Last updated : 26th January 2002
This doesn't really follow more "traditional" FAQs in that it excludes most of the "basic" questions (eg "How many episodes were there?") – the answers to which are already covered in other pages on the site. What I hope this page will achieve is to clarify the situation regarding some of the more complex yet important areas of the show. Although I think I've covered most of the relevant topics here, doubtless more will occur to me as time goes by. If there are any additional questions that you feel would be useful here, please e-mail me!
Q: Who exactly is Avengers Mark 1 Productions and how are they related to London Weekend Televsion?
A: Avengers Mark 1 Productions (more usually referred to simply as "Mark 1") was an independant company set up and run by Brian Clemens, Albert Fennell and Laurie Johnson, three highly-respected figures in British film and television. They had collaborated on the Diana Rigg and Linda Thorson Avengers episodes in the 1960’s (indeed Brian's Avengers connections go right back to the very first episode starring Ian Hendry) where Brian and Albert acted as producers. From 1973 to 1976 the three collaborated on Thriller, a successful horror anthology series for ITV. When the opportunity to relaunch The Avengers came about in late 1975, they formed Avengers (Film & TV) Enterprises Ltd – Britain’s first truly independent television production company – in order to produce The New Avengers after no British broadcaster was prepared to fund the series. When that series came to an end, Brian decided he wanted to move completely away from that style of show and suggested the idea of The Professionals to one of ITV's reginal companies, London Weekend Television, which was looking for something to rival Thames Television’s tough, violent Sweeney. They liked Brian’s idea and commissioned his company to make it on their behalf. At the time The New Avengers still had the last few episodes to complete (in France and Canada) so Brian formed a new company, Avengers Mark 1 Productions to handle The Professionals. The two companies were essentially one and the same. Mark 1 then produced the Professionals episodes and LWT “vetted” and bought them to sell on to the rest of the ITV network and, ultimately, overseas. Mark 1 was voluntarily wound down after The Professionals finished in 1981, although still exists "on paper" when it comes to negotiating rights. There is no direct relationship between LWT and Mark 1.
Q: So who actually owns the show?
A: The answer is more complex than might be expected! Effectively it is co-owned by Mark 1 and LWT. When it comes to television transmission (either satellite/cable or terrestrial) of the episodes in any country, LWT are the people to deal with. Any merchandise that one wishes to market (eg posters, T-shirts, etc) must also be negotiated for with LWT. Mark 1, on the other hand, own the video and DVD rights to the series. Recently there has been confusion over who owns the vast library of still pictures that were taken on-set. LWT claimed them but, in fact, Mark 1 do. All this makes things slightly complicated when it comes to merchandise: although LWT own the merchandising rights, any images that are taken from the library and used on the merchandise must be cleared through Mark 1, too! Confused?!
Q: Various transmissions and video releases of first season episodes have different title sequences and music – what's going on?!
A: Well to tell the truth, I'm not completely sure about this myself and the question in itself generates even more questions! It would be no good asking Brian Clemens or Laurie Johnson for definitive answers as neither of them would remember! This is going to get quite heavy-going so pay attention!
When Mark 1 put together the first season, they created the "assault course" title sequence and this was used on all thirteen episodes when originally transmitted in 1977/78. However when discussing the music, things already become a little unclear. As well as the "Anarchy, acts of terror..." voiceover by Gordon, there are two versions of the actual music. If you listen to a voiceover version, you'll hear that the initial "chime" is more hard-hitting and the entire theme is more bass-heavy. Also some of the funky violin stabs are absent and the hi-hat percussion is less prominent in the mix. On recent TV transmissions and video releases this version of the music has always been accompanied by the voiceover. Significantly this first version of the theme never appears in isolation. And the voiceover never appears with the second, more familiar version of the music. In other words the voiceover seems to be endemic to the first version of the theme.
Now the next question is just how many first season episodes featured the first theme & voiceover combination when first transmitted? Well a couple of folks told me that they are pretty sure they all did. Yet Video Gems released versions of 'Female Factor' and 'Klansmen' that, although retaining the assault course titles, had the second version of the theme. Well it's possible that somebody, probably in the late 1970s, made up such prints (audio and visual tracks can be mixed and matched very easily) – perhaps for overseas sales (the London landscape shot on the end titles of these two prints may be deemed as a bit of a flag-flying for jolly old England!). Either way I won't be sure until I've been able to scrutinise some more prints down at Pinewood!
The more familiar "car smash" sequence was certainly not created until the second season started filming. You can ascertain this by the fact that it features Cowley's red Ford Granada, which didn't appear until then. The reason that it appears on reruns of the first season is that LWT subsequently chose to replace the "assault course" sequence on their own copies of first season prints (which, personally, I think they should have left alone!). Most video releases – including all of Contender's – have been taken from LWT's prints, rather than Mark 1's – probably because the former are in better condition! As far as the actual music goes, all episodes from the second season onwards would have the second version (and, of course, no voiceover). Intriguingly, however, it has recently come to light that LWT have different versions of some episodes, as the copies of 'Private Madness, Public Danger' and 'Female Factor' as issued by Granada Plus and Contender have the car smash opening yet the first theme/voiceover combo. And, even more surprisingly, one of their versions of 'When the Heat Cools Off' is the other way around – ie assault course titles with the second theme!?!?
OK, below is a quick summary of how the episodes looked and sounded on their original UK transmissions. As I have explained, anomalies in this have come about in subsequent years due to studio techies messing about with them!
The assault course titles only appeared on the first season episodes and, it is believed, all thirteen featured the first version of the theme along with the voiceover. (The first version and voiceover seem inseparable.)
The car smash sequence accompanied all episodes from the second season onwards and all had the second version of the theme.
Q: What is Martin Shaw's problem?
A: Only Martin himself could answer this! Basically it is well-known that he was not at all happy with the show. Fan reports of on-location shoots claim that he was often quite bad-tempered and/or rude to people. In interviews over the last twenty years, however, he has given the impression that he enjoyed working with the other actors.
To be fair, one can understand why both Martin and Lewis grew progressively dissatisfied with the programme from 1980 – the "hardware before humans" policy that started to emerge would make any actor feel underused.
Q: So why did Martin take the role?
A: In his own words: "There was nothing else on offer at the time." (from an interview in The Daily Telegraph, 1992)
Q: Why did Martin stay with the series?
A: He had no choice! Once having signed for the series (which he didn’t expect to last more than two seasons!) he was contractually bound for four years. Brian Clemens has stated that he would have been happy to let Martin go had LWT allowed him to. However the series had become such a runaway success by the end of the second season – partly due to Martin himself, ironically – that LWT were understandably afraid to let any of the leads leave.
Q: How and why did Martin stop repeats?
A: Contractual stipulations on the show decreed that the actors and crew would receive a pre-agreed payment whenever an episode was repeated on the ITV network up to five years after its original transmission. After five years LWT was required to renegotiate repeat fees with cast and crew. In 1988, which was five years after the original transmission of the show's final season, Martin was apparently dissatisfied with LWT’s new offer and refused to sign the required paperwork which would have allowed further reruns. LWT tried to pressure Martin into signing, the issue eventually ending up in the law courts in April 1988. Martin claims that Lewis and Gordon were also unhappy with the offer but were not prepared to say so publicly. Lewis has neither confirmed or denied this, though in recent TV interviews made it quite clear he was not happy about Martin's actions.
Q: Why does the repeats situation only affect the UK?
A: Contracts for the actors and crwe only covered repeats for the ITV network in the UK, which was the show's "primary audience". When the show started, it was not realised just how succesful it would be in other countries. Nevertheless any country requesting a repeat run still has to negotiate with LWT.
Q: How come we can see the series on satellite in the UK?
A: Again this is down to the original contracts for the actors and crew in that any negotiation over repeat fees is only applicable to the UK's ITV network.
Q: Will the series ever appear again on terrestrial TV in the UK?
A: This is unlikely given the popularity of satellite TV in the UK and the fact that the show is regularly screened on these stations anyway. However should ITV wish to screen the show on a terrestrial channel, it mainly depends on the Shaw situation and there is confusion over this at the moment: Mark 1 say Martin has finally signed the necessary documents to allow repeats to go ahead but his agent denies this. I would tend to think Mark 1 will be correct. Lewis Collins and Gordon’s widow, Rona, would also have to sign their approval but I doubt this would be a problem.
Q: Didn't LWT say they were planning to rerun the series?
A: Yes but LWT now refuse to comment, so it looks as though the deal fell through.
Q: How come the series can be issued on video and DVD?
A: Thankfully Martin gave the go-ahead for this. Now this would appear to uphold his claim that the repeats dispute was over money, rather than simply not wanting the show to be screened.
Q: Are the videos available in countries other than the UK?
A: Officially, no. Contender Video only have rights to distribute vids in the UK. However there is nothing to stop folk overseas from importing them but you have to bear in mind that the vids are only available in PAL format. Although this is fine for many countries around the world, France uses a non-compatible system called SECAM and America & Canada use the proprietry NTSC system. If your country does not use the PAL broadcast format, you will need to purchase some form of converter or look for a VCR which has one built-in.
As to official overseas availabillty, there's nothing to stop a video company in another country from negotiating with Mark 1 for the rights.
Q: Contender are issuing the episodes in a very random order – why is this?
A: Quite a few of you are unhappy with the order in which the episodes are being released. Well I'm afraid you've got me to blame for that! I'll try to explain the "strategy":
Richard Bridgwood at Contender and I felt it was paramount to include at least one really good episode on each cassette as we not only want the existing fans to buy them but hopefully attract and retain a new audience too.
We also felt it important that each tape should have at least one previously unreleased episode – this hadn't always been the case with the early Contender tapes and some folks had complained about it to me. This was always going to be difficult as Video Gems had released all the first season, most of the second and many third, fourth & fifth seasoners. In fact it could be argued that VG had released most of what fans would consider to be the best of the 57 episodes.
To complicate matters further, however, as we approached the release of the weaker fourth season we recognised that we could well have ended up with a few cassettes that had no outstanding episodes at all! That would not have been good for sales! (And obviously sales figures are what keep the series a financially viable proposition for continued video release).
So I tried to work out a "plan" that satisfied all the above criteria. As I realised that the "order" was going to be messy anyway, I felt it might be nice to have a sample of each of the final seasons on each cassette. Some of you aren't too enamoured with this idea, citing the changing hairstyles and cars betwen episodes rather distracting. Fair comment!
Whatever – it was never going to be possible to find an "ideal" release order that would satisfy both the long-time fans AND commercial requirements.
When it comes to DVD, obviously all episodes have never been previously issued in that format and a quick glance down the Production Order list indicates that nearly all discs would include at least one outstanding episode, so I would expect we can issue the episodes in their "proper" order! :-)
Q: Can we have the title theme on the website? Or video clips?
A: Unfortunately not. I intended make the theme available in RealAudio format but the Performing Rights Society demanded an awful lot of money to use just 30 seconds of the track!
As to video clips, well these take up a huge amount of webspace and take an age to download. Sorry!
Q: How does CI5 – The New Professionals relate to the original series?
A: The new series was NOT produced by Mark 1 (nor, for that matter, any TV broadcaster.) but by David Wickes Television, an independent company who negotiated with Mark 1 to use the Professionals name and concept. Although Brian Clemens was involved in writing and script editing on the new show, he ultimately had no control over it whatsoever. Although he and Laurie Johnson received "Executive Producer" credits, this is felt to be little more than a way of attaching a credible "name" to the programme. The show is wholly owned by DWTV.
Q: Will there be a second season of The New Professionals?
A: This is purely my own (and many fans') opinion but the chances of a second CI5 season seem highly unlikely. Lack of sales to the US and UK haven't helped and the show hasn't done as well as hoped for in other countries – though poor scheduling by some broadcasters crippled the series somewhat, too. At the time of writing I am not aware that any of the actors have been approached to consider further episodes.
Q: Is it true there is to be a Professionals movie?
A: Brian and Laurie are certainly hoping they can get a movie off the ground, which will be made in conjunction with a major film production company.
Q: Will either Martin or Lewis star in the movie?
A: No casting decisions have yet been made and although it may retain the character names of Cowley, Doyle and Bodie and will return to a format that is similar to the original TV series, the movie is highly unlikely to star either MS or LC.
Q: Will the videos and DVDs play in my country?
A: See separate page: International Issues.