ACTION TV ONLINE ARTICLES
ARTICLES INDEX
WRITING DIE PROFIS
Author Werner Schmitz details his outstanding German language book on the action adventure series The Professionals

I open the book with a concise history of LWT and then move on to explain the "rogue cops" phenomenon of the 1970s, beginning with Dirty Harry and French Connection and relevant American TV shows. This leads into a detailed backgound chapter on British TV cops from Z Cars via The Sweeney to more recent programmes such as Cracker.

I then deal with Brian Clemens' previous TV work, the setting up of Mark 1 Productions, creating the series format and principal characters. Having covered casting problems and final decisions then offer detailed biographies of the three leads. A detailed look at the season one/Sidney Hayers era follows; then an equally detailed look at the first Menmuir/O'Hara season, explaining the changes established by the new team and describing all sorts of personnel decisions. An overview of the remaining three seasons is next before I explain how and why the series came to an end and why there were issues with repeats due to Martin Shaw's veto.

Chapter three explains camera, editing and narration techniques used in The Professionals as an action series. Chapter four focuses on the content and offers a historical background intro (real-life spies, social unrest, faltering economy etc.) before dealing with the presentation of police work, foreign nationals, women, terrorism and violence in the series.

The following chapters are about censorship (deleted scenes, "creative" dubbing) in Germany and audience reactions and critical receptions both in the UK and in Germany respectively. A brief "flashback" essay is next which sums up the previous chapters and poses the question, "Can we love The Professionals without feeling guilty?" The answer, of course, is yes ...

I then discuss all 57 episodes dedicating at least three pages to each episode (Operation Susie and No Stone get six, with respect to the censorship and why it is well executed). In addition to a detailed synopsis (which is supposed to give the reader an idea about logic, structure and quality of the story) I include a section about changes applied to the German version and a discussion of what the episode achieves and how it works. Occasionally the latter sections include comments by actors, writers and crew members. For example, Roger Tucker offers an extensive view on Mixed Doubles, we hear about Peter J. Hammond's Heroes experience and Michael Latimers memories of Killer With a Long Arm.

Complete cast and crew lists (including some uncredited parts) follow. After that the Who Dares Wins movie gets a similar treatment, including a detailed comment from the film's producer, Euan Lloyd.

Chapter nine picks up the threads from chapter two and starts with background information on The New Professionals: series set-up, casting decisions, "new millennium" stories. Although this is obviously walking on thin ice, an attempt is made to compare the "old" and the new series. A final statement from David Wickes rounds of this introduction. After that all thirteen episodes get the synopses and analyses treatment described above (minus a censorship section as there was virtually none).

An extensive "Who's Who" appendix lists filmographies of the leads, of prominent guest artists from Steve Alder to David Yip (screenshots from the series are inserted here to facilitate identification), of writers and more prominent crew members from Dennis Abey to Christopher Wicking (images are included depending on availability).
The book is illustrated with b/w photos throughout, several hundreds in total, and includes a 16-page colour section with stills, publicity shots and behind-the-scenes-photos from various season 1, 2 and 3 episodes, courtesy of Rex Features.

Visit Werner's Mediagems website to contact the author.