Professionals actor dies at 67 after battle with cancer

Lewis Collins

Lewis Collins

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The Professionals star Lewis Collins, who was born on Merseyside, has died aged 67, his agent said.

The actor, who played Bodie in the crime drama alongside co-star Martin Shaw, died in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a five-year struggle with cancer.

His agent said: “He died peacefully at his LA home surrounded by his family. Privacy is asked for at this very sad time.”

The Professionals, which made stars of Collins and Shaw, was based around the adventures of a fictional crime fighting unit called CI5.

Its memorable theme tune and action-packed plots made it a huge hit on ITV in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Collins’s other most notable role came in 1982’s Who Dares Wins, when he played a member of the SAS, but he also had other acting work including many theatre roles and an appearance in ITV’s policing drama The Bill.

He was born in Birkenhead, on the Wirrell, and worked as a drummer in local bands and as a hairdresser before getting into acting, securing the role which made him a household name in 1977 and continuing until production of the show ended six years later. Before that he had smaller television roles in Z Cars and The Cuckoo Waltz, among others.

After The Professionals, he auditioned for the role of James Bond but was rejected, reportedly stating that Albert Broccoli had been expecting to see another Sean Connery.

His personal life appeared to mirror parts of his acting career. While he played an SAS officer on screen, he is understood to have passed the recruitment test for the territorial wing of the SAS, though his celebrity status apparently stood in the way of progressing that career.

Shaw said: “I was very sad to hear that Lewis has died. We spent a very tough four years together in making The Professionals, and shared in the production of what has become an icon of British television.

“He will be remembered as part of the childhood of so many people, and mourned by his fans. I send my love and condolences to his family, and the great many who will miss him.”

Collins is survived by his widow Michelle and three sons.He had relocated to Los Angeles where he was involved in a computer business.

His death means Shaw is the last survivor from the three main Professionals characters.

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