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Spooner, Dennis (1932-1986)


Main image of Spooner, Dennis (1932-1986)

Although he started as a stand-up comedian-turned-gag-writer, Dennis Spooner will always be credited as the creative drive behind the ITC-produced action-adventure series of the 1960s and early 1970s.

He entered the TV industry as a drama writer, although he had contributed comedy material to Harry Worth's BBC series, Granada's Bootsie and Snudge (ITV, 1960-63) sitcom series and Tony Hancock's revival attempt with Hancock (ITV, 1963).

Among his early work, Spooner contributed episodes to the police procedural No Hiding Place (ITV, 1959-67) during its early years, the similar Ghost Squad (ITV, 1961-63) and the 1961 Ian Hendry/Patrick Macnee period of The Avengers (ITV, 1961-69).

It was also during this time that he wrote for the Gerry Anderson children's science fiction series Supercar (ITV, 1961-62), Fireball XL5 (ITV, 1962-63), Stingray (ITV, 1964-65) and Thunderbirds (ITV, 1965-66).

Staying with the science-fantasy genre, Spooner created scripts for the Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-89) series, namely the six-part 'The Reign of Terror' (1964) and the four-part 'The Time Meddler' (1965), as well as serving as script editor on various other episodes during January-June, 1965.

Spooner's prolific ITC period, working for the most part with producer Monty Berman, began with the 30-episode undercover agent drama The Baron (ITV, 1966-67), to which he contributed most of the scripts (often in collaboration with Terry Nation).

With writer Richard Harris he co-created the espionage-crime series Man in a Suitcase (ITV, 1967-68). With Monty Berman he co-created the counter-espionage series Department S (ITV, 1969-70), the fantasy-espionage The Champions (ITV, 1969-71) and the Department S spin-off series Jason King (ITV, 1971-72), the latter adventure featuring the flamboyant exploits of Peter Wyngarde's ultra-fashionable author-cum-adventurer. Spooner was also co-creator (with Berman, again) and executive story consultant for the Gene Barry secret agent drama The Adventurer (ITV, 1972-73).

Perhaps Spooner's most enduring creation for ITC was the supernatural private eye series Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (ITV, 1969-70). Part typical ITC adventure, part comical ghost mis-adventure (in the Thorne Smith vein), Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) impressed itself into the imagination of a generation. Amusingly peculiar for its time, silly-but-fun for now, the series was honoured with a remake by Working Title Television for BBC TV in 2000-2001.

Tise Vahimagi

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Ultra-stylish '60s spy drama that all but invented cult TV

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Long-running detective series set on the island tax haven of Jersey

Thumbnail image of Champions, The (1969)Champions, The (1969)

Colourful fantasy drama featuring a trio of superhero spies

Thumbnail image of Department S (1969-70)Department S (1969-70)

Drama series about a trio of spies, one being crime writer Jason King

Thumbnail image of Man in a Suitcase (1967-68)Man in a Suitcase (1967-68)

Memorably gritty ITC series about an ex-CIA private investigator

Thumbnail image of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969-70)Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969-70)

Private eye duo with a difference: one of them's a ghost

Thumbnail image of Thriller (1973-76)Thriller (1973-76)

Popular anthology of suspenseful tales

Thumbnail image of Thunderbirds (1965-66)Thunderbirds (1965-66)

F.A.B. adventures of International Rescue

Thumbnail image of U.F.O. (1970-71)U.F.O. (1970-71)

A mysterious underground organisation defends Earth from alien invasion

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