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Series / The Professionals

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From left to right: Martin Shaw as Doyle, Gordon Jackson
as Cowley and Lewis Collins as Bodie.

"Fight fire with fire!"

The Professionals was a British Action Series that aired for five seasons (1977–83) on ITV. The show follows the adventures of Criminal Intelligence 5 (CI5) agents Ray Doyle (Martin Shaw), William Bodie (Lewis Collins), and their boss George Cowley (Gordon Jackson). CI5 dealt with serious crime beyond the capacity of the ordinary police, and were authorised to use any means—including illegal ones—in doing so (as lampshaded by the page quote). Being a typical show of the times, much of the action centres around girls, guns, car chases, and drinking, not unlike its inspiration The Sweeney.

Interestingly the two leads were cast precisely because they had not got on while working together on a previous project and creator Brian Clemens thought that this would give the onscreen relationship between Doyle and Bodie the edge he wanted. While they worked out their differences in fairly short order and became friends offscreen, they were good enough actors to retain the onscreen dynamic Clemens sought. However, they later fell out over Shaw blocking repeats of the series—not because, as was commonly believed, he was trying to move away from the typecasting the role had given him, but more prosaically because he didn't think that the repeat fees ITV were offering were good enough. Shaw finally relented after Gordon Jackson passed away and his widow ran into financial difficulties.

There was a Revival (CI5: The New Professionals) on Sky One in 1999, which was not warmly received, to put it politely. Not even having Edward Woodward take over the Cowley role could save the show from being a pale shadow of the original. Lasting for just one season, it is available on DVD, but only in Australia/New Zealand.

It's rumoured that there's a remake being made, prompting a collective Big "NO!" from the fandom. The good news is that in 2014 the original series was reissued on DVD and Blu-ray in a fully restored and remastered version.

Jackson died in 1990 and Collins passed away in 2013, leaving Shaw as the only surviving main cast member.

It was a major inspiration of the Japanese manga Appleseed and its sequels, such as Ghost in the Shell.

Not to be confused with the 1966 Western film of the same name.

The main characters:

The Professionals contains examples of:

  • The '70s: Polyester suits! Wide ties! Brown coloured everything! Perms and afros! Sideburns! Disco!
  • '70s Hair: Doyle's perm, which kind of looks like it's supposed to be a white guy version of an afro. (Luckily for Lewis Collins, Bodie just has a sensible short back and sides, presumably because Bodie is an ex-soldier.)
  • Abandoned Area: CI5 used the former Wembley Palace of Engineering for training, and of course scenes take place in the usual Abandoned Warehouses, derelict dockyards, and decommissioned WW2 airfields. Parodied in "Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown" when our heroes find the Docklands are being redeveloped.
    Bonehead: Where's all the wasteland and the disused factories, Foyle?
    Foyle: Where's all the rusty girders?
    Bonehead: Dammit, there's no puddles to run through!
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: Bodie. Doyle is basically the same except very slightly less jaded and with '80s Hair.
  • Adventures in Comaland: In "Discovered in a Graveyard", Doyle is ambushed in his apartment, ending up in a coma in hospital. While Bodie and Cowley try to find out who shot him, Doyle experiences surrealistic dreams and flashbacks where he debates whether it's worth continuing on with a life of endless violence.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head
    • Cowley strokes the hair of a half-conscious Bodie while reviving him with oxygen in "Need to Know".
    • Subverted whenever Bodie caresses a woman's hair with that menacing smile on his face (see "Hunter/Hunted" and "Dead Reckoning").
  • All Men Are Perverts:
    • At the end of "Killer with a Long Arm," Cowley catches Bodie and Doyle sniggering over a long-range sniper rifle they've captured. He takes a peek through the telescopic sight and sure enough finds it pointed at a scantily dressed girl in an apartment a couple of miles away. Cowley chews out the shamefaced pair...then corrects their estimation of the girl's dimensions.
    • "Blackout" opens with our heroes eagerly speeding across London to investigate a case involving an unconscious blonde wearing only a pink bra and panties.
    • The lads are oft seen enlivening a boring stakeout by checking out any passing birds.
      Bodie: Cor, got a great glimpse out here, mate. Look at this.
      (Doyle looks out the window to see a woman doing yoga)
      Bodie: Bet she's got a lovely full lotus.
  • Amnesia Episode: In "Blackout", a German woman dressed only in her underwear staggers into a Sunday church service and collapses. The only thing she remembers is the words "Harrowdene" and "Monday"—the place and day a deposed African head-of-state is due to arrive in the country. CI5 are in a Race Against the Clock to get more details from her, fearing (correctly) that an assassination is planned.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Given the era South Africans are either mercenaries, paid assassins, or agents of BOSS.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: The trope quote appears verbatim in "Where the Jungle Ends". To force information out of a corrupt government man, Bodie informs him that his schoolgirl daughter has been kidnapped and is currently being held hostage outside in the team's car. The little dear proves to be horribly precocious, and demands to know whether Doyle, sitting with her in the vehicle, is "going to ravish me", as she believes this to be what happens in such situations from the bodice-rippers that she's read. Doyle, however, is thankfully far too nice a chap to do so, and the two finally end up sharing a bar of chocolate instead.
  • Armed Blag:
    • In "Heroes", the robbery of an armoured car is actually the cover for a political assassination. Turns out a controversial American politician was being smuggled out of the country disguised as a security guard, but those after him got wind of it.
    • In "Where The Jungle Ends", a squad of mercenaries rob a bank, using submachine guns to drive off the police, stealing an aircraft and parachuting to safety before RAF interceptors can reach them. Their leader then turns up at the home of Britain's top organised crime boss, returning his safety deposit box which they stole as a demonstration of what they can do.
    • "Hijack" has a corrupt Soviet official arranging with a London Gangster to steal a lorry-load of silver bullion.
    • In "Lawson's Last Stand", Bodie and Doyle are sent to track down Colonel Lawson who has walked out of a psychiatric hospital. They're amused to find him prancing about with a couple of other soldiers in a BBC Quarry, brandishing imaginary firearms. Cut to the next scene of Lawson and his men robbing a bank with real submachine guns, using the same tactics they'd been rehearsing earlier.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: For "Professionals" their habit of tossing loaded guns to each other is somewhat disturbing. In "Hunter/Hunted", even Cowley does this, and when Doyle winces points out that he knew the safety was on. As a former soldier Cowley should have known that safeties can be unreliable. Then at the end of the episode, Cowley wants to know how Bodie got hold of an experimental laser-sighted rifle with a thousand yard range.
    Bodie: Didn't I tell you, sir? It's not a real gun, you know. It's just a dummy, to demonstrate the sight. Look... (fires a live burst downriver)
    Cowley: BODIE!
  • Backseat Changing Room: Parodied in "Blood Sports" when Bodie attempts to change in the backseat but can't because Doyle Drives Like Crazy and Bodie keeps getting thrown back-and-forth.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Cowley may run a squad of Cowboy Cops, but he's always done the paperwork to cover his backside. And as various powerbrokers who think they can use CI5 for their own ends discover, Cowley knows the corridors of Whitehall better than any of them.
  • Batman Gambit: When a friend of Cowley's from MI5 is arrested for spying for the Chinese, Cowley falls under suspicion. The KGB decide to snatch the man and interrogate him for what he knows about the British and Chinese, while putting the blame for the snatch on the Chinese and Cowley. Turns out the whole thing has been arranged by Cowley to draw out The Mole, who will be called in to interrogate Cowley's friend. As the scheme involves Bodie and Doyle (who are not in on Cowley's plan) being stunned by Knockout Gas, they're not happy.
  • Berserk Button: Do not—repeat do not—attempt to harm Doyle in any way when Bodie is around. Just to clarify; in "The Female Factor", one man shoots Doyle in the leg. Bodie empties an entire clip into him. In another episode Doyle is abducted by a gangster. When Bodie catches up to him, he looks genuinely terrified of Bodie's expression.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Subverted in "Long Shot". Bodie and Doyle see an attractive female member of CI5 practising her martial arts. Bodie claims that she is a Womens Libber who will only date a man she feels superior to, and convinces Doyle to spar her and take a dive. Bodie then challenges her and, after winning, asks her out which she accepts, having already rejected Doyle because "she couldn't date a man she felt superior to." Doyle isn't happy at having been had, but at the end of the episode he's shown walking off with the girl instead, to Bodie's confusion.
  • Betrayal Insurance: In "Not A Very Civil Civil Servant," a Corrupt Corporate Executive arranges for The Dragon to kill off an accountant who knows too much. Later the executive goes through the accountant's files and finds evidence that he has been making copies of every document as insurance. When The Dragon asks how he knew to look in the first place, the executive reveals that he's been taking exactly the same precautions against his smarter underling betraying him.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Bodie appears to have this towards Doyle, shown through his jokes about Doyle's love life and offering him advice, to threatening anyone who tries to hurt him. Interestingly Bodie is the younger of the two in the partnership, but seems older perhaps due to his time as a mercenary in Africa.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: A Secret Police in all-but-name whose only restraint is the democratic values of their commander and the personal morality of its agents, serving at the behest of political masters engaged in dubious Realpolitik, to defend Britain against terrorists, drug dealers, spies, and professional killers.
  • Bleed 'Em and Weep: "Runner" ends when a female character, played by Barbara Kellerman, shoots a bad guy (who killed her boyfriend earlier in the episode) just before he kills one of the CI5 agents. She weeps mascara tears.
  • Blinded by the Light:
    • In "Servant with Two Masters", a man is sitting at a desk pointing a gun at Bodie and Doyle. Doyle shoves the desklamp so it shines into the man's face causing him to flinch, whereupon Bodie snatches the gun off him.
    • In "Hunter/Hunted", Cowley is testing a Laser Sight during a training exercise. He shines it into the eyes of a trainee causing him to become disoriented causing him to fall from the roof into a conveniently placed pool of water. Hopefully he didn't suffer any eye damage either!
  • Blind Shoulder Toss: A KGB agent blackmails a politician into providing a top secret document. Later he reveals that he already delivered that document months ago to Moscow Centre, but by handing it over to a foreign agent the politician will be committing treason and thereafter be under the KGB's thumb.
  • Bomb Disposal:
    • In "Private Madness, Public Danger," Bodie and Doyle have to defuse a bomb connected to a gallon drum of hallucinogenic drugs which is floating in a reservoir, so they have to do this while treading freezing water with a device they can't even see. Fortunately (as the bomb has an anti-handling device) they've brought the bomb designer along, and he decides he doesn't want to die for the cause.
    • They use the same tactic in "Stakeout", this time with an atomic bomb. Problem is the bomb is so crude that attempting to defuse it could just as easily detonate it.
    • In "The Purging of CI5", Bodie dials the first number of his phone and suddenly realises it's booby-trapped. Fortunately, he's got his radio to call Doyle for help, who disarms it with their usual exchange of banter (though somewhat terser).
    • In "Hunter/Hunted", Doyle receives a package in a plain brown wrapper. Knowing he hasn't mail-ordered anything from an adult bookstore, Bodie and Doyle carefully cut open the package to find a stick of gelignite harmlessly wired to Moriarty's Police Law, a taunt against Doyle by a Dirty Cop he put away.
    • Averted in "Blood Sports" where terrorists leave a bomb hidden in a cigarette packet under their abandoned car. The car is simply lifted on jacks and rolled away from the bomb, so the Bomb Squad can deal with it at their leisure.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • In "A Stirring of Dust", Doyle goes to investigate a house and is captured by two professional hitmen waiting to kidnap the woman who lives there. They don't want to fire a gunshot in a suburban area, but could easily have smothered Doyle, as we next see him lying Bound and Gagged on the floor. Doyle then proceeds to kick one of them out of the window to alert Bodie.
    • In "The Ojuka Situation", The Dragon played by a young Charles Dance stops one of his minions from giving Doyle the Coup de Grâce after he's been knocked unconscious, because he wants payback for some men CI5 killed earlier and wants Doyle to see it coming. Even after Doyle regains consciousness, he delays killing him until Doyle has a chance to free himself from his ropes using a lighter conveniently left in his back pocket.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Averted because those Browning Hi-Powers kept jamming when firing blanks! So you often see the slides on Bodie and Doyle's pistols lock back after they've only fired a few rounds; nowhere near the 13 plus one "up the spout" ammunition capacity of that pistol. Later on they changed to firearms that worked more reliably with blanks.
    • It's not unusual to see submachine guns with magazines taped together for a quick reload.
    • Averted in "Close Quarters" where Bodie is besieged in a house without backup and has to ration every round because he's running short of ammunition.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Invoked Trope by Cowley who has CI5 agents working in teams of two, with neither the senior partner.
  • Busman's Holiday:
    • In "Close Quarters", CI5 is on a manhunt for a German terrorist group, but Bodie has been ordered to take a week off until his gun hand heals. While boating with his Girl of the Week, he happens to recognise the terrorist leader hiding out a river island and takes him into custody. Unfortunately his fellow terrorists see him being taken away and pursue before Bodie has a chance to call in backup.
    • Lampshaded in "Weekend in the Country". Criminals on the run after a failed Armed Blag deciding to hide in the country house where Bodie and Doyle, plus their girlfriends, are staying. Our heroes are unarmed (despite Bodie carrying handgun, radio and handcuffs in "Close Quarters") but it still turns out to be Mugging the Monster.
      Cowley: Your weekend turned into a bit of a busman's holiday.
  • Camera Sniper: In "Hunter/Hunted", Bodie and Doyle think they're being followed by a black Porsche on the highway. After some vehicular maneuvering the Porsche drives past with the unseen driver waving at them, so they assume it's the usual road rage Cock Fight. Then the Porsche turns up unnoticed at their destination, a telephoto lens extends out the car window and takes several photographs of Bodie and Doyle.
  • Car Meets House:
    • In "Close Quarters", Bodie, his girlfriend and a terrorist he's captured are holding out in a country house with the terrorist's comrades in pursuit. The bad guys crash their car through the front of the house.
    • In "First Night", CI5 weld a pointed steel Battering Ram on the front of a truck-mounted lift platform—on which an Uzi-armed Bodie is riding—to smash through the upstairs window to a room where an Israeli minister is being held hostage.
    • In the pilot episode of The '90s remake they one-up this by having the heroes drive a train engine into the building (it's a warehouse for servicing trains, so it has rail lines running through it) to stop a gang of kidnappers from shooting their hostages.
  • Carpet of Virility: Both Bodie and Doyle display man cleavage on various occasion, as was mandatory for Mr. Fanservice characters in The '70s.
  • The Casanova: Bodie and Doyle. Doyle even says of Bodie in "Fall Girl", 'If he was going to the electric chair, he'd have Miss Universe pulling the switch.' Which is a bit of a cheek coming from him.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Bodie and Doyle raise this to the level of art!
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Averted in "Blood Sports" when Bodie and Doyle have to interrupt their cricket game to rush off on their latest assignment. As Doyle Drives Like Crazy we see Bodie in the backseat getting thrown back-and-forth as he tries to change out of his cricket whites.
  • Clothing Switch:
    • In "No Stone", Bodie and Doyle have clearly swapped shirts in one brief scene. None of the other characters comment on the switch, and it is never explained.
    • In "Mixed Doubles", an unarmed Bodie is facing off with a combat instructor armed with a huge Bowie knife, with Doyle egging on his friend from the sidelines. Doyle then gets angry when Bodie gets his shirt sliced because that's his shirt that he's wearing!
  • Cock Fight: The lads do like to jokingly scrap over women, but it's never serious. (There may be a reason for this.)
  • Comm Links: The distinctive and compact Pye PF8 portable RT, plus there was a car radio in each CI5 vehicle. Cowley has his radio-phone with scrambler.
  • Compressed Vice: In "Klansmen" Bodie displays overt racist behaviour never shown previously by his character; it's not that such tendencies would be unusual in that era, especially for a decidedly working-class bloke like Bodie, but it was completely out of left field and due to the events of the episode (in which his life is saved by a black doctor) we never see it again. Actor Lewis Collins was not pleased.
  • The Con: In "The Untouchables", an Arab 'cultural attaché' is using his diplomatic cover to assassinate Former Regime Personnel. To resolve this embarrassment the British government turns to Cowley, who arranges an elaborate plan to get the attaché out of their hair. Permanently.
  • Cool Car: Bodie and Doyle's Ford Capris (used in the later episodes) qualify, and are part of the reason for the Capri's real-life cult status. In early episodes they drove a Triumph TR7, which was either cool or naff depending on your tolerance for mid-70s wedgy styling.
  • Courtroom Episode: In "The Rack" a court of enquiry is held when a suspect dies in CI5 custody after being punched by Doyle. A firebrand civil rights lawyer uses the opportunity to hold a trial-by-media over the very existence of CI5.
  • Cowboy Cop: Invoked as their tactics are fully authorised by Cowley, though they do disobey his orders on occasion.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: Invoked when a detective friend of Doyle times a narcotics bust at a strip club so he'll be in the dressing room when the girls come offstage.
  • Cultured Badass: Bodie, Doyle and Cowley can all rattle off poetry as easily as they can win bar brawls.
  • Damsel out of Distress: In "The Purging of CI5", a terrorist bomber is killing off CI5 agents. One of the few female CI5 agents gets a lead and rushes off by herself to confront the man, and there's a shot of him reaching for a gun in a drawer. Then Bodie and Doyle arrive on the scene to find the office looking like a bomb exploded and the female agent lying with her feet up...on the desk, with the bomber beaten up and subdued in the corner.
  • Dead Man's Switch:
    • In "Old Dog with New Tricks," a nurse is taken hostage by a lunatic armed with a hand grenade with the pin removed. Bodie and Doyle make a reckless bid to free her because the longer he holds down the safety lever, the more cramped his hand will get.
      Doyle: The right technique is to keep him talking, play him and tire him out.
      Bodie: Yeah and suppose his left hand tires first? It takes about four pounds of pressure to keep a hand-grenade lever clamped down. But after an hour, it feels like eight... and then twelve... and then cramp sets in. And then suddenly it's raining Nurse Emma Bolding!
    • In "Lawson's Last Stand", the eponymous Colonel Lawson is holding up a cannister of nerve gas, strapped to a hand grenade with the pin wired to an overhead pole. He's standing out in the middle of Battersea Park wearing rear view mirrors so he can see if someone sneaks up on him, and has trained himself to hold up the weight of the cannister for one hour, by which time he wants his demands met or he'll drop it and kill millions.
  • Deathbed Confession: "Everest Was Also Conquered" starts with the former head of MI-5 saying "I killed Suzie Carter" on his deathbed. Suzie Carter was a witness at a 1953 corruption inquiry who supposedly committed suicide. This causes a series of murders as the other conspirators race to cover up their involvement.
  • Destination Defenestration:
    • The fake suicide version opens "Everest Was Also Conquered" when a whistleblower to an impending corruption inquiry gets thrown out the window by her police protection detail, who've been bribed or blackmailed into the act.
    • In "A Stirring of Dust", Doyle is Bound and Gagged so takes care of an assassin by kicking him through the window. He gets a bollocking for that from Cowley however, as the assassin got his throat sliced up so can't be made to talk.
    • Used as a plot-point in "Blackout" when a woman is found with cuts and bruises indicating she jumped out of a window. Later a CI5 agent sees a window covered by a sheet of cardboard (instead of being properly boarded up) and realises the window was broken recently.
    • In the Action Prologue of "Fugitive", a female terrorist posing as a hotel waitress brings a breakfast tray for a senior member of the CIA staying in a London hotel. Two other terrorists who've been waiting in a nearby room then force their way in while the door is open and bundle him out the window.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • "Everest Was Also Conquered" has a witness forced out the window by her police protection detail, who have all been bribed or blackmailed into the act.
    • In "Servant with Two Masters" Cowley himself falls under suspicion, and Bodie and Doyle are ordered to investigate their boss.
    • In another episode the Villain of the Week turns out to be a police officer that Doyle testified against, out for revenge.
    • In "Rogue", a member of CI5 turns out to be a Rogue Agent. Cowley doesn't take it well, as he was an old war buddy and his first choice for recruitment into the organisation.
    • In "The Untouchables", Bodie piles up gambling debts in a CI5 sting operation to make it look like he's vulnerable to bribery.
  • Don't Ask: Bodie trolls Doyle with this trope in "Hunter/Hunted."
    Bodie: How did you get on last night? [Doyle gives him a Disapproving Look] Well don't ask me, will you? Heh? How I got on last night?
    Doyle: [wearily] How did you get on last night?
    Bodie: Don't ask.
  • Don't Come A-Knockin': In "Servant with Two Masters", Bodie knocks out a mook and throws him Bound and Gagged into the back of his van. Later Doyle comes along and sees the van rocking in a suspicious manner as the mook struggles to free himself. Thinking his partner is getting some on-the-job nookie, he waggles his finger through the tinted window saying, "Naughty, naughty!" only to be attacked by two more mooks who've come to rescue their colleague.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Despite pistols being carried with "one up the spout", that doesn't stop our heroes racking back the slide in a suitably dramatic manner after drawing them.
  • Drives Like Crazy: And not just during car chases either. Our heroes can't drive a car without squealing tires or do a U-turn without using the handbrake. Eventually even the series started poking fun at it.
    Preston: What you two in such a hurry about?
    Doyle: Oh, he always drives like that.
    • In "Blackout", a country policeman has to pedal off on his bicycle to get hold of a witness for CI5, and gripes that: "They probably expect me to jump in my high-powered motor and go screaming around corners, tires screeching like on television!"
  • Double Entendre
    • Bodie and Doyle are sent to fetch an antique desk for Cowley, only to smash it up during a car chase. The Cow is not pleased.
      Cowley: I suppose you heard what these two did to my desk, McCabe.
      McCabe: It's the talk of the department, sir.
      Cowley: Battered beyond recognition. Minus its drawers.
      McCabe: Nasty. On that evidence, I'm surprised you don't charge them with rape. (Bodie and Doyle snigger)
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: In "Dead Reckoning", CI5 are given the job of debriefing a spy who's swopped sides so often, MI6 don't want to risk compromising their own agents in case he does it again.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • In "Heroes", Tommy gives his life to save Bodie and Doyle when they're pinned down by hitmen armed with automatic weapons. As Tommy is about to be loaded onto a hearse with the (now dead) hitmen, Bodie snaps, "No, don't put him in with them!"
    • At the end of "Everest Was Also Conquered", Bodie is on the phone making a date with a girl, but when Doyle says he's going to pay his respects to the mother of a CI5 agent who was killed during the episode, Bodie goes with him instead.
    • Averted in "Slush Fund" when a hitman they're holding in custody murders a CI5 agent and escapes, putting the life of Doyle (who's taken the hitman's place) in jeopardy. Bodie starts venting about how stupid the dead man was while right next to his corpse. Cowley is not impressed.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Doyle's scruffy suit jacket/jeans combo and Bodie's leather jackets took about awhile to become their standard looks. They both wore all kinds of weird seventies fashions in early episodes.
    • They also initially drive a Triumph TR7, before settling into the iconic Ford Capri.
    • A few early episodes have a strange title sequence that has Cowley timing several CI5 agents (including Bodie and Doyle) through a kind of assault course. A few other episodes have Cowley doing a voiceover ("anarchy, terror...") over the more familar and far cooler title sequence with the car bursting through a window.
    • Their call signs are inconsistent at first, before settling into the famous 3.7 for Bodie and 4.5 for Doyle.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Used as a Chekhov's Gun in "A Hiding to Nothing". After a female terrorist is shot, Bodie is sent to investigate her roommate at the flat she was staying in, and enjoys the sight when she bends over in tight patterned jeans to pick something up. Bodie decides she's innocent of any involvement, but later while guarding a Vulnerable Convoy recognises those same patterned jeans on a woman standing with her back to them by the side of the road, and realises they're about to be ambushed.
  • Elite Agents Above the Law: In "Old Dog With New Tricks, Cowley tells some new recruits the charter under which CI5 operates. "To detect, deter and prevent, and or take suitable action and or actions against those transgressors against the law outside the norm of criminal activity. To contain and render ineffective such by whatever means necessary.—That's our official brief. By any means necessary—that's our loophole." However Cowley has to take account of political realities; when a suspect dies in CI5 custody in "The Rack", CI5 has to submit to a court of inquiry due to the adverse publicity. Cowley also makes sure to cover himself with the bureaucracy, indicating he prefers to work with the system rather than buck it. In the short-lived CI5: The New Professionals, his successor Harry Malone is shown to have a tougher time of it, because in The '90s CI5 operate internationally and have to get the cooperation of foreign governments.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: During World War 2, Cowley was a major in the 16th Special Commando. Bodie used to be in the Parachute Regiment and Special Air Service—Truth in Television as Lewis Collins was a Territorial Army Paratrooper and had even passed selection to 21 SAS. The only reason he couldn't serve was because he was too famous to be in a covert special forces unit. Averted with Doyle who was a police officer.
  • Empty Quiver:
    • A white supremacist group steals enough plutonium to make an atomic bomb in "Stakeout." And in "Where The Jungle Ends", a mercenary unit does an Armed Blag of a nuclear waste recycling plant.
    • In "Lawson's Last Stand", a mad colonel steals cannisters of nerve gas and threatens to disperse it if his demands aren't met.
  • Everybody Owns a Ford: The Ford Granada. A rare unintentional example, as the producers had trouble using their other preferred vehicle because the supplier had an unfortunate habit of sending them a replacement vehicle of the wrong colour or year of manufacture if the first got damaged or had a breakdown. This made continuity too big a headache and an unspoken retcon stated that CI-5 had bought a large batch of Granadas for the motor pool.
  • Evil Counterpart
    • In "Mixed Doubles" Bodie and Doyle undergo special training with a brutal instructor in order to protect a foreign diplomat. At the same time we follow two men undergoing a similar program, who are planning his assassination.
    • Cowley has these too, who make it clear they envy his power, but who would clearly abuse it. These include Chief Constable Green from "In the Public Interest", and a blackshirt leader (an old war buddy of Cowley) in "Look After Annie".
    • "A Stirring of Dust" shows that Cowley has regular meetings with his counterpart in the KGB to exchange information of mutual benefit. Bodie and Doyle act as bodyguards while the KGB official has two heavies who are implied to be their opposite numbers (right down to the clothes and hair!).
    • In "Discovered in a Graveyard", the female terrorist who shoots Doyle is implied to not that different from him—an idealist who lacks the stomach to be a proper killer, being used as an disposable pawn by her government.
  • Exact Words: In "First Night", an Israeli government official offers the help of their own 'specialists' after one of their ministers is kidnapped for ransom.
    Cowley: Specialists, Mr Hirschfield? Don't tell me that Israel has specialists operating here?
    Hirschfield: No, Mr Cowley, I'm not telling you that.
    Cowley: Of course not.
  • Excuse Me While I Multi Task: In "The Female Factor", Bodie fights a drunk in a pub while holding a pint in his hand.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: In "The Untouchables":
    Rahad: Mr Cowley! I have heard of you. You are... much smaller than I imagined.
    Cowley: So was Henry the Eighth.
  • External Combustion:
    • In "The Purging of CI5", two CI5 agents return to their car after wasting time searching a derelict building over a fake tip-off. One of them turns the ignition, but nothing happens until he closes the car door as well. Later Bodie and Doyle worry there might be a bomb in their own car. They search it and find nothing, but Doyle suggests Bodie wait across the street while he starts the ignition—Bodie just replies, "Stick it in!" There's no bomb, but as they drive off Bodie suggests the bomb might have been set to go off once they reach 30. Doyle's response is to floor the accelerator!
    • Lampshaded in "Hunter/Hunted" when the Villain of the Week uses a thirty-second delay fuse so Doyle has time to get clear.
  • Fictional Country: Averted with Communist bloc countries (presumably because no-one cared if the Dirty Communists took offense during the Cold War) but South American or Arabic countries have names like Mata Alpa or Murani. Zigzagged in "The Ojuka Situation", involving the former ruler of the fictional African country of Betan, who's being chased by agents of an unnamed country that's implied to be South Africa.
  • Flashback: "When The Heat Cools Off" has multiple flashbacks to 1971 when Doyle was still a uniform policeman. "Discovered in a Graveyard" has flashbacks (albeit in a surreal coma dream) to when he was recruited by Cowley and first met Bodie. "Kickback" has flashbacks to when Bodie was in the SAS and a colleague (whom he meets again moments later) ends up Taking the Bullet for him. Unfortunately the set used for the flashback set in Northern Ireland is the same English farmhouse both characters later hold up in, which is a bit confusing for viewers.
  • Gambit Roulette: In "Need to Know" in order to uncover The Mole in British Intelligence, Cowley's friend is arrested for being a spy for the Chinese. The Plan relies on the KGB deciding to take the risk of snatching this Double Agent, then using their 'Number One' mole to interrogate him. It also relies on the KGB deciding to use Knockout Gas instead of more lethal means to take out Bodie and Doyle, but at least Cowley is shown to have prepared for that.
  • Game of Chicken: In "Spy Probe," Bodie and Doyle drive their Ford Capris at each other, braking with the cars only four inches apart.
  • Gas Leak Cover Up: In "Old Dog With New Tricks", the gas leak excuse is lampshaded by Cowley as to why the street outside a hostage situation is deserted. However the goal is not to cover up what happened, but to remove witnesses to the ruthless (and illegal) tactics CI5 will use to end the situation.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Woman: In "Close Quarters" Bodie slaps his hysterical Girl of the Week Julie. He also slaps a hysterical hostage in "Old Dog with New Tricks", but at least he has a good excuse that time—he had to knock her out out fast to get the live hand grenade that had just fallen into her blouse.
  • Girl of the Week: Bodie and Doyle never have the same girl for more than one episode. Generally, if the girl is blonde she'll be dumb and annoying. If she's brunette, she will be mildly intelligent, but still in need of looking after. Most notable Girls of the Week are Ann in "Involvement" (Doyle's girlfriend) and Marikka in "Fall Girl" (Bodie's girlfriend).
  • Government Agency of Fiction: CI5, an organised crime, terrorism, and spy fighting agency.
  • Gun Porn:
    • Where to start...the Browning Hi-Power for Bodie and Doyle in the early seasons, then a Smith & Wesson Model 19 for Bodie and the Walther P38 for Doyle. Not to mention both being issued with AR-18's, AR-10's, Uzis, Ingrams, or Smith & Wesson Model 29's revolvers, while the villains had everything from MAT-49 submachine guns to MILAN anti-tank launchers.
    • There's also the A-180 in Hunter/Hunted, a drum-fed automatic rifle with Laser Sight, though it has little resemblance to the American 180 submachine gun it's based on.
    • The Action Prologue of "Wild Justice" has Bodie and Doyle using prototype Enfield XL64E5's (now known as the SA80) that were being evaluated by the British military and loaned to the production.
  • Hand Cannon: In "Mixed Doubles", Bodie and Doyle worry that a berserker fanatic might attempt to kill a foreign head of state, so arm themselves with .44 Magnum revolvers loaded with dum-dum rounds to be sure of dropping their target instantly. At the same time two hitmen are planning his assassination, and to be sure of killing their target arm themselves with the same weapon and ammunition.
  • He Had a Name: "Killer With a Long Arm" has a variation. A forensics expert dismisses a murder victim as "nobody," meaning he was unconnected to their main case. Doyle immediately snaps "Nobody's nobody," haranguing him about the fact that the victim had a wife and children. Of course, since Doyle was the one who asked who the dead man was, we never do learn his name.
  • Heroic BSoD: Doyle briefly slips into one in 'The Rack' after a suspect dies in custody. Bodie snaps him out of it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: A major appeal of the series is the bantering friendship between Bodie and Doyle, two men who would kill and die for each other, which of course is fertile ground for...
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Two 'hard men' in tight pants who have no issue camping up their relationship for a laugh. Famously parodied in The Comic Strip Presents skit "The Bullshitters" when Bonehead and Foyle resolve their burning sexual tension before the final shootout by getting shirtless and snogging each other while rolling around in a pile of gravel.
  • Honey Trap:
    • In "The Female Factor," a young prostitute is used to seduce a politician so he can be blackmailed into passing secrets to the KGB.
    • As part of The Con in "The Untouchables", CI5 hire a High-Class Call Girl to seduce a 'cultural attaché' who's using his Diplomatic Impunity to commit assassinations.
    • A male version happens in "Blood Sports" when a terrorist has seduced the sister of the man he's seen assassinating in the Action Prologue, to enable him to get close to his target.
    • Another male version in "A Hiding to Nothing", where the Latin Lover of an older government secretary, posing as a struggling journalist, convinces her to feed him information for a big scoop. CI5 have to inform her that no such journalist exists. They assume at the time that he's a Palestinian terrorist; ironically he turns out to be an Israeli agent.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Discussed in "The Female Factor":
    Doyle: Hookers are women, you know - they can be nice.
    Bodie: Oh, yeah. Have a heart of gold, did she?
    Doyle: No but if it came to something really bad, she was straight as a die.
  • Hostage Situation: In "Old Dog with New Tricks", a crime boss tries to free his brother from prison by holding the Home Secretary hostage. Unfortunately he captures Cowley instead. While Doyle holds a Sawn-Off Shotgun at his brother's head out on the street, Cowley informs the crime boss that if there's one shot from inside the building, they're going to blow off his brother's head, storm the building and kill all the criminals, then blame it on them.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Downplayed in "Where the Jungle Ends" where the Villain of the Week is Krivas, a former mercenary colleague of Bodie who killed a woman he loved. After Bodie captures Krivas, he starts gloating about how he's going to shoot pieces off him.
    Doyle: (disgusted) Bodie, you're no better than he is!
    Bodie: (to Krevas) I don't think that's true, do you? Only one way to find out. (throws his gun to Doyle) We're not breaking the law—just bending it. (starts fighting Krevas hand-to-hand)
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • In "Long Shot", Professional Killer Ramos wants a comfortable place to hide out while waiting to make the kill, and a private jet for a quick exit from the country, so he kidnaps the daughter of an oil millionaire and hides her Bound and Gagged in a house scheduled for demolition. When CI5 capture Ramos, he trades her location for his release (though Cowley makes sure he gets what's coming to him).
    • In "Blackout", the amnesiac German woman turns out to be the nanny for a kidnapped family who managed to escape her captors. The father is a financial manager whose office they need because it gives a good firing position for a missile launcher.
    • In "The Acorn Syndrome", enemy agents kidnap the daughter of an employee of a defense company to force him to steal the plans for a top secret tank.
    • In "Fugitive", Bodie gets rumbled while trying to infiltrate a German terrorist group, so they decide to exchange him for a terrorist that CI5 have captured. The ransom note is delivered in a floral wreath, and Bodie is Strapped to a Bomb for the Prisoner Exchange.
  • Ironic Echo: Cowley's instinct tells him that Chief Constable Green is using illegal methods to maintain law and order. The Minister retorts that you can't put 'instincts' down on paper. Later one of Green's men says that his instinct tells him that Bodie and Doyle are trouble. Green replies that he likes instincts because "they can't be put on paper."
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    • From "Old Dog with New Tricks".
      Bodie: Permission to be admiringly insolent, sir. You're a brave old bastard.
      Cowley: Permission denied. Anyway, it's inaccurate. I'm not brave.
    • And at the end of "Need to Know".
      Doyle: Permission to make an observation, sir. You're a ruthless old bastard.
      Cowley: Not so much of the old, sonny.
  • If I Had a Nickel...: From "Servant of Two Masters":
    Plumb: My name's Plumb.
    Brodie: Hello, Victoria.
    Plumb: I wish I had a pound for every time I've suffered that one...
  • Impairment Shot: In "Private Madness, Public Danger", an executive has been drugged with a hallucinogen placed in the company coffee dispenser. He sees his fellow board members distorted via a fisheye lens effect.
  • Impersonation Gambit: In "Slush Fund", Bodie and Doyle detain a South African hitman entering the country so Doyle can take his place and find out who the target is. Inevitably the hitman escapes to put everyone in danger for the final act.
  • Improbable Age: Bodie seems a bit young to have been in the merchant navy, a mercenary, a paratrooper, an SAS soldier AND been in CI5 for several years. Doyle's background as a police constable is rather more believable.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms:
    • The Bulgarian secret service agents at a prisoner exchange are holding StG-44s. This weapon was used in a few Warsaw Pact countries, but only as an interim substitute for the AK-47 and they were long gone by the 1970s.
    • "Fall Girl" had the odd incidence of British Special Branch agents armed with Soviet TT-33 pistols.
    • The MacGuffin of "Hunter/Hunted" is an American 180. Because a blank-firing version of this highly restricted automatic weapon would not have been available in Britain at the time, an AR-10 rifle is given a top-mounted Thompson drum magazine and a mock laser sight. For plot-related reasons it's also stated to be a long-range rifle instead of a submachine gun.
    • In "Blackout", an anti-tank missile launcher is smuggled into a firing position by being carried into a financial office by three men with accountant's briefcases. The weapon shown on screen is a MILAN launcher and tripod, which would never have fitted into three briefcases. The scriptwriter was likely thinking of the AT-3 Sagger, which had gained fame in the recent Yom Kipper War and was conveyed in large fibreglass suitcases that also served as a launching platform.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: In "Killer With A Long Arm", Doyle is interrogating a Greek restaurant owner, and decides to carry out the Greek tradition of plate-smashing.
  • Interrogation Montage: In "Private Madness Public Danger" between Cowley and Doyle interrogating a drug pusher at CI5 headquarters, and Bodie interrogating a junkie at a hospital.
  • Interrupted Declaration of Love: In "Look After Annie", Bodie and Doyle are driving an Old Flame of Cowley's to the airport after she's survived an assassination attempt. She begins to say that they can "tell George one thing..." then the rest of what she said is drowned out by an ambulance siren, but sounds like "...that I love him." They decide not to mention to Cowley what she might, or might not, have said.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In "Heroes", Bodie isn't happy about being told by Cowley to work with a Psycho Sidekick, and starts venting accordingly until...
    Cowley: The radio is still open, Bodie. But continue with your interesting assessment. Cowley is...?
    Bodie: Would you believe: warm and considerate?
  • It Has Only Just Begun: In "Private Madness, Public Danger", when CI5 captures the Villain of the Week, Cowley tells him it's all over. The man shouts back, "All over? IT HASN'T EVEN BEGUN YET!" as he's just activated a Time Bomb.
  • It's Personal
    • In "The Female Factor", Doyle uses this trope to explain why he's taken over an investigation into the suspicious death of an escort girl, whom he knew from his time in the Drug Squad. Cowley is not impressed. Then Cowley he finds the Prime Minister's personal phone number in the dead girl's apartment, so CI5 takes over the case anyway.
      Cowley: Nothing is personal, Doyle. When you joined CI5, I made that perfectly clear. The department owns you—I own you! I can sell your body to Science if I want, while it's still alive!
    • Given that Cowley believes in channeling your anger into something constructive, he has no problem if an agent has personal issues driving them. Although Cowley refuses to let Bodie investigate after his girlfriend is caught in a bombing (not least because Bodie could have been the target) he changes his mind once Bodie involves himself against orders and it's obvious someone else was meant to be the victim.
    • In "Wild Justice", a CI5 psychiatrist worries that Bodie has a death wish due to recent erratic behaviour. Turns out he's seeking revenge on a biker gang who killed a friend from his Special Forces days. Cowley ends up putting a gun to Bodie's head to stop him committing murder and destroying CI5 in the process.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In "Private Madness, Public Danger", someone is threatening to contaminate the water supply with a concentrated hallucinogenic. CI5 get hold of a drug pusher who does business with him, but he contemptuously rejects their Perp Sweating as he's been worked over by 'hard men' from his side of the fence. Cowley then demonstrates just how hard he can get when the stakes are high enough.
    Cowley: I don't suppose you fought in the war, Mr. Sutton? No. I fought in several. The worst was against a...a barbaric race. But the British are nothing if not adaptable; we learn barbarism very quickly. We had a problem one day. Was the road ahead mined? We had prisoners but they wouldn't talk. So we bound them and made them lead the advance. They didn't think we would, not at first. But then the first man ahead was gone. (finger snap) Like that. An antipersonnel mine is a very nasty thing, Mr. Sutton, very nasty. And then the second man. (finger snap) And the third. And then they talked. Then they knew we meant it. A shocking story. It shocked me at the time and it still shocks me. But it was necessary to save hundreds of lives, it was necessary. I'm willing to be shocked again if necessary. (Cowley produces a hypodermic syringe) I'm going to hoist you with your own petard, Mr. Sutton. I'm going to turn you into an addict. (Sutton cringes away only to be caught in a headlock by Doyle) A crash course in addiction because we have access to the purest stuff. A craving, crawling do-anything-for-money junkie. Look at me Sutton. LOOK AT ME! Remember the road that was mined. Do you have any doubt at all that I intend doing what I say?
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: CI5 use exactly the kind of tactics condemned by Royal Commissions into police misconduct, but it's OK because they only use them against bad people. Their limits are best lampshaded in the episode "In the Public Interest" where Bodie and Doyle investigate a town where the police are cracking down on crime and "immoral behaviour" by extralegal means, such as planting evidence and roughing up members of a gay support group. Bodie and Doyle eventually gain evidence of the latter, and when the main culprit decides to murder them to avoid prison, another officer steps in and arrests him, as murder is going too far.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: In "Not A Very Civil Civil Servant", the Villain of the Week uses a combination of threats and bribery to arrange for several jurors to sway the others.
  • Laser Sight: The intimidation factor of a "Laser-Lok" sight (at the time a cutting-edge technology) is a major theme in "Hunter/Hunted".
  • Leave No Witnesses:
    • In "Heroes", several citizens foil the robbery of an armored car (actually a disguised political assassination). Because one of the criminals was partially unmasked during the raid, Cowley decides to tell the press that the man can now be identified, in the hope of flushing out the criminals who have gone to ground. Unfortunately a newspaper has published the names and addresses of these heroic citizens, so CI5 has to scramble to protect them when the criminals start murdering them.
    • In "Everest Was Also Conquered", a former intelligence officer makes a Deathbed Confession that he murdered a witness to a corruption inquiry in the 1950's. As Bodie and Doyle investigate, they find they're in a race against a hitman who's killing off the other conspirators in the murder.
  • Language Barrier: In "Blind Run" it takes half the episode before someone fluent in English turns up. This is to convey Bodie and Doyle's sense of frustration over being kept in the dark about what's really going on.
    Doyle: Look, tell Sinbad here he needs subtitles, will you? Just there (gestures at speaker's chest) in big white letters so that when you talk we can read what you're saying.
  • Live-Action Escort Mission: In "Blind Run", Bodie and Doyle are assigned by Cowley to protect an Arab dignitary. They find themselves being pursued by a number of assassins, and later discover that Cowley isn't giving all the support he could because they're serving as The Bait. At the end of the episode it turns out the dignitary was a fake as well.
  • Mad Lib Thriller Title: "The Ojuka Situation" involves the attempted assassination of a foreign head-of-state by the agents of an unnamed power. Generally averted though, despite the frequent appearance of government conspiracies or foreign spies.
  • Magic Countdown: When a lunatic holds a nurse hostage via a grenade with the pin removed shoved down her blouse, Bodie says it has a ten second fuse. It takes the grenade 25 seconds to explode. You could handwave this as the grenade's safety lever being caught inside her blouse and not springing free until Bodie cut it loose.
  • Magical Security Cam: In "Heroes" an armoured car robbery is witnessed by a member of the public with a handheld 8mm camera. When we see CI5 watching the footage, it includes shots taken in an amateurish fashion (people in the way, jerky film, etc) but also scenes from the robbery it would have been impossible for the cameraman to have filmed (such as the shooting of a security guard who is inside the armoured car) but which we saw in the previous action sequence.
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle:
    • In "Private Madness Public Danger", Doyle enters a Bad Guy Bar and hauls a customer into the storeroom, but not before he throws the manager a coin and tells him to play something loud on the jukebox. Turns out the man is an undercover cop and the two of them start knocking things off the shelves to make it sound like Doyle is beating him up. When it's time to leave, he reminds Doyle to give him the requisite facial bruise.
    • In "Rogue", a corrupt CI5 agent knocks out a suspect, throws him out the window, then stabs himself in the shoulder with a knife moments before Bodie and Doyle kick down the door in response to his faked cries of alarm. Cowley's suspicions are raised when the autopsy reveals that the suspect was given a fatal karate chop when Cowley wanted him taken alive.
    • In "The Untouchables", Bodie and Doyle have to fake a punch-up. Doyle says he has a loose filling so Bodie agrees to hit the other side, ​only to get it wrong in the excitement.
  • Manly Tears: When Bodie is knifed in "Klansmen", Ray weeps openly as he walks beside Bodie's hospital gurney.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: In "The Acorn Syndrome", Doyle goes to ask a couple of youths to move their car which is blocking them in. They see his holstered pistol, draw guns of their own and a car chase ensues, leading to a hostage-taking and both youths being gunned down by an unknown shooter. CI5 then have to investigate to find out what the youths were involved in that made them panic like that.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In its initial run, young women generally fancied one of Bodie and Doyle.
  • Mr. Smith: In "Servant with Two Masters", Cowley orders Bodie and Doyle to keep surveillance on an Arab businessman called Mahlik, but won't say why. Bodie notes that Mahlik is the Arabic equivalent of Smith.
  • Mutual Kill: In "Heroes", impulsive CI5 man Tommy comes to aid Bodie and Doyle during the climactic shoot-out. He's fatally shot with an uzi, but he manages to take the bad guy with him.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent:
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: One episode centred around a gun used in a crime being dumped in the prop bin of a theatre company.
  • Odd Couple: Hot-headed idealist Doyle versus cold-blooded Bodie.
  • Old Flame: Cowley's old love Annie in "Look After Annie". (Yes, Cowley had a Girl of the Week, don't Faint in Shock.
  • One Head Taller: In "Blood Sports" there's a female CI5 agent played by Lizzie Spender who was supposed to be a Recurring Extra, but all her scenes (except where she's sitting in her car) were cut because she was taller than the leads.
  • One of Our Own: Doyle is shot in "Discovered in a Graveyard", Bodie is stabbed in "Klansman", and Cowley comes under suspicion in "Servant with Two Masters" and "Need to Know".
  • Opening Narration: One given by Cowley on the first few episodes
    Cowley: Anarchy. Acts of terror. Crimes against the public. To combat it, I have special men. Men from the army, the police, from every service. These are The Professionals.
  • "Open!" Says Me: It goes with the car chases and gunplay.
    • Subverted in "Blackout", when Bodie shoulder-charges a door only to break his right arm in the process (and his expensive watch, which he's even more upset about). He then has to shoot two terrorists using his left hand.
    • A spoof by The Two Ronnies had a gun-waving Doyle kicking open a door and searching the apartment for the villain only to find no-one. As he leaves and closes the door behind him, the Squashed Flat villain falls out from behind it.
  • Out-of-Character Alert:
    • At the start of "Blind Run", Cowley briefs our heroes for their Live-Action Escort Mission, tells them that they will be treated as freelancers with no connection to the British government if anything goes wrong, and then shakes their hands. It's the last bit that worries them the most.
    • In "Need to Know", Cowley is briefing a couple of colleagues on his plan to snatch a double agent from police custody so he can be interrogated at leisure. It's pointed out that Bodie and Doyle could go to jail if things go wrong, which Cowley callously dismisses as their hard luck. Given that he's A Father to His Men, this tips off the audience that he's up to something.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Doyle is carried like this after he's knocked out and captured by a villain he's impersonating.
  • Permission to Speak Freely:
    • From "Old Dog with New Tricks".
      Bodie: Permission to be admiringly insolent, sir. You're a brave old bastard.
      Cowley: Permission denied. Anyway, it's inaccurate. I'm not brave.
    • And at the end of "Need to Know".
      Doyle: Permission to make an observation, sir. You're a ruthless old bastard.
      Cowley: Not so much of the old, sonny.
  • Playing Drunk: In "The Female Factor," Doyle pretends to be drunk when visiting a high-class call girl, whom CI5 want to interrogate.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: "Klansmen" features a National Front-esque hate group who are dedicated to harassing and assaulting black people (but not killing due to Pragmatic Villainy). As the title suggests, they do so while wearing white hoods.
  • Porn Stache: Fortunately not worn by any of the main characters, but regularly seen on guest characters. And not always villains, either.
  • Pretty in Mink: In "The Female Factor", the location of a dead prostitute's mink coat is a clue.
  • Priceless Ming Vase
    • In "Blackout", Bodie brags about his accurate and expensive Heuer Manhattan watch, only to end up breaking it while smashing down a door to rescue a hostage. He broke his arm too, but was more angry about the watch. At the end of the episode however, he's happy to hear the lads at CI5 (even Cowley!) have all chipped in to buy him a new watch. It turns out to be a cheap Superman watch.
    • At the end of "Rogue" Cowley is recovering in hospital, so Bodie and Doyle bring him a bag of grapes, as per tradition. He's not amused and throws the bag at them...breaking the bottle of single malt Scotch they've hidden inside. They flee his wrath!
    • At the start of "The Acorn Syndrome", Cowley sends Bodie and Doyle to pick up an antique desk worth 800 pounds. After strapping it to the roof of their car, they get into a car chase and the desk eventually comes loose and smashes all over the road. They assure The Cow that he can claim it on tax as it was in the line of duty.
  • Product Placement: The Cars — British Leyland for half the first season, Ford for the rest of the show. It worked for Ford, less so for BL.
  • Ransom Drop: In "The Acorn Syndrome", Bodie hides in the boot of a car to follow the man driving it to a ransom drop. Unfortunately, the kidnappers have the driver change cars, and Bodie barely gets out of the boot in time to attach a Tracking Device to the second car before it drives off.
  • Red Shirt: The three main characters have Contractual Immortality but pity any other CI5 agent who turns up, because there's a fairly high chance he'll snuff it before the end of the episode. (This doesn't apply to the staggeringly rare occasions we see a woman agent.)
  • Read the Fine Print
    • In "Old Dog with New Tricks", a high-ranking police officer tries to take control of a hostage situation from Doyle (a former Detective Constable) until Doyle gets him to read the small print on his warrant card.
    • In "The Female Factor", Doyle insists on investigating the death of a prostitute he once knew, using CI5's blanket authority to investigate any incident. "It's in the small print on our cards". Cowley starts tearing strips off him ("Don't you quote small print at me. For every sentence of small print you produce, I can produce smaller!") until he happens to look at the phone number written on a notepad in the hooker's apartment...the Prime Minister's private line. Suddenly Cowley rounds on the CID detectives and announces that CI5 are taking over the case. "Can't you read the small print on our cards?"
    • In "Involvement" Cowley says Doyle can't get married without clearing it with him first, which is apparently also in the small print.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In "The Madness of Mickey Hamilton", a grieving widower blames medical staff for his wife's death and his daughter being permanently crippled/dying due to an accident during childbirth, and goes on a killing spree.
  • Roofhopping: Whenever there's a foot chase near a tenement building.
  • Room 101: Bodie and Doyle lampshade this trope after capturing a hitman who refuses to say who employed him. So they take the hitman to the business of an East End gangster whose brother he killed and handcuff him to a lamppost outside. "Oh he won't kill him. But he'll wish he had." The hitman wisely decides to talk.
  • Rule of Cool: Martin Shaw (who'd done research into tactics used by the SAS) complained about scenes where they'd be silhouetted in doorways. The producer replied that few people would know it was a stupid idea anyway.
  • Sheet of Glass: The iconic opening shot of the Title Sequence is a car smashing through a window.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: In "The Ojuka Situation", Bodie has just been buzzed through the door of a safehouse when he's jumped by assassins. As he fights one man, the other assassins push through the door which then locks behind them. Bodie overpowers his attacker, then shoots out the lock because he needs to both warn the people inside and get through the door quickly.
  • Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness: Pimps, drug dealers, corrupt officials, and professional killers are treated with contempt. Terrorists are evil but their idealism is acknowledged as long as it's left wing; white supremacist terror groups are not given the same respect. Communist bloc agents are ruthless but respected as fellow professionals.
  • The Smurfette Principle: There are female agents in CI5, but we only see them if required for a particular episode. And there is Susan who captures a professional killer in "The Purging of CI5", but in later episodes is only seen working as Cowley's chauffeur. Given the era a likely explanation is that these women are chauffeurs, technicians or secretaries, but Cowley has them trained so they can work as agents too when a female operative is needed.
  • The Stakeout: The episode "Stakeout" has Bodie and Doyle staking out a bowling alley after a CI5 agent investigating a drug ring there is murdered after stumbling across a far more serious crime. They run through the expected distractions and red herring suspects before nailing down the real culprits.
  • Status Quo Is God: Nothing ever changes from episode to episode. The relationships between the characters remain exactly the same, there is no story arc, and no-one is ever upset about the events from a previous episode. Therefore, everyone is remarkably unangsty, and there is no complicated backstory you have to know about. Which makes The Professionals pleasantly uncomplicated viewing.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause:
    • "Kickback" has a fictional Italian terrorist group carrying out an assassination for hire, with the contemporary connection between The Mafia and terrorism lampshaded. In "First Night" the situation is reversed with London Gangsters kidnapping an Israeli minister and offering to sell him to the highest bidder.
    • Even though stories were Ripped from the Headlines, terrorists featured on the show were the No Celebrities Were Harmed version. The Organisation in "Runner" appears to be a Scottish version of the IRA, there's a German terrorist group in "Close Quarters" that's inspired by the Baader-Meinhof Group, and Ramos in "Long Shot" is likely an expy of Carlos the Jackal.
  • There Are No Therapists: In "Wild Justice", Bodie and Doyle are undergoing a full evaluation—both physical and psychological—to determine their fitness for duty. Cowley mentions that a CI5 agent costs more time and money to train than an airline pilot; they are regarded as highly-trained specialists who must be at the peak of their condition. A dispute arises with the psychiatrist on the evaluation team who thinks that Bodie is suffering from a death wish. He's not; he's planning to murder someone to avenge a former colleague.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!:
    • In "Where the Jungle Ends", Cowley gets stabbed, falls down a small cliff, and has a fuel tank explode in his face. When Doyle expresses concern as to Da Chief's well-being...
      Doyle: Cowley! Cowley, you okay?!
      Cowley: Yes, yes, I'm okay. (Death Glare) AND IT'S MISTER COWLEY!
      Doyle: (grinning) You are OK, aren't ya.
    • Chief Constable Green insists on a First-Name Basis with Cowley even though he's never met him before. Cowley lets it slide because he wants Green to let his guard down, but drops the façade once he has proof of Green's abuse of power.
      Cowley: Chives was a runaway truck, careering downhill. Running over the guilty and the innocent. A runaway truck. But you released the handbrake.
      Green: George!
      Cowley: The name is Cowley! Mister Cowley!
  • Unguided Lab Tour: The episode "Involvement" features Doyle's girlfriend wandering into the top secret CI5 headquarters and eavesdropping on an interrogation.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: In "Hunter/Hunted", Doyle is being stalked by someone from his past who takes pleasure in making Doyle sweat before he kills him. In one scene his car is rigged to fail in stages—first the brakes, then the steering, then after the car crashes a delayed-action bomb gives Doyle enough time to exit the vehicle before it blows up.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • ("Klansmen") Bodie's life is saved by a black doctor despite his racist abuse, while members of white supremacy organisations are portrayed as ignorant thugs being manipulated by right-wing politicians and crooked businessmen for their own ends. That didn't stop it from becoming a Banned Episode for its racist content!
    • ("In The Public Interest") Bodie and Doyle go undercover when a gay youth counselling centre is attacked by masked men. It turns out the local Chief Constable is abusing his power to enforce the law according to his own version of what's right or wrong.
  • Vigilante Execution:
    • CI5 arrest a Professional Killer who planted a bomb in Cowley's office, and whom they assume is responsible for the deaths of several other CI5 agents in bombings. The killer brags that he'll never give up the man who hired him. Bodie and Doyle aren't interested however; they just take him to an Abandoned Area and put their guns to the back of his head, whereupon he cracks and gives up the name after realising they're going to kill him on the spot. It's left to the audience to figure out whether they were bluffing or not.
    • In "Need to Know", Cowley shoots a Double Agent In the Back as he's 'trying to escape' (he was fleeing, but Cowley stopped Bodie and Doyle from chasing after him). In "Wild Justice" however when Bodie is about kill a criminal to avenge an old war buddy, Cowley puts a gun to Bodie's head to stop him, because one of his agents committing murder could destroy CI5.
  • Witty Banter
    Cowley: Bodie. Doyle. Hold on a moment. World Chemical Products. Man just fell out of a seventh-storey window.
    Doyle: That's police business.
    Cowley: He jumped.
    Bodie: That's his business.
    Cowley: Somebody had slipped him a drug. Him and half the staff there.
    Bodie/Doyle: That's drug squad business.
    Cowley: What are you two, some kind of music hall act?
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted in "The Female Factor" when Cowley says of a KGB opposite number, "Terkoff. He was a good man." As his partner has just been shot by Terkoff, Bodie angrily points at where Doyle is lying and snaps, "Yeah? Well, there's a better man back there!"
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It's not unusual for the Villain of the Week to hire a junkie or small time criminal to help out with the initial job, who's then killed off because You Know Too Much.