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Monocle Husky

Playboys, Spies and Private Eyes

On Saturday I took part in A Celebration of ITC at Elstree Studios.

Lew Grade's Incorporated Television Company was responsible for a huge percentage of British televisual entertainment in the 1960s and '70s, including The Saint, The Prisoner, all the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation puppet series and my great favourite Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

I took the Thameslink to Elstree, where I met up with my internet friend and fellow-nerd Hannah. We retired to a pub and spent the afternoon deep in discussion of Bond, telly and, occasionally, real life before joining a queue of Obvious Geeks at the studio.

The evening took the format of a series of panel discussions, interviewing and Q&Aing two or three of the special guests at a time. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there sharing funny anecdotes, most of which involved Roger Moore.

The biggest name was probably Ian Ogilvy of Return of the Saint, who comes across as a really nice bloke. Annette Andre, Randall and Hopkirk's Jeannie Hopkirk, was as well-dressed and lovely-voiced as always, and it was great to see Gerry Anderson's son Jamie talking about his father's work and new project Firestorm:

I was rather smitten with stuntman Paul Weston, who's worked on pretty much every ITC show plus Bond, Indiana Jones, Star Wars and the laughably dreadful Death Train. He had plenty of hair-raising stories from pre-Health and Safety days, and now I need to rewatch the episode of Randall and Hopkirk where Marty sits on the roof of a car as it drives along the Embankment.

Here he is being shoved aside by Timothy Dalton in Gibraltar:

And here's the photo I bought. Gotta love someone who introduces his collection of stills with "This is me on fire...and this is me jumping from one cable car to another..."


My evening was made when I ran into some of the guest stars back at the station, helped them find the correct platform and took the opportunity to thank them for all the entertainment.
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Did they mention the Muppet Show too?

Only briefly - no alumni present. But it showed up in all the feelgood compilation videos they screened!
Wow, I am Quite Jealous that you got to meet Ian Ogilvy! He seems to have become a children's author in recent years - did he mention still doing that? Sounds like lots of fun all round.
Someone mentioned it for him - he was talking about his just-released autobiography ("it's easy to write when you know what's going to happen") and one of the other guests jumped in to say what fun the Measle books are. I haven't read them but I might now!
Oh, interesting to know about the autobiography. I might keep an eye out for that.
I must admit, I haven't watched Return of the Saint so I haven't seen him in much (probably just his Avengers episode), but I really warmed to him. (Someone asked if it was true he'd been in the running for Bond: "Oh, I couldn't have done that. I've stood next to Pierce Brosnan and I've stood next to Timothy Dalton and they're REALLY TALL!"
I saw all of Return of the Saint about eight years ago now, when one of the UKTV channels was showing an episode a day on a loop and I was on research leave, so mainly working from home. It became a daily ritual to sit down in front of it with my lunch.

But he's also in a bunch of other things I've enjoyed over the years: The Sorcerors, Witchfinder General, I Claudius, Upstairs Downstairs. I haven't seen his Avengers episode, though, so that's one to look out for! He has always seemed really sweet in interviews etc, just as you report.

Edited at 2018-11-20 08:48 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry I missed that run - I got into a lot of ITC series in my teens when BBC2 was showing them at teatime. True Entertainment has picked up the baton lately and I've caught up with The Persuaders! too, which is worth watching if only for Roger Moore's incredible self-designed wardrobe.