Be Gentle With Us

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Zine
Title: Be Gentle With Us
Publisher: 5.1 (Geri), 9.5 (Linda), and 2.5 (Synda Surgenor)
Editor(s):
Type: letterzine
Date(s): March 1991-December 1993
Frequency: four times a year
Medium: print
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Be Gentle With Us is a slash letterzine that was published in Northern Ireland and ran for twelve issues.

It came out four times a year: March, June, September, and December.

See other Professional letterzines. Also see List of Letterzines.

About

Submissions

From "2.5" in issue #2:

First, Cead Mile Failte to all our subscribers. That is Irish for a hundred thousand welcomes, and it is heartfelt. When we first dreamed up the idea of a B/D letterzine we thought we might be lucky enough to find a few kindred spirits 'out there'. You can imagine our delight, therefore, at the way BGWU has not only taken off but has apparently gone into orbit. Thank you all for subscribing, and we shall do our best to make your time with us as enjoyable as possible. Nearly all of you returned the questionnaire we sent out with our complimentary first issue, and we were pleased to discover that tyros though we are, we had got most things right. There were some criticisms and suggestions and we have taken them all under consideration, so you will find a few changes from this issue on. I hope they meet with your approval.

In the following pages there.are many goodies:- enjoyable fiction and poetry; reviews of both fan-fic and appearances by the principal actors in the series in theatre and on T.V.; a transcript of an interview with Martin Shaw; and - most importantly in a letterzine - your letters containing interesting opinions and comments. To borrow a phrase from another fandom, 'let us have your thoughts' on any or all of these - or on any other subject relating to B/D that takes your fancy. And just in case inspiration doesn't strike, may I suggest... [the Topic for Discussion].

Also, we welcome reviews of fan-fiction; B/D poetry and short stories for our fiction section (stories no more than 6 A4 pages in length, please); reviews, information and comment on the actors and their work other than in the Pros; artwork; jokes for the CI5 Laughline; and just about anything else you think might interest or amuse other fans.

Keep it all coming, folks! This is your zine as much as"- if not more than - it is ours.

Some Regular Features

  • the Topic of the Month
  • "Telly Obbs" (the actors from The Professionals and their appearances in other shows
  • "Actor Files" (clippings about the actors)
  • Storyboard (some suggestions/short outlines about stories that could be written)
  • transcripts of interviews

The Editors

These introductions are from the second issue.

About 5.1:
A long-time fan of Star Trek, Blake's 7 - and John Denver, [5.1] is the one who had the bright idea of a letterzine in the first place and 'persuaded' the others to join in. Attila the Hun in skirts - but nice with it! She wasn't much interested in "/" until B/D but then - OH BOY!!! I think the word is 'obsession'. An animal lover with pacifist tendencies (sounds almost kinky that, doesn't it?) she insists she isn't too keen on the episodes because she finds the violence and shooting and the idea of an organisation like C15 'abhorrent', and that the guys on-screen are 'obnoxious', but that the fan-fic is 'mostly very well written and often very romantic'. Personally, I think she's got a soft spot for Doyle.
About 9.5:
Another Star Trek fan. Also loves Man From Uncle, Cagney and Lacey, Quantum Leap and Rutger Hauer, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford et al ... She is our movie buff, the one who can answer questions about that obscure film or actor/actress, or bum the theme music from almost anything you care to name. Of the three eds. she has read most "/" in several fandoms, and has the enviable ability to create extremely interesting plot ideas although she doesn't write herself. She also has the equally unenviable knack of producing the most dreadful puns imaginable! She has charge of BD the photocopier. She is a Bodie fan.
About 2.5:
Yet another - wait for it! - Star Trek fan of long standing (since 1969, in fact). That show has a lot to answer for! Also partial to Blake's 7, Dr. Who, S/F in general. Country music, horror stories (especially with vampires in), thrillers - you name it, she'll read it; got a very catholic taste in reading matter this one. She had written stories and poetry in several fandoms, although Pros is the only one in which she has attempted "/". Loved Bodie from-the beginning Collins from The Cuckoo Waltz) although, she confesses that since starting to read the fan-fiction and re-watch the episodes after a break of a few years Doyle (Shaw) has 'grown on her'. Now she can't make up her mind which of 'em she fancies most. Life's a bitch, innit?

The Reproduction Quality

The zine's type was generally very readable, though some issues more than others.

A fan in 1992 commented:

Well, your last ishas very nice, as were all the previous ish. I have a lot of things to say, so let's take them in order; (1) The N/L presentation: the overall quality is not too bad, but sometimes the xeroxing quality is really dreadful! I have bad eyes, and it's a strain to try and read pages almost white with some little streak of grey one can reasonably suppose to be printed lettered... As I don't want to miss anything, i do it... But please, could you try to spare my eyes in future? It would be appreciated.

[EDITOR: YOU ARE THE FIRST PERSON TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE QUALITY OF OUR PRINTING, (AND WE DO APOLOGISE. WE DO OUR BEST, BUT THE N/L IS TYPED ON A4 PAGES, THEN REDUCED TO A5 AND PHOTOCOPIED AGAIN, SO THERE IS BOUND TO BE SOME FADING, BUT WE SHALL TRY TO DO BETTER IN FUTURE.) [1]

Issue 1

Be Gentle With Us 1 was published in March 1991.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

They sent me a sample first issue and enclosed a questionnaire asking for feedback on contents. This is a "/" emphasis zine, although they do say that genzine stories and reviews are welcome. The first issue had locs, a short story, a listing of current/future TV sightings of the regulars and guest stars of the PROs, a transcript of a Martin Shaw morning talk show interview and a few story reviews. It's a quarterly zine, and the next 3 issues are 10 pounds to the US or Australia, 3 pounds to the UK and 5 pounds to Europe.[2]
I was delighted to recieve a copy of your first issue... On the whole it was quite enjoyable and had a good, solid mix of articles, a bit for everyone. I am quite satistufed with the format. I dislike letterzines which print only that -- letters. I'm much happier with a general newsletter format such as yours, offering a mix of letters, reviews, interviews, news, and fiction. [3]
'Accidents Will Happen' was a treat. I hope fiction will continue to play a part in the letterzine. The scene where the branch flicks back into B's face is incredibly powerful, as is Doyle's horror. It's such a simple incident, but very true to life, and the reactions of the characters tell us a great deal about them in a far subtler way than is sometimes employed. The other special moment for me was two lines dialogue: 'Did you?' 'Nah, you wouldn't let me." So B and D. My only minor complaint is the use of italics for the conversations, which found distracting as it is a device more commonly used to indicate direct thoughts or quotations. [4]
I enjoyed reading 'Accidents Will Happen', thought the ending was sweet and funny. [5]
I thoroughly enjoyed 'Accidents Will Happen'. This has a very realistic series feel to it. I loved the way Doyle suddenly realises how Bodie feels, and recognises how he had been avoiding the situation. for me, very characteristic of 'my' Doyle, and as for Bodie, his "For God's sake, Ray - get in or go away" says it all. Thank you for an excellent story. [6]

Issue 2

Be Gentle With Us 2 was published in June 1991 and contains 48 pages.

The TOTM was "Did you watch The Professionals first time around?" "Why are we watching the show ten years later?" "Did you notice the relationship between Bodie and Doyle?"

front and back covers of issue #2

Issue 2: Sample Fan Comments

... the TOTM, I never saw the series the first time round; I didn't even see the repeats. I really noticed it around 87/88 when a fff (fellow fan friend) asked me to tape the series from Superchannel. With my then two fandoms I was as happy as a lark and didn't even keep copies for myself, which means my fff still has some first generation copies.

Then late '88, I saw 'Stakeout','Blind Run' and 'Hunter, Hunted', all of them revelations. Woman, did those two look good together! For me they were "/” from the start... and from the start I could only appreciate them together. They attract me because they are generally non-touchers, so any of those rare touches hold a special significance, speak of caring and - for me - of 'proprietary rights'. How else can one explain the fleeting touch of Doyle around Bodie's middle in 'Hunter, Hunted' before he leaves the bar with Kathy? There wasn't even the flimsiest excuse for it. Maybe someone will come up with an idea for it?!

Also, a great number of stories on the circuit are romantic, and I don't mind that one bit. I know the two characters are anything but, but I want romance... to a certain extent. I want to get mushy... now and then. I want plotless, sexy romps through the bed... sometimes I really wanted realism, the madness I hear about in the news is more than enough of it. So, I do read the Pros sometimes as escapism (as long as I know this, it's fine by me). Any more answers? I'll look forward to reading other people's views on TOTM.
Because of its time period (A/U's aside), B/D has to be based in a certain amount of reality as we ourselves have experienced that era and would pick up on any inaccuracies. However, the relationship itself doesn't have to be realistic for me -- indeed, some fandom pairing seem beyond the bounds of probability. I always maintain that the attraction of "/" (apart from the sex) is that you ca fantasize an ideal relationship. Such things may be scarce on the ground in reality but it's surely what everyone dreams of even if in some instances it's a case of "be careful what you wish for -- you may get it!" Most people want to skim over the awkwardness of many a first-time sexual contact and the annoying habits a partner has that can drive you up the wall; you want to believe there's somewhere two people can fit together (in any sense) without too much trouble. In fandom, the characters don't have to suffer, but that they so often do so is a measure of reality. However, it means readers can empathise with the problems with personally suffering the hurts. In a sense, you are in control of the situation, an observer, as it were. Reading a good "/" story is a time out of time, a welcome break . I know personally it's an escape for me from the pressures of life. After a big of a day at work, I look forward to a couple of hours K/S or B/D. John Denver sang 'Some days are diamonds, some days are stone' - well, some days are ruddy great boulders which could crush you if you didn't have an escape route, which for me is K/S or B/D etc. It beats drink or drugs!
You ask why the characters need the 'straitjacket' of their relationship - well surely they are able to give each other support, as they

know what the other has experienced in work. These 'tough characters' with 'tough jobs' need relaxation, and who understands better than their partner? With a woman they can only divulge so much, and are always on some level pretending to be other than they are or feel. I would dispute that women are the 'emotional confidant that others (men) need'. Men will discuss things with 'the boys' they'd never discuss with a woman, and vice versa. There is definitely such a thing as male bonding, be it through shared experiences in something so traumatic as war or as simple as. a football club. It is only natural that men and women understand their own sexes best.

[snipped]

Have B&D settle down with a woman? Then there'd be no such thing as B/D. Perhaps the dislike of women in "/" is the fact that readers usually prefer (if not actually identify with) one character more than the other, and any affair outside the relationship seems like a betrayal if their favourite is the victim. Of course, it may be marginally more bearable if their favourite is the transgressor - not fair, but then what is fair in life?

[snipped]

Personal mental pictures are too subjective to be judged so sweepingly. There can be no generalisations - you may not think of men as being tender or loving in the main, but that doesn't mean such men don't exist. Women haven't a prerogative on 'soft' qualities, nor would some women want to be thought of like that. And lastly, these aren't imitations of a perfect external form - the forms we see are very real in all their gorgeousness, even if the names aren't Bodie and Doyle but Collins and Shaw. Their appearance not real? - just send Lewis to me and I'll give him a thorough testing - purely in the interests of furthering the bounds of knowledge for all you other fans, of course. The only possible context in which you could say he's not real is an obvious truth - the man's a walking dream. When thinking of B&D you don't have to fantasise two hunks - machismo with charisma - for yourself 'cos that's handed to you gratis, and your mind is free to work on ideas now it has the basic material. And B/D is a wonderful idea!

I first began reading Hatstands in the autumn of 1981 and my interest snowballed from there. Quite what has held it for so long is hard to say. I enjoy watching and listening to the show - there is a difference - or talking Pros with friends. I suspect what has kept my interest going is the preponderance of excellent fanfiction to read, coupled with the fact I still enjoy writing B/D.

Ten years ago there was some fine writing being done. That's still true today. What makes it more fun is the influx of new fans who have started writing. The most obvious reason for still being involved in Pros fandom is because I enjoy it.

An issue which was raised at Zircon, but never discussed in much depth, was the point that in A/U stories, while Doyle's character sometimes undergoes radical changes, Bodie's does not. I agree with the premise but don't know why that should be. Is it because everyone sees Bodie's character in more or less the same way, or because writers need 'a rock of Gibraltar' to write around? I'd be interested to hear other people's thoughts on the subject.

Monogamy preponderates in all the slash fandoms, presumably because that's what fans enjoy reading and writing the most.

Slash fiction is conventional, romantic and unrealistic. If it was not, fanfiction would probably consist of one story at most. Off-hand, I can't think of any Pros fiction that portrays life as it is lived in every aspect.

While I've read some superb straight fiction, I can't recall any of them involving B and/or D settling down to married bliss.

Why is everyone beautiful in slash? Probably because they're not in real life. There again, it could be argued 'love is blind' and in the world of Hatstands, lust is coupled with love. If I thought I could sustain my interest - or sanity - beyond the first paragraph I'd be quite happy to read or write a B/D where they suffer from everyday afflictions from dandruff, via halitosis and flatulence to smelly feet.

I suppose it depends on your view of independence as to whether you regard monogamy as chains. If you can find someone who loves you for what you are, rather than what they'd like you to be, that's freedom, not chains, to me. And given the instability of a job like working for CI5, and the age of B and D, it doesn't seem inconceivable to me that the day would dawn when they would tire of fleeting erotic encounters and seek stability and a lasting emotional tie.
I've only been reading Professionals fiction for the last two years, so I can't really comment on the topic for discussion. When the series was first shown, I was just a viewer, not what you would call a fan. It was the fan fiction I came across a couple of years ago that whetted my appetite and brought me into B/D fandom.
I like the monogamy in B/D, simply because they do have such tough job. It's nice to think they have feelings and emotions so comforting, loving and strong between them for when the strain is too much and no one else really understands. Aren't we all looking for that perfect relationship when we rereading slash? Okay, in reality there may be no such thing as the forever twosome, but are slash readers looking for that type of reality in their fiction? Do they want their favourite characters to be forever cruising and not having any deep emotional commitments? I know what I prefer in the stories I read, and that is a stable, happy, loving relationship between B/D by the last page of the story.

[S] got me thinking, with her mention of the great variety of settings for B/D stories: Atlantis, Elizabethan, B and D are metamorphosed into elves, dancers, vampires, etc. Yes, it's tempting to think some times that fans are not actually awfully keen on Bodie and Doyle as they appear on screen, isn't it? As [S] says, Bodie will most likely remain largely in character even though he's wearing a toga on the streets of ancient Rome. Doyle, however, you can bet your life will transform completely into a sweet and noble lollipop who pets a cat rather than kicking it out of the way. Fortunate, indeed, what he retains his copper-glinting curls, emerald eyes and flawed, yet intense, beauty, isn't it? Otherwise we might have a little difficulty in recognising him at all.

The popularity of such stories shows that there is definitely a place for them. One of my favourites is Solemn Contract: a wonderful and romantic story with never a dull page. But I do wonder: do the majority of fans like Bodie and Doyle as presented to us in the big bad world of CI5? My guess is, not on your life.
I always find that reading a letterzine is an unrestful experience -- one keeps muttering 'What?' and 'Never! and 'Just what I've always thought!' to oneself, but I suppose that's exactly the point...

I’m glad that this will be a pro-slash aspect zine, though I defend! any fan's right to disagree with my views, but if most of the people responding to this zine are pro-slash, it will prevent some of the arguments which have occurred in some other letterzines.

I've been a Professionals fan for almost four years after a friend held me captive in her apartment and force-fed me episodes. I'd been aware of the show before that and had read some stories in genzines, but never really paid much attention. I couldn't even remember which was which: who's Dodie and who's Boyle? I did realize that the one with the curls was awfully cute. I came out of that weekend totally hooked and left her house with an armload of "/" stories. The rest, as they say, is history. I was blessed in having friends with huge libraries of Professionals stories, most of whom had been in the fandom since its beginning, so I quickly amassed my own huge library!
Thank you for your views, [S], on alternate universe/historical/fantasy stories in Pros fandom. I’ve been appalled lately by some new but very vocal Pros fans who have just come into the fandom and have violently attacked A/U historical fiction, saying it is not "Real Pros” and shouldn't be allowed in zines. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but how do they get off attacking something which has been an institution since the beginning of the fandom. I don't care what the setting is as long as the story is well written. I also like stories with plot, as opposed to excuses to get the boys in bed together, and I prefer Bodie/Doyle, although I'll read either one or both with Murphy. I just cannot see Cowley as sex-partner stories though.

Ten years on... well, ten years ago I don't think I was watching The Professionals. Certainly not terribly seriously. I do vaguely remember an episode or two, but Blake's 7 or Star Trek was my obsession then.

About three or four years ago, an excellent friend in the US sent me a stack of B/D stories. I liked them, quite, and shared them with a close friend, who more than liked them. [B] carried on sending me stories, [A] kept on dragging them out of my hands and reading them madly. All of them. Even the ones where Bodie and Doyle talked with fake Cockney overlaying real American and played with the elves in the woods. But there were some really good stories - 'Tethered Goats And Tigers' notably.

There are some strikingly good writers in this field. Sebastian and HG are good enough to write professionally (pun intended) and on their good days so are Meg Lewtan, even 'Jane'/Kathy Keegan/or whatever she’s calling herself this week, Shoshanna, E.P.S., and many who are either choosing to be very anonymous or else have had their names blurred off by too much photocopying. So, even though Bodie/Doyle didn't strike me instantly and with the same heart-stopping delight as the same kind of destined couple as Avon/Vila or Spock/McCoy, I was charmed enough to read on.

At T'hy'la, in between giggling over piles of K/S and gossiping with people I hadn't met for a while or only in letters, I did on occasion dive into the odd Profs story. Tried to translate such expressions as 'The jammy Highland sod' for an American. (I still like that expression, I do.) At the same time, [A], much more sensibly, had met someone and was ordering a couple of video tapes.

[snipped, extensive comments regarding the inspiration and writing of Lest These Dark Days]

I'm a writer, and my slash writing career began in Trek with Kirk/Spock, branching out to other Trek pairs (Kirk/Sulu, Uhura/Saavik, Kirk/Spock/McCoy - yeah, I like to experiment!). So when I got roped into Bodie/Doyle, I just had to start writing. I found myself loving the imaginative fantasy A/U’s of such works as ’The Hunting', and so I began my own A/U series, 'The Silent Lily’ stories which have been printed in 'Chalk & Cheese', 'Beguiled' (due out this Spring) and my own zine, 'Other Times and Places'. I’ve been in some arguments which declare that such characters as Raven, Guillaume, Raimond, etc. "aren't really Bodie and Doyle". I thoroughly agree! I see Bodie and Doyle as a stepping off place for all sorts of writers' imaginations. I've always said that Raimond is Ray Doyle's 13th cousin, 20 times removed.

I l-i-i-k-e the far flung imaginations of fan writers in this fandom, and this has been one of the aspects which drew me into it. My zine, 'Other Times and Places' is dedicated to A/U's and fantasy/science fiction aspects of Bodie/Doyle. But I like many of the plain old CI5 stories too. I prefer those which explore social issues, particularly the problems of being an actively Gay couple in a prejudiced and homophobic society. I simply don’t believe the stories which assert that Bodie and Doyle "aren't gay," they're "normal" hetero men who just happen to fall for each other". Bisexual, quite likely. Straight? Likely not, at least within the "/" premise.

The actors of The Professionals have done little to keep the series alive. In some ways, I prefer this, because it is easier to keep the actors and the characters they portray in separate compartments. I have noticed the impact that the actors themselves and the other roles played by them have had on fiction.

How much of Bodie as a mercenary or undercover in a night-club or with a pop group comes from Lewis Collins in 'Who Dares Wins', ' Code Name: Wildgeese', and 'A Night On The Town' and his playing with a pop group? 'Dead Beat', 'Midnight City', 'Painting the Clouds',. 'The Joker is Wild', 'Masquerade', 'Up Jumped a Swagman', 'Camera Shy', to name just a few.

Martin Shaw playing Elvis in 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' for connections with 'Stage Fright'; his role as Zax in 'Facelift' for 'Book of Strife', 'Master of the Revels' and 'Magikal'? and his more recent role in 'Cassidy' for 'Griffin' and 'The Cassidy Legacy'.

Also interesting are the roles which have not produced a creative response. And why not?
I realised when I watched The Professionals on TV that it had potential - the problem was that I liked Cowley, not the 'rough guys'. (What happened? - I grew up!) But maybe the conclusion that those guys are so obnoxious the only people they could possibly be happy with are each other has a certain kind of logic.

I do not find [Bodie and Doyle's] commitment and closeness claustrophobic at all. I do agree it would cause problems. To work all day with someone, and then go home with them probably would inevitably lead to murder. We all need a break away from even those we love. But considering the kind of job they do it has its advantages too. How much easier to be with each other after witnessing or taking part in something horrendous than to go home to a wife and children and try to pretend it didn’t happen. People in the real world do manage to do that all the time; well, some of them do - home just fall apart.

But then the point is, surely, that the average reader of slash fiction doesn't want Bodie or Doyle to go home to a wife and children. It kind of defeats the purpose. The fact that I don't want them to either, does not detract from the fact that I would like to see more strong female characters in the fan-fiction. I'm not talking about the Mary-Sue variety, rather the Elizabeth Walsh variety. The treatment of women in the series is one thing that irritates me greatly.

It deserves to be redressed.

I think I'm reading and watching because I find the two main characters attractive, and because I can project the relationship we see between them on the screen into something altogether deeper.

They are concerned for each other; it is clearly seen in many of the episodes (I tend to avoid those where they are estranged) to the point of putting each other before the job.... It's not so difficult to understand then; two attractive male characters in a committed relationship. Quite perfect, really - for me.

It is strange, then, that as a long-time Star Trek fan I am not comfortable with the same format in that fan-fiction. I have read and enjoyed some K/S, but I’m not addicted to it as I am to B/D. Once I began reading B/D, I knew I could never go back to K/S. Perhaps Kirk and Spock are too entwined with my childhood view of life to have the kind of 'real' relationship I just love Bodie and Doyle having. I love the grittiness of their lives -- the jam sandwiches and electricity bills. The need to be noble is not there as it is in K/S.

Being a latecomer to the fandom, I can't really comment on the durability of the show and the fandom, but I can say that I can't see me NOT being in love with Bodie in another ten years time! (Knew I wouldn't get far without mentioning him. I love Cowley and Doyle and Murphy, but I'm a die-hard Bodie nut. Just thought I'd warn you.) I discovered B/D via Meg Lewtan's Out of the Jungle (like a hundred other people) some while ago.

I even wrote

a B/D myself in December 89 without having seen an episode. But it wasn't until our local network started screening the show in January 90 that I really clicked. As for why I fell so hard when I finally fell... I was already a big slash nut, so I guess it was inevitable that I discover the Profs at some stage. Just the sheer volume of slash fanfic out there in all its variable glory is a big plus. And there is Bodie, of course. And I enjoy CI5 in the series and why it's needed, and Cowley as CI5's 'nerve centre', and the situations they get into and help solve. And the relationships between the 3 main characters in the show. And the quality of the show (don't laugh) - I can watch the episodes again and again, and not just for Bodie!

[S] mentioned she doesn't like reading stories that include Cowley, in the sexual shenanigans. Well, I do! But, each to their own, of course. Anyway - 'Lest These Dark Days' and its sequel 'This Classical Dilemma' are some of the best fanfic I've ever read, not least because I reckon Bodie and Cowley are a great pairing. For any one who hasn't run into these, they are brilliantly written, and may convert the sceptical! They are by Jane Carnall and Ann Johnson and Nicole Craig. Jane tells me they are working on a further sequel, so I'm currently blue in the face. I must say I can't see Cowley/Doyle working, but I'm prepared to be converted.

As for including Murphy,

I'm all for it, though I like him best as an addition to B/D. Recommended stories that spring to mind are 'Yenta' by Agent 6.9,'For Auld Lang Syne' by Fanny Adams, and 'Shuffle' and 'Deal' (author unknown).

I disagree with almost everything you say, [Z]... We should get along just fine! Yes, most fanfic (at least those with happy endings) marry Bodie and Doyle off for ever (though they often go through hell first to get there). For that matter, most popular fiction and movies marry their main characters off too. Even Shakespeare did it. It might not be a very original plot line or denouement, but it's popular!

[snipped]

You say you don't know if there's fanfic marrying the boys off to women - there is, but I don't find it as appealing. I don't think that a newly created character, or even one created in a Profs episode, has the impact to justify them marrying one of our main characters (other than for, presumably, the author). I believe there is some- thing in the idea that people outside CI5 wouldn't know or understand enough about the job and the stress that would come with it - that goes for family and friends as well as lovers. The show itself often depicts Bodie and Doyle having to break dates, or Bodie having to leave a cricket match in the middle of a game, etc. Of course, this goes for people in the Real World in the armed forces and the police - I think they would have similar difficulties.

I think the 'I'm straight, but I fancy you' line is wrong too. Unless someone has something gay in them, they are never going to fancy someone of the same sex. No ifs or buts about it. On the other hand, I believe that we all have a bit of everything in us all - and if it takes a particular person to make us realise that we could enjoy that, fine - but don't ask me to believe that we wouldn't then at least see the possibilities beyond that person. For example, I believe it might take Doyle's friendship and love to make Bodie realise he would be prepared to enter into a gay relationship, but I can't believe that Bodie would then never find another man attractive (being a romantic, I would believe that Bodie loved Doyle and would therefore probably not act on other attractions, male or female).

As for the instant sexual compatibility - I agree it's unrealistic. But again, we're allowed to day-dream of utopia, aren't we? I think that any first time (first ever, first with the same sex, first with a particular person) is going to be far from blissful. And even later, when the partners know each other's needs and responses, they are going to have bad and boring sex occasionally. But... that's Reality! If we were so keen on reality, we wouldn't have fanfic, would we? I'm all for the escapist day-dreams, but tempered by a dose of-realism.

I find Bodie and Doyle developing emotional and erotic ties with each other pretty damn fulfilling, and stimulating in more ways than just the obvious. That's why I read fanfic. If it ever starts causing me or them claustrophobia, I'll move on. In the meantime, I'll be happy day-dreaming.

Issue 3

Be Gentle With Us 3 was published in September 1991.

The Discussion Topic was: "How do you deal, as a reader or as a writer, with Bodie's questionable past?"

  • Nightmare, fiction by Cat Shannon
  • You Only Live Twice, fiction by Sarina
  • Letters
  • two fans' descriptions of attending Writeshop '91
  • art by Cat
  • Thought for the Minute, fiction
  • other unknown content

Issue 4

Be Gentle With Us 4 was published in December 1991 and contains 48 pages.

The TOTM is "Should AIDS be used/written about in fanfiction?"

covers of issue #4

Issue 4: Sample Fan Comments

I must say that hearing the news that 'The Professionals' is to be shown again on the ITV television channel, albeit not in all the regions, came as quite a shock to me. Having been a long time trekker I suppose I should be quite used to regeneration (maybe that's Dr. Who) still it was a pleasant surprise. Not so for my poor aunt who was horrified that they could consider replacing 'Rosie O'Neill' with such a programme.

My mind turned to considering how the Pros would stand the test of time. You know what I mean, how you switch on 'Time Tunnel' or 'Mission Impossible' and roll about in fits of laughter. (I've probably just alienated an entire section of the readership. May I state that the above is a purely personal opinion and in no way reflects editorial policy.)

Well, having given the matter due consideration I am fairly certain our daring duo will pass the test with flying colours. The two things that will see them through are the excellent characterization and the strong scripts.

Bodie and Doyle, like them or loathe them, are real three-dimensional people. They have backgrounds, opinions and hang ups like the rest of us; we even know the kind of sandwiches they like! What do we know about the Mission Impossible team members? They exist only in the context of the programme, whereas we know Bodie and Doyle go home at night and we even know what they do when they get there! As regards the scripts, okay so some of them are very dated (last week saw the disbandment of the KGB). But many of them deal with very topical matters, issues which will probably always be with us.

Some of the references and the flares and mini-skirts will no doubt raise a snigger or two, but the series is still at best an entertaining and thought-provoking one.

Is Cowley gay?

In the first place, Cowley wouldn’t use the word gay. At all. Ever. He'd say queer informally, meaning nothing particularly derogatory by it; it would just be the word he was used to, and homosexual formally.

Is Cowley queer? I think so. Annie Irvine isn't a good argument against it; in the 1940's, when they'd have met, absolutely the safest thing for a queer to do was get married. And she jilted him, probably for the very sensible reason that she'd realized, consciously or not, that he was queer and marrying him would not be a sensible thing to do. (The janitor who told Bodie and Doyle about the pain in Cowley's eyes was an incurable romantic and anyway was probably standing on Cowley's foot at the time.) All the women who appear in Cowley's life are friends.

The classic line is, of course, that he's dedicated to his job. Uh-huh. He certainly is. But why did he become so dedicated to his job that he hasn't time for any emotional attachment? Because he can't afford to make emotional attachments, not because they would interfere with his dedication to the job ( that's circular reasoning) but because they would be the wrong kind of emotional attachments. Most people aren't so dedicated that they can't afford to get married, or at least have affairs. Annie Irvine is the only hint that Cowley ever had an affair and his behaviour towards her during that brief (and unendurably pathetic) scene when they meet again isn't that of an ex-lover. Anyway, that was thirty years ago.

Seriously. I'm normally quite easy about media characters sexual orientation: gay, bisexual, polymorphously perverse, even straight!

But the only explanation that makes sense to me of Cowley's character is that he's queer, and he's been in the closet for at least forty years...

Oh yes, one final note. I think some of the reason that some people don't like Cowley to get involved is that they find him sexually unappealing. Me too. Irrelevant; from the way Bodie flirts with him onscreen, I don't think Bodie does. Why Bodie finds Cowley sexually attractive (and what appeals to Cowley about Bodie) I'll leave for next time.
Why do some writers in Profs only write women as scrubbers/bitches/innocent virgins/stupid (delete as applicable)? It can’t be excused from the series, there were some tough women in there. We are, so far as I can tell from the cons, all women. We're writing in a field, fanfiction, which is not controlled by any motive of profit or politics. As Profs writers we have access to the circuit, which means we don’t even have to worry about what an editor will think.

As to the topic for discussion:- should AIDS be featured in fanfic? Personally, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be. My favourite type of B/D fiction is the happy-ever-after sort, but I’m always willing to be won over by a story which is written well. So, if I came across, say, a story featuring Bodie with AIDS or HIV I would read it out of curiosity/ and then judge it.

When you think about it, it would be a very real possibility that someone like Bodie could be HIV positive. Africa - Angola - if I remember rightly, in these countries AIDS is widespread in the straight community/ never mind the gay community.

In a story along these lines, my Doyle might be shocked and even frightened, but he would stay with Bodie, helping him to be strong or helping him to cry if he needs to. My Doyle loves Bodie, so where else would he be but by his lover’s side?

So for me it depends on how well the story is written, and the author’s own attitude to the subject. That goes for death stories as well.

AIDS. [personal information snipped] I sympathise with [S D's] reaction, but for me, it's too close to want to write slash around it. Most death stories seem to want to make you weep? well, I've already wept.

It was years after I wrote my first slash story that I felt able to write a slash story about two women, instead of two men. With male slash I could distance myself, which I couldn’t with female. I had to wait and grow before I was ready. Maybe it'll be the same with AIDS? but for whatever reason, I feel deeply uncomfortable, as yet, with using this for a story.
The subject of AIDS being used in B/D stories? I have no objection if it is dealt with in the right context. For instance, as the series and many fan stories are set in the period before we realized that AIDS existed, it would definitely be out of context in that setting. However, set in the appropriate time, there is no reason that B and D should not have to deal with the devastation of this disease as a threat to themselves or someone else. However, I'm one of those fans who does not like death stories. I freely admit that fandom is my way of escaping from daily problems for a while. Therefore I don't want to be hit between the eyes with life, or death's, reality while I'm trying to recoup my strength.
On the subject of AIDS in B/D stories - I do not want to read about it. It will sound silly to a number of people, but pros is escapism for me. If I wanted less fiction and more reality, I'd watch 'Longtime Companion' or TV. Mind, I know what a threat AIDS poses to society. It is a subject to talk, read and/or hear about as often and as sensibly as possible. People (including me) need to get it into their heads that AIDS can happen to anyone, that it hasn’t necessarily got a lot to do with gays or prostitutes, two groups often the victims of witch-hunts. I am very aware that ignorance or simply 'not knowing' breeds contempt, hatred, and violence. In a B/D story, though, I can do without.
As for the AIDS issue: the disease is part of Real Life these days, and a significant part for our lads too, whether straight or gay. Maybe it improves realism to have them use condoms or curtail their amorous activities a little. On one hand, I'm all for a piece of fan-fic being realistic and complete within its own stated boundaries. And I don't mind writers exploring issues (such as CI5's ways and means, or prejudice in the forms of racism or male chauvinism or homophobia, or the effects of AIDS) in stories — in fact, that can be fascinating, and I like to do it myself. On the other hand, fan-fic is often sheer escapism for me, and I don't mind forgetting all about such weighty issues once in a while and concentrating solely on an adventure or a love story or a sex scene without the reality of condoms. We have enough Real Life to cope with already, right? Overall, I feel it's up to the author and what they are trying to do with their story.
Well, I'll start with the serious subject of AIDS. I definitely don't want to read about it, in B/D or any other fandom, even tho' the nursing of someone terminally ill does seem an-obvious scion of hurt/comfort. AIDS is a horrible reality, but my slash reading is for escapism and a refuge from the large or small troubles of the world in general or my own small part of it, job-wise or personal. Safe sex is touched on in 'Fancy Dancing' (tho' not because of AIDS) but I've only read one story where it was mentioned by name - 'The Rake's Progress', by Jane. This story worked OK for me, being as deep (or as shallow) as I want to delve into the subject.
The 'We aren’t gay' issue. When our duo discover their desire for each other but state this line I must admit I don't cringe as so many seem to, because I take it they mean they aren't wanting men generally but each other specifically. To me the term 'gay' means preferring your own sex sexually in general, and if a man is turned on by only one other man and the rest leave him cold I don't consider him gay. Maybe this isn't technically accurate, and there will be many dissenting voices, but it's how I see it. I am not talking about those who, after several relationships, settle down in a long-term one, but rather a one-off relationship, the exception to the rule.
After having thought some more on how a lot of us hate Bodie and Doyle saying 'We’re not gay!' despite having a sexual relationship of whatever emotional depth going on, and having done some reading on male psychology... I still don't like it, but I'm wondering if it isn't a valid reaction for a previously straight or even closeted-bisexual guy. That is, for a straight guy who's deluding himself and everyone else, who can't or won't deal with some pretty deep and personal issues, who is maybe on his way to handling the fact he likes sex with men but hasn't got there yet. We're in a homophobic society, after all (I know our little community isn't homophobic, but the big bad world out there still is). And the fact is that a lot (up to 50%) of men do have sexual relations with other men and don't necessarily admit to it or think about it in any detail (if they were open and honest about it, society would have to start rethinking some values). I’m not saying the 'We're not gay' attitude is right or psychologically healthy, or that all the relevant fan-fic is actually dealing with this issue, but maybe it's valid for the character not to be right or healthy about it all.
[C] asks if they're not gay, what are they for God's sake: maybe the answer is that they're self-deluded, afraid, uncertain of themselves and their partner, ashamed, embarrassed, seriously unbalanced, homophobic, and/or ex-Sunday School attendees. They're gay as far as we're concerned, but would the character necessarily identify himself that way? Given their age, Bodie and Doyle are very likely to have been brought up to believe homosexuality is dirty, sinful, wrong, sordid, and/or totally unmentionable. If it's the author not being right or healthy about the issue, that's another matter altogether...Just thought I'd throw the cat among the pigeons again. (Come to think about it, I can see the same arguments in relation to the issue of whether they'd allow each other to have a bird occasionally — again, I don't like it and it's not right or healthy for either them or the birds, but maybe it’s how they'd think, either initially or forever.)

Issue 5

Be Gentle With Us 5 was published in March 1992 and contain 48 pages.

front cover of issue #5
back cover of issue #5
  • Editorial (1)
  • Bits 'n' Pieces (2)
  • Letters (5)
  • Useful Addresses (12)
  • Professionals at Play... Lewis Collins, The Rise and Fall of a Parachuting Professional (article reprinted from The Professionals Annual 1980) (13)
  • Quiz Answers (19)
  • Editor's Choice (the types of stories the editor doesn't like to read) (20)
  • Martin Shaw Interview, BBC Radio 2, 1983 with Gloria Hunniford (transcript) (23)
  • Actor File (mainstream reviews of the Pros actors in other roles and shows) (27)
  • Telly Obbo (a listing of interviews and other appearances of the Pros (and other) actors in other shows) (30)
  • Story Reviews (33)
  • Adverts (36)
  • A Friend in Need..., fiction by Sarina (41)
  • No Hiding Place, fiction by Barbara Thomas ("I know this was a silly story! It was written as a bit of fluff solely for my own enjoyment, and to fill what I perceived as a gap in B/D fan-fic -- the lack of Easter stories.") (42)

Issue 5: Sample Fan Comments

I don't really believed in the "Game" scenario, and a story has to be really good for me to suspend my belief and accept The Game as a reality in Bodie's past. One of the few stories which I do believe is H.G.'s 'Strange Days Indeed'. Some of the stories where Bodie and/or Doyle are rape or child abuse survivors can be gripping, especially if the grim details are skillfully understated, and the story focuses on the emotions involved in being a survivor.
AIDS. In my not-so-humble opinion, I don't think AIDS has any real place in the majority of Pros stories, simply because most B/D takes place before '82. It would be as anachronistic to have them worry about AIDS in '77 as it is to have them to refer to British Telecom at that time, However, in stories set later... Admittedly, very few of us bother with such realities of gay sex as enemas, hepatitis, amoebic dysentery or piles, so there is a valid argument for ignoring AIDS with egalitarian myopia. How ever, I find that when I write, I simply can't ignore AIDS the same way I can the mundane swinery of piles. There is, perhaps, considering the appalling ignorance that lingers still even within slashdom, a moral imperative to address the issue. There is also, of course, a pervasive sense of horror, and of misery, and of doom regarding AIDS that doesn't accompany hepatitis. Living here, it is a rare occurrence indeed to read the obituaries column and not find at least one person killed by the virus. For example, today there was a 45 year old man who had died, leaving behind his companion of 23 years, so there is such a dreadful depth of anguish to this disease that it is hard to simply shrug off or dismiss. Indeed, I often find myself feeling terribly sad when I read a gay book set in the 70's, for I can't forget that it was that gleefully raucous and freely sexual lifestyle that eventually killed so many people, despite the fact that they certainly did not deserve to pay that kind of price for doing nothing worse than embracing sex so heartily.

Concerning portrays of women [on the show]: I am more concerned with a few of the fan portrayals of women. Sometimes believable women characters such as (yes, I know this might seem like heresy) Ann Holly, also Dr Kate Ross, are portrayed as horrible ball-breaking bitches. Particularly with Ann Holly, I don't see her as a horrible villain, I see her relationship with Ray Doyle to be one of those tragic, star-crossed affairs which makes for good literature (or good viewing). The best of the post-Ann Holly stories treat both Ann Holly and Bodie as sympathetic characters when dealing with Ray's breakup with the former and his subsequent relationship (in slash portrayals) with the latter.

Then of course, there are the occasional stories where women are just mindless birds for Our Heroes to screw while they are learning to fall in love with each other. Especially galling are the 'birds are all right, but no other men' scenarios.
Dealing once more with post-Ann Holly stories, 'Consequences was one of these. I don't think that Doyle of the series would even tolerate Bodie acting as he does in 'Consequences' even once — this is assuming that Bodie of the series would act like that towards his partner. This is a very tenuous assumption. I’ve had heated discussions with a few fans who like 'Consequences'. They consider it a 'fantasy'. Everyone is entitled to get off on whatever they want, but this 'fantasy' is certainly not my cup of tea.
On the subject of story content: despite the title of this L/Z, may I point out that not all - by any stretch of the imagination - B/D fans want gentleness? I'm a bit of a johnny-come-lately (and we'll have no naughty jokes or filthy chuckles, thank you!) to this, so I'm curious as to why you chose this title and if it reflects the kind of topics you prefer to have discussed here. As far as I'm concerned, the sweetly gentle stories are the most boring of all and quite frankly, many of them seem to me to defeat the entire purpose of slash, which is to have two (or more!) men entering into a sexual and/or emotional situation. There are so many stories where one of the characters (usually a poor dithering Doyle) is emasculated until he can play what is essentially the traditional female role of romantic fiction, and that is the path by which the extremities of nurturing gentleness and sweetness are reached, that I feel as if I'm no longer reading slash but Mills & Boon with two male names. I much prefer my B/D to be tough, hard (ooh, yes, definitely hard!) CI5 agents, with pasts that include gun-running and knifing other kids. To make these two characters convincingly loving and terribly romantic whilst maintaining their machismo is perhaps the greatest challenge to a B/D writer. The Doyle of the series who would be verbally abusive and threatening to a female witness/possible informant and who then shoves her out of the way as soon as he has what he needs to know, is a Doyle I find very difficult to reconcile with fan fiction's man who reads like a sufferer of battered wives' syndrome. The Doyle who would turn his back on Bodie when Bodie is obviously coming apart at the seams (Wild Justice) is irreconcilable with the Doyle who will give up everything and be a doormat just to keep Bodie happy. I'm not saying that it's not necessarily false that Doyle would turn into candy floss the second he realises he wants/loves Bodie, I*m just saying that I've yet to come across a story where the writer success fully convinces me. Suggestions for sample stories to the contrary will be gratefully received! I'm always willing to be converted, you know.

Hurt/comfort. Now there's an interesting topic. I’ve been having lots of discussions with people this side of the pond and a few discussions with people of an Antipodean disposition, so now I'm going to widen the theatre of operation a bit more. Why is it acceptable ('normal', as opposed to 'sick', to use the terminology of more than one person with whom I've been communicating) to read/write a story wherein one of the characters is hurt/maimed/ beaten/wounded, etc., and thus victimised, yet S&M is so frowned upon? I've heard so much stick being given to people because they enjoy S&M, and yet no-one utters a mutter if someone says that a story was great because "Doyle suffered so beautifully", or because Doyle (it’s usually Doyle, poor little flower) was so badly hurt and then rescued/nurtured by Bodie. This absolutely flummoxes me. I mean, surely it's just as ethical and moral to have the characters choose to have consensual sadomasochistic sex as it is to victimise them in order to get the same sexual heat. For let's be honest here, most slash hurt/comfort is very sexual indeed and oftentimes the depiction of the wounds and of the wounding is told in language as sensual as that of the eventual love scene. Plus, this is all fantasy, so is it right and proper for any of us to attack either the fantasy or the fantasist and put labels such as 'sick' or 'abnormal' on them? Surely it would be better for us all to agree to differ and simply shrug when the unappealing form of slash pops up? I personally find hurt/comfort to be very offensive, but at the same time, I don't think that should have anything whatsoever to do with whether or not a story should be published or enjoyed. There's room enough for a bit of everything in fandom, and I think it's definitely a case of the more the merrier - regardless of whether or not it's my cup of tea.

Hmm. Hope that last little spouting from the soapbox came across as non-judgemental of people as it was meant to be. Knowing my gift of tact, I've probably managed to offend all of you. If so, please, don't be offended. I haven't even tried to get anyone going yet... But seriously, folks, I'm intrigued by this other side of slash, simply because I don't understand it - and I really want to understand this other way of seeing things, and none of the people with whom I've been arguing (oops, sorry, should phrase that as 'discussing in an open and honest forum') have been able to get it through my thick skull.

I do not want to read stories where Bodie or Doyle is HIV positive or has AIDS, or where their friends are similarly afflicted. I read Professionals fiction for escapism, not as a mirror of the miseries of today's world. Having said that, I don't mean I ignore the subject. If you're writing a Professionals story set in the Last seven or eight years, then you have to consider whether AIDS affects what you write about sexual relationships. However, many Professionals stories are set within the period of the series, when AIDS was either unknown or just becoming heard of in Britain.

As far as I'm concerned, Bodie and Doyle have had a faithful sexual relationship with each other for a very long time. Maybe that's an idealised view, considering the sexual behaviour of much of society today, but then it's my fantasy world, after all.
I agree totally with comments about the Pros lasting the test of time, flared trousers excepted. Being able to watch the 6 episodes aired by LWT last year was a treat, especially as so many non-fans made approving comments. Out of curiosity, does anyone know why they were so drastically cut (shredded would . be a better word)? Was it to fit in with the Christmas adverts? I would believe anything of LWT. It was very frustrating, waiting happily for a 'good bit' only to lurch (rather like tripping on the last non-existent step of the stairs) when it wasn't there. This is only a quibble, as I would quite happily watch whatever LWT in their omnipotence deigned to put on. I even got quite excited over their short ads for the Pros. Insanity!
I agree that many fan writers cannot like B and D as presented in the aired CI5 world. Why else translate them so drastically in time and place and character. Placing the two of them in, say, the 16th century gives the author some credibility when she turns them (well, okay, turns Doyle) into something she can like. Personally, I think that these all-sweetness-and-light, girl-meets-boy stories are more suited to a gay version of *Women’s Weekly*. But it takes all sorts to make the world go around. The stories where he is this angelic creature who wouldn't say boo! to a goose are incomprehensible to me. You only have to watch almost any episode of the series to see the dark, vicious side to Doyle's nature. Personally, I wouldn't want to see him any other way, as it is the dichotomies in his personality that make him so fascinating. Doyle definitely would kick the kitten out of the way, unless of course it was Friday, when he'd pick it up and give it to Bodie to cuddle. Mind you, even then it would only be because Bodie was allergic to cats! No, seriously, I enjoy a good love story as much as anyone else, but with some reality, please. If I want to read about sweet submissive feminine half-wits. I'll get out some Barbara Cartland.

B/D fandom was an unexpected find. Where Kirk and Spock saved the Universe, had mind melds, and could be brought back from the dead, Bodie and Doyle went to the pub, bought fish and chips, and had to put in expense vouchers. They had a lot of rough edges, but one suspected they were diamonds underneath. They possessed a ready wit doing a very difficult job. Not for them the chance of resurrection -like real life, they had to make a choice and take the consequences, good or bad. In the real world - that's the problem - in a real world so many things are stacked against them. Perhaps that makes it more interesting for the writer, but I will be honest and say I am reading for escapism, humour, fun. I don't want to read about B and D dying, being the victims of prejudice or torture. I'm afraid I want them to live happily ever after.

[...]

I haven't read anything that's too off the wall. Except for one story where Doyle liked to dress in womens' undies. This was a bit of a shock to Bodie, but in the end he accepted the idea. In a way the story was quite romantic, and well written.

Bodie put up with it because he loved Doyle - and what harm was he doing anyway? I must admit I don't want to read stories where they are violent towards each other - but perhaps there is some great writing out there that I'm missing because of this rather conservative attitude. Generally, I like 'First Time' stories where it takes them a long time to get together. The journey is as good as the destination.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 5

'A FRIEND IN NEED': Verrry cute. No spray-ons, then? But spray-on jeans would never look so tight.

"NO HIDING PLACE': Maybe too cute, verging on the S/H genre, even, but just after reading 'SILENCE=DEATH', I needed that. (That'll teach me not to read forewords and start with the last story in a fanzine, hah!) [7]
'A Friend In Need' was my favourite story from issue 5. Absolutely darling! I love Bodie's solution. The story reminded me of the 'Shirt Tales' series from the ex-letterzine, T.H.E., also CAT TALES and COW TALES. CI5 humour! [8]

Issue 6

Be Gentle With Us 6 was published in June 1992 and contains 48 pages.

front cover of issue #6, the back cover is blank
from issue #6, artist is Cat

Issue 6: Sample Fan Comments

Some interesting points were raised in BGWU 5, not least the fact that too many of us reply only in the privacy of our heads, rather than committing potentially great thoughts - or not - to paper. Given the influx of fans relatively new to B/D, it would be great to see more of them writing in. After 11 or so years enjoying this fandom, I find it difficult to work up much enthusiasm for a discussion on characterisation, or the significance of Doyle's left nipple.

Perhaps one of the reasons fan-fiction often portrays women as 'mindless birds' is because that is how they were portrayed in the series all too often. If we pay the series the compliment of taking the world it created seriously then Bodie and Doyle's track record, ability and desire for a committed relationship - they choose the bimbo of the week. As portrayed on screen they are chauvinists to the core, their women as disposable, and memorable, as styrofoam containers. When writing-a story, the aim is to present an extension of Bodie and Doyle as seen on screen, chauvinism and all. It is hardly surprising they turn to each other, given the lack of opposition.

I prefer fan-fiction's portrayals of Kate Ross to the lady we see on screen, who seems incapable of offering a dispassionate and professional viewpoint; her put-downs, references to 'hairy masculine fun'... Presumably CI5, or the security services at least, are the world she has chosen to live in. I find it very difficult to believe, given her attitude. Can you imagine what life for a female CI5 agent would be like within the organisation?

My favourite three-dimensional ladies are Susan Grant (Cry Wolf); Margery Harper (Backtrack); Miss Walsh (Spy Probe), who'd get my vote to run CI5 any day; and Esther (Takeaway) if I can ignore the convention which demanded she fall in love with our hero three seconds before the credits, at which point Doyle dutifully gets very dewy-eyed.
How many episodes does Doyle cry in (I can think of three straight away, but none for Bodie)? Maybe there is a reason for the 'tearful Doyle' and 'manic-mercenary Bodie' stories after all.

What do I value in a story?' The fact I can believe in the characters and scenario while I am reading it, a story I can find something to enjoy in every time I re-read it. I'm a sucker for snappy dialogue. Like 2.5, I have a fondness for a story with a beginning, a middle, and a happy ending. While I prefer a harder edge to sugary sentimentality, a happy ending is essential. Bodie and Doyle don't have to walk off into the sunset hand in hand, but I want to know they're together and content to be so, even if the world is falling down about their ears. Unrelieved angst is far easier to write than a balanced story containing all shades from white to black. But it is dull and unrealistic. Human beings are not all 'good' or 'bad'; a flawed hero is a realistic hero as far as I'm concerned.

I enjoy learning something about the characters, and seeing them learn something too - preferably not just the fact they fancy each other. I love stories with pace, depth and texture, changes of mood. I get bored when authors use fan-fiction as a soap-box; I prefer to remain uneducated. I don't find gratuitous violence - or sex - a turn-on; death stories are so predictable I don't bother finishing them. Every author intends to manipulate the reader's emotions, but I prefer not to spot it in the first paragraph.

I enjoy both slash and straight fiction; fiction that stands the test of time doesn't rely solely on a steamy sex scene - apart from which, all too often, they don't steam. I like equality between Bodie and Doyle, and a balance between the two characters if possible - though a bias towards Doyle is quite acceptable. I have a soft spot for hystericals and A/U's, but above all else I enjoy stories set within CI5 where we actually see Bodie and Doyle at work as well as at play.

Having said all that, I'll read anything - once - though I don't guarantee to finish it in all cases. I much prefer a poorly-written story where the author respects the characters to cynical manipulations intended only to 'shock'.
I must admit to being one of those fans who have said, "Doyle suffers beautifully!". Maybe I feel this way because extremes of certain emotions do something special to a person's appearance/presence - when a plain looking person is very happy, it can transform them into something beautiful, so maybe it's the same with other strong emotions: love, pain, sadness, etc. Or could beauty in suffering just be part of the dark side in some of us? Personally, I don't think that it is a matter of the violence being erotic in itself, but that the aftermath is maybe.

When it comes to S/M stories, I've got a sneaky curiosity about them, though I have yet to find any really well-written ones in this style. The watchword with these stories has to be 'consensual' though, e.g. that it is obvious that the characters know and like what they are doing. I've ordered myself a copy of the zine '...AS A £3 NOTE', as the reviews of it make all the stories (including the S/M ones) sound well worth reading. Anyway, just because you read S/M stories lit doesn't mean you would necessarily like to actually experience it yourself, just that you like the fantasy of it. Plenty of people fantasise about

making love in cornfields, or in long grass, or on a sandy beach, etc. But looked at realistically, fields are damp and cold, and have creepy-crawlies in them, and the beach has soft sand for your knees to sink into and with our weather it would probably be blowing a gale... But saying that, everyone should be allowed their fantasies!
I can usually find it in my heart not to totally condemn a story there are good lust/sex scenes - they can brighten up and distract you from a limp storyline. Or good emotional angst/love scenes can overshadow badly-written or non-existent sex scenes. Also, humour can tip the balance of a story with me - even if the story is unintentionally funny. Actually, I don't like to condemn a story if I can help it, as since I have tried my hand at writing fan-fic I have found out how difficult it is.
I agree that PROFESSIONALS stories set in the time period the series was actually aired would most likely not mention AIDS as most people didn't even know what it was. Or if they had heard of it, no one knew what caused the mysterious malady. I lost a friend to AIDS a couple of years ago, and writing a B/D story where Ray mourns the loss of a friend to AIDS helped me get over my on grief. I know others who have AIDS; it's a terrible disease and I want to deal with it realistically in my writing, and I welcome those who also deal with it. I also respect those who don't want to deal with it.

I tend to prefer a more androgynous portrayal than I gather you do; it's not always necessary for the two to act completely 'macho'. Now, this does not mean that Doyle has to take on the worst of stereo-typically 'feminine' qualities, nor does Bodie have to be shown as some sort of super-macho sex-fiend. Characters, both male and female, can have androgynous traits without being wafting wimps. Just as it is not realistic to turn Ray Doyle into Scarlett O'Doyle, it is also not necessary to go in the other direction and show Doyle as a vicious psychopath. Ray is a bundle of contradict ions, sometimes gentle and sometimes ruthless. Same with Bodie, though he shows it in a slightly different way (if the two were exactly the same, it would be boring).

I think that you and I may have significantly different views of Ray Doyle. I recently was watching my tape of 'WILD JUSTICE' several times; I am using a flashback from the events of this episode in my novel. What happens in the end is that Bodie's behaviour with the motorbike gang is bewildering and (yes, it's possible) frightening to Doyle. So Doyle leaves him to get help from Cowley; he's puzzled, he doesn't know what else to do. But watch what happens when Cowley informs Doyle of King Billy's having murdered one of Bodie's old platoon mates. Doyle does not hesitate for an instant, but goes charging back to help Bodie out. Even when Bodie knocks Doyle to the ground (and he gives Ray a vicious whack), Doyle fights by Bodie's side, helping to subdue the outlaw bikers. The act of a selfish, self-centred man? Hardly!

This will now be my time for a general rant against the 'Doyle as selfish, self-centred bitch' stories which I see once in a while. The worst of these portray Bodie as a poor, suffering martyr, who is smitten in love with a cruelly insensitive narcissist, who sits there preening. One story even used the 'selfish bitch' (who was also unfaithful) rationale as a set-up for Bodie raping Doyle. People have the right to write what they wish - but puh-lease! In my own humble view, this sort of thing does not portray the man who, without the slightest hesitation (in 'FUGITIVE'] was willing to throw his own life away to free Bodie from the bomb which had been strapped to him.
I am a fan who likes a well-written consensual S/M story (I've written a couple myself, and plan to do more). In fact, it puzzles me to see some people accept all sorts of graphic rape and torture, yet freak out at a type of loving which is totally consensual. There is a big difference between consensual S/M stories and rape-fantasies (where a rape victim falls madly in love with his/her rapist). The best of S/M involves a rare level of trust between the partners. As for writing style in S/M, my preference goes for the milder forms where partners play out a bondage fantasy. Heavier S/M stories are not offensive to me, they just tend to turn me off if they get too explicit or too much into 'mechanics'.
The N/L contents: I'll begin by confessing that I usually skip most of the articles, reviews, etc. pertaining to the actors. I'm interested in the characters, not the actors. (Mind you, in Star Trek fandom I collect all and sundry about William Shatner, this being the sole exception to the previously stated 'rule'; so you can understand that I do not criticize the articles on the actors, I just don't care to read them. But I know a lot of people like these articles.) As for the rest of the N/L, I have two favourite sections: the LOC's (I know, I did not contribute much to this section, but I'll try to change this in future!), and the zine reviews. As you might understand about me, I'm primarily a zine fan (loved reading since I was 7 and learned how to read... Never stopped since!), and a 'communication' fan. Meaning I like to know what other people think (particularly when they agree with me! It's only half a joke...), and so I avidly read this section.

I'd like to answer specially to [[[M. Fae Glasgow]]], whose writing I enjoy so much. (So, you're now writing 'primarily PROS'? Please don't forget BLAKE'S 7, which you write beautifully, and which is at the moment, at the top of my favourites list.) I agree with you on many points mentioned in your letter, and I disagree with some, but then would I care to write just to say I think exactly like you do?

First, to define what is the one thing that is most important in a story. It's not easy, but I think that what does the trickfor me is the believability of the characters. Being originally a K/S fan, and having read most in this fandom, I quite agree with our dear editor's (5.1) view of the subject: I've found that trend of decreasing originality in recent K/S zines, together with a decreasing respect for the characters (increasing explicitness is okay by me; depends on the kind of story, of course). The problem, I think, is that some people write about a character they don't understand, or do not have the talent to depict as they understand them. All kinds of variations are acceptable to me, but they must be justified in view of the series involved. Or the difference must be justified also, either by writing in an alternate universe (Star Trek and Blake's 7 offer great possibilities of such), or by displacing the characters in 'other times and places', as has seemingly been done often with B/D. I don't think it's because people don't like them in the aired series (as KITTY FISHER wrote), but because it gives them more freedom to explore the characters and their relationship.

[...]

Then, like you, no, I don't want gentleness - not all the time, that is - but, unlike you, I enjoy hurt/comfort. I'm not specific as to who does the hurting bit... they both suffer so beautifully! I also enjoy S/M, unlike you, consensual or not as long as it is well written, and I like stories where the characters are old or sick or die, as well as ones where they are young and happy.

I think I should explain myself. I don't think reading S/M stories or death stories makes me more 'abnormal' than anyone else This is fiction, isn't it, and fiction (written or otherwise) has two functions for me: enjoying myself (escapism, if you wish); and creating a kind of cathartic 'unworld' where everything can happen as a kind of 'rehearsal' of real life. I don't mean, of course, that reading about a sadomasochistic relationship is for me a way of learning how to have one: I don't think I'd enjoy it in reality I like comfort and pleasure like everyone else. I mean I can 'rehearse' emotions and learn a lot more about my own inner workings with the help of fiction. Besides, it's harmless; if Doyle dies, well, he'll live in another story. If Bodie gets AIDS (I read a very moving AIDS story in '...AS A £3 NOTE', if I'm not mistaken), another story will have him whole and well.

Well, to summarize my position: EVERYTHING is acceptable to me as long as it is well written and at least marginally believable. I don't have any example in B/D, but I have in mind a K/S story that truly managed to shock me. (In case anyone knows about it the title was 'THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US'.) I'm not going to explain the story, as it is not relevant to this fandom, but the author did such ugly things to the believablity of the characters, I do understand what you mean when you state your disgust with a feminized Doyle - anyway, for me the romantic, tender, 'feminine'

character is Bodie. I'd like to read a story where he is head-over-heels in love with Doyle and playing the doormat... That would be a refreshing change, wouldn't it? Doyle is a tough and unforgiving character in my opinion, quite capable, as you point out, of acting rashly towards Bodie, while Bodie's fits of pique are just child's play. (Just seen him being ridiculed by Marikka, poor sod, it just seems very possible for him to become all gooey when he's in love...) Yes, the French Channel 1 is presently airing THE PROFESSIONALS, a good opportunity for me to see them in colour and to understand what they say - although I suspect some episodes have been translated into French by a drunk man standing on his head and thinking he was translating 'Mary Poppins'!
One of the best reads I've had in B/D fandom is the delightful 'PROFESSIONAL DREAMER', picturing Bodie as an ex-merc turned writer of spy stories (of course, the heroes of the books being a projection of himself and a literary creation called Doyle, who embodies all that Bodie finds attractive in a man). Bodie meets a shy librarian whose only joy in life is reading his books and identifying with Doyle, and who comes to believe h6 is truly Doyle having been hit on the head (a useful device) and lost his memory. It is witty, inventive, romantic, funny, and shows a perfect understanding of the characters, considering the changes in their circumstances. Raymond Dibble (the librarian) is one of the most delicious Doyles I've ever read, and a truly amazing literary creation. (Somebody out there thinks Doyle is my favourite character? Well, you hit it right on the spot! Bodie is truly gorgeous, but Doyle is so... cuddlyable, if such a word exists!)

I got to thinking about M. FAE GLASGOW'S question on what makes a story compulsive reading for each individual, even when the story itself might be pretty crummy. Well, I have a personal quirk about love stories where the hero is obsessive about the heroine, and this carries over into the slash fiction I like to

re§id. I know that in the real world obsessive love can be frightening and dangerous, but we're not talking about real life here. I love it when Bodie is completely nuts about Doyle, to the point and sometimes past the point of obsession. This kind of story I will read even when I am aware that it is pretty far fetched. What can I say - it's my kind of thing. This brings me to something else that she mentioned in her letter, the subject of S/M in slash. I suppose, given the nature of the characters in B/D, that it is easy to see how S/M stories find their way into this fandom. I have nothing against these stories as I know there are people out there who read and enjoy them, and why shouldn't they get the chance to do so. On a personal level, I don't particularly like stories that dwell on the fetish aspect of these kinds of relationships, i.e. whips, handcuffs, etc., simply because I'd rather read the psychological aspect. That's not to say I don't enjoy a good sex scene - I do, but I prefer there to be love as well, even if Bodie and Doyle aren't aware of it them selves. Each to his own, and no one has the right to say what another adult can or can not read for pleasure.
Even as someone else who likes a bit of grit in her Doyle, I can't see him kicking a cat, or any animal for that matter, but I can see him kicking a few villains. I'm not quite sure where this namby-pamby Doyle you read about in some stories came from, certainly not the series, but I know it does appeal to some. If Bodie's character is changed in a story, it is usually the other way, making him more vicious and conscienceless than he ever came across on television.
I have noticed that of the range of stories I have read there seems to be a concentration on the early stages of Bodie and Doyle's relationship. I have read a good few stories with an established relationship premise which have been excellent, but not many of the stories pursue them very far into their future. I was wondering if this has something to do with a prejudice I admit to having. I enjoy gay love stories in which the characters are young and beautiful, but I find it difficult to accept such a relationship between older men. To be honest, I don't have this problem with a relationship between an older, heterosexual couple.
Although I don't particularly want to read 'death' stories (one of them, 'Endgame', I believe is one of the finest pieces of writing I have encountered in a long time, in or out of fandom)
I think there is an essential place for [fanfic with the topic of AIDS], especially considering the jobs our heroes have. The possible loss of one of them through AIDS is very likely because of the life-style they exhibited right through the very high risk period. Many writers will probably want to deal with it and if it is handled in a realistic way it will not be easy, but it should not be ignored. If all stories were tagged in some way the reader could avoid subjects she doesn't find palatable.
Why might Cowley love Bodie, and why might Bodie love Cowley? [see this fan's comments at Bodie/Cowley]
Two things which turn me right off are misogyny, or sexism, and homophobia; I've never liked a story just because it's politically correct, but I do dislike stories written by someone who obviously hates herself and hates what I am.

Hm. Hurt/Comfort. There are basically two kinds; the sort where damage is inflicted by someone else on one, and the other has a great time cuddling and stroking and generally putting together again, and the sort where damage is inflicted by one upon the other, and then has a great time cuddling, etc. I have never quite seen the point of the first sort. If you want to see someone being hurt, and humiliated, and generally mistreated, surely it's more fun the more intimate the relationship?

[...]

The reason why most hurt/comfort stories don't work very well (I mean as stories; as fantasies, they presumably work very well indeed for the people who want them) is because, they take massively damaging events (torture, rape) and assume that the aftereffects would be no worse than if the torture or the rape had been a previously-agreed-to S/M scene, and that the attempts of a lover to comfort would help, not hinder.

One hurt/comfort story I read that really did work for me was one in which Doyle had broken his forearm and his wrist and had been alone in his flat, on sick leave, for over a week, with both hands effectively useless and no one to help - Bodie's away in the north of England on an assignment. Then Bodie turns up with a week's leave, and Doyle practically falls into his arms, he's so pleased to see him. Now that was a story in which the hurt was proportional to the comfort - and a very sweet nice story it was too. (I like sweet sometimes. And nice.)
Like you I don't care for being manipulated obviously by a writer - and I don't generally believe in waffling about a story before the story itself. A story should be its own defense and explanation. But though it was clear that M. FAE GLASGOW had several points to make in 'As a £3 Note...', I thought that the writing was good enough to carry it off. (Besides, I agreed with her most of the time.)

I agree with your soapbox on 'free fantasy'. No one should be asked to edit their dreams and fantasies. If they then choose to write them down it is up to them; if they want to share their fantasies with a wider audience it is their choice, whether it is a 'sick' fantasy or the best thing since sliced bread - remembering that both labels will be attached to the same fantasy by different people. It is your choice whether you read it or not, no one is forcing slash readers to read slash or variations thereof. Personally, I think that everyone has the right to publish what they want. Through the grapevine I have heard some of your fiction described as 'sick', because some people seem to think that a story about Doyle wearing ladies underwear must be, by definition, 'sick'. (I think it's called 'IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO'? Sorry if I've got it wrong, but as I'm writing this at work I can't check.)

Here goes with another soapbox. What I REALLY HATE are the people who slag off a story because they think it is 'sick' and 'disgusting' without having read the story first. I hope you won't mind me using your story as an example but it seems to me to go beyond the 'I won't read death stories' camp. I can understand the person who says, "I won't read death stories as I want my heroes/friends to live forever", but I don't understand the labeling of a story as 'sick' purely on the basis of a choice of clothes, a liking for a particular sexual practice, or purely on hearsay. I may not like the story when I finally get the money together to read it, but that doesn't make it 'sick', it just means that I didn't like that particular version of Doyle, although another writer maybe could convince me about the frilly underwear. If we only ever read what we know we will like, how are we ever going to find new things to like?
I hate the 'poor little flower Doyle', but 'poor little Bodie' is even worse. I know people write to express their views of the characters, their opinions on how an episode should have ended, and many other reasons, but why do they have to change the characters that inspired the fiction in the first place? OK, it's a fantasy world and anything goes, but I think (for what it's worth) that the basic characteristics of the characters should at least be recognisable.
I know in the real world many couples have what is termed a 'modern' relationship, where each can go off and fuck someone else if they want. Maybe if someone wrote a convincing story along those lines it would be OK, but I want my slash couples to be 'happily married and content with each other. Maybe it's just me. I mean that I was up to expect a 'committed' relationship (which includes a carriage certificate) and I haven't managed to throw off this expectation.

I'll read just about anything - even the plot lines I usually hate, because you never know, someone may just have made a hated plot into what turns out to be my favourite. In any type of fiction - straight/slash/SF/fantasy it's the characters that 'get to me'. If I don't find a friend between the covers of a book/zine then it's just another story, but when I find that friend (don't ask me what that id, because it changes - I love some Doyles and hate others) the story stays a friend for life - I've read some books to destruction, and another book by the same author sits on my shelf hardly touched.

I found it really interesting that you thought I was writing (in 'Queer', aka '...As A £3 Note') to make a point, rather than out of any love of the character. I was wondering why, because Bodie and Doyle are two characters I write because I adore them, not because I find them, for instance as I do Picard and Data, intellectually interesting from one or two points of view. I know that a lot (and I'm not picking on you, you just happened to have brought up something I've come across a lot and which I find fascinating) of people feel that if we don't treat Our Boys as Heroes (fine, decent, mainstream [sexually speaking], upstanding fellows filled with love and fidelity), then we can't possibly like them. Just last week a friend asked me if I honestly even liked Bodie or Doyle, because I do such gritty stories about them and because I make Doyle so foul-mouthed. Perhaps it does come down to how much escapism each of us is looking for in our slash? Too much escapism leaves me hungry and unsatisfied, with that so-familiar craving that only good slash can cure, yet obviously, for other people, not enough escapism leaves them with a feeling of distaste. It's one of the things I like best about slash: despite the occasional voice of would-be censorship, there is an incredibly wide range of story available.

It has always mystified me as to why so many fans should prefer nice, sweet stories. Myself, I way prefer stories where the characters have a harder edge, if only because realism is important to my belief in and enjoyment of a story, and I do see Bodie and Doyle as hard. Not unlikable - far from it; on the contrary, I like them hugely. They do their best to be decent human beings despite the context of their job, their character, their lives, and they make a pretty good shot at it.

Yet so many stories seem to feel they have to unearth in Doyle some 'goodness' the writer suspects is somehow missing - you know, the hidden-heart-of-gold syndrome, the sudden (amazing!) revelation that sheer selfless altruism is behind his motives after all? This is hard to take for those of us who find it easy to love Doyle the way he is; not to mention insulting - as if he has to be changed before he can be likeable.

Perhaps the acid test of which camp you fall into can be neatly summed up by that little scene in 'Foxhole' (invoked by M. FAE GLASGOW) where Doyle thoroughly enjoys himself abusing, bullying and threatening a female witness: what is your reaction to it. Oh Reader? Have you nearly worn the tape thin with endless re-runs, Doyle's vicious snarl of "Gun-oil!" resounding thrillingly in your ears? Or do you refuse to watch it - deny it existed - only watch it swathed in dark glasses with your thumb pressed firmly on the fast-forward button? A comforting copy of some sweet-little-Doyle story to hand to restore your faith in his beautiful nature thereafter?

And 'Wild Justice'. A whole episode here which many people would like to discount entirely when considering character, relationship, etc. Not one of my own favourites, as it happens (except for Doyle in the sexiest of t-shirts) but just to write it off entirely as a script-writer's aberration is surely wishful thinking.

Mind you, slash itself is of course wishful thinking. And even in the aired show the nature of Bodie and Doyle varies from episode to episode according to script, author, Shaw and Collins' mood at the time of filming, etc. I suppose you could make out a pretty good case for them being the playful, jolly lads with hidden hearts of gold as they appear in so many stories, some of mine included, or even, at the other end of the scale, the tough hard bastards of 'Consequences' and the like. It depends which episodes you've been watching, and your own selective predilection. I don't mind all these stories which sweeten up and homogeonise Bodie and Doyle into something comfortable to live with. I just find it mystifying as to why anyone should want to make them comfortable.

Like everyone else, I am intensely romantic at heart. It's just that one perfectly understated line of, say, Mary Renault, carries about ten times the emotional weight of three blowsy paragraphs of Denise Robins. And if B and D have been kept in context (CI5 context) and character, isn't it that much more of a challenge, that much more of a conquest, that much more exciting and more meaningful when they finally come to show one another some hard-won tenderness?

From the popularity of so many stories which I find too impossibly idealistic to convince me and thrill me, I get the feeling that mine is very much the minority view - am I right? I've no objection to sweetness and light abounding, far from it. Freedom of the press, and all that. I mean, we're not getting

paid for this lark. We might as well write what we fancy, yea, even though what we fancy is a pair of elves. I am simply taking the opportunity to indulge in a little whingeing self-pity that there are not more stories around which reflect my taste in B/D.

Reading some very interesting contributions lately - and maybe I read them all wrong - I got the impression that a good B/D story ought to depict THE REAL LIFE, including the politic and social circumstances of today's world (including topics like AIDS, severe injuries, S & M, drugs or what have you...)

At least men should not be shown too loving and gentle with each other, and I ask, "Why not?" Because the male species would rather tear each other apart verbally or literally? Because love and a happy ending are just so much romantic drivel and should be ignored as such because the road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but those go inevitably down the drain as life is not a bSd of roses, dismal and gritty?

It is by all means any contributor's right to see it this way if she feels her Bodie and Doyle are only believable to her in that environment. Maybe no serious fan should consider writing if she does it for sheer escapism, a word that I feel is sometimes used in a derogatory way. I for one like Bodie and Doyle only as escapism. Just because they may be gentle in a story does not necessarily mean they are less male, or that they've become wimps of the first order. I must have written it somewhere before that if I want real life stories I switch on the radio or TV, and listen to/watch the news, or read the newspapers.

Also, as much as I hate to admit it, these guys are not real, so why should I always treat them as if they were? They are fiction. They are also A LOT OF FUN* For me they are bonded - to use an expression from another fandom - they are gentle/ they live happily ever afterf and sometimes good intentions come true for them.

This is not to say that I decline to read more controversial stories. As long as they are well-written I have no difficulties with them. I may read them only once, though, while I return to the other type of stories that I prefer, like all of O. YARDLEY'S, MEG LEWTAN'S, or H.G's stories, to name a few authors, and read them time and time again. Therefore I was very pleased when the editors decided to call this L/Z 'Be Gentle With Us', because that is exactly how I felt Bodie and Doyle - as I see them - ought to be treated.

It comes down to the simple fact of how you perceive the characters. Each of us has her own ideas, and that's only reasonable. It will make for a lot of stories from all sorts of POV's for a long time to come. I only wish some people were . not so very determined that others ought to see the characters the way they do. In short, it is the simple question of IDIC. Funny, how Star Trek tends to creep into a lot of other fandoms, *grin*!

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 6

First, the play reviews. Sounds as if the only reason there would be to see Martin in this one is to watch him have a good snog with another man. Wouldn't be enough for me, I'm afraid. If it was shown in the theatre opposite my work, I'd go just to see Martin in the flesh, but that isn't going to happen. Thanks go to those who reviewed it and saved me the effort.

I liked the stories, and I thought the scene in 'Holding Out For A Hero', where Bodie wakes up in hospital and wants to know if Doyle's all right, was very good. It was simple and didn't gush on, but was more believable and emotional for all that. [9]

Issue 7

Be Gentle With Us 7 was published in September 1992 and contains 42 pages.

front cover of issue #7
The editorial:

Please take the cover caption seriously. We would be reluctant to send out our crack duo, but needs must when the devil drives...

The issue look[s] a little different due to circumstances beyond our control. I have just changed jobs and as I use the school photocopier to reduce the original typing to A5, I have been going through a rather stressful period of trying to find 5 minutes when the office was empty and the dirty deed could be done!

Sample Fan Comments: Issue 7

Are pros fans are psychic or I am detecting a trend: at least two LOCs in the last issue of BGWU went on about this fandom's near-obsession with turning the canon Doyle - who can be short-tempered, razor-tongued, acid-humoured and even cruel - into wispy, wimpy, ethereal boy-whores eternally crying on Bodie's chest. Coincidentally, at least two LOCs in my own L/Z, SHORT CIRCUIT, also addressed the same subject, and I devoted a large portion of my own LOC to it. I have to wonder if fans are afraid of the 'real' Doyle? What IS wrong with stories in which Doyle is depicted as we see him in the canon? Most of the best PROS fiction portrays Doyle fairly realistically.

[...]

Now, this rewriting of the Doyle character could be put off as a backlash against a show in which the two heroes are really only hired guns who occasionally have to KILL as part of their job except that the fan-fiction BODIE is rarely radically different (except when he cries... sorry, Bodie is not a weeper; he's a closed book; his emotions are always in control. If he ever let go enough to be reduced to real crying, he'd be out of control and lethal. And he knows it).

So why is DOYLE changed so much, so often? You all claim to love this hot, sexy, torn-jeans wet-dream, then you write him as heroine.

This fandom is often so hung-up on happy-joy-gooey-sweet endings, I sometimes fear for my insulin level! Deliver me from yet another Doyle-weeping-in-Bodie's-arms. Give me that acid, sarky, nasty Doyle who goes on pseudo-intellectual guilt trips (plot device at best - I have never believed he really believed it) and rages of idealism. Idealists are your best fanatics, after all. Doyle doesn't strike me as truly committed. And Bodie certainly doesn't swallow what Doyle spews - and that's the key to that relationship: Bodie absorbs it all, cools Doyle down, and they get on with getting on. Yet, most of the time, when Doyle is off on a rant and a rave, who does he take it out on? Right. I mean, we've seen Doyle cry all of what, TWICE on the show?
Bravo for those of you who defend Ann Holly. She was NOT a 'bitch' nor an 'ice queen' and general plot device. SHE was used by Doyle (and Cowley), not the other way round. And she didn't just dump Doyle, she dumped CI5. She knew Cowley'd be looking over her shoulder ever after. I'd've dumped Doyle too - I'd rather sleep with pit vipers than know all of CI5 knew every detail of my life with one of their agents. Especially one who set my father up (or at least that's the way I think she saw it). Watch INVOLVEMENT - it's one long manipulation of Ann AND Bodie. Bodie steps out of the way so Ann can get hit by a tsunami.
I also found myself becoming bored with the K/S stories I was getting through, and thank God I was told about the PROF library. I still read K/S, but am more selective in my reading now. I read many other slash fandoms and so there is a much wider choice of stories available to me, but I love Bodie and Doyle and, since they are not the conventional hero types, love the range of stories that are done and which are possible while still remaining true to their basic characterisation.
I totally agree with you about PROFESSIONAL DREAMER. Anyone out there who hasn't read this PROF story should definitely rectify it. Even if you only like your Bodie and Doyle as seen and not in any A/U setting, give this one a whirl. Although it isn't them, it is them, if you know what I mean. You said that pretty much all PROF stories are acceptable to you if well written. Sometimes I can't read a story myself, even if it has been well done. I have a couple of no-no's, things that will actually stop me reading a story. The first one is when a third man is brought into it, usually Murphy. Most of these I'm not keen on, although there have been exceptions. On the whole it has to be just B/D for me.
I hate Bodie/Cowley stories. There, you wanted to know if there were any of us out here. The thing is, I don't think that anyone has the right to mind that you like them. I suppose that we all try to change people's opinions in our own way, but I don't see anything wrong in your liking the Bodie/Cowley mix if that appeals to you. It just doesn't do a thing for me,, and once I've got my pairing they stay paired, let no man put asunder. I can't mix-and-match. Basically, I'm not interested in Cowley's sex life with Bodie or anyone else, but I know other people are, which is always a good reason to keep writing stories based on it. By the way, I'm half Scottish. My dad was from Glasgow, and since my mum is Irish I feel I'm letting the side down a bit by not getting into a real humdinger of an argument, but what the hell, we're all individuals.
[T] mentions in her letter about how women are portrayed in slash, which I know has been a sore point for some time, especially in B/D. I must admit to preferring the women to take a back seat in the stories as well. I know this is rather letting the side down, but I don't read slash for the women and I want the attention focussed on the two male leads, rather than a female character. To flesh her out in the story would mean having to write her into it quite a lot. I'd rather the space were given elsewhere. I do feel that Ann Holly couldn't be blamed for the way she acted, but I didn't find her that sympathetic in the series. Maybe it's because she started off by having a go at Doyle about his job. I don't know. I think a lot may have to do with Patricia Hodge. She always comes across as rather hard, and that makes it difficult for me to feel sorry for her. I did like the bit after she finds Doyle going through her purse, and she ends up telling him about her father and showing him old photographs. I do agree that she had every right to walk away when she heard Doyle questioning her father on her own involvement in the drug-running. I certainly wouldn't have stuck around after that. Truth be known, though, the only reason that this is one of my favourite episodes is because of the interplay between Bodie and Doyle during it. There have to be some of the best scenes between these two in the series in this episode.
Although I like my couples to end up 'Happily Married', I like to read how they progress to that rather than have them all sweetness and light through the whole story. This is probably why two of my favourite authors, who also just happen to be contributors to this L/Z, are H.G. and SEBASTIAN. Nobody goes through a relationship without their ups and downs, and it's the people you care about most that you usually argue with the most. I love H.G. and SEBASTIAN' s stories because they deal with this, but you're not left feeling down at the end. The love comes through and they are happy, perhaps more so because it has taken some effort to get there. Please keep writing, you've both done some of my favourite PROF. I also have a liking for NATASHA BARRY'S stuff, mainly because she always writes stories where Bodie is obsessed by Doyle. Not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely mine, as I mentioned the last time.

In the real S/M world, I think it is fair to say, that sexual, consensual S/M NEVER involves a threat to life, limb or even blood. Anything more is not S/M, is not truly sexual, and is indulged in by a tiny minority of true perverts who rarely have a willing partner. In S/M it is the 'slave' who has ultimate control, not the 'master'. And who, least of all B and D, WANTS to be hospitalized. In the one slash story I've read that soared off into the realms of fantasy ( DANCE WITH THE DEVIL), I believe Doyle would have got a gun and shot Bodie for what he did. I don't understand how anyone would confuse the levels of pain and mutilation with therapy! The poor sod would probably need nipple transplants! S/M is trust and love, and that is what should make the story erotic.

Also, that is where H/C and S/M differ. There is no trust in H/C, and that is why I hate seeing either of them hurt or humiliate the other. It can be done, of course, and still have them love and trust each other at the end of the story, but it is very difficult. I suppose all this really depends on the level of hurt involved. A touch of mental angst from one or the other is fine, I'm not even averse to the odd punch or even partner-rape (as long as it is well-written and has a point to the story) but anything worse than that and leave me out. In the story you cite, where an enemy of Bodie's repeatedly rapes Doyle (I think he's actually an enemy of Doyle's, as long as it’s the same story, PARDON AFTER EXECUTION which, incidentally, is unfinished) you say that it could be the same (superficially) and be an S/M story.

How? Both B and D suffer terribly, and neither of them is unchanged by the experience. Where's the fun? Where's the 'M'? You get plenty of 'S'. I enjoy reading both H/C and S/M if they are realistic. I notice the lobbyists out there against S/M do not complain at the bondage scene in MASTER OF THE REVELS. Good! I thought it was one of the most erotic things H.G. has ever written. (Gosh - just had a vision of Zax in nothing but a silver chain. Very nice! Thank you, H.G.)

Considering what we read and write, none of us has the right to condemn other people's tastes. If Ms Whitehouse had her way I'm sure half of our libraries would end up on a pyre in Trafalger Square.

Damn! If I believe that myself, then I have to accept a wimpish Doyle! God -- what you have to do to be a liberal!
I've discovered WHY Doyle is a "Fragile Flower." Bodie (according to one extremely prolific writer) has a cock which is 9 inches long (get a ruler) and as thick as his wrist (look at Bodie's wrists)! Ouch! Makes you feel quite sorry for Doyle, really!
About reality. I too like B and D to exist squarely in the real world. But due to a nasty feeling that they'd never ever fall in love in reality, I can accept spoon loads of fantasy. The trick seems to be in getting the balance right (PERFECT DAY - sigh) Both of them contain such wild extremes that it takes great skill not to ignore one side (or more) of them. Sweet/sour, violent/tender, comic/tragic, irrational/rational, happy/miserable, etc. etc. It all takes great skill to portray, but when it comes off, it makes rewarding reading, to say the least.
As for misogyny in fan writing, well it looks to me far more like plain misanthropy. Who is interested in the rest of the world when Bodie and Doyle are decorating the pages? Every other character, apart from them, is a plot device, men and women equally.

How I got into this wonderful madness? I came (take that any way you wish) in through K/S, then graduated to S/H, and barely caught a peek at N/I (U.N.C.L.E. - although I loved the show). My first introduction to B/D was through a late friend of mine who belonged to the Lending Library. I would read the stories naturally, but I'd never seen THE PROFESSIONALS. It was in 1985, at my first IDICon, that I viewed THE PURGING OF CI5, DISCOVERED IN A GRAVEYARD, and HUNTER/HUNTED (these remain three of my favourite episodes). No arm-twisting, ropes, chains, etc. were necessary; I was hooked! However, it took me a while before I could figure out that Doyle was the one with the green eyes! I have been published in K/S, S/H, and B/D, and have enjoyed every minute of the writing.

And what are my favourite kinds of stories? I enjoy Alternate Universes ('Camera Shy' comes to mind); historicals ('Bird In A Gilded Cage', 'The Peerless Pair', 'Rediscovered In A Graveyard', and PAM ROSE'S 'Arabian Nights' are four of the many that come to mind); some of the death stories (which did not reveal themselves in the first paragraph); the 'Middle Easterners', an affectionate term (those based on 'Rachid', Martin Shaw's character from THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD) and the 'Sheik Bodie's'; parodies; 'bedtime stories'; fantasy (JANE'S 'The Hunting' series); 'what ifs'; past lives (something I definitely believe in); ghost stories (something I have had experience with); crossovers (mixed universes); and the stories that show the loving/caring/compassionate side of Bodie, instead of always dwelling on the hard man/ex-mercenary.
I've just finished '...AS A £3 NOTE - I loved it, it's well worth the money. Fantasies are funny things - I'd HATE it if some of mine came true - I'd be mortified at the reality, but in my head it's okay.
I'm afraid that I read your paragraph on S/M in a very bad light. You seem to be suggesting that a S/M story isn't about love. In fact, on re-reading your last-but-one sentence you seem to imply that there is no love in a 'sex scene'. I think (hope) that I am reading you wrong, but I'm confused as to what you actually meant. I'd be grateful if you would clarify this before I rant about something you probably didn't mean.
I got into contact with other slash fans by accident. I accidentally bought 'DEEP GROPE', whereupon I rushed out and bought all the other 'GROPES'. I joined a ST club, and got addresses for 'DUET' and some American publishers. I bought K/S zines through the post for the next 10 years. I Knew that there were other fandoms out there, but I didn't manage to find them. Then, last year my flatmate was working in a video shop and got friendly a girl who bought ST tapes. This girl turned into a good friend, and then turned out to be a slash fan as well. She introduced me to 'LATE FOR BREAKFAST', and it's been downhill ever since.

I haven't actually read any B/C stories so I can't really comment on them, but I can't see any reason why not. Okay, there's a big difference in age, but so what? Given their respective jobs, their prospective life spans are not dissimilar.

They have a lot in common, and there is an obvious respect there. For all Bodie is relaxed and friendly with Doyle, there does seem to be a very different quality to his relationship with the Cow.

You say most B/C arguments come down to Cowley being too too dignified, and too aware of the dangers to himself and those around him. Well, to take these in order:

Age - Spring/Autumn (okay, maybe closer to Summer/Winter) romances are always seen in society as being 'wrong' because young partner will be 'left' when the older dies, and/or the older partner is robbing the younger of the 'best years of his life will die leaving the now Autumn to find his own Spring to get through what is left of his life. In this case, though, if Bodie does not change his profession he is more likely to die Cowley. So what if there is a difference in age? They are both old enough to make that decision for themselves, neither has any close family to consider.

Dignity - Stupid argument; since when is sex dignified. Does anyone out there know someone who does not have sex purely because it's beneath their dignity?

Dangers - This is probably the most well-used argument, but I think that it misses the point. Gay is not something you choose to be, you either are or are not. The choice is in wither you express a part of yourself or bury it, and Cowley would be fully aware of the dangers of denying a part of your own nature, specially in his job. Denying your own nature leads to all sorts of fault lines which blow under extreme pressure, an everyday occurrence for Cowley (the pressure, I mean). I think that there is enough feeling between them to become love if they let it.

I became thoroughly disillusioned with my first love, K/S - isn't it everyone's? - because of what, to me, seemed the incredible BLANDNESS of its new writing: no one seemed to want to face up to the flaws of the characters any more, and the stories being produced were basically about... just two guys - could have been anyone, except for the fact that one had pointy ears and the other one ran a starship. Certainly, to me, they bore little resemblance to Kirk and Spock as I saw them in the series and, boy, was I getting depressed about it!

Then, someone lent me a few B/D stories, just to pass the time. 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' by M. FAE, and the 'Siren' 'Bound To The Mast', and 'Going For The Shore' 1 & 2. (GOD - I WISH she'd finish that...) and... I was bewitched. Here was writing which could make me care desperately about the characters; which was prepared to take on the challenge of really exploring and accepting their personalities; and made me believe two people I absolutely recognised as Bodie and Doyle were getting together, despite everything. The result: one B/D fanatic, created overnight. But - as I've read more B/D, I've come to realise that, for want of a better word, the SWEETNESS of new K/S is very common in this fandom as well, and the kind of writing that really excites and moves ME is rather less so.

I have to stress that I really do appreciate the standard of most B/D literature - the quality is astounding - far above that of any other fandom I've encountered (I mean... PAMELA ROSE, COURTNEY GREY, CHRIS POWER, JENNY PARKINSON, LAINIE STONE. I rest my case.
I do love escapism (which is possibly why I love slash.) and I truly LOATHE unhappy endings, and death stories, and manages, and excessive - and especially permanent - physical or mental hurt to either character, because I really do care about. But I also appreciate emotional realism in my escapism - in essence, I want to be able to BELIEVE it. That's what hooks me. Having said all THAT I can never resist sweeter writing from the likes of O. YARDLEY or H.G. who're such good authors that I'm completely hooked by the story.
You'll go on hearing a deafening silence from me on the subject of Bodie/Cowley The reason I'm in PROFESSIONALS fandom is that I want to read/write Bodie/Doyle stories, not Bodie/Cowley, Doyle/Macklin, and Murphy with everyone. I have read various stories where the sexual partnership is not B/D but one of them with someone else, and however well-written, the stories irritate me because I want Bodie and Doyle to end up together.
Re. your points about Hurt/Comfort, it is not, as you point out, S/M, nor consensual S/M, though there is a link. However, I do not accept that 'If you want to see someone hurt, and humiliated, and generally mistreated [i.e. by the other partner], surely it's more fun the more intimate the relationship...'. If a relationship is intimate, then the result of such an action is likely to be loss of trust in the other person, on the part of the one hurt. Therefore, unless the one hurt is a true masochist, there would be no reason for them to continue the relationship. I'm not interested in reading stories where a relationship between Bodie and Doyle is destroyed because of the above. The point of B/D fandom is, surely, to bring the characters together, and enable them to remain together.

Fine, decent, mainstream, upstanding fellows filled with love and fidelity? I happen to believe in love and fidelity. The latter especially is a commodity that is becoming ever more rare in the real world. Therefore, in my fantasy world, I want my heroes to be faithful to each other once they've made a commitment. I personally don't find it acceptable behaviour on anyone's part, male or female, gay or straight, to screw around once they've made a commitment to a partner.I'm not sure about fine, decent and sexually mainstream. Bodie and Doyle are basically thugs who kill for a living, working in an organisation whose values and codes of conduct I abhor. I've never regarded Bodie and Doyle as having pleasant personalities. I see them as low-minded, foul-mouthed, and ill-tempered; I dislike the way they treat women. Nevertheless, I adore them and think that they deserve each other.

As for sexually mainstream, that gave me a laugh. The very idea of Our Heroes having a gay relationship would be beyond the pale for most of British society. If you're talking about unusual or more extreme sexual practices, then that's another matter. I am aware that what we like sexually in a story depends on what we find acceptable sexually, whether in reality or fantasy. However, I have had the feeling of late that what we are beginning to see in B/D fandom is not just writers exploring ideas, but deliberately trying to be as extreme as possible, with the aim of creating a stir and thereby upsetting people. Such readers are then labelled 'romantic', 'naive', etc. Like H.G. said in the last issue, I'm not impressed by those who set out merely to shock.
I don't think fans necessarily prefer sweet and nice stories, it's just that it is often difficult to write Bodie and Doyle's characters in a way that makes them as unpleasant as they really are. After all, you yourself admit that you are a romantic at heart, and that is quite evident from stories such as A Perfect Day' and 'November'. In the former, Bodie abandons his girlfriend (very much the injured party) for Doyle and it all ends happily. In 'November', despite all their nastiness to one another, Doyle wants Bodie and Bodie wants Doyle. In both examples, reality would more likely have been Bodie's rejection of Doyle. I'm very thankful you believe in 'happy ever after' too. Most people do not want to read stories where it all ends in doom and gloom.
I agree that many times women in the aired programme are portrayed as disposable. But not always. Bodie is truly concerned about Claire (MAN WITHOUT A PAST) and certainly about Marikka. Doyle cares about Ann Holly and also Esther. But they do go through women some times, never settling down with any permanent partner. This is one reason I prefer the gay or bisexual (slash) premise for fan fiction. They are loyal to each other. But at the same time, I'd like for the fan fiction I read to improve on the treatment of women, not carry on with more of what is seen many times in the aired episodes.

On suffering 'beautifully': I've read some beautifully done hurt/comfort stories. In my view well-done H/C barely touches on the 'hurt' sections, concentrating on the myriad emotions involved in the character's receiving (and/or sometimes giving) hurt. Violence done to a character which proves itself necessary to the plot is described in such a way that most of the details are left to the imagination. The comforting which follows is put in as an integral part of the plot. I find that H/C works best for me within the context of a continuing relationship story, where the hurt and trauma, and the character's emotional reaction to it, are obstacles which the two must face in order to make the relationship grow stronger. Too often in 'first-time' stories the hurt and comfort function as devices to bring the two together, rather than as realistic events. One device I've seen a few times is when one of them is raped, then seems to be 'cured' of the trauma by one sex scene with the 'right' man (without any counseling or rape-crisis work being done). One of my favourite 'first-time' stories, which avoids this trap, is 'Attitude Of Mind' by MEG LEWTAN. Bodie (the rape victim) goes into extensive counseling after the event before he and Doyle finally get to the 'comforting' and subsequent loving. Another excellent work in this vein is the massive novel by ROB, 'Waiting To Fall'.

But I also echo M. FAE GLASGOW'S concerns which she raised in issue 5. I recently read one story which devoted seven (yes, 7) single-spaced typed pages on one rape. This doesn't count all the sexual abuse before and after the rape, which added up to a grand total of about 10 pages of sexual abuse, quite graphically described. After the rescue, Bodie patches Doyle (the victim in this story) up in short order, and they make love. No rape counselors are needed, no flashbacks or other symptoms which many rape survivors experience occur. It's almost as if the story wants to hurt Doyle explicitly, then turn around and say, "Oh, I didn't really mean it."

I want to say at this point that anyone has the right to write and read such stories; I am against the suppression of any stories which might form any sorts of fantasies. It's hard to say if the writer of graphic 'H/C, such as the story I described, meant to present the sexual violence as something erotic or whether she simply desires to use a more explicit style of writing. And even if she (or any readers) do get an erotic thrill out of non consensual sexual violence, they have the right to do so.

Having said that, I will also say that I have the right to say that non-consensual violent erotica disturbs me. I don't wish to read it, so I won't, at least not more than once. One of the most disturbing stories for me was 'Dance With The Devil', where graphic rape and non-consensual violence are used as a 'cure' for consensual S/M. This story reminded me of the straight men who wish to 'cure' lesbianism by raping lesbians, or else those practitioners in mental hospitals who attempted to 'cure' homosexuality by using shock aversion 'therapy', such as what happened to Alan Turing in the '50's. The descriptions of the rape and other 'cures' for S/M were done in an explicit way, which made me think that eroticism had crept into the 'cure', whether intended or not.

I agree that everyone should be allowed their fantasies. The above aren't examples of my particular fantasies, but they might be someone else's cup of tea. Personally, I find well-written consensual S/M to be highly erotic.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 7

Some general comments on ish. 7: I loved it! My favourite parts are, of course ('of course' because I made my opinion clear in my previous participation — it just has to do with personal consistency, not with the general quality of the zine), the LOCs, the stories, and the zine reviews, in that order. 'Bits 'n' Pieces is very useful, thanks to Sara for the info about the episodes being brought out, I'll order them as soon as possible (although it's infuriating how little I understand of what Bodie and Doyle say! Their accent in the series totally defeats my understanding of spoken English, which is never very good at the best of times!)

[...]

I'd like to say a special thank you to Katy Deery, whose story I loved. Though NOBODY CRIES is not an accurate title, as the story nearly made ME cry! I must say I love well-done death stories, and this one was tremendously good, with a perfect characterization (ah, shades of WILD JUSTICE...). Claire Dobbin's story was fine too, lightly done and believable. And I do LOVE to see them suffer! [10]

Issue 8

Be Gentle With Us 8 was published in December 1992 and contains 45 pages.

front cover of issue #8
back cover of issue #8

Sample Fan Comments: Issue 8

I've just read in the latest Chalk & Cheese zine about a case where someone transposed an Ellis Ward B/D story to the STAR TREK universe, using much of the original text without the author's agreement. Does this happen often? The person who did this claims that they didn't realise that anyone would notice as it was a swap from one fandom to another. They thought that the B/D story would work very well as a K/S story. Has anyone out there had this happen to their work? Seems to me that this should only be done with the consent of the original author. Still, they say there are two sides to every story, so enough said. I just wondered if there were other instances of this that anyone could relate.
Just re-read what I put in my last letter to BE GENTLE, and you're right, it did sound as if I had a downer on sex scenes. Not so, especially since I've written a few fairly hot ones myself. I have read stories, though, where I'm left with the feeling that B & D are in it for the sex, and don't much mind who their partner is. These stories do not appeal to me personally. Conversely, I have read stories where B & D are going at it hammer and tongs, but you are left in no doubt that they are with the one person they want to be with. I don't mind a bit of S/M either, again as long as it enhances rather than negates the relationship. Since I enjoy the OBLIQUE publications very much, and they probably deal with this aspect more than any other single publisher, I'd be wasting my money if I didn't reading stories with this bent (if you'll pardon the expression!). Sorry for not putting it clearly and please take pity on a poor, weak person who has multiple dependents, a heart condition, has take washing in to make ends to earn her daily crust.
I too moved on from STAR TREK because I wanted to explore different slash relationships. I like a harder edge than I was finding in K/S as a whole, but I never realised what a variety of slash universe were out there. I certainly agree that B/D has got to have one of the best standards of writing going. Does anyone know of any other fan writers who have turned professional other than Mel Keegan? I love her books and only discovered her through her B/D work.

Can’t say that I've read a lot of B/D that contains rape or forced S/M between the partners. CONSEQUENCES, of course, and a few others. I have read quite a few stories where there is S/M between a willing Bodie and Doyle. For all that CONSEQUENCES is not a particularly happy story, it did produce some interesting reactions from people, and some good sequels. There do seem to be quite a few stories going about where one of the partners is raped by an outsider. Obvious ploy so that they can be comforted by their partner, and said partner can thereby show his love for his friend. I don't mind these as long as they're well written, any more than I don't mind if one of them gets shot and is at death's door for a bit just so the other can hang around worrying about them. Rape is an act of violence, as is shooting someone. Sex is just another weapon that can be used, although the psychological aspect would probably be greater.

NOTHING is ever handed to us [by canon or TPTB] on a platter. As a viewer, I felt challenged to garner every bit of information out of these characters, often relying on minute clues of body language. We see them in different flats and with different cars. Other series, like STARSKY & HUTCH and MIAMI VICE, have made a real point of supplying their persona with homes and vehicles that echo their characters. THE PROFESSIONALS did not have even these (obvious) clues to build on.

Because the aired show was most enigmatic in supplying details on our heroes, my mind automatically went on 'auto-pilot', mentally supplementing the information as presented. My husband would argue that I am not a very logical creature (so what? I've never claimed to bleed green!) but I have tried to visualize the lives that brought Bodie, Doyle and Cowley to be the men they are. Since I have already made this much of an imaginative investment, it's not that difficult a task to imagine them as the men they COULD be given a certain set of circumstances. All it takes is one little thought while stopped in traffic... WHAT IF DOYLE WERE A VAMPIRE? What if, indeed...

Regardless of what other people might think, I appreciate the acting abilities of Collins, Shaw and Jackson VERY MUCH. Why? I'll tell you — just because I'm a media fan it doesn't mean I'm a media slut. I watch almost no television. My good friends graciously attempt to 'turn me on' to new shows regularly... with almost no success. THE PROFESSIONALS managed to touch some chord in me — to paraphrase Neil Young, "They were playing a part that I could understand."

Something is going on deep inside these actors/characters." With Jackson/Cowley it is a mental process that attracts me like a moth to a bright light... I wish I were as intelligent as Cowley! Shaw/Doyle I find full of almost anticipated potential! I am never surprised at what this man can do -- yet I'm always breathless, waiting for it to happen. This is where the A/U comes in — I am more willing to believe in Ray Doyle than Ray Doyle is. Given the right circumstances, I think Ray could fly if necessary — and I don't mean with a plane! It's up to the individual writer to make me suspend disbelief.

Last, but not least — Collins/Bodie. This is the character I ache for the most. What is that old saying — still waters run deep? I would also like to add that a laughing face may be hiding a breaking heart. Bodie, like the bold warriors of legend, has a great capacity for food, laughter, and adventure. Honour is important to him, and he serves a stern, disciplined master. I see Bodie as a great spirit — a soul whose first, best destiny is to accept the pain of a soldier's life and go beyond it. He is gifted in this manner, and it would be a crime for him not to be the kind of man he is — imagine if Baryshnikov had been a store clerk instead of a dancer. Is it any wonder I see his current persona as yet another reincarnation of the eternal warrior? Because Bodie lives by the sword, he desperately needs men like Cowley and Doyle to love him. Striving for their moral approval is what keeps Bodie from becoming someone's killing tool (like Frank and Joe of MIXED DOUBLES) or worse — a rogue like Krivas.

Imagine Bodie and Cowley cold sober and very attracted. In 'Lest These Dark Days', I set it up so that Bodie made a pass at Cowley not caring very much if Cowley did fire him the next morning; because after Cowley had held a gun to his head, he had to trust Cowley again or leave CI5 anyway. I set it up so that Cowley was handed, on a plate, everything he'd been wanting for years. I don't think I actually needed to do it that way. I think Bodie would risk offering to sleep with Cowley for no more reason than he thought Cowley would like it — because Bodie certainly would. And Bodie does trust Cowley enough that he would assume that even if Cowley turned him down, it wouldn't affect their professional relationship.

As for Cowley making a pass at Bodie — that is harder to envisage, I think. Whoever actually reached out first, Bodie would have to make it very clear that Cowley was welcome, because Cowley doesn't have a very high opinion of his own personal attractions. But Cowley trusts Bodie enough that he would assume Bodie would keep his mouth shut — even if he turned Cowley down.

And, as I've been saying for years now, I don't think either of them would turn the other one down. (Turn him over, maybe.) True, Cowley does have a lot to lose if he has an affair with one of his agents — but only if he's found out. Not only are Cowley and Bodie both bloody experts at not being found out, but, please think: a person's sex life is not necessarily ruled by the brain. People do very stupid things in the pursuit of lust, and even stupider in the pursuit of love. Having an affair with your boss or with one of your most trusted agents is moderately sensible, compared to some of the things Bodie, Cowley, or Doyle actually did in the series.

H/C isn't my cup of tea either... but my feeling about it is, wotthehell, it's all fantasy. What I meant by the story where an enemy of Bodie's repeatedly rapes Doyle (I do remember it as being being that way round, which probably means it's not 'Pardon After Execution'... as someone pointed out, that plot description

would cover a lot of B/D H/C) I meant that, as a fantasy, it could be superficially the same and be a S/M story. The difference would be very simple and very fundamental; Doyle and Bodie would have consented, Bodie to being tied up, Doyle to being stripped naked and fucked through the floor by a 'faceless stranger'(probably Murphy in a balaclava!). The difference is in the person writing it. Does she find"H/C (non-consensual S/M) more exciting, or can she simply not conceive of anyone consenting to hurt/humiliation? There are people who can't; indeed, since the Operation Spanner case, it is now illegal for a person to consent to being hurt. (You can legally consent to humiliation, of course, just by joining the army.)
Realistic H/C isn't erotic. Unrealistic H/C may or may not be erotic — depending how close the writer got to a S/M scene. But yes, I am a voracious reader of whatever I get my hands on, except maybe for the story where Bodie has a cock nine inches long and as thick as Bodie's wrist... enough to turn anyone into a Fragile Flower. (I think. I have seen ten inch dildos for sale, but I never looked closely enough to measure the thickness against my wrist.) Actually, of course, I would read the story, just to snicker over the size point. I usually get thrown out of slash libraries because of being constitutionally incapable of reading it in silence.

Surely the point of B/D fandom (or any slash fandom) is for a fan to write stories which she wants to read and can share with other people who also want to read them? It's a bit much to say that all B/D stories must bring the characters together and enable them to stay together".

I like incurably romantic stories — sometimes. I love M. FAE GLASGOW's zines just because she always does this mix — in BENE DICTUM, for example, the stories range from the awwwww of 'Screwged' to the eeeek! of 'Snowbound... the worst of times'.

I was trying to be funny when I said, "It's more fun the more intimate the relationship." And serious. A H/C story is someone's fantasy; someone who wants to see how 'X' will behave under the most horrendous circumstances. It may also sometimes be used as a substitute for writing S/M stories — because the writer doesn't want anyone to think that she gets off on seeing 'X‘ suffer, even though the scenes where 'X' is being hurt may be far more detailed than the scenes where 'X' is being comforted. For 'X' read Doyle or appropriate substitute.

I can't explain to you why I enjoy reading stories of disastrous or heading-for-disaster relationships, because it's obviously not a taste you share at all. But I loved 'Velvet Underground', and the 'Adagio' sequence. You may not personally approve of people screwing around after they've made a commitment to a partner, but when you write do your characters always have to behave in a manner you would approve? Mine certainly don't. I don't think I approve of prostitution. In the 'Lest These Dark Days' sequence, Cowley goes with whores occasionally. He doesn't approve of it either, he just doesn't have anywhere else to go. I could have written a story — I still might — where Cowley begins an affair with Bodie, and finds he can't give up the whores, because that's what he's learned to like? a relationship where he has total control and nil involvement. I wouldn't approve of that — but my approval is irrelevant. It would fascinate me, writing that story or reading it.

Talking of real life — which I try and avoid as much as possible — the other day I was chatting to [M] quite happily about the harmless sort of things we like to happen to our heroes — you know, capture, prison, suffering, all that sort of thing — and my husband turned around and said, "Just listen to yourselves. What would you think if two men were speaking the same way about women?" Of course we argued (after laughing) that as women we were allowed to fantasise about such things because we'd never do them, or even in reality want them done, this was all pure harmless escapism. I'm not quite sure that he believed us, and it did make me think about how misunderstood slash could be if the real world ever discovered it. HORRORS! I know that K/S was 'outed' a few years ago, but I hope the same thing never happens to B/D.
There is no such animal as non-consensual S/M I think. That would be dressing up rape, battery, and violence with a politically (almost) correct label. H/C stories are undoubtedly laden with sexuality and are, in some instances though not all, used as sexual fantasy material, what's wrong with leaving it at that? S/M is a world away; the only linking theme is a certain degree of suffering. Having said that, I am not really sure what a specific H/C story is. A large percentage of "/" contains hurt and comfort, either physical or mental. Of the few stories I can think of where the hurt is the entire raison d'etre, there are none that I find erotic, or even enjoyable. The rape story you mention (you didn't give a title or author) sounds like a prime offender. In many cases it is as though only half the story is there. I claim to like H/C, but if that is all there is then I don't. I am fascinated by the use of trauma as a catalyst, but there has to be something beyond that, hopefully happiness.

A/U's. (I rather think I'm including S/M.) I've got no idea, other than that we see them so strongly that they can still be themselves wherever we put them. There is also the fact that not only is CI5 difficult (and boring) to write about with any degree of believability, but in itself it is already an A/U. That one step away from reality makes a second easier. And a third, etc. By the time you're on step 2,003 you've got them as infantile elves living on a south sea island, eating manna, and crying on each other's fragile bodies whenever possible.

Writing seems to go in little cycles. At one time a vogue for ghost stories, then cat stories. (How could Bodie ever have a cat? [The poor thing would be dead of starvation in a month!] You can imagine Bodie turning round to Cowley — "Sorry, sir, I can't get in the Capri and shoot off to the Midlands at the drop of a hat because I've got to go home and feed the cat." HAH!) At the moment we seem to have the S/M story. I wonder what'll be next?
One of the reasons I could imagine for Doyle being changed so often in fandom into a whimpering heroine is that, physically, he's androgynous and Bodie isn't. So it's easier to project 'female' characteristics onto him. As I already said, for me the true 'feminine' character is Bodie. I write stories where I try to stick to the series and show this aspect of Bodie. Whether I succeed or not, the readers will judge! But it is the way I feel about it.
I share one of your dislikes: when Murphy is paired with one of them! I won't stop reading the story, but I want to kill the writer! I HATE Murphy when he's used in this way. But he's a very good supporting character when he stays in his place! (A very nice Murphy was Bodie's heterosexual friend in 'An Affair To Remember' — nice and caring, and safely out of the way!) But, although I'd rather have Bodie/Doyle, I can see Bodie/Cowley in the series, and 'Look Through My Eyes' was so beautifully written that it made me believe in this particular pairing.... I also love stories where Bodie is obsessed by Doyle. I think he's in love with him, and Doyle knows and uses it, without giving much in return. Well, it's one of the possibilities... I love my Bodie tender and my Doyle nasty. What does that make me, I wonder?
About filk songs and music videos: I'm a lover of them both, but, alas, only as a consumer. I have no skill to make a music video (a friend of mine made two beautiful videos, one on her scenario and one on mine -- the first French music videos, I believe! Not PROS, STAR TREK, but as she became a PROS fan she's thinking about it!) and if I tried to sing I'd sink the Titanic all over again! But I've listened endlessly to filks on my Walkman, and watched a copy (translated from NTSC into PAL) of PROS music videos on my SECAM machine — meaning it's in black and white and there is a constant flickering going from one side of the screen to the other/ not to mention that the image itself is deformed and the faces look larger and longer. I still loved it!. After three hours of this, I swear my eyes were blinking in-tune with the screen!
On the subject of escapism and unhappy endings: I believe I've made my position clear in previous letters, but I'd like to say again that for me escapism includes sad endings, death stories, etc. I have nothing against permanent damage to one of them — have you read 'An Affair To Remember' and its sequel, 'Heir Apparent'? Bodie is permanently impaired, and yet "he's so interestingly depicted, so courageous and stubborn, that I did not feel the story was a disservice to the character. And he does find happiness with Doyle in this story.
Your depiction of Doyle and Bodie as foul-mouthed thugs corresponds totally to what I feel; I'll add that I don't normally like police movies or series, and most of the time I don't understand the plot in THE PROFESSIONALS. The reason I like this show is centred on Doyle's rump and Bodie's eyes (and — to be serious — on the characters' interplay and obvious closeness). That's the reason why, when push comes to shove, I'll always prefer series like STAR TREK or BLAKE'S 7, because they're set in my favourite kind of universe, science-fiction. Give me more B/D in science-fiction surroundings! (Comes to mind: 'Master Of The Revels', the excellent 'Book Of Strife', and [story in OTHER TIMES AND PLACES 3, a vignette set in the Blade Runner universe. A little gem].

As to your question concerning the alternate universes where 'our boys' are so often displaced, it is, as often put, a very good question. My tentative answer may not be very original: I think it has much to do with the fact that, although the characters are very interesting, basically their surroundings are not. I mean, police work is police work, nothing so romantic or fantastic in it. But as we need to write about them, we choose the Doyle-vampire, Doyle-werecat, 18th-century-Lord-Bodie, the telekinetic partners of 'The Book Of Strife', and so on approach. That kind of environment permits a more varied approach to the characters, and enables us to emphasize certain aspects of their personalities. The uncanny near-telepathic rapport they share in the series becomes the fully-fledged telepathy of 'Book Of Strife', the feline features of Doyle under certain angles give birth to the werecat of 'Cat Tales' (a very good read, by the way!), the other-earthly touch in Doyle's manners makes him a vampire in 'Unfinished Melody', or the touching elf of 'The Descent To Humanity', and so on. There are many more examples of this. Another approach is the 'different beginning' stories, some of which are very interesting, the most recent I have read being 'The Whisper Of A Kill' by Lois Welling. Bodie's mercenary aspect is underlined in this story, explicitly and cleverly studied, and of course there is the magic of his relationship with Doyle...

Why are these stories so often successful? I think it has nothing to do with the theme, but with the talent of the writers. I have read some very good stories, set in the CI5 universe or in alternates, and.some very bad ones, ditto. If the writer is good, whatever she chooses to depict will be well done and believable. If she is bad, even the story sticking the most strictly to the aired series will be totally out of character.
About H/C: Are we talking about the same thing? I was under the impression that it had nothing to do with S/M, as in the former the hurt is not desired, and it is in the latter. In H/C, the partner comforting does it because he doesn't enjoy his partner's suffering; in S/M the partner inflicting the pain enjoys doing so in part because he knows that the other likes it, reacts positively to it. So for roe there is a world of difference in nature between the two. I've read lots of H/c stories in STAR TREK fandom that were not slash, the characters only sharing a deep platonic friendship.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 8

The cover was very nice, probably my all-time favourite (although 'Ray said yes' is also a favourite of sine). I always wait impatiently to see what you wicked girls would have found for our boys to say ... or to imply on the next cover!

I loved the story, delightfully wicked too. That's what I call a positive, constructive approach! Poor Bodie was totally in character: a trusting fool (Bodie lovers all over the zine are going to send ripe tomatoes to me. Why did you think I insist on a pseudonym?) and Cowley could have been called a 'peau de vache' (literally, Cow's hide, figuratively, a damn bastard) as we French people say. [12]

Issue 9

Be Gentle With Us 9 was published in March 1993.

Issue 10

Be Gentle With Us 10 was published in June 1993 and contains 46 pages.

front cover of issue #10
back cover of issue #10
from issue #10, artist is CAT
From the editor:

Firstly, thank you to all our contributors. I have certainly enjoyed reading the letters, articles and fiction! You sake the newsletter possible.

I have noted all the valid points made in LOC's regarding the presentation of the newsletter and I am thankful for the patience you have shown through my recent word processing difficulties. I was delighted with the offers of help and to those concerned I offer my appreciation. Hopefully, however, I think have solved the problems. After a long discussion with the engineer in the retailers and an even longer phone call to the production company (very helpful individuals all round) we discovered that, in fact, the disc had a minor fault in it that was throwing the whole programme off. The engineer said that such a fault can arise when the disc is transported under a power line. The company put a replacement in the last post that day and I received it the following afternoon. Now I have my back-up discs and I can word process the text in Locoscript, load it into MicroDesign as an ASCII file and typeset it using all of the MD features. I have put quite a bit of effort into experimenting with fonts and font sizes to find the right balance between text size and the volume of content. I hope you like the result and find it readable. And enjoyable!

This issue will be the last in which second generation photocopies will be used. Any further observations on the layout of the newsletter will be welcomed as we aim to make it as accessible as possible.

Sample Fan Comments: Issue 10

I enjoy well-done, unusual stories. I don't see the point of rehashing again and again the same story, and I don't enjoy such stories that are only a series of sex scenes heaped one upon the other. Mind you, I love sex scenes, love writing them myself, but they must be (1) a key scene in the story (i.e. really meaning something: first time together, getting together after a long parting or an accident, or significant in any other way) (2) in character (endless arguments could be raised on what is in character and what is not. I can enjoy the wildest variations from the aired characters, as long as I feel that Doyle or Bodie, given his different circumstances, could have reacted as depicted. This is, of course, a highly subjective criterion.)

I did not enjoy DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, but for reasons quite different from the one [K F] explained in a previous ish. I was not shocked, nor repulsed by what Bodie did to Doyle : had it been consensual, why not?

This story had two defects in my opinion, one at a moral level, and one a writing level.

Firstly, I as profoundly shocked by all kinds of bigotry, and the kind which says 'sado-masochistic behaviour is not moral and should be cured' seems to me quite redolent of the 'homosexuals should be cured' attitude towards one's chosen sexuality. No need to explain at length that I hate this, or why!

Secondly, the story is not consistent with the previous one, VELVET UNDERGROUND, which was a very good, very mature story, trying to explore the fascination of S/M, how one could come to enjoy such sexuality, how it intermingles with love and trust, and how it could hint at deeper problems in one or both of the partners.

Come to that, the story is not even consistent with the aired characters. I can't imagine Bodie going to these kind of lengths to 'cure' Doyle: for one, Bodie is a man of the world, he must have seen and done a lot of things in his time, and I think he knows better than to judge another's behaviour, as long as it does no harm to others. If he was truly not interested in Doyle's S/M scene, he would have left him alone, he wouldn't have tried to 'convert' him to some fallacious morality.

Like everyone else, I came to discover B/D via K/S -- and that only a couple of years ago. When the term 'age statement' was explained to me, I can still remember saying "Spock - gay!! Naah." But [I was] brought up to believe that you don't knock what you haven't tried. I tried, I fell, and thus became poverty stricken. I heard about other "/" but could never see any interest in it - till I was dragged by two friends to read B/D. I can never thank [B] and [P] enough. [B] for regularly sending me zine care packages, and [P] for lending me all her videos, circuit stories etc, plus letting me proof read her stories and listen to all her ideas for new ones. I fell deeply in lust, again, with Bodie.

When I read some of the LOCs in BGWU though, I feel a bit anachronistic. I firmly believe in love, tenderness, fidelity and monogamy. I think I must be very old-fashioned. What on earth is consensual S/M? It almost sounds like a contradiction in terms. Rape is vicious and ugly. I see enough of death and dying at work to have gotten to the stage that [P] will ring me up or put flags on death stories to stop me from stumbling over them. No matter how beautifully they are written, for me they cause pain. Life is too short and temporary to read about it as well. It that makes me sound a wimp, so be it. But there are so many beautifully written other stories. But as in all things, it's different strokes for different folks; life would be so boring if we all liked the same things wouldn't it?
]] The people you meet through this fandom have to be very special people. If someone wants to read something, it zines through the post, watch a video, the same thing happens. The trust, openness and friendship offered so unconditionally is to be experienced to be believed.
I suppose I'm a born again Professionals fan. Like everyone else who was at primary school in the late seventies, I was an avid fan, then I grew up and pretty much forgot all about the show. Later, I followed the usual fannish route - Star Trek to Blake's 7, gradually gravitating to Hurt/Comfort stories and thinking 'so what happens next ... ' I'd read a few slash stories, but I hadn't really understood the attraction of K/S (or the attraction of Kirk for that matter). I liked A/V but there wasn't really a fandom that 'grabbed' me until a 'kind' friend made me natch a couple of Professionals episodes. As fate would have it, they were 'Wild Justice' and 'Slush Fund' and I was hooked.

Please don't lynch me (pauses to take a deep breath and duck), but I don't actually like any of the characters. As 'people' I find them rather offensive but as characters, they were fascinating. I think the fascination is probably connected to the reason I've always preferred Blake's 7 to Star Trek. I like the darkness of B7, but then I've always preferred anti-heroes (I'm the only person in the theatre who wants Claudius to beat Hamlet). If Bodie, Doyle and Cowley were real people I'd cross the street to avoid them, probably at speed, but as characters, I find analysing their motivations interesting. Bodie and Doyle are violent, thuggish and gun happy, whatever Doyle's pretensions to finer feelings (“I paint"). They are quite happy to abuse prisoners, and terrorize suspects, brutal men in a job which further brutalizes them.

They work for an organisation which, if it existed, I would be protesting against, with an ethos which is unpleasant and a sphere of influence which is frighteningly wide, free ranging and uncontrolled.

They work for a commanding officer who is quite prepared to shoot people in the back 'while they are trying to escape', and to addict them to heroin while they are in custody. It worries me faintly that everything Cowley say about M117 in 'Operation Susie' could be applied equally well to CI5. Is it just me who feels this way?

In a strange way, my moral qualms at the values espoused by the series add to my enjoyment of it, although I have to agree that I find the car chases and gun battles a bit tedious these days (sigh ... I'm not twelve any more ...). So it was great to discover fan fiction. It's amazing when you find you're not the only Pros fan in the world, especially since the response of most of my friends when I admit this character defect if either bemused incomprehension or outright derision.

As I said, I'm a bit new to all this, but basically, I'll read anything, as long as it's well written, but I suspect if I hadn't been properly brainwashed I would have stayed a confused Hurt/Comfort reader.

I enjoy alternate universe stories, although some of the situations seem a little far fetched, and I've been known to get a little infuriated if I don't like a characterization (in particular, the depiction of Doyle as a delicate little flower drives me nuts). Anything interesting or entertaining is fine by me, and since I've a particularly warped sense of humour, I love the Dangermouse crossovers, teddy bear stories, Bodie of Sherwood, you name it.

I know you'll all think I'm mad, but I don't find any of the actors physically attractive (except maybe Murphy I've always thought he was particularly huggable, but I've a weakness for teddy bears). I've stared in confusion at loving descriptions of crotch shots and butt shots and tight jeans - help! I don't understand - but please feel free to explain it to me.

[snipped]

I admire the acting ability of Martin Shaw, but don't find Doyle a particularly interesting character (all Doyle fans please feel free to jump on my head). I don’t think Lewis Collins is a particularly great actor, though he was hysterically funny in Robin of Sherwood, but I think Bodie is a wonderful character. I've always liked characters who live on the edge, and it's been amply demonstrated in the series and fan fiction that one push will send Bodie over the edge, make him a killing machine.

Given my predilections, I suppose it's not really surprising that the pairing I prefer is B/C. I can't help it, I just don't find Doyle very interesting....I'm quite happy to read B/D, it's just that I find the complications of B/C more intriguing, and as Jane Carnall said, Cowley desperately needs a lover. Besides, I have this awful suspicion that Doyle is straight.
S/M is one of the genres I have problems with. I just don't understand it, and reading it takes me uncomfortable. I'm not quite sure why, perhaps it is simply because I don't understand it. It's not that physical damage that makes me uncomfortable. I'm afraid I quite enjoy some of the hurt bit of H/C. Maybe part of it is that S/M stories usually involve graphic sex, and I find sex scenes embarrassing to read and impossible to write - which is probably a bit of a disadvantage for a slash fan.
I can understand your reluctance to remain with the circuit when it's feedback your looking for. Also can't say that you'll do all that such better by submitting your work to zines, since some eds are not all that forthcoming where LOCs are concerned. Most will make you wait until the next issue of that particular zine appears - and if it's a one-off you may be out of luck altogether. My experience has been mostly satisfactory - though there are a couple of stories that either prompted no LOCs (not unlikely), or the zine ed couldn't be bothered to copy me.

Recently it was suggested that there was nothing to indicate that they case free dysfunctional families, which of course almost all fans hypothesize.

The very idea was a bit disconcerting for me, given my fan fiction background. I think it distresses us to imagine that the lads could be just as mundane as any of us, but have chosen their unconventional life-style simply because it appeals to them - not because it's a way of compensating for a misspent youth. Regardless, I favour seeing Bodie bereft of a happy childhood so that Doyle can provide the love and support he's always lacked - not that that's the way it happens in real life - once lacking, always lacking it seems). Doyle strikes me as being more intellectually and emotionally independent - he doesn't give a rat's ass what people think of him and he's bound and determined that they know that. Having said that, I always found it remarkable that he is so thoroughly accepting of Bodie. Certainly there were a few cutting remarks made here and there, but mostly he seemed to expect the best of Bodie and had little doubt that Bodie would come through to his expectations eventually. Why that should make Bodie seem more 'stable' I don't know. Anyway, I've seen it argued both ways, and have no fixed conception of how it 'should' be - whatever serves the story at hand.
Your comments about public knowledge of slash got me thinking. My interest in this kind of fandom isn't something I try to hide from people I know, but I'm sure that my friends find it very strange that I should be hooked on reading about men loving men. Since I don't know myself why I like it so such, I certainly have no hope of explaining it to them. What the hell though, they already think I'm weird and they're still my friends, so I guess the philosophy of live and let live does hold true in some cases.
I can spend hour upon hour reading. When I'm in the bath the water goes cold before I can be dragged away from my book, which usually causes my mum to liken to me to a prune when I do eventually make an appearance. Lately though I'm finding very little to interest me in the book department and have resorted to reading and re-reading my fanzines. Luckily I have a large collection of these and there's usually something else around to buy, but I do wish I could find a really good Sci Fi novel, preferably with a gay love story in it. What I wouldn't give for another Helen Wright story. Her pseudo Bodie in 'A Matter of Oaths' surely deserves a sequel. Still, Mel Keegan's 'Equinox' comes out in May and I already have my copy on order.
Isn't 'Professional Dreamer' good? Certainly a bit more up heat than some of Pamela's other work. I loved the Boyle in this, a myopic librarian who can take on just about anything simply because it never occurs to him that he can't handle it. And Bodie. What a joy, especially when he's struggling to resist Doyle's advances while falling deeper and deeper in love with him. Great.
I feel there may be many writers out there who lack the confidence to send their work off. I think letterzines such as Be Gentle can help there, not just by supplying a forum for new writers, but so they can read about others just like them who have taken that step and sent their work to be published. I know when I started in K/S, I only sent my poetry to British fanzines, but since becoming involved with Prof fandom, I have sent stuff off to the U.S. and Australia and have started to branch out into other fandoms. This is something that simply never occurred to me before. The encouragement to try is out there and everyone has to start somewhere. If nothing else, you can get a free zine out of it.

You remarked that you defied anyone to defend 'Hooker' the series. Sir/Madam: I take up the gauntlet!

How could you be so unkind about a series that gave me and my comrades so many hours of innocent amusement, the thrill of waiting to see what new talent Hooker could display each week, having been successively, a champion stock car racer, a practitioner of the deaf and dumb alphabet, a physiotherapist encouraging a crippled child to walk (a particularly nauseating episode I thought, enlivened by a sudden appearance of "Manolito" from The High Chaparral), a champion surfer nicknamed (though I'm not sure I got this right) "The Big Cannelloni", a champion gymnast beating his unfortunate partner half his age and weight, a champion racing cyclist with jolly lady police officer on this tandem bike with him in brief satin shorts.

Then there was the continual disappearing of the supporting cast, apart from the very short lady police officer and, of course, poor Romano who was always left in the car while Hooker pursued crooks over walls, open spaces, etc. etc....

Sadly the series did tend to go off as the cast disappeared and Hooker did not display any new skills, though there was a memorable episode where a lady police officer lost a leg, and her bratlet whined that "Mommy, won't play football with me any more.' The tops had to be the Christmas one, which pulled out all the stops, orange Christmas trees outside the police station, Hooker as Santa, a pregnant lady cat burglar, a battered wife (Mrs Shatner looking all of six stone in weight) this was also directed by Mr Shatner and written by his daughter, a competent story but perhaps another name on the screen wouldn't have made such a hysterical impression. Oh yes, they did find a baby in a church too. Surely a series that pulled every cliche in the book has something going for it, if only in the enjoyable junk category. We need enjoyable junk on the tele as we get far too much pretentious junk these days.
Someone made a reference to cock size in Issue 7; would you think me too crude if I mulled this topic about? Artists and writers alike have 'romanticized' and 'improved' our heroes - making then bigger, better, faster, stronger, often gifting then physiques a body-builder or career gymnast would envy ... what do you think of this? Granted, it's usually quite enjoyable and I really don't mind (as long as it isn't too exaggerated - Bodie is NOT Conan). Yet, most of us don't seem to have any major complaints about how they looked in the T.V. series - in fact, it’s remarkable how good they look today with the front side of fifty staring them down. Coming back to cocks ... as far as reality goes, I'm sure most of us have seen photos of some truly tremendous dicks. And yes, I've read and enjoyed fan and non-fan sex scenes that describe mighty pieces of meat sinking slowly into willing flesh ... but I also enjoy the more average proportions as represented in many of the Bodie/Doyle stories. Do you find that the more fantasy oriented B/D tales tend to have an anatomically optimistic character? Can anyone name a relatively realistic (CI5 universe) story that depicted our boys with unrealistic anatomy? I suspect that the Big SWanger Syndrome can mostly be contributed to the very nature of SF/Fantasy; a fantasy background more easily lends itself to fantasy bodies. Does this carry over in fan art work, also?
I'm afraid I have nothing worthwhile to say [about the TOTM]. I don't have a version of life history for B and D. The few details we know from the series are enough for me, as I'm not really interested in their childhood or pre-Professional days. I'm only interested in them as they are now. This holds true for my favourite fandom duos, be it Kirk/Spock, Avon/Vila, Hannibal/Face etc. I don't really want to read stories set before the present time-period of each couple, and have never truly enjoyed any I have read. Too many writers have a tendency for their character, be it Bodie or Avon or Kirk or even Spock, to have been abused or molested as a child; and while I know it happens and it is a terrible thing, I have no desire to read about it in my escapist fiction.

[J] says she wouldn't mind if B/D was outed. If she's situation where it wouldn't matter, lucky her. However, I would say that most fans would he upset by a media revelation of B/D. So, it would probably be a nine days wonder in the press, but could have a stronger effect on individuals. When something bad or outside the norm (or most peoples idea of the norm) is discovered about one or two people in a group or society, it is a sad but true human reaction to tar everyone in the group with the same brush, as the saying goes. I can envisage even straight (non-slash) fans suffering from comments such as ‘So that's what they get up to at cons' or 'Well, I knew they were weird, but now they're perverted too'. And for those of us with family who don't agree with gay relationships, it could be worse. Certainly I know I and my friends here we have any great interest in fandom; only one or two people know of our interest. To say you're interested in science fiction is to be greeted with puzzled but tolerant smile, while to show great interest in Star Trek or a similar action show is greeting with surprise and ribbing comments. I've kept my interest quiet at work -- heaven knows what they'd think if they knew I'd been to cons. At the same time, they don't think it unusual to follow and discuss in detail Coronation Street. I don't watch any soaps but to them their interest doesn't seem out of place as soaps have a general following whereas SF and other shows have a perhaps specialized audience. And as for gay issues, our province is not the most liberal of areas. ...

So, all power to Jane, but there are definitely those of us (whether for professional or personal reasons) who never want to see any outing of any slash aspect of any fandom.

Issue 11

Be Gentle With Us 11 was published in September 1993.

  • The Black Capri, fiction by Jane Carnall and Atropos
  • The Bottom of the Matter, fiction by Airelle
  • Letters
  • other unknown content

Issue 12

Be Gentle With Us 12 was published in December 1993.

  • About Time, fiction by Ginny
  • Afterwards, fiction by Jane Carnall
  • Conspiracy Theory, fiction by Atropos
  • Dear Bodie, fiction by Ginny
  • Domestic Warfare, fiction by Katy Deery
  • Home, fiction by Ginny
  • It was Christmas Day in the Workhouse, fiction by Jane Carnall and Atropos
  • It's a Gift, fiction by Jane Carnall and Atropos
  • Letters
  • other unknown content

Other Professionals Letterzines

References

  1. ^ from "Be Gentle With Us" #6
  2. ^ from Cold Fish and Stale Chips #10
  3. ^ from a fan in "Be Gentle With Us" #2
  4. ^ from a fan in "Be Gentle With Us" #2
  5. ^ from a fan in "Be Gentle With Us" #2
  6. ^ from a fan in "Be Gentle With Us" #2
  7. ^ from "Be Gentle With Us" #6
  8. ^ from "Be Gentle With Us" #7
  9. ^ from "Be Gentle With Us" #7
  10. ^ from "Be Gentle With Us" #8
  11. ^ You can watch it here.
  12. ^ from "Be Gentle With Us" #10