Lewis Collins: five things about 'Bodie' from The Professionals

Actor made his name as tough guy agent on hit 80s TV show, but was 'too aggressive' to be 007

LAST UPDATED AT 13:07 ON Thu 28 Nov 2013

LEWIS COLLINS, the chisel-jawed actor who played agent Bodie in the hit 80s TV series The Professionals, has died aged 67. Collins, who had battled cancer for five years, died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles, his agent said. Here are five things you might not know about one of TV's tough guys: 

He got into martial arts after being "beaten to a pulp"

Born and raised in Birkenhead in Merseyside, Collins learned to defend himself after being attacked by a street gang, according to his unofficial fan site. "I was walking along the street and a housebrick hit me and put me on my back," he said. "I was frightened, sure, when a gang of youths proceeded to beat me to a pulp. But I was numb, I didn't feel anything at the time." Collins studied karate and judo, becoming a brown belt.

He was a hairdresser before he became an actor

Collins learned to cut hair as an apprentice at André Bernard's salon in Liverpool. Described as "one of the largest and most prestigious" salons in the North of England it had an "elite clientele". Collins became good friends with another apprentice – Paul McCartney's brother Mike – and the pair would spend evenings at McCartney's house practising their scissor-work on female friends and having a go on Paul McCartney's instruments.

He got the part of Bodie because he didn't get on with Martin Shaw

When Collins appeared in an episode of TV's The New Avengers, producers noted he didn't get on with his co-star Martin Shaw. When the same producers were looking for an "abrasive, spirited" sidekick for Shaw in The Professionals they remembered the pair's on-camera tension and recruited Collins. The series ran for six years and made him a household name.

He tried to join the SAS

Towards the end of The Professionals' run, Collins played an SAS officer in the 1982 British thriller Who Dares Wins. Inspired by the experience he applied to join the Territorial SAS, a unit open to part-time reservists. He passed the entrance tests, says the Daily Mail, but was rejected reportedly because commanders thought he was too famous.

He was told he was "too aggressive" to be James Bond

In 1982, Collins had a meeting with Albert Broccoli, the producer of the 007 films. At that stage Roger Moore was on a film-by-film contract and Broccoli was keen to screen test other actors. Collins says he was only in the producer's office for five minutes. He says his view that the franchise should get back to the Sean Connery kind of Bond – a man "you really believed could kill someone with his bare hands" – didn't go down well. · 

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Damn. Too bad.

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