In a 1980 episode of the hit British cop show The Professionals, an ill-advised villain tries to threaten the ex-mercenary William Bodie with his snarling doberman pinscher. After a brief altercation, Bodie, all sang-froid and minimally curled lip, inquires: "Would your little dog like to chew this electric fire? Or maybe you'll just leave."
This kind of butch badinage, along with rugged good looks, helped make Lewis Collins, who played Bodie in all 57 of the show's episodes from 1977 and 1983, and who has died aged 67 after suffering from cancer, into a household name. During that time he formed one half of Britain's answer to Starsky and Hutch, a crime-fighting duo called Bodie and Doyle who worked for a shadowy criminal intelligence agency, CI5, headed by Gordon Jackson's strait-laced George Cowley. At its height, The Professionals was watched by 12 million viewers a week,