Two Pros Primers
Way back in the dawn of 'net time, a time when there were still less than 50 women on the (at that time) only Internet slash mailing list, someone asked a Pros question. Then someone else asked another. Seeing a chance to convert a bunch of Trek and B7 fans, I quickly wrote up a Pros Primer. It's been edited a bit since (thanks, Debbie!), but this is basically what I wrote in '92.
The Professionals: A highly-biased primer
The Professionals was an ITV Channel 4 production in Britain from late 70s to the early 80s, created by Brian Clemmens, who stayed with the show the entire run. It ran 5 years (series, in Brit speak), but each year had a different number of eps. There are 57 episodes total.
Recommended eps to start with: Hunter/Hunted, Stakeout, Man without a Past, In the Public Interest.
The main characters of the show are CI 5 operatives and general all-around-heroes Doyle and Bodie, and their frequently irascible and practically infallible boss, Cowley. Raymond Doyle, known as Ray, is an ex-Metro Detective Constable--with time spent in the Drug Squad. William Philip Andrew Bodie, known solely as Bodie, left school at 14, ran away to sea, became a merc in Africa, ran guns, (possibly in Jordan) came back to England and joined the paras (Paratroopers) (including a tour in Northern Ireland) then SAS, before being seconded to CI5.
Doyle (played by Martin Shaw) is the good guy, who feels guilty--at least for a little while--over the inevitable compromises of their job; Bodie (played by Lewis Collins), is the callous, hard as nails one--except when it affects his partner.
The incidental back-chat between the two of them is the best part of the episodes. Fan legend says much of it was ad-libs. They also did most of their own stunts, each of them suffering real injuries during the show--Martin Shaw, who played Doyle, suffering a concussion and a badly cut wrist (being cut out of restraints), Lewis Collins also suffering a concussion, plus a fracture. Collins made a point during one hiatus of going on maneuvers with an army company--many Bodie watchers think the following season was his best just because Collins was at his best weight & muscle/fat ratio.
The show was originally meant to be sold overseas, so British slang is kept to a minimum, (though youd never know it from some of the fanfic) and the accents are quite comprehensible. CI5, a fake parallel organization to MI5, is a domestic super cop agency. Their brief allows them to search houses without a warrant, to slap D notices on the newspapers, and hold people without pressing charges. They primarily investigate domestic terrorism, but Cowleys authority is such that CI5s job is whatever he says it is. A fairly frequent beginning of an episode is Cowley telling them about a case and one (or both of them) saying, but shouldnt that be drug squad, MI5, etc. ? MI5, and occasionally other government branches are shown to be rivals--not necessarily friendly ones, and not necessarily principled ones. Bodie and Doyle are nearly shot by another department in one episode, and Bodie is nearly framed for murder by MI6 in another ep.
Somewhat similarly to Blakes 7, one of the ongoing themes of the show is the nature of good, evil and expediency. Somewhat like Starsky and Hutch, they spend a fair amount of time thinking about just who they can trust. There is a lovely line when one asks the other the meaning of ghetto. The other replies, a ghetto is people of your own kind-- people you can trust, and the first says, "hey, you & me must be a mobile ghetto" (which led to the zine by that name). They do a bit of discussing whether they are any better than the bad people they are fighting.
But what we really care about in a fandom is the characters, so heres more about them:
Bodie and Doyle are not pussy cats. They are both shown doing some fairly callous things--also some fairly sweet ones. They were drawn as amazingly complex characters, considering the action/adventure format of the show (in my cynical moments, I attribute that to the British origin of the show). They each have wonderful contradictions. Doyle is the tempery one, quick to anger, quick to forgive--hes also the bleeding heart, and the one to feel guilt --Bodie says of him once, "hed feel guilty over the invention of gunpowder. " He is smaller, though the size difference is slight compared to many slash pairings, and Bodie very rarely acts (physically) protective of him. He is written in fanfic as being very catlike.
Bodie is seen as hard and cold, but he obviously hurts when Doyle does (though with proper British restraint. Fans who started with Starsky and Hutch had to learn to read Bodie and Doyles much more subtle interactions).
They are both shown as fairly casual, even callous, womanizers in the show; at one point betting over whether one of them will manage to bed the woman that he has been assigned to watch. They are acknowledged as the "top team" at CI5, but a bit of a handful. Cowley asks Doyle if Bodie "gets up his nose," and says theyre like Chalk and Cheese. However, when Doyle is temporarily working with another agent and the guy makes a comment about Bodie, Doyle immediately defends him (only I can criticize Bodie, is the feeling you get). They seem to know where the other one is in tense situations (something that is brought out even more in fan fic, of course). They both get hurt a bit, though not as much as Starsky and Hutch, or even Illya. There is even an episode where they are supposed to act like they are gay, but it is understated to the point of ridiculousness: dont get your hopes up.
Cowley is in his 50s; a small Scottish man with an army and MI5 (=FBI) background. Hard as nails, he obviously has a soft spot for Bodie, and to a lesser extent, Doyle. He is a fascinating character. (Played by Gordon Jackson of Upstairs, Downstairs fame: RIP.)
Other characters that make it in to stories are Jax, the only black agent in CI5 that we know of; hes in 3 or 4 eps. Murphy is tall dark and handsome; he is in 6 or 7 eps, but he rarely has more than a few lines. There are a lot of Murphy fans though (since hes a) pretty and b) a blank slate, so you can write anything about him). He is in a number of three way sex scenes with our heroes. Susan is one of 5 or 6 female *agents*, as opposed to support people, we see. Shes only in one ep, (Purging of CI5) but she has a lot of lines. Macklin, a trainer and ex-operative, is also only in one ep (Mixed Doubles) but hes in lots of stories--as tormentor, as rare s/m sex partner of Cowley, Murphy or the guys, or as someone whose job the guys aspire to after retirement from active duty.
Notable bad guys: Krivas, a merc that Bodie fought under (and against) who once killed Bodies girlfriend; Keller, an old gun-running mate of Bodies. Notable babes: Marikka, an East German old girlfriend of Bodies, and Ann Holly, Doyles major on-screen love.
Professionals fandom is HUGE. There are over 1000 circuit stories alone, plus many good zines. An interesting aspect of Pros fanfic is the prevalence of alternate universe (a/u) stories. B & D have been cowboys, Amerinds, highway men, elves (many times! arrggh), teddy bears, Regency gentlemen, you name it. The Pros FAQ explains the circuit and gives a contact address.
One of the strengths of Pros fanfic is its novels. There are plenty of bad ones, but also a surprising number of strong, well-written longer works. I highly recommend Camera Shy (slightly alternate universe-- Bodie is CI5, and Doyle is a starting movie actor); Jigsaw Puzzle (not for the very squeamish--strong angst before they make up); Injured Innocents--the classic long romantic first-time novel of this fandom; Tethered Goats and Tigers--wonderful; Bare Necessity--warning, 1st person (and avoid the sequel), Action of the Tiger (good action-adventure along with the relationship) & Masquerade--yum.
Pam Rose has some good long stuff in many styles: Professional Dreamer is wonderfully silly; Where the Worms Are is serious but romantic, Forget That I Remember and Remember That I Forget is serious and sad, and Arabian Nights is pointless fluff. People who love more romantic tories often like Jane of Australias and Meg Lewtans hysterical historical novels.
There are probably 40-80 Pros zines, and plenty more MM zines with significant pages of Pros stories. This is a fandom that can suck your checkbook dry if you let it.
A few of the best (remember, this was written in '92):
British Takeaway 1--4 by Kate Nuernberg. A little dry, but good, (mostly gen). I would say if you liked St. Crispins Day (a good gen MUNCLE), youd like this (and vice versa).
Nudge, Nudge Wink, Wink 1--?, Whisper of a Kill, What If, and more are available from Manacles Press; they also have Pros stories in their consistently strong MM zine, Concupiscence (1-?). Reliable press.
Queer as a 3 Pound Note 1-3, and Bene Dictum by Oblique Press: they also have Pros stories in their consistently strong MM zine, Paean to Priapus. Tend towards darker stories, and some offbeat characterizations, but good writing.
Chalk & Cheese 1-? Very uneven zine (mixed gen and /). Issue 5 was excellent-- most of the rest have had a good story or two, but generally, borrow-dont buy.
There is even a Bodie/Cowley trilogy: The Fox and the Wolf universe by Jane Carnall (Lest These Dark Days is the first third.) Excellently written, very tied to the episodes, but due to the pairing, not everyones cup of tea. Available from the Library.
--proving that either great minds think alike (or as Cowley would say, that fools rarely differ), about the time I wrote the above primer, Jenn wrote one too:
Jenn's PROS PRIMER
The Professionals was a British television show that aired from about 1977 to 1982. It was modeled in a lot of ways on Starsky and Hutch, as well as other British action shows like The New Avengers and such. (Some say that the connection to SH is tenuous, but the characters were well known for using Americanisms on the show (TWEP and so on), and it is a pretty well accepted premise.)
The primary difference between the two shows is cultural. The Professionals is much more serious in nature (SH was getting a lot of flack from the PTA and others for violence, hence the wacky later-season plots), the writing of the scripts is much better (although there are still some real blimp-sized holes), and the display of relationship between the men is less overt (no hugs and kisses, almost no hurt/comfort on screen, etc.). The kicker to the last observation is that what relationship there was was overt in the society of the times. A fan favorite is a spoof of The Professionals called the the Bullshitters, where they declare their love for each other, etc. It was played on network television in the U.K., and is riotously funny. The two guys have their mannerisms down perfectly.
Anyway, on to the primer. William Andrew Philip Bodie and Raymond Doyle (Bodie only ever uses "Bodie"), work for George Cowley in a semi-covert squad called CI5. CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5) has a sort of hybrid brief, covering both domestic and international issues, kind of a cross between our FBI and CIA. Cowley is the Controller of the organization, a very crusty Scotsman, known for his limp (which disappears after a season or two, but shows up in a lot of fanfic), and his consumption of pure malt scotch.
Bodie is the dark, tough, ex-mercenary, who ran away from home at 14, ended up in Africa for several years (fans mention Angola a lot but history would suggest the Congo), quit the mercs, came back to the UK for a stint in the Paras and the SAS. We know he did a tour in Northern Ireland, and then was seconded to CI5. BTW, he is played by Lewis Collins, a very cute actor of very little brain. He is about 5'11" (weight varies widely, but he's very cute anyway), with brown hair (looks black on TV, but I have on good sources that it is really brown), blue eyes, and is muscularly built. Bodie's personality is often the strong, silent type, but he also has a very childlike sense of humor, and love for sweet things.
Ray Doyle is the more slender, curly-haired, street-tough-made-good. We know that he was a wild teen ("I cut up a kid and I was just a kid meself." also "I always got away with it."), then he joined the cops "to get some discipline", he made detective, then moved on to CI5 when it got hard to tell the good guys from the criminals. Doyle is more obviously emotional than his partner, we see him get depressed and guilty over the job (but I think this tends to get overdone in fanfic). Doyle is played by Martin Shaw (an actor of at least average brains and some talent). He is about 5'9" or 5'10", he tends to wear heeled boots (looks about Bodie's height then), or tennis shoes. He has curly hair (that varies with the actor's perm). My favorite is later seasons, where it is more long and wavy than short and corkscrew. He is slightly built, tends to wear tight jeans and tee shirts. Early in the series, he wears a plaid wool shirt, later on he gets more stylish. Hair color is brown with auburn highlights. Later on, he gets some grey at the temples. I love it! This man is only getting cuter as he gets older.
Pros fanfic covers a very wide variety of themes and styles. I think that part of this is due to the lack of information on screen about the characters. Bodie is written with every past from nobility to orphaned kid on the docks. There are also a bunch of bizarre alternate universes (Doyle as an elf is the most widely known and ridiculed). My favorite author is Sebastian. She tends to write a dark Bodie and Doyle who still have very attractive human characteristics. If you haven't read any Pros, I often start people off with her series Adagio, Catharsis, Homecoming, and Plain Sailing.
My issues with writing the Pros as sweet and lovey-dovey is that I don't believe that they could survive in their jobs if they were that nice. Killing people regularly doesn't really work that way, IMHO. In alternate universes, I have different opinions. For instance, Pam Rose wrote a novel called "Professional Dreamer" in which Bodie was a writer and Doyle (well, Dibble) was a librarian. They got mixed up in a spy plot by mistake... I thought it was darling.
--written by Jenn, 1992
-- To make corrections/suggestions about these primers, please write Sandy Herrold at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope they helped!
Now, back to the stories