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Encyclopedia > The Professionals (TV series)
Series title card.
Series title card.

The Professionals was a British crime-action television drama series that aired on the ITV network from 1977 to 1983, filmed between 1977 and 1981. In all, 57 episodes were produced. It starred Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson, as agents of the fictional "CI5". The series was conceived as a response to The Sweeney, and was similar in style to Starsky and Hutch. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Independent Television (generally known as ITV, but also as ITV Network) is a public service network of British commercial television broadcasters, set up under the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to provide competition to the BBC. ITV is the oldest commercial television network in the UK. Since 1990 and the Broadcasting... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... Year 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays the 1983 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays the 1981 Gregorian calendar). ... Martin Shaw (born January 21, 1945 in Birmingham, England) is an English actor. ... Lewis Collins (born 27 May 1946 in Bidston, Birkenhead, Merseyside) is a British actor. ... This article is about the Scottish actor. ... This article is about the television series. ... For the film, see Starsky & Hutch (film). ...

The Professionals was created by Brian Clemens, who had been one of the driving forces behind The Avengers. Clemens and Albert Fennell executive produced, with business partner Laurie Johnson providing the theme music. Sidney Hayers produced the first series in 1977, and Raymond Menmuir the remainder. Brian Clemens (born 1931 in Croydon, England) is a screenwriter and television producer, possibly best known for his work on The Avengers and The Professionals. ... The Avengers is a British 1960s television series featuring secret agents in a fantasy 1960s Britain. ... Albert Fennell (b Chiswick 1920-1988) was a British film and television producer. ... Laurie Johnson (born February 17, 1927, in Hampstead, England) is a British film and television composer. ... Sidney Hayers (b. ...



From left: Martin Shaw as "Ray Doyle", Gordon Jackson as "George Cowley", and Lewis Collins as "William Bodie".

CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5) was a law enforcement department, instructed by the Home Secretary to use any means, which dealt with crimes of a serious nature that went beyond the capacity of the police, but were not tasks for the secret service or military. The name CI5 appears to be influenced by Criminal Investigation Department and MI5. This brief allowed the programme-makers to involve a wide variety of villains including terrorists, hitmen, racist groups and espionage suspects, with plots sometimes relating to the Cold War. Led by the formidable George Cowley (Jackson), CI5 was known for using unconventional and sometimes illegal methods to beat criminals, or as Cowley put it Fight fire with fire! The use of a fictitious force in this context was somewhat less controversial than the portrayal of the real Flying Squad on The Sweeney. Doyle Cowley Bodie This is a copyrighted promotional photo with a known source. ... Doyle Cowley Bodie This is a copyrighted promotional photo with a known source. ... Martin Shaw (born January 21, 1945 in Birmingham, England) is an English actor. ... This article is about the Scottish actor. ... Lewis Collins (born 27 May 1946 in Bidston, Birkenhead, Merseyside) is a British actor. ... Because of both the secrecy of secret services and the controversial nature of the issues involved, there is some difficulty in separating the definitions of secret service, secret police, intelligence agency etc. ... Charles Vincent, founder of the Metropolitan Police CID The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is the branch of all British Police and many other Commonwealth police forces to which plain clothes detectives belong. ... MI-5 redirects here. ... For other uses, see Cold War (disambiguation). ... (Other meanings: a union flying squad is a subset of a labor union) The Flying Squad is a branch of Londons Metropolitan Police force. ... This article is about the television series. ...

Cowley's two best agents were Ray Doyle (Shaw) and William Bodie (Collins). Doyle was an ex-detective constable who had worked the seedier parts of London, while Bodie was an ex-paratrooper, mercenary and SAS sergeant. Of the two, Doyle was the softer, compassionate and more thoughtful character, while Bodie was more ruthless and more willing to take on criminals on their own terms. That said, Doyle was more hotheaded and tended to rush in, while Bodie waited for the shooting to start. See also Australian Special Air Service Regiment and New Zealand Special Air Service: The Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) is the principal special forces unit of the British Army. ...

While polar opposites, Bodie and Doyle had a deep and enduring friendship, and were almost inseparable. Although their loyalty to Cowley was beyond question, they had no qualms about disobeying orders if it meant getting the right result, either for the case or themselves.

At the same time, Collins and Shaw became friends offscreen but managed to keep up the on screen chemistry and abrasiveness of Bodie and Doyle's relationship.

Initially, Anthony Andrews was contracted to play Bodie, but he and Shaw did not have the chemistry that Clemens was looking for. As Shaw was deemed to have more 'screen presence' Andrews was dropped, and Clemens hired Collins in his place. Shaw and Collins had worked on an episode of The New Avengers together, and reportedly had not got on with each other. Ironically, this was the reason Collins was brought in to the production.[1] Anthony Andrews (born January 12, 1948 in London) is an English actor, best known for his role in Brideshead Revisited playing the doomed Sebastian Flyte. ...

To begin with, Clemens intended to write two or three establishing episodes and then hand over to other writers, but their scripts were uneven and lacked the energy and pace needed. Clemens re-wrote nearly 10 scripts for the first season episodes and took a direct hands-on approach to the filming. In later seasons, with the format established and the writers and directors familiar with the show, he took a more leisurely approach to the behind the scenes goings-on.

The early years of the show featured varied plots, good scripts and ongoing character development of Bodie and Doyle and to a lesser extent Cowley, but later seasons featured increasingly overused ideas and script devices and both Collins and Shaw stated they felt the show was becoming stale.[1]

The characters


William Andrew Philip Bodie born c. 1950 (Lewis Collins) was a former SAS sergeant and Paratrooper. After running away from home at around 15, he joined the Merchant Navy and eventually ended up in Africa fighting bush wars. Noticed by Cowley during his SAS career, he was asked to join CI5 in 1975. A keen partier and ladies man, Bodie had a witty comment ready for almost every occasion. He was more immediately approachable than Doyle, and was generally relaxed and confident, although tended to hide his intelligence behind his hardman image. Specialising in weaponry, martial arts and advanced driving, Bodie was the muscle of the three leads. He enjoyed football, drinking and English literature. Year 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Lewis Collins (born 27 May 1946 in Bidston, Birkenhead, Merseyside) is a British actor. ... For the steam locomotives, see SR Merchant Navy Class. ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ...


Raymond Doyle born c. 1949 (Martin Shaw) was a former Detective constable, working the seedier parts of East London. He was once an art student and appears to be musically inclined as well. An expert shot with a pistol, he also ran a karate class for the children on his beat. He was recruited by Cowley and made Bodie's partner shortly afterwards. Doyle is extremely intelligent and thoughtful but is also quick to anger, and his tendency to rush in often leaves Bodie to have to race to the rescue. He is also more inclined to seek long-lasting relationships with women, and in one episode nearly married. Like Bodie he enjoyed football but was a good cook and enjoyed a more healthy lifestyle. Doyle's bubble perm hairstyle and 70s dress sense were actually chosen by Martin Shaw. Year 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Martin Shaw (born January 21, 1945 in Birmingham, England) is an English actor. ... For other uses, see Karate (disambiguation). ...


George Cowley (Gordon Jackson), founder and head of CI5, and Bodie and Doyle's boss. Previously a Major in the British Army and later in the secret services, including MI5 before being seconded to CI5 to form and manage the team. A confident and very experienced man, able to defend his own against physical and high level political attacks, with many contacts and friends in high places and not afraid to clash with leaders of other services like Special Branch and MI5. His operatives sometimes call him "The Cow", though not to his face. This article is about the Scottish actor. ... Special Branch is the arm of the British, Irish and many Commonwealth police forces that deals with national security matters. ... MI-5 redirects here. ...

The cars

The most famous car used by CI5 was the Ford Capri 3.0 S. Two were used, Bodie drove a silver version (1978-1981 episodes), Doyle a gold (1980-1981 episodes). Cowley used a latest model Ford Granada (1978-1981) while other Ford models such as a Ford Escort RS2000 (1978-1979 episodes, driven by Doyle) and the Ford Cortina, particularly the Mk5 model, were occasionally seen. However, in the first (1977) series, the cars used were mainly those of British Leyland, including a Rover SD1, a Rover P6, a Leyland Princess, a Triumph 2000, a Triumph Dolomite and a Triumph TR7 had been the cars of choice for Bodie and Doyle and CI5 in general. However, typical reliability issues with the cars and BL taking them back to give to the motoring press was causing disruption to filming. Midway through the first series, the supply was then switched to Ford after they offered to provide vehicles for the production crew as well as for on screen use. Ford Capri Mk III 1. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles accessible from a disambiguation page. ... The Ford Escort was a compact car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company from 1967 through 2003. ... The Ford Cortina is a mid sized family car sold by Ford of Britain in various guises from 1962 to 1982. ... The British Leyland Motor Corporation (often abbreviated to simply BL), was a Britain in 1968. ... Rover SD1 is the code name given to a series of large executive cars made by British Leyland and Austin Rover Group from 1976 to 1987. ... The Rover P6 series (named 2000, 2200, and 3500 for their engine displacement) was a group of saloon cars produced from 1963 to 1977 in Solihull, West Midlands, England. ... The Leyland Princess is a medium-to-large car that was produced in the United Kingdom by British Leyland from 1975 until 1981. ... The Triumph 2000 was a mid-sized automobile produced in Coventry by the Triumph Motor Company between 1963 and 1977. ... The Triumph Dolomite was a popular small–medium-sized four-door saloon car, made by Triumph under the British Leyland organisation. ... The Triumph TR7 was a sports car manufactured from 1975 to 1981 by the Triumph Motor Company, then part of British Leyland (and subsequently, BL Ltd. ... Ford may mean a number of things: A ford is a river crossing. ...

Many of the episodes featured some kind of car chase, a role for which the Capri was particularly well suited, which has helped this car gain some of the image we know of today.


The series was often criticized for its high levels of violence. One episode opened with a traffic police officer being shot dead at point blank range with a shotgun, another with a secret service agent being thrown out of a high window. The level of violence and Bodie and Doyle's 'enthusiastic' driving gave ammunition to the TV critics claims that the show was 'comic strip and moronic.' The irony with Doyle and Bodie's driving was that while they were able to drive like madmen on screen, it was an LWT stipulation that Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins were driven to set. Martin Shaw (born January 21, 1945 in Birmingham, England) is an English actor. ... Lewis Collins (born 27 May 1946 in Bidston, Birkenhead, Merseyside) is a British actor. ...

In addition to this, one of the first-season episodes (Klansmen) was banned in the UK during its original run, due to its controversial race-related subject matter. The episode was never screened on terrestrial television in the UK,[2] although it did screen uncut on the cable television channel Superchannel in 1987, and has been screened on free-to-air television in other countries including South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Terrestrial television (also known as over-the-air, OTA or broadcast television) was the traditional method of television broadcast signal delivery prior to the advent of cable and satellite television. ... Coaxial cable is often used to transmit cable television into the house. ... NBC Europe (formerly The Super Channel and NBC Super Channel) was a satellite television channel based in the United Kingdom that broadcast across Europe. ... Year 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays 1987 Gregorian calendar). ...

The show was also criticised for its high level of political incorrectness. Mary Whitehouse was among those criticising the show for its occasionally sexist overtones, and in the late-1980s and early-1990s the series was criticised by feminist groups. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ...

Occasional off-colour references between Bodie and Doyle were not then seen as being disparaging towards protected minority groups; with the exception of the 'Klansmen' episode, none of the dialogue was tainted with racism. In this respect The Professionals, like The Sweeney, reflected the sensibilities of its audience without overstepping the boundaries of taste. This article is about the television series. ...

Shaw was particularly critical of the series during its run, feeling he was playing a one dimensional character in a one dimensional show. After the series ended, due to royalty issues[citation needed], he managed to block repeat screenings, much to the frustration of the show's fans and his co-stars Collins and Jackson.

Episodes were shown on terrestrial TV as part of special occasions, like during a general overview of ITV's early years. The Professionals is regularly shown on cable TV as well.


After the series ended, ITV produced Dempsey and Makepeace as its replacement, while Raymond Menmuir produced Special Squad for Australia's Network Ten in the mid-1980s, following The Professionals’ format. A revival series, CI5: The New Professionals, was produced for Sky One in the late 1990s and starred Edward Woodward, but it was not a success. The BBC introduced Spender in the early 1990s, which featured several Professionals influenced themes. Dempsey & Makepeace was a mid-1980s British television crime drama, made by London Weekend Television for ITV, starring Glynis Barber and Michael Brandon. ... Special Squad was an Australian television series made by Crawford Productions for the Ten Network in 1984. ... Network Ten, or Channel Ten, is one of Australias three major commercial television networks. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ... The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ... Edward Albert Arthur Woodward (born June 1, 1930 Croydon, Surrey) is an English stage, film and television actor and singer. ... For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... Spender was a BBC drama set in Newcastle upon Tyne, written by Ian La Frenais and Jimmy Nail, in which he also starred. ...


In the popular TV comedy series The Two Ronnies, Ronnie Corbett played a bungling version of Martin Shaw's Doyle in a sketch called Tinker Tailor Smiley Doyle. This was a joint send-up of The Professionals and the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy TV drama, with Ronnie Barker playing George Smiley along the lines of Alec Guinness' portrayal in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Corbett's Doyle provides the brawn to the brains of Barker's Smiley and actually comes out the worse. The sketch guest-starred Nicholas Smith from Are You Being Served?. The Two Ronnies was a British sketch show that aired on BBC One from 1971 to 1987. ... Ronnie Corbett in Extras Ronald Balfour Corbett, OBE (born 4 December 1930 in Edinburgh, commonly credited as Ronnie Corbett) is a British comedian and actor, best known as one of The Two Ronnies. ... Martin Shaw (born January 21, 1945 in Birmingham, England) is an English actor. ... Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is a spy novel by John le Carré, first published in 1974. ... Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005), popularly known as Ronnie Barker was an English comic actor and writer. ... Book cover showing Sir Alec Guiness as George Smiley. ... Sir Alec Guinness CH, CBE (April 2, 1914 – August 5, 2000) was an Academy Award and Tony Award-winning English actor who became one of the most versatile and best-loved performers of his generation. ... Nicholas Smith (born 5 March 1934) is an English actor who is best known for playing the bald, jug-eared manager Mr. ... Are You Being Served? was a long-running British sitcom broadcast from 1972 to 1985. ...

In 1984 some of the team behind The Comic Strip TV series produced a spoof entitled The Bullshitters, featuring two characters called Bonehead and Foyle in an episode called 'Roll Out the Gun Barrel". The Comic Strip is a group of British comedians, best known collectively for their television series The Comic Strip Presents. ... Bonehead and Foyle The Bullshitters: Roll Out The Gunbarrel was a spoof of The Professionals, first broadcast in 1984 on Channel 4. ...

In 1996, Nissan cars ran a humorous advertisement based on the series, featuring Bodie and Doyle type characters testing out the Nissan Almera. Nissan Motor Co. ... The Nissan Almera was a small family car built by Nissan from 1995 to 2006. ...


  • In Medium Rare — the third episode of the second series of The New Avengers — a character called George Cowley, from Accounts, falls and is badly injured (it turns out fatally) in a set-up designed to frame John Steed. Cowley wears a trenchcoat, a hat, and thick-rimmed glasses, and is similar in appearance to a younger version of the Gordon Jackson character in The Professionals.
  • In the New Avengers episode Obsession, Shaw and Collins star as two of the villains being sought by Steed, Purdey and Gambit.
  • The comic book series The Invisibles features a paranormal investigation squad called Division X, staffed by parodies of various 1970s cop and spy characters. It is run by Patrick Crowley, who bares an uncanny resemblance to George Cowley. An unnamed character resembling Doyle also makes an appearance, although he is quickly killed.
  • The show was to have been originally called "The A-Squad" before it was decided to call it "The Professionals". (It might be noted that this proposed title is very similar to that of the hit 1980s American television series The A-Team, which also shares The Professionals' heavy inclusion of weaponry, car chases, fights, etc.)
  • The 1980 episode Blood Sports featured one-off appearances by Ruby Wax and Pierce Brosnan. When seen in the show, Wax was immediately recognisable playing an American student, and Brosnan was seen in a TV surveillance van. Apparently the payment for that episode went towards Brosnan's first air ticket to the United States.
  • While episodes were broadcast until 1983, episodes were actually filmed between 1977 and 1981.
  • Due to the number of people, living and dead, contributing to the original recording of The Professionals soundtrack, it would be near impossible to gain permission to use it.
  • The last series one episode Klansmen was banned in Great Britain because of its story line involving the KKK, and has never been shown on the main channels, it has since appeared on satellite/Freeview television, and continued to do so in daytime re-runs.
  • During the 1980s Lewis Collins was considered as a replacement James Bond for Roger Moore after Moore announced his intention to retire from the role. The role however, subsequently went to Timothy Dalton.

A 1970s New Avengers paperback features Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt), Purdey (Joanna Lumley) and the ubiquitous John Steed (Patrick Macnee). ... John Steed is a fictional character, played by Patrick Macnee, on the British series The Avengers and The New Avengers. ... A 1970s New Avengers paperback features Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt), Purdey (Joanna Lumley) and the ubiquitous John Steed (Patrick Macnee). ... The Invisibles is an adult comic book series that was published by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics from 1994 to 2000. ... For the 2008 movie, see The A-Team (film). ... Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ... Ruby Wax (born Ruby Wachs on April 19, 1953) is an American comedienne who made a career in the United Kingdom as part of the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s. ... Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE[1] (born May 16, 1953) is an Irish actor and producer best known for portraying James Bond in four films from 1995 to 2002: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. ... KKK may refer to: // Ku Klux Klan, white supremacy group(s) Katipunan (Society), a revolutionary group from Philippine history; full name Kataastaasang Kagalanggalangang Katipunan Anak ng Bayan (roughly translated: Supreme and Venerable Society of the Sons of the Nation) Kokusai Kogyo Kabushikigaisha, a Japanese bus and taxi company AG K...

DVD and VHS releases

In the late 1990s, the complete run of 57 episodes were given a UK VHS videocassette release by Contender Entertainment Group. [1] (An earlier release had seen 31 episodes issued before the distributor went out of business). [2] Bottom view of VHS cassette with magnetic tape exposed Top view of VHS cassette with front casing removed The Video Home System, better known by its abbreviation VHS, is a recording and playing standard. ...

In 2002, Contender reissued the complete run on DVD (for the UK only). Although labelled as having been "digitally remastered", these releases have attracted some criticism, mainly due to the relatively poor picture quality (colour, contrast and levels of dirt and scratches). In part, this was due to problems with the age and condition of the prints used, and the loss of (or lack of access to) the original source footage which would normally be used as the basis of a remaster. [3] DVD (also known as Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc) is a popular optical disc storage media format. ...

In late 2005, Contender replaced the original DVD releases with a new set which saw some minor improvements in the picture quality. [4]


Since it was first broadcast in Germany in 1981, the show (Die Profis) has become a cult there. During its broadcast run, the public television service ZDF did not air all episodes due to censorship issues over politics and violence, so The Professionals became one of the first TV shows ever to be released on VHS in Germany in the 1980s. However, only the unaired episodes were released on tape. In all, 14 episodes were withdrawn from broadcast. Year 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays the 1981 Gregorian calendar). ... Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Second German Television), ZDF, is a public service German television channel based in Mainz. ...


In 2004 plans were being drawn up for a film version of The Professionals with Lewis Collins approached to play the part of Cowley, however after negotiations broke down the film was abandoned. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Lewis Collins (born 27 May 1946 in Bidston, Birkenhead, Merseyside) is a British actor. ...

Episode guide

Main article: List of The Professionals episodes

This is a list of all The Professionals episodes. ...

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b The Authorised Guide to The Professionals, mark-1.co.uk. Article last updated 2001-12-31, retrieved 2007-04-29.
  2. ^ http://www.mark-1.co.uk/Professionals/klansmen.htm

Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... is the 119th day of the year (120th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

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