Agents Bodie (right) and Doyle (left) were The Professionals
In the late 1970s, Britain’s television news was dominated by assassinations on the streets of London, terrorism, hostage sieges, violent crime, and widespread strikes by public sector workers. As well as creating a fervent sense of discord and social unrest the zeitgeist would also have a dramatic effect on primetime entertainment.
The wholesome image of British law enforcement, dram atised by long-running shows like ‘Z-Cars’ and ‘Dixon of Dock Green’, seemed as culturally dissonant as glitzy US imports such as ‘Starsky & Hutch’ and ‘Kojak’. The TV-loving public wanted entertainment that better reflected the reality of the day. This gave rise to a new generation of crime drama, more gritty and more hard-hitting than had ever been seen before. New shows included ‘The Sweeney’, based on London’s Flying Squad, a specialised police unit tackling armed robbery and violent crime; and ‘Minder’, a more comedic but equally unerring take on London’s criminal underworld. Then, at the start of 1979, came the most controversial new show of them all, ‘The Professionals’. Agents William Bodie and Ray Doyle belonged to a fictive elite government crime-fighting unit, called CI5 (Criminal Intelligence Dept. 5), an amalgam of MI5 and the CID. Not cast from the same ‘upper class’ mold as other fictional British secret agents, Bodie and Doyle were working-class heroes. Bodie was a cynical, ex-SAS hard man from Liverpool, and Doyle a hot-headed Midlander, recruited into CI5 from Vice Squad. At some point during the show’s pre-production, it was decided that CI5 operatives would be issued with the Ollech & Wajs Precision Caribbean 1000. The recommendation most likely came from the ‘properties master’, who was responsible for all the hardware and equipment used in the show.