TV Cream

TV: D is for...

Department S/Jason King

ORIGINAL WAS a top MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE UK-style Bentleys and fist-fights spy thrillah, with JOEL FABIANI, ROSEMARY NICHOLS and most importantly PETER WYNGARDE, a long-time swarthy baddie in THE SAINT who mutated off into JASON KING. Crazy big band music and seventies graphics, fingers on typewriter keys, etc. King was chief investigator of Department S, the branch of Interpol which specialised in solving unsolvable cases. His other pastime was writing detective fiction featuring a character called Mark Caine, whom King used to pretend to be to help him solve the cases. Long hair, droopy ‘bandito’ moustache, King was a vain, seventies playboy who wore clothes only Noel Edmonds would wear nowadays (and does) and managed to irritate his fellow detectives with his unconventional antics. Thanks to this programme Wyngarde became the most popular man in Germany. Viewers fed up with Roger Moore’s Saint kicking the giblets out of up to three blokes at a time then straightening his tie with not a hair out of place, were charmed into this one because King always got the boot in the baddie’s face first, but invariably he was given a good hiding and passed out artfully reaching for a fag or some brandy. Baddies were identifiable by their short-back-and-sides. Swilled brandy, wore frilly shirts, kaftans, and eau de cologne; quite an admission in those pre-Brut days. Entertained glamorous but oddly sexless women (they all were then, except FELICITY KENDAL who appeared as a young Frenchwoman). The spin-off concentrated even more on the debauched and hedonistic lifestyle of our hero who by this time was a freelance, with an even greater selection of implausible plots in glamorous locations (how many times has that panoramic view of Monte Carlo been used?).

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Arthur Nibble

    February 4, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    As the after shave advert used to say – “Peter Wyngarde smells…..great!”

    Felicity Kendal as a French woman? Up goes the blood pressure again!

    • Richard1631978

      March 27, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      Hopefully her being french was better than her efforts to be American in Honey For Tea

  2. Paul

    February 4, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Tie-knots grew visibly wider as the series progressed

  3. Glenn Aylett

    September 11, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Well you had Jason King in his vivid purple shirts and ties, which added to the fun. Also a crimefighter who was a sozzled lounge lizard was quite unique and who once had the great line to someone who wanted to expel him from a foreign country that he refused to travel economy class back home had something going for him. Come on, ITV 4, you know you want to re run Jason King, so why not.

  4. richardpd

    September 12, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) has been re-run recently, so there’s hope.

    Both series were made at the same time, & shared both personnel & cars. The white Vauxhalls are the ones that stand out.

  5. Glenn Aylett

    September 12, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Randall and Hopkirk used Vauxhall Victors, when they were new and cutting edge, but a car that was often used a decade later in The Professionals and usually destroyed as they were completely worthless. Similarly sixties Jags had the same fate in The Sweeney.

    I think shows like Jason King, The Persuaders and The Protectors were the last of their kind, a sort of continuation of the hedonistic sixties, but come 1974, when the economy went into recession and things weren’t very hedonistic, then it was tough police shows where cops bashed heads and someone like Jason King was out of place. Certainly no more trips to Monte Carlo when there was an armed robbery happening in Shepherd’s Bush

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