In late December, 1977, on the British independent network ITV, the television action drama The Professionals
first aired. It was the brain child of producers Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell. The two had already worked together to bring The New Avengers
to the small screen but they were nervous with the prospects of that project and were happy to have something else in the works.
Three accomplished British actors were picked to portray the lead characters. While some may or may not have been the first choices of the producers, the chemistry of the final group was quite good and show lasted four seasons for a total of 57 episodes.
Cowley was played by the terrific gravel-voiced Gordon Jackson, a man who had had a long career playing both good guys and bad, snivelling worms and tough-as-nails he-men. Martin Shaw was the man to take the role of Doyle. He had been on the stage and on television for over a decade. To play Bodie, Lewis Collins was chosen. Though his time in front of the camera or an audience was considerably less than the other two, he more than held his own in the role.
The series was popular with both men and women for its action, its characters, and its subject matter. It was also extremely unpopular with most critics and anti-violence groups because of its very frequent use of fighting, gun-play, explosions, and so on. The series kept the showing of bloodshed to an almost non-existent minimum but there was no masking the brutality of the conflicts. Perhaps even more vitriolic was the hatred a few but very loud people had for the politically incorrectness of the episodes.
In 1999, a revival of sorts of the series was aired. CI5: The New Professionals
ran 13 episodes. In it, the head of the organization, Harry Malone, was another veteran actor, Edward Woodward, of Callan
and The Equalizer
fame. In this version there were three operatives: Sam Curtis (Colin Wells), Chris Keel (Kal Weber), and Tina Backus (Lexa Doig).
Note: Much of the information contained in this report came from the terrific website dedicated to the series: Dave Matthews Presents The Authorized Guide To The Professionals
. It is well worth the time.