Last updated : 1st August 2016

Episode 'Spy Probe'
Story Synopsis Why is a mysterious organisation assassinating prima facie nobodies? Bodie and Doyle attempt to infiltrate. Writer Tony Barwick
Guest Stars Barry Stanton, Nick Stringer, Patrick Ryecart, Paul Daneman Director Dennis Abey
Production Order
& Filming Dates
Block 5, Episode 5
12th to 22nd May 1981Main shoot.
27th May 1981Reshoot of villain dumping his car and stealing the boat, various scenes from the boat chase, partial reshoot (for unspecified reasons) of police launch coming the rescue.

(Final episode of original series to be filmed)
Original UK Transmission Season 5, Ep 6
12th December 1982
Dave's Comment

Again, an oddly surreal-comedic quality to this story. However the plot premise is plain ridiculous: I don't care what Cowley says: the KGB wouldn't suddenly decide to murder dozens of ex-security service personnel on the off-chance that they might all meet up one day and discover the identity of a double agent between them.

And the overall storytelling is full of plot holes, too. For example it's never explained why the KGB agent suspects Doyle of being an infiltrator - nor why he does NOT think the same of Bodie. And it seems a bit too convenient that Williams hides himself in the car, petrified by the thought of having to assassinate somebody.

How on earth does Miss Walsh, using some drawing pins and brightly-coloured wool, come to her conclusions? These are simply taken at face value.

There are several other things but if I discussed them that would spoil the episode for those who have yet to see it.

However I'm now going to surprise you all by stating that 'Spy Probe' ranks as one of my favourites from the later years of The Professionals. What is good is that the characterisation and interplay between the two main villains are funny. I liked old Ferris and Twigg, even though they were merciless killers. When they are together doing all the planning, their banter is tinged with humour (Ferris calls his little fat friend 'Twiggy'). Yet when it comes to them actually killing people (eg the guy on the bridge) their facial expressions are those of hardened, ruthless murderers. Immediately after the shooting, though, Ferris returns to his irreverent self.

In fact Barry Stanton (previously briefly seen as Frank the Mercenary in 'The Madness of Mickey Hamilton') as the scruffy Ferris, the sweet-guzzling assassin, really is excellent here. ("I thought he was sweet!" / "Eh?!!" / "Yeah - all the sweets he eats!"). Nick Stringer as his dapper partner-in-crime does well, too - especially as this was very early in his acting career...

With their interplay and opposing attitudes to tailoring, Twigg and Ferris are almost villainous versions of early Bodie and Doyle. They would have worked wonderfully in The Avengers - indeed is Twiggy's constant adjusting of his beloved hat a cheeky reference to John Steed's bowler?

Clemens' and Fennell's earlier production loved to satirise popular culture and we see a touch of this with the motel scenes clearly "inspired by" The Thomas Crown Affair.

Nice directorial touch with the traffic lights in the pre-titles "teaser". The smart way Doyle manages to shake off Ferris is a lovely bit of photography, as is Doyle meeting Cowley at the snackbar, made nicely off-the-wall with the latter's disembodied voice.

Love the daft scene where the lads drive their Capris at each other head-on to see how close they can stop without crashing!! ("Three inches?" / "Nah – four."). Don't try this at home, kiddies!

For more camp, black humour check out Ferris' interrogation scene - see the Dialogue section below.

Overall I suspect this episode has a rather polarised viewership. Originally intended as the series' finale, it's a nice tip of the bowler to its immediate ancestor The New Avengers, so if you're a fan of that show, there is plenty to enjoy here. Other viewers, however, may fairly regard it is simply too daft for a Professionals story. But it is fast-paced with loads of well-orchestrated and photographed action - the shootout across the docks represents the series at its zenith in that respect - and a healthy dose of comedy. For these reasons, I've marked Story a little higher than perhaps it deserves.


Ferris: "So you're ready to go anywhere and do anything, eh?"

Doyle: "If the money's right."

Ferris: "No problem, there, my son. Just how far would you go?"

Doyle: "What do you mean?"

Ferris: "Well, would you break a few heads?"

Doyle: "Ha! Just try me!"

Ferris: "Would you kill?"

Doyle: "Kill?! Kill who?"

Ferris: "People!"

Doyle: "What people?"

Ferris: "Just people. Nobodies. You wouldn't even know their names. Extermination: that's what it's about. We kill to order."

Minister: "These cuts are mandatory."

Cowley: "I thought you said 'proposed'?"

Minister: "You must try to master Whitehall jargon. I'll expect your reports on how you plan to implement them within a week."

Dawson: "Yes, sir."

Cowley, dismissive: "I'll do my best."

Minister: "Now, item two: security. After recent unfortunate events, I think the overall picture is satisfactory."

Cowley: "I'm afraid I don't. We never seem to learn. Every few months some new mole, some double-agent, some new scandal is uncovered, the papers are full of it... and then the dust settles. Then we go back to the same smug, complacent attitude I'm hearing here today. I'm sorry, Minister, but I consider the security situation as far from satisfactory."

Dawson: "And what do you propose we do about it?"

Cowley: "Why don't we purge our Intelligence Services clean once and for all?"

Dawson, sarcastically: "Are you recommending a strong purgative for us all, George?"

Cowley: "Don't get clever with me, Dawson - I'm serious!"

Minister: "Frank opinion, Nigel - off the record. George Cowley."

Dawson: "Well he's impetuous, headstrong, a bit too independent, too powerful, not accountable enough to the right people."

Minister: "Of course he's highly thought of."

Dawson: "Yes, I understand the Prime Minister looks on Cowley with favour."

Minister: "He'd make a dangerous enemy."

Dawson: "To you, sir?"

Minister: "To either of us!"

Elizabeth Walsh: "Why don't you tell me the reason you're still sat in that chair and not rushing off putting the world to rights?"

Cowley: "It's a tough one, Elizabeth - and I think it could get tougher. There are loose ends, things that don't fit, don't add up. I need your help!"

Elizabeth: "I'm retired!"

Cowley: "You're the cleverest woman I know."

Elizabeth: "Then you must move in very limited circles!"

Bodie: "End of the line, fat man!"

Ferris, try to destroy all evidence of his operations: "I've got a match here and the whole place is covered in petrol!"

Bodie: "So are you - strike that and you'll fry!"

Ferris, captured for questioning about his employer but determined to tough it out: "Where are you taking me?!"

Doyle: "Don't worry - it's soundproof."

Ferris, bemused with a twinge of apprehension: "What do you mean 'soundproof'?"

Cowley, perfectly straight-faced and levelly: "He means nobody will hear your screams."

Ferris, unconvincingly: "You can't bluff me - I won't talk."

Cowley to Doyle: "OK, get on with it."

Ferris, getting twitchy: "What's he doing?"

Cowley: "Filling a bath... or, at least, half-filling it: we don't want to make a mess."

Doyle picks up a telephone: "Send 'Sparks' down with his box of tricks."

Ferris, now terrified: "What are you going to do?"

Doyle, putting on a show of donning thick industrial rubber gloves: "Give you a bit of a shock. Might jolt your memory."


In the target practice scene, the first victim's head gets blown off before Doyle has pulled the trigger.

For TV transmissions and VHS/DVD relesaes prior to the 2016 release from Network, look at the scene where Bodie and Williams pick up the blue Ford Cortina after receiving their instructions to kill Miss Walsh. Just prior to driving up the lane to her house, we see them turn off a country road. If you look carefully you'll see TWO mistakes: Williams is sat in the back of the car.... while none other than Doyle is sat in the front!! This shot was supposed to have been part of the later scene where Bodie and Williams are taking Doyle into the forest and was inserted in the wrong place by the film editor. Thanks to Robert Moubert for spotting that one! Network has corrected this problem by placing the scene back in its proper place within the storyline.

When Russian agent Kovac is finally caught, members of the film crew can be seen reflected in his "mirror" shades.

In the final scenes, the name painted on the boat keeps losing and then regaining letters! (Thanks to Nigel Whitaker). This was because the waterfront battle was shot over two days with individual shots being subsequently edited into a different order to that of actual filming.


This was the final episode to be filmed. Apparently the boat scenes nearly ended in Lewis being drowned. There is a short scene of him hanging precariously out of the boat - in the first take he did fall out and was dragged underneath the water with his leg trapped in the boat for several seconds before Martin noticed! (Thanks to Louise Tilley for info!)

Keen to keep ratings up right until the end of the series, LWT originally commissioned an "open-ended" script which offered the possibility that Bodie and Doyle might succumb to watery graves in the final scene. Heavily promoted before its transmission, LWT then peformed their usual scheduling incompetence and screened the episode in the middle of the run!?!?!?!

Two years after this episode was shot, the warehouse and its dummies were used again for the Minder episode 'Get Daley'.

Deja Vu

Paul Daneman (Dawson) had minor roles in classics Zulu and Oh! What a Lovely War. Perhaps best known for the mid-1970s espionage series Spy Trap. Last seen in Alan Bleasedale's GBH. Passed away in 2001.

Graham Crowden (the minister) starred in the university comedy drama A Very Peculiar Practice and fondly-remembered sitcom Waiting for God. Passed away in 2010.

Nick Stringer (Twigg) has been a ubiquitous character actor for over twenty years, usually playing dodgy-dealer types.

Patrick Ryecart (Williams) appeared in several episodes of the 1979 TV adaptation of Dick Turpin, the 1980 David Wickes film Silver Dream Racer and a couple of episodes of the Young Indiana Jones TV series. Still pretty active in the acting fraternity but has never made leading man material on TV or film. He was married to Marsha Fitzalan, previously seen in 'Wild Justice'.

The story opens with Doyle running across a narrow bridge which crosses the River Brent by Augustus Close and Brent Way, Brentford.
Doyle arrives at a telephone box on Brent Way, Brentford, unaware that he is being watched by Ferris.
Taking a message at the phonebox, Doyle is ordered to sprint off to another one! He takes off along a small footbridge just off Catherine Wheel Street, Brentford. (Photograph copyright and used by kind permission of Maxwell Hamilton.)
... and then across Brentford Dock... (Photograph copyright and used by kind permission of Jeannette Briggs of the splendid CanalGuide website -
... and then along Dock Road...
Doyle arrives at the second phonebox - again Ferris is watching. It's difficult to be certain where this was shot but it may have been on the narrow path on the south side of the aforementioned dock.
Ferris drives Doyle down Half Acre, Brentford.
Ferris takes Doyle for some target practice at his "headquarters", Albion Yard, Balfe Street, Kings Cross...
After the meeting, Doyle leaves but hides away hoping to find out more. What we see on-screen shows that this is still Albion Yard: the buildings opposite the entrance still look vaguely familiar.
Meanwhile the Minister meets with acting head of MI6, Nigel Dawson, and Cowley to discuss the state of the various security services. This takes place at what is documented as the National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place, although we only see interior shots in the episode. The subsequent scene of them meeting in the tea room was also shot here.
Ferris tails Doyle down Avonmore Road, Hammersmith.
Doyle arrives at a mobile snack bar, which is actually a CI5 meeting point. This is documented as being the Avonmore Trading Estate on the aforementioned Avonmore Road but it has since been redeveloped beyond recognition.
After a difficult meeting, the Minister asks Dawson for his opinion on Cowley, while driving along Whitehall...
... and then Horse Guards Avenue...
... and then Whitehall Court - note the statue. It's interesting to see how terribly grubby a lot of the prestige buildings were back then!
Ferris is still tailing Doyle, now on Stonor Road, Hammersmith.
Doyle is heading back to the snack bar, along Avonmore Road again. (Though there a faulty piece of editing here as in the next shot we see him back on Stonor Road!)
Meanwhile an unnamed CI5 op watches as Bodie, who has already infiltrated the organisation, meets with a man named Williams. Their rendezvous location is documented as the corner of Delamere Terrace and Blomfield Villas, Paddington. The telephone boxes were merely props installed by the crew.
Bodie and Williams discuss their respective recruitments into the organisation. This appears to take place walking under Harrow Road bridge and into Rembrandt Gardens, Paddington.
Bodie and Williams have instructions to pick up a package at the Lost Luggage Office of Paddington Station on Eastbourne Terrace. (The Google Street View shot here keels over at an odd angle due to a problem with Google's photography.)
The package contains instructions and the pay-off for the assassination of a woman, Elizabeth Walsh. Bodie and Williams discuss the "hit" in what appears to be the aforementioned Rembrandt Gardens, Paddington - it looks as though they are sitting in the little bricked area shown in the Google Street View.
Bodie and Wiliams are provided with a car, parked in Delamere Terrace, Paddington.
Bodie and Williams head to Miss Walsh's cottage, Leys Farm, Thompkins Lane, East Burnham. A nervous Williams waits in the car while Bodie moves in to fulfil the contract. This is also documented as the location for the subsequent scene of the lads and Williams in the woods.
Meanwhile Ferris and Twigg pay off one of their other "mechanics". This seems to be the footbridge between Tallow Road and Brent Road, Brentford.
CI5 HQ this week is documented as Cadby Hall, Hammersmith (demolished in 1983). The interior of Dawson's office was also filmed here, apparently.
Ferris meets with his mysterious, unseen boss at the Master Brewer Motel, Western Avenue, North Hillingdon for a briefing on the next little "mission". The site was demolished in 2012 but the screenshot here shows a house and other building which are still recognisable today.
Suspecting that Doyle is an infiltrator, Ferris and Twigg look for him in Shepherd's Bush Road...
... Hammersmith Road, Hammersmith - note the "arched" frontages of the shops...
... and finally spot him in Masbro Road, Hammersmith.
Ferris and Twigg are ordered to accelerate the assassinations. They discuss plans while driving along what is documented as Preston's Road, West India Dock. We see them cross a swing-bridge but this was removed around 1987. Given other redevelopment work in the area, there is nothing from the scene that is recognisable now.
Bodie and Williams are drafted in to act as backup for the hit squad. They receive instructions at what is documented as Burne Jones House, North End Road, Hammersmith, though we only see the interior
With the instructions revealing the other targets, CI5 is able to apprehend most of the hired assassins. Firstly Bodie at 42 Stevenage Road, Fulham. It's difficult to positively identify this because of all the greenery that has since grown but the design of the houses in this row do match what we see on-screen.
The would-be assassin of number 8 on the hitlist is similarly taken out of the game - again this was filmed on Stevenage Road, although it's difficult to pinpoint the exact spot.
Racing to save the last target, Mitchell, the lads play "extreme parking" outside his house, 38 Doneraile Street, Fulham...
... but Mitchell is at his boat yard, documented as Thames Lock Wharf, Dock Road, Brentford. As the lads arrive, however, Twigg is already there.
The lads capture Ferris and uncover his boss, a KGB agent named Kovac, who escapes along Inglethorpe Street into Woodlawn Road, Fulham. The shop seen behind the Capri has had some changes over the years but the "arched" porch to the left is unmistakeable.
A cheat now - the next shot is actually further back along Inglethorpe Street.
Kovac crashes in Stevenage Road, Fulham. As the shot was done with a tele-photo lens, I've had to cheat a little with the position of the Google Street View - it's further south than it should be.
Cowley meets with Dawson to report the capture of Kovac. The scene is documented as The Queen Mother's Sports Centre, 223 Vauxhall Bridge Road, though we only see the interior. (I wonder what sports the Queen Mother did there?!)
Further investigations lead to the identity of a double-agent within British Security. The lads tail the man from Cadby Hall's "Block A" building (which seems to be the only part of it that still exists today!) on Brook Green, Hammersmith.
The chase continues along Hammersmith Road. The church seen in the background has since been replaced by an office block but the building to the right of it is just about recognisable.
For the next couple of shots, we're back in Brook Green, near its junction with Girdlers Road.
Meanwhile Cowley joins the chase and is only a few yards behind on Brook Green.
The episode's climax was so complex to shoot, it required two separate days, with the action being split between the now filled-in Victoria Deep Water Terminal and the West India Dock off Preston's Road, Isle of Dogs. With massive redevelopment since 1981, the only recognisable structure today is an elevated section of what would become the Docklands Light Railway.

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