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Saint, The (1962-69)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Saint, The (1962-69)
ATV/New World for ITC; Bamore for ITC
118x60 minute episodes, black & white/colour
Directors includeLeslie Norman
 Jeremy Summers
 Roy Ward Baker
 John Gilling
WritersHarry W. Junkin
 Terry Nation
MusicEdwin Astley

Cast: Roger Moore (Simon Templar); Ivor Dean (Chief Insp. Teal)

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The adventures of Simon Templar, dashing, jet-setting crusader against injustice.

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The character of Simon Templar originally appeared in a series of highly successful books by the writer Leslie Charteris. But it was on TV in The Saint (ITV, 1962-69) that the modern-day Robin Hood finally conquered the world.

The role was originally offered to Patrick McGoohan, who at the time was playing the enigmatic secret agent John Drake in Danger Man (ITV, 1960-67), but the final choice of Roger Moore proved perfect. His good looks and cool on-screen presence turned the one-time knitting pattern model into an international star every bit as glamorous as the part he played. Moore's involvement with the show finally extended to him directing a number of episodes.

Each week Simon Templar - his ST initials accounting for his nom de plume - propped up fashionable bars and knocked down underworld criminals in defence of the vulnerable, as he travelled the globe living the life of an international playboy. Chivalrous, debonair, sharply dressed and every inch the ladies man, the programme's hero came to embody a faux image of imperturbable English reserve that helped boost international sales, at a time when 'Britishness' was fashionable, largely due to music exports such as The Beatles.

However, it is the mystery surrounding the character of Simon Templar that sustained the appeal of 1960s TV's most famous loner. The audience is offered no personal details about the enigmatic Saint and the source of his wealth is never revealed, although series regular Chief Inspector Claude Eustace Teal, played to exasperated perfection by Ivor Dean, clearly believes that it has been accumulated by illegal means - a hunch he never manages to prove.

The Saint traded heavily on glamour and action, but it is best remembered not for its plots but for Moore's central performance, complete with animated halo graphic, along with one of TV's most memorable theme tunes and the Saint's famous car, a Volvo P1800, of which four were used over the seven years of production.

The huge international success of The Saint undoubtedly helped pave the way for Moore to take on the role of James Bond after Sean Connery hung up his licence to kill. Later attempts at reviving the small-screen adventures of Simon Templar proved far less successful, however. Both Return of the Saint (ITV, 1978-79), starring Ian Ogilvy, and The Saint (ITV,1989-90), starring Simon Dutton, failed to capture the character's previous success.

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
1. Pre-credits and titles (1:23)
2. Blackmail (3:22)
3. The scorpion's lair (1:05)
4. Birdy (2:43)
5. An unexpected gift (1:49)
Complete episode: 'The Scorpion' (48:55)
Astley, Edwin (1922-1998)
Baker, Roy Ward (1916-2010)
Kwouk, Burt (1930- )
Moore, Roger (1927-)
Nation, Terry (1930-97)
Norman, Leslie (1911-1993)
Yates, Peter (1928-2011)
'60s Spies and Private Eyes