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Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969-70)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) (1969-70)
ITC/ATV for ITV, 21/9/1969-13/3/1970
26x50 min episodes
CreatorsDennis Spooner
 Monty Berman
ProducerMonty Berman

Cast: Mike Pratt (Jeff Randall); Kenneth Cope (Marty Hopkirk); Annette Andre (Jean Hopkirk)

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Private Investigator Marty Hopkirk is tragically killed in the course of a case. But that's no reason why he shouldn't continue to work alongside his friend and partner, Jeff Randall...

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1960s TV was awash with private detectives, but few have matched the long-term popularity of Jeff Randall and his partner Marty Hopkirk. But then not every private eye has a ghost as a sidekick.

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was created by veteran TV writer Dennis Spooner and producer Monty Berman as a comedy drama about a failing private investigator and his ghostly partner. The first episode, My Late Lamented Friend and Partner (tx. 21/9/1969) sets up the premise: while investigating a disappearance, Marty Hopkirk is killed by a speeding car. His ghost, accidentally trapped in the physical world, can be seen only by his ex-partner Jeff Randall, who tries to maintain outward normality, especially for the sake of Marty's widow Jean. As it turns out, having a ghost on the team can be very helpful when it comes to solving cases.

Despite some uneven scripts, the show is never less than enjoyable, thanks largely to excellent casting. Mike Pratt's Jeff Randall is a very likeable underachiever with an innate ability for failure while Kenneth Cope plays a clearly frustrated Marty Hopkirk, struggling to come to terms with his new existence with comic accuracy. The third regular, Jean Hopkirk, is often thinly written, but the on-screen interaction between Annette Andre and Pratt helps overcome most of her part's shortcomings.

The chemistry between the actors helps explain the show's appeal, as do the exchanges between Jeff and Marty - visible to the viewers but oddly one-sided to the other characters. Their friendship is our secret, making it all the more enjoyable when the pair start bickering - Marty is especially worried that Jeff is mistreating his old car.

Despite the show's popularity both in the UK and the US, where it was unimaginatively retitled My Partner the Ghost, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) failed to get a second series. The format was resurrected in 2000 by the BBC, as a vehicle for comedy duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Unfortunately, the revival failed to recapture the appeal of the original series. As Jeff once asked Marty: "Why can't you stay dead like anyone else?"

Anthony Clark

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Video Clips
1. Hopkirk's demise (3:14)
2. 'I chose you' (3:53)
3. Special talents (5:06)
Complete episode: 'My Late Lamented Friend and Partner' (48:35)
Credit sequence (0:45)
Astley, Edwin (1922-1998)
Frankel, Cyril (1921-)
Norman, Leslie (1911-1993)
Spooner, Dennis (1932-1986)
'60s Spies and Private Eyes
Ghost Stories