaced them, ITV3. Given that The Professionals consistently topped GP's ratings, perhaps it would be reasonable to assume our fave show will be back on UK screens? I'm not so sure. Although ITV3 is available on satellite, it is primarily a terrestrial channel (albeit a digital-only one) and, as such, presumably falls foul of Martin Shaw's veto on repeats. I've certainly had no indication that this situation has been resolved.
However 2004 has not been all bad. On a more positive note Brian Clemens informs me that the mooted Professionals movie is still on(!!) Meetings with potential backers are to take place early in the New Year and he certainly seems confident that the film will be going ahead. Let's hope 2005 will at last see definite movement on this!
Martin Shaw's career remains in the ascendancy, supplementing the continuing adventures of John Deed with the critically acclaimed Adam Dalgliesh mystery - and, of course, we've got the second story coming in January.
Lewis has remained away from our screens for another year but recently rumours have started to circulate that he may revive his Dr Allen character in The Bill. And I might soon have some news regarding another show. Presently I am awaiting information from Lew's agent.
As ever many thanks to all of you who have supported and contributed to the website over the last twelve months!
I wish you all a fun festive period and a peaceful New Year!
|15th December 2004||
Quick update on 'The Murder Room' - the BBC have now revised the tx dates to 1st and 2nd January. To be messing with the Festive schedule at this late stage seems rather alarming! (Thanks again to Lin Reid)
|13th December 2004||
Fans of Lewis' work may like to know that his 1983 TV musical A Night on the Town will be issued on DVD in the UK in February, though you can pre-order it from places like Amazon right now. (Thanks to June Ferguson)
|11th December 2004||
The BBC have postponed transmission of the first part of The Murder Room to Sunday 2nd January - presumably the second half will follow a week later. (Thanks to Lin Reid and Angela Smyth)
|27th November 2004||
The BBC are due to screen the second Adam Dalgliesh story, The Murder Room, "in December" - as yet there is no precise date. However from various reviews following the recent tx in Australia, it's sounding as though this instalment may be even better than the first. (Thanks to Angela Smyth).
|22nd November 2004||
Just a quickie today. Martin Shaw has donated a signed book and photograph to leprosy charity LEPRA. I wouldn't normally advertise auctions but as this is for a good cause, you can see the items on eBay. (Thanks to "Marina").
|16th November 2004||
The BBC have announced that they will screen new episodes of Judge John Deed in January. My understanding is that there will be at least six installments (Thanks to Mel Brown.)
Anyone who was watching out for Sky's documentary on TV cars the other week will now have to wait until 22nd December as the broadcaster elected to postpone the programme for unknown reasons. (Thanks to Bob Rocca).
|1st November 2004||
This item is a bit late but I've only just become aware of it! In the UK, ITV's new channel, ITV3, has launched today and, in what appears to be a very last-minute decsision, has actually replaced Granada Plus. An announcement on the G+ website states:
"After the recent acquisition of [Granada Sky Broadcasting] by ITV, [Granada Plus] will cease broadcasting. You will be pleased to know that some of your favourite [Granada Plus] programmes will be found in the future on ITV3."
Whether this will mean our fave show returns, ITV aren't saying (yet). Certainly for the new channel's first week, there is no "vintage" Brit material lined up. But you can request/suggest programmes via ITV3's main contact address.
|25th October 2004||
Sky One in Europe are due to screen a two-hour programme entitled TV's Greatest Cars on November 4th. It will feature the 1980 gold Capri driven by Martin Shaw. (Thanks to Bob Rocca)
Meanwhile the BBC are saying "early 2005" for transmission of their second Adam Dalgliesh story, The Murder Room. (Thanks to Tony Buller).
The Marks & Spencer chain in the UK have agreed a deal with Contender to market a "Best of The Professionals" DVD set. In fact it is nothing more than the first eight episodes from the first series - though at a modest ten quid. The set is available now from here. (Thanks to Tony Buller).
|14th October 2004||
The second of the new Adam Dalgliesh mysteries, The Murder Room, is to play as a two-parter on Australia's ABC on 31st October and 7th November. Apparently a New Zealand broadcaster has bought the show, too. Meanwhile UK and US transmissions have yet to be announced. (Thanks to Georgina Dawe)
Not "latest" news as such but anybody interested in Lewis' musical career during the 1960s may like to know that Merseybeat expert Spencer Leigh has recently followed up his long out-of-print book 'Let's Go Down to the Cavern' with a new volume entitled 'Twist and Shout'. The book can be ordered through Amazon or directly from Spencer himself. (Thanks to "Maxine")
|10th October 2004||
Umbrella in Australia are due to issue their first set of Professionals DVDs on 12th January 2005. Although ostensibly similar to Contender's sets (indeed using the same DVD "masters"), the disks will NOT be region coded and will incorporate some different extras such as audio commentaries by Brian Clemens on 'Private Madness, Public Danger' and 'Klansmen'. A separate "music and effects" tracks will be available on certain episodes but please note this is NOT an isolated music track: the prints that are presently available have the music and sound effects recorded together on the same track and they are, therefore, inseparable. The first set will include all thirteen episodes from the first season plus one episode from the second - possibly 'Rogue'. Umbrella's presentation pack (1.2MB - requires Adobe Acrobat) mentions the original "assault course" opening credits but it is not clear whether these have been grafted into the episodes or merely made available as a separate extra item. Please note that the final product may have a different packaging design. Presently I am awaiting further details. (Many thanks to Grant Taylor)
|28th September 2004||
Martin's Death in Holy Orders will debut Stateside on PBS on the first and second Sunday of October. (Thanks to Anne Palmer and Joyce Chumbley)
|26th September 2004||
A couple of short items for today. Amazon UK are currently selling their remaining copies of the Contender DVD "megaset" for a mere 44GBP! (Thanks to Scott Jepson).
|4th September 2004||
A small item today that may not come to anything. Apparently Martin Shaw is being considered for a stage revival of A Man for All Seasons. No further info at the moment - hopefully Martin's agent will come through with more details if the account is true. (Many thanks to Georgina Dawe).
|2nd August 2004||
The BBC are reporting that Martin Shaw's vintage biplane has crashed during take-off in Norfolk. However Martin himself was not on board - more details here . (Thanks to Lisa de Azevedo)
|24th July 2004||
Over the last few months I've been hinting at new DVD releases for the series. I can now announce that Umbrella Entertainment have acquired the rights for Australasia and are planning to issue the series from early 2005.
It is presently not clear whether Umbrella will be applying Region Coding to the disks but a quick glance at their recent releases suggests they are quite liberal-minded on this point! The picture format will be PAL only, however.
Material for extras is currently being investigated, though there are no details yet. Of course I have passed on a large list of stuff we would like to see (!) and I have also enquired about the possibility of including subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.
The not-so-good news, however, relates to the picture quality. Umbrella originally intended to use the negatives (or inter-negatives) of each episode to create proper, new digital prints. I pointed out to them that the negs for seasons 2 to 5 were missing. Sure enough they haven't turned up. As a result Umbrella will be picking up the prints used by Contender and Granada Plus. This is disappointing because of the known colour-balancing and "grain" problems with many of these prints - points which I have pressed Umbrella to sort out as far as possible. This also applies to the first season, despite the fact that the negs are available for those episodes - it's not clear why these have not been used. That said, Umbrella have acquired a proud reputation for quality releases over the last couple of years and I'm sure they won't want to let themselves down on what is bound to be a huge seller for them!
Other than that, further details will be published here as and when they are finalised. Stay tuned! (Many thanks to Grant Taylor at Umbrella)
American fans may like to know that Martin Shaw's Death in Holy Orders will receive a Stateside DVD release in October. You can, however, pre-order it from places such as Amazon. Meanwhile a UK release will appear "sometime" next year, according to the BBC. (Thanks to Georgina Dawe and Sue Pittard)
A fourth season of Judge John Deed is due to be transmitted in the UK some time in the autumn - as ever the BBC have not yet set a precise date. Meanwhile the Beeb is pitching an idea for an American version of the show. However they say this would almost certainly involve casting an American actor in the eponymous role. (Thanks to Maxine Martin)
|23rd June 2004||
Further to the single-disk DVDs from Contender, they plan to issue all sixteen during the course of this year and next. Disk 5 is planned for September 13th. (Thanks to Martyn Alcott and to Ian Atkins at Contender).
The other DVD venture I keep hinting about is still "on" and I hope to be able to have definite info on this within the next few weeks.
Fans of the cars used in the series may like to know that Cowley's red Granada from the 1978 episodes has now been identified - hop over to the Car Pool for more info. (Thanks as ever to Bob Rocca)
For those interested, the image of Lewis from the Getty exhibition was taken as a quick pre-publicity shot for Who Dares Wins in August 1981. (Thanks to "The Minister" and James Harris).
|19th June 2004||
Some of you may be aware that Contender issued single-disk Professionals sets of the first season. Selected HMV stores are presently offering all these for GBP5.99 each of GBP20 for the set of four. (Thanks to Dave Wicklow)
The edition of the comedy show The Freddie Starr Experience from 1978 which featured Lewis and Martin in a bizarre sketch is to be screened by Granada Plus on Saturday 26th June. (Thanks to Chris Dixon)
|12th June 2004||
According to this month's Total DVD magazine Martin has recorded some material for the upcoming release of the 1969 detective mystery series Strange Report, due out on 28th June. I have no further details at the moment but I am asuming he will be introducing the episode in which he guested, "Sniper: When is Your Cousin Not?". Confirmation and more info as I get it! (Thanks to an anonymous source for the tip-off).
For Sweeney fans, DVD boxset 3 is due out on 26th July (though, as ever with Network releases, this may slip as they finalise any "extras"). Incidentally they never issued a corrected disk for the second set... let's just hope the latest one has had some quality control applied! (Thanks to Dave Wicklow.)
|2nd June 2004||
Following GQ magazine's "50 Best Dressed Men" poll, London's Getty Image Gallery is exhibiting large-sized prints from the mag - indeed the very first one you see as you walk in is a huge close-up of Mr Collins! The exhibition is running until 15th June. (Many thanks to Maxine Martin)
The Professionals seems do be doing the rounds among community channels across Australia at the moment. Melbourne's RTV is now screening episodes at 2pm local time every Friday though the quality of the prints is terrible! Bizarrely the show is being sponsored by a hearing aid company!?! (Many thanks to Vicki Lustig).
|27th May 2004||
Happy Birthday to Lewis Collins! Anyone wishing to send him birthday greetings may do so via his UK agent, Susan James at Mr Lewis Collins, c/o Susan James, 5 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LP. Apparently she has already received three sackfuls! (Thanks to Debbie Donohue).
|9th May 2004||
The BBC have annouced that filming on the fourth season of Judge John Deed has just commenced - more details here. (Thanks to "Marina")
Czech TV station Nova are curerntly screening episodes of The Professionals on Saturday afternoons. (Thanks to Daniel Bartos)
|11th April 2004||
UK magazines GQ and Helloare currently running a top 50 poll for "Best Dressed Man of All Time". Avengers star Patrick Macnee has come eighth while Lewis Collins polls a respectable twentieth. Check out the full results here and please let me know if you can identify when the shot of Lewis was taken. The slimmer facial features and hairstyle would appear to indicate that it was taken during Who Dares Wins but he appears to be wearing flared trousers which were long out of fashion by then. (Many thanks to Lisa de Azevedo)
|11th April 2004||
UK magazine GQ is currently running top 50 poll for "Best Dressed Man of All Time". Avengers star Patrick Macnee has come eighth while Lewis Collins polls a respectable twentieth. Check out the full results here and please let me know if you can identify the time and place where the shot of Lewis was taken. The slimmer features and brushed-back bouffant hairstyle would appear to indicate that it was taken during Who Dares Wins but he appears to be wearing flared trousers which were long out of fashion by then. (Many thanks to Lisa de Azevedo)
|30th March 2004||
Any European fans who missed Lewis' episode of The Bill can catch repeats next Monday afternoon and evening on the UKGold and UKGold+1 satellite channels. (Thanks to Jesper Antvorskov and Chris Dixon).
|28th March 2004||
A warning for Sweeney fans: DVD Set 2 is finally out but there are reports of picture break-up on some of the disks. Network have acknowledged the problem and, I presume, will issue corrected disks soon. Stay tuned! (Thanks to Dave Wicklow)
|23rd February 2004||
Some of you have spotted very low-priced Professionals DVDs being advertised by certain on-line stores such as Play for release in April. Contender have opted to reissue several of their titles under a new "budget" range, so there are bargains to be had! These disks are not connected to the proposed entirely new releases that I mentioned in December - of which I hope to bring you more details soon! (Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me!)
|7th February 2004||
A quick one today for Martin Shaw fans in Oz: 'Death in Holy Orders' is to be screened across the country this Sunday evening. (Thanks to Andrew Williams, Di Hughes and Georgina Dawe)
|31st January 2004||
Next week's UK edition of Classic Car Weekly magazine is due to feature an article on the cars used in The Professionals. The mag is published on Wednesday 4th Feb. (Thanks to Ash George)
Not really latest news as such but I've noticed some interest in a vegetarian cookbook of Martin Shaw's favourite recipes. It was actually published quite a while ago but it's been difficult to get hold of. Anyway, you should be able to order it from the Viva site (Thanks to Juliet Legg).
Viva are also marketing a video protesting against so-called "factory farming". Martin appears with several other famous faces. The vid (available in both PAL and NTSC formats) can be ordered from this page. (Thanks to Kathryn Gray)
|25th January 2004||
Just a reminder for UK fans of Judge John Deed that the postponed episode from last year will be screened tomorrow.
Fans of Laurie Johnson's music may be interested in his newly-published autobiography, Noises in the Head. The Avengers, New Avengers and Professionals are all given coverage including previously unknown production details along with all the other major projects Laurie has taken part in over his long career. The book is published by Bank House Books and should be available to order from them direct in a few weeks' time but at the moment you can obtain it from the usual places such as Amazon UK or Amazon US. (Incidentally, ignore Amazon's erroneous reference to "September 2000" as the publishing date!)
(Thanks to Bank House Books for permission to use the cover scan)
|21st January 2004||
Happy Birthday to Martin Shaw who is 59 today!
Martin has been voted Best Actor and "Most Desirable Drama Star" in a poll on the BBC's website! (Thanks to Georgina Dawe and "Kevser")
|18th January 2004||
Lewis' action film Commando Leopard is to receive a UK DVD release in April by the respected Anchor Bay company. Presently details on extras have yet to be publicised. I note the disk is a "15" rating which might mean it is a cut-down version. The British Board of Film Classification state that they have not demanded any cuts but it may be that they were provided with a print that was already cut down (indeed their site shows they have approved two versions: one with a runtime of 102 minutes but another at just 90 minutes!?!). I am awaiting clarification from Anchor Bay. (Thanks to Gareth Bevan)
|11th January 2004||
Online store MVC are offering the first Sweeney boxset for a mere 19 GBP! I normally get a bit jittery when we see such spectacular bargains as it tends to mean sales figures haven't been too good. However Network say their investment in the show has paid off well. (Thanks to Carol Good).
|9th January 2004||
UK fans of Judge John Deed will be pleased to hear that the final episode of the current season will be shown on 26th January, having been dropped at the very last minute on 18th December. The unannounced postponement (to accomodate special coverage of the Soham child murders case) apparently led to a barrage of complaints. What?! British people complaining??! What a concept! (Thanks to Leah Prowse and Joyce Chumbley)
|7th January 2004||
HMV are currently selling the four-disk DVD sets for twenty pounds each (Thanks to Dave Wicklow)
|3rd January 2004||
EMERGENCY UPDATE! European fans who are able to receive Germany's Kabel 1 channel can catch a rerun of the first season from tomorrow. The station has even set up a small webpage about the show. (Thanks to Jesper Antvorskov and Martina Buecker)
|1st January 2004||
A new Professionals T-shirt appears to have hit the market in the UK. At present I do not know who is marketing it but it can be bought from Virgin Megastores for a reasonable ten pounds or HMV for GBP13. More info as I get it. (Thanks to Tony Buller and Chris Dixon for info. Thanks to Tony for the scan).
|29th December 2003||
A quick note to inform you all that Amazon UK are selling the DVD "mega-set" for a mere fifty quid! (Thanks to Rob Prescott)
|21st December 2003||
Another year draws to a close and, as ever, I would like to thank you all for continuing to support and encourage the site!
Looking back, 2003 has been one of the quietest years in the lifetime of the site. Yet the popularity of The Professionals simmers along quite nicely with the usual repeats around the world. Indeed at this year's Cult TV convention here in the UK, the show won the award for Best Repeat Series (thanks to Alison Hall for the tip-off!)
It has also been a less hectic year for Martin Shaw, with his Adam Dalgliesh "pilot" and a handful of new Judge John Deed episodes being his major source of employment. Both series are due for new stories in 2004. (The BBC have issued a Dalgliesh press release - thanks to Lin Reid for the pointer). However the highlight for me has to be his hilarious interview with Steve Wright on Radio 2 back in August.
Over the festive period, UK fans can catch Martin in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, to be screened by Channel 4 on 30th December. (Thanks to Maureen Wilson)
Sadly we have seen nothing from Lewis Collins this year. It transpires that he was due to commence rehearsals for a new play (entitled "Mixed Feelings" by renowned sitcom writer Eric Chappell ) this month but has apparently had to pull out due to "family commitments". (Thanks to "Leitz")
2003 saw the DVD industry continue its incredible acceleration. Essentially commencing with the amazing James Bond sets a couple of years back, the trend to include real extras alongside either a remastered or digitally restored main feature has now spread to TV shows - early seasons of The Sweeney and Red Dwarf being two notable examples this year. The more astute DVD companies now accept that quality, effort and commitment can reap rewards in terms of sales volumes. What does this mean for The Professionals, having already received mediocre releases? Has the horse already bolted the stable for our fave show? Maybe not. If LWT can locate the film negatives for seasons 2 to 5, next year could well see the adventures of CI5 receive a fresh DVD release - this time creating clean, genuinely remastered prints accompanied by worthy extras. I hope to have more definite news on this early next year.
Fans of Brian Clemens' other work will be delighted to hear that his classic horror series Thriller is due to receive a DVD release in the latter half of 2004 by upcoming Australian company Umbrella. I understand they are presently trying to track down the best possible copies of each episode and will be attempting to reconstitute them as originally broadcast in the UK, rather than the American "TV movie" versions later produced.
Some of you may remember the mooted Professionals movie! Development on this is frustratingly slow, the biggest problem - as with many TV or film projects - is financing. Although still officialy "on", the only progress this year has been the submission and acceptance of storyboarding and costume design. Unsurprisingly there is still no word on casting.
However, let's end on a high note. I have some fantastic news for fans of the show's cars: in the last few days, news reaches me that the elusive Escort RS2000 has finally been tracked down! Check out its entry on the Star Cars page for the full story.
I hope you all have a fun-packed Christmas and peaceful, prosperous 2004!
|8th December 2003||
Judge John Deed fans may like to know that Martin's son Luke will be appearing in next week's episode. (Thanks to Lynne Stewart).
Sweeney fans eagerly awaiting the second DVD box set will have to wait a few more months, unfortunately. Network Video have delayed its release until 23rd February (provisionally), though have declined to reveal the reasons for the delay. I don't think there's anything "sinister" in this, though - I suspect they are simply concentrating on preparing more extras. The third and fourth sets are now set for April and June releases. (Thanks to Dave Wicklow).
|18th November 2003||
To promote the new season of Judge John Deed, Martin Shaw will be appearing on the Channel 4's (infamously awful) Richard & Judy show on Tuesday 25th November. I wouldn't be suprised if the chatter moves on to talk about certain other shows Mr Shaw is famous for! (Thanks to Lee at the Television Gold website)
|15th November 2003||
The BBC have finally confirmed that the third season of Judge Juhn Deed will air from Thursday November 27th. They have also updated their website for the show. Martin's son Luke will guest star in one of the episodes, apparently. (Thanks to Sue Pittard).
|1st November 2003||
The new season of Martin Shaw's Judge John Deed apparently begins transmission this month, according to BBC's own "coming soon" page. As we have come to expect from the elderly and, frankly, senile "Auntie", however, there is no precise date given and, confusingly, the website dedicated to the show is still focussed around last year's season. (Thanks to Angela Smyth and Penny Brandon.)
|24th September 2003||
Just a quick update on first Sweeney DVD box set (due for release on 29th September) - hop over to here for a very encouraging review!
|22nd September 2003||
Another Capri used in the series is up for auction! This time it's the silver one driven by Lewis in the 1979 episodes...
Despite restoration work over the years, the car retains much of its originality and is a runner in near-concourse condition. For more details and/or to make a serious bid, check out this eBay page.
|12th September 2003||
Those of you looking for an uncut version of newly-issued Codename: Wildgreese DVD might be having a bit of a struggle! Erwin Dietrich's team are now saying that despite putting pressure on the German authorities, they have not been permitted to issue the full-length version at all. Hence the FSK16 disk (available from places like Amazon) is the only one available at the moment. I do not possess an uncut version to compare against but apparently the edits are quite extensive. If you happen to own the super-rare original FSK18 release from 2001 ... hold on to it!! (Thanks again to "Mac")
|2nd September 2003||
UK fans have another chance to catch the pilot episode of Judge John Deed when it is screened by the UK Drama channel on 11th September at 9pm. (Thanks to Maureen Wilson and "Joe")
|31st August 2003||
For those of you eagerly anticipating the first Sweeney box set on 29th September, Network Video has now CONFIRMED a huge stack of extras such as episode commentaries and interviews by various lead and guest actors and production crew. Isolated (stereo) music tracks are also available. The set also includes an episode of Special Branch starring Dennis Waterman (this show was effectively a pre-cursor to Sweeney). Just shows what can be achieved when dedication and effort is heaped on a product. For full details, check out this page. Now if we could get a decent-quality re-release of the pilot TV movie Regan...
|24th August 2003||
For those folks tuning into Radio 2's The Arts Programme the other night and wondering what happened to Martin Shaw, the BBC - in it's usual left hand/right-hand mutual unawareness - made some sort of scheduling error. According to one employee the station now has a policy which forbids them from a guest appearing more than once in any twenty-four hour period?!? (Thanks to Maureen Wilson).
Thankfully his earlier interview with Steve Wright went ahead as planned and he revealed that there are four new Judge John Deed episodes lined up for transmission (sometime later this year, I presume - no point asking the BBC!) with another six to be filmed next year.
|18th August 2003||
Martin's appearance on the Steve Wright show will be this coming Friday afternoon. That evening he will also be taking part in the station's Arts Programme. The two-part Death in Holy Orders will be screened on Saturday and Sunday evenings. (Many thanks to Lin Reid, Fiona MacDonald and Maureen Wilson).
|12th August 2003||
Martin Shaw is due to be a guest on BBC Radio Two's Steve Wright show "soon". I have asked the Beeb to give me a precise date. No doubt the interview will act as publicity for Death in Holy Orders - now slated for transmissio over the August Bank Holiday weekend. He will also be plugigng the show on the GMTV breakfast show on 22nd August (perhaps in a pre-filmed interview?).
Also I've just discovered a press pack for Holy here, though beware this Adobe Acrobat document is almost 2MB in size.
Thanks to Lindsay Meader, Tracey Lusher-Chamberlain, Maureen Wilson and Lynne Stewart.
|5th August 2003||
The BBC have a new documentary show called Watching the Detectives which will follow investigations into real-life crimes. Starting transmission tomorrow, it is being narrated by Martin Shaw. (Thanks to Maureen Wilson)
Possibly some good news on the Commando Leopard DVD as there has been confusion between this and the upcoming Codename: Wildgeese release. I am now informed that the version of Leopard sold by Germany-based online retailers is NOT cut after all as, even when rated as a "16", it got by German film censors with no problems. As such, then, this is the only version of the disk released. However Erwin Dietrich's team say that Wildgeese WILL be sold as two versions: a cut FSK16 version and an uncut FSK18 rating. Stand by for further info on this. (Thanks again to "Mac".)
Sweeney fans may like to know that the first-season DVD box-set can now be pre-ordered from places like Amazon for a release date of 29th September. At the moment there is no confirmation on what extras will be included in the set, though a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and isolated music score is being mooted.
|3rd August 2003||
Feedback on the Commando Leopard DVD is starting to come in. I must admit I haven't bought a copy yet!...
Unfortunately there is a question mark over whether the film is the uncut version. According to the movie's producer, Erwin Dietrich, Germany's censorship laws (which, unbelievably, seem even more perverse than those of the UK!) mean that Internet retailers in that country can only sell a "modified" version of the film. Apparently an uncut version is available to buy from Internet retailers in other countries such as Austria and Switzerland. (All this could well explain why Amazon Germany got confused about the DVD set in the first place!) The uncut version will have a rating stamp marked "FSK 18". If this information is correct, then do NOT order this disk from Amazon Germany. I realise many of you will already have done so and obviously it's annoying for you folks that this information didn't come to light until after the release. (When I see stacks of these turning up on eBay...!).
The "Making Of" documentary is causing some controversy. Although running to fifty minutes, in fact it reuses footage and interview clips repeatedly, rendering the true length of the piece to about half that! Most of the docmentary is spoken in the Swiss dialect of German, though largely covered by English subtitles. Lewis' appearances are spoken entirely in English, however.
In the meantime, Splendid Films have announced DVD releases for Codename: Wildgeese/Geheimcode: Wildganse (25th August) and The Commander/Der Kommander (29th September). The former will include audio in English, German, Italian and French plus an "isolated" music track which means you can watch the movie with just the visuals and music playing, The set will also include theatrical trailers and interviews, though there are no precise details on the latter just yet. Again, I suspect we'll need to buy these from non-German retailers.
Big thanks to Linda Hykes, Gitti Zbiek, Birgit Lamerz-Beckschaefer, Tobias Kessler, Arminio Grgic and "Mac".
|11th July 2003||
After a slight delay for the release of Commando Leopard, I'm delighted to confirm that the DVD does include the multiple-language soundtracks as originally anticipated. Indeed Amazon's German website has promptly restored the information that they withdrew in the first place! One thing to note, however, is that the "Making Of" documentary is German-only audio but with English subtitles.
The film's producer Erwin Dietrich says that similar releases for the other Lewis Collins actioners Codename Wildgeese and The Commander are being planned - hopefully for the autumn.
Big thanks to Birgit Lamerz-Beckschaefer, Arminio Grgic and "Mac".
|25th June 2003||
Martin Shaw's Death in Holy Orders has been scheduled for transmission by the BBC.... well... sort of. They are presently saying "in July or August this year". Given that we're only a few days away from July yet there is no precise tx date one has to wonder whether the BBC really take their own programming seriously these days, even when it includes their current star performer!?! (Thanks to Angela Smyth and Gareth Bevan)
It is rumoured that Mr Shaw may be in talks about a couple of West End theatrical projects. No further info at the moment. Stay tuned! (Thanks to "Karen")
|24th June 2003||
Splendid Films insist that the upcoming Commando Leopard DVD does indeed contain the multi-lingual options advertised on their website. They think Amazon are (mistakenly?) advertising an old German-language-only version (released in 2001, apparently). Amazon themselves acknowledge that they have changed the information on their site but are unable to say why...
My advice to anyone who has pre-ordered the disk from a retailer who states "German-only" is to cancel it until we know for sure what options we are getting. You would have no claim against them if the disk turns out to be uni-lingual after all. I'm not saying Splendid are wrong about their own disk but mistakes over such "extras" are surprisingly common. And even if Splendid are correct, Amazon could quite legitimately ship you out the old German-only version anyway!
Not very helpful this, is it? Well it will all become clear in a week's time!
(Thanks to Marko Mueller at Splendid, Stefanie Heindl at Amazon and Arminio Grgic)
|22nd June 2003||
EMERGENCY UPDATE: There is some confusion surrounding the audio options available on the upcoming Commando Leopard DVD. Until recently Amazon's Germany website had stated that the disk wouild be multi-lingual, echoing the information from Splendid Entertainment's own website. Although Splendid still say this, Amazon are now saying the dialogue track is German-only. I have e-mailed Splendid to ask them to clarify the situation. (Many thanks to Arminio Grgic)
|9th June 2003||
UK DVD retailer Mr Bensons is apparently offering the Professionals DVD box sets at twenty quid each. I say "apparently" because in their previous sales promotion, they soon withdrew the offer, though continued to advertise it. (Thanks to Carol Good)
|2nd June 2003||
More news on the Commando Leopard DVD. The audio track options available will be German, English, Spanish, Italian and French. The extras will be a "Making Of" documentary, filmographies of the lead actors and the original theatrical trailer. The set is being issued by Splendid Film GmbH. PAL format with Region 2 coding. You can pre-order it from Amazon's Germany-based website. (Thanks again to Tobias Kessler)
Other news today is that The Professionals is currently enjoying a new run in Australia - Sydney's Community TV channel to be precise. Tune in every Friday at 2pm. Argentina's I-Sat station is also screening daily reruns at 7pm. (Thanks to Christian Schwarz, Liliana Maiola and Sonny Faiz)
|29th May 2003||
Lewis Collins' film actioner Commando Leopard is to be issued on DVD in Germany on 30th June. I still have to confirm these details but apparently the two-disk set will comprise an English-language audio track option (along with German, I presume) and a number of "extras". The movie itself will be presented in its original Cinemascope ratio. Usual PAL format and Region 2 encoding, I would expect. Stand by for further details..! (Many thanks to Tobias Kessler)
|27th May 2003||
Nearly forgot again! Mr Collins is a whippersnapping 57 years old today!
|18th May 2003||
For UK fans who have yet to catch Lewis' episode of The Grimleys, Granada Minus are about to rerun the series - though it will, of course, probably be a butchered version. More info as I get it.
|13th May 2003||
UK fans of Mr Shaw may like to catch repeats of The Scarlet Pimpernel to be screened by satellite channel UK Drama from 23rd May. (Thanks to Maureen Wilson)
More info on the upcoming Sweeney DVDs and it gets better all the time. As well as properly remastered episodes, there will be a new documentary on the show plus the strong possibility of previously- unseen footage and out-takes. I understand they are also hoping to line up an interview with Dennis Waterman (who has always been very supportive of the show). I wouldn't mind betting they snag Garfield Morgan (who played the guv, Haskins, of course), too. The only downer is that we will have to wait until September for the first-season box-set. The second is due in November and then three & four in early 2004. Of course these are rough approximations and subject to change. However it sounds like these disks will be well worth the wait! (Many thanks to Grant Foster)
|23rd April 2003||
Although the BBC have, as far as I'm aware, still to confirm a transmission date for its dramatisation of Death in Holy Orders, they have already issued a paperback version - as pictured here. You can order it direct from Penguin Books or Amazon. (Many thanks to Maureen Wilson)
|20th April 2003||
This year's Professionals Locations Weekend (entitled "2003 - A Professionals Renaissance"!) has been firmed up for June 14th and 15th. As usual we'll be some newly-uncovered haunts and revisiting one or two popular ones from previous years. The total cost per person for coach hire and hotel accommodation is 97.50GBP. For more details and an application e-form, please e-mail Paul Fletcher-Ridley. Please be quick, however, as places are filling up already!
|2nd April 2003||
The special offer on the DVD sets by Mr Bensons seems to have gone awry. If you use the link I provided (see 16th March entry), the offers still seem to stand but when placing any of the sets in the Shopping Basket, the price is 36UKP. I've asked Bensons to clarify this. (Thanks to Lee Morrell and Ian Hood)
|29th March 2003||
For those of you interested in the new Special Edition of the Jack the Ripper DVD, you may like to be warned that the picture has been "cropped" vertically in order to "translate" its original 4:3 presentation (ie normal TV ratio) to "pseudo"-Widecreen. Quite how much (or little) this affects your viewing pleasure is, of course, down to personal taste but I understand the results are not as bad as the ridiculous "widescreen" versions of the Sweeney episodes released a couple of years back. There seem to be differing views on whether the results are acceptable or not. If you've got the original Ripper DVD release from 2000, you might like to hang on to it... for comparison purposes at least!
|23rd March 2003||
Just a couple of quickies for today: Australian channel Rennaisance TV is currently screening episodes of The Professionals at 11am each Friday. (Thanks to "Number 6").
The previously-mentioned Sweeney movies are to get a Region 2 (ie UK) release - once again as a single-disk double-feature. Depending on which website you visit, the disk is due out in either in May or July. Apparently the picture quality of the R1 release is not too hot, so it may be worth waiting for the British version, though as far as I'm aware they have not been remastered. (Thanks to Gareth Bevan and Tony Buller).
|16th March 2003||
Esteemed UK DVD retailer Mr Bensons is selling the box sets for a mere twenty-two pounds each! I've not used Bensons myself but I've heard they're pretty reliable. (Thanks to Rob Prescott)
|12th March 2003||
Martin Shaw has just been awarded top "Drama TV Performer" by the Television and Radio Industries Club. To be honest I've never heard of them, so I've no idea how "prestigious" this award is supposed to be but they apparently held some grand ceremony to dish out the gongs! Whatever - you can check out their website here. (Many thanks to Sue Pittard)
|3rd March 2003||
Fans of the series' cars should be aware that the UK's Drivers Vehicle Licensing Authority have "accidentally" issued the "fake" registration numbers for the Escort RS2000 and 1980 gold Capri. Check out the Star Cars page for more info.
|15th February 2003||
British fans can catch a broadcast of the Michael Caine/Lewis Collins version of Jack the Ripper on The Biography Channel on Wednesday 19th February. (Thanks to Corinne Evans)
Meanwhile Australia's ABC broadcaster will be screening Lewis' episode of The Bill at 8.30pm on Saturday 22nd February. (Thanks to Sharon Dichiera)
|8th February 2003||
Australia's UKTV cable channel is screening Martin Shaw's Rhodes miniseries and his episodes of Doctor in the House during weekends. (Thanks to Louise O'Brien)
|5th February 2003||
As mentioned a couple of months back, Brian Clemens was approached for the BBC show Ford and Me but his interview was excised from the final edit. However from 23rd February the Beeb will be screening a new series entitled Car Junkies and we'll see the interview here. Brian talks about the polarised experiences of using British Leyland and Ford in The New Avengers and The Professionals. (Many thanks to David Barrett at the BBC).
|4th February 2003||
Another update for Sweeney fans: in a surprising move Fremantle - the new owners of the series and with their own video/DVD division - have actually licensed the series to Network Video, a small independent company gaining a reputation for good quality product. In a semi-official announcement, Network have confirmed their intention to remaster the series from the original negatives. They will also retain the programme's original 4:3 picture aspect ratio (some of you may be aware that Fremantle caused bewilderment and uproar when their own fresh prints were bizarrely remastered in widescreen) . Episodes will probably be issued in season-by-season box sets. As yet, however, there is no fixed release date for the first set but it will be some time this year. Aspect ratio aside, Fremantle's somewhat abortive releases from 2001 (now often found in the bargain buckets) did at least prove that the original negs were still in superb condition, so this should bode well for Network's efforts. Perhaps if The Sweeney sells well, it might make somebody think about trying to track down the negs for The Professionals! (Thanks to Rob Pritchard)
|30th January 2003||
New Zealand's TV One channel is currently screening episodes from the third season on a daily basis. (Thanks to Danel Tobin)
|23rd January 2003||
Continuing the Anchor Bay thread, their UK operation is about to issue the Michael Caine/Lewis Collins adaptation of Jack the Ripper on DVD (Region 2, PAL format). Now of course this was issued a couple of years back but this new "Special Edition" includes a commentary by writer/director David Wickes and twenty minutes of footage from the original shoot which had Barry "Van Der Valk" Foster playing Caine's Abberline role. Play.com are advertising it for the sporting sum of 14GBP and say they expect it in for 3rd February, though Anchor Bay's site claims it's actually the 24th. (Big thanks to Jill Stones)
|22nd January 2003||
Just an addendum to the Sweeney news from yesterday. Fan Dave Wicklow recently heard from the present license-holders, Fremantle. They confirmed that they are in the process of remastering episodes (and presumably plan to do all 52). My understanding is that this means REAL remastering from the original film negatives - not just simply copying grubby old prints to a digital tape. Fremantle plan to start issuing the episodes to the UK market some time this year. I don't intend to give a huge amount of coverage to Sweeney but a lot of Professionals fans - me included - do enjoy the adventures of Regan and Carter, so I simply propose to issue brief Bullet-Ins as and when.
|21st January 2003||
Martin Shaw is 58 years old today!
Sweeney fans might be interested to know that the two theatrical movies from the series are to be issued as a double-feature on DVD on 4th February. Bizarrely it is being issued in the USA (by the prolific Anchor Bay company), with no sign of a release on home soil?! So, of course, that means NTSC format and Region 1. At a mere fifteen dollars, reputable Stateside online retailer Deep Discount DVD appear to be offering the best price. (Meanwhile there's no further news on a release of the regular TV series in any territory)
|19th January 2003||
Martin Shaw and Judge John Deed have apparently have won accolades from viewers in the BBCs informal (and, to be honest, rather self-congratulatory) Drama awards for 2002. Martin came 4th and 3rd in the Best Actor and, ahem, Most Hunkiest Male stakes respectively (who says the BBC is dumbing down?!?) while JJD itself was voted eighth Best Drama series. More detail here (Thanks to Maureen Wilson)
Bridget ("Betty") Brice is currently appearing in a UK television ad for Flora "Pro-activ" margarine. (Thanks to Sue Tier)
|15th January 2003||
Competition in the Megaset stakes is hotting up! Highly respected online retailer Play.com (formerly "Play247") is selling it for a mere 96GBP. UK buyers should still be aware of the chance of being copped for customs charges, however, as Play are based in Jersey which falls outside the European Union. Overseas fans should also note that Play will only deliver to selected countries, though shipping to European countries is free. (Thanks to Alison Baker and Patrick Tochel)
|14th January 2003||
Virgin Megastores in the UK will be selling the DVD "Megaset" for 100GBP on Thursday... the catch is that this special offer begins at 10am... and ends fifteen minutes later!!! (Thanks to Greg Bengtson)
|7th January 2003||
A couple of items for UK fans: BBC1 is to screen a show called Total Cops next Monday evening. It will feature clips from classics such as Z-Cars, Softly Softly, The Sweeney and The Professionals (plus other soporific stuff like Morse). It's not clear what the actual purpose of the programme is... but it certainly sounds interesting.
On the afternoon of the same day ITV1 will be rerunning the Wish You Were Here...? programme that featured Martin Shaw with wife Vicky Kimm. I'm not sure, however, whether this will be networked across all regions.
Thanks to Maureen Wilson for info!
|23rd December 2002||
The fourth DVD set is out TODAY! That's not the first time staff at Contender haven't known their own release dates!! However the general release of the "megaset" is still the 30th.... apparently! (Thanks to Dave Wicklow)
|21st December 2002||
Well another year draws to a close and I'd like to thank you all for continuing to support the website...
Looking back over the last twelve months the big Professionals event has, of course, been the issue of the entire series on DVD (remember the final set is due on the 30th December). Overall I think Contender's efforts have been reasonable considering they weren't prepared to pump much money into the project (yet sales, apparently, well exceeded their expectations).
The year marked the "Silver Jubliee" of the show and we celebrated with a tour of classic Professionals locations in London and the western home counties. Despite the huge amount of redevelopment over the last twenty-five years, there are still stacks of locations that remain entirely recognisable. I'd like to thank Paul Fletcher-Ridley once again for organising the event... we'll soon have information regarding the tour for 2003.
Martin Shaw has had another successful year with lead roles in two major television series, even if A&E inevitably ran out of decent storylines and descended to typical soapy shenanigans. Who can blame Martin and the other decent "talent" on the show deciding to jump ship?! Given the dismal state of British television these days, I must say Judge John Deed has been a breath of fresh air. And this year's season has been more realistic than the first... it could just do with some more scenes involving Caroline Langrishe :-P
But what of Mr Collins? Well, of course, his big event this year was a one-off guest slot in The Bill. Unfortunately despite a huge amount of anticipative excitement, reaction from fans to his performance was, shall we say, "low key"!
The festive period offers a few movies for British fans of Martin and Lewis. On Monday 23rd December Granada Minus will be screening Who Dares Wins (though almost certainly a "watered-down" version). You can also catch Lewis in the cultural zenith that is Confessions of a Driving Instructor on Channel Five (hint: he doesn't actually appear until about the last ten minutes) on Boxing Day. For the more discerning among us, Martin Shaw's rather good wartime drama Operation Daybreak is being screened by the same channel on Christmas Day. (Thanks to everyone who contacted me about these.)
Speaking of Who Dares Wins, the DVD version is now available for less than a fiver from Play247. Oddly, though, they say it won't be available until early January (hinting at a re-release) but they are, in fact, shipping it right now. (Thanks to Gareth Bevan and Adam Hearn).
HMV's website is selling the first two Professionals sets at half price (Thanks to Gareth Bevan).
So what can we expect for next twelve months? Well the mooted Professionals movie is still "on" (yes, I know I keep saying this!) but its current status doesn't appear to have moved on an inch since last year. I suspect 2003 will be "make or break" for it.
For those fans who have not yet succumbed to the delights of DVD, Granada Minus will continue to screen episodes at regular intervals, albeit in their usual butchered format. And I expect screenings to continue in Australia and South America.
Martin's first episodes of Dalgliesh should be hitting UK screens some time in the next few months and doubtless the BBC will be offering him more work.
I wish you all a fantastic Yuletide and prosperous 2003!
|26th November 2002||
This week's TV Times magazine (admittedly not always the most reliable of sources) carries a small article on Adam Dalgliesh:
The Beeb is hoping to turn Dalgleish into its own Morse-like franchise and are discussing with P D James whether to update and adapt earlier Dalgleish novels previously produced by ITV. 'Dalgleish will fulfil an area of crime drama the BBC hasn't got a lot of' says [BBC's Controller of Drama Commissioning] Jane Tranter.
(Thanks to Sue Pittard)
Fans of the the sixties music scene may like to know that a new book, British Beat 1960 - 1969: Then, Now, Rare, features The Mojos with a large pic of Lewis and another of Master Collins' groups, The Eyes. Probably best to have a peek at the book before buying it outright, though. (Thanks to Nickie Moran.)
Just a quick word on last week's Ford and Me programme: disappointingly the Brian Clemens interview was not used and the two episodes scenes shown were of awful picture quality (dubbed off some old Contender videos, perhaps?! <G>). Still, the show did acknowledge that The Professionals helped to raise Ford's credentials in the 70s.
Back to the present day and the legacy of The Professionals lives on in comedy series. Harry Hill's TV Burp programme over the weekend included a sketch with the comic joining the cast of The Bill as a trainee copper. After harrassing several innocent members of the public, Hill was arrested by his own "colleagues" (one of which was actor Mark Wingett, who starred in 'Wild Justice') but pulled out a familiar-looking ID card: "CI5 - I'm working undercover!" I'm not sure if this show gets a repeat - might be worth looking out for on ITV2. (Thanks to Ian Atkins)
Finally for today, popular online DVD retailer Play247 are taking pre-orders for the "general release" version (ie 30th December) of the megaset at a jolly decent 95 quid. (Thanks to Martin Stacey).
|15th November 2002||
The BBC have set up a web site for Judge John Deed here. (Thanks to Lin Reid)
As many of you are no doubt aware, TV critics are often sent "preview" videocassette copies of shows by the broadcaster. In a first for the UK, Deed has been issued to journos on DVD. Given the expense this involves, perhaps the BBC are considering putting silver disk versions of the show into the shops? (Thanks to Gareth Bevan)
|7th November 2002||
Just an amusing tidbit for today. I'm sure everyone in the UK is aware of the Paul Burrell fiasco. For the benefit of overseas fans, Burrell was butler to Diana, Princess of Wales and was charged with stealing a lot of her property after her death. However his trial collapsed last week (under rather suspicious circumstances) and the UK press is full of stories about his life in the service of the Royal Family. Yesterday's Evening Standard newspaper carried this story...
According to "sources", "The Queen was fond of asking Burrell to watch television with her when he was footman at the palace, staying with her until she put the corgis to bed... Her favourite programmes were Morecambe & Wise and The Professionals."
So, respect for HM the Q! It was certainly rumoured that some of the Royals enjoyed The Professionals. Maybe that's part of the reason why Gordon was awarded the OBE in '79?
(Thanks to Ian Atkins).
|6th November 2002||
The Capri programme is actually to be called "Ford and Me" - I can only think the BBC decided to broaden the show's remit after they originally contacted me. As such it will cover marques from the 1960s onwards. I've tried to get more info from the Beeb but there has been no response so far. Whatever - the show will screen on 13th November.
Meanwhile Judge John Deed is slated to kick off on 21st November. (Thanks again to "Sue")
|5th November 2002||
Is Martin Shaw the saviour of the BBC? They are certainly very busy plugging the star at the moment! Their latest press release discusses the new series of Judge John Deed (due to hit the screens later this month, apparently). The plot of the first episode sounds very tasty (and somewhat reminiscent of episodes from a certain other show from long, long ago...). Look carefully and you'll also be able to download a rather interesting (though rather plain in presentation) press pack.
|2nd November 2002||
The BBC have just issued a press release concerning the upcoming Dalgliesh story - see it here.
|1st November 2002||
Typical! As soon as I remind you all to get in your orders for the last few days of Choices Direct's DVD megaset, they go and withdraw it from their website!! Actually apparently they are still selling it but have have whopped the price up to match MVC's 130GBP. Grrrr! (Thanks to Michael New)
|31st October 2002||
MVC will be taking over the exclusivity of the Professionals DVD megaset from 4th November. However at 130 quid, it's a considerable price hike over Choices Direct!! So if you're still mulling over the idea of buying the set, I suggest you make a decision right now! (Thanks to Anthony Townsend)
|26th October 2002||
A few small items this weekend:
BBC2 are to screen a show called "The Capri and Me" as part of a series looking at so-called Great British institutions. Brian Clemens was interviewed so, of course, it will include references to The Professionals. The Beeb haven't published a transmission date for the Capri programme yet but it will screened on a Wednesday evening some time in November.
One thing I hadn't realised about Martin Shaw's new Adam Dalgliesh role is that the programme is switching from ITV to the Beeb. I can only guess that ITV's license expired and they decided not to renew. Martin's first "assignment" will be a dramatisation of P D James' novel Death in Holy Orders. It's not clear at the moment how many episodes this will be made up of - nor whether further stories are planned at this stage. (Many thanks to "Sue").
New Zealand channel TV1 are currently running some first-season Professionals eps - uncut, too! (Thanks to everyone who notified me of this).
|16th October 2002||
The UK's digital satellite channel UK Drama will be screening Martin Shaw's episodes of The Scarlet Pimpernel from tomorrow (Thursday) evening at 8pm (Thanks to Wendy Burnett)
|14th October 2002||
Good news re the problematic Set 2 DVD. The single-disk deal with Britannia has afforded Contender the opportunity to re-press the disk and, so far, the new versions appear to be fault-free. I tried a new one on my ancient Samsung machine and it played like a dream, unlike the two previous copies. Here is an official statment from Ian Atkins at Contender:
We believe that in many cases (though not all) a mis-pressing during manufacture affected some copies of the second set's disc 4. The general symptom appears to be a complete inability to load the disc in question, though in some cases severe audio or playback glitches have been reported. Either way, we hope the re-pressing we did for the Britannia set is free of such problems, and so is being used as a replacement volume.
"I am contacting anyone who contacted me to arrange delivery of the replacement disc. Anyone who has subsequently discovered that they suffer from this problem too should also get in touch, but in these cases I ask that they post the disc to me via registered post so that I can do an exchange (not forgetting name and address details). Exchanging at the retailer is still the recommended first step - it's cheaper and easier - but we're here to help and will do what we can.
"Hopefully you will then finally be able to enjoy set 2 as it was supposed to be viewed!
Clearly a definite cause has not (and perhaps never will be) identified but I would certainly agree with Ian's suggestion that there was some problem within the disc manufacturing process. My own theory is that varying tolerances during manufacture coupled with the use of different layers for the episodes and extras simply imposed too much "strain" on some players. (My new Pioneer player handles the old 2.4 disks with no problems, while the Sammy fails dismally!) Whatever - hopefully the new re-pressings will settle the issue once and for all.
NB: Please correspond with Ian, not me, though naturally I will be pleased to hear of your experiences! ;-)
|10th October 2002||
A quickie for Oz fans: Renaissance TV will be starting a Professionals run from Friday afternoon. No other details at the mo. (Thanks to Grant Taylor)
|29th September 2002||
According to the BBC they will be screening the new episodes of Judge John Deed from late October. No precise date just yet but I'll add more details as they arrive. (Thanks to "Steph")
Today's Sunday Mirror newspaper carries a sad article concerning Lewis Collins' father, Bill. Apparently he passed away last month - a news item that seemingly went unreported in the national papers at the time. Unfortunately the real reason for this announcement now is that police have raided Bill's house to discover a quantity of arms and ammunition apparently owned by Lewis. It's not clear from reports but I think the point is not that these were being possessed illegally but that their method of storage did not comply with UK law. Lewis himself is not being charged. Whatever - a rather sad occasion all round. You can read the article here - search the page for (groan) "Bodie Armour". (Many thanks to Rob Hampton).
|28th September 2002||
HMV are selling the first DVD Box Set for 20GBP - that's effectively half price! (Thanks to Gareth Bevan)
According to a recent article in the Daily Mirror newspaper Martin Shaw is to replace actor Roy Marsden in the role of writer P D James' detective Adam Dalgliesh. UK viewers may be familiar with the show which started in 1983, adapting James' novels, presenting them in mini-series format. More news on this as I get it. (Thanks to Tony Buller and Pat Burge).
|13th September 2002||
While industry testing of the problematic Set 2 Disk 4 DVD continues, Australian fan Grant Taylor has stumbled across a very interesting workaround that has proved effective on his Pioneer DV515. He finds that he can only play the disk if he follows this methodology:
Grant says that some brief initial pixellation problems occurs with the Contender logo but subsequently the entire disk plays perfectly.
Quite why this should work is a mystery (well, it is to me!) but I would guess it will work with other players, too. As ever, then, I would be keen to hear from other folks who have the same success.
Meanwhile owners of Proline players (quite big sellers in the UK) may find that obtaining the latest firmware upgrade from their retailer will eliminate playability problems. (Thanks to Ian Atkins at Contender).
With regards to Set 3 - issued earlier this week - there are no reported problems with this other than the audio glitches.
|5th September 2002||
A quickie re the "audio fault" I hinted at on the upcoming Contender Set 3 DVDs. Basically 'A Hiding to Nothing' suffers a regular "squelch" sound from about 13 minutes onwards. The vast majority of these are practically undetectable (unless you listen on headphones) but occasionally they are very noticeable indeed (the worst occurring during the final scene and the subsequent end credits). Contender inform me that this is a result of their master tape becoming damaged sometime after the episode was issued on videocassette. It doesn't look like they will be making any effort to correct this fault.
I've also discovered a minor audio fault on 'Wild Justice'. During the "widowmaker" scenes the audio cuts off completely for a few seconds. More tape damage, I assume.
Those problems aside, though, Set 3 seems to be fine.
|1st September 2002||
By now I was hoping to have an official statement from Contender regarding the problematic Disk 2.4 but they are still unable to pinpoint the cause. In the meantime, however, there are no plans to re-author the disk - clearly there is no point in doing so unless/until the cause is conclusively identified...
An interesting new twist has begun to emerge this week. Contrary to previous reports, a few people are now finding that replacement disks work OK (or, at least, display less problems). As Contender haven't changed the way the disk is being authored (and assuming we can discount dirty/scratched disks), then my own theory is that PERHAPS there is a deficiency with the disk manufacturing process, being subject to wide tolerances and variations or materials containing high levels of impurities. But if that were so, then surely ALL disks in the set would be affected? Well perhaps they are but the playability problems only manifest themselves on disk 2.4 because of the way it has been authored, with different video "elements" (ie the episodes and the extras) being scattered between layers. A combination of these two factors may be enough to trip up certain players. But, at the moment, this is pure conjecture and I certainly don't profess to have any deep technical insight into the process!
So there are still no definite answers. And although the number of people receiving successful replacement disks is very small, I would be keen to hear from them.
In the meantime Set 3 is due out on 9th September as planned (though I have discovered there may be audio problems on 'A Hiding to Nothing'). And the "megaset" is still on course for 7th October. Pictured left is a proposed packaging design for it (Thanks to Ian Atkins at Contender)
More news as I get it.
Tony Buller will be producing another Corgi Capri later in the year - this time modelled on Bodie's 1979 car. The new model will be limited to just 25 sets!
|15th August 2002||
Contender are hoping to issue an official statement regarding the Set 2, Disk 4 situation sometime within the next day or so. In the meantime a few people have also reported problems with other disks in the set and/or those from the first set. Contender have asked me to point out that these are not recognised as being inherently faulty and, therefore, should be returned to the retailer for an exchange. Some of the faults on these disks have turned out to be caused by scratches - most probably a result of careless (mis)handling by shop staff. (Thanks to Ian Atkins at Contender)
|14th August 2002||
Just a small update on the problematic DVD situation. As well as fault reports you folks have kindly sent in, I've also had a lot of "thumbs-up" e-mails. It would seem that all manner of Panasonic and Sony machines handle disk 4 without problem. In the meantime Contender are still in "debugging" talks with their disk authoring company.
Just spotted a story regarding Martin Shaw and his pleas for a stay of execution on a farmyard pig which has escaped from a slaughterhouse - see the BBC website.
|10th August 2002||
Some folks have spotted an interview with Lewis in this week's Radio Times magazine. In fact this was actually done around 1996 and they've merely pasted in a new line concerning The Bill (which, don't forget, is being screened this coming Tuesday!). There's a better feature in What's On TV.
The BBC will be rerunning episodes from the first season of Martin Shaw's Judge John Deed from August 17th. I'm not sure whether this will include the one-off pilot episode. Meanwhile a second series went into production last month. My understanding is that, again, it will comprise of three 90-minute episodes. As yet, the BBC have to decide a transmission date for the new episodes.
|9th August 2002||
Latest news on the DVD Set 2, Disk 4 situation. It would appear that the problem is due to some sort of incompatibility between the authoring technique and a range of different players. So far players from all sorts of manufacturers have experienced problems while the name of Samsung has popped up a few times. Some people are finding that faulty disks will work (better) on friends' machines while replacement disks exhibit the same faults on their own machine. Contender are continuing to investigate and hopefully a resolution to the issue will appear in the next few weeks. Thanks to all who've sent in their reports and to Ian Atkins at Contender.
|7th August 2002||
So far I've only received a handful of reports concerning faulty DVDs so perhaps (hopefully!) the problem isn't so widespread.
The "megaset" is an idea suggested to Contender by Choices Direct and MVC. The former will be retailing it from 7th October, while MVC take over from 4th November. It then goes on general release from 30th December. In fact the fourth "regular" set has now been pushed back to the same date. (Thanks to Ian Atkins at Contender.)
|4th August 2002||
EMERGENCY UPDATE! Although the second DVD set isn't officially out until tomorrow, some retailers have clearly begun shipping it this weekend. I've got a couple of reports that the fourth disk in the set is unplayable. Either it is rejected by the player altogether or only certain parts of it will play - this probably depends on the machine itself as much as anything. Presently it's impossible to say how widespread this is and I do know that at least some copies are fine. So, as ever with Contender product, keep those receipts!! More info to come soon. Anyone with problems may like to e-mail Contender but I would appreciate hearing about it, too - in which case please let me know which make and model of DVD player you are using.
|3rd August 2002||
The official website for The Bill has a brief synopsis for Lewis' upcoming episode - plus an on-set photo of the young scallywag! (Thanks to "Tracy")
|2nd August 2002||
If anyone hasn't ordered any of the Contender DVD sets yet, you might like to hang on... they are now planning to issue all 57 episodes as one "megaset" on 7th October. This, of course, means that you get the final episodes long before those on the regular set which won't be available until December.
Currently the megaset is available for pre-order from Choices Direct at 80GBP.
I realise this might be infuriating for those who have already splashed out on the first and second sets. All I can say is that Contender have kept me completely in the dark about this - "communication problems" as usual. It may actually be an exclusive deal that Choices Direct suggested to Contender.
Overseas buyers should, of course, bear in mind potential customs charges. And, of course, the hassle of returning the megaset should any of the disks turn out to be faulty!
Meanwhile the second "regular" set is on course for 5th August.
(Many thanks to Tony Buller)
|25th July 2002||
Lewis' episode of The Bill is apparently scheduled to air on Tuesday 13th August. (Thanks to a couple of "insiders"!)
|19th July 2002||
Martin will be appearing with his wife Vicky Kimm on ITV's holiday show Wish You Were Here...? on Sunday 28th July at 19:00. (Many thanks to "Kay")
I'm starting to receive reviews of the first DVD box-set - thanks to everybody who has contributed so far. I'm currently putting together a new DVD page for the site and your reviews will be posted to it.
|10th July 2002||
Release dates for the remaining Contender DVD Box Sets are as follows:
The dates for sets three and four are currently subject to change but are unlikely to drift much from those stated. Episodes will continue to be presented in production order.
The second set - containing fourteen episodes made in 1978 and 79 - will include an exclusive 22-minute interview with Brian Clemens and Laurie Johnson (which we shot last month).
Currently plans for extras on sets three and four are still under discussion though Contender are very keen to get some material together - particularly episode commentaries by Brian Clemens. (My own suggestion was to ask Martin Shaw to commentate on 'Discovered in a Graveyard' - we're still waiting to hear whether he would agree to it.)
Interestingly the disks from all four sets will also be available as single items in an exclusive deal with the Britannia Video and Music Club. This of course means exclusive packaging - as seen in the example here. However please be aware that you must join Britannia as a member and that there are certain purchasing obligations to fulfil. The plan appears to be that the first five volumes (ie those that made up box set 1 plus the first from set 2) will all be available simultaneously from 5th August and subsequent volumes will be issued on a monthly basis. The actual content of the disks will be the same as the regular box sets.
To be honest unless you HAVE to have the exclusive packaging, I can see no advantage at all in signing up for the Britannia deal. The release schedule for all sixteen volumes will span a full twelve months - their final disk being issued about six months AFTER the regular box set version. And even if Britannia bring their schedules forward, each volume is apparently set to retail at a whopping sixteen quid - over double what it would cost you to stick with the box sets. But obviously Britannia seems to think it's on to a good thing! And if it brings in additional funds to Contender then that raises the possibility of purchasing more "extras" material on future Professionals releases.
Incidentally I'd love to receive feedback on Box Set 1. From what I've had so far, there is distinct disagreement on how well the picture quality measures up - most negative comments pointing out poor colour balance. And are many overseas fans importing the set?
Many thanks to Ian Atkins at Contender.
|10th July 2002||
Just a quickie today: Martin Shaw will be appearing on the ITV breakfast show GMTV at 8-30 this Friday morning from the set of Always and Everyone. (Many thanks to Linda Renkwitz)
In other news Martin, Jo Lumley, Paul McCartney and Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde are teaming up to make a video protesting about so-called "factory"-farming. More info here. (Many thanks to Gareth Bevan).
|27th June 2002||
I've had some e-mails concerning an article in a British magazine called "Now!". An actor called Michael Greco (star of the soap EastEnders) reveals that he is being considered for a "remake" of The Professionals by the BBC!?!?! This is simply not true. The Beeb would have to approach Mark 1 for the rights to the show and this has not happened. What I suspect, however, is that the broadcaster is thinking of making a show that is similar in concept to The Professionals. Following on from recent successes such as In Deep and the critically acclaimed MI5 drama Spooks this wouldn't be at all surprising. Alternatively maybe Greco is expecting to be auditioned for the upcoming movie - which is still very much on the cards. Thanks to everyone who contacted me about this.
|17th June 2002||
The Silver Jubilee Professionals Odyssey tour was, like last year, a great success and I'd like to extend my thanks to Paul "I am my own hairdresser" Fletcher-Ridley for his supreme organisation, Trevor our CI5 driver for his inordinate bravado in tackling London's traffic tidal wave, Paul Northbridge for the supply of the original silver Capri used in the series (COO 251T) and, of course, all fellow Big A ops! Visual evidence to follow soon. Next year's event will probably take place in May with more newly-discovered locations to stakeout. Details will be posted on this site nearer the time.
The fourth season of Martin's medical drama Always and Everyone will commence transmission from 4th July. However this will definitely be his last season on the show (and similarly for Niamh Cusack and Michael "Runner" Kitchen), according to ITV's teletext service which also mentioned that the wrap party involved the three actors being presented with various prosthetic limbs as leaving presents! In the meantime Martin will be continuing with more episodes of Judge John Deed. (Many thanks to "Sue" and "Carol" for info.)
|12th June 2002||
I'm getting reports that the chainstore W H Smith is selling the the DVD box set for a mere twenty quid in at least some of their stores. Unfortunately the offer is NOT available through their website - in fact I do wonder if they've simply made a mistake - so don't hang around! (Thanks to everyone who's e-mailed me about this!)
|11th June 2002||
Just some additional info re Lewis' upcoming appearance on The Bill. An "insider" tells me that the episode is now scheduled for transmission around the middle of August. The good news, however, is that Lew's role is actually central to the plot: he plays scientist Dr Allen who seeks protection from the Boys in Blue when he and his wife find themselves under attack by an animal welfare group. More info as and when I get it!
By now many of you will have bought Contender's first DVD box set. From correspondance received so far, the overall perception is that they have put a neat package together (which also contains a car sticker as an unexpected "bonus"!) and that the picture quality is reasonably good. My own thoughts after viewing a few of the eps are that, yes, the image is a tad grainy in places (particularly on interior shots) but commendably free from scratches and dirt. The single second-season episode in the pack, 'Rogue' (remember the eps are appearing in production order) is, however, noticably scratchy in the pre-titles sequence but subsequently improves somewhat. That doesn't mean to imply any disappointment - we knew the eps weren't going to look anywhere near as good as, say, the remastered Sweeney prints. And, of course, the asking price reflects the fact that the prints have been taken as is.
I have found overall "playability" is good and the menu presentations are sharp and snazzy. Navigation around the main menu works OK for me but not terribly well for the menuing on individual episodes, though that might be down to the foibles of my old Samsung player.
Of course the major disappointment expressed by everybody is in the "extras" department. The US promo trailer is mildly interesting (not sure what the outline of the naked woman is all about!?! Betty doing some freelance "glamour" modelling to supplement her miserly government salary, perhaps?) but rest assured this issue will be addressed in forthcoming sets - stand by for more info very soon!
|3rd June 2002||
Corgi Car supremo Tony Buller is issuing a revised version of his Capri model to coincide with the show's Silver Jubilee. The car is more detailed than before, bearing the famous VHK 12W number plate and a black rear spoiler. However the model will be a strictly limited release - only 25 to be produced! Price is 40GBP each with free postage to UK addresses if you give my website a mention. Tony is taking orders for them now - e-mail him here.
|27th May 2002||
Happy Birthday to Lewis Collins - 56 today!
|25th May 2002||
Fan Matt Jeffery has acquired a copy of the Australian Professionals DVD issued earlier this week. Here's what he had to say:
"The episodes themselves are simply the first four that were issued on tape a few years back, and definitely come from the same master. As a result, they are all washed-out and scratchy, and there is a terrible jump in the pre-titles of 'Everest was Also Conquered' that was also present in the VHS version. Definitely put together with little thought or consideration!
"The menu is done up in a suitable style, with the beginning titles and a few random scenes played in the background. This is accompanied by a poorly-edited version of the opening theme."
The picture quality issue doesn't surprise me in the least.. Given the dubious legality of Reel's VHS releases from a few years back, it's hardly surprising they're still using the same ropey old prints. (Many thanks to Matt).
|22nd May 2002||
|3rd May 2002||
Further info on Lewis' upcoming appearance on The Bill: his agent, Susan James, kindly told me today that it's a one-off guest appearance and not a recurring character, sadly. Presently the transmission date has not been set (ITV seem to be juggling around with the scheduling of the series at the mo) but it is likely to be some time between late May and early June. Obviously when I get a definite date, I'll publish it here. (Many thanks to Susan James).
|30th April 2002|
|26th April 2002||
Well it looks as though The Professionals is going to get an Australian DVD release after all (see entry for 24th March). Reputable Oz retailer EzyDVD are advertising a four-episode disk due to hit the streets on 22nd May (which tallies with that of Oz DVD Warehouse) - and there's even a shot of the packaging - click here to see it. As yet, there is no clue as to which episodes are to be included. Note that the disk will, of course be authored in PAL format with Region 4 code-checking - see the International Issues page.
The distribution company appears to be Roadshow Entertainment who are part of the huge Village Roadshow corporation. Interestingly there is a little red-and-white logo on the packaging which is the same as that used by The Reel Entertainment company who issued some Professionals videos in Oz a few years back. But Mark 1 continue to insist they have never agreed any deals outside the UK and, in fact, I can't find any news of the release on Roadshow's own website. So the mystery deepens!
Assuming that the information is genuine, fans might still like to bear in mind potential picture quality problems. At this stage I have no idea of what prints Roadshow might have used for the disk. If they are copies of the ropey old LWT ones then the DVD could look awful. So, again, I urge caution in pre-ordering until we've heard from Roadshow themselves.
Naturally I would be very grateful to hear from any of our friends Down Under if they can uncover some more info.
(Many thanks to Tony Buller)
|24th April 2002||
Lewis Collins has apparently just completed filming for at least one episode of the popular police drama The Bill. Whether this is a one-off guest spot or it's to become a regular role, I don't yet know. Stand by for more info! (Many thanks to John Hammond and Pat Burge)
|21st April 2002||
Contender are beginning to release details of the "extras" to be found on the first DVD box set. As I said previously, these will be made up of simple, text-based "pages" but there is also to be some form of accompanying booklet. Of far more interest, however, is a recently-unearthed promo trailer put together in 1979 intended to entice American television executives.
In the meantime Contender have still not secured the 1996 Without Walls documentary nor any of the other "extras" that have been suggested. Given that it's almost certain the picture quality of many of the episodes is not going to look particularly brilliant, I would suggest that Contender need to offer potential buyers, who may have already spent hundreds on the videocassettes, inducements to replace them with the silver disks.
Some retailers are advertising the set as containing "all fourteen episodes from the first season". Of course it's actually all thirteen plus 'Rogue' - the first episode in production from the second season.
Incidentally, here are the extras I've suggested. If anybody would like to contribute other ideas, I'd be happy to hear 'em!
So, as you can see, there's stacks of stuff out there. Come on, Contender!!!
|14th April 2002||
Further to DVD pre-ordering, an online retailer by the name of Bensons World is offering free worldwide shipping on the first set (something which BlackStar dropped a while ago, unfortunately). Fan Lars Henning tells me he's found Bensons to offer a fast, reliable service.
Now, something of a shock for Capri fanatics. Some time ago Ford's European operation created a division called Living Legends. Its latest project is an attempt to launch a new version of the famous sports car. Presently the idea has still to be green-lighted by the parent company and even assuming it is, it will be at least two years before it hits the market. I suppose that gives you time to save up!
Although it will probably use the floor-pan and mechanicals of the excellent Ford Focus (to help keep costs under control), "the car's basic shape is said to draw heavily on the original Mk1 Capri launched back in 1969", according to Australian Motor magazine. Unlike the front-wheel drive Focus, however, the Legends team are proposing an all-wheel drive system.
More info at the Blue Oval News site. (Many thanks to "Andi".)
|13th April 2002||
Two months to go before the first DVD box set is out, yet competition to sell 'em is already hotting up! At the begining of the week most of the major on-line retailers were offering it at around 36GBP. Yesterday some places dropped it to 32GBP while Amazon UK may let you have it for as little as 27GBP if you've ordered loads of stuff from 'em before.
Interestingly DVD Street, another reputable company, are offering the first three sets(!!!) for 29GBP each. They give release dates of 5th August and 30th September for two and three but these have in no way been confirmed by Contender.
Of course, if you are pre-ordering, make sure you check out shipping costs.
I'm hoping to get further information (particularly about "extras" and packaging designs) from Contedner next week.
Thanks to Dave Goodwin and Barbara Johnson for info (Barbara: I can't reply to your e-mail as your address seems to be u/s at the mo).
In other news, Sue Sandy kindly informs me that the BBC have decided to definitely go ahead with more episodes of Judge John Deed. No transmission dates have been published yet, though I would presume that shooting will commence some time in the next couple of months providing the lead actors are all available.
|9th April 2002||
Sue Sandy kindly informs me that the Roman Polanski version of Macbeth, which starred Martin, is to be issued on DVD from 27th May. However given that prices for it are going to be at least fifteen quid, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it ends up in the bargain bins within a few months - just like the VHS version did! Nevertheless you can pre-order it from the usual places like Blackstar. Overseas fans should remember the usual PAL/Region 2 caveats.
The upcoming Professionals DVD box set is being advertised for pre-orders by popular the popular online retailer Play247 for 36GBP. (Recommended Retail Price will be 40GBP, I think). Doubtless we'll see other companies such as Amazon and Blackstar advertising competitive prices soon. For anybody who does preorder, let's hope Contender get to the root of their present Avengers disks problems, so that our CI5 adventures look and play right from day one! (Thanks to June Ferguson)
|2nd April 2002||
Contender are now promoting the DVDs for 10th June (ie a week later than previously mooted). However this date appears to be definite. (Thanks to "Susan")
Marina Bailey reports that The New Professionals is currently enjoying its first screening in South Africa. Interesting to see that after nearly five years, it's still getting new sales.
|24th March 2002||
According to an article in this week's Radio Times magazine, there will be a lot of changes for the fourth season of Always and Everyone. However it would appear that Martin's character will survive the sea-change. (Thanks to "Tavaran")
Speaking of A&E, Australian fans can look forward to seeing its third season on the UKTV channel from March 27th. (Thanks to Louise O'Brien)
Fan Carol Good recently contacted me with news that an Australian online retailer, Oz DVD Warehouse, is advertising "The Professionals Vol 1" as a Region 4 disc, due for release on May 8th. However Oz DVD currently have no other details and were not even able to confirm that the disk relates to "our" Professionals (though I can't think what else it could refer to - given the "Vol 1" tag, it would appear to refer to a TV series rather than, say, the 1966 Burt Lancaster movie). Mark 1 say they have made no deals with an Australian company and as no other Oz-based retailer is advertising this disc, I'm bound to conclude that it is simply a mistake by Oz DVD Warehouse. I would, therefore, caution people not to pre-order the disc unless/until we have more positive details. (Many thanks to Carol for bringing this to my attention).
Some disappointing news regarding the Contender DVDs. It would appear that they have made no progress at all in acquiring material for tasty "extras". They have also dropped the idea of contributions by Laurie and Brian. At the moment any extras are likely to be limited to a few "static text" items. However they are pursuing the possibility of performing a further cleaning up of the existing prints. (Thanks to Gareth Bevan)
German channel NDR will be running CI5 - The New Professionals from 1st April. (Thanks to "Julia")
It's also presently enjoying a rerun on New Zealand's TV4 channel (thanks to Jack Yan).
|27th January 2002||
A quick note to say Edward Woodward will be interviewed on the UK's Channel 5 Gloria Hunniford show on Tuesday afternoon (29th Jan). It will be interesting to see if The New Professionals gets a mention! (Thanks to Frank Harris).
Lexa Doig will be appearing at the StarGate SG4 convention at the Heathrow Park Hotel in London from February 1st to 3rd. (Thanks to Frank Harris)
Martin Shaw was 57 on 21st January. Sorry I missed this (I've been away) but thanks to everyone who reminded me! :-)
|18th January 2002||
Today I spoke to Lee Binding at Contender about the DVD situation and I now have some more definite news. June 3rd should hopefully see the issue of the first set of disks. In a somewhat surprising move, releases will only be available as four-disk box sets, each comprising fourteen episodes (with the final set containing fifteen).
Contender are currently in talks with Laurie Johnson and Brian Clemens in the hope of producing new interview and/or commentary material with them. Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins will be approached soon though there's obviously no guarantee that either of them will wish to contribute. There is no news yet on the inclusion of the 1996 Without Walls programme nor any other extras that have been suggested.
The episodes will be issued in production order but probably using the existing BRITE prints as seen on the videos (and Granada Minus transmissions). This raises a couple of issues: firstly the proposed straight transfer of these will mean that we'll miss out on the original title sequence and theme music -naturally I reminded Lee about this! Secondly I have asked Lee to look carefully at the BRITE prints for the second season onwards as I have a suspicion they may look alarmingly flawed under the exacting nature of DVD (careful examination of the existing videos reveals some of them look quite grubby and scratchy, despite being "cleaned up"). Needless to say, Lee assured me he would look into these questions.
Although a precise date is now being mooted, please remember that everything is still subject to change. Naturally I'll continue to bring you the latest developments!
|10th January 2002||
Corgi have reissued their silver Capri. Unfortunately the moulded Bodie and Doyle figures have been replaced with cardboard cutouts. Sweeney fans may be interested in the Ford Consul also issued. Tony Buller is offering the Capri and Consul for 10GBP and 13.50GBP respectively (plus shipping) but a 1GBP discount for fans who mention this website! Contact Tony here. (Thanks also to Barbara Johnson who has found the new Capri already up for auction on eBay!)
New Zealand's TV3 will be rerunning Martin's episodes of The Scarlet Pimernel from Sunday. (Thanks to Adele Carlisle)
|8th January 2002||
A quick note to say that Martin will apparently be appearing in the fourth season of Always and Everyone (aka 'A&E') after all. Transmission is due to start on March 18th. (Thanks to Dana Jeanne Norris).
|31st December 2001||
The National Film Theatre in London will be screening Martin Shaw's 1972 TV play "Achilles Heel" on the 24th of February. (Thanks to Sue Warren).
|23rd December 2001||
BBC2 is currently rerunning the "I Love the 1970s" series - on Thursday there's another chance to see the 1974 edition with Martin and his Capri advert. New Years Day sees the 1977 edition. (Thanks to Oliver Lomax).
|14th December 2001||
I've just found out (thanks to Kevin Bricknall) that the UK's Channel 5 will be screening a two-hour show tomorrow (Saturday) evening entiled 'The Greatest TV Cops of All Time'. Too late to find out if The Professionals will be included unfortunately (strictly speaking they weren't cops, of course - "No - we're worse... MUCH worse!") but I wouldn't be surprised if our heroic trio turn up. The programme is presented by Dennis Waterman and followed by the first Sweeney feature film.
I've now "tidied up" the Contacts page, so at least 95 percent of the addresses on it are operative. Thanks to everyone who got in touch with revised addresses.
|27th November 2001||
The Guardian newspaper has a new interview with Martin Shaw here - beware it contains some strong language. Also the Times has an amusing piece on The Professionals and Judge John Deed here. (Thanks to DanaJeanne Norris)
|25th November 2001||
Over the last couple of months quite a few people have found that the Contacts page is becoming frustrating to use because so many of the addresses on it are no longer active. Considering the page has been running for five years, this is quite understandable with so many folks changing their e-mail addresses as they switch to other ISPs. Clearly, then, the page needs a good purge. I propose to do this by sending a "test" e-mail to each and every e-mail address on the page - those that bounce back as non-existent will be deleted. If you receive this e-mail, there is no need to reply, unless you would like to be removed from the list anyway. I'll probably start running this purge process on an annual basis.
|23rd November 2001||
Following on from May's fun-packed Professionals Odyssey Location Jaunt, we'll be holding another in June 2002 to mark the show's Silver Jubilee. This time it will be bigger and better, hopefully including full access to buildings including the police station from 'Old Dog with New Tricks', the water-tower "Cockpit" from 'Klansmen', Doyle's studio flat from 'Hunter/Hunted' and the "hospital" from 'Foxhole on the Roof'. Plus numerous other Professionals "landmarks". Obviously final details have still to be settled but if you're interested, please contact Paul Fletcher-Ridley.
New Zealand seems to be going a bit Professionals mad at the moment. Following on from the recent run of the entire original series, their Channel 4 are currently running CI5 - The New Professionals on Monday mornings at ten past midnight. (Thanks to Karen Bull).
Fan Jukka Jarvinen kindly tells me that Finland's Sub-TV cable channel is currently screening the first season of the original series on Thursday evenings - so another country that is broadcasting Professionals both old and new!
|18th November 2001||
Big thanks to everybody who wrote in to tell me that the BBC are currently running trailers for Martin's upcoming series of Judge John Deed, due to start on Monday 26th November. My understanding is that it will comprise four 90-minute episodes. The first concerns a police informer on trial for assaulting his wife but Deed is pressured to acquit the man as he may hold information vital to national security.
Corgi are to re-issue their 1999 version of the silver Capri in January 2002. This time, however, without the Bodie and Doyle figures. (Thanks to Tony Buller)
|11th November 2001||
A quick update on the Professionals DVD situation: Contender are now publically mooting April 2002 as a release date for the first disks. As usual, however, I'd like to stress that in reality this means April at the earliest. Whatever - from my recent correspondence with them, it is clear that they are now actively progressing the project. (Thanks to Dirk Drescher)
Finland-based fans Nicka Nyman and Jukka Jarvinen kindly inform me that CI5 The New Professionals has begun transmitting on that country's Canal 4 station, though this is merely a rerun - I wasn't previously aware that Finland had bought the show!
|4th November 2001||
A quick mention for The Duchess of Duke Street, which is currently being screened by the UK Drama satellite channel. Martin's episode, 'Family Matters' will be screened on 13th November. Also, his episodes of The Scarlet Pimpernel will appear on the same channel from November 15th.
|4th October 2001||
Just a quick note for the benefit of Australian fans: the current run of The New Avengers on the UKTV channel will include the episode that starred Martin and Lewis, 'Obsession', on Monday 8th October. I would be very interested to hear from Oz fans if the scene of one of the villains stretching a wire across the road gets cut, as it was in the BBC's 1996 screening here in the UK. (Thanks to Louise O'Brien)
|20th September 2001||
I'm receiving anxious e-mails from New Zealanders about the programme being taken off air part-way through the fourth season. Don't panic! Apparently the broadcaster is taking a two-week break and will resume the series. Apparently they are concerned about children watching the show during the present school holidays. But why they're showing the programme at all during a lunchtime is very bizarre!! (Many thanks to Adele Carlisle)
|19th September 2001||
Contrary to previous information, Martin Shaw now appears to be negotiating to appear in the fourth season of Always & Everyone. Maybe they've promised to improve the storylines??! (Many thanks to "CLB" and DanaJeanne Norris)
UK-based New Professionals fans may be interested to know that Kal Weber is currently appearing in Carling's latest TV ad. It features him marooned on a desert island trying to find a way to keep his refrigerator cool.
|3rd September 2001||
From info received, I'm very pleased to announce that the Professionals feature film is now definitely GO! And, indeed, things are in full swing with numerous actors being considered and approached for the roles of Cowley, Bodie and Doyle. Auditions and selections will be kept tightly under wraps for the time being but I think it's safe to say the production will NOT be swamped by American performers. Brian Clemens and Laurie Johnson are fully immersed in the project so that should bode well for remaining true to the spirit of the original series. Filming will probably commence early next year and I think we can expect a release for autumn/winter 2002.
|1st September 2001||
Bodie and Doyle are to feature in a Channel 4 (UK) programme entited "Top Ten Telly: Hard Men" to be broadcast on September 8th. Full story here. (Many thanks to Josie Arnold)
|18th August 2001||
The Classic Ford article on The Professionals Capris was issued yesterday. It's not particularly accurate unfortunately but of great interest is the fact that Doyle's VHK11W car is up for sale (again!). Asking price is 7995GBP. It's not clear who actually possesses the car at the moment but the contact number is 0115 9294295.
|18th August 2001||
The Classic Ford article on The Professionals Capris was issued yesterday. It's not particularly accurate unfortunately but of great interest is the fact that Doyle's VHK11W car is up for sale (again!). Asking price is 7995GBP. It's not clear who actually possesses the car at the moment but the contact number is 0115 9294295.
|8th August 2001||
Exciting news for New Zealand: the series has just started a daily rerun there on Channel 1. Currently the first-season episodes are being screened, although the tx order adopted is a little strange. Nevertheless it looks like NZ fans are being treated to UNCUT episodes including 'Klansmen'! (Thanks to Jack Yan, "Jan", Paul McMahon and Karen Bull.)
In last week's TV Times listings magazine, it was revealed that Martin Shaw has been voted the 12th "most beautiful TV person" - whatever that means. I'm sure he's very proud! The poll was accompanied by a quote from him being unhappy about signing autographs. I think, however, this is one from the "archives". (Thanks to Tony Buller)
|4th August 2001||
A quick mention for the UK's Classic Ford magazine which will be carrying an article on The Professionals' Capris in its September issue due on 17th August. Thanks to everyone who's contacted me about this!
Latest news on the DVDs is... well, nothing really. Contender still have not decided upon a definite date but it's pretty safe to say we're looking at Q1 next year at the earliest.
|10th July 2001||
Further to Always and Everyone, it has now been pretty much confirmed that Martin will NOT be appearing in the fourth season. According to an interview in this week's respected Radio Times listings magazine, he has decided to concentrate on Judge John Deed. However I've received quite a lot of correspondence from viewers who have not been too happy with the character development in A&E's current season - perhaps Martin feels the same way? Indeed he has hinted that he feels the scripts are becomg stale anyway. (Many thanks to Kathi Pullan and DanaJeanne Norris)
Before I forget, there's another chance to see Martin talking about The Professionals in I Love 1977 when it is repeated on BBC2 next Saturday.
The German press seem to be following the "Who will be the next 007?" thread quite avidly, apparently citing Colin Wells as the second most likeliest candidate (behind Jeremy Northam). Apparently Gerard Butler is now out of the running as he's been a bit too "public" about it all. One newspaper is running an on-line poll - you can vote for Colin Wells here (Thanks to James Harris).
|24th June 2001||
Today is the CI5 site's fifth birthday. Hard to believe we've been running for half a decade! It's certainly been a lot of fun for me (and hopefully you too, dear reader!). And with DVDs hopefully not too far away (come on, Contender!!) and a movie version still very much on the cards, the site's future is well assured...
Looking back over the years, it's been a good time for fans. There was the brilliant Channel 4 documentary in April 1996 with its extensive interviews with Martin and Lewis (hopefully we can secure the entire show - originally it was fifty minutes - for the DVD releases). In many ways that programme acted as the real spur to start the website in the first place. Then along came Contender and issued all 57 eps on video while the UK witnessed its first TV repeats in nearly a decade. Most remarkably of all we had a brand new series which - irrespective of whether you deem it a success or not - proved that there were still TV executives who recognised the ongoing affection for such classic telly! It's just a shame actual UK broadcasters remained short-sighted.
As the orignal show approaches its Silver Jubilee, modern technology is keeping it alive for not just us "oldies" but a new generation, too. Thankfully DVD now has a firm foothold in the UK and companies are gradually realising the worth of significant investment in presenting crisp, digitally remastered product bundled with "extras" (I'm writing this after an evening of watching the amazing new Space:1999 discs - well done Carlton!).
During all of this, it's been good to see Martin's career continue on a high. A lot of us reckon that if Lewis was to return to England, he might have more luck!
So, with huge thanks to the hundreds of people who have contributed to the site so far, here's to (at least) another five years of CI5 Online!
Fan James Harris recently e-mailed me to say that an American scriptwriter called Bruce Fierstein (sp?) - who has worked on some recent James Bond scripts - claimed to have completed a draft for a film entitled 'The Professionals'. However further investigation reveals that this appears to be for a remake of the 1966 Burt Lancaster film of the same name, this time to be directed by John Woo. Brian Clemens is still behind "our" script (though it's not inconceivable that the backers may bring in an "auxilliary" writer) and I'm hoping to be able to tie in closely with the film once he and Laurie are happy to go public. Things are still moving very slowly on that one, unfortunately. In the meantime I've passed on your suggestions for casting, though it is likely one of them will be a big-name American star - to keep the backers happy!
A fourth season of Always & Everyone (now called simply A&E) has been commissioned, though it is presently uncertain whether Martin's character will be returning. Incidentally there is a brief interview with him here. Meanwhile he will definitely be back for an entire series of Judge John Deed which might actually have commenced filming now. Let's hope it's a bit more credible than the pilot! (Thanks to DanaJeanne Norris)
|8th June 2001||
Martin's controversial 1984 mini-series 'The Last Place on Earth' has just been issued on DVD in the US. Prices for it seem to be all over the place but DVD Empire (whom I believe are very reputable) have it for a tad under $48. Click here. Non-US fans please remember the disk is in NTSC format and coded for Region 1...
Given that this is a UK production, it seems a bit odd that we haven't seen it here in Blighty. Maybe one day...? (Many thanks to Anne S).
|7th June 2001||
A quick mention for 'Upstairs Downstairs' whose first season makes its DVD debut on 18th June. Blackstar are not listing it yet but Play247 is.
|27th May 2001||
Many Happy Returns to Lewis Collins who is 55 today! Thanks to everyone who reminded me...as if I'd forget! ;-)
|21st May 2001||
This "latest news" is actually late news! Martin Shaw presented one of the awards in last week's BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Awards - I think that's correct) ceremony. The compere Angus Deayton announced "And now to present this award, a real professional. Well he'd have to be to work with Lewis Collins...". Martin didn't respond verbally but just smirked. Why the jibe at poor old Lewis? Anyway sorry I didn't have advance notice of this appearance. (Thanks to Sue Sandy and Sarah Vernon)
Latest on the DVDs... is not so good, unfortunately. We're now looking at "early next year" according to Contender. Top priority at the mo is still that of "debugging" the upcoming Avengers discs (and given the huge success of the excellent US versions, Contender know they can't afford any slip-ups with their own discs!). Still, the delay will hopefully give us more time to track down and prepare elusive "extras" such as the Anthony Andrews footage from 'Old Dog with New Tricks'. Other ideas I've suggested are outtakes and promo trailers (we believe there may be some stuff that was presented to potential US buyers back in 1979). If anyone has more ideas, please let me know!
|29th April 2001||
News is seeping out from the press that Colin Wells may indeed be in with a chance of replacing Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, after the Irish actor's next 007 flick. Apparently Scots actor Gerard Bulter (currently filming Disney's Reign of Fire) is the producer's (EON) first choice, with Colin as a back-up. Of course this may all be about as true as the last Bond rumour which had Edward Woodward stepping into the role of 'M'. But EON have not denied the rumours and it's been long clear that many 007 fans would accept Colin as the new super-agent, so good luck to him! (Many thanks to James Harris.)
A quick menion for yet another run of The Professionals by Granada Minus, which starts from May 7th and, as usual, in the hack-prone timeslot of 4pm. (Many thanks to Wendy Hoggarth and "Debbie".)
|4th April 2001||
Many thanks to all those who e-mailed me about the third season of Martin's medical drama series Always and Everyone. It is due to begin transmission on ITV from next Wednesday. Also watch out for an interview with the cast on that morning's GMTV breakfast show.
|25th March 2001||
As expected, the UK Drama satellite channel is rerunning the Martin Shaw episodes of The Scarlet Pimpernel - catch them at 9pm between Monday and Wednesday this coming week.
|21st March 2001||
News just in that the BBC are planing to make at least four more 90-minute Judge John Deed episodes. Transmission will likely be early next year. (Thanks to DanaJeanne Norris.)
|19th March 2001||
More items of interest for Lewis fans. Granada Media are issuing a Cuckoo Waltz video on 7th May. Mind you they're being very mean - it's only three episodes from the first season. Still, at least they'll probably be uncut. :-) As ever you can order from BlackStar. (Thanks to Alison Hall)
|18th March 2001||
Just a little reminder that the Who Dares Wins DVD (and video) is available to buy now. Try BlackStar. Enjoy!
|10th March 2001||
Many of you will recall the mooting of a Professionals movie some time ago but things went quiet when financing agreements stalled. Well I'm happy to report that, although there is still nothing absolutely confirmed, Brian and Laurie are confident that the idea is about to get the green light.
Just to recap... this will be a big-screen version of the original series. Although Cowley, Bodie and Doyle will return, it will NOT involve Martin Shaw or Lewis Collins. There is still an awful lot hanging in the balance at the moment and, understandably, nothing much is being given away. My understanding, however, is that decisions have still to be taken over casting/auditions. Hopefully I'll have further info in a month or so.
Fans of Betty (and there are legions of us, you know!) may like to know that actress Bridget Brice can presently be seen in the ad by medical insurance company PPP Healthcare currently doing the rounds on UK TV. Good to see her back on the magic flashing box after all these years! (And well done to Hughie Urquhart for spotting her!)
The idea of doing a Professionals Locations tour has been raised again. Fan Paul Fletcher-Ridley is kindly offering to host a weekend (May 19th and 20th) cruising some of the locations (and drinking in some of the pubs!) used in the original series in and around London. Anyone interested should e-mail Paul for details.
|23rd February 2001||
Quite a bit of news tidbits to get through today...
Firstly fan Gareth Bevan has discovered that actor Trevor Adams who played Benny in a number of early episodes sadly died on December 15th. At one stage I did think of doing a quick bio for Trevor but I've not been able to find any info on his post-1970s work. Can anybody help?
Quick mention, too, for Anthony Morton who played Henry Turkel in the pilot ep. He passed away on 15th January, aged 73.
The digital satellite channel UK Drama has just rerun the first three Scarlet Pimpernel stories - sorry I missed out on telling you! However I'm sure they'll run 'em again soon. They are also running the mid-70s soap Duchess of Duke Street, for which Martin guested in one episode which may well be shown towads the end of next week. (Thanks to Kim Richardson)
UK New Professionals fans may be interested to know that the revamped Crossroads soap begins transmission on 5th March and Colin Wells is to be one of the lead characters.
|11th February 2001||
Jesper Antvorskov kindly informs me that Martin's episodes of 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' will be broadcast on the Danish channel DR2 from 14th February at 20:30.
Argentinian fan Alejandro Solignac reveals that The New Professionals has commenced its run in that country on the Azul TV Network.
|5th February 2001||
'Who Dares Wins' receives yet another UK transmission - this time on Carlton Cinema during the small hours of this coming Friday.
Also, if you enjoyed David Wickes' "Jack the Ripper', Channel 5 are also screening his excellent 'Jeckyll and Hyde' adaptation on Wednesday at 9pm. (Thanks to Iain Clarke.)
|22nd January 2001||
I'm sorry to have to report that the Professionals DVDs are going to be delayed again. Contender had said to expect them by 2nd quarter of this year (some of you may remember they were originally to be released last summer!). They now have no release date (approximate or otherwise) at all, though Richard Bridgwood did say that it would be Autumn 2001 at the very earliest. In fairness to Contender, they are presently having major difficulties with the preparation of their Avengers DVDs (due to well-publicised disc authoring faults by the series' owners, Canal Plus) and are also busy with their very successful Farscape discs & vids. Nevertheless can I please suggest that everyone drops them a friendly(!) e-mail to encourage them to get cracking! :-)
However I'm sure you'll all be pleased to hear that The Final Option/Who Dares Wins is to be released on DVD on March 19th! Overseas fans please remember that it will be Region Code 2 and PAL format. The ever-wonderful BlackStar are taking pre-orders for it. (Many thanks to Pam Igo for spotting this - it has cheered us both up immensely!)
On a related note, Pam also tells me about that Lew's other mid-1980s action films, Codename Wildgeese and The Commander. The latter is already available on DVD and video (through Amazon Germany) and Wildgeese is due soon. NOTE, however that, as far as I can tell, the DVDs will only contain a German-language soundtrack (obviously this is the case for the VHS versions, too.).
Some of you have kindly informed me that the UK's Channel 5 will be broadcasting Hound of the Baskervilles (funny accents and all!) on Wednesday 24th at 15:30.
|21st January 2001||
Martin Shaw is 56 today! (And thanks to everyone who reminded me... I think I forgot last year!)
|8th January 2001||
Another Judge John Deed article on-line. (Thanks to DJN)
Many Brits will remember (or are probably trying to forget) ITV's much-lampooned serial Crossroads. This was a long-running soap set in a Midlands motel. Infamous for it's zero-budget, wobbly sets and even shakier acting, it became a staple of stand-up comedians and impressionists for over twenty years. Anyway, eager as ever to increase its, ahem, "quality output", ITV are reviving the series after twelve years and fans of Colin Wells may like to know that he is apparently going to be one of the leads in the new series. (Thanks to James Harris.)
|3rd January 2001||
Despite vigorous denials by the BBC(!), it does indeed appear that Judge John Deed will be transmitted next Tuesday. DanaJeanne Norris has come across this rather interesting article. Note it states that an entire series has been commissioned. I wonder if the Beeb are aware of this??!
|29th December 2000||
Not for the first time (nor, I'm sure, the last), the BBC's publicity machine has got a spanner in the works. Having been told just ten days ago that 'Judge John Deed' would not get a transmission until next summer, it seems that it will actually be screened on January 9th! That is according to the Radio Times listings magazine (where you will find an article and some pics from the show). Either way I'll endeavour to uncover the true story ASAP! Many thanks to everyone who has e-mailed me about this!
Further BBC news: my entry for September 27th mentioned a new drama show called 'In Deep' concerning two undercover cops. The Beeb had said they hoped the main characters would draw a similar audience to that of The Professionals. Well the series has now been filmed and is apparently due for transmission early in the New Year... that's assuming the publicity department isn't talking a load of cobblers!
A quick mention for Granada Minus who will recommence Professionals repeats from January 8th. (Thanks to Bec Shilton)
|19th December 2000||
DanaJeanne Norris has just kindly forwarded me some more info on Judge John Deed (note the title now appears without the 's'). This comes from an upcoming BBC press handout:
"In this thrilling new drama, Judge John Deed takes on his most high-profile case yet, much to the dismay of his 'refined' colleagues who class him as an outsider, a man who gladly defies convention. The accused is Mr Haart, a man who seeks revenge against his daughter's killer. The pressures of the trial are enormous and they only multiply when Judge's daughter, Charlie, ventures onto the wrong side of the law through her activities as an environmental campaigner. How will Judge reconcile the love he has for Charlie and his obligation as a High Court judge to report any criminal activities?"
As to a transmission date, we are now apparently looking at May 2001 at the earliest! Why has it been put back six months? Amusingly the Beeb are still advertising it as part of their winter schedule!
Shaw fans Down Under will be pleased to hear that the first season of 'Always and Everyone' has been picked up by Foxtel's UKTV channel and will commence on Wednesday January 10th, playing at 09:30, 14:30 and 20:30(!!). Thanks very much to Louise O'Brien and Sue Law.
|8th December 2000||
Kath Hallworth has just contacted me to say the final three New Professionals episodes will be rerun by Sky, after all. BUT they will all be shown on December 23rd between 2 and 5 in the morning!!?!
|7th December 2000||
Just to follow up on 'Judge John Deeds', the BBC have confirmed that it will NOT be shown this month (as they had originally stated) and, in fact, a new date has not even been set. However they referred me to a third-party publicity company, from whom I await a response. It's funny because the Beeb are usually very enthusiastic at having their stuff plugged... I do get the impression there's somthing not quite right!
Heide Wilsher from David Wickes Television was in touch recently to say that she was unable to get any straight answers from Sky as to why the rerun of The New Professionals was still cut, despite its post-watershed timeslot. Well presumably Sky couldn't be bothered to recut the show and wanted to keep their advert count up anyway. The irony, however, is that other Murdoch-owned broadcasters such as Star World showed the series uncut. Unless DWTV sell the series to a UK terrestrial broadcaster, we will never see full-length episodes here.
Some of you may have noticed I'm using a new e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. My existing one will continue until early February, however.
|4th December 2000||
It's quiet in here, isn't it?! Anyway there's a very amusing article on The Guardian newspaper's website at the mo regarding the enduring fanaticism of the Capri including some cheeky references to a certain TV show and a particular website. Have a look here. Many thanks to Alda S for uncovering this.
Meantime, I'm still trying to get some info out of the Beeb regarding Martin's upcoming drama Judge John Deeds. It was due for transmission some time this month but there has been precious little publicity for it. Given that it was rumoured it was going to upset the legal profession, I wonder if there's something going on...?
|18th November 2000||
Just out of interest an original Professionals episode script ('Dead Reckoning') has just been auctioned on eBay. The winning bid was an astounding 437GBP (or 622USD)!!!! Of course we all know the programme's popularity is still high but I am astonished by this amount. After this it will be interesting to see if any more mysteriously turn up!
|31st October 2000||
Ooops, late again! Czech TV channel CT1 are commencing the run of the first three Scarlet Pimpernel films tonight at 8:35pm. (Thanks to Lenka Zaoralova!)
|26th October 2000||
Filming has now completed on Martin's new drama for the BBC, Judge John Deeds. It will apparently be transmitted sometime in early December and is expected to cause controversy among the legal profession! Thanks again to "CLB" for info.
Judging by recent additions to the Contact List, it appears that The Professionals is currently being screened in Japan!
|13th October 2000||
Martin commenced filming of a third season of 'Always and Everyone' last week. The new fourteen episodes will be transmitted in the Spring. Thanks to "CLB".
|11th October 2000||
A huge surprise, this one. The BBC were recently mooting a second set of Scarlet Pimpernel films. Well they've actually already filmed 'em and they commence transmission on BBC1 on Wednesday 18th October!!!! However only Richard E Grant and Ronan Vibert (Robespierre) are being retained - there is no sign of Martin, or indeed the character of Chauvelin. The fact the BBC haven't heavily promoted (if at all?!) these new episodes seems to say they haven't got much confidence in them! (Many thanks to Rebecca Jones)
|10th October 2000||
Andrew Pollard has discovered that the Professionals calendar was to be marketed by SlowDazzle - who also issue similar and highly successful material for The Avengers, The Prisoner, etc. I say "was" because they have now apparently scrapped the Pros calendar due to lack of sales. Well it would have helped if they'd actually advertised it!!! So can I suggest that you all hop along to their website and urge 'em to have a rethink! In the meantime I've offered to plug the calendar should they change their minds.
Martin Shaw missed out on a Best Actor gong in this evening's National Television Awards, being beaten to the punch by EastEnders actor Martin Kemp.
|7th October 2000||
UK fans should watch out for the Channel 4 programme Collector's Lot on Thurday 26th October. It will feature fan Tony Buller and his Professionals memorabilia.
|5th October 2000||
Andrew Pollard has just e-mailed me to say he's discovered what appears to be a 2001 Professionals calendar about to go on sale. This comes as a complete surprise to me and currently we have no idea who is marketing it. Stay tuned!
Lexa Doig fans can see her in her new series, Andromeda, on Sky One from October 9th at 8pm. Also her film No Alibi was released on DVD in the UK recently. (Thanks to Frank Harris).
Many thanks to several fans who told me that the National Television Awards is to be broadcast live on 10th October. See entry below.
|27th September 2000||
Martin Shaw has been nominated for Best Actor in Britain's National Television Awards. He's up against John Thaw, David Jason, Martin Kemp and Robson Green. The ceremony will be held on October 10th. Currently I'm not sure when it will actually be transmitted.
The BBC are to commence shooting on a series entitled "In Deep". It will star Stephen Tompkinson (Drop the Dead Donkey, Ballykissangel) and Nick Berry (EastEnders, Heartbeat, Harbour Lights) as two undercover cops. No connection to The Professionals except that the BBC say they are hoping "the duo will have the same kind of ratings force as Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins had in The Professionals." So there you go – almost twenty years after the curtain went down, our fave show is still seen as the ultimate yardstick!
Big thanks, as ever, to DanaJeanne Norris.
|23rd September 2000||
Earlier this week The Daily Express newspaper reported that older British TV shows are far more successful than newer ones when it comes to re-selling them overseas. The article stated that "ageing favourites such as Fawlty Towers, Mr Bean and The Professionals still top lists of UK exports." So, as I've said many times before, why the heck won't some British broadcaster pick up the series?! It's not as though it's going to be particularly expensive to acquire, even with the higher repeat fees now being demanded by the actors' union, Equity. (Many thanks indeed to Sue Sandy!)
Fan John Hammond has created an "e-group" discussion forum for the show. Hop over to here.
|20th September 2000||
Lew's 1988 mini-series "Jack the Ripper" is due to be issued on DVD and video on October 9th. BlackStar are taking pre-orders now for a mere twelve quid! If you haven't seen this before, I do recommend it! US/Canadian fans please remember these are in PAL format and the DVD is Region 2. Many thanks to Pam Igo for info!
Also, Contender's second box-set is to be reissued on the same day. Incidentally this particular item is clearly highly anticipated as it appears at number twenty in BlackStar's Top Thirty pre-order sales-list!!
|19th September 2000||
"Dave, any more news on the DVDs?" you keep asking me! Well all I can do is reiterate the fact that Contender are planning to commence releases from 1st quarter 2001. However it's now looking very unlikely that they will be remastered from the original negatives. This is mainly due to cost (approaching fifteen grand per episode, apparently!). So it's back to the BRITE prints and personally I have doubts about the picture quality on two particular episodes: 'The Rack' and 'The Madness of Mickey Hamilton'. Perhaps BRITE's prints for these two episodes can be re-processed to gain further improvements. I reminded Richard Bridgwood that we would very much like to see the original title sequence and he agrees that this should be included. We should be able to drum up a decent copy of this from somewhere and graft it onto relevant BRITE prints. That's it for now!
|18th September 2000||
UK residents may be aware of a programme on Channel 4 called Collector's Lot. It features interviews with people who have large collections of a particular type of memorabilia. In a previous show, a huge Avengers collection was featured. Well the producers are now looking for people who would be willing to show off their Professionals collection. If you would like to be considered, contact Simon Giarchi.
|16th September 2000||
Although not quite on-topic, I thought folks might like to know that four episodes of The Sweeney are due for DVD release in the UK on October 9th. As ever, you can pre-order from BlackStar. Sadly the distributors, PT Video, are being very mean and only issuing two eps per disc. At sixteen quid retail I suspect the sales won't be as good as they expect!
|11th September 2000||
Well I can't say it was a great surprise to see that the rerun of The New Professionals on Sky One is edited down. This evening's 'Back to Business' appears to be the same cut that they ran first time round. Previously they cried "pre-watershed!" but, given that these repeats are going out at 9pm, it's pretty clear that this is is simply an excuse to stuff more adverts in!
|8th September 2000||
Martin has been signed to play the eponymous lead in a new 90-minute BBC drama called Judge John Deedes (sp?). The piece is written by G F Newman who also penned the controversial police dramas Law and Order (1978) and Black and Blue (1992) – the latter also starred MS – so Judge should be pretty gripping stuff! Filming commences next month and I should have more info next week. (Many thanks to Sue Sandy and DanaJeanne Norris. Sources: The Stage magazine and The Guardian newspaper.)
As for the proposed second series of Scarlet Pimpernel, BBC Drama inform me that casting has not yet begun and it is undecided whether Martin will be invited to reprise his role.
|4th September 2000||
Sky One will be rerunning The New Professionals from Monday 11th September at 9pm. Given this post-watershed timeslot, maybe we'll get to see full-length versions this time? I'll see if I can find out!
There is some confusion about when The Professionals will be covered by "I Love the 1970s". According to the show's producers, it's going to be this coming weekend, yet none of the TV listings mags mention it at all!?! Perhaps it will actually be covered by the 1978 show? I think there has been some confusion at the Beeb about when the show actually began UK transmission!
|28th August 2000||
Further to the "I Love the 1970s" series, The Professionals will be covered in the 1977 programme, to be screened on 9th September. Martin has recorded extensively for it, so we should be in for quite a treat. I should have further details later this week.
(New Avengers fans may want to look out for the 1976 show, to be shown this weekend. It is due to include an NA piece though the programme is still in the process of being edited.)
Rather mysteriously the BBC have elected not to rerun the second and third instalments of The Scarlet Pimpernel. (Rights issues?) However apparently there will be a second season next year. At this stage it is not certain whether Martin will be involved. Again, I should have more info shortly.
|24th August 2000||
Channel 7 in Australia have just commenced another run of The New Professionals this evening. I'm not sure whether it is a proper network screening this time. (Thanks to Jo Sutton)
|23rd August 2000||
The BBC will be rerunning Martin's Scarlet Pimpernel mini-series from this Saturday on BBC1 at 8-45pm. (Thanks to Kathi Pullan).
|15th August 2000||
DanaJeanne has reminded me that the final Contender tape came out yesterday. Although quality control has been rather wanting at times, full marks to Contender for sticking with the series and getting all 57 episodes out there! As for the DVDs, well we're still looking at Q1 next year at the earliest, I'm afraid, though it is hoped the discs will contain some surprise "extras". More news on this as I get it.
|12th August 2000||
Fan Katka Haskova kindly informs me that Who Dares Wins will be screened by the UK's Carlton Cimena channel on 20th August at 11pm.
Martin Shaw will be appearing in next week's instalment of the BBC's "I Love the 1970s" series and it looks like it will include the 1974 ad he did for the Ford Capri.
|5th August 2000||
Australian fans of Martin Shaw may be interested to know that his 'Hound of the Baskervilles' will be shown by the Foxtel Pay TV channel on Sunday 13th August at 12.10 pm. Also 'The Chief' is being screened on the Optus network, Channel 24, Tuesday nights and Wednesday afternoons. (Thanks to Louise O'Brien!)
Also, Granada Plus are to re-screen the first and second seasons of The Professionals from September 4th.
A second season of The New Professionals is still considered a possibility by the Wickes Company but Heide Wilsher kindly informs me that it is not likely to commence shooting until next year, contrary to earlier reports that suggested this December.
|27th July 2000||
Fan Alda S kindly tells me that the TMC broadcasts in Italy are now at a more sensible time of 18:20. Also they broadcast 'Klansmen' uncut last week - as did Austar in Australia recently. (Hello Granada Minus!!)
|17th July 2000||
Further to the news re the re-issue of the second Contender box-set, Gareth Bevan kindly advises me that the version of 'Hunter/Hunted' that appears in it is the edited-down version!! Clearly Contender have forgotten why they had to re-issue this episode in the first place!! Anyway I have contacted them to try to find out what's going on. On a happier note, Gareth says that at least the picture quality is much better this time round!
|9th July 2000||
On the subject of The New Professionals, fan Chris Beggs kindly informs me that Southern Ireland's TV3 station is rerunning the series from tomorrow.
|8th July 2000||
Just a quick note to say that Italian broadcaster TeleMonteCarlo (TMC) is currently screening the old series. (Thanks to Barbara Scarabelli)
The series also gets another airing in the Czech Republic from 9th July on the TV Nova station. (Thanks to Jarmila Pribylova)
Apart from that, it's pretty quiet in the Professionals world at the moment. The Wickes company are saying that they hope to start shooting a second season of The New Professionals in December and it appears as though some of the cast and crew have been contacted. Nothing definite yet, though. I understand that several scripts have been penned in anticipation of a second season – if so this is a good move because it will, in theory, give DWTV plenty of time to get them polished up – something that the first season scripts desperately needed, as many of us have said!
Plans for DVD releases continue afoot and I hope to be able to bring you some further good news on this within the next few weeks.
Sadly the proposed movie idea seems no further forward. Progress on this has always seemed rather hush-hush but I now kinda think this is simply because there hasn't been any progress!
|26th June 2000||
Small correction: although Granada Minus will be screening two episodes of The Professionals over the weekend of July 16th ('Mixed Doubles' and 'Weekend in the Country'), they are NOT picking up the show again in a regular timeslot... not for the time being, anyway. However they may well do so in late summer/early autumn. No other details at the mo.
|17th June 2000||
Fan Katka Haskova kindly tells me that Martin's 1975 film "Operation Daybreak" will be shown by the UK's Channel 5 on Saturday 24th June at 11.40pm.
Also it would appear that Lew's TV movie "A Ghost in Monte Carlo" was reissued on video on 8th May. (BlackStar aren't listing it for some reason but it is available from the HMV website under their Television Drama section.)
Lastly for today, Granada Plus appear to be picking The Professionals back up on Saturday 16th July.
|13th June 2000||
Just a quick amendment regarding the re-issued Contender box-sets: the second box is not actually released until Monday July 10th (Thanks to Richard Bridgwood).
|11th June 2000||
Just a quick note to say that Germany's Kabel 1 will be broadcasting Martin's version of "Hound of the Baskervilles" tomorrow (Monday) at around 12:40pm (Thanks to Christa von Praun)
|7th June 2000||
UK fans of Kal Weber should tune into the new BBC2 anthology series "The Wilderness Men" which begins this evening (apologies for the short notice!) at 9pm. Kal stars in the lead role of this opening instalment as Meriweather Lewis who, along with one William Clark, set out in 1803 to seek out a potential trade route across America. It sounds like the series will follow in a similar vein to 1975's "The Explorers". (Thanks to Graham Peacock and Kath Hallworth)
Following up on a story from a few weeks ago, the rumours concerning Edward Woodward taking on the role of 'M' in future James Bond films are... completely UNTRUE! To be honest this doesn't come as a surprise as there was never any indication that Judi Dench wanted out. The Daily Mirror decided to take their source's information at face value and not bother to check it out! (Thanks to Pamela Lerch at The Edward Woodward Website!)
|6th June 2000||
Gareth Bevan kindly informs me that Contender have just reissued their first two boxsets. This time the picture quality is far better, Gareth says, though he did experience a slight glitch during the opening scenes of 'Dead Reckoning' so, as usual, keep hold of the receipt! Now the odd thing is that BlackStar have yet to pick up on these re-issues (I'll send 'em a quick e-mail), though they've got the second box pegged at a bargain price of sixteen quid!
|3rd June 2000||
Just some further info re the planned third season of Always & Everyone. Sue Sandy kindly passed me the following from The Stage magazine:
A third, 16-part series of Always and Everyone is anticipated next year. It is understood that ITV boss David Liddiment is so pleased with the show's success that he has told Granada that it has the freedom to make as many episodes as it wants. "We appreciate this encouragement but we did not want to stretch it out too much," said a source.
|27th May 2000||
Lewis Collins is 54 today! (Thanks to Ali Molloy for reminding me!)
Fans Heather Hillsden and Sue Salter have started their own newsletter for the old and new series. The first edition of CI Files is now available and mainly concentrates on the new show plus news of Messrs Woodward, Wells and Weber. The girls are looking for contributions to further editions.
Against many people's expectations (including mine, I must admit!), Always and Everyone seems to be doing very well in the UK. Indeed a THIRD series has just been commissioned and will begin filming in September, according to Mr Shaw. (Thanks to DanaJeanne).
|20th May 2000||
A quick mention that German channel ARD is to rerun The New Professionals from this coming Wednesday. (Thanks to Renate Gorke and Tobias Kessler)
Rumours abound that Edward Woodward is to replace Judi Dench as "M" in the next James Bond movie (working title: "Beyond the Ice"). The story seems to have come from an issue of The Daily Mirror newspaper this week, though few Bond fans are giving the story much credence at the moment. Whatever – with Colin Wells allegedly in the running to replace Pierce Brosnan, Professionals/Bond connections continue aplenty!
I've had an e-mail from a chap called Nick Amies who works for a small production company called The Self-Preservation Society. He is hoping to sell the idea of creating a TV series which, shall we say, "acknowledges" the influence of shows such as The Professionals. I'll let Nick take up the story:
"We are currently in the formulating stage of a new series which draws heavily on the influences of 70's cop shows such as The Sweeney, The Professionals and Starsky and Hutch. Forget the intellectual approach, our heroes will deliver the goods in the vein of films like Dirty Harry, The French Connection and those of the Blaxploitation genre. No more Maisie Raine and Jonathon Creek. 70's crimebusters are back! The new show will be a darkly comic take on cops who strike first and solve cases later. Cops that wear massive flares and outrageous shirts in a bid to fight crime in style.
"We would like to hear from fans of the original 70's cops shows and younger fans of the re-runs. We hope to bring the action, the tasteless clothes and the 70's attitude back and mix it with humour and the right amount of respect. If you want shouting, car chases, outrageous fashions - let us know. If you miss gunplay, foreplay and 'You're nicked!' - we're your men! Your views will be an important part of our marketing strategy to get this made for the fans. This is your chance to get something YOU want made for T.V."
"So would fans like to see an entire series based on this premise? Let Nick know!"
|8th May 2000||
For stateside Martin Shaw fans, Gerard Peck kindly advises me that Scarlet Pimpernel is due out on DVD in the USA (hence NTSC, Region 1) on 30th May. Also The Golden Voyage of Sinbad on 6th June. Incidentally Hound of the Baskervilles was issued last December. (If somebody out there already told me about this, I'm afraid I forgot!) I would assume these titles are also available on old-fashioned VHS, too :-)
|4th May 2000||
The Martin Shaw episodes of The Chief apparently really are beginning tonight on Granada Minus (though his "introductory" episode was last night). Apologies for the extreme short notice but, as I keep saying, even the people working for these TV companies rarely know what's going on! Many thanks to all those folks who e-mailed me today about it.
|27th April 2000||
The Abbey National building society has carried out a survey to find the most popular TV theme of all time amongst UK viewers. Hawaii Five-O topped the charts with Laurie Johnson's The Professionals coming in second! The Sweeney was seventh. Quite why Abbey National needed to know this information is a bit of a mystery! (Thanks to Sharon Wheeler and A N Other for info!)
|26th April 2000||
Some news re Contender's plans for video and DVD. I've been waiting for Richard Bridgwood to return from holiday and he was back today, so I gave him a quick call to catch up on the latest happenings. Unfortunately plans for a DVD release schedule have had to be put on hold – partly due to other commitments but mainly because Contender would like time to consider and prepare a "grand plan" in terms of how the discs should be made up....
One idea they are considering is remastering the episodes from the original negatives. If these are in good condition (and they better had be!!) then these could be used to create new prints that are even better than the BRITE ones – not to mention the "bonus" of the original title sequence/voiceover on the first season episodes! A complete programme of remastering 57 episodes will take a lot of time... and MONEY! And that, of course, is the stumbling block – especially for such a relatively small company. However I would hope that Brian & Laurie would see the long-term commercial benefit in acquiring their own sparkling, digitalised prints and would therefore agree to (co-)fund the operation. Indeed the remastering idea won't happen otherwise. Richard also reiterated the point about including isolated music tracks on the disc... and there may be a couple of further surprises in store on this front... stay tuned!
Anyway, I'm afraid we are now looking at early next year before we see those shiny discs. But if all goes to plan, it should be well worth the wait! Either way Richard was very keen for me to reassure everybody that Contender are committed to getting the show out on DVD!
As to the next videocassettes, these are still on for May 15th, though I expressed concern that the episodes involved have still not been granted clearance by the BBFC. Richard said, however, that this often comes through at the last minute! I hope that the delay is not because the BBFC are considering demanding cuts....! (Paranoid? Me??)
|23rd April 2000||
Further to the message re the reruns of The Chief on Granada Minus, several of you tell me that the Martin Shaw episodes appear to be starting on April 27th.
Further news re the BBFC saga over the cut to 'A Hiding to Nothing'. Here's the latest correspondance from Mrs Rixon:
Dear Mr Matthews
The Professionals: A Hiding to Nothing and the definition of "criminal technology"
Many thanks for your email of 29 January. I apologise for this late response. Apart from the usual but valid reasons of work backlog, I was delayed by indecision: whether to launch into a debate with you or to respond briefly, given that you had raised further interesting points about censorship while extrapolating impossible-to-verify conclusions from some of my statements of 28 January. Time, meanwhile, has passed.
One reason for the apparent inconsistency of the decisions is probably that the edition you refer to and according to you - passed '12' uncut, widely available between 1993 and 1996 and issued by the now defunct Sound Image Group - is not one that we are aware of. I have made inquiries and our records show that a different company failed to pay the fee for the title's submission in 1992 and again in 1994. The conclusion is that this particular title was never classified by the BBFC until it was submitted by a completely different company in 1998 and subsequently classified '12' with one cut to the lock-picking. This suggests that the edition you mention may have been illegally issued, a not uncommon practice and one which continues.
Although we both agree that there is inconsistency in the way classification / censorship is applied by various authorities including the BBFC - whether because of legislation or the different practices of private and public organisations - we have to accept (for the purpose of practical application anyway) that it is the current position. It is a deeply unsatisfying and confusing situation but one on which I have nothing useful to say with reference to the particular title without repeating myself. We work constantly and swiftly, whenever possible, to evolve good classification practice which takes into consideration all factors. Currently, the Board's research programme includes Citizens' Juries (probing public attitude to the guidelines), BBFC Roadshow questionnaire feedback, a broader public survey based on the same questionnaire and a survey of child psychologists / psychiatrists and social workers. Last year, we were also involved in the British Attitudes Survey and The Depiction of Illegal Drugs in Broadcasting, Film and Video.
I appreciate your frustration and perhaps fury with any Board decision that seems perverse. I hope however that you understand that we try to do our best in sometimes difficult situations and we always hope that our decisions are more acceptable than not to the public.
Wah-Yin Rixon (Mrs)
Film & Video Examiner
So, some very surprising news regarding the old Video Gems tapes! Anyway, here was my response:
Dear Mrs Rixon,
Once again thank you very much for your response. The issue of the "illegal" Sound Image Group tape is very interesting indeed! I must admit I couldn't see it in your on-line database but I assumed this was some kind of omission as a lot of other SIG releases are missing from the list, too! I stated that episode was passed by the BBFC as a "12" in 1992 simply because the video's cover carries the appropriate BBFC logo that was in use at the time. Therefore I had no reason to suspect this was anything but a legitimate release.
When you say a "different company failed to pay the fee" I would guess this is Video Gems (or "TV Gems" as they later became) - although I had thought this was merely a "label" used by SIG rather than a subsidiary company in its own right.
Whether the SIG/Video Gems release was illegally issued or not, however, it's mass availability for several years still strengthens the case that the inclusion of the lock-picking scene in a commercially-available video did not prove to cause any "harm". As you have hinted, the BBFC sometimes seems to play by a perverse set of rules when it comes to censorship - instead of "innocent until proven guilty" it's more like simple "assumed guilt without a trial". Well the lock-picking scene certainly had been "on trial" during the three years that the SIG tape was available (irrespective of the fact that the BBFC were apparently unaware of it!) and, I say again, there is no evidence that its inclusion has led to any "harm". I appreciate this is rather an over-simplification but I believe the essential principle remains upheld, particularly when also considering the other factors I have outlined in previous correspondance.
The episode will likely be issued on DVD sometime in the next year or so. I wonder if this might be an opportunity for the BBFC to reconsider its decision - even if that meant having to demand a higher classification (eg "15")?
|16th April 2000||
Just a quick note to say that Martin Shaw will apparently be interviewed on the GMTV breakfast show on Tuesday in connection with the second season of Always and Everyone.
Speaking of Always and Everyone, Joules Taylor informs me that it is actually the latest series that is being screened by ITV2, which I find pretty amazing considering the main ITV channel is showing it at the same time!
|3rd April 2000||
Joules Taylor tells me that Granada Minus is to screen The Chief from 17th April, although the rerun will commence with the original Tim Piggot-Smith episodes. Currently it is not clear whether the Martin Shaw eps will also be screened. Mind you considering UK Gold showed 'em UNCUT a couple of years back.... :-)
As the new series of Always and Everyone kicks off on ITV, the first season is getting another screening on ITV2 from this evening. (Sorry the news is a tad late!!)
|22nd March 2000||
Joules Taylor kindly informs me that the second season of Always and Everyone is actually due to commence on Thursday 30th March at 9pm and not 6th April as Granada's Duty Office claimed (what have I said about these people in the past??!! <G>).
Back to the production order for the Professionals first season: fan Bob Rocca managed to acquire some production notes from Albert Fennell many years ago which reveal quite a different order to the one I'd previously been supplied with. The new order does seem plausible, particularly as it yields far more "continuity" in terms of the crew used from episode to episode. I've posted the revised schedule to the Production Order page – comments welcome as ever!
The first 100 of Tony Buller's Corgi gold Capris are now ready to ship. Price is 23.99GBP each plus postage. Incidentally Corgi's own Collector's Club magazine will feature an item written by Tony re the Professionals Capris in the April issue. Sweeney fans may be interested to know that Richmond Toys will be issuing a Ford Granada sometime soon.
|17th March 2000||
I've started doing some work in preparation for the DVDs. The first thing we need to verify is the Production Order for the series. It would appear that the order I have listed is correct according to the available documentation. However I have doubts over the first season stories 'Heroes' and 'Where the Jungle Ends', apparently filmed sixth and seventh respectively. I think that given that in Heroes we see Gordon Jackson drive the yellow Granada, while in Jungle he is back in the old Rover SD1, this would indicate that Jungle was filmed BEFORE Heroes. If we accept the "official" documentation's suggested order (which is made up of hastily scribbled hand-written notes!!) that would mean fight arranger Joe Dunne worked on four consecutive episodes – Female Factor, Long Shot, Private Madness, Killer with a Long Arm – skipped Heroes (for which no Fight Arranger is credited at all) and then returned for the final time for Jungle. Following my new theory, however, would mean he worked on five consecutive episodes, which I feel is more likely. Are there any visual clues when watching the two episodes in question? Ideas, please!
Next up, John Hammond informs me that following on from the recent sale of the VHK12W Capri, Doyle's gold one (VHK11W) is now also up for grabs! The chap who restored it, Alan Jarvis, is the seller. Again, the asking price is 15000GBP. Details in this month's Classic Ford magazine.
|11th March 2000||
According to Granada TV's Duty Office, the second season of Martin's medical drama 'Always and Everyone' will commence tx across the ITV network on 6th April at 9pm. Thanks, as ever, to our roving reporter DanaJeanne Norris!
|7th March 2000||
I'm currently trying to keep up with all your correspondance – no less than 59 e-mails arrived last week while I was away in the US!! Anyway I've come home to discover some excellent news...
Richard Bridgwood at Contender tells me that his Farscape DVDs are selling extremely well, further confirming that the new digital format is at last flowering in the UK. On the strength of that, then, definite plans are now afoot to issue The Professionals (plus The Avengers and The New Avengers). No release dates yet – hopefully we'll have details of these by the end of April – but Richard did express his desire to get them into the market "sooner, rather than later". I would hope we'd be looking at late June/early July. We have agreed that Production Order is the way to go and I also asked about the possibility of features like an isolated music track (for all us wah-wah guitar lovers!). No promises on this yet but Richard is keen on the idea: it shouldn't present any techical difficulties though, of course, the actual cost of implementing these "extras" will have to be borne in mind.
I also mentioned the problems with the Long Shot video – Contender will look into this.
|22nd February 2000||
Just a quick note to let you all know that Lew's excellent "Jack the Ripper" is scheduled for transmission in the UK by Channel 5 next Monday and Tuesday at 9pm. Many thanks to "The Minister"!
|20th February 2000||
John Hammond kindly advises me that the VHK12W Capri that was for sale has now been sold. Not only that but apparently it went for the full asking price of fifteen grand!!! Obviously we have some plutocratic Professionals fans out there!
|12th February 2000||
Tony Buller has further news on the gold Corgi Capri: the cars are being prepared right now and should be available for shipping in a couple of weeks' time. This will be a limited run of 200 and each will come with an Authentication Certificate. I should clarify that although Corgi themselves are not marketing these models, they are approved by them. All sales will be handled by Tony himself. I may be able to provide an on-line order form on the website. The price of each car has yet to be finalised but will be approximately 22GBP plus postage.
The latest Contender videos were issued, as scheduled, on February 7th. Unfortunately there is an inherent fault on at least some copies: Susie Day and Tony Buller report picture and sound glitches during the opening titles on 'Long Shot'. Keep those receipts!
The second season of Martin Shaw's medical drama Always and Everyone is apparently due to start transmitting soon. According to an announcement on ITV's new digital channel – which is currently rerunning the first season – tx will commence some time in March. However ITV's own enquiries office says it "is likely to be shown in a couple of months time". Either way, with filming still in progress (until March 25th, I believe) it would appear ITV are keen to get it on the airwaves. (Many thanks to DanaJeanne Norris.)
Further to the 29th January entry re "CI5 Files Re-opened", Jesper Antvorskov reports that this is not a fanclub but a 107-page English language publication containing fan-fiction. See 29th Jan entry for contact details.
|6th February 2000||
Christina Bowring kindly informs me that there is to be a fourth venue (Epsom) for the current run of Dangerous Corner – please refer to 17th January entry.
|29th January 2000||
OK, the following is a HUGE entry. Make yourselves a nice cup of tea first:
Bodie's VHK12W Capri is up for sale! There is an advert in the latest edition of Ford Classic magazine. Remember this IS the genuine article, though many body panels and other sundry items have been replaced, so the degree of the car's "originality" is open to debate. The price? A mere fifteen grand!! (Thanks to Jamie Stoutt, Ash George and John Hammond)
Further to my enquiries with the British Board of Film Classification re the editing of Contender's A Hiding to Nothing (see entry for 14th December 1999), I've just received a reply:
Dear Mr Matthews
"The Professionals" and the definition of "criminal technology"
Thank you for your email of 13 December. I am sorry for the late response and will not begin to give reasons as they will only seem trite. But my apology is genuine.
I fully appreciate your point about "The Professionals" being regularly broadcast on satellite without the police apparently ordering cuts to demonstration of criminal technology in the series and apparently without a huge surge in burglaries employing techniques seen in the series. I agree that there is an inconsistency in the application of censorship as between videos and say, satellite broadcasts. But as you know, the BBFC has a legal obligation to classify videos under the Video Recordings Act 1984. Television / cable / satellite companies, on the other hand, are regulated differently and are not obliged to broadcast only classified material and they often don't. If the police's attention has been drawn to the portrayal of imitative criminal technique in the series broadcast by the satellite companies and if they apparently choose to do nothing about it, that must be a matter for the police. Just because complaints have not been received by ITC or the TV companies - and do we know this as fact?- it does not follow that people are unconcerned about these and other issues. If an individual is concerned about an issue but for whatever reason does not raise the matter with the authorities, that is clearly their decision and the authorities will have no knowledge of their concerns. As the classifying authority, however, the Board is unable to indulge in that luxury of being unconcerned, however misplaced at times, or of doing nothing once a concern has been identified. In this example, a concern was raised so we took advice from an appropriate source, the police. They did not tell us to cut the scene. We chose to do it after having taken expert advice and considering a range of factors, including public expectation.
You and many members of the public may not agree with the Board's decision to cut but you should appreciate that we make the decision on behalf of many other members of public, who may agree with our decision. As to the surge or not of burglaries using techniques learnt on the series, we have no knowledge of either so any statement about either position is only assertion and does not advance the debate. Perhaps it may be a source of (a little) comfort to you to know that no decision to cut is ever taken lightly.
I hope that my response answers your queries even though you may not agree with them.
Wah-Yin Rixon (Mrs)
Film & Video Examiner
And here's my response:
Dear Mrs Rixon,
Thank you very much for your reply. I must confess I was under the impression that the decision to cut the episode was as a *direct* result of the advice from the police. As you say, this was merely one of the factors involved. I take it, then, the ultimate decision to demand the cut was solely that of the BBFC. Unfortunately, from my point of view, this only serves to make the cut seem even more bizarre: as I mentioned in my previous e-mail, this particular episode had been widely available in the UK (with a "12" rating) on video UNCUT between 1993 and 1996 (issued by the now-defunct Sound Image Group).
The upshot is that the scene in question was deemed unsuitable in 1998 against the fact that it had been approved by yourselves in 1993 and had not, by your own admission, been proved to have caused a surge in house break-ins. As far as I can see, then, the scene was cut for no valid reason! Or do the BBFC have documented evidence that 1998's criminal fraternity are far more likely to be influenced by what they see on video than they were in 1993.... or that public fear of break-ins increased substantially over that five-year period and it was, therefore, the public who expressed a wish that such scenes should be cut?
You rightly say that we have no evidence that the satellite broadcasters have received no complaints about the scene in question. Yet I am sure that had they done so and felt that the complaints were justified, then they would indeed have excised the scene. This would certainly have happened if the ITC had received complaints and upheld them. I think, then, we can safely assume that no such complaints have been received and supported. After all "The Professionals" was far more noted (indeed controversial!) for its portayal of violence than anything else: *this* element could indeed attract complaints and, aware of this, Granada Sky Broadcasting trimmed certain violent scenes in most episodes from the outset.
You say decisions to cut are based on "public expectation". Does this mean that after the initial concern was raised over the scene, you surveyed several members of the public to assess their views and found that the majority of them agreed it should be removed? I suspect not! You say that:
"We make the decision on behalf of many other members of public, who may agree with our decision."
"Who MAY agree"?! This seems to imply that if they don't agree, you demand the cut anyway! That's hardly what I'd called representing "public expectations" (more on this later). I've spoken to about 25 members of the public concerning the break-in scene and not one of them supported the idea of it being cut. Admittedly most of those I spoke to were fans of "The Professionals" so they were naturally a tad biased! But these people are a cross-section of the vast majority of those who would actually buy this video! And that's really another point the BBFC should consider - instead of just taking the "easy option" of applying a "generic" cut, why not consider the video's target audience - in this case most purchasers will be aged between 30 and 50 - irrespective of the "12" rating.
On a more general note, having recently followed various debates on the Internet with regard to BBFC censorship, the overriding public impression is that rather than fulfilling "public expectation", the organisation displays a "nanny knows best" attitude which ultimately overrules the wishes of the public. I think you have demonstrated this with your own comments. This problem is compounded by your own admission that UK censorship is being applied inconsistently - and, therefore, unfairly.
This is a shame as I feel that the classification of films and videos is highly desirable and so the BBFC fulfills a worthy role in this respect. In terms of censorship, I can appreciate concerns over the violent nature of material depicted in some film and video works and the requirement to tailor this for younger audiences. I still maintain, however, that it in some cases, the BBFC displays no "real world" sensibility and would sooner listen to the "advice" of a few Mary Whitehouse types, despite a complete lack of actual evidence of the alleged harmful effects caused by viewing acts depicted in some works. The uncut 1993 issue of "The Professionals - A Hiding to Nothing" essentially proves that no harmful effects arose from the inclusion of the scene under discussion.
To sum up, then: the BBFC claims to make decisions based on "public expectation" yet when consulting members of the public, MAY OR MAY NOT listen to those views! With specific regard to "The Professionals - A Hiding to Nothing", the BBFC decided to demand a cut version in 1998, despite previously approving an uncut version and having no evidence to support a requirement for a subsequent cut. Furthermore decisions to cut are also based purely on the rating of the work, rather than any consideration for its target audience.
You are quite right that there are always going to be instances where one sector of the public disagrees with a decision to cut - this is unavoidable. However the crux of the problem in this case is not the decision itself but the methods employed by the BBFC to reach that decision, particularly given the factors I have outlined. Unfortunately I'm afraid your kind reply has raised more questions than answers, so I would appreciate some clarification.
I would like to think that partly in the light of my comments (after all, I'm a member of the public expressing my expectations!), should the episode ever be resubmitted, the BBFC would at least reconsider its decision.
Late again! I forgot Marty's birthday on 21st January – he was a sprightly 55! Thanks to all those folks who jogged my elbow!
I've been trying to follow up on dates for the latest Dangerous Corner tour. I have contacted Middle Ground and am still awaiting a reply but it appears that the three venues mentioned below are the only ones planned.
Tony Buller informs me that plans for a gold-coloured Corgi Capri have born fruit. Later this month should see the release of 100 cars. Should sales prove encouraging the remaining 100 will be issued at a later date.
Mark Bush tells me that there is a Belgian fanclub for the series. Address as follows:
CI5 Files Re-Opened
I'm afraid I know nothing else about this fanclub. Can anyone out there enlighten us, please?
A number of Australian fans have been in touch to say that the old series is playing on the Foxtel Arena channel again. Uncut eps as usual – lucky Ozzies!
|17th January 2000||
EMERGENCY UPDATE!!! Young Lewis is back on tour with Dangerous Corner... right at this minute!!! There had been a possibility the play might go to a second run but this has caught us all by surprise – there doesn't seem to have been any pre-publicity this time round. (I had been trying to contact his agent but her answerphone seems to be on permanently these days!!). Anyway venues and dates as follows:
The Haymarket Theatre in Basingstoke, 17-22 Jan
Hopefully there are more venues lined up - will aim to find out. Many thanks to Sue Love and a chap called Jason for info so far!
Some of you have been asking whether there will be a final Contender Box Set. I kinda thought there might be but at the moment Contender have no plans to issue one.
|10th January 2000||
Next two Contender vids confirmed for Feb 7th. Richard Bridgwood has also put forward dates for the remaining tapes – see the Contender page.
|9th January 2000||
Graham Peacock has reminded me that 14th January will be the tenth anniversary of Gordon Jackson's passing. Obviously our thoughts will be with Rona and family.
Barbara Johnson has discovered that a new Martin Shaw audio book, "Remembrance Day", is to be issued next month but can be pre-ordered now from places like Amazon UK
Barbara also says that the next two Contender videos are being touted as having a release date of 7th February. I'm awaiting confirmation on this.
Apart from these two tems, it's been a bit quiet on the news front lately. Quite a few of you have asked me what is going on with various projects such as the movie, second New Professionals series, etc. In the case of the former, I'm afraid this one seems well and truly on ice at the mo. Brian wrote a draft script (which I haven't seen and is being kept under wraps) but that's about as far as the project has got, as far as I'm aware. The stumbling block appears to be, as usual, that of financing agreements and, indeed, whether the major players in the idea actually want to put up the money for it.
With regards to a second CI5 series, David Wickes Television remain hopeful but there is no sign (yet) of a "green light".
What about the proposed DVDs? Well, as expected, the vast majority of those who voted want the episodes issued in Production Order. I think that by the end of February, Contender will have a clear idea on whether they wish to proceed or not. Apparently UK DVD sales have accelerated over the last few months but only a pitiful number of you (28 to be precise) have bothered to respond to the survey, so I remain sceptical that it is worth Contender investing in putting the series out on DVD.
A big "Thanks!" to everyone who sent in Xmas and New Year greetings. Apologies for not responding to all of you just yet... I'm trying to clear the backlog!! Talking of the new year, some of you know I was heavily involved with Millennium Bug work. Glad to say everything I and my team worked on seems to have survived error-free (still got Feb 29th to come yet, of course!). I'd be very interested to hear from people who have suffered problems from the companies they do business with. I hear that there were problems at some US nuclear plants (the precise nature of which was hushed up!). There was also a funny story about a guy being fined hundreds of dollars by his local library because the system insisted he should have returned a book on 2nd Jan 1900!!
Well I am in a chatty mood today! It must be all the Pure Malt Scotch over the festive period. OK, I'll shut up now.
|2nd January 2000||
Just to let you all know the winning bid for the jacket and annual was 1425GBP. For obvious reasons I would rather not reveal the name of the bidder (it wasn't me, honest – the CI5 budget couldn't stretch to that!!!). Anyway congratulations to the winner (who will be notified by e-mail) and many thanks to Jonathan Jaynes for offering such prized possessions!
|31st December 1999||
Jacket now at 1400GBP!!!
Remember there are only a few hours left to bid!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
|19th December 1999||
Not really "latest" news as such but contacts in the film industry tell me that Colin Wells was almost certainly involved in auditions for James Bond in 1994 – when, of course, Pierce Brosnan took up the role. That doesn't necessarily mean Wells was actually being auditioned for the role: he could simply have been drafted in as a "stand-in" to play against another actor/actress who was being auditioned. Nevertheless it is certainly interesting to speculate! As Eon's auditioning machinations are always obsessively secretive, I'm not going to credit my source this time!
A number of you have told me that Martin Shaw has been narrating a new ITV series called "Shampoo". It is yet another fly-on-the-wall documentary, this time concerning a hairdresser's in Manchester (are ITV getting desperate or what??). Perhaps unsurprisingly the series has been pulled by most ITV regions after two episodes due to poor ratings. Perhaps the saddest thing, though, is that that Martin, who continues to enjoy a successful career in quality television productions, finds the need to get himself involved with such lowbrow stuff. Almost as big a shock as seeing Edward Woodward on Blankety Blank a few weeks ago!
When The Professionals was originally axed by LWT, they replaced it with Dempsey and Makepeace (see the Modus Operandi page for details). Many months ago its American star Michael Brandon was back in the UK touting the possibility of a new series. Well all went quiet and we forgot about the idea. However I spotted in yesterday's Daily Telegraph newspaper that he is still confident of relaunching the show. To be honest I was never very impressed by D&M, mainly because of (until the final season) the paper-thin plots and cardboard characterisations. However as the show did bear some striking similarities to The Professionals and there do seem to be a lot of CI5 fans who also enjoyed the adventures of SI10, I'll happily cover any D&M events here. Actually it would be very interesting to hear from people just what they thought about D&M and how it compared to The Professionals.
|14th December 1999||
Several weeks ago I contacted the British Board of Film Classification regarding their decision to order the "credit card" cut in Contender's release of 'A Hiding to Nothing' due to their concerns over the use of what they term "criminal technology". Well I have now received a reply:
Dear Mr Mathews (sic – look, they even cut bits out of people's names!!)
Query regarding definition of "Criminal Technology"
Thank you for your email of 8 November. As one of the examiners who helped to classify The Professionals - A Hiding to Nothing, I have been asked to respond to your email.
When we classify material, especially in the junior categories, we are particularly careful not to let it demonstrate any imitable criminal techniques. In the case of the video concerned, we are advised by the police that the technique displayed could unlock a door. That is the reason the cut was made. If, as you suggest, the character had used a common-or-garden pickaxe to break in, we would not have cut the scene. Unlike the lock-picking technique, using a pickaxe in that way (which incidentally would have attracted a great deal of attention to the would-be trespasser) is not specifically instructional.
You suggest that our decision to cut in that case is inconsistent with the decision not to cut a similar scene in The Professionals - When the Heat Cools Off. I did not examine this video but I have read the examiner's report on it and have also looked at the scene concerned. Advice from the police is that it would not be possible to unlock a door in this way.
A Hiding to Nothing was passed '12' because some of the violence scenes contained partial details and were personalised and impressionistically intense. I have looked at the violence scenes in When the Heat Cools Off. In contrast, these are brief and masked.
I hope that my explanation helps you to understand the rationale of the Board's decision even if you may not agree with it. With so many variables to consider before a classification decision is made, it is inevitable that many people will disagree with some of our decisions. The best we can do is to be constantly alert to public expectation and try and meet this as often as possible. The Board's new draft guidelines, which you are free to comment on, can be seen at our website. I hope they will give you more information on the various issues we have to consider in the classification process.
Film & Video Examiner
And this is my reply, sent today:
Dear Wah-Yin Rixon,
Thank you very much for your reply to my query over the "criminal technology" cuts to the video release of "The Professionals – A Hiding to Nothing" and for the time you put in to researching the issue.
I fully support the idea of a video ratings system and I do appreciate that there are circumstances where criminal acts depicted on-screen may encourage younger viewers to (attempt to) emulate them. On the surface, then, the removal of the "credit card" scene may seem quite understandable.
However I have to point out that since early 1997, The Professionals eries has enjoyed regular re-runs by the British satellite broadcaster Granada Sky Broadcasting – usually in afternoon or early evening timeslots, when juveniles in particular will be watching. Given that the Granada transmissions regularly achieve 100,000 viewers – far, far in excess of any video sales – one should surely expect the Police to order Granada to make the same cut from their broadcasts: Yet no order has been made and GSB's screenings of this episode always retain this "problematic" scene intact. And, as far as I'm aware, we have not witnessed a huge increase in the number of "entry-by-credit-card" burglaries since 1997. Is it your perception that criminals don't watch television transmissions but turn to videos for tuition?
You say that decisions regarding the removal of material are mindful of public expectation, yet in this case it is clear that neither GSB or the ITC have received complaints about the inclusion of this particular scene in the transmissions. Had they done so, it would have been removed.
I appreciate that the BBFC has no jurisdiction over television transmissions but clearly there is something deeply inconsistent in the way censorship is being applied in this case. Why should the video market be more bound to censorship than the far more "accessible" medium of public broadcasting?
I would also point out that the original UK issue of the episode on video in 1993 (by the Sound Image Group's "Video Gems" label – catalogue number VG5406) was uncut. Clearly the BBFC's guidelines on "criminal technology" must have changed since then, thus Contender Video's requirement to resubmit this episode for approval last year.
Whatever – it appears to me that on this occasion the BBFC knee-jerked at the Police's "advice" and made no attempt to consider its "real-world" validity. For sure it's possible to use certain methods to gain illegal access to properties but, as the regular television transmissions have shown, use of a small piece of plastic is not considered to be a commonly-used one!
Your comments on my line of reasoning would be much appreciated!
Although the scene in question is only brief and its absence does not cause a problem with the storyline, I do feel its removal is setting a worrying precedent. I don't really expect to get the BBFC to change their mind but this crazy example of "nanny knows best" will demonstrate what we in the UK are now having to put up with (even '18'-rated films are often scissored) and why it is the US and other European countries are now doing a booming trade with Brits for vids and DVDs!
Should the BBFC respond to my latest letter, I'll reproduce it here. In the meantime many thanks to Sue Curtis for "translation"!
|10th December 1999||
Screenings of The New Professionals by Channel 7 in various regions of Australia are still sporadic. Fan Julia Anderson says that of those C7 regions that stopped transmitting the show before all thirteen had been aired, the broadcaster refuses to give a date whereby the programme will re-appear. C7 claim that they plan their schedules just "two weeks in advance". Yeah, right. Conversely Matthew Jeffery tells me the country's Perth region has only just started tx of the series, screening eps at 22:30 on Wednesdays and Fridays.
|1st December 1999||
This is a sample of the proposed Corgi "Doyle" Capri. The car will come with the same high quality figures and box from the silver release of earlier this year. Tony Buller has had a good response so far (just over 60 enquiries) but needs at least 200 before Corgi will commit. Please e-mail Tony if interested.
|28th November 1999||
News has been circulating for a couple of weeks that Martin is to star in a new film entitled 'Kinsmen', which is due to start shooting soon. Quite how this works in with the second season of 'Always and Everyone' (which is filming now and will continue to do so for some months yet), I don't know. Unfortunately I'm struggling to get a response from Martin's agent but will continue to pursue. (Thanks to DanaJeanne Norris and Sue Love for info received so far.)
Although not yet set in stone, Richard Bridgwood and I have settled on a provisional line-up for the remaining Contender video tapes which will be issued from (hopefully) February next year.
A new website dealing with several classic/cult TV shows has been set up and it includes a chat forum for The Professionals old & new. cult-television.com are also selling merchandise including videos, CDs, DVD, mousemats, etc. From next year they plan to set up an on-line auction for TV memorabilia.
|20th November 1999||
Jacket and annual now at 1275GBP. Think I'll create a separate page for this.
|16th November 1999||
Jacket and annual now at 1250GBP!
|15th November 1999||
Further to the jacket and annual up for auction: send your bids to Jonothan Jaynes. Jonothan says the jacket "has obviously been worn, but is not damaged." Current highest bid is 1000GBP. Obviously I'll try to keep up to date with the bidding situation. Bids close on 31st December.
|13th November 1999||
Some exciting news for Professionals collectors: one of Martin Shaw's bomber jackets from the series is up for auction along with a copy of the 1985 Professionals annual signed by the man himself...
At the moment I'm awaiting full details. However it appears that the jacket in question – which is still in excellent condition, I'm assured – is the one Martin wore in some of the 1980 episodes such as 'Foxhole on the Roof' and 'Wild Justice'. Without wishing to go into a lot of personal details, Martin recently donated it to a couple who used to run a costumiers business but have had to dissolve the business. Their initial thought was to submit it to the famous Christies auctions but are very kindly offering it to fans first. I should have the full gen soon, including a contact e-mail address for you to submit bids.
Next up today is an interview with David Wickes, exclusively for this website. Many thanks indeed to both David and Heide Wilsher.
I would also like to pass on my thanks to both DWTV and The London Postcard Company for the use of several more New Professionals pics (many of which are previously unpublished) which you can view here.
Latest news on DVD voting is that, with just one exception, you all want to see the episodes issued in Production Order. Keep those votes rolling in, please, because it also gives us an indication of just how much interest there is in seeing the series issued on DVD at all. So far I've received only thirteen votes so, as I suspected, there ain't many folks interested in DVD just yet :-(
|7th November 1999||
This little website has been decorated! At this year's Zebra Con in the USA, the site attained the "Huggy" (Bear?) Award for Best Website. Many thanks to Sharon Brondos for collecting the award on my behalf and DanaJeanne Norris for forwarding it on to me. And, of course, to all those folks who voted for it!! :-)
|2nd November 1999||
Quite a few of you have kindly written in to say that A&E in America have indeed just screened the second episode of The Scarlet Pimpernel. And Joyce Chumbley says that the third one will appear this Sunday.
Joyce also reveals that US viewers can now keep track of Martin's films on TV from this site. Very useful!
Also for MS fans, his 1971 Macbeth film is now available on video (it might have been for some time, I'm not sure!). Try BlackStar for the PAL version (Just ordered a copy myself! I'm obviously getting into "serious" stuff these days.). The film is also available in NTSC format, I believe – I'm sure there are plenty of US on-line outlets for it.
Nearly forgot: this month's UK magazine Front has an interview with Lexa Doig. To be honest it's all a bit crude and she keeps going on about being happy to do nude scenes in films. Cheers to Frank Harris for info!
|1st November 1999||
CONFIRMED: Martin Shaw will NOT be appearing in the next three Pimpernel films. In fact Wendy Dickinson at the BBC thinks that Richard E Grant would be just about the only actor retained from the first set. (Thanks, Wendy.)
By the way, am I correct in thinking that A&E have still to transmit films 2 &3 in the USA?
|31st October 1999||
It's been a while since the last news update, so there are a few things to get through today.
Plans are afoot to issue another model Capri. This time it will be gold coloured (to simulate Doyle's 1980/81 car) but will have a strictly limited run of just 200 and retail at just below 20GBP. However the go-ahead for this all depends on the level of demand. If you would be interested in buying such a model, please e-mail Tony Buller. Thanks.
Richard E Grant has said that he will be filming a new set of Scarlet Pimpernel films from February of next year. Although I am still waiting to have this confirmed, I have to tell you that it is unlikely Martin will be joining him – primarily, I guess, because he will still be tied up with the second season of 'Always and Everyone'. Anyway I should have some definite news early this coming week but, obviously, don't expect it to be good. (Many thanks to "Tracy L" for info.)
I had a quick chat with Richard Bridgwood yesterday regarding Contender's Professionals videos and DVDs. The vid release will re-commence sometime during the first quarter of next year (the proposed release schedule still stands), while the silver disc versions will hopefully appear in the second or third quarter, assuming that the British market for DVDs has picked up by then....
The ultimate "make-or-break" test for many British DVD producers will be this Christmas. Sales of players in the UK currently stand at just 70,000 (with about two thirds of these being Samsung's multi-region/multi-format DVD-807 model!) and the new media is still regarded as a film buff's niche. Retailers are still not really pushing the product and the price of the discs is puttting a lot of folk off, apparently (and who can blame them when they are asked to pay 30GBP for 'Titanic'?!!).
Anyway, back to The Professionals. Assuming that we see a nice surge of sales over the festive period and Contender decide to commit, Richard and I feel it would be nice to issue the episodes in production order. Now some folks might argue that it would be better to issue them in original transmission order but I would say that as this was an utter mess in the first place, it's rather meaningless. Besides, issuing the series in production order would allow you to see how the series & actors developed.
For fans around the world, I broached the subject of Regional Coding with Richard. He says that although he is still limited to UK distribution, he would NOT be looking to apply regional coding (unless Mark 1 insisted on it, though I would have thought this highly unlikely). This is good news for fans outside Europe's Region 2 who do not have multi-regional players. However the actual episodes will, of course, be in PAL format so an NTSC-only player ain't gonna be any good.
Anyway this is still all speculation at the moment. UK retailers must raise public awareness of this new media and studios must bring down the recommended retail price of feature film discs to sensible levels, otherwise DVD may go the same way that laser disc did.
In the meantime I would very much like to hear your views on the release order for the series, please! Should it be production or transmission... or, indeed, some other order? E-mail to the usual address.
Sue Sandy has kindly sent her views on Lew's Dangerous Corner play. I've added them to the 7th September entry, where the others are to be found.
|16th October 1999||
Andrew Pollard kindly advises us that the Distribution Network Company have withdrawn their two Professionals t-shirts.
|10th October 1999||
Richard Clarke at the London Postcard Company has kindly sent me a batch of cards for The New Professionals – you can see 'em here.
Speaking of the new series, Sky One continue to edit out scenes which they find offensive. Their official response (which came courtesy of Heide Wilsher at DWTV) is that they reserve the right to remove any material they deem to be excessively violent or disturbing for an 8pm programme. In tonight's airing of 'Hostage' the splendid shot of Malone blowing the studio door was cut. How can this possibly deemed to be "excessive" or "disturbing"? Is Mary Whitehouse running Sky now? OK so Sky do have to be mindful of the Independent Television Commission's guidelines but surely there's nothing there about exploding doors? (Mind you, given that depicting the use of credit cards to break into houses is a definite no-no these days, perhaps we shouldn't be all that surprised?) Whatever – why on earth aren't Sky screening this in a post-watershed timeslot anyway?? The original series always was (until, that is, those scissor-twirling reprobates at Granada Minus got their greasy mits on it!). "Britain's become a funny bloody place" as Bodie might say!
Fans may like to hop across to Joules Taylor's new website which reviews the new episodes as they appear on Sky. Good stuff, Joules!
BTW – if you're waiting for me to reply to an e-mail, please bear with me! I'm inundated at the moment. Betty's on holiday and I'm having to do all the filing, correspondance (and tea-making!!) myself!
|28th September 1999||
At least some of the Australian TV regions that did not get to see Channel 7's initial tx of The New Professionals have now been catered for. Fan Steve Gerlach kindly informs me that the country's entire east coast regions will see 'Back to Business' from Saturday October 2nd. Interestingly the start time is the altogether better 21.30.
|26th September 1999||
Fans of The New Professionals will, I'm sure, be glad to hear that I have got things sorted out with DWTV re use of images from the show – you can see them here.
Meanwhile they are pursuing Sky re the cutting of 'Back to Business'.
Incidentally I was channel-hopping yesterday evening and happened to catch Edward on the cheap, tacky BBC1 gameshow Blankety Blank. It's a truly sad state of affairs if he needs to lower himself to that. To be honest I felt so sorry for him, I couldn't bring myself to watch it.
|19th September 1999||
Not only have UK viewers had to wait for many months to see The New Professionals, when it finally arrives Sky One decide to cut it. The most notable scene to go missing in tonight's opening episode was Keel's massacre dream sequence. My contact "The Minister" also thinks the hospital shoot-out scene was trimmed a tad (I didn't catch the first thirty mins of the ep). One would assume that Sky cut these because they felt them too violent. But if that's the case, why aren't they showing it in a later timeslot? Doubtless other action scenes will be cut in later episodes. In fact if the massacre sequence was deemed to be too violent, God help the rest of the series: it won't help in assuring British fans that the series is as tough as the original. Poor old Wickesy doesn't have much luck, does he? I have informed DWTV of the problem – it will be interesting to see their response, if any is forthcoming.
|12th September 1999||
Marco Lang kindly informs me that German station Kabel 1 have started another rerun of The Professionals on Monday nights. (Marco, your e-mail address is not working for some reason, so I can't reply to you.)
Several of you have contacted me to say that Eamon Rooney's Professionals fanzine, 'In the Public Interest', is to close down after its next issue (due towards the end of the year). Eamon says that the membership is in decline – despite (or because of?) the new series. Well I must say this isn't my experience at all as I continue to receive a healthy deluge of correspondance from you crazy people! :-) Perhaps that's part of the problem, though: the Internet's immediacy and relative cheapness is arguably supplanting the desire for printed matter. Indeed several fanclubs are reporting falling numbers this year. Whatever – I'm sure we all appreciate the hard work Eamon has put in and wish him well with any new ventures.
|7th September 1999||
The Daily Mirror newspaper has launched a website whereby you can buy (at rather inflated prices, admittedly!) copies of photographs from their vast libary. There are quite a few from The Professionals. You are best to search under 'Professionals', 'Martin Shaw' and 'Lewis Collins' to get all available stuff.
I'm starting to get some feedback on Lew's "Dangerous Corner" play. Three Professionals fans kindly sent in their comments:
From Ali Molloy:
"I have seen Lew's play last Tues (24th) and if you get the opportunity then I recommend that you see it. The more I think about the play, the more I realise how well done it actually was. The storyline is very cleverly written and makes you think for a long time afterwards. The actors all have equal stage time more or less but I assume Lewis has top billing being the most famous. He is looking well, just ageing nicely, and has tremendous stage presence. He actually got a lot of laughs just with the way he said the lines and with his facial expressions!"
A chap called Alan:
"The play is pretty much typical JB Priestley: toffs getting their come-uppance. Lewis isn't centre-stage so much – it's a pretty equal four-handed piece. I hardly recognised Lewis when he came on – got a bit of a gut now and a moustache but his acting seems to have 'improved'. He delivers the dialogue a lot more forcefully and believeably than in the Bodie days – not sure whether that's a good thing – I preferred the au natural style he used to have. The play isn't really action-packed although he does square up to a few of the fops in some of the scenes. Most of the audience at Buxton seemed to be older people there for the JB Priestley connection rather than the Bodie stuff. At the beginning I was cringeing a bit – he laughed like Terry Thomas a couple of times at the start. But I adapted to the "forcefulness" of his delivery (...!...) and I didn't think it was too hammy by the end of the play. All in all it was great seeing him again even though the play can drag a bit when he isn't onstage. "
And from Rob B:
"I've just got back from watching Lew Collins in 'Dangerous Corner' at the Buxton Opera House. Lew was in fine form and didn't look a day older than the last time I saw him several years ago. The rest of the cast were good however Lew seemed to be more relaxed and had more presence than the others. Also typical of Lew were one or two occasions during the play where he was doing his usual unscripted comedy moments and the rest of the cast were trying to keep straight faces; also he made the most of a few funny moments in the script. No Capris, no guns and no Martin Shaw, nevertheless, superb entertainment and excellent acting which should lay Lew's critcs to rest."
From Sue Sandy:
"I saw 'Dangerous Corner' at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford and thoroughly enjoyed this intriguing play. Incidentally, Ali Gorton and Michael Lunney, who founded the Middle Ground Theatre Company, also between them produce, direct and design the lights and set, as well as act in this production. Saves on the overheads!
"The play deals with the themes of truth, illusion and time and is performed by only a small company of seven actors. It's a fairly static piece, with the plot moving on the revelations within the dialogue. Most of the very upper-class characters are harbouring secrets which are gradually disclosed, challenging their views of themselves and one another.
"Lewis plays Charles Stanton, who maybe possesses more secrets than the rest... He is played with a good balance of strength, pride and humour by a padded and moustached Lewis. (He looked much slimmer at the stage door afterwards!) The whole company give fine, believable performances as 1930's publishing people whose self-satisfaction is threatened by their own self-imposed honesty.
"Our seats were centre front row and we had our knees against the stage, so we certainly had an excellent view! Lewis looked as though he was enjoying himself, and having now seen him on stage in several productions, I reckon he's no slouch in the thespian stakes!
"'Dangerous Corner' is well worth seeing, if you have the chance!"
From Carol Good:
"Overall I thought the play was excellent. I'd no idea what to expect from the plot but it held my attention all the way through, and not just because LC was in it. The audience all seemed to enjoy it – predominantly older 'serious' theatre-goers however, although I wasn't the only LC fan.
"LC certainly made the most of his lines and character and I found him very believable, although some of the other actors were a little too 'dram' at times. He played the moustached villain to a T although once or twice he slipped into some of the facial expressions fans will know well - even when his character had been 'exposed' he was still wearing that Bodie-like 'I know I'm bad but I'm lovable really' smirk.
"I was lucky enough to catch him at the stage door (only 5 of us there!) so have got his autograph. Unfortunately he was in a hurry to get away so we weren't able to engage in any conversations; on the other hand he was intending to leave by a different door so things could have been worse. Perhaps the only thing that disappointed me in meeting him was that he wasn't as tall as I imagined. He still looks great, though – I do wish we could see more of him.
"Anyway, anyone who hasn't seen the play but has a chance to go should; it's well worth seeing."
If anyone else out there would care to send in their thoughts on the play, I'll be pleased to add them to the site.
|26th August 1999||
The Evening Standard article I mentioned appeared today (apologies for lack of advance notice – I've only just been told myself). You can read an on-line copy here.
|23rd August 1999||
I knew I shouldn't have gone away this weekend! I returned home to discover that various newspapers (the Daily Telegraph for one) have cited The Professionals as the second most wanted series viewers would like to see again. (The crazy team competition show It's a Knockout came top with Starsky and Hutch in the number three slot.)
Surely the networks must now finally acknowledge that a rerun of our fave show would be a smart move? Although it is believed LWT have finally come to an agreement with Martin Shaw over terrestrial repeat fees, actor friends tell me there is a new stumbling block in the shape of Equity. Apparently they have forumulated plans to demand a significant across-the-board increase of the residual payments for actors who appear as guest stars in episodic shows. If Equity get their way, this would almost certainly rule out the smaller UK networks from affording such series and we could really only look toward ITV.
Still, I do believe there will be a real effort by a UK network to bring the show back to our screens.
|19th August 1999||
A little note of amusement: the latest UK Virgin Cola TV ad features the same song that Doyle dances to in 'Involvement'. The track – a very funky little number – appears to be called "Give Me All You Got". Anyone know more about it?
Sue Sandy kindly sent me some corrected dates for Lewis' "Dangerous Corner" tour – please refer back to the entry for July 15th where I have amended as necessary.
Evening Standard reporter Tim Cooper is preparing a piece on The New Professionals. It should go to press at some stage next week – will hopefully have the exact day shortly. Expect to see some quotes from yours truly.
|9th August 1999||
Contender are set to issue the remaining Professionals episodes next year. The good news, however, is that they also plan to release the series on DVD. Currently there are no actual dates lined up. Also, they are putting together their own website, from which you'll be able to order product directly.
|8th August 1999||
Joyce Chumbley kindly advises me that the mammoth, multi-cassette Ramses saga, read by Martin, is now available as five double-cassette issues. Details on his Biog Page
|3rd August 1999||
Short piece on ITV's Teletext today (page 127) confirming the sale of The New Professionals to Sky. One thing I should clear up: you will see references to a tx date of September 11th – it's actually the 19th, as I reported originally and Sky reaffirmed to me yesterday. DWTV seem to be getting a bit confused!
David Wickes: "We wanted to get the series on air. ITV said they wouldn't have space for it for another year at least, maybe longer.". Strangely, however, the piece is entitled "ITV snub The New Professionals". Hmmm....
Interestingly the article also mentioned that a US deal has still to be "finalised".
Many thanks to Rick Soper and Sharon Wheeler.
|29th July 1999||
Always and Everyone appears to have done better than expected – I came across ratings indicating a peak of twelve million viewers. Anyway news comes in today that a second season, comprising twelve episodes, will definitely go ahead. Filming commences on October 4th and is scheduled to complete on 25th March 2000. No transmission date has been announced yet but I wouldn't be surprised if ITV hold it off until the "primetime" autumn season. That would seem to be the most sensible option to me, at any rate.
As ever, many thanks to DanaJeanne for info – she works hard that girl!
|22nd July 1999||
After months of deal-on/deal-off/"We are in negotiations with all major British broadcasters" shenanigans, DWTV finally appear to have struck a UK deal for CI5 – The New Professionals. And, quelle surprise, they've gone back to Sky TV. Transmission is to start on Sunday 19th September at 8pm on the Sky One channel. At least that's the plan at the moment! Seriously, though, this time Sky were happy to confirm tx and I would doubt they would make the same mistake as last time – ie announcing a series before they'd even settled the deal!
What amazes me is that while a major terrestrial network like ITV thought the alleged asking price of seventy-five grand per episode was over-the-top, Sky obviously didn't! <VBG> But, to be honest, I can't see Sky paying that sort of money, either.
More info as I get it. Many thanks to Ward Hellewell of Cable Guide magazine!
Interesting piece on Sky News this evening. French film & TV giant Canal Plus are apparently interested in buying a large stake in Sky and there was an implication that Granada Group may be willing to sell theirs. If that's true then it may mean the disappearance of the Granada Plus channel (and the other dire ones Granada run). However given Canal Plus' vast archive of vintage TV this may mean a similar channel could replace it and, who knows, perhaps an end to hack-and-slash programming. (Interestingly a recent press article panned G- over their mishandling of The Avengers.) I dunno, this is just speculation (and hope!) at the mo. Thanks to Dave Rogers for the gen!
|15th July 1999||
Lewis Collins has won the lead role in an upcoming run of JB Priestley's 'Dangerous Corner' (Sounds like Lew needs to slow down in the old Capri!) with the Middle Ground Theatre Company. The play is to tour around various UK locations, as listed below.
Here's a quick summmary: Set in 1932, a group of friends and relatives gather for a dinner party where the chatter soon turns to themes including thefts, adultery, drugs, suicide and murder, leading to all sorts of murky revelations...
Fan Tony Buller very kindly sent me a copy of the fly poster and it is reproduced here by kind permission of director Michael Lunney and Lew's agent Susan James.
Here are the dates and venues but please confirm these with your theatre nearer the time.
For up-to-date info on your nearest theatre, check out What's On Stage.
Many thanks to DanaJeanne Norris, Sue Sandy and Lew's agent, Susan James, for info!