The Persuaders !

chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
edited June 2023 in Off Topic Chat


Another retro thread from chrisno1...

We all love Roger Moore. Some of us love Tony Curtis. Moore had a brief Hollywood career in the late fifties at about the time Curtis was in his pomp. While Sir Roger had to make and mend with Diane and Romulus and the Sabines, Our Tone had the pick of Sweet Smell of Success, The Defiant Ones, Spartacus and Some Like It Hot. While Moore went on to great success on the small screen with The Saint, Curtis suffered diminishing returns in the sixties. The two locked horns in 1971 when Lord Lew Grade famously asked Sir Roger if he fancied making another ITC adventure series and, after floating the series premise, Moore said: "I'll do it if you can get Tony Curtis." That anecdote isn't mentioned on Wiki and may not be true, but I rather like it.

The Persuaders premise arose from an episode of The Saint called The Ex-King of Diamonds where Simon Templar is paired up with a raffish Texas oil man. The basic idea was to rehash the pairing and have them jetting all around Europe solving crimes and pulling birds. Very 1970s. Although they were provided with a nominal boss in Judge Fulton - our own Laurence Naismith - these two dapper gents pretty much went their own way and dealt the blows as hard and soft as the kisses.

I watched The Persuaders at some length a few years ago and these are my reviews, which I never posted here, but are available on the archive of the 'other site.'

The series is regularly repeated in the UK on the Great TV channel.

Please join me in recalling a classic series from the ITC storage cupboard of great classic series...



  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 1: OVERTURE

    Director: Basil Dearden

    Writer: Brian Clemens

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Imogen Hassell, Laurence Naismith, Michael Godfrey


    The opening episode of the 1970s T.V. series The Persuaders sets in place the characters and much of the tone of the following twenty three. Danny Wilde, a millionaire oil magnate, and Brett Sinclair, an English Lord and millionaire playboy, are each given an invite to a mysterious location in the south of France where they are ‘persuaded’ to help investigate the disappearance of an underworld Capu.

    Their employer is Judge Fulton – an unlikely name for a character I assumed would be French – and he has picked these two layabouts because they share a love of adventure that he identifies as ruthless ambition mixed with sheer cunning. I’m paraphrasing. It doesn’t really matter why they are chosen, for this episode, as pointed out by the metaphorical title, is merely a sign post to the audience, our introduction to Tony Curtis and Roger Moore as the titular Persuaders.

    The director is Basil Dearden, a name more often associated with smallish British cinematic fare, some of which were quite gritty, like The Blue LampVictimSapphire and The League of Gentlemen. He went international in the sixties and made adventures like Masquerade and Khartoum; he’d even directed both Connery [in Woman of Straw] and Moore [The Man who Haunted Himself]. He was right at the end of his career here and while the episode shows flashes of cinematic style, he’s clearly not over interested in the narrative.

    For all that he and editor Derek Chambers do a good job emphasising The Persuaders’ character traits through a series of split screen scenes during a long chase down the Cote d’Azur. The playboy element is heavily reinforced from the outset as each man is introduced surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women and driving flashy, fast cars [a red Ferrari Dino for Danny and a horrific banana coloured Aston Martin DBS for Brett] accompanied by a groovy piece of throwaway pop [“Gotta Get Away” written and performed by Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch].

    Later, like schoolboys, they argue over the composition of a cocktail and it appears their love-hate relationship as well as their fate as The Persuaders is sealed. [For the record, Brett is correct: there should be only one olive in a Creole Scream.] The fight itself is played badly for laughs and is repeated again later in the episode with far greater success and humour. In fact there is rather a lot of fist fighting in this story, which is actually rather slight and, when we get there, told with the minimum of fuss.

    A beautiful girl called Maria Lorenzo is suspected of being the sister of Robert Du Pont [Michael Godfrey], the supposed deceased Capu. As Fulton and most of the local police operatives are known to Maria or her bodyguards they can’t get close enough to identify her. The plan is to use Brett and Danny to do just that, authenticating her by a heart shaped birthmark on the small of her back. The wily Judge also plants some incriminating evidence to ensure the boys cooperate to the denouement of the tale, although the delectable Maria seems persuasion enough. They really have little choice: a gaol sentence for affray hangs over them if they fail to follow orders.

    The external scenes look blissfully exotic, certainly for television c.1971/72. The studio scenes are neat and tidy. Everyone is well groomed. Of the actors, Imogen Hassel as Maria carves a suitable portrait of feminine interest, although I’m certain its Nikki Van Der Zyl dubbing her lines, and Laurence Naismith has a recurring role as Judge Fulton, a half-way M, who authorises the missions and has a few neat lines of pithy dialogue to deliver.

    Overall I enjoyed the episode, although the physical humour did get tiring. It was well constructed, pleasantly written and presented with much pizzazz. Perhaps too, at this point, the leads are enthusiastic enough to take the shenanigans a tad seriously and that helps, if only to persuade us their acting personas, which really do seem be impersonations of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore, are a touch more genuine.


  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    I loved that show. The theme, the scenery, the theme, Moore, the theme, Curtis, the theme, the girls, the theme. I've still got the three paperback books which I bought at the time (I suppose @CoolHandBond will tell me that they're worth peanuts 😁). I look forward to reading your reviews.

    Did I mention that I love the theme?

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,153MI6 Agent

    I love the theme,too.

    Some good news @Barbel those paperbacks are highly sought after. I would say 30-50 GBP each depending on condition. Ballantine printed two of the series in the USA.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    Thanks, CHB! Not that I plan to sell them, but it's good to know.

    Apparently the series was originally to be called "The Friendly Persuaders" but this was changed after their fighting in the opener

    Watch Tony's hair going from jet black in the opener to grey by the end.

    Roger got credit for designing his suits, but that was just a publicity deal with the actual makers.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,270MI6 Agent

    They re-showed The Persuaders on telly when I was a teen and it was great to see Moore not as Bond, a sort of freebie sideline though this was pre-Bond of course, sort of his equivalent of Remington Steele. Imagine if he'd got pulled back into The Persuaders for another series like Brosnan did, we might then first see him as Bond in TSWLM...

    I found the opening episode a bit cringe and it inspired the early scene in GoldenEye which I don't care for either. I sort of like it but Moore does look like he's knocking on a bit even there so he got into shape for Bond.

    The theme has nothing much to do with the events, does it? I mean it's a Cold War type thing, not South of France though I picked up the vinyl single in a charity shop and it had Barry's The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair as side two, his shampoo advert that nods to his Pyramids theme in Moonraker.

    It was odd being a teen, everything was sort of laid on for you to devour though you were in a supine position, you never quite knew what was out there or where to look for it. There was an audio and visual back catalogue to work through though back then it didn't always count so much because a lot of stuff was 'out of fashion' so you were meant to sideline it.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • HigginsHiggins GermanyPosts: 16,618MI6 Agent

    Big fan of the Persuaders here.

    The beauty of the german dubbed series is, that they very liberally translated from english and made a very contemporary and funny version of it.

    There are limericks, comments and inside german jokes that you can‘t dind in the original bersion and that is what made the Persuaders so popular over here.

    I love Barry‘s score, I find it fascinating how he‘s using the same snippets of music over and over in all the episodes.

    Plus, the French Med locations from the 1st season are simply beautiful!

    President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.

    Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!
  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,694MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    Well Barry doesn't do the score, just the theme. But happily it appears in the incidental music quite a bit, because it's obviously great.

    I agree with Napoleon that it doesn't really suit the show at all! It's a really dark and dangerous theme tune, whereas the show is actually bright and funny and a complete joy. But it doesn't matter of course, because it's so good.

    I was overjoyed last summer: I went to a car show, and after years of seeing various Bond cars etc. at these kind of things, finally I came face to face with Brett's Aston Martin. Just the most wonderful thing to see in the metal! I had many photos taken with it as you can imagine 😁

    Look at it, just sat there without people realising that it's the best car in the whole world:

    These old things were there too and I barely noticed them 😄

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    That's fantastic @emtiem looks like it was a beautiful day too. Thanks for posting. Good to see the love for The Persuaders is still as real as the cars.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    excellent work Chris! a Persuaders thread is so desperately needed, its even gotten @Higgins to delurk and join the discussion! welcome back Higgins

    lets all watch those opening credits

    as all have noted, the rather sad and ominous music doesnt really represent the show at all. The credits sequence itself is pretty great, with shots mostly from the pilot, and various images in splitscreen suggesting the lives our two heroes leading up to this point. with photos of Curtis and Moore themselves from earlier in their lives

    theres one episode coming up focusing on Danny's childhood, with sepia tone photo inserts of depression era Bronx street scenes inserted almost subliminally between present day film footage, to represent Danny's memories, thats similar in tone to these opening credits if nothing else is.

    the locations are one thing thing that sets this show apart from all the other 60s ITV shows I've seen, This one really was filmed in the exotic locations (mostly Mediterranean) no stock footage establishing shots necessary!

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,694MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    Although it was funny to watch them progress to being blasted by icy winds on the wintry seafront of Brighton within a few weeks! 😁

    Speaking of the titles, one thing I only spotted recently is that the shot of Danny working at his desk with lots of paperwork spread all around him, which I thought had been shot for the title sequence to show him being professional, is actually from an episode where he and Brett have broken into some baddies' office, and he's sifting through their villainous plans! It's a very well-chosen shot.

    Regarding locations, a few later ITC shows like The Protectors and The Zoo Gang (theme by McCartney!) had similar exotic locations, but were never able to replicate the charm of Persuaders for my money. Curtis & Moore are just proper, screen-filling stars. The Protectors is an insanely frantic watch- pretty sure it has a clip from FRWL in its title sequence though!

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,765MI6 Agent

    I seem to remember a rumour years ago about reviving the series or making a Persuaders movie staring George Clooney and Hugh Grant. i'd like to see something like that, but perhaps the times aren't right for a show/movie about two multi-millionair playboys spending their time solving crimes?

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,765MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    Having said that, a new Persuaders series staring someone like Tom Ellis (Lucifer) and Kevin Hart could be fun. It could also work to (whisper it) gender-swap the leads.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 10,270MI6 Agent

    Liam Gallagher and Chris Martin did a performance on stage one time, and I dark arts I would have magicked up the opening credits with Barry's theme, only incorporating the working class Manc and the posh boy, but it wouldn't have read 'Brett enters Grand Prix' but another GP...

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    That might be fun:

    Hermione Corfield as Lady Barbie Sinclair

    and Danai Gurira as Daniella Wilde

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,765MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    I can be ... persuaded into liking that cast. 😁

    Especially if Ladies Barbie and Daniella live the same irresponsible and immature lifestyles as the leads in the original series, but of course still solve crimes.

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,694MI6 Agent

    There was a (slightly bizarre) Persuaders-themed ad for speedboats last year:

    But a gender-swapped version? I don't hate the idea, could be fun.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 6,153MI6 Agent

    I’m wading through the Walking Dead TV series at the moment (on season 9 now) and Danai Gurira is just amazing.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 2: The Gold Napoleon

    Director: Roy Ward Baker

    Writer: Val Guest

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Laurence Naismith, Susan George, Alfred Marks, Harold Goldblatt

    When a beautiful blonde artist is shot and injured as she talks to Danny Wilde, the police believe the incident is an attack on his life. The Persuaders prove it otherwise.

    The girl, played with stunned blankness by Susan George, is the niece of a master forger, a man who has secretly used her moulds to fashion fake coins known as Gold Napoleons. In itself this is not a crime, but the use of undeclared gold to manufacture the pieces and its subsequent export is.

    And so begins a breezy long winded pursuit along the coast of southern France involving the local Mafia and a hoard of coins. As in the initial episode, Judge Fulton holds much of the intel. This is a workman-like affair stretched possibly ten minutes too long. It has moments of humour and features a lot of action, right from the pre-credit gambit, involving a helicopter pursuit, until the extended car chase to the Italian border. Roy Ward Baker, a steady hand, handles everything most adequately.

    Generally this is a good and good looking chapter which solidifies much of what we learnt in episode one without ever taxing the audience too much.

    Inspecting the gold Napoleons after a car chase of some fun, with Susan George, one of many famous or soon to be famous stars who took guest roles in The Persuaders!

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 5,694MI6 Agent

    I think they were shown out of order: it's been a little while but I think when Angie Angie gets shown, suddenly Brett and Danny seem to be still getting to know each other.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Don't quote me on this, but I think all the Judge Fulton episodes would have been filmed back to back so Laurence Naismith didn't hang about between episodes that didn't feature him. So, yes, Angie, Angie - a later episode which does feature the Judge - may well have been conceived as an earlier story, but rearranged when the final running order was assembled.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 3: Take Seven

    Director: Sidney Hayes

    Writer: Terry Nation

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Laurence Naismith, Sinead Cusack, Christian Roberts, Sue Lloyd

    A stroppy youth, Mark Lindsey, visits his father’s grave and returns to his ancestral home to claim his birth rite – but all is not as it seems. His sister, Jenny, refuses to believe her brother is back from the dead, yet her behaviour suggests she may have motives of her own.

    So we have a good-looking stately home, arson at broken-down farmyards, feuding families, dodgy mystery informants and a beautiful femme fatale; so far, so adequate. While the story doesn’t hold many surprises, accepting that the Persuaders themselves have inexplicably relocated to London, it is competently directed and nicely acted, particularly by Sinead Cusack and Christian Roberts as the rival siblings.

    Terry Nation wrote several stories for The Avengers and The Saint this has all those hallmarks. For instance, there’s an odd-ball, know-it-all, informer (‘Farmer’), who insists on meeting in odd-ball places, like The Serpentine Walk in Hyde Park or Alexander Place S.W.17., two of several cinematic moments director Sidney Hayes offers us. Similarly Laurence Naismith’s Judge gives our heroes the low down on the case while having a cut and shave at his traditional barbers.

    When The Persuaders first meet Jenny their encounter is interrupted by a lone gunman and suddenly the chase is on for the reluctant two-some until, like all good mysteries, they unveil the culprit in the final reel. Overall Take Seven is a good example of the type of episode ITC could throw together with their eyes shut. It is fun, not too violent, although it has action, and is decently written. If it feels a little bit too 1970s in presentation that’s probably due to the costumes – off the peg from Total Look at Debenhams – now that’s something you don’t see nowadays on a television show! Roger Moore, who [unbilled] was an executive producer on the series actually designed his own outfits and those, like his rather long hair, seem remarkably out of step with the rest of the cast’s wardrobe. Indeed as a whole the seventies were a bit out of step and while this story is good, it feels much grounded in its time.

    Just look at Roger and Tony's natty threads in this promo pic !


  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    chris said:

    there’s an odd-ball, know-it-all, informer (‘Farmer’), who insists on meeting in odd-ball places


    this "Farmer" reappeared in at least one other episode, and I had to wonder: who is he? is he really a farmer? how does a farmer get all this underworld info? who else does he tell it to? how come he's never been caught, since he seems to have such a distinct routine?

    and most of all, why would a lazy aristocrat like Lord Sinclair, whose only interest is seemingly racecar driving, have anything to do with an underworld stitch?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 4: Greensleeves

    Director: David Greene

    Writer: Terence Feeley 

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Rosemary Nicols, Cy Grant, Andrew Keir, Tom Adams

    We are still in England and now there is not even a sign of Laurence Naismith’s canny Judge Fulton. France, it appears, has been forgotten.

    This episode opens with Danny and Brett breaking into the Sinclair estate, Greensleeves. Someone has authorised repair work to the mansion and Brett wants to discover the perpetrator. In doing so, the Persuaders uncover an attempt at international political blackmail by an obscure splinter group, the target of which is an old friend of Brett’s, the president of the African republic of Zanda, Richard Congoto. To achieve this Andrew Keir’s John Hassocks has deceived Brett’s aged butler and is on the hunt for an actor to successfully personify Lord Sinclair.

    Given the ridiculousness of his scheme, it’s rather fortunate that Roger Moore should happen to drop by and he enters, disarmingly charming and disdainful as Brett Sinclair disguised as an out of work actor impersonating Brett Sinclair. Also enter Tony Curtis as a hapless American valet who sounds ever so slightly like Cary Grant.

    So when Brett’s Brett is described as “a superficial performance with no character detail” you really have to chortle. The whole episode is something of an elaborate joke on Moore’s [and indirectly Curtis’] acting. A good cast – beautiful Rosemary Nicols, devious Andrew Kier, strong arm man Tom Adams and Cy Grant as the sophisticated President – offer plenty of whimsy amid the skulduggery, secret handshakes, hidden tunnels beneath pubs, secret doors in stately homes and general mayhem. They give their all to a worthwhile plot which isn’t developed anywhere close to its possibilities.

    The climax does have an unexpected twist or two and the realistic fight choreography is welcome, yet while I’d give the episode a thumbs up for entertainment, it is in all honesty simply an exercise in splendid daft fun.

    Rosemary Nicols, Andrew Keir, Tom Adams and an in-disguise Roger Moore on the Pinewood set for Greensleeves.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Episode 5: Powerswitch

    Director: Basil Dearden

    Writer: John Kruse

    Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Laurence Naismith, Annette Andre, Terence Alexander

    Suddenly back in France, The Persuaders discover a dead body during a water skiing excursion. The girl in question was a dancer at a local club and this allows director Basil Dearden to give us some good old-fashioned ‘60s misogyny as a troupe of go-go dancers strut their stuff to wildly crass hippy music, all for Tony Curtis’ benefit. They dance as bad as that sounds. Lionel Blair has a neat cameo choreographing their awfulness.

    In fairness, this episode isn’t all bad. It starts off in exotic holiday fashion and these scenes (along with several from Overture) form the base of the majority of the excellent credit sequence which opens every chapter of The Persuaders lives. This time the heroine is Pico Raine (Annette Andre) who believes her friend was murdered. So do Brett and Danny. The police appear both ignorant and negligent, although the Inspector seems to be working under the influence of Judge Fulton, so we know it’s a deliberate deception.

    We visit a series of mansions and villas along the Cote d’Azur before we learn that wealthy Matthew Koestler’s inheritance is up for grabs and his wife wants it – except the dead girl once knew Koestler and had realised he is, in fact, a doppelganger. There’s considerably less action to this story and more intrigue. The threads of the plot take a while to untangle and when they eventually do it’s with a satisfying resolution.

    At journey’s end we get to see Curtis and Moore throw a few dodgy dance moves of their own at Lionel’s club. Very ‘dad-at-your-wedding’. This is a likeable entry to the canon, improved by Dearden’s impulsive directing and a half-way decent script.

    Tony and Roger showing some moves...

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    I remember there being three in a row about identity fraud and stately manor houses, and I think you just covered them. Since they apparantly scrambled the filming order when broadcast, its odd theyd put three thematically similar plots in a row.

    Greensleeves I especially liked because we see the Sinclair home, and its full of hidden passageways, including one directly to the local pub! I want a hidden passageway like that in my home! but theres several more episodes near the end where we see more of Lord Sinclairs home(s) (I think he has more than one), including one episode where we meet various members of the family and see the inside of the family crypt.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    Greensleeves is a lot of fun. I particularly enjoyed Tony Curtis in this one, impersonating a fussy, quite appalling butler. Memories of Moore and Macnee immediately sprung to min when I watched it.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,929MI6 Agent

    say thats right! I completely missed that connection, despite that being one of my favourite parts of that film! Moore yet again recycling bits from his old teevee shows in his Bond movies

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent
    edited June 2023

    Just adding another shout out to Barry's theme.

    As well as being a superb composition in its own right, the theme ingeniously negotiates the show's essential concept (thus doing its job as a theme): the partnership between Sinclair and Wilde, and how well that works despite the characters' contrasting backgrounds. Barry's strings connote a stately sense of British heritage, connecting with Sinclair's persona, while the moog synthesiser suggests modernity and urban cool, the bass down with Wilde's American persona (or the show's original conception of who Wilde is). The musical phrases associated with Sinclair recurringly enact a steady sense of linear resolution. That is offset against the stylish earthiness of the synth associated with Wilde. Weaving between these layers are precarious flurries connoting excitement and jeopardy.

    Barry's musical fusions exquisitely serve that principal idea of the Sinclair/ Wilde partnership - with inevitable associations with Bond, too (because it *is* Barry, working in a related genre, and on top form). Also, the graphic imagery of the titles sequence conveys this same idea of the characters' contrasing backgrounds, working in colourful symbiosis with the music.

    For me, enjoying these titles is always the highlight of watching any episode of 'The Persuaders!' Although Barry's contribution stops with the theme, inside a couple of minutes, that musical set piece charges up each episode's ensuing (sometimes indifferent) content and remains the single most memorable element.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 36,213Chief of Staff

    Wow, great analysis!

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,966MI6 Agent

    Thanks, Barbel :-) That means something coming from a musician! (I know what I like and enjoy trying to explain it, but really I know nothing technical about music...)

    It's funny, but the bass on that moog synth even sounds like Tony Curtis's voice in the show, a similar gravelly pitch...

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 53 years.
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