Wednesday January 10, 2018
‘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’. These were the words of George Cowley and on 30th December 1977, ITV viewers had their first sighting of CI5 and its battle against sun-shaded menaces to society. So, in tribute to 41 years of The Professionals, here are ten vital facts for your secret dossiers:
These were shot at the old Rockware Glassworks in Greenford but despite the presence of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, they do look slightly silly. They were replaced for the second season by the Ford “Consul” Granada crashing through a plate glass window in Wembley Stadium.
The British Leyland cars in the First Series.
Mark One Productions had previously used BL PR cars on The New Avengers and when The Professionals entered production in 1977, the contract still had some time to run. Steed’s Rover 3500SD1 was used as Cowley’s staff car while his young subordinates favoured a Pageant Blue Triumph TR7 and a white Dolomite Sprint.
Lewis Collins and Martin Shaw had previously appeared as the villains Kilner and Doomer in The New Avengers episode Obsession, the latter without Doyle’s trademark Harpo Marx perm and the former remarking ‘maybe we should work together again sometime - a good team’. In fact, the original casting for Bodie was Anthony Andrews while Cowley was to be played by the New Zealand character actor Clive Revill.
Pamela Stephenson was the female lead in Rogue, Ruby Wax and a very young Pierce Brosnan cameo in Blood Sports - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmk-AOwsLvQ, David Suchet played the mercenary Krivas in Where The Jungle Ends and Charles Dance plays a heavy in The Ojuka Situation.
Old Car = Automotive Carnage
When Bodie and Doyle are seen driving a 1967 Morris 1800 Mk. I for no apparent reason whatsoever in Blind Run, it will be apparent to all seasoned C15 watchers that this unfortunate Landcrab will not survive to the end titles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPvDsCazVVk. Note also how the heavies’ Australian-built Chrysler Valiant battles a slightly down at heel Vanden Plas 4-Litre Limousine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dIXKpFJd-k.
From the RS2000 Mk. II to Cowley’s Granada Ghias and no fewer than eight Capris, The Professionals was one of the finest sales tools for Fords in television history - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbALZch7ifY. The Escort and all the Capris are believed to survive to this day.
The Supporting Vehicles
Looking at The Professionals today, it is notable how many other intriguing new cars appear on screen, from the now almost extinct Chrysler-badged Hunter to a Suzuki LJ80. Meanwhile, the forces of anarchy often favour an FD series Vauxhall from the 1600 Super to the Ventora.
When The Heat Cools Off is an excellent showcase for Martin Shaw, especially for the flashback scenes of a young PC Doyle in his Austin 1100 Mk. III Panda Car, but just how the ‘secret compartment’ in the Jaguar XJ6 went unnoticed for several years…
The Corgi Capri
Between 1980 and 1982, Corgi No. 342 had to be one of the most sought-after diecast models in the UK, for who would not wish to own a replica CI5 Ford Capri 3.0S Mk. III complete with plastic models of Bodie, Cowley and Doyle?
The Best Episodes
This, of course, is my subjective opinion but the earlier shows often reached a very high standard. Yes, Roger “Trigger” Lloyd Pack with a 1965 George Harrison hairstyle and overdubbed voice ads the hitman “Ramos” in Long Shot is a television low point but The Madness of Mickey Hamilton shows just how good a series The Professionals could be. My own favourite story is In The Public Interest, a low-key and thoughtful drama about a Chief Constable’s near fascistic attempts to impose law and order. And it also features one of the all-time great small screen villains in the form of “Inspector Chives”.