The Professionals: Britain’s Beloved Action-Packed Crime Series


When The Professionals first exploded onto British television screens in 1977 on ITV, it pioneered a bold new era for action dramas and cop thrillers. Over the show’s electrifying 57 episode run until 1983, this landmark series was centred on the gritty exploits of partners William Bodie and Danny Doyle, two hardened crimefighters portrayed with irresistible machismo and bravado by Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins respectively.

Week after week, The Professionals delivered bone-crunching thrills and high-octane suspense through its slate of elaborately choreographed stunt sequences and fast-paced action setpieces filmed extensively on location. As Bodie and Doyle fearlessly tackled terrorism, police corruption, organized crime, and vast political conspiracies at the highest levels, no gunfight was ever too furious, no car chase ever too death-defying or spectacular.

With its kinetic action choreography, brooding atmosphere, and unapologetic embrace of 1970s era masculine swagger, The Professionals raised the bar spectacularly regarding what audiences could expect from heart-pounding televisual excitement. Shaw and Collins’ primal chemistry and camaraderie as leads etched their characters Bodie and Doyle into pop culture legend. Today, four decades later, their names still retain cult status as two of British television’s most iconic fictional crimefighting partners.

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Created by prolific TV producer Brian Clemens of The Avengers fame, The Professionals was set against a dramatic fictionalized backdrop of 1970s Britain plagued by political unrest, nationwide strikes, energy shortages, and sinister criminal threats aiming to undermine society. To combat this, Bodie and Doyle worked for the top-secret government intelligence agency CI5, an elite crimefighting unit who had licence to utilize any means necessary to neutralize the most dangerous enemies of national security. This provided license for the show’s boundless action.


While coming from vastly disparate backgrounds, Bodie and Doyle formed an unstoppable duo and brother-in-arms partnership. Ex-SAS operative and rugged mercenary William Bodie, played with an intimidating physical presence and sly, dry humor by Martin Shaw, provided the hardened steel, deadly marksmanship, and cynicism.

His maverick foil was former police constable turned tough-as-nails paratrooper Danny Doyle, portrayed with roguish flair and scrappy charm by Lewis Collins. With his policeman’s instincts, Doyle was adept at reading people and situations. Together, their opposing temperaments clicked into an electrifying balance.

Clad in leather jackets, this dapper pair crisscrossed the London streets and countryside in Bodie’s sleek Ford Capri 3000E as they pursued terrorists, assassins and mobsters. Hurtling through the city streets with tyres screeching, or emerging guns blazing from the Capri, Bodie and Doyle became iconic ’70s action figures that leapt off the screen into pop culture legend. Their seamless synergy and interplay made them one of British television’s most memorable and beloved crimefighting duos.

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With its lightning-fast pacing and death-defying stunt sequences, The Professionals pushed the boundaries in terms of graphic violence and suspense for its era of British television. Each adrenaline-charged episode featured riveting action setpieces as Bodie and Doyle took down an array of enemies ranging from IRA-backed terrorists, ruthless drug cartels, political assassins, and lethal Soviet spies.

The partners brought down their targets through intense fistfights, high-speed car chases with screeching tyre turns, enormous pyrotechnic explosions, and blistering shootouts with villains unloading round after deadly round. Each week brought new heights of kinetic action spectacle.

Leaving no stunt unattempted, the show featured everything from Bodie and Doyle hurling themselves across rooftops to clinging for dear life on the skids of helicopters. They regularly went undercover in perilous scenarios rife with tension. The series’ masterful stunt work and cinematography by director Tom Clegg amplified the gritty, heightened realism of their missions. The Professionals continuously raised the bar for what audiences could expect from adrenaline-packed television.


A huge ingredient in the show’s widespread appeal was the lively chemistry and entertaining rapport between leads Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins. The duo’s oil-and-water personality differences as Bodie and Doyle added an engaging friction and situational humor amidst the constant cycle of perilous crises.

Bodie’s cynical realism clashed with Doyle’s idealistic morality in crisp exchanges of ironic macho quips between the partners that never failed to provide cathartic release for viewers after nail-biting tension or cliffhangers. Their humorous repartee punctuated the stakes with moments of levity and male bonding.

Whether romancing women, casually brawling in bars, or embroiled in explosive action, Shaw and Collins showcased a rare endearing warmth and authentic camaraderie between Bodie and Doyle. Their interplay humanised the kinetic danger with wry asides, wordless glances, and an unshakeable loyalty between friends. Audiences connected to their relatable heroism and irresistible maverick swagger.


While controversial for its violence in its early days, eventually The Professionals overcame initial skepticism and won over critics and audiences alike thanks to its intelligent scripts tackling weighty political issues, plus acclaimed production values and cinematography. Slick camerawork, pounding theme music and seamless stunt coordination amplified the series’ gritty, heightened realism. At its peak popularity, the show drew primetime audiences exceeding 13-19 million viewers, making it a commercial and critical triumph.


Today, four decades after the final episode aired, The Professionals remains one of the most iconic and impactful action-drama series in British television history, paving the template for future beloved offerings in the genre ranging from The Sweeney to Line of Duty.

Stars Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins are still fondly engraved in cultural memory as two of Britain’s most idolized fictional crimefighting duos. Their characters Bodie and Doyle are eternalized as defining the irresistible cool of ’70s masculinity. Their playful banter and swagger brought heart and humor to the tense world of undercover operations.

In a genre dominated by grit, The Professionals stood out for the warmth between its leads. They injected charm, wit and soul into perilous scenarios. Audiences connected with their relatable heroism and maverick chemistry.

By keeping sophisticated storylines accessible through its leads’ appeal and stunt spectacle, The Professionals modernised the dramatic possibilities of action television. It remains influential as a trailblazer that moved the genre into new directions and maximal impact. Shaw and Collins’ star power cemented Bodie and Doyle as two of British pop culture’s most cherished detective partners.


With its exhilarating production values, charismatic leading duo, and spectacular breakneck stunt sequences, The Professionals crackled with the dangerous excitement and political-societal fears that defined its 1970s era for adventure-hungry audiences.

This landmark series raised expectations forever regarding what television could deliver in providing edge-of-your-seat thrills. The Professionals’ cinematic scale and high-wire action choreography became the gold standard.

Four decades later, it still stands the test of time as one of the most essential pop culture artifacts of the 1970s. Its visceral impact retains the power to quicken viewers’ pulses today. Through its sheer brio and entertainment value, The Professionals made its dangerous fictional world irresistibly appealing to experience.

Driven by the interplay between stars Shaw and Collins, the show’s legacy lies in its humanisation of adrenaline-charged spectacle. We cared about Bodie and Doyle’s loyalty amidst the bravado. Groundbreaking in pushing limits, The Professionals never lost its human heart and humour, keeping its explosions and intrigue accessible. This masterful balance accounts for its continuing explosive impact today.

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