Jack the Ripper was a two-part TV dramatisation of the investigation of the infamous murders of London prostitutes. According to Television Heaven, the original transmission of the opening episode was among the top ten ratings for that week, being watched by 14.1 million viewers.

Four different endings were originally filmed, to keep the conclusion of the investigation a secret, until the show was broadcast.

The two one-and-a half-hour episodes were shown on 11 and 18 October 1988.

Michael Gothard played George Lusk, leader of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. In the film, Lusk is portrayed as a political rabble-rouser and Marxist revolutionary, and is one of the suspects.

In real life, the activities of Lusk’s organisation mainly consisted of putting up posters and offering reward money.

Casting

In correspondence, the Director, David Wickes says:


"On Ripper, I wrote Michael’s character George Lusk as a 19th century Marxist. One of Lusk’s lines (to Michael Caine) was 'You can’t even protect ordinary working people'.

Most actors would have used a sneering tone and left it at that. Not Michael Gothard. He took me aside on the set and said he wanted to speak the line as if it were something his character had repeated hundreds of times — a mantra for meetings and speeches ... 'ord’ry workin’ peep-ul!'

Brilliant. In one second, we knew that Lusk was a professional activist, a man of slogans and sayings instead of original thoughts. 'Great,' I said, 'Do it'.

Now, that’s what I call an actor.

... Michael had a screen presence unlike that of any other actor with whom I have worked. He could frighten an audience with a glance. His soft, husky voice was electrifying and he knew how to use it to maximum effect.

Each time I welcomed Michael to the set, I knew that we were about to get something special in the can. There are very few actors in that category."

More details on Jack the Ripper from David Wickes Productions

Per Digital Fix: “Though they had originally started to film on video with a different cast (with Barry Foster in the lead), a vast sum of money was put up by CBS on the condition they made it into a much bigger production with US recognisable stars in it thus the inclusion of Michael Caine, Jane Seymour and Lewis Collins ...”

Per IMDB: “Michael Caine was persuaded to return to TV for the first time in nearly 20 years because of David Wickes's powerful script. Caine later described Wickes as "the nicest, fastest Director I've worked for, and the master of filming Victorian London."’

This was the second film in which Michael Gothard had worked opposite Michael Caine, the first being “The Last Valley” in 1971.

In 1979 he had worked with Lewis Collins on an episode of “The Professionals”: “Stopover.”

More recently, in 1982, he had worked with Lysette Anthony, who had played Rowena, his unwilling betrothed, in Ivanhoe.

The stunt arranger on ‘Jack the Ripper’, Peter Brayham would also have been well known to Michael, from “Stopover” and “Arthur of the Britons.”

Cast photo

Jack the Ripper cast

IMDB entry
In this episode of the popular crime/spy drama, “The Professionals”, Michael Gothard plays Kodai, a KGB agent, and an old adversary of George Cowley, the head of CI5.

Working with a double-agent, Radouk, Kodai’s original mission was simply to kill Cowley, but instead, Kodai accidentally hits Meredith, a former British agent they are using to draw Cowley into the open.

There follows an elaborate cat-and-mouse game, in which the three of them again try to lure Cowley out, promising to name another British agent who is working for the other side.

Meredith becomes a liability, so Kodai kills him, managing to elude Bodie and Doyle for a second time, and earning them a roasting from Cowley.

Cowley goes to a meeting, to exchange a large amount of money and a new British passport with Radouk, for the name of the double-agent.

Kodai turns up instead, collects the package and then shoots Cowley. Cowley falls, as if dead, but he was wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The team then follow Kodai’s helicopter to a big house, where Kodai meets Radouk and tells him his mission is complete and Cowley is dead. The team show up – there is a car chase which ends in a stand off in the woods, in which Bodie shoots Kodai, and Radouk is taken prisoner.

Speculation: it seems likely that Michael's role as KGB agent Kodai in this episode helped secure the role of hired assassin Emile Leopold Locque in "For Your Eyes Only."

Filming

According to "The Professionals" fansite, CI5, filming took place between 23 April and 4 May 1979, though the episode was not shown until 10 November.

Among locations used were:
Friern Barnet Lane, North Finchley, London, (Kodai's and Radouk's house)
Frithwood Avenue, Northwood, Middlesex, (safe house)
White Waltham Airfield, Maidenhead, Berkshire, (RAF Manley airfield).

The stunt arranger was a man Michael had worked with on “Arthur of the Britons” – Peter Brayham.

Michael Gothard as a Russian

Russian fan, Helena, was asked what she thought of Michael’s Russian accent when he was speaking in English, and also the way he spoke the Russian language.

“I'd say, the accent was VERY good. If I didn't know that Michael Gothard was not Russian, I would have thought that he was, because Kodai sounds a lot like one.

Probably this character's English is that of an English-speaking Russian who had some language training, but it (the language) was second priority. His accent is that of a professional in some other field than linguistics; he sounds like a man who knows English pretty well, but either his teachers did not tell him how to build up a native speaker-style accent, or he didn't listen to them. So all in all he's producing a very convincing accent, I like that!

His Russian was pretty good too, by sounded like that of somebody who isn't a native speaker, but who learnt Russian as an adult (perhaps a Pole). Though there were traces of an English-speaking actor too, but more subtle than most of the time in films and TV series.

The name of this KGB assassin makes me wonder, though ... Kodai does not sound like a widespread Russian given name to me. Maybe it's a nickname. or a surname."

Fan reviews from The Professionals fansite:

Mark:
A little formulaic, though fast-paced, brutal, action-packed ... and endlessly thrilling!

The plot is complex and if you have to watch it a couple of times to understand what's going on, I don't blame you! However, unlike the later 'Runner', this one does make sense! The whole episode ultimately revolves around the huge twist at the end - and Cowley happily keeps his men in the dark all the way through ...

The action scenes here are terrific - some great camera-work and direction …

For the first time in the series, I think, Cowley begins to doubt the competence of his own team …

Loved seeing the Granada being put through its paces at the end!

"I'm quite looking forward to seeing Kodai again." / "Oh, yeah - can't wait!" / "Oh he's not such a bad sort. A bit careless with firearms, I'll concede but ..." / "Yeah and he loves animals and children, I know!"

Sharon: This is a great action episode. Lots of excellent shooting … The driving stunts are particularly good. The plot is terrific.

Cowley is at his best - ferocious, snappish, self-sufficient and secretive, not even fully trusting his two best agents.

A fine episode with some particularly good aspects. High praise to the stunt folk!

The Professionals fansite

Watch on Youtube:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

IMDB entry
Michael Gothard had been cast as a Russian agent, Kodai in the popular TV series, "The Professionals."

According to "The Professionals" fansite, CI5, filming took place between 23 April and 4 May 1979, though the episode was not shown until 10 November.

Among locations used were:
Friern Barnet Lane, North Finchley, London, (Kodai's and Radouk's house)
Frithwood Avenue, Northwood, Middlesex, (safe house)
White Waltham Airfield, Maidenhead, Berkshire, (RAF Manley airfield).

The stunt arranger was a man Michael had worked with on “Arthur of the Britons” – Peter Brayham.
Distribution

The 24 episodes were broadcast at 4:45 pm on Wednesdays, the first episode being broadcast in the UK on 6 December 1972.

The series was a joint venture with a German company, included some German actors as recurring cast in Season Two, and some of the scenes were filmed in German as well as English.

It was shown in Germany, and all over Europe (including Eastern Europe), in the USA, South America, and Australia, where it was of-cten given repeat showings, though it was seldom repeated in the UK.

Foreign TV networks variously dubbed or subtitled the show as they saw fit.

In 1975, scenes from various episodes were put together to make a film, “Arthur the Young Warlord”, though this was a shadow of the series, and left out most of Michael Gothard’s scenes, as well as the distinctive theme tune by Elmer Bernstein.

The series finally came out on DVD in 2009.

Michael’s former girlfriend N.B., who first met him in 1984, says:

'He didn’t like watching himself. I never got him to show me any movie he had worked in. From what he told me, I think he liked the film “Up the Junction” and “Arthur of the Britons.” And the French one, “La vallée.”'

Cast and crew with whom Michael Gothard worked on other projects.

Peter Stephens, who appeared in the episode ‘In Common Cause’ as Brother Amlodd, just before his death at 52, on 17 September 1972, had earlier starred with Michael Gothard in ‘Herostratus.’ Stephens played the part of the advertising man, Farson.

Brian Blessed: Porthos in in ‘The Further Adventures of the Musketeers’, and Korski in ‘The Last Valley’, and Mark of Cornwall in ‘Arthur of the Britons.’

Mike Pratt: Jeff Randall in ‘When the Spirit Moves You’, and Mordant in ‘People of the Plough’ (‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode.)

Alfie Bass: Charlie in ‘Up the Junction’ and Trader in ‘The Swordsman’ (‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode.)

Peter Firth: Colonel Caine in ‘Lifeforce’ and Corin in ‘The Pupil’ (‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode.)

Patti Love: Tasca in ‘Warrior Queen’, Gladwyn in ‘Rolf the Preacher’ (‘Arthur of the Britons’ episode.)

Peter Brayham: stuntman in ‘The Devils’, stunt arranger for ‘Stopover’ (‘The Professionals’ episode) and ‘Jack the Ripper’, and second unit director and stunt co-ordinator on ‘Frankenstein,’ fight arranger for ‘Arthur of the Britons.’

Watch on Youtube:

Season 1


Episode 1: Arthur is Dead
Episode 2: The Gift of Life
Episode 3: The Challenge
Episode 4: The Penitent Invader
Episode 5: People of the Plough
Episode 6: The Duel
Episode 7: The Pupil
Episode 8: Rolf the Preacher
Episode 9: Enemies and Lovers
Episode 10: The Slaves
Episode 11: The Wood People
Episode 12: The Prize

Season 2
Episode 1: The Swordsman
Episode 2 :Rowena
Episode 3: The Prisoner
Episode 4: Some Saxon Women
Episode 5: Go Warily
Episode 6: The Marriage Feast
Episode 7: In Common Cause
Episode 8: Six Measures of Silver
Episode 9: Daughter of the King
Episode 10: The Games
Episode 11: The Treaty
Episode 12: The Girl from Rome

IMDB entry

Stills from the series can be seen here, and even more here.

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