Lewis led an extremely busy life, making many personal appearances across the country where literally thousands of fans would turn up to see him, often requiring a police presence, or crowd barriers for everyone's safety. 'Bodiemania' had taken hold and his level of fame had become so high that his part-time Army career was jeopardised – he had begun a selection course for the T.A. branch of the Special Air Service (S.A.S.) while he was merely well-known, but he had now become so high-profile that the anonymity required by the unit could never have been maintained and he was rejected. Lewis also quit the T.A. as his life was so busy. "My reason for leaving the Paras was personal. I can say nothing - I value my life too much!"51 He was still in constant demand for interviews, primarily with women's magazines, and colourful stories about his private life made him a tabloid regular. He was now more than just a household name, he was one of the best-known faces in the country although most newspaper and magazine articles referred to him as Bodie rather than Lewis Collins. But this level of fame was a great help in raising money for his charity, Action, as Lewis personally attended many of the fund-raising events. The Friendship Circle organised discos where fans got the opportunity to meet Lewis, and this in itself guaranteed that the event would be a sellout.
Lewis, like Martin Shaw, had opted not to renew his Mark-1 contract as he was impatient to move on to other things. He realised he was becoming typecast, commenting "The Professionals has put me on the map. It's given me a lot of clout but after a time you start becoming Bodie in other people's conceptions and they won't accept you in a lighter rôle."24
1981 began with the now annual question of whether or not Lewis would be releasing a single, and he said that, "something may come out of the music side of me. I do qualify in the sense that I was a musician before I was an actor and I've always had instruments around me. I can play the guitar and I can write songs on the piano. But I haven't got a good voice so the songs have to carry me. It's been difficult with music because I've been sidetracked by other things and now I don't want to be just another singing cop"28 (David Soul of Starsky and Hutch, and Dennis Waterman of The Sweeney having preceded him).
In March, the dispute between Lewis and his fellow Action committee members finally came to a head, and the charity's assets were left in chaos after the two women resigned. The subsequent court case made national headlines. "The thing that really destroyed me about the publicity was that no one mentioned the good we did, and all the money we raised for handicapped children. I had a lot of projects lined up which I had to scrap. They would have raised thousands of pounds. It was heart-breaking."24 Lewis wrote a personal letter of apology to all of the Action team, but he was still determined to keep the charity running. It was eventually restructured as the Action Centre Group, continuing to raise funds in conjunction with the Friendship Circle as before, but this time, his father Bill was in charge of the finances.
Between the personal appearances and a spin around Brands Hatch, Lewis managed to squeeze in a quick skiing break in Italy, then in March filming began on the final batch of The Professionals episodes - final despite the programme winning the Top ITV Show category at the 1980 National Television and Radio Awards, and Bodie and Doyle finally winning The Most Compulsive Male Characters category at the TV Times Top Ten Awards. There were only five episodes left to make and, on 22nd May 1981, just before his 35th birthday, filming stopped for the last time and Lewis, after narrowly escaping drowning while filming the last episode, finally waved goodbye to Bodie.
Although The Friendship Circle newsletter had announced in April that Lewis was in discussions about an idea he'd had for a new TV series, and suggested a film may be in the pipeline, when The Professionals actually ended there was nothing officially lined up. But Lewis had something up his sleeve and two weeks later, his Hollywood dream came true when it was confirmed that he had won the lead rôle in producer Euan Lloyd's forthcoming film Who Dares Wins. That summer he went on holiday to his favourite place, Los Angeles, and while there finalised the deal on the film.
Who Dares Wins was a story about the S.A.S., inspired by the Iranian Embassy siege in London in 1980. Having at one point aspired to join the S.A.S. himself, Lewis was keen to do the unit justice. "The S.A.S. are my heroes. They are men who have proved themselves physically fit in the extreme, they are intelligent and they're very discreet. If I were to choose the army as a career, I would certainly want to be in the S.A.S."49 He had started preparing for his new rôle almost immediately, and by the time of the press announcement in August 1981 he was looking lean and fit. "I've lost 25lb., I've stopped drinking and smoking and my wild days and Hellraising are over – for the duration of the film at least..."30 "The way I look at it is that this film is such a great launching pad and there is such a great team of film-makers behind me that if I do well, there's got to be something wrong if it doesn't open doors for me."49
"Finding new stars in the film industry is nightmarish," said Euan Lloyd, "but all the time I had been impressed with one particular actor in Britain and the more I thought about it, the more I knew he was absolutely right, and he is Lewis Collins. He is a major screen star of tomorrow."49 Towards the end of 1981, Lewis realised just how busy his life was going to be, and took the reluctant decision to close down the Action Centre group. This had always been something he did in his spare time but he could no longer give it the time it required. The Friendship Circle, however, continued to flourish and now had 6,500 members. Lewis still had an interest in helping the deaf, and was one of group of campaigners who delivered a television set to then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street. "It had had all the sound removed." said Lewis. "We asked her to watch just one programme to see what it was like. What happened? Nothing."44
1982 was shaping up to be one of the most promising years of his career. In January, Lewis started work on Who Dares Wins, although not in Hollywood. Filming took place at Pinewood Studios in England, and on location in Wales. He was met with disappointment right at the start. "I got myself really fit, fitter than I'd ever been and I hardly did any stunts at all. The insurers wouldn't let me!50 I had been rather looking forward to wearing all the black kit and crashing through windows – I have done this sort of thing in real life. But I can understand the insurance problems. I would have enjoyed swinging in under the helicopters. I had trained very hard for the part and even slogged it out in the Brecon Beacons where the S.A.S. train, to get myself physically and mentally right for the rôle. At one stage I got down to 11 stone 8lbs, but at my height that was too much. I wasn't drinking or smoking and that made me nervous. The danger was that I would get too weak."51
Filming continued for nearly three months, after which Lewis had nothing to do but fret. "I care a lot about my job and am very concerned for Who Dares Wins. It is a pet subject, so I want it to be right. Now filming has finished I have to sit and worry that they put it together right."51 Shortly afterwards, Lewis moved from Park Avenue, his home off and on for seventeen years, to a sixteenth-century farmhouse in Buckinghamshire, once the home of actress Gertrude Lawrence. Park Avenue had become too small for his many hobbies and interests, and he was considering starting his own film-production company too. The new house was almost derelict but Lewis planned to completely renovate it, while there was a brief lull in his career. Reflecting on his previous success in the music business, he said, "Then it really did go to my head. I really thought, 'This is it.' In a way it's a good thing it crashed because I learned a lesson. This time I'm more realistic. I've invested in something like this house rather than a piece of metal like a Rolls. This time fame hasn't gone to my head - quite the opposite really. I worry it could all go and there would be no money coming in and what would I do? I don't think it will all crash this time, but it might subside slowly! There's nothing in the pipeline. What am I doing? I'm panicking!"45 But he didn’t panic for long.