In episode 19 Brett wakes up with a hangover and discovers he's married - much to his and Danny's disbelief. I think there's a fight scene where Brett is still hungover... is that the one? It is called The Morning After.
I remember that one now that you mention it, but dont think thats it. maybe you havent got to the one I'm thinking of yet?
I recall it as very farcical, with lots of slamming doors and mistaken identities, and Danny getting punched in the face several times as the climax of varying misunderstandings. Roger is doing pure physical comedy as he staggers round and falls back asleep even as chaos reign all round, far beyond his usual popeyed doubletakes.
I may just have to watch them all over again to see if this episode I'm imagining really exists. However at the moment I am in the middle of a study of the Munsters that should keep me busy the rest of the summer, cannot fit second viewings of the Persuaders into my jampacked schedule
No, I get that. As I have said before, these are not new reviews and while The Persuaders is being repeated over here, I am not watching them all again or reappraising them from the first run-through. That's the only episode I remember where Brett was so incapacitated, but I may be wrong.
The Munsters is on my current viewing list too, I’m up to S1 E17 - great entertainment!!
And as if by magic...
Episode 19: The Morning After
Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Walter Black
Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Catherine Schell, Laurence Naismith, Tony Bonner, Frank Gatliff, Yutte Stensgard, Bernard Horsfall,
The Morning After marks the last appearance of Laurence Naismith’s Judge Fulton who, far from being retired, seems to have graduated to the diplomatic corps. Fulton was never more than a peripheral character in The Persuaders, but I often wish we’d seen more of him, as it gave the fighting two-some a reason for their adventures rather than simply finding themselves in awkward and dangerous situations. So it’s farewell, Judge; hello, Bride.
Brett Sinclair awakes with a hangover and appears to be married to Catherine Schell’s luminous Kristen. However it soon transpires this little Swedish sexpot is on the take. There’s some nice to-ing and fro-ing in Stockholm as Brett and Danny attempt to uncover the truth. The pace picks up considerably in England where a politically motivated kidnap plot begins to unfold.
A generally tedious exercise is livened by some enthusiastic playing, particularly from Bernard Horsfall as the chief villain Christiansen and Yutte Stensgaard [she of nude Hammer Horror vampire movies] as Danny Wilde’s delicious sidekick Bibi. Tony Curtis for once shows his deftness of touch for comedy, something he's been eschewing since the earliest episodes.
It isn’t enough though. Despite a car pursuit at its climax everything just seems a little off kilter, including Sinclair’s estate Greensleeves which has a new butler and a new façade. The tale ends at the same helicopter / plane / air field we’ve witnessed in a few episodes already and, while the story may seem different, it’s really just more of the same only a little more untidy at the edges.
Our Roger with Our Catherine - also featured is Our Laurence Naismith and Our Bernard Horsfall
A fond farewell
Menacing Tony Curtis and the lovely Yutte Stensgaard looks on. Either Tony is short or Bernard is tall. Yutte must be tiny.
A good cast for this episode and while it is fun, it is rather inconsequential.
Episode 20: Read and Destroy
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Philip Yeldman
Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Joss Ackland, Nigel Green, Kate O'Mara, Magda Konopka
Felix Meadows, a double agent, is exchanged between East and West, but he escapes with his liberty and the same pick-up truck used by Joan Collins in Five Miles to Midnight. He hopes to sell his memoirs to the highest bidder and holes up with old school chum Brett Sinclair while the hounds of spy-dom are let loose. Director Roy Ward Baker ensures he and everyone has a fine old time of it.
Joss Ackland is excellent as Felix, evading friend and foe and two devilish ex-wives – played with just the right amount of guile and grace by Kate O’Mara and Magda Konopka. You really have to give him full marks; Mr Ackland amazingly manages to maintain a straight face throughout the whole exercise, even when revealing his hairpiece contains a microfilm of his manuscript.
Meanwhile Roger Moore and Tony Curtis gallivant around haphazardly as they compete with each other trying to obtain the book for their respective governments, represented by Nigel Green and Eliot Sullivan. The stars default expressions when confronted with such tomfoolery tend to be quizzical embarrassment. There is an exciting forest-bound three-way gun battle early on, but after that its jokes all the way and the story tapers out tamely.
Fun, but no memoir.
Two delicious but angry ex-wives
Episode 21: A Death in the Family
Director: Sidney Hayers
Writer: Terry Nation
Starring Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Diane Cilento, Denholm Eliot, Roland Culver, Willie Rushton, Moultrie Kelsall, Christopher Sandford, Ivor Dean
A sort of ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ Persuaders-style, A Death in the Family is a yarn which feels as though it has been lifted straight out of The Avengers, what with all the strange face masks, stranger family members and even stranger than that death scenes. This should really come as no surprise, for Terry Nation wrote many episodes of that famous show throughout the late sixties.
I’d like to say this is as good as some of those sixties yarns, but it isn’t. This bizarre murder mystery is clearly a cast-off dusted down from the reject shelf and given a quick make-over. It’s is worth watching to see the dazzling array of star talent on show, most of it over indulging in an indolent fashion. Moultine Kelsall’s Uncle Angus is particularly silly, a Scottish caricature of debatable taste. Nice to see Sir Roger's old sparring partner from The Saint Ivor Dean pop up in a small part.
Only Diane Cilento, as Brett’s cousin Kate Sinclair, comes out with any plaudits. It doesn’t matter how hard Willie Rushton, Ronald Culver and Denholm Eliot try, they can’t contribute anything of note. Even Roger Moore’s drag queen turn as Brett’s Aunt Agatha is a feeble exercise, as are the stream of death jokes spouted by Curtis and Moore as the Sinclair relatives get bumped off with increasing regularity and decreasing interest.
A Death in the Family is too silly and too slow; it’s all just a bit too over the top.
A frightening production publicity still... Roger Moore in drag.
I have a distinct sense of deja vu here, I’m positive we’ve discussed this episode before. It’s actually my favourite from the whole series, full of fun and both Moore and Curtis have a ball. The supporting cast all work well and the deaths are imaginative and nicely handled. It’s good to see an alternative perspective, though.
Episode 22: The Ozerov Inheritance
Writer: Harry W. Junkin
Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Gladys Cooper, Prunella Ransome, Gary Raymond, Joseph Furst, Anoushka Hempel, Arnold Ridley, Yuri Borienko
Geneva. Night time. Danny and Brett are on holiday. Danny wants to go skiing. Brett has a secret assignation. Both men’s plans are wrecked when they are assaulted at their hotel. The thugs escape, only to be replaced by the glamorous Princess Alexandra, a serenely beautiful Prunella Ransome, who offers herself to their service.
The Persuaders have been summoned to Switzerland by the Grand Duchess Ozerov to help solve an inheritance problem. Out-acted by the marvellous Gladys Cooper (who also has all the best dialogue) Moore and Curtis proceed with their investigations, menaced by two brutal private detectives (those mysterious hotel thugs) as well as Gary Raymond’s sinister Sergei, an Ozerov who lacks all of the ladies’ class.
There’s several bouts of realistic action in this story: two sabre duels of nasty consequences, a deadly car crash, a break in to an archivists apartment, clues and mysteries arrive at every corner. After four fairly forgettable chapters it’s great to have a story with real meat on its bones.
Half-way through, Brett is dispatched back to England to meet his uncle [one not killed in last week’s episode…] who inadvertently holds vital evidence towards the inheritance conundrum. Arnold Ridley gives a likeably dotty performance as Uncle Rodney and his interplay with Roger Moore is excellent. Danny meanwhile confronts the murderous detectives and only Brett’s return can save him and the Ozerov jewels.
This is a lively adventure with genuine looking Swiss locations and a decent thorough plot which, after the initial pre-credit gambit, for once wastes no energy on The Persuaders usual frivolous antics. Much thanks must go to writer Harry W. Junkin who has laced a good story with some sparkling lines and fine set pieces. The production values are unusually high. The sets are lavish; the costumes beautiful. Roy Ward Baker helms with some aplomb, using cutaways and strange twisted camera angles to give the action a more stylised visual impact.
There are a few neat touches. Alexandra brushes a hair from Brett’s expensive lapel, so he gently brushes her tresses across her shoulder; the sort of intimate detail missing in most of this kind of TV fare. Later in a police station Danny, like Houdini, removes a pair of handcuffs much to Brett’s astonishment; Tony Curtis of course once played Houdini on screen. Another in-joke occurs at the expense of Curtis’ family heritage when the Duchess states with some glee: “A sabre expert like that must have Russian blood in him” to which Danny chimes: “Just a little.” Gladys Cooper, in her final role, has an early soliloquy of great power.
Anouska Hempel reappears, this time as a helpful stewardess, and those Bond stalwarts Yuri Borienko and Joseph Furst have minor roles, the latter shining in his pivotal role a seedy Swiss bank manager. The narrative effectively twists and turns in all the right places and with all the best results. It ends satisfactorily in a flurry of swords.
Very, very good indeed.
Roger and Tony in the faded glory of the Ozerov's - Gladys Cooper and Prunella Ransome.
Episode 23: To the Death, Baby
Director: Basil Dearden
Writer: Donald James
Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Jennie Linden, Thorley Walters, Terence Morgan, Harold Innocent
We are back in Spain where John Hatton, a desperate financial advisor, asks The Persuaders for help: the heiress Shelly Masterton has chosen the conman Carl Foster for a lover and he fears she will hand over her fortune to him. Danny is already aware who Foster is and dislikes him intensely. He’s also aware who Foster’s backer is, the despicable, leech like Cody, an admirable turn from Harold Innocent, displaying his character’s personal detachment; unusual in this sort of fare.
Brett meanwhile is more concerned by Danny’s ability to con real money from real conmen in high stakes poker games – until he meets the beautiful Miss Masterton, played with just the right amount of disinterest by Jennie Linden. Brett and Danny decide to vie for her attention in the hope they can persuade her to alter her affections.
So this then plays a little like the opening episode of the series. Minus the knowledgeable input from Judge Fulton it all seems highly unlikely and our heroes efforts at seduction are distinctly chauvinistically mawkish. Carl Foster reveals his intentions and character traits much too early and all the mystery is removed. The eventual double cross is laughably inept. The humour in general is second rate. Moore and Curtis do the best they can with the material and by the episode's end they are both left suitably speechless.
To the Death, Baby has a terrible title and a bland plot. Thespians like Thorley Walters, Terence Morgan and Roger Delgado do okay, but they’re hampered by story familiarity and the feeling we are watching less of a thriller and more of a battle of the sexes screwball comedy. The poor sound recording and over-dubbing doesn’t help.
Disappointing for such a good and good-looking cast.
Roger and Tony eyeing up the catch...
The lovely Jennie Linden on location...
Tony looking distinctly raffish...
Episode 24: Someone Waiting
Director: Peter Medak
Writer: Terry Nation
Starring: Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Penelope Horner, John Cairney, David Neal, Donald Pickering, Jenny Hanley, Lois Maxwell
Peter Medak was a director on the up when he helmed this, the final episode of The Persuaders. I’d like to say it has sparkle and shine, but it really doesn’t. For better examples of Medak’s work watch A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The Krays or Let Him Have It.
Someone is trying to kill Brett Sinclair at the British Grand Prix. The papers are involved. The mechanics are involved. The drivers are involved. A bunch of hopeless crooks are involved. So is Lois Maxwell’s underused femme fatale, Louise, who swans around gorgeously like Lauren Bacall in her prime for one – yes, just one – excellent set-to with Tony Curtis. The only people who don’t seem to get involved are the police – a common fault throughout the series, but one which without it would allow our cheery two-some no adventures at all.
A whole fifty minutes passes. The apparently interconnected scenes are played predominantly for laughs; even when the action kicks in Medak interprets it like a prat-fall silent comedy. Given the plot arc of Grand Prix racing fatalities [a very prominent likelihood at every race in the seventies] I’d have expected to see or at the very least discuss more racing. We don’t, although there is another excellent moment where the injured and traumatised former driver Jenkins (John Cairney) relives his crash to a stunned Brett. Here Roger Moore is at something like his very best.
Even then though Medak’s cinematic touches don’t quite make the difference perhaps because Terry Nation’s script – his eighth for the series – is for the most part well below par. You sense he’s run out of steam. There’s a good role for Penelope Horner as a journalist; Jenny Hanley and Sam Kydd put in perfunctory appearances; the denouement is reached without surprise.
The story ends on a smile and a joke. Sadly, as the show wraps for a final time, it’s seems to be all just a little too easy for cast and crew and you wonder if they were already cashing their pay checks. A disappointing finale with a few flourishes that make you wish they’d spent a little more time perfecting the best episodes and left the rest in development heaven.
Tony and Roger [in disguise?] at the racetrack.
excellent work @chrisno1 creating our very own Persuaders thread and making it a valuable encyclopedic reference, one that was much needed. its just a shame now you've reviewed all the episodes this thread will start to sink away from the top of the display.
question: when they filmed this last episode (or whichever was last filmed regardless of broadcast order) did they already know Roger had a new job, or did they assume there would be a second series? I assume Live and Let Die was the reason but they might not have known this when they were still filming or they might have tried harder to go out with a more satisfying finale.
For comparison, Honor Blackman and all involved definitely knew she'd not be coming back to the Avengers : her last episode not only had multiple "pussy" jokes in the dialog, but the plot resolved the ongoing issue that Steed was manipulating Cathy and repeatedly risking her life. Whereas I do not think Diana Rigg knew at the end of her second season, and they brought her back for additional scenes the next season in the episode that introduced her replacement Tara King.
Thanks for the love @caractacus potts
I haven't quite finished this thread yet...
watch this space and since you asked:
from Sir Roger's My Word Is My Bond
The Persuaders was a huge hit everywhere except in America. Channel ABC pinned a lot of hope on the show and in the battle to top the Saturday night ratings the show was programmed against NBC and CBS’s top shows – shows which were already well established. They didn’t win the ratings battle and so moved us to another night against another big show Mission: Impossible. When a network starts panicking and moves a show around, audiences sense there is something wrong and lose faith in you…
An American success or lack of it was a contributing factor in whether the show as recommissioned. Internationally, it was a very different story…
Lew Grade was keen to try a second season. He thought we could still pull round the American audiences. I was not keen though. I know discussions took place about bringing in an actor to replace me, but Robert S. Baker said no. he felt that we had created a successful format and had made twenty-four great episodes and should rest on our hands.
Around the time of You Only Live Twice, when Sean Connery made it known he didn’t want to make another Bond film, Harry and Cubby spoke to me about the possibility of me taking over the role…
The Bond adventure they discussed with me was planned for filming in Cambodia. I don’t think preparations had got very far when all hell broke loose in that country and the plans were swiftly shelved. I continued making The Saint meanwhile and was unavailable when they regrouped and decided the next film would be On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. George Lazenby was cast and that was that.
I was at Pinewood filming The Persuaders when Sean was filming Diamonds are Forever, and consequently I got to see a lot of Harry and Cubby. When Sean left the franchise, I knew the role was up for grabs again and declined Lew Grade’s offer to make a second series of The Persuaders. Just as well I did, as my phone rang. It was Harry.
“Roger, Cubby and I have decided we want to go with you as the next James Bond.”
I was ecstatic. They offered me a three-film contract with options to do more.
[I assume the film project mentioned is the oft mooted and postponed Maibaum version of The Man With The Golden Gun, attempted again in 1973/4 – they never properly made it, other than stealing the elephant hunt for Octopussy ?]
So, a slight contradiction in his own memoir.
For what it's worth, Sir Roger names his favourite Persuaders episode as A Death In The Family, which I hated. No accounting for anyone's taste then.
I used to have a scalextric set. Ooo the fun.
That's both bizarre as you say, and rather good, and good-looking, but can only appeal to those in the know as it never once explains what it is advertising.
The Persuaders Books
Author: Frederick E. Smith
Back when I was originally watching The Persuaders and writing my reviews, I made a cursory search on Google for “Persuaders novels” and was surprised to be directed to an Amazon page advertising The Persuaders! Book Two by Frederick E. Smith. Further digging led me to obtain not only that but also Book Three and, from America, Book One. I now have a UK edition of the first book to complete my collection, but it is in poor condition. Published by Pan in 1972 and ’73 (the third instalment only) these novels are short perfunctory adaptations of episodes from the television series. They contain:
Book One: Overture & Angie, Angie
Book Two: Five Miles to Midnight & Someone Like Me
Book Three: The Gold Napoleon, Greensleeves & The Old, the New and the Deadly
Book One kicks off with Overture and introduces us to Brett Sinclair and Danny Wilde. Curiously it omits the opening prologue where Judge Fulton explains to a bemused French police inspector why he wants to employ these two lay-about playboy millionaires for his minor espionage escapade. From that point on it’s a straight forward retelling of the screen narrative, scene by scene, line by line. The author starts well, describing the main protagonists in flimsy but fun detail, concentrating, like the show, on the fancy elements of the heroes’ lives and lifestyles. I would have preferred more character background, something about their upbringing, their rise to fame and fortune, their thoughts and feelings. This is a major failing throughout the books; there is no depth or substance. So when Brett or Danny brandishes a gun – as they do in the second instalment Angie, Angie – there’s no suggestion it may have happened before, or what it feels like, the weight, the sensory power, the emotional sensation; the writing is uniformly bland.
However, some moments are well described. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Danny is poisoned and “his voice had the sepulchral slowness of a soundtrack breaking down… Angie’s face blurred [and] grew larger and larger until the room seemed no longer to contain it. Then it burst and the darkness that radiated from the explosion brought oblivion.” I’d have expected more of this in a tight, personal adventure, but the thoughts and emotions of Wilde and Angie are, for the most part, underwritten. Generally this is a loose exercise and both chapters pass easily with only mild attractions. In the U.S., Ballantine Books re-titled the collection The Heart Shaped Birth Mark, which initially made me think I would be reading a fully expanded adaptation of Overture, which might have worked quite well had Mr Smith spent any length of time over it.
Book Two is devoted to Terry Nation and his dual screenplays Five Miles to Midnight and Someone Like Me, both of which have much to recommend them as televisual spectacles. Unfortunately the author can’t effectively replicate the chase through Italy off the screen and onto the page. He can’t develop the suspense beyond our memory, chiefly because he hasn’t given anything more than surface gloss to his characters, so we don’t care enough about them. This is disappointing as Tony Curtis, Roger Moore, Joan Collins, Ferdy Mayne and Robert Hutton do so much to bring these people to life. There is no tension to the climax either, although Mr Smith isn’t aided by the original script, which did peter out a little.
Likewise Curtis and Moore’s good performances in Someone Like Me have lost all the nuances, the confusion and anger which registers from the actors. The gripping finale becomes very tame.
The 'novelisation' was a seventies phenomenon which has never quite gone away. In Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Isaac Davies [Allen] asks Mary [Diane Keaton] why she’s transcribing a novelisation when her own writing is so good. “It’s easy work and the money’s great,” she replies. I don’t know Mr Smith’s canon, but I understand his most famous book is the sky bound war adventure 633 Squadron, later adapted into a popular film. I think perhaps the author subscribed to Mary’s point of view. Certainly by the time of Book Three, the rot had begun to set.
This time we have three adventures to contend with. The Gold Napoleon would be a tricky story for anyone to adapt given the amount of time dedicated to a car chase. Greensleeves suffers the same fate as Book Two’s duo in not revealing enough character and background in the protagonists. The Old, the New and the Deadly was a good episode on telly, but this version only echoes the good stuff I watched, lacking clarity and exposition.
While all three novels are okay and are remarkably easy to digest, they don’t delve far enough into the historical and contemporary lives of the characters. While we care about Brett and Danny because we’ve seen them in our living rooms, as literary characters they are dismally shallow. Their co-stars get similar scant treatment. The locations too, all those sun-kissed Riviera esplanades are sketched in broad brush strokes; there’s little sense of place and time and atmosphere. The dialogue includes all the exclamations and witticisms as performed even when delivered mid-fight or mid-chase [an entertainment staple I particularly deplore as it is so unrealistic].
I’m sure the books sold well enough to earn Mr Smith – and possibly The Persuaders producers, Roy Ward Baker and Roger Moore – a healthy commission, but they aren’t a ground breaking, or even a trembling, successes, just run of the mill fare and a pleasant reminder of a popular television show.
THE PERSUADERS PREQUEL:
The Saint: Season 6: Episode 17: The Ex-King of Diamonds
I recently caught the 1969 episode of The Saint entitled The Ex-King of Diamonds. I watched it with arched eyebrows. Research reveals many armchair fans view this chapter in The Saint's history as a forerunner for The Persuaders, given that it features a debonair millionaire Englishman and his side-kick, a multi-millionaire Texas oil man, who strike up an uneasy partnership.
The episode is a casino sting story involving Willoughby Goddard's King Boris, the deposed ruler of the imaginary kingdom of Slavonia, who is raising funds for his counter coup by gambling in Monte Carlo, utilising a special pair of sunglasses and a shipment upon shipment of dodgy playing cards. It bears a striking resemblance both to Ian Fleming's Casino Royale and to John Pearson's later Luminous Reader tale in The Authorised Biography.
But I'm not really here to write about tenuous links to Bond history, rather to note how John Kruse's script evokes memories of several plots from The Persuaders. First and most obvious is the uneasy camaraderie between Roger Moore's Simon Templar and Stuart Damon's American Rod Huston, who he constantly refers to condescendingly as 'Texas.'
This friendship is predominantly played for broad laughs and is founded via an invitation to the baccarat table from the mysterious, obscenely obese Boris. The twosome first meet on the journey to Monaco, chasing each other for kicks along the Cote D'Azur; later they argue over the finer points of French etiquette in an attempt to impress two local ladies; finally - both aggravated to extremes - they slug it out on the casino terrace while exchanging footnotes about the distinctly rigged deck of cards. All of these incidents were replicated in a similar fashion for Overture, the opening gambit of The Persuaders.
One other man has also noticed the pair of insouciant layabout journeymen: a French genius mathematician Henri Flambeau, who shares a spiky relationship with his daughter, Janine. Their subsequent capture, interrogation and rescue by the against-all-good-odds King Boris brings to mind the circumstances surrounding the Devigne's in The Gold Napoleon.
The story ends with some underwater and underground skulduggery, a host of fight scenes, the foil of the gambling scam and a midnight explosion at sea. None of it convinces, not on any level. It's helmed by director Alvin Rakoff and he covers all the bases of a fifty minute television adventure without venturing beyond the confines of comfort zone silliness. According to the credits Leslie Charteris was responsible for the story, but this is one of the episodes where he merely took the credit for The Saint and ran off with the money. The blame for this debacle rests, I feel, with John Kruse and Alvin Rakoff.
There is so much badly wrong with this example of The Saint that I really am amazed it could ever have given rise to The Persuaders. The premise itself is fine but the execution is abysmal. The acting from all concerned is some of the very worst I've ever seen in the show. Even the cameos seem to be caught in some hopelessly exaggerated world of foreign accents and mannerisms. Stuart Damon's Rod Huston is by far the worst offence, his American twang so overblown and drawn out as to be less of a drawl and more of an obnoxious whine. It's even more bizarre when you discover Damon is in fact from New York City. Similarly Ronald Radd and Isla Blair give the most hammy of French impersonations. They play their roles as if the dialogue never existed, all overblown physicality and wide-eyed astonishment.
There's nothing subtle about the story line either. It's got so much to pack in, there isn't time for anything but the most rudimentary of back story and character development. It's a clodhopper of an experiment which even the brush stroke of humour cannot save. It is quite fair to say that, similarities aside, The Persuaders was never as bad as this, not by any stretch.
For that we must all be thankful.
Roger and Stuart Damon doing exactly the same kind of thing Roger and Tony would by ignoring Isla Blair while they comically settle differences. Thank goodness we got Curtis + Moore and The Persuaders.
@chrisno1 writes - For what it's worth, Sir Roger names his favourite Persuaders episode as A Death In The Family, which I hated. No accounting for anyone's taste then.
As I wrote before, it’s also my favourite episode, which explains why Sir Roger and myself have such good taste 😁
I used to eat at one of Roger’s favourite restaurants occasionally, Hush (owned by his son, not sure if it still is now) but was never there at the same time as he was, unfortunately.
So, you ask yourselves, did chrisno1 really like The Persuaders or was he merely fulfilling a long held dream to rewatch an old ITC series that rarely got a look-in when he was a kid?
Well, a bit of both. It is true that while I was always aware of The Persuaders, it came too early in my lifetime for me to have watched it first-hand and, bearing the odd occasional repeat, it simply hadn’t been available to view unless I purchased VHS tapes or DVDs at vast expense. Thanks to Talking Pictures, Action, Legend and ITV4, this and a great many other classic series are available to watch on Freeview. There is a certain rose-tinted nostalgia attached to these sixties and seventies shows that I entirely understand and also am slightly dismissive of on the grounds that because something is old that doesn’t automatically make it any good – although it may still be termed ‘classic’ – think of artefacts from the ‘classical’ era of history: some are simply work-a-day pottery items, while others are comparable works of great art; all though have value.
The Persuaders manages to retain interest mostly through its headline stars, the dearly departed Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. Both actors know they are making a reasonable, albeit not always brilliant series. They know the scripts are hit-and-miss and that the support cast will be a so-so mix of British telly regulars, fading stars and up-and-coming newbies. Retrospectively, this adds to some of the fun for us, star gazing if you like, but doesn’t always do much for the quality. The stories, while generally entertaining sometimes lack focus. The adventures prevaricated by Laurence Naismith’s urbane Judge Felton always felt better structured for me, giving our sometimes testy twosome proper motives for their investigations. When Brett and Danny simply fall into a story it feels unlikely. While amusing, their chalk-and-cheese ideas of recreation become a trifle tedious and you do begin to wonder why they spend so much time together. It is always a slightly uneasy bromance.
The directors and writers are a hardened bunch, used to churning out products quickly and efficiently for The Saint, The Avengers, The Baron, etc. Coupled with Curtis and Moore’s professionalism, this helps immeasurably to smooth over the cracks in the paper thin walls of a product which stands up but looks in permanent danger of falling down. Indeed on a couple of occasions an episode will do just that [Nuisance Value, I’m looking at you…]. However, that isn’t to say you don’t enjoy watching it fall, because you do, because everyone seems to have such a great time pushing those bricks over.
So, a classic of its time then?
Roger Moore’s recruitment to the OO7 cause prevented any likelihood of further seasons of The Persuaders, and in a way that might be one of the best things about the show, that its twenty-four episodes remain frozen in aspic as it were, waiting to be discovered anew by curious television viewers, nostalgia hunters and star spotters. Despite my sometimes disparaging views shared here, I did enjoy rewatching The Persuaders. There is solace in its familiarity and a pleasant whiff of carelessness about it which I find entirely endearing. It is great to see a show of its era extensively utilising location shoots, and in foreign climes too. This was unusual for the time and very welcome. In fact it was a selling point Lew Grade used when recruiting Tony and Roger to the cause: a few weeks in the playground sun of the Cote D’Azur. Watched now you can imagine how exotic a show people must have thought it was. Despite the over relaxed concerns, occasionally an episode would make me sit up and take proper notice, mostly though I was merely pampered by cushions. When it was good [Chain of Events, etc] The Persuaders was very good.
Perhaps the series serves best as a stepping stone up for Roger Moore, as it paired him with a Hollywood mainstream star and notched his profile up another gear for James Bond, while doing the opposite for Tony Curtis, a great actor whose career should have been so much better than it was [and it was good] but at this point was wallowing in weed and glamour girls.
If I had to list my favourites, and I love a good list:
The Gold Napoleon
The Old, the New and the Deadly
Chain of Events
Five Miles to Midnight
The Ozerov Inheritance
One of my favourite shots of the 'boys' looking mischievous and dapper among the dusty ruins of a French chateau.
Thanks Sir Roger.
Truly, the Persuaders.
Many thanks @chrisno1 for your efforts on this thread. I rewatched the series last year and your reviews brought back every single episode clearly in my mind. I find The Persuaders a largely enjoyable series, mainly because Curtis and Moore seem to be having a good time. As in all series there are some duds but overall the standard was pretty good with a handful of excellent episodes.
One thing to say, I love The Persuaders!
Curtis and Moore had great chemistry, and whether the quality of writing is meh or good, I still enjoy (well, they're not meant to be taken seriously), so all in all, a great escapism, and it's also something to do with the characters being escapist icons too, so it also kinda fits perfectly, unlike Bond whose a serious character but if put in some bizarre situations, it might've been bad.
So, for me, this show was near perfect for me, absolute comfort blanket and good time, very light but adventurous which never bores the audience (like me 😅), it's fun, not boring, but not also off the wall.
If there are some flaws, it's that they've never gave America any exposure in this (probably one of the reasons why it didn't worked out well in the US), in the majority of the episodes, Danny Wilde was almost the one who's like a fish out of the water with him trying to adapt into the British culture (to which the show favoured into), with Brett Sinclair being put in some comfort situations, sometimes had the privilege to be given such dramatic and serious scripts to worked with, and with Danny Wilde always having his roles as the mistaken identity.
This show had never favoured America at all (though, understandably, if the Producers and the writers of the show were all Brits, you've got nothing much to do as a Yankee), but if they're really selling this in the US, then they should give America some exposure and good role for Danny Wilde (unlike having him played for laughs), that's why Angie, Angie is also one of my favorite episodes in there, it gives Danny something more to do, and I'd liked to see more of that, but again, it's a shame.
It might be interesting had there been a villain whose interested in Danny Wilde's fortunes and business (he's an Oil Tycoon), then there's Brett to help him, and it's also interesting to see some episodes being shot in America, with Brett Sinclair being a fish out of the water in US, trying to adapt into the American Culture.
But alas, it's seemed like Moore didn't want to go to America, unless he's James Bond (ironically that he went to America in Live And Let Die, a film just came out one year after The Persuaders).
But all in all, it's a great show, it's like me finding an old artifact 😅.
I know many of these ITV shows were intended to make most of their money in America, and a few of them had American leads, even before the Persuaders
Man in a Suitcase (which I've been watching) starred Richard Bradford as a disgraced former CIA agent turned private detective, travelling round Europe. He basically does a Clint Eastwood meets James Dean performance throughout. and Department S starred American Joel Fabiani alongside Peter Wyngarde and Rosemary Nicols. Both shows only lasted one season, so I assume the American-lead-strategy did not work, and Department S was replaced by Jason King, only starring the zany English actor.
in James Chapmans book Saints and Avengers, he argues those two shows specifically were popular in America because they played up the English stereotypes. Americans were quite capable of making their own shows, they didnt need Brits to make imitations, but they liked to see teatime and butlers and quaint country inns (still true today with Masterpiece Mystery).
another datapoint is Danger Man: in its first season John Drake was an American, and in the remaining seasons he was a Brit. McGoohan was born in the States and raised in Ireland, he could do either accent if he chose, but the show was more popular in the States when he played it as a Brit.
I dont think American locations would have made these shows any more popular in the States. Man from UNCLE and Mission impossible both pretended to take place in exotic foreign locales, just as the ITV shows did, and I Spy was actually filmed in those locations (Hong Kong, Japan and Mexico in its first season). in all cases the mock-world travel was part of the appeal.
but tastes were changing by the end of the sixties. The Avengers was canceled in America because it was scheduled at the same time as Laugh-In, and when there was no American market it ceased production altogether. So if the Persuaders didnt find an American audience, it might have been because by 1971 it was already seen as oldfashioned.
heres a possible discussion topic: what if Tony Curtis was cast as Felix Leiter?
Tony Curtis as Felix Leiter, that thought had occured to me before! Man, that would've been fantastic, I've already proposed it on other Bond discussion (forum), I think Curtis would've been absolutely amazing in the role.
No against Hedison, but Curtis and Moore had great chemistry, to be honest, I've never felt any chemistry between Hedison and Moore, they're just okay, actually Dalton had more chemistry with Hedison in LTK than he was with Moore in LALD.
Had Curtis was cast as Felix Leiter, it would've been my favorite Felix Leiter, trust me, it would've been, because The Persuaders already showed that, the British being partnered with an American, so there's that, their banter in there was great, and would've been probably replicated in Moore's tenure as Bond.
The banter between Curtis' Leiter and Moore's Bond, that would've been excellent.
It's one of the missed opportunities.
yes I imagine that since Curtis could do comedy, Live and Let Die wouldnt have needed Sherriff Pepper for comic relief. Just expand Leiter's scenes and let Curtis make it up as he goes along.
and if Sheriff Pepper didnt exist in the first film, he couldnt return for the second film, and instead Bond could coincidentally bump into Leiter just in time for the car chase. Leiter is in the book after all, that silly Pepper stole his part. and maybe he coulda made a cameo in Moonraker (since the female lead is another CIA agent, she probably knows him), and somewhere in a View to a Kill
one problem with cinematic Leiter is: after Jack Lord they got nondescript actors and gave them minimal dialog. Fleming wrote great dialogs between the two spies that never made it into the films. Next time I read through Fleming, I'm going to try to read those passages in Moore and Curtis's voices.