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"My name is Templar, Simon Templar."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator



The Saint is an ITC mystery spy thriller television series that aired in the United Kingdom on ITV between 1962 and 1969. It was based on the literary character Simon Templar created by Leslie Charteris in the 1920s and featured in many novels over the years. He was played by Roger Moore. Simon Templar was essentially a Robin Hood who stole from criminals, but kept the money. His nemesis was Chief Inspector Claude Teal, who considered Templar a common criminal no matter from whom he stole (shades of Les Miserables).

As a result of the strong performance in the United States of the first two black-and-white series in first-run syndication, NBC picked up the show as a summer replacement in its evening schedule in 1966. The programme, therefore, ended its run with both trans-Atlantic primetime scheduling and colour episodes. It also proved popular beyond the UK and US, eventually airing in over 60 countries.

With almost 120 episodes, the programme is exceeded only by The Avengers as the most productive show of its genre produced in the UK. As with The Avengers, the colour episodes were originally broadcast in the UK in black and white before the advent of colour transmissions on ITV.

Roger Moore had earlier tried to buy the production rights to the Saint books himself, and was delighted to be able to play the part. Moore eventually became co-owner of the show with Robert S. Baker when the show moved to colour and the production credit became Bamore Productions. Most of the wardrobe Moore wore in the series was his own (just as he would later do in the series The Persuaders).

He was reportedly offered the role of James Bond at least twice during the run of the series, but he had to turn it down both times due to his television commitments (just as Pierce Brosnan had to do the first time he was offered the role of 007). In one early episode of the series (titled "Luella"), another character actually mistakes Templar for Bond.

Moore had a few recurring co-stars, especially Ivor Dean (above left), who played Templar's nemesis, Inspector Teal. In three early episodes, Teal had been played by Campbell Singer, Norman Pitt, and Wensley Pithey; Dean featured from the episode "Iris" (November 7th 1963) onward. Teal's relationship with Templar was broadly similar to that depicted in the novels, but in the series, he is often depicted as bungling, rather than merely Charteris's characterisation of him as an officious, unimaginative policeman. When in France, Templar had a similar relationship with Colonel Latignant (Arnold Diamond). Latignant is depicted as being even less competent than Teal, and is even keener than Teal to find Templar guilty, though Templar repeatedly helps him solve the case. Unlike Teal, Latignant did not appear in Charteris's novels. In all, Inspector Teal featured in 26 episodes and Colonel Latignant in six.

The Saint began as a straightforward mystery series, but over the years adopted more secret agent- and fantasy-style plots. It also made a well-publicised switch from black-and-white to colour production midway through its run. The early episodes are distinguished by Moore breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the audience in character at the start of every episode. With the switch to color, this was replaced by simple narration. Invariably, the precredits sequence ended with someone referring to (and/or addressing) the Saint by name – "Simon Templar"; at this point, an animated halo appeared above Templar's head as the Saint looked at the camera (or directly at the halo). Some episodes, such as "Iris", broke away from this formula and had Templar address the audience for the entire precredits sequence, setting up the story that followed.

Many episodes were based upon Charteris's stories, although a higher percentage of original scripts were used as the series progressed ("Queen's Ransom" was both the first colour episode and the first episode not to be based on a Charteris work). The novel Vendetta for the Saint, credited to Charteris but written by Harry Harrison, was one of the last Saint stories to be adapted. Some of the later scripts were novelised and published as part of the ongoing series of The Saint novels, such as The Fiction Makers and The People Importers. The first of these books, which gave cover credit to Charteris, but were actually written by others, was The Saint on TV, and the series of novelizations continued for several years after the television program had ended.

Templar's car, when it appeared, was a white Volvo P1800 with the number plate ST1. This model Volvo is still often referred to as "the Saint's car", with miniature versions made by Corgi which have proved popular. The show primarily used three Volvo P1800 sports cars during the series’ run. The first, a ’62 model built in the U.K. The original would later be found on a North Wales farm in 1991 and eventually restored. Next came a ’64 1800 S, manufactured in Sweden. After Volvo updated the 1800 S design in 1965, the show shifted to the newer model after "blowing up" the Saint’s old one behind a hedge. That new ride was kitted out with an interior fan, for actors working under sizzling stage lights. Another became Moore’s personal ride. Moore initially had wanted a Jaguar XK150 but, Jaguar declined to supply one for the series, claiming the company didn’t need the publicity. Moore recalled, "So our production manager showed me a picture from a motoring magazine of a P1800, and I thought: Looks even better than the Jag."

Unlike its contemporary rival, The Avengers, The Saint was shot entirely on film from the beginning, whereas the first three series of the other series (broadcast between 1961 and 1964) were videotaped, with minimal location shooting. All episodes of The Saint were syndicated abroad.

The black-and-white series were first syndicated in the US by NBC affiliate stations in 1967 and 1968, and 32 of the 47 colour episodes were broadcast by NBC from 1968 to 1969, and have since played in syndication in the US for many years after the '70s sequel Return of the Saint aired to high ratings on CBS in 1979–80. Most series are available on DVD in North America.

Two two-part episodes from series 6, "Vendetta for the Saint" and "The Fiction Makers", were made into feature films and distributed to theatres in Europe, and often show up on late-night television in America. They are also available on DVD.

In the TV series, the Saint lives in London, though the exact address is never revealed, and he is seen travelling to locations across London, the UK, and around the world. The whole series was shot at Associated British Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, with very few scenes shot on location elsewhere. This was achieved by making extensive use of the sets at Elstree, early blue-screen technology to simulate different locations in the background, painted or projected backdrops, and revolving painted backdrops for moving scenes. A few exceptions exist, such as the extensive location shoot on the island of Malta for "Vendetta for the Saint". Look-alikes were used for location shoots where the Saint is seen in the distance entering a well-known building or driving past the camera at speed.

The black-and-white episodes of The Saint were made in two production runs, the first, of 39 episodes, was split into two separate series on transmission, and the second, of 32 episodes, again split into two series on transmission. Series five, the first to be produced in colour, consisted of a production run of 32 episodes. The second colour production run consisted of 15 episodes, and has a revamped theme. During transmission of series five, transmission of the episodes caught up with production, meaning repeats of some of the black-and-white episodes had to be slotted into the schedule to slow the broadcast of new episodes (this had little impact on viewers, as the colour episodes were being broadcast in black and white anyway). This series started transmission halfway through production, leading to only 26 of the episodes being screened. The three unscreened episodes plus "The House on Dragon's Rock", which in some regions was not broadcast because it was thought unsuitable for children, were then mixed in with series six for transmission.



In 1978, the series was revived as Return of the Saint, starring Ian Ogilvy (below) as Templar. Two further attempts were made to revive The Saint on TV: in 1987, a 46-minute U.S. TV pilot, "The Saint in Manhattan", was made starring Australian actor Andrew Clarke, and in 1989, London Weekend Television in the UK made a series of six film-length episodes starring Simon Dutton.

Return of the Saint aired for one season in 1978 and 1979 in Britain on ITV, and was also broadcast on CBS in the United States. It was co-produced by ITC Entertainment and the Italian broadcaster RAI and ran for 24 episodes. Return of the Saint is a revival/updating of Roger Moore's Saint TV series that had originally aired from 1962 to 1969. The new series starred Ian Ogilvy as Templar, an independently wealthy, somewhat mysterious "do-gooder" known as "The Saint". Templar is shown travelling around Britain and Europe, helping out the people he encounters, though he is also often summoned by past acquaintances.

The series borrowed a few storytelling elements from its predecessor. Once again, each episode began with Simon narrating an introduction to set the scene for viewers, and each pre-credit sequence ended with an animated halo appearing above Templar's head as he was identified. The series also made a recurring reference to the 1930s–40s film series, and the 1940s radio series that starred Vincent Price as Templar: just before the opening credits begin, a short musical phrase is heard that is not part of the theme music for the Return of the Saint, but is the character's signature theme from film and radio. Other than these cosmetic touches, there is no continuity implied between the Ogilvy and Moore series.

One major difference between the two series is that the original was mostly filmed in British studios and locations (although set around the world), while many episodes of Return were filmed on location throughout Europe. The music was written by John Scott and, like the last colour season of the previous ITC production, incorporated Leslie Charteris own theme, which had previously been used in films and on radio. For the French version, Scott's music was replaced with a theme incorporating vocals (as had happened to previous Saint composer Edwin Astley with Danger Man), but Charteris' eight-note theme remained.

Jaguar seized promotional opportunities with Return of the Saint. A decade and a half before, Jaguar had turned down the producers of the earlier Saint series when approached about the E-type; the producers had instead used a Volvo P1800. In Return of the Saint Simon Templar drives an XJ-S with the number plate "ST 1". Miniature versions were made by Corgi. The series was originally conceived as Son of the Saint, with Ogilvy's character identified as the offspring of Simon Templar. As production neared, it was decided to drop the relative angle and make the series about the original character, albeit updated to the late 1970s.

Unlike the earlier series, Return of the Saint did not adapt any Leslie Charteris stories; however, several teleplays (such as "The Imprudent Professor" and "Collision Course") were adapted as novels that were credited to Charteris but written by others. A number of Saint books were reprinted with covers depicting Ogilvy as Templar as a tie-in with the series; these collectable volumes carried the Return of the Saint title. The adaptation of "Collision Course", retitled Salvage for the Saint was published in 1983 (several years after the series ended) and was the 50th and final Saint book to be published in a series of publications dating back to the 1920s. The two episodes of "Collision Course" were also edited together to form the syndicated TV-movie, The Saint and the Brave Goose. Saint creator Leslie Charteris makes an Alfred Hitchcock-style walk-on cameo appearance in the "Collision Course" two-parter.

Ogilvy became very popular in Britain and Europe because of the series and in the early 1980s was considered a major contender for replacing Moore as James Bond. Ogilvy never got the role, but did record a series of popular audiobook adaptations of the Bond novels in the late 1970s and played a Bond-like character for a 1980s TV commercial.

Broadcasts of the series on CBS, which lasted into 1980, sparked a revival of interest in Moore's original series. Robert S. Baker, who developed and produced the earlier The Saint series for Roger Moore, performed the same duties with Return of the Saint. Years later, Baker was also executive producer of the 1997 Saint film starring Val Kilmer as Templar (right).

The Val Kilmer The Saint also starred Elisabeth Shue and Rade Šerbedžija. It was directed by Phillip Noyce and written by Jonathan Hensleigh and Wesley Strick. The title character is a high tech thief and master of disguise that becomes the anti-hero while using the moniker of various saints while paradoxically living in the underworld of international industrial theft and espionage. The film was a financial success but critical response for the film was mixed. The final film bore absolutely no similarity to the books or either TV series (and indeed carried no credit for Leslie Charteris). With that in mind, the producers oddly bought the rights to use the character's name from Robert S. Baker, who held the rights and had developed and produced both The Saint and Return of the Saint.

Two further attempts were made to revive The Saint on television. In 1987, a 46-minute U.S. TV pilot, "The Saint in Manhattan", was made starring Australian actor Andrew Clarke. In 1989-190 to six 100-minute TV films, all starring Simon Dutton as Simon Templar were made for London Weekend Television (LWT) in the United Kingdom. The TV-films were produced in Australia and broadcast as part of the syndicated series Mystery Wheel of Adventure. Titles are: The Saint: The Brazilian Connection, The Saint: The Blue Dulac, Fear in Fun Park (a.k.a. The Saint in Australia), The Saint: Wrong Number, The Saint: The Big Bang and The Saint: The Software Murders.

Roger Moore never played the role again after 1969, though he is heard speaking on a car radio during Kilmer's The Saint.

In September 2009, it was announced that The Saint was to be remade for television by Vancouver-based studio Brightlight Pictures. Scottish actor Dougray Scott was lined up to play Simon Templar. However, no series eventuated.

It was later reported James Purefoy would play The Saint in a remake, production of which was scheduled to begin in July 2011. This also failed to materialize.

In December 2012, it was announced that Roger Moore would produce a new series, which would star Adam Rayner as Simon Templar and Eliza Dushku (pictured left) as his girlfriend Patricia Holm. In a promotion that was later released, it was also shown that Moore would star in the new series, as would his successor in Return of the Saint, Ian Ogilvy.

Production of a pilot episode was completed by early 2013 and underwent reshoots for the ending and to add an extra prologue in November 2015. The pilot was never bought as a series but was retooled as a TV film, getting an online release on July 12th 2017 after Roger Moore's death.

Previous to his role as Simon Templar on The Saint Moore played Beau Maverick, an English-accented cousin of frontier gamblers Bret Maverick (James Garner), Bart Maverick (Jack Kelly), and Brent Maverick (Robert Colbert) in the successful ABC/WB Western series Maverick (1960–1961). Sean Connery was flown over from Britain to test for the part, but turned it down. Moore appeared as Beau Maverick in 14 episodes after Garner had left the series at the end of the previous season. Moore had filmed a Maverick episode with Garner two seasons earlier in which he played a different character. In the course of the story, Moore and Garner's characters switched names on a bet, with Moore consequently identifying himself as "Bret Maverick" through most of the episode. After The Saint Moore would star as Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders! from 1971 to 1972 with Tony Curtis. Moore then took over the role of James Bond from Sean Connery in 1972, making his first appearance as 007 in Live and Let Die (1973), and went on to portray the spy in six more films until his retirement from the role in 1985. Appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991, Moore was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003 for "services to charity". In 2007, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in television and in film. In 2008, the French government appointed Moore a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Moore died in his home in Switzerland at the age of 89.


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