Lewis Collins, the British actor best remembered for his role as Bodie in the crime series The Professionals, has died, aged 67.
Collins, who starred alongside Martin Shaw and Gordon Jackson, passed away in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a five-year struggle with cancer.
His agent said: “He died peacefully at his LA home surrounded by his family. Privacy is asked for at this very sad time.”
The Professionals, which made stars of Collins and Shaw, was based around the adventures of a fictional crime-fighting unit called CI5.
Shaw, currently appearing in a West End production of 12 Angry Men, paid tribute to his co-star last night.
“I was very sad to hear today that Lewis has died,” he said. “We spent a very tough four years together in making The Professionals, and shared in the production of what has become an icon of British television.
“He will be remembered as part of the childhood of so many people, and mourned by his fans. I send my love and condolences to his family, and the great many who will miss him.”
Collins’s other most notable role came in 1982’s Who Dares Wins, when he played a member of the SAS.
The actor, who is survived by his widow Michelle and three sons, was born on Merseyside and worked as a drummer in local bands and as a hairdresser before getting into acting.
He eventually moved to Los Angeles where he ran a successful computer business.
Collins auditioned to take up the role of James Bond, and Brian Clemens, creator of The Professionals, said Collins brought a “Bond-ian quality” to the role of Bodie. He said: “I thought he would have made a marvellous Bond. He was tough and he could fight, he looked good, he was handsome and he had this nice sense of humour.”
Mr Clemens recalled Collins undertook a lot of physical training for the role of Bodie. He took up parachute jumping soon after joining The Professionals. It was the sort of thing you would expect a marine to indulge in. He was a method actor in a sense,” he said.
Lord Grade, who launched the programme in 1977 when he was director of programmes at London Weekend Television, said the on-screen partnership of Collins and Shaw would “never be forgotten”.
“It worked perfectly and the chemistry between the two of them was magic,” he added.
Hundreds of people paid tribute to the actor on Twitter.
Former Doctor Who star Colin Baker tweeted: “Sad to hear that Lewis Collins has died. He was the year below me at drama school. Had style!”
Brian Conley, who co-starred with Collins in the 1999 TV series The Grimleys, tweeted: “God bless Lewis Collins, my dad in The Grimleys. A great actor and a lovely man.”