Big guns, a Ford Capri screeching around a corner, mullets and dodgy perms. It can only be The Professionals. Ask anyone
about The Professionals, and they will say either the car, the theme tune (written by Laurie Johnson, and considered one of
the best theme tunes of all time) or Bodie and Doyle are the things that they remember.
The Professionals was a spy/action
show created in 1977 by a writer and producer named Brian Clemens. The show followed the adventures of a secret service called
CI5-Criminal Intelligence 5, headed by it's gruff boss, George Cowley, played by Scotsman Gordon Jackson and his two best
agents Ray Doyle played by Martin Shaw and William Bodie played by Lewis Collins. It was made as a rival to The Sweeney, but
was more in line with Starsky and Hutch. It was a follow up to The New Avengers which was also created by Clemens.
week, The Professionals would dish out punishments to terrorists, mad bombers, spies, racial groups, international hitmen
and other assorted bad guys.
The show was often criticised for being too violent and looking at it nowadays, there's
no way a show like this would be allowed to be made today. For the time, the late 70's and early 80's, it was a show obsessed
with international terrorism and espionage and was in many ways a forerunner to US spy show 24, which came 20 years later.
writing for the series started in early 1977, after The New Avengers had been finished, but actual casting and locations didn't
begin until around April or May. Originally, Clemens wanted Clive Revill for the role of Cowley, and Jon Finch as Doyle. After
Finch said he didn't want the part, Clemens approached Martin Shaw instead who reluctantly agreed to be cast. Clemens wanted
the leads to have an abrasive partnership, hence Bodie and Doyle were polar opposites. Bodie being a hardman ex-SAS officer
and Doyle being a gentler ex London copper. Originally Bodie was played by Anthony Andrews (yep, the guy out of Brideshead
Revisited. I can just see Bodie holding a gun in one hand and a teddy bear in the other ;) ) but after a couple of days of
filming on the first episode, Clemens realised that because Andrews and Shaw were friends offscreen, they didn't have the
right chemistry and decided that Andrews had to go. Someone to play Bodie was needed very quickly, so Clemens hired an actor
who had been signed for a small part in the first episode. Lewis Collins stepped into the breach initially to Martin Shaw's
horror! The two had appeared in an ep of The New Avengers, and supposedly hadn't got on very well, which ironically was just
what Clemens was looking for. Looking back, no-one but Lew and Shaw could have played these two. The series snowballed from
here, becoming extremely popular in a short space of time. The good stories and strong acting made it for a time the most
popular show on UK TV, and made the stars household names.
However, The Professionals was now without controversy....
The series was seen as being extremely politically incorrect, which was one of the things that made it so much fun! Women
had a VERY secondary role even to the lesser characters in the show, and there was also quite a lot of sterotypical attitudes
to ethnic minoroties in some episodes.
But this didn't stop it from being a very popular show even today. At it's height,
18 million people tuned in to watch it!
The Professionals began it's run on 30th December 1977 on ITV. It was shown at 9pm on a Friday night, then moved to Saturday
and Sunday nights. There were 57 episodes in all, with many different plots and all the episodes were action packed. One episode
was so controversial that it was banned and has never been shown on UK TV, but has been seen in other countries. The episode
was called Klansmen, and it dealt with racism and the Ku Klux Klan.
The show ended on 6 February 1983. ITV made a follow
up called Dempsey and Makepeace, but it wasn't a patch on The Professionals and only lasted from 1985 to '86. The Professionals
was repeated until 1988 but Martin Shaw, who was always unhappy with the series refused to re-sign the repeats licence and
it hasn't been seen on terrestrial TV since. The Professionals has been seen around the world, and is still very popular.
In the UK, although repeats have not been seen for 15 years on terrestrial TV, the cable channel Granada Plus has been showing
the series twice a year, but with edited episodes!!
In the late 90's a revival of the show called The New Professionals began airing on Sky 1. I tuned in because I'd heard
about the original show and although hadn't seen it (at that point) decided to check the new one out.
For my views on the new show check the commentary page.
On this site you will find an introduction to the show, an episode guide with my comments on each episode, a feature on
the Ford Capri-which was inseperable from the series, general rants and comments, and a profile on each of the three main