Tag Archives: Martin Shaw

Joy of Sets: The Professionals Mk1

pla prosI will be honest with you. I adore the Professionals and have done since I was a child with (what felt like) a life-size poster of Bodie and Doyle on my bedroom wall. When I heard about the remastering of the show for DVD and Blu-Ray, you could probably have heard the squeeing from space. But, be warned, I watch this show with my slash goggles on – they allow me to overlook the political incorrectness, sexism and ludicrous moments like Cowley calling for a “helicopter and the nuclear bomb squad” or Bodie and Doyle defusing an atom bomb in a bowling alley (Stake Out) and focus on the alchemical gold of Bodie and Doyle.

For those who prefer a, ahem, straighter reading of the text, this is what you need to know. The lads have never looked better. Watching the repeats on ITV4 is genuinely like peering back through 30-odd years of grime. I’m not sure the show looked this good even when it was first aired… Network has done an incredible clean-up job. And the shiny new boxed set comes with lots of gorgeous extras, including exhaustive production notes (a 180-page paperback filled with everything you could ever want to know about the making of the first series. My only complaint is the tiny font they’ve used – good for the trees, bad for my eyes), Without Walls – the 1996 Channel 4 documentary about the show (which left me wanting to give creator Brian Clemens a slap, to be honest), a couple of bits of unused footage, and a massive gallery of photos, many of which haven’t been seen before, and covering the first few days’ shooting with Anthony Andrews as Bodie (on Old Dog With New Tricks).

pla punchbagOh and Network has put the episodes back together with the original, unintentionally hilarious, title sequences. I was too young to see the first couple of series, so for me Laurie Johnson’s iconic theme tune has always conjured the image of a car smashing through a window, Martin Shaw looking like he’s about to chop down a particularly nefarious tree and Lewis Collins ferociously working out in the gym. The sight of Shaw and Collins vigorously throwing themselves at random targets in the original titles is one that makes me smile and wince in equal measure. (We also get the original closing titles, worth checking for the sheer lack of traffic on the roads of London back then.)

If you’ve spent the last 35 years or so ignoring Bodie grabbing Doyle’s arse, Doyle touching up Bodie, or the pair of them making eyes at each other and flirting, and would like to continue watching from a heteronormative perspective – now’s the time to jump ship (if you’ll pardon the pun) on this review. Those who ship (or at least don’t mind if others ship) Bodie and Doyle, come with me below the line…

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Zen: Bittersweet like dark chocolate

Oh parting is indeed such sorrow… I can only hope that we’re saying au revoir rather than farewell to Zen.

This third episode, Ratking, was a tapestry of different emotions – suspense, creepiness, regret, melancholy, lust, cheekiness and that special blend of suavity and nonchalence that Rufus Sewell does so well.

Ratking employs the now familiar formula – bad thing happens, man from the Ministry puts Zen on the case, lots of different people hope for different outcomes, Zen and Tania tease us with a little bare flesh, Zen cracks the case and uses his success as a lever to make his world a slightly happier place.

This week’s second bad thing is the shooting of a lawyer (insert your own cheap joke here) – who was on his way to drop off a five million Euro ransom for his kidnapped employer (an industrialist whose money greases party wheels – and first bad thing obviously). Apparently it’s illegal to pay ransoms in Italy – who knew? – but getting murdered for your trouble does seem a little harsh.

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Lustbox: Martin Shaw

Ever the Professional…

shawHe’s a good actor, still handsome and with a voice every bit as gorgeous as it ever was. But back in the day, Martin Shaw was sex in socks. I remember him with fond and frank lust as Ray Doyle in The Professionals.

Ok, this lust is a bit retrospective, since at the time I did prefer the dark sardonic charms of Lewis Collins, but there was something lovely and a bit sensitive even about Doyle. His eyes had a cat-like quality, and his grin was pure filth.

profAnd I feel we have to forgive the shaggy perm since the man had such a mighty fine arse in jeans. The Professionals was the British response to Starsky and Hutch, and do you know what, it was pretty darn good. Or at least, the boys were just as pretty. And Gordon Jackson had a marvellous air of unwavering Scottish authority.

And there’s a story behind Shaw’s slightly odd cheekbones too. He no longer drinks alcohol, but that wasn’t always the case, and one major brawl decades ago led to his face requiring major reconstruction work.

These days Martin Shaw is a reliable and reassuring screen presence. Known off screen for being a vegetarian and animal rights supporter, he is apparently drawn to parts that give him rank, viz: Detective Adam Dalgliesh, Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently. Actually, he’s done lots of excellent theatre work in his career, as well as early work as Doctor in the House and a Corrie regular (as hippy Robert Croft).

But it is Doyle that still makes me sigh, and perhaps even drool a little, in happy recollection.

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