The Professionals Mk III on Blu-ray

Monday, 27 April 2015 23:00 Written by 

The Professionals - the third production block of episodes out on Blu-rayCI5. The Professionals. Here we have the latest instalment in the overhaul of episodes, bringing a sheen and quality which cannot be ignored. Lewis Collins (abrasive Bodie), Martin Shaw (cultured Doyle), and Gordon Jackson (boss Cowley) are the stars, and this set contains 13 more of the 57 episodes. Once again, the stories are all forensically restored from the original negatives. It has been said many times before about these releases from Network, but you could put these prints on in primetime right now, and the audience would never know they were watching something from the cusp between the 1970s and 1980s.

Many armchair pundits suggest that there is some sort of subsiding variation in the quality of these episodes from earlier stories. Most viewers will probably be dumbstruck at this conclusion, as there are plenty of attempts here to play with the conventions of the format established for the show. Characterisations are put into place to make our trio of stars more human, and there are plenty of moral dilemmas for the actors to pull at in their performances.

We exhaustively covered the reasoning behind the various ‘seasons’/’series’ of The Professionals being released by Network in terms of shooting blocks instead (see our The Professionals Mk II review for the details – and check out the Mark 1 website for even more in-depth information).  To recap the relevant bits for this Mk III release, this block commenced filming on 23 April 1979, following the finishing of three outstanding Season Two stories, “Backtrack”, “The Madness of Mickey Hamilton” and “Servant of Two Masters”. A Lewis Collins parachute accident, unconnected to the series happened on 5 November 1978, which meant this trio of stories had their completion delayed until 12 March 1979. They were eventually shown as part of the ‘third season’ between October and December 1979 in the UK.

Episodes from different filming blocks being shown together continued again here, as the run was again planned to be thirteen episodes. Five episodes were shown in 1979, while the stories “The Acorn Syndrome”, “Fugitive”, “Involvement”, “Need to Know”, “Takeaway”, “Slush Fund”, “Mixed Doubles” and “Weekend in the Country” were put off until the fourth ‘season’, shown between September and December 1980.

As usual, the guest stars range from those who were well-established (James Laurenson, William Russell, Ed Devereaux, James Cosmo, Barbara Kellerman, Ian McCulloch, Bill Treacher, Sue Nicholls, Brian Croucher, Patricia Hodge, Simon Oates, Lynda Bellingham and W Morgan Sheppard – at this point in his career without the ‘W’) , to those near the beginning of their careers (Michael Kitchen, Carol Royle, Nickolas Grace, Gary Shail and Richard LeParmentier – at this point without the ‘Le’). Watch out, too, for a cameo from iconic newsreader Gordon Honeycombe.

To confirm what you can expect from the priceless set:

  • Brand-new, High Definition restorations of all 13 episodes from the camera-original negatives and presented on the set in their original production order;
  • Brand-new 5.1 tracks from original sound elements;
  • Remastered original as-broadcast mono tracks;
  • Remastered music-only tracks featuring Laurie Johnson's original scores;
  • HD photo galleries featuring hundreds of rare and previously unseen images;
  • PDF material featuring scripts and memorabilia;
  • English Hard-Of-Hearing subtitles; and
  • An exclusive book of programme notes authored by TV historian Andrew Pixley, and documents the complete production history for the 13 episodes in series three.

All in all, we are able to watch these episodes in the 21st Century without having any quality issues to distract us. This isn’t footage filmed on video, processed to make it look like it was shot on film.  This is the ‘real McCoy’ – not quite as rich and vibrant as 35mm film would have been, but unless you really have a fine-tuned eye it’s difficult to make out that the source was 16mm negatives.

Some cultural studies student or other will show disdain for the dated values, ‘overt sexism’ no doubt. But this isn’t a contemporary piece any more, it’s a period drama, and that period is the late 1970s and early 1980s. James Bond’s ‘M’ from the most recent blockbuster incarnation will call Bodie and Doyle “misogynist dinosaurs”, but they’re lovable with it. The pace is incessant, meaning today’s jump-cut expectations are well met by these joys from the archives.

I can’t wait for the next release of episodes that will be MkIV, which will contain the 13 episodes from the fourth production block, and the five from the final fifth. And that inability to be patient tells you all you need to know about what a treat these Blu-ray sets are!

The Professionals MkIII is out now on Blu-ray from Network releasing. The four disc set has a ‘12’ certificate, a running time of 650 minutes approx, and has a RRP of £39.99 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com

 

The Professionals – Mk III Filming Block

Executive producers: Albert Fennell, Brian Clemens

Music composed by Laurie Johnson

Producer: Raymond Menmuir

Associate Producer: Chris Burt

Script Editor: Chris Menaul (3.1-3.3), Gerry O’Hara (3.4-3.13)

 

3.1 “Stopover

Meredith, a former colleague of Cowley’s, knows the name of a high-ranking double agent. He will reveal the traitor in return for his life being protected.

Guest starring: James Laurenson (Meredith), Michael Gothard (Kodai), Morris Perry (Radouk), Peter Cartwright (Sir Peter Pelham), W Morgan Sheppard (Malenski), Paul Dawkins (Tramp), Frank Jarvis (Dale), Alex Linstead (Doctor), Jacob Witkin (Captain), Robert Booth (Stevens), Godfrey Jackman (Customs Official).

Writer: John Goldsmith

Director: William Brayne

Original ITV Transmission: 10 November 1979

 

3.2 “Runner

In the gangland underworld, an extreme sect is trying to start up a previous street war again. Has the leader of the agitators something else as a goal?

Guest starring: Michael Kitchen (Duffy), Barbara Kellerman (Sylvie), Ed Devereaux (Albie), James Cosmo (Glover), Sean Caffrey (Ted), Billy Murray (Morgan), Valerie Holliman (Alice), Keith Marsh (Old Man), Forbes Collins (Harry), Denis Bond (Davis), Robyn Gurney (Girl in Betting Shop), Debbie Linden (Bodie’s Girl), Samantha Bransden (Young Houswife), Jeh Welcome (Ted’s Girl), Barbara Allen (Albie’s Girl).

Writer: Michael Feeney Callan

Director: Martin Campbell

Original ITV Transmission: 8 December 1979

 

3.3 “A Hiding to Nothing

Palestinian extremists plan to take out politician Kemel Khadi, when they discover he is scheduled to be in London for secret diplomatic talks. Bodie and Doyle must uncover a mole while dealing with Khadi's less-than-professional security team.

Guest starring: Sylvia Kay (Frances Cottingham), Lise Hilboldt (Shelley), Nadim Sawalha (Doad), Christopher Reich (Luis), Gerald Sim (Col Masterson), Phillada Sewell (Mrs Cottingham), Adam Hussein (Hassam Alousha), Yvonne D’alpra (Mrs Walker), Nicholas Amer (Khadi), Leticia Garrido (Pilar Hernandez), Frederick Warner (Smith).

Writer: Ted Childs

Director: Gerry O’Hara

Original ITV Transmission: 1 December 1979

 

3.4 “Dead Reckoning

Spy’s Stefan Bartak’s extradition to Britain is supposed to be a secret, but his movements look like they are being made public by the Bulgarian officials who have delivered him. When the man is murdered, suspicions fall on his daughter as the killer.

Guest Starring: Derek Godfrey (Stefan Bartak I), Carol Royle (Anna Bartak), Alan Tilvern (Stefan Bartak II), Milos Kirek (Paul), Michael Hadley (Michael), Sally Harrison (Chauffeuse), Gabor Vernon (Vashunin), Jeffrey Chiswick (Bulgarian Officer), Walter McMonagle (Reporter), Jane Sumner (Bride).

Writer: Philip Loraine

Director: Denis Lewiston

Original ITV Transmission: 17 December 1979

 

3.5 “Mixed Doubles

Bodie and Doyle undergo special training fronted by Macklin to prepare them for protection duties for an at-risk foreign diplomat. Meanwhile, similar training to prepare them is being received by a couple of chancers out to assassinate him!

Guest Starring: Michael Coles (Rio), Ian McCulloch (Macklin), David Beames (Coney), Nickolas Grace (Joe), Paul Herzberg (Serpoy), Bill McGuirk (Callard), Lesley Daine (Barmaid), Mark Wingett (Big Punk), Lindsay Campbell (Diplomat), Walter Randall (President Parsali), Ena Cabayo (Chambermaid), John Barrard (Scruffy Man), Clifford Earl (Plain Clothes Sgt), Charles Cork (Security Guy).

Writer: Brian Clemens

Director: Roger Tucker

Original ITV Transmission: 7 December 1980

 

3.6 “Need to Know

A former associate of Cowley's is taken into custody for being a double agent. The mud thrown begins to implicate the head of CI5, with the suspicion of him being similarly compromised.

Guest Starring: Patrick O’Connell (Manton), Norman Jones (Drake), Karin McCarthy (Ryan), Niall Buggy (Gorky), Simon Oates (Tully), Richard Parmentier (Ivan), David King (Ambassador), Tom Georgeson (Pymar), Bernard Gallagher (Minister), Chua Kahjoo (Choy), Yuri Borienko (Maroff), Anthony Chinn (Sikor), Kristopher Kum (Minder), Nigel Miles Thomas (1st Cop), Mike Kemp (2nd Cop).

Writer: Brian Clemens (from a story by Chris Menaul)

Director: William Brayne

Original ITV Transmission: 5 October 1980

 

3.7 “The Purging of C I 5

CI5 is under attack – Cowley is allowed to survive a bombing thanks to a 30 second phone warning, but it becomes clear he’s survived so all other agents can be picked off first.

Guest Starring: Simon Rouse (Phillips), Sally Harrison (Susan), Norman Gregory (Lake), Chris Fairbank (Billy), Ian Gelder (King), Paul Antony-Barber (Matheson), Ben Thomas (Williams), James Smith (Pennington), Leo Dolan (Murray), Peter Jolley (Parks), Bill Treacher (Dave), Martha Nairn (Wakeman), Terry York (Catrell), David Gretton (1st Doctor), Nalini Moonasar (2nd Doctor).

Writer: Stephen Lister

Director: Dennis Abey

Original ITV Transmission: 27 October 1979

 

3.8 “Fugitive

A CIA agent is murdered in the capital city. Bodie and Doyle look to set up a bogus arms deal with the hoods behind the crime. But the terrorists get wise to their scheme, and Bodie is put in the firing line.

Guest Starring: Michael Byrne (Werner), Vickery Turner (Karen), Brigitte Kahn (Christina), Andrew Seear (Heinrich), Conrad Asquith (Klaus), Paul Antrim (Slater), Eleanor Davis (Julie), Tony Sibbald (Silverstein), Jillian Mack (Receptionist), Christopher Asante (Quentin), Maureen Darbyshire (CI5 Girl), Ronald Alexander (1st CID Sniper), Malcolm Hughes (2nd CI5 Sniper), Pat Connell (3rd CI5 Sniper), Chris Hallam (Man At Door), Tania Rogers (Black Girl).

Writer: Gerry O’Hara (from a story by Anthony Read)

Director: Denis Lewiston

Original ITV Transmission: 21 September 1980

 

3.9 “The Acorn Syndrome

An engineer working for the UK Government has his daughter kidnapped. He is working on a crucial defence initiative, and is blackmailed to give up its secrets so his daughter might survive.

Guest Starring: Michael Craig (Guthrie), Ronald Hines (Copeland), Lynda Marchal (Viv Copeland), Ian Redford (Lucas), Alun Lewis (McCabe), Oona Kirsch (Sandy Copeland), Kate Dorning (Nancy), John Michael McCarthy (Insp Grainger), Nigel Humphreys (Joe), Stewart Harwood (Sam), Gennie Nevinson (Eva), Sean Chapman (Coleman), Alan Igbon (Angadi), Christopher Saul (Male Hostage), Jennifer Granville (Female Hostage), Becci Hunt (Child), John Joyce (Langton), Hilary Crane (Miss Kendall), Sue Nicholls (Mrs Forbes), Charles Pemberton (Styles), Patricia Marks (Landlady)

Writer: John Kruse

Director: Martin Campbell

Original ITV Transmission: 7 September 1980

 

3.10 “Slush Fund

A reporter is about to publish a book that is a damning indictment of a new fighter jet and its fatal limitations. European partners in the project are far from happy, so decide that ruthless action must be taken.

Guest Starring: Stuart Wilson (Van Neikerk), Matthew Long (Hope), David Swift (Sir Kenneth), Lynda Bellingham (Betty Hope), Jeremy Young (Geiser), Timothy Carlton (Seymour), Victoria Burgoyne (Kookie Girl), Raymond Brody (Hotel Receptionist), John Eastham (Barman), Len Howe (Hotel Porter), Mario Renzullo (First Youth), Ricky Wales (Second Youth), Chris Sullivan (Reporter), Simon Tasker (Boy on Bike).

Writer: Roger Marshall

Director: William Brayne

Original ITV Transmission: 2 November 1980

 

3.11 “Weekend in the Country

A weekend with girlfriends turns nasty for Bodie and Doyle when they get the unwelcome attentions of some villains. With seemingly no way to call for help, how will they raise the alarm from the cottage where they are held prisoner?

Guest Starring: Bryan Pringle (Case), Sarah Lawson (Mrs Shaw), Brian Croucher (Georgie), Louisa Rix (Judy), Ray Burdis (Vince), Jacqueline Reddin (Liz), Marcus D’Amico (Daniel), Brian Hawksley (Ben), Brian Coleman (Gold Partner), Gordon Honeycombe (Announcer), Sally Wooldridge (Sally), Barry Woolgar (Police Driver), Colin Rix (Duty Sergeant), Tim Meats (Inspector Cross), Peter Hill (Onlooker), Catherine Riding (Receptionist), Pat Gorman (Security Man).

Writer: Gerry O’Hara

Director: James Allen

Original ITV Transmission: 14 December 1980

 

3.12 “Take Away

Chinese citizens are being used as mules in a heroin smuggling operation. Bodie and Doyle go undercover, with the help of members of the Hong Kong Police, to infiltrate and break up the bad business.

Guest starring: Chai Lee (Esther), John Forgeham (D S Colin), James Marcus (D C Jack), Gary Shail (Jimmy), Phil Brown (Callahan), Sharon Duce (Annie), Pik Sen Lim (Chai Ling), Arnold Lee (Chi Sang), Fiesta Mei Ling (Siu Sang), George Little (Meyer), Andy Ho (Ngan Hung), Richard Rees (Johnny Chong), Ken Watson (Boss), Ann Coombs (Girl in Bed), Vincent Wong & Rex Wei (Kidnappers), Peta Barnard (Girl Companion), Jon Rumney (Diter Kroll), Gertan Klauber (Helmut Brenick), Dennis Matsuki (Cheng), Jason Forgeham & Jonesta Forgeham (Children).

Writer: Roger Marshall

Director: Douglas Camfield

Original ITV Transmission: 12 October 1980

 

3.13 “Involvement

Falling in love with a girl bumped into on a raid turns out not to be a good idea for Doyle. When he’s ordered to discover whether she’s involved in a drug smuggling ring or not, he has difficult choices to make.

Guest Starring: Patricia Hodge (Ann), William Russell (Charles Holly), Ray Ashcroft (Turner), Christopher Guard (Tony), Valentine Pringle (Buzz), Peter Holt (Marli), Peter Godfrey (Vicar), Kirstie Pooley (Secretary), Peter Burton (Conroy), Philip Anthony (Butler).

Writer: Brian Clemens

Director: Chris Burt

Original ITV Transmission: 28 September 1980

 

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 28 April 2015 18:31

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