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This series chronicled the lives of Bodie and Doyle, top agents for Britain's CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5), and their controller, George Cowley. The mandate of CI5 was to fight terrorism and similar high-profile crimes. Cowley, a hard ex-MI5 operative, hand-picked each of his men. Bodie was a cynical ex-SAS paratrooper and mercenary whose nature ran to controlled violence, while his partner, Doyle, came to CI5 from the regular police force, and was more of an open minded liberal. Their relationship was often contentious, but they were the top men in their field, and the ones to whom Cowley always assigned to the toughest cases. Written by
Marg Baskin <email@example.com>
In the unofficial pilot The Professionals: Old Dog with New Tricks (1978) Bodie uses a Smith and Wesson .38 Special revolver and Doyle a Walther PPK automatic pistol. By the time of The Professionals: Private Madness, Public Danger (1977) they have both swapped to Browning 9mm automatics, the standard British military handgun of the time. By the third season Bodie is using a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum and Doyle a Walther 9mm. In The Professionals: Mixed Doubles (1980) both agents use Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum revolvers. Cowley uses a Colt .38 revolver throughout the series. All three use a variety of small arms notably Armalite and FN FAL rifles and Uzi, Ingram and Sterling submachine guns. In The Professionals: Wild Justice (1980) Bodie and Doyle use prototype versions of the British Army's SA80 assault rifle which hadn't even been trialled by the SAS at the time. See more »
[scene-setting voiceover from Season 1 opening titles]
Anarchy, acts of terror, crimes against the public. To combat it I've got special men - experts from the army, the police, from every service - these are The Professionals.
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"The Professionals" has been slated from all sides over the years. It's fallen foul of, among others, the self-appointed moralist zealots of television watchdog groups because of its often hard-hitting violence, and the feminist lobby for its portrayal of most of its female characters as bimbos and ciphers. Even Martin Shaw, one of its three main stars, was so embarrassed by the show that for years his veto prevented it from being repeated in the UK (or perhaps it was simply because he was ashamed of the perm which he sported throughout the show's six-year run and which led to co-star Lewis Collins giving him the nickname "the Bionic Gollywog"). Whatever the reason, "The Professionals" won few critical admirers at the time and now - in the age of political correctness - is perhaps even more widely pooh-poohed. So why did it run for 6 years and become one of British TV's biggest ever, and most popular, exports? And why does it still enjoy cult status? The answer, paradoxically, lies in the reasons why it was so widely reviled in the first place. It's violent, politically incorrect and - to put it kindly - doesn't demand that its audiences have the intellect of rocket scientists to follow its plots. It was escapist entertainment aimed at boys of all ages from 10 to 50. Pictures of Bodie & Doyle adorned the bedroom walls of teenage girls up and down the land as they got in on the act too. And the show practically became an hour-long advertisement for the Ford motor company. In the UK during the late 70s and early 80s, it was positively hazardous to venture forth on a Friday night during a "Professionals" run, for fear of being knocked over and hospitalised by some young Johnny screeching round the corner in his Ford Capri, pretending to be Bodie & Doyle. Sure, "The Professionals" (like most shows of the genre) had its moronic moments, but who can forget classics like the episode in which two anti-social misfits holed up on a high rooftop and started taking pot-shots at a nearby hospital? Or the one with Bodie trapped in a country house, under siege by a bunch of German terrorists and with all contact to the outside world lost? Everything the critics accuse "The Professionals" of may well be true. But who cares? It's still a cult classic. They don't make 'em like that any more.
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