It was only relatively recently that The Professionals was able to be repeated on television. If you like Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes you can see that those series drew their inspiration from the multitude of cop dramas of the 1970s and 1980s. The Professionals was one of these and focussed on three central characters – George Cowley (played by Gordon Jackson), Ray Doyle (Martin Shaw) and Bodie (Lewis Collins) – whose first name of William is seldom mentioned.
The programme started in 1977 and ran for 5 series in all. It had a memorable theme tune, was action packed and had plenty of classic cars. It focussed on the workings of CI5. Having two lead characters (and a boss), the series was almost the British version of “Starsky and Hutch”.
Bodie and Doyle were opposites. Bodie was a smooth womaniser, but mean with it (ex-SAS). He was fairly relaxed in manner and was never short of a witty one liner. Doyle was scruffier and quite artistic with a hot temper and a tendency to rush into situations. Cowley was their boss and the voice of reason. He was in MI5 and was the founder and leader of CI5. Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw were chosen for the roles as they had worked together in the past and not got on.
As well as the car chases, gun fights and intrigue, is memorable for Ray Doyle’s curly perm and super tight jeans and Bodie’s leather jacket and suave dress sense. The series also featured a number of cars including Ford Capris, Escorts, Rover, Leyland Princess and Triumphs. The programme was criticised for the level of violence but was a hit with viewers. Martin Shaw did particularly well from the series and struggled for a while to shrug off Doyle. He is now better known as Judge John Deed.
On watching the show again, it is easy to see why The Professionals has received cult status.