Last updated : 1st August 2016
Here is a guide to all 57 episodes produced for the original series plus the 13 for the 1990s revival, CI5 - The New Professionals. The original series is listed in original UK transmission order, whereas the New follows the order used in Sweden as this was the first country to air that series. I've given a short story synopses for each and also listed the main support actors.
Go to the Episode List
One thing to make clear is that, like any long-running TV show, The Professionals consisted of outstanding, good, routine and even weak episodes. To that end, I've also given ratings for Storyline, Action, Pace, Humour and Violence and an opinion on each. Please note that the Violence ratings are for uncut episodes - as we have seen, broadcasters now habitually cut certains scenes in repeat screenings.
As an action show, The Professionals is fairly unique in having a 50:50 split of male and female fans, so I felt it was important to include views from the fairer sex. To that end fan of show Sharon Brondos has very kindly submitted her own comments, which include an insight into the characterisations and relationships in the show (plus, of course, her views on the actual storylines).
Dialogue. I thought it would useful and fun to include some of the key or outstanding dialogue from each episode to provide a flavour of the humour, seriousness and sophistication of the story and skill of the writer. The humourous aspects occasionally include phraseology that might be deemed unacceptable in today's television but is still, hopefully, funny, if mildly controversial. (Inevitably 'Klansmen' is an obvious example.) Also note that occasionally there is dialogue that isn't actually present in the episode - this is because it does appear in the script but was cut during post-production editing for timing reasons. This is often a shame as there is lots of terrific "throwaway" banter or caustic comments from Cowley!
Locations. Thanks to the titanic amount of research by Bob Rocca, author of the 2009 comprehensive guide to the series, a complete breakdown of all filming locations for every episode is now available. Bob has kindly granted me permission to reproduce this information here. The information makes use of Google Maps and Google Street View, though older web browsers may not support these fully. Remarkably, despite huge amounts of redevelopment throughout the decades, particularly in London, many of the locations remain entitrely recognisable today.
Production Order and Dates. Other than the second season, the original UK transmission order was significantly different to that which the episodes were actually made. In the main this was because London Weekend Television felt that episodes they deemed as being comparitively weak should be screened mid-season. The general ITV network strike of 1979 caused much disruption, too. However it was also partly due to script rewites (particularly on the first season), new scenes being added later to make up for an episode that would have otherwise not achieved the standard 50 minutes runtime, adverse weather for location shooting, an actor being suddenly unavailable or scenes that simply needed re-shooting due to subsequently-discovered faults with film stock or the camera...
All episodes were scheduled to film for ten working days each (with post-production work such as dialogue dubbing, general editing sessions and the addition of incidental music being carried out later). However most episodes required a little more, while many from the chaotic first season significantly overran their allocation. In general a ten-day continuous block (excluding weekends) of filming would be used and then followed up by sporadic days to cater for scenes or even individual shots that needed adding or re-filming. The latter is often referred to as a "pick-up" and you'll see references to this in the episode notes...
The dates given only cover those for actual filming: naturally the completion of this was then followed by post-production work such as general editing, dialogue dubbing (where needed), sound effects and recording of incidental music. There is no documentation readily available for these aspects.
Technical Notes: MUCH OF THE INFORMATION IN THIS SECTION IS NOW ACADEMIC given the joint project between Network On Air and the BBC to restore the episodes from the original film negatives and audio tapes. However until television broadcasters acquire the new High Definition prints, the Notes here remain somewhat relevant...
An explanation of this section is required to give readers an understanding of the background issues dictating the state of the episodes' film prints in general use today. In 1991 London Weekend Television decided to use new technology to create a fresh set of episode copies on digital tape. The process involved creating a new set of traditional standard 16mm "analogue" film prints which were then run through a (then-new) digital "telecine" machine made by German electronics manufacturer Bosch. This turned each frame of the new film print into an electronic digital image, written to a form of digital videotape known as "D2". Once completed, the analogue prints were secured in a vault while the digital tapes were stored in LWT's programme library, to be made quickly available for anyone wishing to either broadcast the series, issue it on video (and later DVD, of course) or simply to use clips of the show in other broadcasts....
... The advantages of the D2 tapes were clear: they were physically smaller and therefore easier to handle and transport than traditional film print canisters with the added bonus of (theoretically) negligible degradation in picture and sound quality. The tapes also had the capability of storing the audio as separate elements, which meant that non-English-speaking countries could easily substitute their own dialogue tracks...
In fact LWT and fellow ITV regional company Granada performed this process on many of their TV shows. In 1992 Granada founded a new company called British Independent Television Enterprises ("BRITE") whose purpose was to market and distribute these shows from their D2 copies. By this point Granada had actually bought out LWT and all the Professionals D2 tapes were shipped to BRITE. Hence the reason for numerous references to "the BRITE copy" in this section...
... Unfortunately such technology was in its infancy and the Bosch machine had a number of inherent faults and shortcomings. It had tendency to apply a strange "gauze"-like effect to the visuals - this is noticeable on some second-season episodes, particularly the "courtroom" scenes in 'The Rack'. Also small changes in the machine's set-up could affect the picture dramatically in terms of contrast, brightness, sharpness and colour balance. Sudden changes during an episode were usually the result of an engineer adjusting the settings during actual transfer. In the episode 'Rogue' Cowley confronts Barry Martin in the latter's flat and there is a very noticable jump in colour tones mid-scene. Ideally BRITE should have corrected these problems but chose not to...
Returning to the then-new (1991) traditional analogue film prints, there is some debate on how these were created. Ideally they should have been struck from either the original master negatives or a source known as "inter-negatives" which are essentially a "half-way house" between negs and a transmittable "positive" print. Despite LWT's evasive attitude to the situation regarding negs/inter-negs for season two onwards, research by Dave Rogers uncovered that they were still in existence by 1992. Yet many BRITE episodes display so much "positive" scratching and dirt* that the 16mm prints made in 1991 were clearly struck from earlier transmission prints instead, probably for reasons of cost.
What we ended up with was a huge variety in picture and sound quality. While the former is mostly to a high standard for the first season, thereafter it ranges from surprisingly good to quite poor.
From 2014 TV broadcasters have the option to acquire the new BBC/Network On Air High Definition versions of the episodes - but I expect them to be slow do to so.
Huge thanks to Ros Connors for info on this topic! Technical Notes for each episode are taken from her own observations and many of her comments are quoted verbatim.
* Damage to and flaws in prints generally show as black-coloured marks and scratches, while damage to negatives is usually white in colour.
For details of the episodes from the new series, please click here. It isn't really possible to detail production order and/or dates for this series as, unlike the original show, episodes were not filmed consecutively but most days were used to film scenes for two or more episodes.
'Foxhole on the Roof' (1 Aug 2016)
'Operation Susie' (1 Aug 2016)
'You'll be Alright' (1 Aug 2016)
'Lawson's Last Stand' (1 Aug 2016)
'Discovered in a Graveyard' (1 Aug 2016)
'Spy Probe' (1 Aug 2016)
'Cry Wolf' (1 Aug 2016)
'The Untouchables' (1 Aug 2016)
'The Ojuka Situation' (1 Aug 2016)
'A Man Called Quinn' (1 Aug 2016)
'No Stone' (1 Aug 2016)
New series, 1998:
Please note the order given is based on the transmission order in Sweden, which was the first country to screen the series. Other countries adopted a different running order.
Many thanks indeed to Ann Sahlstrom and Jack Yan for info, synopses and comments!
Fans may also like to hop across to Joules Taylor's Safehouse 13 website which reviews the new episodes as they start appearing on the Sky One satellite channel. Good stuff, Joules!
'Back to Business' (23 May 1999)
'Phoenix' (23 May 1999)
'Tusk Force' (23 May 1999)
'Hostage' (23 May 1999)
'Samurai Wind' (24 Mar 2002)
'Skorpion' (27 Jan 2002)
'First Strike'(23 May 1999)
'Miss Hit' (23 May 1999)
'High Speed' (23 May 1999)
'Souvenir' (27 Jan 2002)
'Choice Cuts' (27 Jan 2002)
'Orbit'(27 Jan 2002)
'Glory Days' (27 Jan 2002)