The Persuaders! is an
action/adventure/comedy series srarring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore,
produced by ITC Entertainment, and initially broadcast on ITV and ABC
in 1971. The show has been called "the last major entry in the
cycle of adventure series that began 11 years earlier with Danger Man
in 1960", as well as "the most ambitious and most expensive
of Sir Lew Grade's international action adventure series". The
Persuaders! was filmed in Britain, France and Italy between May 1970
and June 1971.
Despite its focus on the British and
American markets, the show became more successful in other
international markets. It won its highest awards in Australia and
Spain, and Roger Moore and Tony Curtis were decorated in Germany and
France for their acting. It persists in the memory of European
film-makers and audiences, having been casually referenced in
21st-century productions made in Sweden, France, Britain and Germany.
The show used many of the resources of
Moore's previous show, The Saint. These included locations and the
idea of reusing many of the visible vehicles from episode to episode.
The most obvious, however, were the many guest stars and second-level
actors who had played parts in The Saint and who also appeared in The
Persuaders!, one example being the undertaker role performed by Ivor
Dean, who had portrayed police inspector Claud Eustace Teal in The Saint.
The Persuaders are two equally-matched men
from different backgrounds who reluctantly team together to solve
cases that the police and the courts cannot.
Danny Wilde (Tony Curtis) is a rough
diamond, educated and moulded in the slums of New York City, who
escaped by enlisting in the US Navy. He later became a millionaire in
the oil business. Curtis himself suffered a tough childhood in the
Bronx, and served in the US Navy. He was 46 when he made The
Persuaders, but he performed all his own stunts and fight sequences.
Lord (Brett) Sinclair (Roger Moore) is a
polished British nobleman, educated at Harrow and Oxford, a former
British Army officer and an ex-racing car driver, who addresses his
colleague as "Daniel".
a pair of globe-trotting playboys, the men meet on holiday in the
French Riviera, instantly disliking each other and destroying a hotel
bar during a fist-fight. They are arrested and delivered to retired
Judge Fulton (Laurence Naismith right), who offers them the choice of
spending 90 days in jail or helping him to right errors of impunity.
Grudgingly, Wilde and Sinclair agree to help Fulton to solve a case.
He then releases them from any threat of jail.
The men develop a sparing affection for
each other and soon stumble into more adventures, sometimes by
chance, sometimes on commission from Judge Fulton. Although the Judge
recurs in the series, he has no formal relationship with his two
agents. Eleven episodes depict his finding a way to convince Wilde
and Sinclair to act on his behalf. For instance, in "Angie,
Angie" he easily convinces one of the pair. In "The Man in
the Middle" he endangers his agents so that they must act in his
behalf. When they are short of cash he lures them with money. In
"Powerswitch" he manipulates events from the shadows, and
Sinclair and Wilde do not know that he is involved.
episodes rely on Danny being mistaken for other people, usually by
some bizarre coincidence. In "Element of Risk", he is
mistaken for a criminal mastermind named Lomax, played by Shane
Rimmer. In "Anyone Can Play", he is mistaken at a Brighton
casino for a Russian spy paymaster.
In episode 12, "That's Me Over
There", it appears that Sinclair has had a longstanding interest
in crime-fighting, as he has had a dedicated telephone line installed
for an informer on a master criminal. In episode 17, "Five Miles
to Midnight", Sinclair tells Joan Collins's character that he is
working for the judge because it has given him something worthwhile
to do after his failed motor racing career. Wilde never reveals or
explains his motives.
The Persuaders! titles and synthesiser
theme, by John Barry, establish the background and current identities
of the protagonists via split-screen narrative technique: two
dossiers, one red, one blue, labelled Danny Wilde and Brett Sinclair
simultaneously depict their lives. The younger images of Tony Curtis
are genuine, whereas the images of Roger Moore were mock-ups created
for the credits. Moore said that no good photos existed of him as a
child so the black and white boyhood picture of Brett Sinclair in the
opening credits, is that of his son Geoffrey Moore. As the
biographies approach their current ages, a series of four short
sequences combine live footage with torn newspaper clippings,
connoting their excitingly peripatetic lifestyles. The conclusion
shows them together enjoying a life of sport, drink, women and
gambling. The titles were specifically designed so that neither actor
would appear to have top billing, something both Moore and Curtis
stipulated when they agreed to co-star.
title sequence retains a certain cachet among professional film
editors. In 1995, Peugeot released an advertisement for the 306 car,
with the theme of the opening title sequence, the split-screen
process and even the voice of Michel Roux, who dubbed Tony Curtis in
the French broadcast of the original series. In 2007, France 2
satirically used it to introduce a report about relations between the
newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his first Prime
Minister François Fillon. The show's theme song was even
sampled in Snoop Dogg's 'Lavender' video.
The Presuaders drive signature cars. Danny
Wilde drives a red left-hand-drive Dino 246 GT (chassis number
00810). Brett Sinclair drives a UK-registered Bahama Yellow right-hand-drive
Aston Martin DBS (chassis number DBS/5636/R) with V8 wheels and
markings. Both cars were provided to the show's producers courtesy of
the respective vehicle manufacturers.
As with Simon Templar - Roger Moore's
character in the television series The Saint - Sinclair's car has
personalised number plates of his initials: Simon Templar's were
"ST 1", Brett Sinclair's are "BS 1" (except for
one scene in the episode "The Gold Napoleon", where the car
is seen with its real UK registration number PPP 6H). The true owner
of the index number of Sinclair's car, Billy Smart, Jr., permitted
its use in the series.
The Aston Martin from the show was sold by
the factory after filming ended, via HR Owen in London, to its first
private owner. It was restored to a very high standard in recent
years by the Aston Martin factory, and is presently owned by divorce
lawyer and noted art collector Jeremy Levison who paid £533,500
at the 2014 Bonhams Aston Martin sale (setting a record). Both Moore
and Curtis have signed the underside of the car's boot (rear luggage
compartment): Moore at Pinewood Studios in May 2003; Curtis at
Cheltenham Racecourse in October 2008. After The Persuaders Roger
Moore when on to take up the role of James Bond but, never got to
drive an Aston Martin in a Bond film. Moore did drive a modified DB5
in the 1981 comedy film, Cannonball Run.
Danny Wilde's Ferrari Dino bears Italian
registration plates, 221400.MO (the 'MO' component represents the
city of Modena, which happens to be the headquarters and
manufacturing base of Ferrari). The exact whereabouts of the Dino
today is unknown, but it is reliably believed to be in private
ownership in Italy.
Of course the strangest vehicle in the
series was featured in the episode "The Long Goodbye." A
promotional "rocket car" driven by the "Rocket Soap
Queen" played by Valerie Leon (below), who gets hi-jacked by
The concept of The Persuaders! originated
in one of the final episodes of The Saint titled "The Ex-King of
Diamonds", wherein Simon Templar (Moore) is partnered with a
Texas oilman (Stuart Damon) in a Monte Carlo gambling adventure.
Pleased with that combination, Robert S. Baker and Lew Grade funded
the new series. Unusually, production of the series began and
continued without contracts among the producers and Moore. Moreover,
Moore's role as producer is not obvious from watching the series, but
Curtis confirmed the fact: "Roger was always like the host with
the show, because it was his company that was producing it. I would
say he was the largest independent owner of it; Roger and his company
owned it with Bob Baker, and Sir Lew owned the rest of it."
Curtis became involved in the series
because ITC knew it needed an American co-star to ensure the series
would be picked up by US TV stations. Initially the role was offered
to Rock Hudson and Glenn Ford, but they each rejected the part. ITC
then asked the American Broadcasting Company for a list of suitable
actors that included Tony Curtis. He eventually agreed, and flew to
the UK in April 1970 to commence location filming. However, on
arrival at Heathrow Airport, Curtis was arrested for possession of
cannabis. He was fined £50.
Filming was conducted on location in
Europe (such as location filming in France, Spain, Sweden, and Italy)
and at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire. In total 24
episodes of The Persuaders! were completed. Each episode cost
£100,000, to make. Only one series of The Persuaders was made
because Roger Moore accepted the role of James Bond in the Bond
franchise. In the DVD documentary, "The Morning After", Bob
Baker states that Lew Grade was prepared to finance a second series,
despite its failure in America, by re-casting with Noel Harrison, son
of Rex Harrison, as a replacement for Moore. Baker states that he
convinced Grade that the dynamic that Moore and Curtis had worked out
was unique and it was better to leave the series as it stood.
During the series, Moore acted, officially
and practically, as his own wardrobe stylist. It stemmed from genuine
sartorial interests and because he was marketing a line of clothes by
bespoke men's tailors, Pearson and Foster. Every episode carried the
closing credit, "Lord Sinclair's clothes designed by Roger
Moore", with "Roger Moore" written as a large signature.
There is much speculation about the
professional relationship between Roger Moore and Tony Curtis on- and
off-set. In her autobiography Second Act, Joan Collins (above)
detailed how they did not get along when she was a guest star. She
cited Curtis's foul temper as the reason why the set of the "Five
Miles to Midnight" episode was tense. Episode director Val
Guest, in a 2005 interview to the British Film Institute, confirmed
Collins's assessment of Curtis.
In his autobiography, Still Dancing, Lew
Grade notes that the actors "didn't hit it off all that
well", because of different work ethics. According to Roger
Moore's autobiography, Curtis's use of cannabis was so extensive that
he even smoked it in front of a police officer while filming at 10
Despite third-party claims, Curtis and
Moore consistently maintained they had an amicable working
relationship. Moore says: "Tony and I had a good on and off
screen relationship, we are two very different people, but we did
share a sense of humour". While Moore was always prepared to
work overtime, Curtis would not. Moore says, "I was also
producer on The Persuaders! along with Bob Baker. It was our baby and
we wanted to get it done to the best of our ability." Once the
job was done, said Moore, Tony Curtis would be "out of the
door". Moore adds, "But Im not putting him down. He
was a wonderful actor and we were good friends although we
became better friends when we finished shooting." The pair
bonded and remained friends long after the end of the series, Moore
comforting Curtis when the latters son Nicholas died of a
heroin overdose at the age of 23.
In a 2005 interview, Curtis referred to
Moore with affection and stated that he would not participate in a
remake of The Persuaders! without Moore.
At £2.5m, The Persuaders! was the
most expensive British series up to that time. "The budget was
very large," confirms Baker. "Mainly because we had two
stars in it. You could make a series out of their salaries alone. So
it had to work." Each episode took around 12 days to make and
there was always a fun atmosphere on the set. "It couldn't have
been made any other way," says Curtis. "But there was
pressure to make them quicker and cheaper. We made 24, 50-minute
movies in 18 months. And I loved London. I got to become a real
Anglophile and made fabulous friends there."
Script writer Tony Williamson penned
storylines written for a potential second series of the show which
was never made. According to Curtis, Grade wanted to make more
episodes but on a lower budget, which meant dumping the glamorous
locations. "Roger and I talked and thought it wasn't viable
because you weren't going to bring the same savoir-faire to the
series. We wanted to go to exotic places like Hong Kong and South A
merica and to introduce beautiful girls from around the world."
Baker remembers things a little
differently. "Lew wanted to make more Persuaders!, but Roger
didn't. By that time, Roger had the offer to play Bond." Grade
toyed with replacing Moore, but they decided to leave it as it was.
"Otherwise, we'd have made much more," reveals Baker.
"It could have gone on for years."
In an interview at the Empire Awards in
2006 Moore said he owes his life to Curtis, who encouraged him to
follow his example and stop smoking (cigarettes). "When we began
shooting [The Persuaders] Tony gave me a book on how to stop smoking.
I didn't read it. I just looked at the picture on the back of an
X-ray of a lung with a red spot on it. The red spot was cancer. The
next day I coughed up blood while smoking a cigarette, and I haven't
smoked since." Pictured below, Sir Roger Moore
was on on hand to present Tony Curtis with his Empire Film Lifetime
The Persuaders formula was simple. Start
with two rich, fun loving playboys, add cool cars, exotic locations,
a mystery to solve and lots of women, including femme fatales,
assorted gal-pals and some in the background without even any lines.
Many of the women guesting in the series were popular actresses or
models of the time having appeared in many other British TV
productions. Some were popular players in the Hammer horror films and
Carry On films while others were already or would go on to be Bond girls.
Susan George (above left) is a
British actress and producer, known for Straw Dogs (1971), Dirty Mary
Crazy Larry (1974) and Enter the Ninja (1981).
Born in Denmark Kirsten Lindholm
(above center) is known for Doctor in the House (1969) and The
Vampire Lovers (1970). The Persuaders was her last role as an actress
after which she persued a career as a healing practitioner.
Annette Andre is best-known for her
work on British television throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Her
most memorable role was starring as Marty Hopkirk's widow,
"Jeannie Hopkirk", in the late 1960s ITV classic, My
Partner the Ghost (1969) but she also guested on many other programs
including The Avengers (1961), The Saint (1962) and The Prisoner
(1967). Andre also starred with Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Michael
Crawford and Buster Keaton, in the 1966 film version of the Broadway
musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
playing "Philia", the virgin. Now semi-retired from acting,
she devotes her time to painting and animal welfare issues with her
husband, both having worked closely with Bill Travers and Virginia
McKenna of the "Born Free Foundation".
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Catherine Schell
(sometimes billed as Catherine von Schell, above left) she has
appered in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), The Return of the
Pink Panther (1975), and the cult sci-fi series Space: 1999 (1975)
playing the role of the alien "Maya". She was the first
actress considered for the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star
Trek: Voyager (1995). However Canadian actress Geneviève
Bujold was cast in that role, only to resign after two days of
filming because she was not used to the demands of a weekly TV
series. The role finally went to American actress Kate Mulgrew.
Joan Collins (above center) is an
British actress and producer, known for Dynasty (1981), Empire of the
Ants (1977) and Land of the Pharaohs (1955) as well as one of the
most popular episodes of Star Trek TOS, "The City on the Edge of
Forever". She also guested on other shows including Batman, The
Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Space: 1999. Collins was awarded the OBE
(Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1997 Queen's New
Year's Honours List for her services to drama.
Sinead Cusack (above right) is
originally from Dalkey, Ireland and is known for V for Vendetta
(2005), Eastern Promises (2007) and Wrath of the Titans (2012). She
has been married to Jeremy Irons since March 28th, 1978 and they have
Juliet Harmer (above left) is a
British actress, known for Adam Adamant Lives! (1966), The Avengers
(1961) and Quest for Love (1971).
Anna Gael (above center) was born
in Budapest, Hungary. As an actress she is known for "Take Me,
Love Me" (1970), "The Love Factor" (1969) and "Via
Macau" (1966). Gael gave up acting in 1970 to pursue role as a
highly-regarded war correspondent and covered conflicts in Vietnam,
South Africa and "the troubles" in Northern Ireland. Her
daughter Lenka Thynne is now a highly sought British fashion model.
New Zealand actress Anouska Hempel
(above right) is also known for On Her Majesty's Secret Service
(1969), Space: 1999 (1975) and Tiffany Jones (1973). It is claimed
that in 1998, Hempel bought the UK rights to Tiffany Jones and Russ
Meyer's controversial film Black Snake to keep them out of
distribution. It has not been seen on UK television, though it has
been released on DVD there. Meyer was dissatisfied with the film, and
for years afterwards he complained of Hempel's unsuitability for her
part. He was reportedly so disappointed about the size of Anouska
Hempel's chest that he edited footage of larger breasts into her nude
scenes. Her first husband Constantine Hempel, with whom she had a son
and daughter, was a journalist and property developer who died in a
mysterious car accident in Knightsbridge. Hempel and her second
husband, theatrical producer Bill Kenwright, divorced after two years
of marriage in 1980. Later that year, Hempel married financier Sir
Mark Weinberg (making her now Lady Weinberg), with whom she has a
son, Jonathan. Hempel is now a hotelier and designer who in 2002 was
ranked by Architectural Digest as one of the top 100 interior
designers and architects in the world.
Cyd Hayman (above left) originally
planned to become a journalist but turned to acting appearing in
Manhunt, The Lotus Eaters, Crime of Passion, The Rivals of Sherlock
Holmes, The Two Ronnies and The Persuaders".
Penelope Horner (above center) is a
English actress, known for Half a Sixpence (1967), Triangle (1981)
and The Devil's Daffodil (1961).
Suzanna Leigh (above right) began
working in movies while still a pre-teen, appearing as an extra in
1958's Tom Thumb (1958). Leigh also starred in The Saint (1964),
Paradise, Hawaiian Style (1966) with Elvis Presley and Boeing, Boeing
(1965) with Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis. Leigh was the goddaughter of
actress Vivien Leigh, from whom she received her stage name.
June Ritchie (above left) is an
English actress who is also known for A Kind of Loving (1962), Three
Penny Opera (1963), The Saint (1966) and Armchair Cinema (1973).
Rosemary Nicols (above center) is
an actress and producer, known for Department S (1969), Fathers and
Sons (1971) and Undermind (1965).
Diane Cilento (above right) was
nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her
performance in Tom Jones (1963) and appeared in The Third Secret
(1964) the following year but she allowed her film career to decline
following her marriage to actor Sean Connery, the second of her three
husbands, to whom she was married from 1962-1973. They had one son,
the actor Jason Connery. She also had a daughter, Giovanna, with her
first husband. Cilento has stated that she was beaten unconscious by
Connery in their hotel room during filming of The Hill. In Connery's
James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967), she doubled for her
husband's co-star Mie Hama in a diving scene because Hama was
indisposed. Cilento also starred with Charlton Heston in the 1965
film The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), and with Paul Newman in the
1967 western film Hombre (1967). She died on October 6th, 2011 while
living in Australia.
Gladys Cooper (above left) started
acting in the silent era in 1913. Her last acting job was in The
Jennie Linden (above center) is an
English actress, known for Women in Love (1969), Dr. Who and the
Daleks (1965) and Lillie (1978).
Viviane Ventura (above right) has
appeared in A High Wind in Jamaica (1965), The Wild Wild West (1965)
and Carry On Jack (1963).
Nicola Pagett (above left) and is
known for An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), There's a Girl in My Soup
(1970) and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). Born in Egypt, Pagett
spent most of her childhood in Japan and Hong Kong because of her
father's job. As a teenager, she was sent back to the UK to attend a
Catholic boarding school. Afterwards, her parents planned for her to
attend a finishing school in Switzerland, but she chose to go to
RADA. Pagett chronicled her experiences with manic depression in a
1998 book titled "Diamonds Behind My Eyes."
Suzan Farmer (above center) is an
actress, known for Secret Agen (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness
(1966), Monster of Terror (1965), The Caesars (1968) and four
episodes of The Saint with Roger Moore. Farmer met Ian McShane
(Deadwood) on the set of Wild and Willing. They married in 1965, but
divorced 1967 due to his heavy drinking.
Suzy Kendall (above right) was one
of the most popular British actresses of the 1960s but never really
sought out fame. Born as Freida Harrison, her goal was actually to be
a clothing designer and she majored in fabric and fashion design at
Derby College. In pursuing her studies, she ran into fashion
photographers and agents who urged her to go into modeling. While not
particularly interested she was flattered and saw a chance to make
some extra income. In addition, she saw it as a way to draw attention
to her fashion ideas. She signed up with a recommended agency, who
gave her the name Suzy Kendall and to her surprise, she immediately
was in constant demand. Before long, she began to receive film offers
and, while not trained as an actress, was persuaded by her agents to
accept film and television roles. The first roles were minor in
nature, but included a part in the spy caper The Liquidator (1965),
which was a major success. She later became internationally known
with her prominent role in To Sir, with Love (1967).
Prunella Ransome (above left) is
also known for Who Can Kill a Child? (1976), Far from the Madding
Crowd (1967) and Man in the Wilderness (1971).
Anne De Vigier (above center) also
appered in The Forsyte Saga (1967) and The Saint (1962).
Anna Palk (above right) was
educated at Rise Hall Convent in Yorkshire and trained as an actress
at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. She followed this
with rep at Bristol, Leatherhead and Leeds before embarking on a
successful film and television career. Her stage appearances included
productions of Smith By Any Other Name, School for Scandal, Present
Laughter, Butley (in Vienna), Sexual Perversions (in Chicago) and a
number of national tours.
Kate O'Mara (above left) was an
English actress who attracted notice in Hammer Studio horror films as
tawdry, darkly alluring femmes in both The Horror of Frankenstein
(1970) and The Vampire Lovers (1970). Her TV credits include Doctor
Who (1963), Absolutely Fabulous, Crossroads (2001) and as Joan
Collins equally bitchy sister for one season of Dynasty (1981).
O'Mara died in 2014 at age 75.
Jenny Hanley (above center) is an
English actress, known for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969),
Scars of Dracula (1970) and The Flesh and Blood Show (1972). Hanley
also co-starred in two episodes of Man About the House.
British actress Sue Lloyd (above
right) trained in dance as a child, studying at the Sadler's Wells
School at age 11. Since her height (5' 8") decreased her chances
of a ballet career, the statuesque Sue instead became a chorus girl
and showgirl. After some modeling assignments, she broke into
television in the early 60s with The Avengers (1961) and The Saint
(1962), which, in turn, propelled her into a spy series The Baron
(1966) and other espionage films, notably The Ipcress File (1965)
starring Michael Caine, No. 1 of the Secret Service (1977) and the
comedy spoof Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978).
Scottish born Melissa Stribling
(above left) also co-starred in Horror of Dracula (1958), The
Avengers (1961) and The Passenger (1971).
Magda Konopka (above center) was
born in Warsaw, Poland, from Catholic Polish nobility. As an an
actress, she is also known for When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)
and A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof (1968).
Yutte Stensgaard (above right) was
a former au pair and model who emigrated to the UK from Denmark in
1963, hoping to have a successful international film career.
Ironically didn't make her debut in a British film, but in the
Italian movie The Girl with a Pistol (1968) which did have some
British backing. She then went on to appear in various British
movies, mainly of the comedy or horror genre, most famously the lead
role in Lust for a Vampire (1971), as well as several television
guest roles including The Saint (1968), Broaden Your Mind (1969) and
Doctor in the House (1969-70). She also had small roles in If It's
Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), Scream and Scream Again (1970)
and Doctor In Trouble (1970). Stensgaard auditioned for the part of
the Doctor Who companion (Jo Grant), alongside third Doctor Jon
Pertwee in 1970. Towards the end of her career she appeared in
pantomime and the stage-farce Boeing-Boeing (1971). She also appeared
on TV as a hostess on the popular game show The Golden Shot hosted by
Bob Monkhouse. After struggling with myopic casting directors she
gave up acting and emigrated to the USA in the mid-seventies and took
up a job selling air time for a Christian radio station in Oregan,
marrying second husband John Kerwin. Her first husband was art
director Tony Curtis (who shares the same name as her Persuaders
co-star). Reluctant to make appearances at horror conventions or talk
about her acting career Stensgaard's inimitable beauty lives on as
even today her image continues to grace the covers of numerous book
and magazine publications.
Sarah Lawson (above
left) is an English actress, known for The Devil Rides Out (1968),
The Odd Man (1960), The Saint (1965), The Avengers (1966), Department
S (1969) and Jason King (1971).
(above center) is also known for Will Any Gentleman...? (1953), The
2nd Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World (1965) and the UK
series General Hospital (1973 - 75).
Lois Maxwell (above
right) is known best as "Miss Moneypenny" in the James Bond
films. She started out against her parents' will, and without their
knowledge, in a Canadian children's radio program, credited as
"Robin Wells". Before the age of 15 she left for England
with the Canadian army's Entertainment Corps and managed (after her
age had been discovered) to get herself enrolled in The Royal Academy
of Dramatic Art, where she met and became friends with Roger Moore.
Her movie career started with a Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
production, Stairway to Heaven (1946). After having won The Most
Promising Newcomer Golden Globe Award in 1947, she went to Hollywood
and made six films before she decided to try her luck in Italy. She
had to leave Italy to go to England when her husband became ill, and
since then she has had roles in a numerous TV projects (Danger Man,
The Avengers, The Saint, Stingray, Department S, UFO) and movies
including the first 14 Bond movies. While still acting in the Bond
films during the 80s Maxwell also became a regular columnist for the
Toronto Sun newspaper. She officially retired in 1989.
Penny Sugg (above left) also
appered in Color Me Dead (1969), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and
The Protectors (1972).
Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Nina Baden-Semper
(above center) was a dancer when she first came to Britain, before
going on to act. In an acting career that spans more than 40 years,
Nina Baden-Semper has appeared in numerous radio, television, film
and theatre productions and has toured worldwide in many plays. Her
credits include: Love Thy Neighbour (1972 - 76), George & Mildred
(1979), Carry On Up the Jungle (1970) and Crossroads (2002).
Vicki Woolf (above right) is an
English actress also known for The Saint (1962) and The Great Waltz (1972).
Imogen Hassall (above left) is
sometimes referred to as "The Countess of Cleavage" as she
was better known for her glamorous celebrity than her acting talent
and rose to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s as an
international B-movie starlet. To her frustration, her fame was brief
and she never became a star. She died at age 38, in London on
November 16th 1980, after taking an overdose of sleeping pills.
Madeline Smith (above center) is a
shapely, dark haired British actress who appeared in a number of
sensual film and TV roles that showcased her beauty. She is probably
best recognizable as Miss Caruso, the beautiful young Italian agent
sleeping with James Bond in the opening of Live and Let Die (1973)
whose blue dress zipper meets its match in Bond's magnetic watch.
Hannah Gordon (above right) also
played Kirsty McClaren in Doctor Who (1966-67) and co-starred in The
Elephant Man (1980), Watership Down (1978) and Made of Honor (2008).
Rose Alba (above left) was an
actress, known for Thunderball (1965), BBC Sunday-Night Theatre
(1950) and One Step Beyond (1959). She died in January 2006 in
London, England of natural causes.
Joanne Dainton (above center) was
born in Winnipeg, Canada and has also appeared in The Avengers (1961)
and The Saint (1962).
Jasmina Hilton (above right)
trained at LAMDA and worked under her maiden name until 1969. She
began her career at the Oxford Playhouse. Other theatre followed
including appearances at Dublin, Stratford and London. Hilton was
educated in England, America and Switzerland. Her first husband was
barrister John Howard Hilton. Her second husband is Charlie Daniel.
After 30 years abroad, Jasmina returned to England and to acting,
changing her professional name to Jasmina Daniel.
Carmen Munroe (above left) was born
in Berbice, British Guiana and has co-starred in Doctor Who (1963),
Desmond's (1989) and From a Bird's Eye View (1970). Munroe is is one
of the founders of Talawa, the UK's leading black theatre company.
Munroe and Mona Hammond, Inigo Espegel and Yvonne Brewster
established the company in 1985. Munroe was awarded the O.B.E.
(Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2007 Queen
Elizabeth's Birthday Honors List for her services to drama.
Julie Crosthwaite (above center) is
also known for Armchair Cinema (1973), Madhouse (1974) and The Picnic (1975).
Vivian Neves (above right) has only
three acting credits listed: Whirlpool (1970), The Persuaders (1971)
and The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978). Neves was best known as a
British glamour model, being the first woman to appear naked in a
broadsheet newspaper (March 17th 1971 full-page advert for Fisons
Pharmaceuticals in The Times), and for her regular appearances on
Page 3 of the tabloid newspaper The Sun. She posed as Pet of the
Month in Penthouse magazine and became known as "The Body"
twenty-five years before the same nickname was applied to supermodel
Elle Macpherson. A poster campaign by clothing company Nelbarden
featured Neves in a swimsuit and appeared comprehensively on the
London Underground. Neves retired from modeling in early 1973. In the
mid-1980s Neves set up the Vivien Neves Modelling Agency,
specialising in Page 3 work. Neves married photographer John Kelly
and they had one daughter, Kelly, who herself became a Page 3 girl in
the 1990s. Neves was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1979, and
her marriage to Kelly was dissolved in 1985. Neves died on December
29th 2002, at age 55 after contracting pneumonia.
Born in London, Jean Marsh (above
left) became interested in show business while taking dancing and
mime classes as therapy for a childhood illness. After attending a
charm school and working as a model, she started acting in repertory
and took voice lessons. Her repertory work was supplemented by a
number of film appearances as a dancer. She then spent three years in
America, appearing in Sir John Gielgud's Broadway production of
"Much Ado About Nothing" and numerous TV shows, including
an episode of The Twilight Zone (1959). Along with Harold Innocent
and Terence de Marney, she is one of only three actors to appear in
both Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone. Returning to London, she won
roles on stage, film and TV. It was during this period that she
appeared in Doctor Who (1963), first as Princess Joanna in "The
Crusade" and then as Sara Kingdom in "The Daleks' Master
Plan." In the early 1970s she co-created and starred in LWT's
Upstairs, Downstairs (1971). Since then she has maintained a very
busy career in the theatre, on TV - including Return to Oz (1985) and
Willow (1988). She also co-created another successful series, The
House of Eliott (1991).
Valerie Leon (above center) was the
"Rocket Soap Queen" in the episode "The Long
Goodbye." Leon was featured in numerous Hammer and Carry On
films as well as The Spy Who Loved Me ("I have a message for
you." "I think you just delivered it!") and Never Say
Never Again (as the lady who "catches" Connery's 007 on her
Geraldine Moffat (above right) has
also appeared in UFO (1970), Six Days of Justice (1972), Will
Shakespeare (1978), The New Avengers (1976), Coronation Street (1973
- 80) and Quest for Love (1971).
Helena Ross (above left) is alson
known for Among the Cinders (1984) and Special Branch (1969). Ross
and her daughter, Laura Hill (playing Nurse Toni Thompson) have both
appeared in Shortland Street.
Twins Karen and Katherine Kessey
were born in Perth, Australia and have appeared together in Out of
the Unknown (1965), Emergency-Ward 10 (1966) and Quick Before They
Catch Us (1966).
Born in Durban, South Africa, Olga Lowe
began her career in support of Carmen Miranda at the age of
seventeen, then joined the Folies Bergère on tour through
North America. Lowe has co-starred in Carry on Abroad (1972), The
Avengers (1961), Armchair Theatre (1956) and EastEnders (1994).
Born in 1943 in London, Margaret Nolan
(above left) had a career as a glamour model under the name of Vicki
Kennedy, even posing for Playboy magazine. She entered films in 1963
in Saturday Night Out (1964) followed by Goldfinger (1964) where she
played "Dink" (she was also "The golden girl" in
the title credits sequence). Nolan also appeared in and A Hard Day's
Night (1964), The Saint (1963) and Crown Court (1973 - 83). Cast in
six "Carry On..." films mainly for her fabulous buxom
figure and good looks, Nolan proved successful at being a comedic
actress with her work being recognised with her name included on
Gordon Young's Comedy Carpet installation in front of Blackpool
Tower. Nolan also appeared in serious theatre productions, motivated
by political themes and in one of the first episodes of the
television police drama The Sweeney. As a visual artist, Nolan has
exhibited in London at venues including the Brick Lane Gallery
(2009), The Misty Moon Gallery (2013) and Gallery Different (2013).
Nolan was married to English playwright Tom Kempinski in 1967 and
divorced in 1972. She has two sons.
Carol Cleveland (above center) was
born in England but moved to the United States as a youngster after
her mother remarried a man in the U.S. Air Force. She attended
grammar school in San Antonio, Texas, then John Marshall Junior High
and Pasadena High School both in Pasadena, California. She returned
to London in 1960 and soon began her film career. Cleveland is best
known for her work with Monty Python's Flying Circus (she's referred
to as "The Female Python").
Beulah Hughes (above right) also
appeared in Supergirl (1984), Hands of the Ripper (1971) and The
Greek Tycoon (1978) as well as uncredited roles in Monty Python's
Flying Circus and Space: 1999.
the series was placed in the 1971 top 20 of most-viewed shows in
Britain, Lew Grade wanted it to do well in the profitable American TV
market. It followed his earlier series such as Man in a Suitcase, The
Champions, and The Baron. But The Persuaders made little impact in
America, airing on ABC on Saturday nights opposite Mission:
Impossible. Its poor ratings stood out particularly because Mission:
Impossible was not one of the U.S.'s top 30 of programmes in 1971.
ABC pulled the series before all 24 episodes were aired.
ITC subsequently sought to repackage and
re-release the series in the American market, by editing eight of the
episodes together and releasing them as four 90-minute TV movies
(each comprising two episodes from the series, typically missing only
their original opening and closing title sequences).
London Conspiracy (taken from the episodes
"Greensleeves" and "A Home of One's Own"),
Sporting Chance (from "Someone Waiting" and "Anyone
Can Play"). Mission: Monte Carlo (from "Powerswitch"
and "The Gold Napoleon") and The Switch (from "The
Ozerov Inheritance" and "Angie, Angie...").
Despite the overall disappointment in the
UK and USA, the series sold well in other international markets,
particularly Continental Europe. This success allowed ITC to recoup
much of its production costs soon after principal photography was
completed. The series has remained popular in Germany, Denmark,
France, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Hungary and Italy; episodes
are still regularly repeated throughout Europe. In the UK, the series
has had re-runs on Channel 4, Granada Plus, Bravo and ITV4 in the
1990s and 2000s. When the pilot episode, Overture, was screened as
part of Channel 4's nostalgia strand TV Heaven in 1992, that series'
host, comedy writer Frank Muir, said in a Radio Times interview that
The Persuaders "must have been the best bad series ever made...
absolute hokum". However, BBC Radio 5 presenter Dave Aldridge
later asked: "Was seventies TV really this good?"
LOST IN TRANSLATION
Even though popular in many other
countries sometimes the premise and dialogue got lost in translation.
Below are few samples of how The Persuaders was renamed in various countries.
Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Venezuela:
Two Bold Characters
Belgium: The Playboys or Amicably Yours
Denmark: The Hapless Heroes
Estonia: Crooks and Saints
Finland: Rascals and Saints
France: Amicably Yours
Germany: The Two
Greece: The Rivals
Hungary: Two spoons in every soup
Iceland: Brothers in Arms
Italy: Careful about those two
Japan: Two dandies' brilliant adventures
Latvia: The Tricksters
Netherlands: The Seducers
Norway: Golden Boys
Romania: Brett and Danny
Russia: Extra class amateur detectives
Slovenia and Yugoslavia: Rivals
Sweden: Snobs on the Job
Turkey: Relaxed Ones
In West Germany,
Switzerland, and Austria, where this show was wildly popular, and the
series was dubbed in an irreverent way, ad-libbing a lot, thus
departing from the original scripts, and using very funny, often
absurd colloquialisms and phrases. (For example, the speakers even
improvised jokes about their own dubbing work in the process).
Because of that, in West Germany, it had more of a comedy element to
it, more so than its original version, making the characters even
more quirky and lovable. The West German dubbing owes a big part of
this show's success and popularity in West Germany, Austria, and
Switzerland. (The same thing happened there with the dubbing for
Starsky and Hutch). Tony Curtis even asked Rainer Brandt, the West
German speaker, to write the dialogue for the next season, but the
series got cancelled before this could happen. Other countries, such
as France, followed the West German model.
In France Amicalement votre (Yours, Amicably) also became a popular
show because it was based on the redubbed German version instead of
the English original.
The German dubbing was "a unique
mixture of street slang and ironic tongue-in-cheek remarks" and
it "even mentioned Lord Sinclair becoming 007 on one or two
occasions". Dialogue frequently broke the fourth wall with lines
like "Junge, lass doch die Sprüche, die setzen ja die
nächste Folge ab!" (Lad, just quit the big talk, or they'll
cancel the next episode!) or "Du musst jetzt etwas schneller
werden, sonst bist Du nicht synchron" (You have to speed up
[talk faster] now, or else you won't be in sync).
Research from the University of Hamburg
notes the only common elements between Die Zwei and The Persuaders!
are the images. Other than "the linguistic changes entailed by
the process of translation result in radically different
characterizations of the protagonists of the series. The language use
in the translations is characterized by a greater degree of sexual
explicitness and verbal violence as well as an unveiled pro-American
attitude, which is not found in the source texts".
In 2006 a news story by CBS News on the
German dubbing industry mentioned The Persuaders! The report
discovered that many German dubbing artists believed that
"staying exactly true to the original is not always the highest
aim". Rainer Brandt, co-ordinator of the German dubbing of The
Persuaders and Tony Curtis' dubbing voice, said "This spirit was
invoked by the person who oversaw the adaption and also performed
Tony Curtis' role: When a company says they want something to be
commercially successful, to make people laugh, I give it a woof. I
make them laugh like they would in a Bavarian beer garden."
Other researchers suggest international
versions of The Persuaders! were given different translations simply
because the original English series would not have made sense to
local audiences. For instance the nuanced differences between the
accents and manners of Tony Curtis, the American self-made
millionaire Danny Wilde from the Brooklyn slums, and Roger Moore, the
most polished British Lord Sinclair, would be hard to convey to
foreign viewers. Argentinian academic Sergio Viaggio commented
"how could it have been preserved in Spanish? By turning Curtis
into a low class Caracan and Moore into an aristocratic
Madrileño? Here not even the approach that works with My Fair
Lady would be of any avail; different sociolects of the same
vernacular will not do, much less in subtitling, where all
differences in accent are irreparably lost".
The entire series was remastered for DVD
release in Europe in 2001 and in 2006, because of its popularity in
Britain, a nine-disc DVD special edition boxed set was released, with
extra material to the complete, uncut, re-mastered 24 episode series.
In September 2011, the Region B Blu-ray
box set containing all remastered, restored episodes of The
Persuaders! was released to considerable praise from reviewers. In
Region 1, A&E Home Video released the entire series on DVD in two
volume sets in 2003/2004. On September 10th, 2014, it was announced
that Visual Entertainment had acquired the rights to the series in
Region 1 and would re-release all 24 episodes on DVD.
A motion picture was announced in 2005
with Steve Coogan and Ben Stiller. In 2007 Hugh Grant and George
Clooney were later announced as the stars with Stiller attached as
producer. The film was slated for a December 2008 release. Years
later though, it can be assumed this project was abandoned. Still
rumours persist about bringing The Persuaders! back, one idea even of
had Jamie Lee Curtis teaming up with Moore's daughter, Deborah.