Sporting Rusters often advocate the seventies as the Golden Age of sports commentary so here I make the claim that it was equally a peerless epoch for tv serial dramas. I chanced upon The Professionals rather by fluke a few months ago. Now it’s a rare day when I do not watch one episode on ITV 4. It could be dismissed as mere action sequences and too violent and sexist, but I’m beginning to see more subtle leitmotives. Gordon Jackson head of C15, a sort of Special Branch, SAS and M15, was already a popular actor as Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs, a clear forerunner of Downton Abbey and class plays its role in The Professionals. In one episode I viewed there is a stake out when 3 cockney villains take over a country house owned by a posh family whose 2 daughters Bodey and Doyle are dating. The interaction between the social groups reminded me of that superb film The Petrified Forest that started Humphrey Bogart’s long and distinguished film career.
I spoke to an actress friend of mine who acted in one episode. She said that Lewis Collins was an oppressive womaniser in real life. Martin Shaw, who plays Doyle, is still acting in his seventies both on stage in 12 Angry Men and Judge Dredd.
Yesterday I paid homage to an even more successful series of this time, Minder. Another friend of mine, something of a social historian, observed that its appeal was essentially middle class. Such a viewer would like to drink in the Winchester. Just as George Cowley, whilst of the establishment is not backward in criticism of it, I would say some of the values of Minder are equally subversive. The wonderful loveable rogue Arthur Daley and Terry enjoy nothing more than riling the officious copper Chisholm. Aside from the characterisation I was impressed how crisp and funny the dialogue was, not dated at all.
It’s rather a sad reflection that whilst there are now programmes on ITV4 I could happily watch daily I can find nothing on any channel amongst the bake-offs, reality shows and talent contests that I want to view now let alone in the future nostalgically and approvingly.