CI5 Operational Control


Getting Tough Again


Cable Guide


November 1999


Jane Oddy

Getting Tough Again

If you hung around your TV set in the late Seventies you would almost certainly have picked up on the activities of CI5's leather-jacketed crimefighters Bodie and Doyle, nicking hardened criminals as they sped around in their silver Ford Capri.

But in the new Nineties remake of the Professionals there is not a medallion, flare or bubble perm in sight. The new recruits cut a dash in designer clothes and drive a gleaming Lotus Esprit, and the show has had an overhaul - backed by the series' original creator, Brian Clemens - complete with hi-tech gadgetry and exotic locations.

The producers have spared no expense with the multi-million pound 13 part series (currently screening on Sky One, Sundays at 8.00pm). The action moves from Cape Town, Washington DC and Toronto as CI5 wage war against international terrorism and organised crime.

Hunky Kal Weber is a mean, moody former US Navy fighter pilot, Chris Keel: while English actor Colin Wells plays smoothie sidekick Sam Curtis, a linguistics expert. And, in a tiny nod to political correctness that would horrify George Cowley, CI5 have a female recruit - agent Tina Backus, played by Lexa Doig, who knows everything there is to know about computers.

Wells was a huge fan of the original: "Being an action hero is every schoolboy's fantasy. It's testosterone gone wild," he enthuses. A Londoner, he worked in a bank before quitting to become an actor and went to drama school to lose his Cockney accent: "I may sound posh in The New Professionals but it's not my real voice."

Married to actress Joanna Macleod, with a young daughter, Rachael, Wells was picking up his dole money when he heard that he'd got the part of Sam Curtis. "It was the best present I could have had."

Canadian born co-star Kal Weber is a real life action man who rides a powerful Ducati motorbike and loves surfing, skiing and climbing. His character, Keel, "comes from a wealthy American background and there is a heart-breaking secret in his past. That's why he's chosen this dark and dangerous path."

The 29 year old, who is single, fought to do his own stunts in the show - one of his favourite scenes was driving the Lotus Esprit at top speed while chasing a plane. He also enjoyed taking on his character's gung-ho attitude. "We were taught how to use Uzi machine guns and basic SAS gun-handling techniques."

The two actors became firm friends during filming and they are equally close to Lexa, who enjoys a brotherly relationship with Weber and Wells, both on and off screen. Tina can crack any code, but half-Canadian and half-Filipino Lexa laughs as she admits that she asked her computer programmer brother Ted to explain her script. "Whenever I had any questions I would ring him long distance from London and ask what I was saying! It sounded like double Dutch."

Veteran actor Edward Woodward plays Harry Malone, CI5 Commander and successor to the abrasive George Cowley. The 69 year old Woodward, who has had two heart attacks and a life-saving triple bypass operation, found himself hanging out of a helicopter during filming in South Africa and admits it was the most terrifying moment in his life. "We were ducking a diving hundreds of feet above the ground and I was half out of the chopper. I was scared out of my wits. I'm not an action man at all."

He says of his character, "Harry's a bit of a bully and a show-off, but he's very protective of the agents and fusses over them like an old mother hen. He's very fond of them - but of course he'd never show it."

He never saw the original series and has not seen any of the new episodes. "I'm always appalled by what I see and apparently Gordon Jackson was the same, which is an interesting coincidence."

He adds the his wife, actress Michele Dotrice, and his children are watching it avidly. "They tell me it's marvellous, but I probably won't see it until it's repeated!"

(1999 (c) Telewest Communications Cable Guide)

Motion Footage
Stills Footage
Colin Wells
Kal Weber
Songvids by Phoenix
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