70’s TV Shows - The Professionals

The Professionals, Bodie, Doyle, Cowley
"It's not a toy, Bodie"

The Professionals, was another of TV shows on British TV that was a must-watch series for all kids in the 1970’s and early 80’s. Bad haircuts and poor fashion sense, The Professionals never really matched up to The Sweeney, in my opinion, but nevertheless, it was part of my staple viewing at the time. The characters of Bodie, Doyle and George Cowley, played by Lewis Collins, Martin Shaw and Gordon Jackson, never quite seemed to have the realism that Regan, Carter and Haskins of The Sweeney did. That was especially the case with Gordon Jackson, who I always thought of as the butler from Upstairs, Downstairs. The Professionals ran from 1971 to 1975 and it was hugely popular. It was hard hitting, action packed and sometimes quite controversial. Here are ten facts about the 70’s TV show, The Professionals.

1. The Professionals was created by the same team that made the Avengers
The professionals TV show was created by one of the main people who were behind The Avengers, Brian Clements, and it was produced by the same production company, Avengers MK1 Productions. I think that you can certainly see the similarities in the two shows.

2. The show got a lot of flak for the violence
The Professionals, was often criticised for its high levels of violence. By today’s standards, the violence is very mild. OK, so there were lots of guns, shootings and killings, but you never see any real blood. There were, however, also a lot of martial arts scenes and, if you remember, there had already been a lot of controversy over kids copying Kung Fu moves from the David Carradine TV series, Kung Fu. (Remember that one? Glasshoper?)

The Professionals, Bodie, Doyle3. Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw took driving lessons from stunt drivers
There were plenty of driving action packed scenes in the Professionals and you did often see Bodie or Doyle in close up in some of these. To make the action sequences as realistic as possible, both Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins were taught how to drive their Ford Capri through the streets at high speeds and do hand-brake turns by professional stunt drivers.

4. Cowley drove the same car as Steed from The Avengers
George Cowley drove a yellow Rover SD1 in the Professionals, which was the very same car that John Steed, played by the late Patrick McNee, drove in Avengers. The Car’s registration was MOO 229R, in The Professionals and, MOO 229P in the Avengers. The same car is also said to have appeared in several episodes of Return of the Saint, which starred Ian Ogilvy.

5. There was an episode of The Professionals that was never aired
In the first series of The Professionals, there was an episode entitled ‘The Klansmen’ that has never been shown on British terrestrial TV due to its racist theme.  In the episode, Bodie expresses racist views, though the production company insisted that this was indicative of the time, so it should have been screened.

6. The show got a ticking off from Mary Whitehouse
The Professionals also had a reputation for being politically incorrect because of its use of sexist and, occasionally racist terms, a fact that Mary Whitehouse, the voice of moral minority, was keen to point out. The show still attracted an unusually high proportion of women viewers for the genre and Bodie and Doyle posters adorned the walls of many teenage girls in the 70’s.

7. Martin Shaw was very critical of the show
Martin Shaw felt that The Professionals was a very one dimensional show and he criticised the show wen when it was being made.  Shaw initially resisted attempts to repeat episodes of The Professionals on terrestrial TV and, for a long time, would not re-negotiate terms for repeats to be shown.

8. Lewis Collins was too aggressive to be James Bond
Lewis Collins had a meeting with Albert Broccoli with regards to Collins becoming the next James Bond after Roger Moore. Collins only lasted five minutes in the interview, though, and blew his chances of being the next 007 when he told the producer that he wanted to play Bond as a man that you could believe could kill with his bare hands.

9. CI5: The New Professionals
There was an attempt at a reboot series of The Professionals in 1999, but it only lasted for one series. CI5: The New Professionals had new characters played by new actors and was criticised for low production values and poor acting.

10. The show declined in quality in later years
The Professionals has now gained a cult status and is remembered fondly by those of us who were around in those days. In the later years of the show’s production, though, both Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins said that they felt that The Professionals had become stale and plots and ideas were being repeated. Both decided to not renew their contracts for The Professionals in 1981.

You may also like:

70’s TV Shows - The Six Million Dollar Man

80’s TV Shows – Minder

70’s TV Shows – Kung Fu