June 16, 2015

INTERVIEW: THE SAINT ON RADIO

Spy Vibe sat down for a virtual chat this week with our friend, Ian Dickerson. Ian is the host of the official Leslie Charteris website and has contributed to many works about the history of The Saint. He has a new book out about the Saint on Radio and is currently writing the Leslie Charteris biography. Welcome Ian!


Your new book, The Saint on the Radio, has just been published. For the uninitiated, can you talk a bit about the origins of the character and his history?

Simon Templar, aka the Saint, was created by author Leslie Charteris when he was just twenty years old. Charteris, the son of a Chinese doctor and an English woman was born in Singapore in 1907 but moved to England at the age of 12 when his parents split up. He had always wanted to be a writer—his first published piece was a poem in The Straits Times at the age of nine—and was determined to give it his best shot, despite his father considering all writers “rogues and vagabonds” and wanting him to become a lawyer instead. His parents sent him to Cambridge University, but Charteris was bored so quit his law degree after a year.

He started writing his first book, X Esquire, whilst at Cambridge, finishing it whilst in Singapore visiting his father. He sent it off to a publisher who promptly accepted it for publication. It was his third book, Meet the Tiger, published in September 1928 that introduced the world to Simon Templar.

It was received well-enough but Charteris wrote two further books—neither of which featured Templar—before returning to his modern day Robin Hood.  “I suppose I got lazy, or I got the idea that it was better to continue and build up one character than to spread yourself around among a dozen. I looked back over the characters I had created so far and picked the Saint, liked him the best, and decided to go on with him.” (Radio interview)


His book career continued with a mix of short stories, novellas and full-length novels, which lead to the 1935 novel The Saint in New York. It was the fifteenth Saint book and the one that sealed the popularity of the Saint and Leslie Charteris on both sides of the Atlantic.

RKO quickly bought the film rights and kicked off a series of movies with the 1938 film The Saint in New York staring Louis Hayward as Simon Templar. Hayward was replaced by George Sanders, but after making five movies as the Saint, Sanders quit and RKO persuaded him to become the Falcon. Leslie sued for unfair competition and they ultimately settled out of court but it put the kibosh on the movie careers of both characters.

Leslie had a strong belief that his hero could be adapted for any media so with the advent of the golden age of radio drama in the 1940s he was keen to see the Saint on the radio. He tried himself, producing a pilot show in 1940 but it didn’t sell. It took radio producer James L. Saphier to get the Saint on the radio, with the first two series airing in 1945. The show ran on a variety of networks with a number of different leading men until the early 1950s when TV started to significantly impact on radio drama.

Leslie’s fourth marriage in 1952 reinvigorated him and he wrote further Saint books, predominantly collections of short stories, throughout the decade whilst devoting a lot of time and energy to getting the Saint on TV.

It took film producer Robert S. Baker, backed by the legendary Lord Lew Grade for that to happen, and the successful seven year run of The Saint, starring Roger Moore, sold to over ninety countries throughout the 1960s.


Whilst Leslie enjoyed the Return of the Saint in the 1970s, further attempts at reviving the Saint’s TV career left him increasingly cynical. He brought a stop to the Saint’s literary adventures in 1983 feeling that both he and his creation had earned their retirement. All told he left behind fifty English language Saint books, and another forty which were published in French and Dutch but haven’t—yet—appeared in English, which have sold in excess of forty million copies around the world and been translated into over thirty different languages. Those books have inspired, at the time of writing, fifteen feature films, three televisions series, ten radio series and a comic strip that was globally syndicated around the world for over a decade.

What aspects of The Saint's radio history do you cover in the book? Tell us a bit about the scope of the project.

The origins of this book are found in a time long before the internet, though that often seems hard to imagine nowadays, when I first discovered that episodes of the old radio shows were available on cassette. I bought some and rather enjoyed listening to them, so naturally wanted more. But I couldn’t find anything that would tell me how many there might be, or when the Saint first started on the radio show, or quite frankly anything about the Saint’s radio career. And when I asked Leslie, well he was approaching eighty years old then, and although he had a good memory and could remember much about the cast, he couldn’t remember many details and had no records.

The book documents the Saint’s adventures on radio. But not just those you may know about, such as the Vincent Price shows, but those you probably don’t, such as the South African and Norwegian adaptations. It also looks at the attempts to get the Saint on the radio; those by Leslie, which would ultimately resulted in the first radio series, and those by others, which resulted in some very interesting comments by one or two employees of the BBC. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is the inclusion of a couple of radio scripts; one from Brian Ahern’s time as the Saint and one from Vincent Price’s era.

You've been involved with many projects to preserve The Saint in the culture and to educate people about Leslie Charteris and his creation. Where can readers see your various work for web, print, documentaries, etc?

What a lovely way of putting it. I’ve never thought of it quite like that. One of the things that drives me is the desire to read, watch or listen to more adventures of the Saint. Fortunately I know I’m not alone in that so when I’ve dug into the Saint’s history and come up with interesting stories or titbits to do with his career, or the career of people who helped make his adventures, I’ve been lucky enough to find a way of sharing it.

The Saint on the Radio is available now from sites such as Amazon. At the time of writing this the book is currently only available as a digital edition, but a print version is on the way and may well be available by the time anyone reads this.

The documentaries are available on DVD, as part of the British DVD releases of The Saint and Return of the Saint, and as a standalone called The Saint Steps In…To Television, which combines the existing documentaries with some extra material and was released in 2009.

The Saint on TV, my first book, is now sadly out of print but an updated version will be published in due course, depending on what happens with the new show that’s currently in development.

My biography of Leslie Charteris is currently with a publisher who assures me it will be available this side of Christmas. And The Saint in the Movies and The Saint in Comics are currently being written.

As for online, well I’ll admit to being the one behind www.lesliecharteris.com and at some stage I’ll take a break from writing to update it!


Your Saint Steps Into Television documentary did a great job including reactions to the show by The Saint's author, Leslie Charteris. Did he comment much on the radio shows over the years?

Leslie was, at first, keen to be closely involved in the radio adventures of the Saint and produced the first two American series himself. He later went on record more than once saying that he was very happy with the portrayals of the Saint by both Edgar Barrier and Brian Aherne and wished that Aherne had had the chance to play the Saint on film. He did have issues with some people throughout the making of those shows and you can read about those in the book.

By the time Vincent Price took over the role, and with a change of network, Leslie wasn’t quite so closely involved. He was happy for the show to continue, appreciated the financial reward of the licencing fee, but was busy with other projects. Consequently I’ve not found any real insight into his thoughts on the Vincent Price and Tom Conway shows over the years. When I asked him about them his fairly minimal response ran along the lines of them being okay but he couldn’t really remember much about them, which isn’t entirely surprising since it was over forty years since they were broadcast.

Apart from perhaps having his work adapted, did Charteris do any writing directly for radio?

In late 1943 his good friend Denis Green was invited by Young & Rubicam, the agency behind the weekly radio show The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce), to write for the show. Green needed the job but confessed to Leslie that whilst he could write great dialogue for radio he hadn’t a clue about plotting. So they went into partnership, with Leslie concocting the plots and Denis Green writing the dialogue. Their episodes ran from July 1944 through to March 1945 when Leslie quit the partnership; the pressures of producing the Saint took their toll on his Holmes work. He was replaced by noted writer and critic Anthony Boucher, who went on to have a very successful partnership with Green. Whilst they were working on Holmes, Leslie and Denis wrote an episode of Silver Theatre, which was broadcast in 1944.

I get the impression Leslie would have liked to write more for radio. Radio drama was very much in its heyday in the late 1940s and it coincided with a desire on Leslie’s part to be known for writing something other than the adventures of Simon Templar. But none of his discussions and proposals were ever picked up, which is a shame.


Vincent Price is often noted as the most famous radio Saint. How long did he play the role? Did he do any interesting promotions or interviews about The Saint?
His first episode aired on July 9th, 1947, his last May 20th 1951; over 140 radio shows on three different networks (CBS, MBS and NBC). I’ve not found much that he did in the way of promoting the show; there’s a few small bits and pieces in various trade magazines and gossip journals of the time which I’ve quoted from in the book. He did record a couple of wide ranging interviews about his radio career which do of course mention The Saint and some of the people he worked with, but they’re not comprehensive.

Were any of the radio stories later adapted for the Roger Moore series?

No, the TV producers wanted to start afresh. But many of the radio scripts did have an afterlife, for in the late 1940s demand for Saint books in France was much higher than Leslie was willing to supply, so they hit on the idea of using some of the radio scripts as the basis for Saint books which a collaborator would write and would then be edited by Leslie prior to publication. There are forty of these books, which have not yet been published in English, but it’s worth noting that not all of them were based on radio scripts. Some were based on outlines for the New York Herald-Tribune comic strips, which were written by Charteris himself.

Most readers probably know Roger Moore's interpretation of The Saint. Did the character itself change much over the decades and across various media (print, comic, radio, film, tv)?

In print alone the character evolved significantly over time. The author William Vivian Butler wrote a very enjoyable book called The Durable Desperadoes, which Leslie thought very highly of. In it Butler identified five stages of the literary Saint’s evolution; the Mark 1 Saint is the Saint of Meet the Tiger whom Butler describes as “piratical, romantic, energetic, prone to healthy skipping on beaches, but not considered a major hero, even by his creator”. The Mark 2 Saint is the Saint who appears from Enter the Saint onwards, Butler again, “…the very English Saint…rakehell, impudent, eccentric, outrageously versatile, eternally versifying, prone to telling long stories about characters such as Aristophanes, the bow-legged bedbug”. The Mark 3 Saint is the Saint of The Saint in New York, “smoother, less flamboyant and…a lot less outlandish”. With Leslie spending more and more time in the USA—he went on to become an American citizen in 1946—we find the Mark 4 Saint at a time when America became involved in the Second World War, Mark 4 Templar works for the Allies, as a secret agent in everything but name. The Mark 5 Saint is perhaps the one that most people are familiar with, for it is this version that got picked up for TV. Butler describes him as “a smooth, relaxed, essentially solitary figure, always on the move around the world, rarely seemingly to live anywhere but in hotel rooms…” Of course to add another level of complexity into the equation the character evolved again depending on the media: all the adaptations were products of their time.


The Saint is sometimes a controversial character among fans of 1960s spy shows because he wasn't a spy- yet many of the stories seem to feature international intrigue, agents, etc as was the fashion. Can you shed some light on the Saint's brushes with the world of spies and secrets?

I guess any controversy is perhaps because he was never a full time spy but one of the things I love about the Saint is that you can adapt him to so many genres; after all the original books feature him in capers, as a thief, as a detective, as a spy, and some stories have more than a hint of the fantastical about them as well.

Consequently strictly speaking the Saint was only occasional a secret agent. But before anyone jumps to the conclusion that it was the influence of television and the 1960s that caused this occasional career shift, it should perhaps be pointed out that the Saint’s first brush with spies and secrets was in The Saint Closes the Case (1930) where Simon saves a foreign prince from being blown up or perhaps in The Saint Meets His Match where Sir Hamilton Dorn has Templar join the Secret Service to keep him out of legal trouble. Other pre-war tales include ‘The Miracle Tea Party’ (from Follow the Saint (1938)) which includes more than a hint of espionage.

But it was the outbreak of WWII which led Simon to become more involved in the security services; in The Saint in Miami (1940) he rescues secret agent Karen Leith, in The Saint Steps In (1944) Simon works for the US government fighting American businessmen prone to fascism, in The Saint Sees It Through he’s back working for Hamilton Dorn tackling a drug smuggling ring. Even in 1956’s ‘The Inescapable Word’ Simon is asked to investigate murder on a secret installation uncovering a Soviet spy in the process.

And of course it was inevitable that the TV Saint would find occasional work in the spy field; whether with the likes of When Spring is Sprung, where he rescues a Russian spy, or The Helpful Pirate where he works for British intelligence.


Tell us a bit about Leslie Charteris. How would you summarize his character and life as a writer?

Leslie was born in Singapore in 1907. Like his hero Charteris was tall, handsome and multi-lingual. And like his hero, Charteris had plenty of adventures but unlike his hero, these haven’t been documented. Until now.

Leslie Charteris was a very private person and never sanctioned any in-depth study of his life. He told his first bibliographer, W.O.G. Lofts “…what is interesting is either classified or scandalous. I either could not or would not help you with anything that should be printed for about 25 years after my funeral”.

In the 21st Century, not quite twenty-five years after his funeral, Leslie’s name is indelibly attached to that of his ‘modern day Robin Hood’, Simon Templar but there was more to Leslie’s literary acuity than the Saint alone. He was fluent in several languages, a passion that led him to write a guidebook to learning Spanish, the English translation of a biography of famed matador Juan Belmonte, and those forty French Saint adventures, which have never been translated into English. He wrote true crime stories about crooked religious leaders, had a monthly column in the epicurean journal Gourmet magazine, and devised a pictorial sign language, which he called Paleneo subsequently writing a book about it. And he was an early member of MENSA, whose requirement for membership is an IQ within the top 2% of the population.

Charteris was the son of a Chinese doctor and an English woman who struggled to shake the demons of his early years caused by his mixed race. A boy who’s status as an outsider was only furthered when his parents split up and who struggled to find acceptance in his adopted home of Great Britain. Was the Saint simply a creation based on wish fulfilment or was he symbolic of something deeper? The manifestation of the adventurer that Charteris yearned to be?  Was he writing about his own unfulfilled self?

The life and times of Leslie Charteris are as fascinating and thrilling as any of his Saint stories. What you will read in the biography is both the classified and the scandalous. It is his story from the early years in Singapore and days as a starving art student in 1920s Paris, via the maiden voyage of the Hindenburg to the Golden Age of Hollywood. With him we shall discover speakeasies in the dying days of Prohibition, we’ll hear the report of his tennis match with Marlene Dietrich and we shall share in his adventures sailing with Errol Flynn and Gregory Peck. We’ll learn of his struggles to bring the Saint to TV throughout the 1950s and share in his pleasure at seeing the Saint eventually conquer television the following decade. We’ll track the Saint and Leslie Charteris around the world throughout the 50s and 60s and we’ll see how his plans for retirement were frustrated by ongoing interest in the Saint throughout the 1970s and 80s.

How did the matchstick man logo come about? Charteris created it, yes?

Back when he got his first typewriter at the age of seven he created his first magazine, which he sold to his Mum and Dad; the illustrations were a comic strip featuring stick men and women. When it came to the Saint he borrowed one of those stick men and put a halo over it. It’s now a registered trademark and can’t be used without permission of The Estate of Leslie Charteris. [Below: The Thriller magazine March, 1937].


Did he have any interesting professional relationships with other genre writers?

In the mid-1940s his company Saint Enterprises maintained an office in Hollywood and a busy part of those offices was the bar where you could often find the likes of Anthony Boucher, Stuart Palmer, Baynard Kendrick and Michael Arlen (and since Michael Arlen created one version of the Falcon and Stuart Palmer wrote some of the Falcon films, one can only imagine what they talked about!). His friendship with Boucher would continue via correspondence until Boucher’s death in 1968.

Many people credit him with being the first President of the Southern California Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America but I could find no evidence of this and later in life he went on record eschewing organisations such as this one. But it’s not inconceivable that he took on the role for a short while and that would have brought him into contact with many genre writers of that era.

Tell us a little about the Charteris biography you've been working on. You were able to get to know him?

I was lucky enough to know Leslie Charteris for the last few years of his life. He was in his eighties; I was still trying to escape my teenage years; an odd relationship really but one that, fuelled with a diet of long monthly lunches, frequent letters and weekly phone calls, quickly graduated from acquaintanceship to friendship. After he died I talked to his family and friends and became convinced that his was a story worth telling.

Finally—just don’t ask how many years ago I started it—it’s finished and should be available to read this side of Christmas.


What do you remember about your first experience with The Saint? What was it that appealed to you?

As a child of the Seventies the first time I met the Saint he looked an awful lot like Ian Ogilvy. I was nine years old at the time and a TV series shot in glamorous locations and featuring a hero who tackled the bad guys, rescued damsels in distress and drove one hell of a car had a certain appeal. But what sealed my fate was when I discovered that my brother had a couple of books featuring the character I’d been watching on TV.

I was so entranced by Leslie’s writing that I invested many years of pocket money in a pre-internet world tracking down every Saint book I could find. Whilst I enjoy all the various incarnations of the Saint—except, perhaps the most recent film--it is Leslie’s writing that grabs me every time. Read some of the early Saint books they’re life affirming and it doesn’t take a great deal to imagine Leslie chuckling to himself over the typewriter as he wrote them—something his daughter later confirmed to me was quite a common sight.

When did you start collecting Saint books and artifacts?

About a minute after my brother mentioned he had some Saint books upstairs…


Do you have favorite book covers?

I love the style and simplicity of the old Hodder yellow jacket covers. They were one of the key inspirations for the covers of the recent UK reprints; as were the covers from many of the French Saint books published by Fayard from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Whilst both Leslie and Audrey liked the Dutch covers done by Dick Bruna, I’ve never been that keen on them for they seemed to lack style to me.

I also love, for all the wrong reasons, the cover of the Turkish edition of The Saint and the Fiction Makers, which features C3PO. No, I don’t know why either.


That's hilarious! Watch for a Star Wars Krimi cover coming up on Spy Vibe. Ian, what are some of the interesting rarities in your archives?

I have a certain fondness for misprinted book covers; I’ve got a copy of the Carroll & Graf paperback produced in the 1990s where, according to the spine, it’s The Saint and Mrs Teal. And I’ve got two copies of Le Saint a Paris (based on one of the comic strips); one features the stickman peering around the Eiffel Tower and the other doesn’t, it just features the Eiffel Tower.

Or there’s stuff like The Saint and the Prince of Darkness, the unproduced script that was originally written for Return of the Saint, various books of Leslie’s that he had in his schooldays, copies of The Saint TV scripts he wrote in the early 1950s, copies of Saint radio scripts, photos from the beer adverts Leslie and Audrey made, photos, manuscripts…
           
Who were some of your other favorite adventurer characters? Did you follow the likes of The Avengers, Danger Man, The Prisoner, etc?

Where to start? I loved The Avengers, though being of a certain age I had to wait until Channel 4 in the UK reran them in the 1980s and Dave Rogers wrote some of his books before I really discovered them.

I watched The Prisoner and found it quite intriguing but it never grabbed me as it has so many others. Danger Man, on the other hand, did. I also loved The Man From U.N.C.L.E., to the point where I would record the episodes on a very battered cassette recorder and listen to them again and again (again showing my age for this was pre-internet, definitely pre-DVD and pretty much pre-VHS).

Still love MacGyver, though watching recent repeats of it make me realise it hasn’t aged terribly well. I’d love to see them get the much-touted movie off the ground.

And then there’s Danger Mouse. And they’re bringing Danger Mouse back, so all will be right with the world once more.

I loved Danger Mouse, too! And I’m glad I wasn’t the only kid who recorded audio off the TV so I could listen to favourite stories over and over again on cassette. For years I had old battered tapes of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Yellow Submarine. We were really creating our own radio drama editions.


Let's finish by playing a Spy Vibe version of Desert Island Discs. Which 5 Saint novels, 5 radio shows, and 5 Saint TV episodes would you take with you if you were going to be stranded?

That’s tough. Last time I was asked to name my favourite Saint book I got it down to about 16 titles: I love the early Saint, love the short stories, love the war time Saint, and am rather fond of some of the latter-day collaborations, as well. But, okay, five books:
           
Getaway (The Saint's Getaway): Action, adventure and Charterisian enthusiasm for life and language. I vividly remember my eldest brother reading this book for the first time and reading out loud the following passage; it made me laugh then and it makes me laugh now. The Saint's adventures weren't constructed around some deep psychological meaning or meant to be subject to deep analysis, they were Fun and Entertainment.

“After all, he had done nothing desperately exciting for a long time. About twenty-one days. His subconscious was just ripe for the caressing touch of a few seductive stimuli. And then and there, when his resistance was at its lowest ebb, he heard and felt the juicy plonk of his fist sinking home into a nose.

The savour of that fruity squash wormed itself wheedlingly down into the very cockles of his heart. He liked it. It stirred the deepest chords of his being. And it dawned persuasively upon him that at that moment he desired nothing more of life than an immediate repetition of that feeling. And, seeing the nose once more conveniently poised in front of him, he hit it again.

He had not been mistaken. His subconscious knew its stuff. With the feel of that second biff a pleasant kind of glow cantered itself in the pit of his stomach and tingled electrically outwards along his limbs, and the remainder of his doubts melted away before its spreading warmth. He was punching the nose of an ugly man, and he was liking it. Life had no more to offer.”


The Brighter BuccaneerWhen I was working on getting the books reprinted by Thomas and Mercer and casting around for people to write introductions one of the first things I did was keep this title for myself. I have lost track of how many times I’ve read this book. Classic short Saint adventures with neat plots that I could dip into as life necessitated; I’ve long argued that the best of the Saint books (yeah, we’re back on that sixteen again…) are life-affirming stories and none more so than this collection.

The Saint in Miami: Leslie was happy for the Saint to evolve and realised that he couldn’t go on fighting the same strain of Ungodly when there was a War on. This is a last hurrah for the old gang before Simon moves on to become a slightly cynical world-weary traveller. It’s a typical thriller with the Saint slaying some classic dragons and Charteris writing his best.

The Saint and the Hapsburg Necklace: When I first read this, as an impressionable youngster, it didn’t occur to me that this wasn’t 100% Charteris. Even now, when I’ve seen the original manuscript and know for sure it wasn’t all down to Leslie, I’m not disappointed. It holds up extremely well as a period Saint adventure, full of Saintly characters and action.

The Saint and the Templar Treasure: The Saint was always about entertainment, adventurous entertainment and none more so than this novel. It reads like it was entirely by Charteris and is quite simply great fun.

Five radio episodes are a little easier, I think. I first listened to the episodes more years ago than I will publicly admit when I was living in Paris, didn’t have a TV and long before internet streaming became the norm. I needed something to listen to and old time radio on cassette was the thing. From that time one particular episode remains strong. Indeed whilst writing the radio book I listened to it again to make sure my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me. It wasn’t. ‘Dossier on a Doggone Dog’ is one of the best examples of light comedy in the Saint’s adventures. The curious thing is that the episode starred Barry Sullivan as the Saint, who filled in when Vincent Price couldn’t get back from Paris in time.

Another favourite is ‘The Miracle Tea Party’, an unbroadcast pilot which has now been released commercially by Radio Spirits. It’s something Leslie put together in 1940, designed to try and sell a radio series and since he was in complete control of it—there was no network or no sponsor to interfere—it’s a unique opportunity to hear how he envisaged the Saint on the radio.

At the risk of being lazy I’d also opt for an episode—any episode—which featured Vincent Price and Larry Dobkin as Louie. The Saint as a character always needs someone to play off. For a while in the books it was Hoppy Uniatz, which Charteris made great fun to read. Louie the taxi driver is, I’m sure, related to Hoppy and the comic interaction and banter between the two characters and the two actors, is just great fun to listen to.

‘The Saint Plays With Fire’: I thought Paul Rhys did a pretty good job in portraying the Saint for BBC Radio in the mid-1990s, particularly given that they were period productions. But this stands out from the trio as I think “Saint Overboard” was let down by casting and “The Saint Closes the Case”, well maybe that one comes a very close second to this one.

And at the risk of being vague and cheating, I think I’d pick any Tom Conway episode. I like Conway as an actor, he nailed the smooth, suave and sophisticated character so well in both the Saint and the Falcon.


As for five TV episodes, well I’m glad you didn’t specify from which series. As I’m a child of the 1970s I grew up watching Return of the Saint so for me Ian Ogilvy is the Saint and Roger Moore is some fellow called Bond. So first and foremost on my TV episode list is…

The Saint and the Brave Goose: Okay, I’m cheating here and going for the TV movie version so that I can have it as just one episode and not the original two-parter. And undoubtedly my fondness for this is tainted by the fact that it was the first TV Saint that I could ever watch again and again for I had it on VHS many years before the advent of DVDs. And of course I’ve read the book that was based on it, Salvage for the Saint, many times as well.

It grew out of an unused script that was originally written for the Roger Moore series but for me typifies everything about Ian’s Saint; action, adventure, great locations, girls…and even Leslie Charteris himself as he makes a quick cameo in the episode.

The Saint Plays With Fire: When I eventually sat down to watch some of Roger’s stint as the Saint—back in the days when we were preparing material for ITC Home Video as it was then—this was one of many episodes I watched but it’s impact remain strong to this day. I love the original novel it’s based on—which isn’t listed above, before you ask, because you were cruel enough to limit me to five titles—and this is just a brilliant, thrilling update of it.


The Saint and the Brazilian Connection: Okay, I admit my fondness for the Simon Dutton series is perhaps tainted by the fact that after each episode originally aired I would phone Leslie and we’d discuss what we thought of the films. I learnt several new words through those conversations.

But although the series had its problems I do like them. Sure there’s unintentional comedy in some of them (see The Blue Dulac?) and although they largely haven’t aged too well (has anything from 80s TV?) you can see why they were commissioned. This one is a great example that must have looked brilliant on paper; a script by Anthony Horowitz, David Ryall as Inspector Teal and a great opening sequence.

The Saint and the Fiction Makers: I love the tongue in cheek nature of the Saint, right back to the aside to readers that the literary Saint would make. So a Saint adventure that parodies not just Bond, but itself to some degree is bound to appeal. Of course being me it was the book I read first, only discovering the film version with the advent of VHS machines. But both are equally good.

The Saint with Adam Rayner: Okay, so I’m obviously biased and somewhat unfair since most people haven’t seen this. But I have a certain fondness for the pilot we shot in 2013. Sure there were issues with the script, but it was a lot better than some pilots I’ve seen make it to air. Adam did a great job as the Saint and I’m only sorry that he won’t be carrying on.


Thanks again for stopping by, Ian! Spy Vibers, I'm away on a mission until July 12th. I'll try to post some fun covers in the meantime. I look forward to sharing details about my visit to location sites from The Prisoner, The Avengers, The Saint, and meeting up with fellow Bondologists to walk in Ian Fleming's London. Until then, enjoy!

Selected Spy Vibe posts: Saint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

June 14, 2015

007 SPECTRE TRILOGY

New release: Ian Fleming's SPECTRE Trilogy will be re-released on October 1st. Coming out in advance of the new James Bond film, the new collection by Vintage will include 007's infamous adventures against the ultimate evil organization in ThunderballOn Her Majesty's Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice. The novels were most recently published by Penguin as The Blofeld Trilogy in 2009 and 2010 (now out-of-print). Thanks to The Book Bond for putting this new edition on our radar. From Amazon: "Spectre is the ultimate threat; the merciless international terrorist organisation led by James Bond's nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In Thunderball, Spectre is holding the world to ransom with two stolen nuclear weapons and it is 007's duty to find them in time to prevent a global catastrophe. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond disrupts Spectre's plan to destroy Britain from the inside, but little does he know victory will bring tragic consequences. In You Only Live Twice, grief-stricken and erratic, Bond is given one last chance to face his arch-enemy in a battle to the death." AmazonUK page here. Enjoy!


Selected Spy Vibe posts: Saint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.

June 12, 2015

NETWORK SALE

Deal alert: UK distributor Network is offering a 40% off sale! For the next three weeks, Spy Vibers can save big on essential DVD, Blu-ray and Soundtrack sets, such as Danger Man, The Prisoner, The Saint, The Persuaders, The Adventurer, Randall and Hopkirk, The Baron, The Champions, Department S, Jason King, The Protectors, Sentimental Agent, and many more! Some inexpensive film titles include Hell Drivers (Patrick McGoohan, David McCallum, Sean Connery), All Night Long (McGoohan), and Mister Jerico (Patrick Macnee). Fans may also be interested in various TV series from the 1950s, like The Scarlet Pimpernel (Marius Goring, Patrick Troughton) and HG Wells' The Invisible Man (produced by Ralph Smart). Only recent releases since March 9th are excluded from the sale. Many treasures to add to your Spy Vibe library! Viewers in the States will need an all-region player to play Network DVDs/Blu-ray discs. More info at Network. Happy hunting!


Selected Spy Vibe posts: Saint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJeremy Duns on BondJohn Buss interviewDiana Rigg eBookAvengers Season 5 TitlesSaint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore Calypso, Cynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesNew Saint PublicationsThe Saint Complete box setGerry Anderson Box SetsMusic For SpiesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismPopular SkulltureArt of ModestyAvengers Blu-ray updateTokyo Beat 1964Polaroid SpyFeraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaNo 6 FestivalAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.Comics Week: ArchieComics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy Olsen, Shakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies I, Rodney Marshall Avengers Interview, Richard Sala: Super-Enigmatix, Cold War Archie, Playboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Trina Robbins InterviewCatsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.
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