A Treatise on The Professionals

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Title: A Treatise on The Professionals
Creator: Laurie Keeper
Date(s): 1986
Medium: print
Fandom: The Professionals
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A Treatise on The Professionals is a 1986 primer for the show, The Professionals.

first page of the essay

It was written by Laurie Keeper and printed in her zine, Professional Junkies.

It generated MUCH commentary from fans, mainly due to Keeper's descriptions of the character, Ray Doyle.

Keeper was also very anti-slash, something she emphasized in her comments about her zine in the submission request and editorial. This quite likely added to some of the controversy.

From the "Treatise"

The stories often take the back seat to the action on this series. Dialogue was often stilted, if not downright incomprehensible, Like many British shows, budget was limited and most of the sound was recorded live (as opposed to American TV in which the sound track is usually cleaned up in the studio).

The fact that the characters are so memorable and enticing has more to do with the actors playing them, than with the script or the premise.

An ex-copper with a reputation for insubordination, Raymond "Ray" Doyle, as played by Martin Shaw, is hot-headed, sensitive, elvish, unpredictable, impetuous and somewhat slovenly. His typical garb consists of very tight patched jeans, plaid work shirt over t-shirt, boots or running shoes, and a windbreaker or jacket, his posture is a slouch, his attitude often antagonistic. He has disorderly, reddish-brown, curly hair and green eyes. One of the most striking features of his appearance is an apparently deformed right cheekbone (the result of a beating that the actor received during a mugging). He is not very tall (although his boots make him appear to be), slender and slightly barrel-chested. Interesting character trait; In Bodie’s word, "Give Ray half a chance and he’d blame himself for the invention of gunpowder."

William Andrew Phillip Bodie (always called "Bodie") as played by Lewis Collins is as debonair and calm as his partner is sloppy and quick-tempered. Bodie hides his anger well, but when he explodes: Watch out! An ex-mercenary, ex-paratrooper, Bodie looks like he’s moving fast, even when he’s sitting still. Like a jungle cat, he’s stealthy, cunning, looks sleek and beautiful, but very dangerous. He appears to be better bred and educated than his partner. He favors dark slacks and turtlenecks with a lighter gray or brown leather jacket to top it off. He’s tall, very handsome, smug and egotistical; also very competitive. Interesting character trait: "I’m a fat waiting cat, and I like my mice well-fed."

Both men have a boyish sense of humor, a flagrant disrespect for authority (most of the time), and overactive libidos , They are both shameless "bird"-watchers and flirts (occasionally betting with each other on the outcome of a date), yet they respect their female co-workers and are very gentlemanly with their dates.

Most of the CIS operatives are extraordinary people with extraordinary power. Highly trained and independent, they are experts in martial arts, weapons, explosives and guerilla warfare. Their training is similar to that given to the elite British Special Armed Services (SAS). Note: the actors actually underwent the rigorous SAS training to prepare for the roles of Bodie and Doyle. To protect their identities, they move frequently. Fraternization within CIS is discouraged and all outside liaisons are checked out.

From the moment they sign on, George Cowley owns them, body and soul.

They are not your usual good guy heroes. The top team in the organization consists of an ex-mercenary with an unsavory past (Bodie) and an ex-policeman with a history of insubordination (Doyle). Yet simply by showing their ID cards, they have the power to take over any investigation they choose, at their own discretion. They out-rank the police and go out of their way to flaunt their authority.

Like Starsky and Hutch, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, Miami Vice, et al. Pros is a "partner" show. The friendly rivalry between the partners is part of what makes it fun to watch.

What sets "Pros" apart from other action/adventure shows is that they don't always do what's expected. For example, in the episode "Discovered in a Graveyard," when Bodie finds his partner bleeding to death from bullet wounds, he doesn’t waste time with pointless reassurances. Instead, he rather roughly stuffs some napkins under his partner’s shirt to stop the bleeding, checks the mouth to make sure the air passage is clear, discovers the phone isn’t working and he’s forgotten his receiver/transmitter (or R/T), runs down to his car and calls for help from there. When he finally encounters Doyle's assailant on foreign embassy soil, he calmly puts his hands in the air and says "I’m not paid to make waves." When the "assassin" is thrown out of her embassy to die as a martyr, Bodie carries her gently to his car and then holds her hand in the ambulance on the way to hospital.

Definitely not your standard "Starsky & Hutch" scenario.

Fan Comments

A fan, Jane of Australia, wrote an impassioned letter to The Hatstand Express #11 complaining of how the character of Doyle and the actor were mistreated.

[Jane of Australia]: I read PROFESSIONALS JUNKIES the other day and am quite literally ready to yell. Between Page 3 and Page 5 via the medium of a 'Treatise' that set out to explain what the show and characters were all about to fans who have never seen it, Ed. Keeper angered and hurt me deeply with her remarks about Doyle. I ask you to bear with me for a page or two's letter of content as there is a statement that ought to be made, I think |in the interests of this fandom itself.

There are many fans of Martin Shaw and Ray Doyle out here, and I don't know how they're supposed to react to the description of him as (here compacted from various paragraphs and parts) a slovenly, 5'6" clone of Starsky who dresses like a tramp and has a face rendered ugly by deformity. All of us know how wildly incorrect this is: the raggy jeans and such were replaced with clothes, in the 1980/81 seasons, which made him the picture of elegance; he's listed as being 5'10" — the actor is 5'8" by his own admission; and the cheekbone is simply broken -- a 'deformity' is a tragic disfigurement one is born with!

Good lord, the choice of Ms. Keeper's words! How cruel it was to Martin Shaw himself to say these thing, dismissing all his physical attributes, grace and flair; it would hurt him, I'm sure, to read this, and I only hope he never does... Language-analysis goes something like this. One dislikes the B/D relationship and is enchanted by Bodie, as much as this is basic...

Therefore, unconsciously recognizing Doyle's inherent physical beauty, one just as unconsciously fears that the Doyle|B/D relationship will come to pass. [1] Then, as a form of self-protection, one transforms the Doyle brand of beauty into — the words tell it all. Slovenly deformity. This way, how could Bodie possibly fall in love with Doyle? And we're safe... The B/D relationship will never happen! It's entirely subjective and ought to be kept OUT of zines, especially in editorial sections! Or people, like myself, are going to get hurt, and pretty bloody angry.

This fandom could rip itself to shreds through the medium of zines -- PROS JUNKIES is The Zine That Cured Me Of Buying Zines, unless I've seen them or had them recommended or know the editor personally. That much money, to be exposed to cruelty, I can do without spending! And cruelty I can live happily without. Suffice to say, I've changed my mind about the wisdom of zine producing. [2] At least the circuit is informal, and you haven't got Editorial Opinion rammed down your throat. Zines have a way of formalising things — the Editor Is Right, and if you disagree you're an idiot!

I just hope Martin never gets hold of a copy of JUNKIES, because with his much lamented capacity for insecurity, the words 'slovenly' and 'deformed' will hurt him a lot... There could be a ruination afoot in this fandom — and such zines and editors as Keeper and her effort would be the cause of it. Editors should be GAGGED as soon as they've finished typing the stories and pasting in the art. [3]

Many fans responded to this letter, including one who wrote a 4-page open letter addressing the original fan who'd complained.

[Joyce H]: To: "Jane" in Australia, Laurie Keeper and all Professionals fans and fair-minded persons. I was asked to read "Jane's" letter, (and not by Laurie), which had been put on the circuit either by "Jane" or in her name ("Jane's"), that is). This "letter", which is hardly that as much as it is an attack on what was an honest attempt to further a fandom, deals supposedly with a treatise on the Professionals, which was published in PROFESSIONAL JUNKIES, a fanzine put out by Laurie Keeper. I do not know "Jane", or who she is, although cowardice is the only reason I can think of why a simple editorial letter should need a pen name. I've met Laurie briefly. I am a Pros fan who likes both Bodie and Doyle, and since I've no need to be anything but objective I will answer "Jane's" letter.

First, let's face reality — Ray Doyle is the product of a clever writer and a damn fine actor so Ray doesn't care much what we say about him. To be so "hurt...deeply" on behalf of a character that isn't real hints at a problem a professional of another sort should see to...

"Jane" claims that her quotes are "compacted". This is wishful thinking. Her quotes are grossly misquoted and out of context. "Jane" could work for a newspaper slandering politicians she's so good at pulling the words that fit her interpretation and ignoring the actual context which may vary that meaning...

[Some other points of the letter: a suggestion that Jane can't tell the difference between the actor and the character, that Jane's use of the phrase "tragic disfigurement" as insensitive and "a gothic romance novel description," Jane's concern for Martin Shaw/Doyle's feelings but having no such regard for fellow fan (Laurie) was callous, that the zine (which never mentioned slash) has no slash in it because it is a "USA tradition not to put them together" in the same zine, that being "deformed" doesn't mean nobody will love you, and that Jane of Australia takes things way to personally]....

"Jane" hated the treatise but never mentions if the characters are accurately portrayed in the stories. Even that would only be her opinion, anyway. Her ability to accurately and fairly critique is questionable. No, on the "circuit" you don't get Editorial Opinion, just letters pretending to be the answer to Editorials. Unsigned letters at that.[4]

[D.J. Driscoll]: As a friend of Laurie Keeper's I should like to add that I am appalled that a fellow Pros fan would attack her so. She is one of the most considerate and professional people you'd want to find in any fandom. As a brand-new Pros fan I sincerely hope that there are very few like Jane out there, lying in wait for me. I'm a zine editor, too, you see, and apparently "Jane-types" eat us for breakfast. Oooo, I'm goose-pimply all over![5]

[Sue-Ann H.]: I've got to admit, I'd more or less just skimmed over that "treatise" in PROFESSIONAL JUNKIES, until I read your LoC last time — I went back and really read the "treatise" then, and I can see why you're angry. It seems unfairly prejudiced towards Doyle/Shaw. I have to say right here that I love both those guys — Bodie is beautiful — but I, too, will always prefer Doyle's (Shaw's) type of beauty to his. I also admit to being "prejudiced" in favor of Doyle' as far as I'm concerned. HIS type of beauty is rare, and haunting, but I also have to concede that he is NOT "beautiful or handsome" in the "classical" or "conventional" sense! That's no reason for ANY editor to purposely denigrate him, though, just in order to emphasize Bodie's much more "traditional" good looks (as far as I'm concerned, though, consistently throughout the series, it was DOYLE who was the "most beautiful" — especially in episodes like WEEKEND IN THE COUNTRY, etc., when Bodie’s hair was SO severely short, and it did absolutely nothing for him. By that time, Doyle's hair was very nicely styled, in a very "sophisticated" way, and his clothes were just as stylish, as you also pointed out last time).

I think Keeper's problem is that she probably hasn't seen much of the series to start with, and so she may have made the mistake of assuming that she could characterize B&D as sort of "S&H CLONES" — and we all know you can't do that! She probably went by the reasoning (using S&H as the "models") that the "shorter, curly-haired" partner is automatically the "slovenly, poorly-educated and poorly-bred one"; and so that would mean, naturally, that the "taller, straight-haired one" just HAS to be sophisticated, "better bred and educated", etc. ... I agree that Keeper shouldn't have tried to write such a "treatise" until she was sure she did have her facts straight, but I would hope you wouldn't let that put you off ALL zines in the future! To date, this is the only zine where the editor HAS let her "prejudice" show so blatantly.

What upset me upon first reading PJ wasn't the treatise, but rather, Keeper’s own "editorial", in which she referred so disparagingly to Doyle|B/D fandom ("if you don't know what B/D is, cherish your innocence, because you’ll soon find out.")[6]. I don't have the zine handy right now, but that was the gist of it. I wrote and asked her if she realized that many of her readers WERE likely B/D fans too, and if she realized that she’d probably offended a lot of people, and had put off a lot of future buyers — since she never answered my letter, though, I have no idea what she actually thinks about any of this. [7]

[Kate]: I am afraid I didn't read the particular editorial in PROFESSIONALS JUNKIES that you are so adamant about, so I won't address that specifically. But I would I like to say that I have not seen any schism in this fandom between Bodie fans and Doyle fans, although it is obvious with many writers that they have a preference. I hope that it will never happen. My enjoyment of another fandom was affected because of a split like that. I think most people like PROS for the Bodie and Doyle relationship, whether they believe in slash or not, and this in itself should prevent any sort of split. [8]

[Barbara T]: I also agree, in the main with the points you make about Professional Junkies description of the characters. Possibly you're overreacting, however. If anything, fandom already has a degree of bias toward Doyle, which a bit of inaccurate physical description of the character will not change. There's no lack of interest in Bodie either, obviously, and my own favorite (though I admit Shaw is extremely watchable) is the gestalt of CI5 and the individuals that make it up. Fandom can survive its indiscretions best by ignoring them. [9]

Karen B: Granted, it wasn't a very good article, but don't you think you're overreacting just a teensy bit? And what on earth does generosity have to do with liking both men? I love 'em both equally because they're both fascinating and sexy - generosity hardly comes into it. [10]

[Agent 3.4]: I'm sorry that you were so upset by the apparently unfortunate comments in PROFESSIONAL JUNKIES. I've never seen this zine, so I have not personally read the item in question, but I do wonder at someone being so out of it that they think the series was still in production in 1983! Confusion probably arose because the series was still being shown in Britain at that time, and indeed -- the last series was considerably delayed in its first broadcast date. But still.... Fortunately, Martin is an actor — and if you don't check your animosity, to rejection at the door if you're an actor, you don't survive in the profession. I agree with you about the fact that using words like "deformed" is a bit strong — but I do think that editorializing like this is rare. Try not to let the turkeys get you down, because when you get depressed over something like this, you're letting them influence you far more than they are worth. Don't ruin your day over somebody else's. [11]

[Jane of Australia]: Pardon Me For Breathing. That ends "it" before "it" starts - but I can assure you Barb, Angela [12], and Kathy [13] and I checked and double-checked every item, and those Americans who tell you we are in error (much less that the letter is "littered" with errors, to quote [Jean C.]) are up the proverbial gum tree. However, it is STUPID to be unhappy over words spoken or written in anger 8,000 miles away. I've voiced what I think and feel - and enough is enough. If people react badly, they are free to do so - as I was free to react so to Laurie's idiotic writings... But it has to stop. So let it. Some people will hate me - I can live with that (there are people I hate too, albeit not many), and... 1987 is a new year. Time to bury old grievances and look to the future, right?! [14]

[Sarah Leibold, editor of "The Hatstand Express"]: ... there has been quite a bit of discussion about a treatise written by Laurie Keeper in her zine PROFESSIONAL JUNKIES. I do feel that with the comments in this issue, this topic has been very thoroughly covered, so I will be accepting no more letters covering this subject. Thanks for your cooperation. [15]


  1. ^ This comment by Jane is in response to the essay's author's opposition to slash.
  2. ^ This fan, however, goes on to edit and produce a vast number of Pros zines.
  3. ^ comments by Jane of Australia from The Hatstand Express #11
  4. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12
  5. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12
  6. ^ This is a reference to Keeper's comments in her editorial: "This is a "straight" zine. For those of you who understand the term, I hope you won't be disappointed. For those of you who don't understand the term, I urge you to cherish your innocence; for the longer you stay in "Pros" fandom, the less likely you are to maintain your naivete."
  7. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #11
  8. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12
  9. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12
  10. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12
  11. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12
  12. ^ "Angela" is mentioned in the editorial of the 1993 zine, Sword of Damocles: "Barb, Angela, Pam and I will see if we can keep Nut Hatch on track."
  13. ^ Kathy is one of Jane's many pseuds.
  14. ^ from The Hatstand Express #12
  15. ^ from comments in The Hatstand Express #12 by the editor of that letterzine