Dressed to Kill
Professionals, the naffly-dressed 1970s
crime-fighters, are set to return. Except
now they've swapped leather blousons for
designer suits and bubble perms for hair
gel. ROHAN DAFT reports
wouldn't have liked this one bit. It would
have confused him: Hugo Boss on his back,
Quorn burgers in the fridge and a bathroom
cabinet fit to bust with Jurlique's all-natural
unguents for men.
going on, Ray?" you can hear him blurt,
alas, this is 1998, not 1978. The original
Professionals - Lewis Collins' Bodie and
his partner Martin Shaw's famously bubble-permed
Ray Doyle - are now, in essence as much
as name, history.
new series, called CI5 - The Professionals,
is currently in production at Teddington
Studios and will be screened in October.
Bodie and Doyle have been replaced by
Messrs Curtis and Keel, who, decked out
in their smart new gear and with a new-found
passion for consumer durables, epitomise
the 1990s Maxim reading male.
time around, they will be joined by a
cute girl agent called Tina Backus - a
small nod to political correctness, even
if she does spend most of her time in
there's Edward Woodward in the role of
Declan Malone, a former CIA agent who
has "risked his life in all four corners
of the globe". Woodward replaces the hard-bitten
controller previously played by the late
the dowdy beige shades of the 1970s: some
serious product placement has gone into
these stylised new professionals, and,
to a large degree, the programme's success
hinges on it.
not just a case of making the boys look
good," says Christopher Marlowe, costume
designer on the series. "There has to
be a vague notion of character. Keel (first
name Chris, and played by the 28-year-old
Canadian-born Kal Weber) comes from a
moneyed, grand, American background, so
his style is low key. We've kept it very
simple by kitting him out in lots of black,
navy-blue and brown. He wears V-neck T-shirts
and plain shirts. But Keel isn't self
conscious about his clothes; they are
strewn all over his flat."
to be found in Keel's flat are the aforementioned
Jurlique toiletries and Quorn burgers
as well as Holsten Pils, draught Guinness
and copies of glossy magazines such as
GQ and FHM. Yes, he's a new lad. Look
outside, and you'll spot his brand spanking
it is the Lotus-driving Curtis (first
name Sam, and played by 34-year-old Colin
Wells) who is the keener follower of fashion.
"Curtis wears more colour and a more stylised
look," explains Marlowe.
this end, Hugo Boss was approached to
kit out Curtis, and the sleek high street-chain
Jigsaw to do the same for Keel. "It was
felt that Hugo Boss was right for Curtis's
character," continues Marlowe. "Curtis
has come from a poor background and has
worked his way up. He's concerned with
style. He's sartorial and elegant, but
macho, too. Boss uses blood reds and very
vivid blues; the clothes cut a dash without
being foppish." Just the job for watching
West Ham at Upton Park, where Curtis has
a season ticket.
(played by 26-year-old Lexa Doig, another
Canadian) wears a sassy combination of
Red or Dead, Agnes b, Whistles and DKNY.
And, like the boys, she wears a Hugo Boss
of this, of course, is a very long way
from Bodie and Doyle's passion for blousons
and jeans. Wardrobes were rather smaller
and, one would hazard, a little more hurriedly
assembled in 1977, when the first series
was aired. Fans will know that Bodie was
a polo-neck man, while Doyle wore his
favourite jeans, faded-blue flares with
a bizarre 1 1/2 in turn-up, in virtually
every episode. Sadly, there is no longer
room in a Professional's wardrobe for
jeans. Moreover, while the old Professionals
seldom ventured further afield than red
brick Victorian country houses in places
such as Chalfont St Peter to ice the bad
guys, the new lot go as far as Cape Town
and Toronto; and the action along the
way is altogether more high-budget, encompassing
much more than the heady, screeching handbrake
turns in a Capri and fisticuffs of old.
going to see locomotives driving through
walls," says an excited David Wickes,
the series producer, who also directed
a number of the original Professionals.
"You're going to see helicopter dogfights.
You're going to see underwater stuff.
You're going to see elephant hunts. You're
going to see vast explosions."
is not to say the new series won't appeal
to the original fans. Brian Clemens, the
original series creator, is writing most
of the new scripts. A promotional video
for the new Professionals features the
superbly-thrusting original theme music,
a time-honoured scene of a man being
thrown off the bonnet of a car (not, I'm
afraid to say, a Capri), and Woodward's
Malone soberly announcing: "He assassinated
a whole family when the man he was really
after was living in the next street."
latter is just the sort of behaviour that
used to make Bodie and Doyle very angry.
We can only hope Curtis and Keel feel
as passionate about getting the bad guys
as they do about shopping.
Times Newspapers Ltd, 1998.
SUNDAY TIMES 29/03/98