The Professionals is a British crime-action television drama series produced by Avengers Mk1 Productions and London Weekend Television that aired on the ITV network from 1977 to 1983. In all, 57 episodes were produced, filmed between 1977 and 1981. It starred Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson as agents of the fictional “CI5”. The series was conceived as a spiritual follow-on to The Sweeney.
CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5) is a fictional British law enforcement department, instructed by the home secretary to use any means to deal with crimes of a serious nature that go beyond the capacity of the police, but are not tasks for the security service or military.
Led by the formidable George Cowley (Jackson), CI5 is 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.
Cowley’s two best agents are Ray Doyle (Shaw) and William Bodie (Collins). Doyle is an ex-detective constable who has worked the seedier parts of London, while Bodie is an ex-paratrooper, mercenary and SAS sergeant. Of the two, Doyle is the softer, compassionate and more thoughtful character, while Bodie is ruthless and more willing to take on criminals on their own terms. That said, Doyle is more hotheaded and tended to rush in, while Bodie waits for the shooting to start.
While polar opposites, Bodie and Doyle have a deep and enduring friendship, and are almost inseparable. Although their loyalty to Cowley is beyond question, they have no qualms about disobeying orders if it meant getting the right result, either for the case or themselves.