I was saddened yesterday to hear of the passing of the actor Lewis Collins, after a long fight with cancer. Like many British males of my generation I was addicted to the show 'The Professionals', in which Lewis played hard-man secret service agent 'Bodie'. As a 13-14 year old, he & co-star Martin Shaw portrayed characters who (to our teenage minds) represented all we could ever want to be. Hard-drinking, fast-car-driving, quick with their fists & even quicker with a one-liner. They would tear into action with a squeal of Ford Capri tyres, foil the bad guys (who, ironically, were generally the type of enemy that the western world really is facing today) with a good old fashioned right hook or a kick to the bollocks (non of that 'chop-socky' kung fu/ninjitsu business that every action hero seems to know these days)on a weekly basis, then retire to the pub to 'pull birds' over a pint or a whiskey. Yes it was the 70's, yes it was a different time, & yes, no doubt to modern eyes it would all look a bit twee, but we loved it, & the fact that Lewis Collins is now no more will be a genuine sadness for the show's fans.
Of course he went on to play other roles, though not as many as his Martin Shaw who managed to shrug off the tough guy typcasting, but he missed out on the one role for which he was surely born, James Bond. I understand he was considered for the part, but the producers in the early 80's felt he was too brutal, ironic considering the brutality of the current Daniel Craig movies.
He starred in the 1982 SAS action flick 'Who Dares Wins', & subsequently tried out for the real SAS reserve, but despite passing the entrance tests he was considered too well known for the regiments somewhat clandestine nature.
For those too young to know who Lewis Collins was, or to remember the Professionals, take a look on YouTube or one of the many TV channels that re-run old 70's cop shows, cos you're in for a treat.
Lewis Collins: 26 May 1946 – 27 November 2013