The Top Thirteen Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Episodes To Watch On Halloween OR All Treats, No Tricks! (For The Most Part)

At the risk of giving several readers a case of deja vu, that took a little while, didn’t it? I apologize for the delay and long lull between posts…but it is a great time to say that such periods can be expected on and off here at The Ghostess Talks. And primarily because of at least one of two things…

  • – As much as I hate to admit it, there are times where there really is not much, if any noteworthy news and recent/current tidbits pertaining to the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and around which to craft posts.
  • – The chances are near 100% that if life has not gotten in the way, give or take a few days, I am more than most likely working on the next feature article, I.E. an episode review, list, or something else.

That said, please do not fret what-so-ever whenever there are two-three weeks between posts…if anything, get excited because something grand is to eventually arrive!

Welcome to the first ever list AND Halloween party in the history of The Ghostess Talks! And please do not be spooked by the magic number for this and most lists being thirteen…there is actually a good reason for it. Given that a sizable portion of my lists will be comparing the best that Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) has to offer versus the lesser things (can’t be said enough…no such thing as ‘worst’ here), I feel it best to be even-keeled and split all twenty-six episodes down the middle, giving us thirteen for each end of the spectrum. I will also admit that I just like the number in all of its appropriate mysticism, as well as also like a bit of consistency between most of my lists.

In the wide world of ITC, there is no program far more suited for Halloween than Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). And even though all twenty-six episodes do feature our favorite ghost and white suit wearer to various degrees, some are very much more focused on Marty Hopkirk, his powers, and other ghostly and spooky matters considerably more than others. These are, at least in my opinion, the Randall and Hopkirk episodes best suited for a Halloween soiree screening or a simple holiday binge-watch.

13. “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave”– So many things about this episode that scream Halloween and its inclusion on this list…

  • – The very title itself.
  • – The opening scene in the graveyard with one of only two times we ever see Marty Hopkirk in all of his white-suited glory in the moonlight (the other being the very end of “Vendetta For A Dead Man”…there so should have been more such shots than just two in the entire series).
  • – All of the time spent in and around the cemetery and funeral parlor.
  • – The uber-utilization of coffins between what I consider to be the best part AND quote of the episode courtesy of Marty (This takes me back. Whatever you do, get one that fits!) and the meat of the so-called bad guys’ plot.
  • – The so-called bad guys’ (consisting of probably the most surreptitious funeral home director in all of telly-dom, or at least outside of Six Feet Under, AND his assistant played by Geoffrey ‘Onslow/Keeping Up Appearances‘ Hughes!) use of eighteenth century ghost figure costumes.
  • – As much as it gets on my nerves (as I will cover sometime from now in my review/analysis of this episode AND future lists), one could argue that Jeff’s being handled as a psychopath is borderline Halloween-ish.

So why only #13?

Pure and simply because it is a weak and just not all that good an episode compared to others. This is honestly tied with “The Man From Nowhere” (and I was debating having this episode in this list for the sheer creepiness of a conman stalking a dead man’s widow AND claiming to be her late husband having just returned from beyond the grave, but decided to relegate it to an honorable mention right here) for my utmost lesser episode of all twenty-six. I can and will never lay claim to disliking an original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk episode…but great googily moogily, this one does drive me a little bonkers between everyone BUT Jeff Randall arguably being a villain of sorts (yes, even Marty and Jeannie as much as they initially disbelieve Jeff AND very nearly want to have him committed!) and the central supporting characters not exactly being the most likable and resonating people in the world…a ‘fake’ millionaire and his ‘son and heir’ who is nothing more than a living parody of 60s counter-culture…crazy, man, crazy.

Somebody just walked over my grave indeed.

It really is a shame for this is truly one of the more Halloween-ish episodes of the series. If only ITC had allowed Kenneth Cope to execute his brilliant idea to have actually shown Marty Hopkirk helping the English football team with scoring the winning goal instead of only hearing about preventing the German team from emerging victorious in a dialogue exchange between Jeff and Marty. Such a crafty notion might have actually saved this episode from the rock bottom tier…or at the very least, would have easily, EASILY been the episode’s other best individual moment alongside Marty’s coffin quip.

12. “The Smile Behind The Veil”– And just like that, we are at the episodes that are not necessarily Halloween-ish through and through, but they have one or two such moments that make them an absolute must for inclusion on this list. “The Smile Behind The Veil” being left out would be an utter crime with it having these three features…

  • – A beautifully done cemetery scene with Marty watching over Jeannie placing some flowers at his grave.
  • A seamless segue into the funeral of his new neighbour, Caroline Seaton (who, in my opinion, would have been a fantastic unseen but sometimes talked about ghost character had Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) landed at least a second season/series), and the title-sake scene.
  • And, dare I say, most importantly of all, THE ONE TIME we see Jeff Randall as a ghost, complete with the iconic white suit!

Unlike the entry before it, the storyline of this one is considerably finer with better defined antagonists, the main characters being more on target with their characterization, the main supporting character (the real Donald Seaton) being more sympathetic, and a twisty yet easy to follow plot truly and deservedly distinctive of many a good private eye vehicle. I do wonder how much more remembered this episode would be versus others if it had not been for Jeff briefly being a ghost (which, quite unfortunately, was usurped and misused in the bloody remake…that will be further discussed in a future list) and the episode happening to be the last ever aired one in the London Weekend Television programming order versus only the seventh episode in the production order. Given the rather haphazard manner in which episodes were aired, ANY of the twenty-five episodes other than “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” could have easily been the last ever one (and kinda sorta were given the different affiliates and their airing orders). But I for one am glad this episode had the distinction of being the last one between the left wide open imaginative potential of Marty’s neighbour, among other things, and especially the closing exchange in both dialogue and expressions between Jeff and Marty making for a nice series ending note.

11. “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!”– Speaking of other ghosts…I can hear some of you right now… “Aw, c’mon! Why didn’t you pick “You Can Always Find A Fall Guy” instead of this one?!” Well, and consider this my other honorable mention, “Fall Guy” is not at all a bad candidate for this list, and I certainly thought of it. But, as much as I really, REALLY dig the small display of never-seen-before-or-since powers from Marty…

  • – His ability to change a person’s reflection to that of him.
  • – And communicating with clinically dead people.

…let’s face it, Bugsy ‘Smiler’ Spanio’s display of powers…

  • – Being able to be seen by anyone he chooses.
  • – Altering the color/pattern of what he wears.
  • – Being able to have a cigar.
  • – Pulling other spirits into the past with him.
  • – Weather control(!!! and used to terrifying effect in frightening Jeannie).
  • – Etcetera.

…blows Marty’s “Fall Guy” set out of the water and into orbit. But what surrounds such a marvelous demonstration of what Marty could potentially do, give or take forty years or so (if not sooner, given what Marty can already do AND how strong his vibrations are said to be at least once or twice) is the very reason this episode is only #11. In my Internet meanderings through the years, “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” has tended to be a bone of contention between many a Randall and Hopkirk ghost, with it being liked or disliked with almost no in-between. ‘Almost’ because I consider myself an in-betweener when it comes to critiquing this episode. “Murder!” is overall a terrific concept that just could have been better executed in a couple of spots, most notably the interactions between Marty and Bugsy, which do come off as a bit cartoonish at times. The most particular of those times being when Bugsy knocks Marty to his feet with the old shoulder poke trick (you would think original and forever BEST Marty could have avoided that with his street smarts, gumshoe chops, and overall brains) and the grand climactic ‘fight’ between Hopkirk and Spanio that becomes all the more silly when you stop and think “What on Earth/in Limbo is preventing Bugsy from flexing his ‘better ghost’ muscles against Marty?!” (Please don’t get smart and say budget. :P) And yes, I did just admit that Bugsy is the better ghost of the two, BUT only for that episode, which is why, for better or for worst, I personally hold it to be essential Randall and Hopkirk Halloween viewing…one-legged contest between Marty and Bugsy warts and all.

Courtesy of Icy Twaine AND the Ghost Buds Tumblr.

Aw, don’t pout Marty…twenty-five out of twenty-six episodes ain’t bad (hey, per the episode’s title and its source dialogue, I believe I am entitled to at least one ain’t 😛 ). And in MY book, it is and will always be twenty-six out of twenty-six episodes, even if Bugsy does have a rather phenomenal plethora of powers…come at me Smiler!

10. “When The Spirit Moves You”– Ooooh! One more Halloween-ish aspect of the previous episode…Bugsy was quite the malevolent spirit between haunting his chosen one, Paul Kirstner, for the sole purpose of getting revenge and trying to whack him AND threatening to terrorize Jeannie and ‘fix her for good’. Marty is much more benign, having only told Jeff he was ‘haunting’ him once in “But What A Sweet Little Room” (“Only I can see you Marty, and I sometimes wonder why.” “Because I’m haunting you.”). But here is one of only two episodes that Marty uses his threat of haunting in a considerably more frightening (but definitely awesome) manner. His ‘victim’ being none other than Calvin P. Breem, the world’s worst conman…who almost escapes that title when he manages to get Jeff into the pokey for a shooting he did not do. Certainly not if Marty can help it, as he brilliantly demonstrates in this clip.

I especially love the tone to Marty/Kenneth Cope’s voice throughout this amazing scene, complete with the deliciously ghoulish laugh.

In spite of its berth on this list, this is one of the ultimate gold standard episodes, and for me personally, is interchangeably #5 in my all-time top five, only switching places with “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” because I am admittingly indecisive like that. Just a little all too easy to do with classic and BEST Randall and Hopkirk. But this episode has it all…FANTASTIC cast (including the late, great Anton Rodgers as Calvin P. Breem) and OUTSTANDING story and concept…I will always love when the writers figured out ways to have otherwise non-psychics be able to see and/or hear Marty. Things like that are what make me wish there had been at least a second season/series…that AND characters with incredibly strong return potential like Mr. Breem. No way was he going to stay on the wagon nor away from London…

9. “Who Killed Cock Robin?”– What is Halloween without a seance, or more particularly a session of Ask The Glass, an improvised version of Ouija done with a wine glass in place of the placard and cards with letters and numbers concentrically spread around a table instead of a board. ”Who Killed Cock Robin?” is the one and only instance in the entirety of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) when Ask The Glass was utilized as part of a plot (unless you count the alternate/these days regular introduction with a glass moved by a hand to indicate Jeff Randall and then Marty Hopkirk right before he is killed). Do note that it is only Ask The Glass that is being talked about here, NOT seances in general, for those do play a more significant role in the series, and will be discussed later. The use of Ask The Glass is very, VERY important in that it is not only crucial to the climax of “Cock Robin”, but it also and especially solidifies the establishment of a subtle, but sometimes strong psychic link between Marty Hopkirk’s spirit and Jeannie Hopkirk’s mind/spirit, as evidenced by the struggle with another woman at the session’s helm before Jeannie takes over.

As for the episode itself, I have to confess that it is a middle of the road/somewhat lesser one for me personally because I have never been the largest fan of Agatha Christie knockoff plots, which the storyline is, just centered around a collection of birds. But there are saving graces in the forms of a couple of impeccable Marty moments, notably his interaction with Gabrielle Howe in the aviary (and trying to wake up Jeff in the process) and the aforementioned Ask The Glass sequence.

8. “The Trouble With Women”– Whether or not Ask The Glass/Ouija may be genuinely considered a seance of sorts, we could always consult The Society of Spiritualists (North London Division) about such matters. But something tells me that they do not monkey around with ‘mere parlor games’ while they can conduct REAL seances, complete with a medium. As I mentioned in the previous entry, seances do indeed and quite naturally play a significant role in the Randall and Hopkirk mythos, and this is one of two such occurrences. This particular use of seances may not be the meat of the episode like its soon-to-be-talked-about sibling (you just knew it too would be on this list), but it is a major part of the climax AND, for my money, easily one of the three best parts of an episode (the other two being the beginning with Marty accompanying Jeff AND proving that his bitter cold presence does not affect Jeff, and of course, Marty helping Jeff cheat at poker) that while not the best one, is certainly one of the better episodes with a more straight detective plot. Also, both the portrayal of several spirits trying to make use of a seance (we see that not all spirits don a white suit (the one who tells Marty “And you can push off!” sports a white turtleneck sweater, as well as one of the spirits had a been a chef and another a soldier in their physical lives) and how Marty manages to jump the queue is splendidly and humorously done AND a must-include for any and all Randall and Hopkirk Halloween viewing.

Oh, and one more thing…you would think that at the stage this episode takes place in the London Weekend Television programming order (#23/the fourth to last episode), OR even in the production order (#9) after being telephoned by a hypnotized Fay Cracken (“It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”/#8) and a patient still under anesthesia (“You Can Always Find A Fall Guy”/#5), and especially after being contacted by the Spiritualist Society, all mentioning Jeff Randall, Scotland Yard would FINALLY be on to there being more than meets the eye to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Investigators, and at least give them a little more of the respect they deserve. Bloody skeptics…

7. “Vendetta For A Dead Man”– This is a tricky episode to place and judge on this list. I would argue that this episode is not the most Halloween-ish episode, and yet it definitely has a couple of elements that are very appropriate for October 31st…

  • – Jansen being, without any doubt, one of the two closest damn things to a psycho killer in the entire history/mythos of the series. For all we know AND based on his being in the prison’s psychiatric ward, the very crime Jansen was put away for was being a serial killer…although I realize that he was put away for only eight years. Well, what is to say that Jansen did not hire a savvy criminal lawyer like Ralph Sorrell?
  • – As seen here, the chase scene in the amusement park’s Hall of Mirrors is extremely reminiscent of many a typical horror movie…just with the scary mirror shatters being done by the hero instead of the villain/killer.
  • – The freezer scene with Emile Cavallo-Smith and Marty proving that despite his sense of humor and overall friendly and polite demeanor, he can most certainly have his downright vicious and brutal moments when and if need be.

But back to Jansen…he is the second best antagonist in original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk history, and all credit and some goes to George Sewell and Donald James for that. This episode is easily, EASILY a top-fiver for me personally between Jansen himself, Jeff and Marty having some of the most spot-on characterization of all series entries, this episode being far and away the best Jeannie-centered one, and the story being the utmost beautiful melding of straight detective, supernatural, and suspense in the entirety of the franchise. And as much as I wish to have this in a much higher position than it is on this list, again, its Halloween-ness is up in the air, and a matter of personal perception…so dead middle of the list it has to be.

Although, a factor that could up the Halloween potential of this episode is that had there been at least a second season/series, what is to say that Jansen couldn’t have returned as a ghost? And between his mental instability and flat-out heinousness, I bet his vibrations would make Bugsy Spanio’s seem remarkably tame.

6. “All Work And No Pay”– You cannot get a more perfect segue between the ‘not as Halloween-ish, but kinda Halloween-ish’ episodes and the mostly Halloween-ish entries than this particular one…apart from someone being saved for a bit later, Randall and Hopkirk rogues gallery members do not get any more Halloween than the Foster Brothers.

  • – They are always dressing like morticians.
  • – Their vehicle of choice is a Hearst.
  • – Their home looks exactly like a direct lift of the Addams and Munster mansions, complete with all sorts of Gothic and eccentric decor and what appears to be a permanent Ask The Glass setup (but later on, it is replaced by a circle of tarot cards) on their main table in their drawing room.
  • – They have such an obsession with contacting the dead to the point of resorting to murder to ‘create their own spirits’.
  • – And their obsession is such that they also have to resort to non-supernatural means/I.E. all sorts of ridiculous machinery to get their poltergeist kicks, and at times in a rather lethal manner.

With such aspects, and most especially intentions, you would think that the Super Foster Bros. would truly be the highest placed in the upper echelon of Randall and Hopkirk villains…so what is holding them back?

While not nearly as jarring as “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave”, I personally regard the storyline surrounding the Fosters as among the somewhat weaker of the series. It is a ‘Don’t get me wrong.‘ thing…the episode has its moments, particularly Jeff’s laundromat lunchtime/the rare tiny bit of history about Jeff and Marty and their friendship (as well as finding out that money, fame, and most especially time do not matter to those of a spectral nature), seeing what is quite possibly the most enormous extent of Marty’s powers of the entire series (his vibrations can affect an ENTIRE POWER GRID!!), and the climax with a nude woman wrapped in a newspaper (I am not at all making that up and will say no more to further prompt you to buy the Blu-Rays/DVDs and watch the episode 😛 ). But the overall plot of the Fosters goading Jeannie into working for them AND relying on her naivety towards themselves and their objectives borders on a teeny tiny bit grating.

But if it is any consolation to any and all fans of this episode, I do indeed believe the Fosters to be among Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s best baddies, and having intense return potential had there been a second season/series or beyond. If anything, and at the very least, to deservedly lay claim to being in a stronger episode.

5. “The House On Haunted Hill” – What is a franchise centering around a ghost protagonist without a haunted house? The very title sake alone lands this episode an automatic #5 berth…even if most likely fake. The ending does seem to want to hint that there might, MIGHT be an actual ghost haunting Merston Manor when one seemingly replies to Marty Hopkirk’s joke about his wife’s family and sister at the episode’s near-end. But the laughing ghoul sounds just like one of the ‘few lousy sound effects’ (thank you Jeff Randall) designed to ward off unwanted visitors and would-be intruders alike, as well as alert members of what turns out to be a very covert criminal operation…so Merston Manor really and honestly being haunted remains up in the air. But between the honestly not lousy sound effects and Marty’s thoroughly classic reaction to those effects, the house is still the most rightful co-star of its episode. The other star is Marty of course between his being probably the only ghost in the world afraid of his very exact kind and the dwellings for which that kind are most famously associated. We also get to meet the famous ghost ‘expert’ (but not the only such thing in the series, for there is Dr. Plevett in “Never Trust A Ghost”) in Henry Mace Horsfall, as well as his evidently Sherlockian colleague, Frederick P. Waller…complete with shades of an upcoming episode on this list in that Horsfall seems to not be able to see spirits until Marty somehow, someway awakens his ESP, making for one of the most memorable AND personal most favorite moments of the episode. Also, remember what I said earlier about there were two people Marty threatened to haunt? Mr. Horsfall is that other person besides Calvin P. Breem.

This is one of the two episodes that feature Jennie (her surname/Jean’s maiden name is never ever mentioned), and the only one to solely feature her completely in place of her sister. And she really is more harmless here than she would be in “A Disturbing Case”…if anything, some of the humor in this episode, centering around Jeff’s not being one who wants to settle down and marry no matter how much Marty harps about it (“Hey..if you play your cards right, we could be brothers-in-law!”) and even more especially his constant attempts to land a date, would fall flat without her presence.

Another Halloween-ish aspect of this episode is Lattimer, the other closest damn thing to a psycho killer in the Randall and Hopkirk mythos as much as he absolutely delights in wanting to murder Jeff and Jennie and how gruesome such a act could have been, as well as give the series the closest thing to a jump scare moment when he is dressed as an Elizabethan skeleton. Jansen was a downright nasty character, but even he did not take as much glaringly obvious pleasure in what he aimed to do to Jeannie, his being a perfectionist about the timing of the would-have-been horrible deed aside. In that regard, an argument could be made that Lattimer is the second best ever Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) villain…decisions, decisions…

4. “For The Girl Who Has Everything”– One decision that is not all that difficult to make is having the other haunted hous, er, excuse me, castle episode be a tick higher than “The House On Haunted Hill”. Just like Merston Manor, Crake Castle is not really haunted, but there are certain ‘little things’ that rather nicely create the effect…

  • – Jean Claude’s Sir Hubert De Crake costume.
  • – And most especially Kim Wentworth‘s screams (which I believe raise the volume five notches from where it actually is on the television…careful with your late night viewing, boys and girls!).

The episode also introduces us to the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk mythos’ first and only ever ghost hunter in James McAllister, whose expertise is immediately questioned at the very beginning with his not at all detecting Marty’s presence in Jeff’s flat (“He’s not very good, is he Jeff?”). But to make up for that, “For The Girl” also gives us a character who is unarguably the best good clairvoyant (and really, the only one, if not two when counting the unnamed medium in “The Trouble With Women”) in the series, Mrs. Pleasance. She is also the centerpiece of the only two lowdown dirty shames of the episode…one, it takes Jeff and Marty way too long to remember that she can see and communicate with Marty and in turn help get Jeff out of Crake Castle’s priest hole, and two, that she was not kept alive for one more episode to help out Jeff and Marty again. But Mrs. Pleasance’s unfortunate passing does mark this being one of only a handful of times we see other specters besides Marty Hopkirk. In the production order, this is the very first time we see another ghost besides Marty, but is the second time in the London Weekend Television programming order, with “Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” and Bugsy Spanio being the first in that sequence.

“For The Girl Who Has Everything” is a definite top thirteen entry, with a star-packed cast (including Lois ‘Moneypenny’ Maxwell as Kim Wentworth and Carol ‘then future Monty Python girl’ Cleveland as Laura Slade/Larry Wentworth’s girlfriend), exquisite characterization (Jeff and Marty’s Mrs. Pleasance brain fart moment aside), and a just well done story. Its having one of the more Halloween-ish atmospheres of the series just enhances an overall fine episode all the more.

3. “But What A Sweet Little Room”– Very appropriately with the earlier acknowledging/slight debate about the good clairvoyants of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), we are at the episode that presents the most questionable of such people. The one, the only Madame Hanska (played by Doris Hare alias Stan’s Mum in On The Buses), who whether or not truly good or bad, but definitely a late bloomer with her psychic prowess (making her the first ever such character in the production order, but only second after Henry Mace Horsfall in the London Weekend Television order) is certainly the most memorable supporting character of this entry and among the series’ best supporting characters, helped by her being the absolute focal point with her seance business and its ties to Arthur DeCrecy’s awful operation. The utmost Halloween-ish climax of “But What A Sweet Little Room”, particularly how Marty Hopkirk gets Madame Hanska to spill the beans about DeCrecy’s nefarious schemes (semi-rhyme unintentional), makes us want to believe that Hanska is and has always been good right down to this quote of Marty’s.

“Her aura was rather good…I had no trouble materializing.”

But if she truly was decent, why on Earth would she remotely entertain having any sort of hand in DeCrecy’s evil ways? And I mean EVIL ways…a house and/or a room designed to send clients to their final destination practically the moment they step foot in it? My dear dad, bless his soul, made this harrowing observation the one time he and I watched this episode…

“That house and room is just like something H.H. Holmes would have designed and used.”

For those of you not familiar with H.H. Holmes, he was the most infamous 1893 Chicago World’s Fair serial killer who utilized a ‘murder hotel’ for a great deal of his crimes. He sometimes is theorized to have also possibly been Jack The Ripper, but that is what a grain of salt and the rest of the Internet are for. I don’t know about all of you, but DeCrecy and his house of death being just ever so slightly reminiscent of such an heinous individual in history certainly makes him the most Halloween-ish of Randall and Hopkirk’s non-supernatural rogues.

Well, Jeff and Marty agree with me anyway.

In turn, even if Madame Hanska said to Marty/his Ancient Roman persona that she was going to stop her double dealing and start treading the straight and narrow, there is just no way, no how I can consider her ‘good’ with there being no telling how many customers she sent to their deaths under DeCrecy with their arrangement beforehand. In addition to being another top thirteen worthy episode, there is a very valuable lesson presented here, boys and girls…be extremely careful of the so-called psychics you choose to approach for the curiosities they present.

2. “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”– It should be said that the top three could and should really and honestly all qualify as a collective number one for this list and overall topic. Despite the chosen order, I am immensely hard-pressed to pick a definitive number one between “But What A Sweet Little Room”, this episode, and the upcoming entry. All three episodes have outstanding beyond outstanding Halloween facets, as well as beaucoups of general merit. And two of the three are a true testament to the sheer creative genius of Ralph Smart and how much bonafide love he genuinely had for the concept in all of its uniquely supernatural glory…golly, how I wholeheartedly wish he had written another episode or two. Smart was an absolute master at combining hardboiled straight detective with haunting ghost story. And I will confess that as much as I dig “But What A Sweet Little Room” and all of the fearsome factors of its plot, villain, and certain supporting characters, I have to give “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” the slight edge with its meticulously crafted atmosphere and everything, from amazing characterization out of the gate (which is phenomenal for a pilot episode) to Marty Hopkirk’s spectral origin and fireworks-like display of nearly all of his powers, that is presented in a nice and neat package. Furthering the Halloween ante are several visits to the graveyard, one of the said powers being the possession(!!) of Jeff Randall (the only display of such an ability in the entire series…too bad we did not see Marty possess someone at least one more time, unless what he did to Sir Oliver Norrenton in ”When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?” might count), and the one time we hear the (in)famous “Afore the sun shall arise anew…” rhyme (albeit in bits and pieces), among other things.

In general, the episode is gold standard through and through and should be an automatic top five for any and all Randall and Hopkirk ghosts. And although not as scary as Arthur DeCrecy and his literal house of horror, Sorrensen and ‘murders for hire’ are still formidable antagonists as trigger happy as they are, in addition to being among the most historically significant baddies of the franchise, if not THE most historically significant, with their being the reason Marty Hopkirk ends up as a ghost. And really, it just does not get more Halloween than the story of how, exactly, someone leaves this mortal coil and is transformed into a specter…or does it? 

1. “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?” – The only thing that can be even more Halloween than the origin of a ghost is the uber-potential death of one. You know you truly have a one of a kind series/franchise when a titular character almost, ALMOST dies twice, as Marty Hopkirk quite famously does in this episode when he is nearly exorcised. “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying” goes above and beyond the other twenty-five episodes with its having far and away the most supernatural plot of the entire series, and not just with Marty’s impending exorcism, but also Lord Grade knows what else Cecil Purley is doing to Marty’s being whenever our favorite spirit is not in Purley’s sight. Cecil Purley is, for my money, the most magnificent antagonist in all of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk mythos. With a classic gentle Englishman demeanor concealing the heart of a cold ghost killer, Purley has charisma to the nines. And with his being by far the grandest ever threat to Randall and Hopkirk in that he is the ONLY villain of all featured throughout the course of the series to ever remotely be a threat to the deceased half, Purley virtually is to Randall and especially Hopkirk what Lex Luthor is to Superman, The Joker is to Batman, Doctor Doom is to the Fantastic Four, Professor James Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes, etcetera. If any character makes Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s being only one season/series such a downright pity, it is Cecil Purley, for he had the strongest return potential of all baddies, and I would have LOVED to have seen what further villainy he could have committed, with or without the same gang surrounding him. Who, by the way, are certainly not chopped liver themselves with their overall scheme of not only torturing Marty, but also making a fool out of Jeff around Inspector Large (this episode is notably his debut) too.

In addition to a MARVELOUS story and cast, particularly the one, the only Charles Lloyd Pack as Cecil Purley (and I sincerely could not imagine the character being portrayed by anyone else) and Alexandra “Sharron Macready/The Champions” Bastedo as Carol Latimer/Purley’s assistant, this episode is simply the absolute creme de la creme of the series, and beautifully boasting the most iconic AND Halloween-ish moment in not only the entire history of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but also British and general television with the climax of Marty Hopkirk ALMOST (thank goodness) getting exorcised.

If these are not the most duplicated ever pictures from the show, they rank right on up there. The one on the left has been featured as one of the two British TV Classics postcard representations of classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), as well as a mini-poster on the back of an issue of Time Screen, among other sources. All further hitting home with what an utmost amazing episode this is, and THE ONE to screen at any and all Halloween parties, if you could only pick just one…

…But why pick just one? Why not screen/binge watch all thirteen featured episodes? Or even better yet, why not all twenty-six episodes? The longer and all the more Marty Hopkirk is allowed to haunt your Halloween, the better and all the merrier…right? RIGHT?! Don’t make Marty REALLY haunt you…

Happy Halloween to all fellow Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses AND Happy Birthday to me as of the 31st itself! Neat and coincidental fact: I was born at 3:30 PM EST, which is 8:30 PM GMT, I.E. when Marty Hopkirk was officially killed in the classic and forever BEST mythos…seriously!

Don’t let the ghost gangsters, goofy gothics, naughty psychics as opposed to good ones, and/or sneaky funeral home directors get to ya!

Caroline “It’s the REAL most wonderful time of the year!” Smith

This list, particularly the photos (which are the property of ITV Global Entertainment), as well all other eventual Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) lists would not be possible without the aid of these sources.

2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set and its bonuses, particularly the bonus image gallery for “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”.

2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

A profuse amount of thanks to these sources and their authors, producers, and everyone else involved…let us work together in being ‘Faithful Unto Death’ to keep the Randall and Hopkirk spirit alive.

And please, please, PLEASE buy the Blu-Rays and/or DVDs of the classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)…man and woman cannot AND should not live on Ghostess-written list articles alone.

Further Information:

YouTube – “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” (The ENTIRE(!!) episode available for viewing.)

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The Power Of Thirteen OR In Here, It’s Always Friday The Thirteenth

Happy Friday The 13th! And not just any Friday The 13th, but a rare one that occurs in October! There is no better day to indicate that Halloween is most officially upon us, and at the ridiculously high risk of turning those with triskaidekaphobia off of the program, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) does have some connections to the notorious number.

  •  – In the London Weekend Television programming order, episode #13 is “But What A Sweet Little Room”.
  • – In the production order, episode #13 is “When The Spirit Moves You”.
  • – One of the roulette numbers that comes into play with Aunt Clara’s winning streak in “The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo” is black 13.
  • – There were thirteen episodes in the entire run of the gawdawful Randall and Hopkirk remake. Just when you thought the fact it was even made was already scary enough… o_O

(No, I do not possess triskaidekaphobia…if I did, this post would not have even been a figment of my imagination AND I’d probably be afraid of my own birthdate/Halloween itself being a reversal of 13…but the remake and its people’s choice to have thirteen episodes instead of twelve total or six per series/season was an interesting decision, and yet painfully obvious with all that is eerie.

And, again, there I go having to control my gag reflex at the mere thought of the inferior Randall and Hopkirk laying claim to one more series/season over its forever far more superior overlord.)

  • – When I start getting list articles up and running on this blog, thirteen will be the magic number for such writings. Why? You shall find out quite soon…hint, hint. 😉 But trust me and I will go ahead and say that there is an actual reason for it and certainly not just to be ‘supernaturally cute’.
  • – Marty Hopkirk’s ghostly abilities top out at thirteen(!!) throughout the course of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).
      1. Manipulating electronic devices like phones, tape recorders, lighting/wires/circuitry (“My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”), machines (Sir Oliver Norrenton’s hypnosis disc in “When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”), transportation workings (“Money To Burn”), and power grids (“All Work And No Pay”).
      2. Wind generation via ‘breath’ and traveling/movement, as well as vacuum-like inhalation. The latter was only used/seen twice in “A Disturbing Case”, when Marty slammed shut the Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators office door and later tried to wake up Jeff at the Lambert Clinic. BUT may have also been used in “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” when Marty politely closed Jeff’s flat’s window after possessing him out of bed and the door to the graveyard.
      3. Possession. As demonstrated once, and ONLY ONCE in “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, when Marty seized control of a sleeping Jeff Randall and brought him to the cemetery in a trance-like state. Needless to say, I wish this ability and its effects could have been explored considerably more than it was.
      4. Telekinesis.
      5. Affecting minds/hypnosis/potential latent communication (including, in my opinion, being able to understand other languages as if they are English, as seen/heard in “Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave” when Marty materialized in the German announcing booth at a football match) despite not being seen or heard. Yes, I do count all of this as one and the same…several times throughout the series, Marty proved that he did not need a person or people to be psychic to have an apparent effect on their thoughts, words, and even actions. As for hypnosis…well, if Marty can perform such a feat on animals (as demonstrated in “The Man From Nowhere”), then why not humans too? While all of the human hypnosis was not done by Marty but by humans/mortals, notably Dr. Conrad (“A Disturbing Case”), Sir Oliver Norrenton (“When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”), and Mesmero (“It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”), if it were not for those people and such moments, we would have never learned that Marty can communicate with simply non-concious people as if they themselves are actually dead. But in fan fiction, and one of three actually well done such works (and will link to one day on here if the works can be found/are still online somewhere) incorporating the Randall and Hopkirk universe I have read and by an author who easily, EASILY had the best grasp of the universe, Marty manages to hypnotize Jeff (after having to coerce him into trusting him with his advanced ability and that he would not incapacitate Jeff’s brain and sanity) so that he would feel absolutely no pain from a severe foot sprain caused by a trap set by the villain. Granted, it was not from the mind and pen of Dennis Spooner and his army of writers, but it was/is such a feasible (and not to mention smashingly cool) idea that certainly could have been canon AND further explored that I really, REALLY wish that Spooner and/or one of the script writers had conceived it.
      6. Bitter cold generation. To which, as I noted in my review/analysis of “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, Jeff/a chosen one is more than apparently immune.
      7. Can affect and control animals and their mental capacities. Again, I consider this all one and the same, despite such a power’s range varying depending upon the episode…Marty only affected animals in “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” (frightened off a cat) and “Who Killed Cock Robin?” (alarmed every bird with just his presence in the aviary), while he showed that he can also control them in “For The Girl Who Has Everything” (got a dog’s attention), again “Who Killed Cock Robin?” (got the birds to calm down with the shout of “SHUT UP!”) and “The Man From Nowhere” (as mentioned earlier, kept hypnotizing a dog into falling asleep AND commanding his dreams to consist of fields full of bunny rabbits and lady greyhounds).
      8. Gliding through walls.
      9. Materialization/dematerialization.
      10. Altering his voice (very famously in “A Disturbing Case”, when Marty had to make his voice like that of Dr. Conrad to help Jeff escape from the Lambert Clinic) and appearance before those who can hear and/or see him. The best and ONLY example of the latter being Marty and Madame Hanska’s talk in “But What A Sweet Little Room”, during which was the ONE and again ONLY time Marty sported another article of ectoplasmic clothing, specifically a Roman toga, instead of his iconic white suit. And to which the following from Icy Twaine beautifully and humorously pays homage. Courtesy of Icy Twaine.
      11. Being psychic/knowing when things are going happen/detecting auras and death. Once again, I believe this should all be regarded as one and the same. Even ‘detecting death’ such as whether or not there is a corpse in a room (as displayed in “When The Spirit Moves You” and right down to Marty saying “Jeff, there’s something wrong with this room…there’s a funny feeling.”, “Jeff, the vibrations are all wrong.”, and “That’s it! I told you there was something wrong!” right as the stiff falls out of the hotel room closet.), knowing when guns are still loaded (“Who Killed Cock Robin?”), and being able to ‘feel’ agents of death like bullets (“When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”) and poison darts (again “Who Killed Cock Robin?”) I honestly think qualifies as psychic elements in Marty’s repertoire.
      12. Making objects appear/disappear. As done once, and again ONLY ONCE in “The Ghost Who Saved The Bank At Monte Carlo” when Marty got the roulette ball to disappear from 28, then appear on 29, ruining his Aunt Clara’s otherwise perfect roulette betting system.
      13. Making fresh flowers instantly wilt and die. Yet again, as done once and ONLY ONCE in “The Smile Behind The Veil”.

I very highly doubt that Marty Hopkirk’s known abilities rounding out at thirteen on the dot was ever remotely planned by Spooner and Co, although it is more than most certainly a wild coincidence. And yes, such a list is open to any and all interpretation, even with my cases stated. But hey, it’s made for a cracking article, right? 😉

And what’s a cracking article without another nifty illustration or two? Such as these most delightful ones from an artist and another Tumblr discovery by the name of Spook Doodles!

Courtesy of Spook Doodles.

Courtesy of Spook Doodles.

Both works are not only fantastic glimpses into what classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk would be like if it had been able to use a touch of CGI, but also further explorations of how awesome a Randall and Hopkirk comic could and still can be. I love both drawings, but particularly really like the first one with its outstanding interpretation of when Marty may decide to only be half humanoid in appearance and give his ‘legs’ a rest.

Again, Happy Friday The 13th/proto-Halloween, and who needs thirteen ghosts when a most remarkable one with thirteen powers will do and some!

Caroline “Jason Voorhees has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on Marty Hopkirk.” Smith

Extra! Extra! OR This Post Is Brought To You By The Letter ‘Aitch’

I want to take the time to talk about a wonderful website and its equally wonderful author by the name of Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder.

Aitch has the amazing distinction of having been at least an extra in over eight hundred productions without ever having to leave the United Kingdom. As if that is not incredible enough, he has also worked on the sets of certain productions like Highlander (the first movie, NOT the television series it eventually spawned), The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd: The Wall, four Carry On movies (Up The Khyber, Henry VIII, Abroad, and Dick), Billion Dollar Brain, Steptoe and Son, On The Buses (including the Mutiny On The Buses and Holiday On The Buses movies), The Two Ronnies, Yes Minister, Casualty, EastEnders, Z Cars, The Sweeney (including the Sweeney! and Sweeney 2 films), Fawlty Towers, Doctor Who (fourteen episodes!), Superman, and Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), among quite a few others. Naturally, Aitch’s resume, particularly the 60s/70s portion of it also includes several ITC/Cult properties such as Man In A Suitcase (“The Man Who Stood Still”), The Avengers (“Split!” and potentially other episodes), The Saint (“Legacy For The Saint”), The Champions (“The Silent Enemy” and “Twelve Hours”), possibly Department S, The Persuaders(!) (“Five Miles To Midnight” and “The Time And The Place”), The Protectors (“Dragon Chase”), The Zoo Gang (“Revenge: Post Dated”), Space: 1999 (seven episodes!), and The Professionals (“In The Public Interest” and “Fugitive”).

But Aitch’s most fondly remembered production, or at least among his most fondly remembered productions is that of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). And not just because he wore not one, but two hats during his time as a Randall and Hopkirker…when Aitch was not doing his usual bit work, he would be the stand-in/establishing shot walk-in for Mike Pratt/Jeff Randall. He would also help Mike learn his lines and, when time and work allotted, even have fun with singalongs and jam sessions.

“I was asked ‘’Would you be a stand/in for Mike Pratt if he gets on with you..’’
Now I’m going to say no to a years work. (Not!) We got on like a house on fire from the first day. Mike told me that he and Lionel Bart wrote all of Tommy Steel’s early songs, (Handful Of Songs, Rock With The Caveman and many more). With all the years I spent with the bands we had something in common. We used to have a sing a long in the dressing rooms or where ever we could.”
– Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, the 1969/Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down) of HarryFielder.co.uk

And he did not just get on with Mike Pratt, but also Kenneth Cope as well.

“We did twenty six episodes over the next year and Mike, Ken and I became good friends.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, the 1969/Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down) of HarryFielder.co.uk

And Annette Andre and Aitch went as far as to make up a song together!

“Annie was wonderful..always laughing. And we made up a song..do you want to hear it? Do you want to hear this song? Listen to this.. “Randall and Hopkirk and widower Jean, together again on the telly machine!” *chuckles* That was wonderful…we used to sing that on the set. I mean, it was a bit camp, but that doesn’t matter..it was fun.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

Also per the always highly recommended 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s documentary, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, Aitch even tried his hand at writing out an idea or two for stories/scripts! Which is discussed at 0:29-53 here.

Of the said usual bit work, the onlooker in the “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” episode is by far the most infamous in not only Randall and Hopkirk, but also general British Cult TV circles…and as Aitch himself will tell you, it was not even his own voice!

Although I appeared in a few crowd scenes during the series my claim to fame are those immortal words I say to the onlookers as Hopkirk is run down by the bad guys car.. I compose myself and utter “He’s dead!”. I had a few fan letters in after that scene was shown on TV suggesting I go back in the timber game.. (It wasn’t even my voice, it was dubbed..)” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, the 1969/Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down) of HarryFielder.co.uk

These are only a few (well, actually several with the above video) of myriads and myriads of stories Aitch masterfully tells of such an astounding career all throughout HarryFielder.co.uk. And I not only wholeheartedly recommend reading those stories on the website when you can, but to also purchase Aitch’s book as well. An absolute must for any and all Randall and Hopkirk ghosts as well as those who greatly admire, enjoy, and support British entertainment to the nth degree. And closing words do not get any better than this, as said by Aitch about his time on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)

“It was great to work on, and everyone was friendly.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

Caroline “Every little bit counts.” Smith

PS:

Best wishes to you too Aitch, and thank you for the above each and every day!

Off The Wall OR Poster Child

I am proud to say that I have procured some downright cool and groovy items in my Randall and Hopkirk collecting over the years. But I would dare say that they do not come cooler and groovier than the India travel brochure and Martin Sharp Cannabis Rally (which took place on July 16th, 1967 in London’s Hyde Park) poster that can be seen behind Jeff Randall’s desk in various shots throughout the series.

One late night a decade ago, I got to be quite curious about those items, and did some research, as well as come upon the India brochure on eBay for only $5-10 USD. Needless to say, I grabbed that sucker, and did not look back. I am glad I did to this day and forever because ever since then, I have never, ever seen another copy of that brochure emerge on eBay or anywhere else. Just to be clear and as far as I know, the brochure I have is NOT the very one Mike Pratt owned and transformed into one of Jeff’s own office decorations…although, believe me, I wish it was.

   

As can be seen in the photos, the region of India focused upon was Assam, best known for its tea, silk, and unique wildlife (such as the Indian rhinoceros and wild water buffalo, as utilized in the featured illustration). Unfortunately, there is no indication of who personally did the artwork, but in my opinion, despite being printed in 1959, you honestly ALMOST cannot get more 60s/Swinging London than the outside of that brochure. I say ALMOST because there is still a certain gold and orange poster that can, more often than not, be seen next to said advertising for India/Assam tourism.

That poster, crafted by Martin Sharp, the very man behind the counter-culture magazine OZ and the cover art for Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire (as well as co-wrote “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” and “Anyone For Tennis” with Eric Clapton), took me awhile to obtain due to its rarity AND costing a pretty penny. But it was well worth the wait, and I have to say that be it on film from 1968/69 or on a digital camera today, mere video and photos just cannot express what a stunningly gorgeous work of art this poster is.

Again, my copy is not the very poster you see behind Jeff Randall’s desk, nor the one you VERY BRIEFLY see in the corner of his flat if you keep your eyes peeled during the Jeff’s date part in “Never Trust A Ghost” (if it is not the same one moved over from the office set)…

…although again believe me, I wish. Of all the pictures and art in my home and possession, the Cannabis Rally poster is far and away the standout piece and a top favorite of mine as instantaneously as it catches many an eye with its extravagant but utmost worthy use of gold. The true and absolute epitome of Swinging London culture and 60s/hippie art…and to think I would have never owned it nor would wake up to its phenomenal glory every day if it had not been for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and most especially Mike Pratt taking it upon himself to incorporate his personality and psychedelic tastes into the Jeff Randall character…thanks Mike.

Caroline  “Remember when we were in Afric…er, India?” Smith

PS: Another two weeks have passed since the last time I mentioned it, but please, PLEASE support Randall and Hopkirk Revisited. Time is running out, and it will be heartbreaking to see the original and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk’s one shot at a MUCH deserved sequel be lost. Please, my fellow Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses, let’s make it happen.

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This Is The Interlude This Is OR KC and The Sunny Jim Band

Just a few days ago, I made an outright STUNNING discovery on Spotify…in addition to the near entire original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) soundtrack, there are also some pretty downright cool, humorous, and RARE tracks from the pre-Randall and Hopkirk portion of Kenneth Cope’s illustrious career. A few years before he was Marty Hopkirk, Kenneth Cope became a household name through not one, but TWO shows…Coronation Street and That Was The Week That Was (alias TW3). It was around that time, 1963 to be specific, that Cope was approached about recording a single record/two songs with composer Tony Hatch and a backup group called The Breakaways (NOT The Sunny Jim Band…sorry Corrie fans 😛 😉 )…those two tunes ended up being “Hands Off! Stop Muckin’ About” and “Why Am I So Shy”, the A-side and B-side respectively. And although not a tremendous hit (BUT was the closest thing to a hit single Kenneth Cope ever had), “Hands Off!” did end up landing Cope a disc jockey job with Radio Luxembourg during the mid 1960s.

To my delight AND surprise, given how rare the single is, “Hands Off!” is on Spotify(!!), and at the very moment of discovery, was naturally put onto the official radio station for this here place. And for those who don’t feel like waiting for “Hands Off!” to come around or press the skip button however many times or scroll down, it is also available on YouTube along with its B-side sibling (“Why Am I So Shy” will probably never be on Spotify…genuinely hope to be wrong about that, but its scarcity makes “Hands Off!”‘s rarity seem common in comparison, and to the point of I’m honestly amazed it is on YouTube).

As neat as it is to find “Hands Off!” for Spotify posterity, an even more sweet discovery is several of Cope’s skits from That Was The Week That Was…something I never, ever thought I would happen upon outside of YouTube (again). For those of you not familiar with TW3, it was not your father’s news satire show…in addition to being hosted by a certain David Frost (yes, THE David Frost), the topics covered and parodied tended to be pretty damn cutting edge stuff for its time.

Bear in mind that this was done in 1963.

The Kenneth Cope TW3 skits and tracks found on Spotify (and also included in this blog’s radio station) are the theme song, “Emergency Call”, “Peter Cadbury”, “Stop Press”, “Ad Nauseum”, and “Skybolt”.

Also featured in the blog’s official playlist, alongside other equally great late 60s/early 70s/retro-centric music and other treats, are the songs that won Mike Pratt two Ivor Novello Awards, “Little White Bull” and “Handful Of Songs”, which he co-wrote with Lionel Bart for Tommy Steele; as well as Mike’s son Guy’s work with Pink Floyd and David Gilmour, and Kenneth Cope’s sons Mark and Nick’s work as The Candyskins (and Mark’s solo venture, Nine Stone Cowboy). Not being one to leave out wee ones (most especially as much as the classic and BEST Randall and Hopkirk has always appealed to kids and kids at heart), there is also a secondary radio station for them centering on Nick Cope’s solo work for children, and also contains “Little White Bull” and “Handful Of Songs”, as well as some good and gentle ‘young person’s intro to Swinging London/late 60s/early 70s music’ entries. 🙂

Caroline “Music and laughter makes the world AND Limbo go ’round.” Smith

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All Together Now OR Spirit Rally!

Courtesy of Icy Twaine’s Tumblr.

Well, when Marty Hopkirk is sighing/yawning, at least a little action really does need to get going…and most particularly with Randall and Hopkirk Revisited. I did my duty about two weeks ago and donated, and it has been AND especially is time for all of you to do yours. Even if a donation is a little much to manage, a link/mention on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etcetera is every bit as valuable and most appreciated all the same. The more of a word we can get out and spread about this BRILLIANT project and much more respectable homage, as well as help it and all involved, the better. As of my typing and posting this, there are only twenty/nineteen days left before the deadline…I hope they can extend the time for people to be able to donate, but I honestly don’t know if they will be able to do that. If they are not, then please, PLEASE give £5 or £10 IF you can, for every little bit does count and is certainly better than nothing.

I know it does not seem like a long time after my first post about Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, but two weeks is a significant amount of time, which could have brought about more donations than it sadly did. And without any acknowledgement, and constantly at that, the one shot the original and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) has at a much, MUCH deserved sequel and follow-up will be tragically lost. There is still enough time to make some headway, so please, one way or another, act now in lending this project as much support as it needs and some. Please do it for the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the original series, its cast and crew still with us and in spirit, Revisited’s cast and crew, and the Randall and Hopkirk community as a whole.

A tremendous thank you to those who have acknowledged Randall and Hopkirk Revisited thus far (including Icy Twaine, whose utmost brilliant animation is displayed above), and in advance to further hopeful supporters and donators.

Caroline “Although Marty may just be in a funk about Everton’s last four games (I’m right there with him)…between them and this, some goals most definitely need to happen.” Smith

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Be Seeing You! (I Wish) OR It’s Their Party

This was announced over a week ago, on September 5th to be specific, but better late than never.

Per The (absolutely fabulous) Unmutual, Annette Andre (who was in the episode titled “It’s Your Funeral”, which will eventually be reviewed here) is going to be one of the special guests at Network’s The Prisoner 50th Anniversary bash on September 29th at Portmeirion, Wales!! Also among the guests is a smaller degree of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), but a degree none-the-less(!) in Jane ‘Sandra Joyce’/”Who Killed Cock Robin?” Merrow, who was in the episode titled “The Schizoid Man” (AND with another Randall and Hopkirk-er in Anton ‘Calvin P. Breem’/”When The Spirit Moves You” Rodgers as that particular episode’s Number Two).

Here at The Ghostess Talks, we take pride in being respectful (for the most part 😉 ) to Randall and Hopkirk’s ITC neighbours and contemporaries. And now is the perfect time to say that The Prisoner is a must-see for any and everyone remotely interested in the history of ITC, what is deemed British Cult Television, and/or 60s pop culture in general. As much as I sing Randall and Hopkirk’s praises in and outside of here, even I have to admit that The Prisoner is the most psychedelic series that ITC ever produced, thanks to the situations that truly did play with your head as much as Number Six’s, bolder than usual colors, mad visuals like the Rovers (actually weather balloons, and inspired by a real weather balloon that star and producer Patrick McGoohan kept seeing over Portmeirion), and especially Portmeirion alias The Village itself.

Speaking of The Village, back to the aforementioned event…unfortunately, if you want to attend, I am dreadfully sorry to report that the tickets have been sold out and for sometime now. Not at all surprising given the ginormous following The Prisoner has remarkably maintained throughout the half-century of its existence. Needless to say and on the behalf of the original and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and its *sighs* smaller fanbase, I cannot help but be a wee bit envious.

That said, an interesting thing in common between the two shows…they both have godawful, way-off-the-mark remakes. I talked at length and some about Randall and Hopkirk’s remake a week ago in the post below/next to this one…The Prisoner‘s remake was quite eerily similar with its details. The grandest differences were that The Prisoner remake was American (produced by AMC…yes, the people behind freakin’ Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead) and intended to be a miniseries just like the original Prisoner, NOT an ongoing series. The similarities include a modernized plot that was honestly too ‘hip and cool’ for its britches, delving considerably more into the science-fiction/fantasy territory than the original ever did AND really ever needed to (the ‘mechanics’ of The ‘new and improved’ Village are to The Prisoner what Wyvern, the marathon trips to Limbo, and Marty Hopkirk’s ludicrous myriad of near-godlike powers were to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)), and hoping that the main cast containing massive star power with at least one member would make up for any and all numerous glaring weaknesses (Prisoner’s Ian McKellen as Number Two versus Randall and Hopkirk’s Tom Baker as Wyvern). And I can personally attest to the crappiness of The Prisoner‘s remake…I was witness to its first three episodes when they were brand new back in 2009. It started off okay…but then they introduced its own special form of the ‘mindfudge’ element, which was just a little too much Matrix-like (hell, the title cards did the code jazz, and all that was missing was remake Number Six wearing a Neo Coat a la remake Marty) with The Truman Show thrown in for good measure, and truthfully made all the more trite with the complete lack of elements of psychedelia and the mid-late 1960s. There was also hardly any distinctive color, figuratively AND visually, and down to The Village itself being a nightmarish mix of muted pastels and ‘Floridian/Californian’ colours, making the program all the more as bland and off as week old oatmeal. When it became more and more incredibly evident that they were going down the literal ‘The Village is not at all what it appears to be!” rabbit hole (and it was a maze I pretty much had figured out within the show’s first fifteen minutes…no joke), I revoked my viewer card and didn’t look back…a decision I have never regretted at all to this day and forever.

Anyways, to those who are getting to attend The Prisoner‘s 50th Anniversary bash (lucky all of you), have fun, and as difficult as it may be to do, try not to inquire about who does Number Two work for. Certainly don’t want anyone to be sucked up by Rover, or at the very least, be swatted with a rolled up edition of The Tally Ho.

Caroline “I bet all The Village’s muzak station plays is “Revolution #9″ and Number One knows how many ‘remixes’ of it.” Smith

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I Confess! (And I Am Not Going To Be Seated) OR Hell Hath No Fury Like A Ghostess Scorned

I can’t do it. I just can’t do it…I can’t review even just one episode of the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) remake. I tried, I REALLY tried, but I just bloody can’t do it.

I know, I know…I kinda sorta promised that I would review the infamous 2000-01 remake, talk about its connections/homages to the original and best Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and eventually also review its three books (two novels and a “The Files” ‘guide’) and the soundtrack and theme song single. But two hours into reviewing “Drop Dead” the night before last, I had an epiphany.

“Y’know, you really, REALLY do not AND should not have to torture yourself like this.”

And it was not just that thought, but also the realization that I was already in serious ‘hate-watching’ mode at not only the first episode, but just its first five minutes. Thirteen episodes of that is a wee bit much, and not just on a screen/monitor, but also in typing too.

There is also what I call the Oscar Wilde factor…and it involves one of my all-time favorite quotes from its author and in general.

“The only thing worst than being talked about is not being talked about.”

I much, MUCH rather talk about the 2000-01 Randall and Hopkirk remake for just two articles (this one and an eventual list about the mess-ups sometime down the line) versus SEVENTEEN(!!! the thirteen episodes, the two novels, “The Files”, and both the soundtrack and theme single reviewed together)…yikes. That would be an incredibly ridiculous amount of discussion (which would pretty much maintain the same theme of “What were they thinking?!” and “What the hell?”) for something that not only took pride in its being a virtual parody of the classic that remotely allowed it to be a remake in the first place, but also took pleasure in disrespecting facets of the classic to various degrees AND playing the ‘everything you did, we can do better!’ game. At least four quotes from the freakin’ “The Files” book epitomize this…starting with Exhibit A.

“The plots of the original series revolved around fairly mundane elements…thefts, murders, bodyguard duties. While other ITC series such as Department S and The Persuaders(!) did their best to break out of the straitjacket of naturalistic drama, the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) seemed determined to break back in. Despite its limitations, people seemed to like it.” – Andy Lane (author of “The Files”)

Yes, people DID AND DO like it…and immensely more than most people have ‘liked’ the remake. Also, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and Department S were filmed at the exact same time. So maybe, MAYBE The Persuaders(!) was more groundbreaking than those two programs with its coming a couple of years later, its actually being filmed abroad, AND sporting the likes of not only Roger Moore but also Tony Curtis. But Randall and Hopkirk will always remain my utmost favorite, as well as the utmost favorite for quite a few people, for being so much more down to earth (and there really is a lot to be said for that) than everything surrounding, preceding, and following it.

“At the risk of offending anybody who was involved in the original series, it wasn’t that great. It was made very cheaply and quickly, and for various reasons they couldn’t really capitalize on the central idea. The special effects were fairly primitive, they were limited in what they could do, and I believe that after the first few episodes they got into trouble for dealing too much with the implications of one of the characters being dead, for dealing flippantly with death. I think there was a lot of religious pressure on them. So they steered it towards being basically a fairly straight detective series.” – Charlie Higson

Oh…oh boy. Yes, with the original and ALWAYS BEST series, there were concerns about how to tackle the subject of death in a way that handled it with kid gloves and yet kept it amusing and fun at the same time. Unfortunately, the fussbudgets still had ignorant words to say about it…but that was a given the very moment Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman came up with the concept. Fussbudgets were and are always going to fussbudget…and I would bet all of the tea in the world that a certain precious ‘better than that old thing’ remake and especially its considerably more classless take on death was not at all exempt from that very same criticism that plagued the original. The grandest difference is that one version more than most certainly deserved it far and away over the other.

Also, the version that never deserved such condemnation (and for the most part never had it THAT extreme…come to think of it, the disapproval was much more of a general one than of a religious bent, all the more contrary to the above quoted malarkey) did not have all of its straight detective episodes near the end. Ok, yes, there was “The Ghost Talks”, the last episode in the production order and was a detective story through and through with a living Marty Hopkirk, but the circumstances behind that changed the story at what was practically the last second. And to be honest, that was easily the most straight detective story of the entire twenty-six episode lot…the other twenty-five episodes have such a marvelous blend of detective, supernatural, comedy, drama, and even a smidge of absurdity in a couple of episodes, that you really cannot hang a genre label on the original and BEST series, no matter how hard people like Higson may try.

“The over-riding impression left by the original series is that, apart from the seedy offices of the detective agency, it took place almost entirely in hotel corridors, anonymous apartments, and warehouses, with the occasional excursion into the Elstree back lot for variety.” – Andy Lane

I wonder if he does his shopping at the Tesco miserably occupying the former ‘dreaded’ Elstree back lot. I have never cared at all for the tone in these quotes and the other to follow…both things, as well as the crass attitude towards original cast and crew, and my seeing the third episode/”The Best Years Of Your Death” for the first ever AND only time (all of my 2004 BBC America viewing AND intro to the franchise…no, I’m not at all proud…was the second series/season) in all of its fart joke laden glory, among other very off-putting things, are what royally turned me off the remake roughly ten years ago. I cannot believe I was considering doing seventeen blog articles for this rubbish. By the way, can you believe the above three quotes plus this upcoming one were printed next to pictures from the original and BEST series?

All the more proof that there are some things you just can’t make up.

“There was a sort of dinginess to it, it was all quite downbeat and, well, while it wasn’t exactly cheap looking, it wasn’t expensive looking either. It wasn’t something like The Avengers, which was an absolute classic and was very stylish and had a lot of memorable bits and memorable characters. A lot of people can’t even remember who the original actors were.” – Charlie Higson

Okay, that very last sentence’s syntax and juxtaposition makes it sound like it is talking about the Avengers actors (and as you can see in the above picture, I did not alter it at all). But it is aimed at the original Randall and Hopkirk actors, and what a load of “Our show is infinitely better than that old, wretched show ever hoped to be.” horse manure. I am sitting here gobsmacked as I am typing this…I already knew, for the most part, the remake people very unnecessarily took it upon themselves to deride the original in “The Files”, but I had actually forgotten how bold, brassy, and condescending it all was/is. What a difference not having read these quotes in a decade makes.

By the way, if the original Randall and Hopkirk actors were and are ‘not so memorable’, then I don’t think there would have been a Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Appreciation Society AND conventions in the late 80s and early 90s, nor would Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre have been receiving numerous upon numerous letters and autograph requests all through the years, and not just for Randall and Hopkirk but other projects as well. Mike Pratt has also been very fondly remembered throughout the years by cast, crew, and fans alike, and once had a terrific fan site devoted to him. Not to mention that if Pratt was so ‘forgettable’, his image would not have (sadly) been used in the remake. Also, the very same sets (save the Randall and Hopkirk office, Jeff Randall’s flat, and Jeannie (and Marty) Hopkirk’s apartment) happened to be used interchangeably between Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) AND The Avengers!!

One teeny-tiny bit of praise I will dish out is that Vic Reeves did actually compliment the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in “The Files”, stating that he loved it and always counted it among his favorite shows. While that was nice to see in a book that is otherwise cancer to the original and BEST series, I still say AND always will say that Kenneth Cope’s Marty Hopkirk has a hundred metric tons more class and style in his pinky than Vic Reeves’ Marty has in his entire way overgrown man-brat being.

And that there is the keyword that separates the two versions…CLASS. The original and BEST (I don’t care how much of a ‘broken record’ I tend to be with this, because it is the truth) Randall and Hopkirk may not have had the most extensive collection of sets, nor the most fancy, overblown, computer-enhanced effects, but it had class. And that class took on several forms…the enduring camaraderie and friendship between Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope, and Annette Andre (and really, the grand majority of the supporting cast and crew) on and off the set; the bonafide hard work and effort (and nonstop at that, given the cast and crew had absolutely next to no break in the fourteen months they worked on the series) that went into each performance in each episode, the genuine writing behind each script, the sheer heart that went into making the characters exquisitely likable (something that cannot said at all about ANY of the characters in the remake) and beautifully only human, leaving certain things to the imagination, not resorting to boorish humor and situations, and most especially noteworthy of all, nobody, NOBODY involved with the original Randall and Hopkirk went out of their way to bash another series, cast, crew, production, this or that to prop their own. That said, if considerably less bashing of the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) had occurred on the part of the remake people, as well as none of the terrible attitudes said to be had by the remakers towards any and all original cast and crew contacted, then I would have left well enough alone. But if supporting and defending the forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and its forever great people makes me a ‘fanatic’ that cannot be described with words from a dictionary from the 1950s per a quite unnecessary comment about the remake on a website to which I refuse to link, so be it. At least I am in remarkably good company with the likes of Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre, that is if ‘fanatics’ includes any and everyone who frowns upon the remake. And given the context of that comment, I think it should, and I know that Mr. Cope and Ms. Andre most definitely AND rightfully do not approve of the remake themselves. And I cannot blame them one iota between how one of them was treated when approached about participating in the remake and how two downright despicable characters in its very first episode/”Drop Dead” were named after Cope and Andre…Kenneth Crisby and Annette Stylus. Note how they did not just usurp Cope’s first name, but also his initials. Coincidence? I honestly cannot help but think not.

Kenneth Cope: “Did you see the remake they did?”

Cyril Frankel: “No.”

Annette Andre: “Yes.”

KC: “It was totally unbelievable.”

AA: “I saw three episodes. I couldn’t believe it..such junk.”

CF: “I was surprised they didn’t consult Monty (Berman) and myself.”

KC: “Yeah..they asked me, and I refused.”

CF: “Good.”

KC: “They used stuff which we put in anyway. They shouldn’t have done it.” – “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” commentary, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

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“What I found with the remake was that the relationship and chemistry between the three people was absolutely non-existent. It really was non-existent, there was no relationship.” – Annette Andre, TV Zone #218/August 2007, “The Ghost Talks and the Widow” by Anthony Brown.

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“There was a remake…I nearly got killed because of it. The problem was Michael and I could act without being conceited in any way. But those two guys, they’re stand-up comedians, they’re very very funny, and I’ve seen them, they’re good, I like them, they make me laugh…but they can’t act. And I was in Liverpool in a taxi, and this guy had seen the remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), and he was telling me how much he hated it, how much he loathed it, and that it was no good and not anything like the original. But unfortunately, *cocks his head* he was doing it like that, talking to me in the back, and he hit a bus head-on. And he could have killed me…that would have been amusing, I suppose, in a funny way. The ghost got killed by the remake!

They wanted me to do something in it, and they were a bit rude and silly. It’s so easy to be pleasant in life, and I got thrown about a bit. The ghost in that long coat* was so wrong. If they’d ask me to visit and give advice, or offer stuff freely and with love, I would have told them “Don’t let him wear the long coat, it looks STUPID!”. Anyway, he was supposed to jump in next to Michael Pratt, who was the original gentleman, who is now a ghost and in white, and because he did die for real, and the idea was he was a ghost and stuff. And they wanted me to come into the scene, but I refused. Anyway, he stood next to Mike and said “I am a better ghost than you.” And I just…they were abusing dialogue that was already in the scene directed at me originally. And I didn’t like it because it was taking the mickey out of Michael Pratt. And his estate was there, and somebody should have stood up and said no. And I did, but they used the bit, but I wasn’t in the scene, because I was supposed to make it a threesome as a figure in white, but I wouldn’t do it.

I don’t think it worked. They spent so much money on it…they spent more on one episode than we did on the whole of fourteen. And they had special effects, they had special effects which were great and much better than ours. But I’m very fond of when my ghost goes a bit faint when he walks through a wall because, as I told you, it’s on a sheet of glass behind the camera. But I got very fond of that because it was pleasant. We were in the hotel corridor once looking for an escaped person or something, and I’m jumping in the rooms, because it’s nighttime and to see who’s in. And I jump in this room, nothing, and the next one, nothing there…and I come out the next one, and I say “I’m terribly sorry, madam!”. Obviously, there’s a woman there, and it’s all off-screen, you don’t see it. It’s just a funny thing…it was my idea. They nicked it in the remake, and they disturb a sort of terrible, dreadful, perverted sex scene, which is unnecessary. What we prided ourselves on..much later, not at the time because we didn’t know it was going to happen..but now, the whole family can watch our show. And nobody ever, ever, EVER is going to be upset as a parent about their kiddies watching it with them. They’re not going to be embarrassed. I may sound a bit prune-faced and silly, but I believe there are some standards left.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

Caroline “That sound you just heard? A worldwide mob of teenyboppers and twentysomethings all breathing a sigh of relief that I left David Tennant alone.” Smith

* – That was/is what I call a Neo Coat, for it was very popular thanks to The Matrix being a super hot property at the time. Nothing SCREAMS 1999/2000 like a Neo Coat, and at one point during my high school days, I swear I saw at least five-ten different people wearing those very coats practically every school day.  They allowed remake Marty to rock that damned thing, and yet they had the bloody nerve to deem the original Randall and Hopkirk ‘dated’. That alone is funnier than all of the ‘jokes’ throughout the remake combined.

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Randall and Hopkirk (Revisited) OR Calling All Randall and Hopkirk Ghosts And Ghostesses!

The moment I first learned of this project in one of two Randall and Hopkirk Facebook groups (this one, as well as that one…warning, they are both private groups and you will of course need a Facebook account to join) I just proudly joined a few days ago, I most immediately became jazzed.

Randall and Hopkirk (Revisited) is a much hopeful revamp of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) that will feature Jeff’s daughter, Rebecca, taking the place of her father, who has been killed, and none other than the spirit of ‘Uncle’ Marty Hopkirk himself will help her solve her father’s murder! With the approval of the one, the only Kenneth Cope to the point of his being an active participant and will be featured in the final product, as well as also the approval of Annette Andre, this project is going to be absolutely AMAZING. I am looking quite forward, to say the least, to the end result of this project, which I get the feeling is going to really, REALLY school a particular remake on how you revive Randall and Hopkirk.

But alas, they need funds…£3,000 worth of them, to be specific. And while I wish I could donate that to the last pence and/or make it appear out of thin air like a roulette ball in a Monte Carlo casino, I can’t. Plus, it would not be right nor fair to take away opportunities from other fellow Randall and Hopkirk ghosts and ghostesses to get their names in the credits, autographs, character sponsorships, among other smashing things. That is where each and every last one of you who reads this comes in…even if all you can afford to give is £5 or £10, PLEASE DONATE IT! Each and every last little bit goes a long way and will be much, MUCH appreciated by the Randall and Hopkirk (Revisited) crew and cast. For £5, you can get your name in the credits, for £10, you can receive an autograph in addition to the credits thank you and acknowledgement, and for more and beyond, bigger and better perks. No matter how much you donate, everyone will win…from the cast and crew for coming up with and producing a longtime much needed addition to the true Randall and Hopkirk mythos, to the admirers like myself and you who have LONGED for a sequel of sorts to accompany the original and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk.

Oh, and by the way, if you happen to have any sort of a social media platform, please, PLEASE spread the word of Randall and Hopkirk (Revisited) as I have here. They need the love, support, and word of mouth every bit as much as the money to make happen what I believe is going to be an utmost glorious offering to the Randall and Hopkirk world and community.

Caroline “It’s about time, it’s about space…in more ways than one, a certain remake is going to get put in its place!” Smith 

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“My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” OR White Is The New Black

Foreword

That took me awhile, didn’t it? Well, in order to put a lot of love into these, time is a requirement…a whole lot of precious time. It takes a lot of patience and time to do it right (child). But okay, the cheesy 80s (actually and originally 60s) song reference aside, I really feel it best to take considerably more time with these versus other posts. Smashing episode, good episode, or lesser episode, in the realm of classic and BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), there is honestly no such thing as a worst episode. I like to think of this and each and every single one of the twenty-five reviews/analyses to come as love letters to a series that not only was the first and STILL practically only ghost detective show ever, and therefore as unique as a television show and franchise can be, but also the best portrayal of a ghost and ghostly matters ever seen on any screen that, despite having a little bit of everything, was also much undeservedly downtrodden by critics and cynics and tends to be sorely overlooked at times to this day and forever.

In the process of penning this first review/analysis, I had to not only get a feel for the formula, but also make the decision of what to include and exclude. And I decided that shooting locations (for the most part), the vehicles used, and the further careers of guest stars (again for the most part) can and should be left to the utmost magnificent, can never be praised enough Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified) AND Avengerland (which not only features a plethora of shooting locations for Randall and Hopkirk, but also those of other ITC/Cult favorites!). In addition to my thoughts and observations, I figured history to be fair game too…so without further ado…

Introduction

I wrapped my head all over the ways I could have introduced “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, and I honestly felt there was no better way than to completely delve into the history of all that went into what “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” heralded to Britain and eventually the world. So not only does the following further explain why this entire review/analysis took some time to put together, but is also an article within an article.

A Brief History of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) OR Legend Of A Show

In 1966, the story was unfolding…in the corridors of power, people were talking. Specifically Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman, having met while working at ITC (Intercorporated Television Company internationally, Independent Television Company in America) and on The Baron, decided to form their own production outfit called Scoton. It was a creative partnership that would last four years, and right before those years, Spooner had already made quite the name for himself between not only penning episodes of The Baron, but also and especially creating Man In A Suitcase. Spooner’s next creation would be Scoton’s first production and ITC’s closest thing to a live action superhero show during its 60s heyday…The Champions, which through some interesting twists of fate, was also virtually the genesis of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Not only did the near-entire stable of writers and directors employed by the eventual Randall and Hopkirk production all assemble over time through The Champions’ own production, but also a certain Annette Andre tried out for the role of Sharon Macready alongside five other girls, only losing to Alexandra Bastedo (who went on to play Carol Latimer, Cecil Purley’s assistant in “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”, and she and Andre have remained steadfast friends). This assembly of writers and directors included greats within the ITC circle such as Tony Williamson (who Dennis Spooner had known since National Service days), Donald James, Gerald Kelsey, Cyril Frankel, Jeremy Summers, Leslie Norman, Roy Ward Baker, and Robert Tronson. As the sun set upon The Champions and its fountain of action and imagination in late 1967, a new spirit was manifesting…one fueled by Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman brainstorming ideas for the head of ITC, Lew Grade’s requested proposal for another up and coming series to follow The Champions.

Dennis Spooner (pictured on the right, and courtesy of Television Heaven) held a longtime fascination with spiritualism and the paranormal, which coupled with certain favorite films of Spooner’s, made a series idea light bulb explode over his head.

“I was interested in the idea of ghosts, but there hadn’t been anything about ghosts except for Topper. I remember a marvelous film called Angel On My Shoulder. Claude Rains was the Devil, and I think Paul Muni was in it. Paul died and came back to Earth, and Claude Rains was invisible to everybody and made Paul do things. The idea of someone walking around and not being able to be seen was what I liked. Then Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) had overtones of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, and so on. It became a detective show because when you do a television series a detective is always good for a lot of stories.” – Dennis Spooner, Fantasy Empire #3/Spring 1982, Dennis Spooner Interview by John Peel, as quoted on Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

And standing in the path of the inventive explosion was none other than Monty Berman (pictured on the left, and courtesy of The British Entertainment History Project).

“Dennis and I worked in adjoining offices at the Elstree Studios. One day, he had an idea for a series which was rather unusual, and when he told me about it, I had to agree with him! Whenever we were trying to sell a show, Dennis would write something like a six-line outline, and I would go and put the idea to Lew Grade in his office at 7 AM. Lew would say “Yes.” or “No.”, just like that. Because films had been made along similar themes, I was confident that Randall and Hopkirk would work.”Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs and SFX #161/October 2007, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Steve O’Brien.

Spooner and Berman worked fervently on what would be more than a mere six-line outline…which was at first drastically different from what would actually make the small screen.

  • – Jeff Randall was ‘Steve Randall’ and his age was imagined to be in his late twenties. His original description also included that he was ‘ambitious’ and preferred to settle arguments with his fists instead of reason. He is also described as ‘headstrong and fair’. But then it was said of ‘Steve’ that ‘he has respect for the law, but will go his own way if he has to’…and Jeff, contrary to what certain Scotland Yard inspectors would want us to think, did the best he could to stay on the right side of the law.
  • – Marty Hopkirk remained the same in name, but is described as being in his late twenties as well (particularly, ‘around the same age as his partner’), and also chubby and accident prone.
  • – There was no sign or mention of the Jean ‘Jeannie’ Hopkirk character, with the apparent notion that our detective pair were supposed to both be bachelors.
  • – “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” was plotted to have Jef..I mean, Steve Randall be highly optimistic for that one case that would be Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators’ big break, while Marty Hopkirk would have been happy working the meager cases they get and be fine with the way things and life were. They get that one enormous case, only for Marty to be killed during it. While Jeff Randall certainly retained that optimism (as most especially revealed in “All Work And No Pay”), he had no problem with small/easy cases like the divorce ones that are the meat of he and Marty’s overall tasks. On the other hand, the Marty Hopkirk we know and love is practically a 180 from this one, right down to worrying more about life and finances than being comfortable with them AND not being a fan of rinky-dink cases (particularly said divorce ones, as revealed in “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”).
  • – After otherwise staying practically true to what would become the actual storyline of “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” (other than the talk about Steve/Jeff and Marty blaming themselves for the circumstances of Marty’s murder…that certainly did not happen, at least not obviously for we are not mind readers), there is another diversion, and a quite hefty one at that, where it is revealed that Jeff cannot see or hear Marty, but that does not stop Marty from trying as hard as he can to communicate with his best friend. And evidently, in this proposed state, the show and each episode would have revolved around what different way Marty was to going to try to convey this warning or that crucial clue to Steve/Jeff and overcome Steve/Jeff not able to converse with him at all.

All of the above/bulleted courtesy of Time Screen #14/August 1989 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Vanessa M. Bergman, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs, and Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified).

One of the first changes, if not THE first change, made to the initial outline was the revision of Randall and Hopkirk being bachelors, with the Jean ‘Jeannie’ Hopkirk character added for the potential show to follow the ‘two males, one female’ group formula set by The Champions. But that formula was being poured into a mold being broken by one of the males of course being a ghost…and there were, astoundingly, concerns about that. Some of the ITC heads felt that one of the leads being a dead man turned wisecracking, comical specter would be perceived to be in bad taste. One of those heads was more than most likely Lord Lew Grade (Pictured on the right and courtesy of Travalanche.) himself, who reportedly frowned upon the overall idea of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). The project was cursed before the light of day even touched its very presence…or so it seemed.

As if like a gale force breeze out of nowhere, someone rushed in to save Randall and Hopkirk from Grade’s potential exorcism. That someone being the one, the only Ralph Smart, a creator, producer, director, writer, perceived father figure at ITC, and an extremely crucial role-player in the very existence of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). If it had not been for the utmost approval of Smart to the degree of immediately AND enthusiastically wanting to scribe the pilot/what would become “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” and “But What A Sweet Little Room”, Lew Grade would not have budged from his stance and green lighted the program’s casting and production to commence.

“He (Smart) saw the concept and thought it was terrific. He said “I wanna write the pilot!”. I was delighted that he wrote the pilot because that convinced Lew that we should make the series.” – Dennis Spooner, Time Screen #6/June 1986, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Only You Jeff! Only You!” by Andrew Pixley and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs.

Casting for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) began with ITC probing around for who should play Jeff Randall. Supposedly, while penning his scripts for the series, Tony Williamson had Dave Allen, an Irish stand-up comedian, in mind. One has to wonder if Donald James was also thinking of Allen with this line of Jeff’s said to Kevin O’Malley in “Money To Burn”…

“There’s a bit o’ Irish in me and all!”

Randall ended up being a quite easy role to fill…Dennis Spooner and Cyril Frankel had both worked with Mike Pratt, an Elstree Studios stable regular who, since his ITC debut in Danger Man’s “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”, (and he also appeared in the same series’ “The Black Book”, “A Most Dangerous Game”, and “The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk”) guested in several ITC property single episodes, mostly as a heavy/henchman. Pratt likely caught Spooner’s eye for casting potential when he was featured in an episode of The Champions titled “Twelve Hours”. Frankel had no apprehensions about such a choice.

“It was already clear who was going to play Randall. We all knew Mike Pratt, we knew he was right.” – Cyril Frankel, TV Zone Special #14/June 1994: Cyril Frankel Interview by David Richardson.

And to say Mike Pratt would turn out to be a perfect fit was and will always only be the tip of the iceberg.

“Michael I found very, very enthusiastic towards the show and people on the show..the crew and people like that. Always very helpful, very helpful. And I think he was a great asset to the show.” – Ray Austin, Mike Pratt Remembered, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

The Jeannie Hopkirk role went every bit as swimmingly to fill…Annette Andre (who had trained to be a ballerina at the age of four!) was another Elstree stable favorite who had seen her fair share of ITC guest slots too, starting with “The Saint Walks In” episode of The Saint (and from that moment forward, Andre and Roger Moore famously remained the best of friends), and including The Baron’s “Roundabout” and The Prisoner’s “It’s Your Funeral”. As with Mike Pratt, The Champions is again where Dennis Spooner first became acquainted with Annette Andre when, as mentioned earlier, she tried out for the part of Sharon Macready. Cyril Frankel, as well as near most of the ITC circle, was quite familiar with Andre himself, making the decision very straightforward.

“We’d all worked with her. She had that reliability and warmth that we wanted in that character.” – Cyril Frankel, TV Zone Special #14/June 1994, Cyril Frankel Interview by David Richardson.

Annette Andre was in Scotland when she received the call from her agent about the Jeannie Hopkirk role. She was not sure about it and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) at first, but the more her agent told her, the more intriguing both the part and program became. Annette Andre still could not help but be slightly hesitant due to fear of being typecast. But the more she rolled the show and idea around in her head, the more Andre opened up to how it sounded fun and different, and that alongside the fact that she had previously worked with Mike Pratt on This Is My Street, a TV movie, in 1963, and a BBC TV play not long after that sealed the deal. (And Andre would go on to work with Pratt yet again on one episode of The Brothers before his untimely passing in 1976.)

The final piece of the main casting puzzle proved to be rather elusive. There were no automatic choices for who should play Marty Hopkirk, and it soon became clear that the role would most likely go to someone then outside of the regular ITC/Elstree stable. The solution would not reveal itself until, of all things, a 1968 springtime evening visit to one of London’s then most trendy restaurants. At Trattoria Terrazza in Soho, Cyril Frankel was seated at a table adjacent to where Kenneth Cope was making his wife, Renny, laugh. Frankel immensely liked what he saw and overheard, and within minutes thought “That’s it! We have found the ghost!”, rapidly putting in a phone call to the casting director, Bob Leonard.

“This is why I owe Cyril Frankel such a lot. I owe him at least a dinner. Because if you want to get on in show business, folks, take your wife out to dinner and make her laugh, because that’s what happened.” – Kenneth Cope, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set commentary for “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”.

The next day, Cope received a phone call himself from Leonard, and was told “Kenny, we want you to star in a series where you get killed in the first episode!”…

“That casting director must have waited his whole life to say that!” – Kenneth Cope, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set commentary for “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”.

…“But you come back as a ghost.”

At that stage, Cope was best known for That Was The Week That Was and Coronation Street (Where he played Jed Stone, a crook quickly transformed into an adored comedy relief character, and pictured on the left courtesy of Coronation Street: Back On The Street.), with his only work for a Dennis Spooner related property then being the “The Bird Who Knew Too Much” episode of The Avengers, and was more than most likely remembered by Spooner from that stint, completing the main casting puzzle…or was that truly so?

Kenneth Cope was also told over the phone that ITC had actually already made up their mind about the Marty Hopkirk role, but they still wanted to audition him anyway. The audition, which took place on either a Saturday or Sunday and consisted of the first ever graveyard meeting between Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk, saw Cope perform as Hopkirk without what would become the (in)famous wig and also encounter Mike Pratt for the first ever time. Not only did Cope instantly land the part, but Pratt was also gracious enough to stop by Cope’s home right after the audition and let him know he had won the role, a gesture Cope has never forgotten, and sparking a swift and enduring friendship between the two men.

“And we did get on…we could be doing a scene, and I’d look at his eyes and he’d look at mine, and I could tell where he was going. I could speak to him, you see, quickly something off the top of my head, to get him back on track, and he would do exactly the same for me. And we never, ever, ever had to do a retake because we overlapped, or we got it wrong, or whatever because we got each other out of the mess. Because we knew, we were trying to control it, we knew what we were doing. He was such a nice man, and we did get on so well. And I do still miss him…we used to see each other on a Friday night, usually in a West End restaurant to wind the week up. And he had his lady with him, I had my lady, and we used to have dinner together, and it was very, very nice.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

“I think he and Kenny were born to play on the show with each other, born to play.” – Ray Austin, Mike Pratt Remembered, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

Kenneth Cope and Mike Pratt’s instantaneous rapport was not the only such singular thing on the newly formed set of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

“Annette was nice to work with as well, she was charming and beautiful, and she looked great. Socially, I used to go around with her quite a bit…I used to introduce her when we were out together “You’ve met my widow, haven’t you?”, and because she really basically was my widow.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

In addition to the very often used hall, office, library, and other stately room interiors seen in many upon MANY an ITC offering, three permanent sets created solely for the production of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) made up the overall Randall and Hopkirk set as a whole…the Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators office, Jeff Randall’s flat, and Jean (and Marty) Hopkirk’s apartment. They all utilized forced perspective photographic backdrops of buildings outside the windows, and they could be illuminated to simulate nighttime scenes. As for the exteriors…the Randall and Hopkirk office exterior was, in reality, Adams Furniture Fabrics, a retail soft furnishings outlet based on Springfield Road in Harrow, London, although the doorway actually led to some flats. Although best known as the Randall and Hopkirk office exterior, Adams Furniture Fabrics was also utilized for Budgie a couple of years later. Unfortunately, as of 1996, the site where Adams Furniture Fabrics once stood began to house a shopping center, with the Adams building having been demolished years earlier. Equally tragic is Elstree Studios as it was then also no longer existing, with a Tesco Superstore currently occupying twelve acres of former Elstree land.

When Lew Grade approved Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) for production, it made for a first in ITC history…never before in the company’s existence had Grade’s finance been promised for not one, but TWO programs back-to-back. Randall and Hopkirk’s sibling program was Department S, and had been given the green light two weeks before Randall and Hopkirk itself was upheld (the delay no doubt being Grade’s aforementioned apprehension about the concept). The two projects were to be filmed practically side-by-side, as well as share members of behind-the-scenes crews, most notably Cyril Frankel, who would first become creative consultant for Department S, with that position sticking for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Department S began filming approximately two weeks before Randall and Hopkirk, and Frankel divided his creative consulting and directing duties between the two shows with next to no period of rest.

“I was involved because Lew Grade said to me, “Cyril, if your name comes up on the screen as director, I know I don’t have to worry, I can sell it.”. Which was nice of him.” – Cyril Frankel, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs.

About halfway/two-thirds through the production of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Cyril Frankel would give more priority towards Department S. It is quite likely that Frankel shifted his focus onto Department S in the later half of the Randall and Hopkirk production due to being outvoted on wanting more serious, even ‘hardboiled’ stories versus the cast and Dennis Spooner and even ITC desiring stories leaning more towards dramedy with slightly more comedy than drama. At the time, Cyril Frankel was a massive fan of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain novels, and really wanted the feel and atmosphere of such works reflected in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s plots.

“I started off with certain intentions which became somewhat lost as the series progressed. When I wasn’t directing an episode, Kenneth Cope was apt to make his scenes more comic and that led to a little friction between us. My idea for Randall and Hopkirk was to make the series fairly realistic with this afterlife fantasy element, and the comedy was supposed to come from the ghost, while Monty (Berman) wanted a private detective side of things as serious as Humphrey Bogart. I think I got all that in the pilot.” – Cyril Frankel, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs.

In the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s bonus documentary, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, Frankel admitted that Kenneth Cope had been right all along about the need for comedy.

In addition to including more comedy, Cope also wanted to explore and incorporate more supernatural/ethereal elements into Marty Hopkirk’s character and being…but was unfairly held down by ITC.

“I’d like to have seen some fantastic things in the show, such as showing what happened to me in Limbo. I wanted to come back and say I’ve just had drinks with such and such who’s dead, and make out I was having a great time wherever I was. But they wouldn’t let me stick those sort of things in. I think they were over-careful about the subject of my death. I suppose it was a bit of a taboo subject.” – Kenneth Cope, TV Zone Special #7/November 1992 – Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Grave-Talk From Kenneth Cope by Graeme Wood.

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was a very meticulous production, and right down to the actual shooting. As with all other ITC properties, there was as much location shooting within London, particularly West London (which was adjacent to Elstree Studios), as there was on-set shooting at Elstree. According to Ken Baker, the assistant director, and Malcolm Christopher, the production manager, on the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary, location shooting in London was a lot easier back then because of good cooperation in general from most people, as well as on/off help from the police. But it was still dreaded because of having to stop the traffic, which could be a pain, and most particularly when the police were not as supportive as they were on other days.

Time was every bit as much a concern as the budget was with many an ITC project…and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was absolutely no exception to that, especially under Monty Berman’s watch, figuratively AND literally. He was always ‘hovering’ over the set with his pocket watch in hand, ready to point to it if needed to urge cast and crew alike, to make sure everything wrapped up on time and to beat the teams of the other shows in production (particularly Department S and The Avengers) at that time who might have needed the same sets.

“You got Big Brother now, but what we had in those days, or what we imagined, was Monty Berman, our producer, was stuck in his office looking rather worried or whatever because Michael and I were trying stuff. And we got it in time, there was never any problems. But he had a monitor there and was watching what was going-on on the floor. And I think Annette noticed him once..he came down with a stopwatch, and seeing how much time was wasted. You couldn’t really veer too much off the script because of shooting time. You had to get so many minutes into the can every day. And if you do mess about, and play, and get giggles and whatever, or put stuff in that doesn’t work, you have to go back and redo it, you’re just wasting time. But our stuff, with Michael and I, because we were so immersed deeply in the plot and everything, it worked for us, and we always got it in time.

I think it worked with us because Michael was genuine, I was genuine, and we were actors from repertory companies and from way back in drama school, and we made it believable. You got to make a ghost believable, and you got to make a fella who’s talking to a ghost believable because Michael used to talk on his own for ages, and it was pleasant. It worked because both of us tried so hard. And we did. We sat together for ages checking the script and writing it.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

While Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope took to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) like ducks to water with not only their acting, but also writing and contributing ideas, Annette Andre stood on the shore and was not as involved with the creative processes at first. But that changed after a couple of episodes, and with the encouragement, support, and even protection of Pratt and Cope.

“We worked well together, and I liked it because they (Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope) were inventive and creative. And we’d often spend time together after the day was finished…stay on at the studio to discuss the script or what was coming next or possible ideas that we could give to particularly Ken and Mike because they were very good at that. And in fact, I think it was really through them that my part became enlarged somewhat because they didn’t involve me a lot in the beginning. Women weren’t involved a lot in those days. And gradually, when we all talked about it, and I said you know, she should be doing this and this, so I became more involved in the series. But we had good chemistry.” – Annette Andre, “A Sentimental Journey”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

The twenty-six episode entirety of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was filmed over the course of fourteen months, from June 1968 through August 1969, with next to no break for nearly everyone involved. Not even on Sundays, which were used for pick-up shots, I.E. any missed bits and scenes from a previous episode, NOT the then current one. Needless to say, this took its toll on the team over the course of the production, and most especially the three main cast members.

“We never had a break. In today’s world, you do so many episodes and then you have a break. In those days, we just went straight through the whole lot. It was a tough routine. From half six in the morning, I’d be there in the makeup room, and we wouldn’t get away till perhaps seven at night. And you’re doing that every single day, every week, every month…you need a break. So by the end of the series, everyone was starting to get on edge with each other, and that made it a bit tough.” – Annette Andre, Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers.

“That’s how we did it…we just looked after each other. Michael was intrepid until he broke his legs, I was alright until I had to carry on me own, and Annette was brilliant until she was overtired. People don’t realize making these series…” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

Just like Monty Berman and his pocket watch, Dennis Spooner himself spent a considerable amount of time on and around the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) set. And he was much more-so a common sight, naturally with his associate producer duties, than almost all of the other writers combined. The exceptions being Ray Austin, a stuntman turned director who not only directed “A Disturbing Case”, “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”, “The House On Haunted Hill”, “When The Spirit Moves You”, “Money To Burn”, and “You Can Always Find A Fall Guy, but also wrote “That’s How Murder Snowballs”; and Mike Pratt, who penned “A Disturbing Case”.

“We didn’t see much of the writers whilst filming. Dennis Spooner, who was the creator of the series, was on the set a lot because he was an associate producer, and he became a very, very good friend. We used to have dinner together. Writing is a very lonely job, and when they weren’t socializing , they were thinking up ideas for those two daft detectives. We did get on well with (the writers) when they appeared.” – Kenneth Cope, Time Screen #11/Spring 1988, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): The Ghost Talks – An Interview With Kenneth Cope” by Annette Buckley

The set of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) became something akin to a haven for other Elstree actors, most particularly those from the neighboring Department S set. On the 2007 Network R&H(D) Special Edition DVD set’s commentary for “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, Kenneth Cope recounted that they not only embraced such visits, but also offered cups of champagne to their callers. Guest performers for the episode then being filmed also got to partake of a cup of champagne at 11:00 AM, provided on the part of Kenneth Cope as a welcome to the show and working with Cope, Mike Pratt, and Annette Andre, as well as relax the guest and make them happy.

“Just a cupful (of champagne) to people who were visiting and looking after them because if you’re visiting a set of a strange production, you are nervous. And if people make you feel welcome, you give it your best instead of saying “What’s the matter? Why aren’t they talking?”…we made them feel at home.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

One of the most frequent visitors to the Randall and Hopkirk set was Department S cast-er, Joel Fabiani, who very apparently and understandably just simply had to get away time and again.

“We all liked each other and got on very well. Because in some of the series, my God, the cast were at each other’s throats all the time. Joel Fabiani from Department S used to come on our set and say “I’ve just come over to sit with you for awhile, because it’s so tense over there on our set.” He always thought it was much more fun than his own set. We had a lot of fun and laughs. And the crew were terrific. They would do anything for you and didn’t pull the plug if we ran ten minutes over. And Ken would make you laugh. In the story, you’re not supposed to know he’s there, and then he’d do something and we’d all end up in peals of laughter, and have to do the whole take again..” – Annette Andre, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs, Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers, and SFX #161/October 2007, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Steve O’Brien.

As Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) maintained a strong, consistent quality of entertainment product in front of the cameras, it equally strove in its reputation of being one of the friendliest, most drama free projects behind those same cameras.

“There was never, ever, ever cross words. Never. Or shouting or racket on the set, because as I have said before, there was a live guy, very good, a dead guy, who was not so good (chuckles), and a woman, a female, Annette Andre. And there was never any conflict. There was never anyone who said “He’s got more lines than me!”.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

In addition to an utmost bountiful beaucoup of laughter and jokes between the performers making its rounds on and off the set day after day, there was even a song.

“We made up a song..do you want to hear it? Do you want to hear this song? Listen to this.. “Randall and Hopkirk and widower Jean, together again on the telly machine!” *chuckles* That was wonderful…we used to sing that on the set. I mean, it was a bit camp, but that doesn’t matter..it was fun.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder (Mike Pratt’s stand-in), Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

And that very camaraderie extended beyond the set…to the dressing rooms and even at least one other program. While working on Randall and Hopkirk, Kenneth Cope also appeared in one other Avengers episode, “The Curious Case of the Countless Clues”. Linda ‘Tara King’ Thorson’s dressing room was next door to Cope’s (his room was between Thorson and Annette Andre, with Mike Pratt’s across the hall), and she gave him her electric kettle when The Avengers wrapped up its long run, as Cope recalled.

“Linda Thorson, God bless her. She was leaving The Avengers, and I was still doing Randall and Hopkirk, and she gave me her electric kettle as a going away present, so that meant I could have hot tea. We had adjacent dressing rooms, she was leaving, and I got the kettle. Silly childish things like that are important to me.”TV Zone #218/August 2007, “The Ghost Talks and the Widow” by Anthony Brown.

“I thought it was a very touching thing to do, because you know, when people are kind to you, you remember them all your life.” – “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

Yes indeed Mr. Cope, as I can most personally attest.

To this day and forever, thank you Mr. Cope.

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’s overall production was a wrap around August 1969, with the only things left to do being some very last minute edits and clean-ups to various episodes. The show’s official on-air debut was made in September 1969, only to unfortunately (and unnecessarily) be critically lambasted out of the gate. The Daily Telegraph called it “A farrago of childish rot.”, and The Sun said “Its chief virtue is its extremely attractive colour.”. Even more unfortunately, letters of complaints about the ‘tastelessness’ of the concept reared their ugly heads on at least a couple of letters pages in the TV Times. And to add salt to the literally critical wound, only London Weekend Television is officially known to have carried the show in its 26 episode entirety during its premiere run, with nearly all other ATV/ITV affiliates throughout the UK either not showing the entire series, being sporadic with the episodes they did choose and/or were able to initially air, and/or not even airing the series until several months to one or two years later(!!).

“See, Randall and Hopkirk, it was filmed in the dark, we didn’t know what we had. Obviously, it has been successful because it’s lasted so long. But then, we didn’t know. There was a four month delay before it was shown on the screens, so we couldn’t get any reaction from anybody. We made sure visiting people gave their best, and because we had some control. And everybody enjoyed it. But nobody knew whether it was going to be a hit or whatever. In fact, the critics, when it first came out, panned it. They said it was rubbish, and because there was so much good stuff coming out of Elstree around it, it was a bit odd. But it has survived. And we did shoot it in the dark.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

Despite critics and naysayers’ best attempts at a disparaging downpour upon Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), the majority of audiences who did manage to see the program during its premiere run and the first repeats absolutely adored it. And although not loud enough to be heard at the time, there were wishes for a second series/season. Such aspirations were actually shared between viewers and the main cast members in spite of exhaustion and having to move on to other roles and projects.

“We did all of the shows and then just walked away from it. It was another three or four months before the public got to see it, and by that time the entire team had disbanded and moved onto other projects. I think that’s why there was never a second series. By the time interest had grown with the second repeats, it was far too late to go back to it.” – Kenneth Cope, TV Zone Special #7/November 1992 – Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Grave-Talk From Kenneth Cope by Graeme Wood.

Annette Andre was most especially keen on a second season/series.

“We had all these plans for a second series. At the end of the first series, we were all a bit shopworn, you know, because we’d been a year, and in those days, you didn’t get a break, like a hiatus thing. You just kept working all the way through…I know the two boys were exhausted, and so was I. So at that particular moment, we probably didn’t feel like it. But we had plans that we talked about in terms of how it should go, and I think it would have been really good. It became so popular, we should have done more. At that time, we had no idea about a follow-up. I mean, it was just doing a series, and if it worked, they would go on and do another series. And, like The Avengers…The Avengers was about the only one that went on quite a bit, except The Saint. And there was no merchandising in those days. It wasn’t the hype that you have today…nothing like that. I mean, we weren’t big stars, we were, you know, just stars of a series that people liked. So when it went on after several years, suddenly it started coming up, I know I was amazed because Mike had passed on by that stage, but Kenny and I have always been surprised by it.” – Annette Andre, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set “A Sentimental Journey” interview.

“In those days, unless you got sold to the States and went network, they wouldn’t do anymore. And that was stupid. And unfortunately, Randall and Hopkirk didn’t get networked, we were syndicated, and so they said ”That’s it, no more.”. They just didn’t look to the future, because I think Randall and Hopkirk was a cut above a lot of the other ITC shows.

Some of the ideas we were talking about were to try to get more interesting locations and locations abroad. And that it would be more fun to have more ghosts coming in, and that Jeannie would become more involved, a partner with Jeff. Dennis Spooner liked our ideas, and I think it could have been fun. I really think it could have expanded the show. I think it was a terrible shame we didn’t go on and do a second series.” – Annette Andre, Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers.

Dennis Spooner was also disappointed at the show’s demise, as was Ray Austin, who tried to get Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) back up and running as an American comedy, but could not secure the rights from ITC. In spite of the cold critical reception and not great premiere run, the show sold worldwide in 35+ countries, including Mexico and Ghana. Kenneth Cope has sometimes joked that he would get a royalty check for forty-three pence from Tahiti.

“In fact, wherever you go in the world, in Australia, in a hotel room, I had the television on, and Randall and Hopkirk was showing!” – Malcolm Christopher, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

As the years continue to pass, the critics have only continued to be proven quite wrong by the sheer longevity of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) on not only television screens, computer monitors, and even cell/smartphone screens throughout the world, but also and most particularly the minds and treasured memories of fans, crew, and cast alike.

“As a series, it was very satisfying to work on, largely due to Dennis Spooner’s laid back approach, and Monty Berman’s experienced control. I think the majority of the episodes had the right blend of comedy, which is not as easy as it looks. And there has been nothing quite like it since.” – Tony Williamson (Who penned nine episodes for Randall and Hopkirk, including ”Never Trust A Ghost”, “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”, “When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”, and “When The Spirit Moves You”.), An issue of Time Screen, number and date unknown, as quoted on Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

(And in my opinion, even with the remake lingering around, I would argue that there still has not been and more than likely will never be anything like the original Randall and Hopkirk.)

“It was great to work on, and everyone was friendly.” – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set.

“It was a really good series to work on because we got along very well, there wasn’t much dissension. And that helped…some of the others were having problems.” – Annette Andre, “A Sentimental Journey”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

“Looking back on Randall and Hopkirk, it was a lovely series to make. Annette was a smashing girl, and I remained great friends with Dennis Spooner. And Mike and myself remained firm friends right up until he died. And although I had a few run-ins with Monty Berman, all that’s in the past. At a recent (sometime during the early 90s) Randall and Hopkirk convention, I went up to Monty and put my arm around him. I swear there was a tear in his eye.” – Kenneth Cope, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs and TV Film Memorabilia/June 2007, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Ann Evans and Rob Tysall.

“God bless Mike, I loved him to death, fantastic guy. And I think what we left behind are 26 great shows. And they are becoming even more loved now with DVD and stuff. And I get fan letters every day mentioning Randall and Hopkirk…and it’s nice. So I’m glad I did it. It’s one of the best things I ever did.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

“My personal theory as to why Randall and Hopkirk (people sometimes used to get the name wrong…Michael and I called it ‘Marshall and Snellgrove Diseased’) has stood the test of time is that it harks back to nicer days when the sun shone. The sun always seemed to be shining when I went to the studio.” – Kenneth Cope, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs.

The time has come to let that sunshine back in all these years later, as if 1969 never ended, and for the magical mystery tour that is dying to take you away and through all twenty-six episodes of Marshall and Snellgro…er, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) to commence!

Roll up! And that’s an invitation.

Let us begin our magic carpet ride with none other than the as-advertised pilot episode…

”My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” OR White Is The New Black

“Don’t be morbid, Marty.”

Starring: Jeffrey “Jeff” Randall – Mike Pratt, Martin “Marty” Hopkirk – Kenneth Cope, Jean “Jeannie” Hopkirk – Annette Andre.

Guest-Starring: Sorrensen – Frank Windsor, Happy Lee – Dolores Mantez (misspelled ‘Dolorez’ in the credits and ITC brochure), Night Porter – Harry Locke, Beatnik – Ronald Lacey, Fay Sorrensen – Anne Sharp, Hotel Proprietor – Anthony Sugar, Assassin – Harold Innocent, Detective – James Donnelly, Doctor – Tom Chatto, Manservant – Makki Marseilles, Electrician – Dave Carter.

Screenplay by: Ralph Smart.

Directed by: Cyril Frankel.

Produced by: Monty Berman.

Created by: Dennis Spooner.

An ITC Production, Filmed at Elstree Studios.

Production Order #: One, and listed in the ITC brochure as “This episode must be transmitted first.”.

Mythos, History, and Observations

The episode as well as and especially the series opens with Jeff Randall not only visiting a business client as usual, Fay Sorrensen, but also coming off as honestly as can be about his drinking and hangover tendencies. That certainly would not fly today! But it is historic in being the very first character establishment of the series in that Jeff Randall likes his drink, and is not at all afraid to hit the bottle, be it at his leisure or when the situation calls for it, as well as is unabashed about it. And yes, it may have its naysayers in this wonderful day and age, but personally, I think there is a lot to be said for Jeff’s frankness, which is already some further character establishment, and all in just the first minute!

While Jeannie Hopkirk/Annette Andre could AND more than most certainly should be considered THE ‘Randall and Hopkirk girl’ over and above all other female characters throughout the series, Fay Sorrensen/Anne Sharp ends up having the honors of being the first ever ‘Randall and Hopkirk girl’, and we see her within the first ever minute of not only “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, but also Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in general. Fay happens to also be one of several names that the writers had a knack for using at least more than once, for it shows up again in “It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”. Speaking of names, Fay’s hubby goes simply by Sorrensen, with nary any mention of his first name at all. There also seems to be a tiny debate as to whether it is SorrenSEN or SorrenSON…the official credits and ITC propaganda state SorrenSEN, while Andrew Pixley in his “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Only You Jeff! Only You!” article in Time Screen #6/June 1986 and Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified), among other potential sources, say SorrenSON. I personally side with the former because not only is it official, but also and especially if you listen to Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope’s enunciation of the name, it is without any doubt SorrenSEN.

But getting back to the soon-to-be-ex wife of the oh-so-lovely couple, Fay is not exactly as appreciative of Jeff’s efforts as she should be, instead being rather sharp to him and his advice about mixing marriage with business. While you cannot blame Fay per se (rhyme unintentional), you honestly cannot blame Sorrensen either…it is a perfectly clear cut case of neither half of the couple is necessarily a good person. But the grand difference is that one would rather resort to divorce versus deciding that murder is the answer to all personal woes and obstacles…and thus signaling who the villain, er, actually villains (more on that in a moment) of this fifty minutes are.

We see the Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators office interior for the first ever time when Fay calls up Marty Hopkirk about needing Jeff to meet her solicitor. Evidently AND presumably, there is more than one case going on at the time of the Sorrensen one based on Jeff Randall being out of town, which of course ‘conveniently’ allows Marty to fatefully take over the Sorrensen case.

Marty/Kenneth Cope’s (in)famous wig mix-up first becomes apparent here.

“We had this Canadian hairdresser and she didn’t know which way it had to go. Neither did I. It was all right, but I looked like the middle one of The Three Stooges! Nobody noticed, nobody said anything until I said to the hairdresser “Shouldn’t it be the other way round?”.” – Kenneth Cope, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs.

And it would remain apparent in “But What A Sweet Little Room” and “For The Girl Who Has Everything”, the second and third episodes, respectfully, in the production order. BUT the backwards wig can actually be explained within the mythos…perhaps Marty was trying a new hairstyle at the time of what will be his death, and decided to go back to what he had before with his appearance unto those who can see/sense him. Per the Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary on the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set, Kenneth Cope still has the wig, and he wears/wore it as part of the Cope family/household Christmas festivities.

Not one but two pivotal phone calls are made…the aforementioned one to Marty by Fay, and before that, Sorrensen placed a call to a killers-for-hire service with a rather unique method of contacting them. Immensely more cryptic and covert than most, if not all others of their kind in and out of ITC fare…kudos to Ralph Smart for that!

If the intro to this episode was done at least 25-30 years later, they would have saved the title/credit sequence for the second episode, and instead rolled the title logo and credits over Marty Hopkirk’s car driving to and approaching the Sorrensens’ home. Oh, to not care about “spoilers” again…

The first ever bit of character establishment occurs for Marty Hopkirk the very second he steps into the Sorrensens’ place…when he lived, he always arrived at his appointments five minutes early. Which seems to imply that his best friend and business partner has a tendency to arrive late-ish. Well, better late-ish than not giving a damn, as demonstrated by Fay with her deciding to take a bath at the very last minute despite the knowledge of Marty and her solicitor (Where is he anyway? Probably for the better he did not show up since you best believe that Sorrensen and murders for hire would have had him whacked as well. Two murders are bad enough, even if one is necessary to the hilt for the sake of the series and its concept.) planning to meet her downstairs at ten o’clock in the morning, and in turn making Marty wait for who knows how long. Talk about being bloody selfish and inconsiderate…

Now maybe, MAYBE the operation is not as ‘covert’ as I want to credit…setting up Fay’s murder in front of a slew of witnesses in the children playing outside (hell, in the picture, look at the boy just staring at the fake electrician putting the finishing touches on the death trap) AND a woman walking by too?! Not bright, murders for hire…but somehow, someway, they get away with it for the time being, and Fay Sorrensen is not only the first ever on-screen ‘Randall and Hopkirk girl’, but she of course also becomes the first ever murder victim in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) history. The first ever murder in the series/franchise is, for my money, probably the most elaborate and clever killing setup in ITC history, or at least up there. It involves holes drilled into a window sill and a bathtub, with a bare wire inserted into those holes, and connected to a seemingly innocent electrician’s van outside waiting to deliver that fatal jolt. But it has to be asked…how were there not ANY electrical burns on Fay’s body?! We hear her scream for at least a good five or so seconds, indicating that right before she dies, she was being fried alive in her bath, which should leave at least some sort of indication of electrical burn. Come to think more about it, if this episode was to be done today, in the classic “We can’t leave anything to the imagination anymore!” manner, we would no doubt be privy to these burns showing themselves quite graphicly…suddenly making me ashamed that I went there in the first place. Moving along…

(As if I haven’t already expressed it enough AND will keep doing so time and again, I honestly hate how television is done today versus back then.)

But then again, to think like Marty Hopkirk is not at all a bad thing…that is, as long as you are not caught by someone with the ability to sic a killer on you. No doubt Marty was pondering about the electrical burns thing himself when Sorrensen walked in on him. Yes, the death needs to happen and all, but bless Marty’s heart (and body)…he royally messed up things in being so overly proper and gentlemanly (more character establishment!) and telling Sorrensen who he was when he should have high-tailed it out of there. Moments like this make one cannot blame Jeff for wanting to win the ‘better detective’ argument whenever that arises.

Frank Windsor does a fantastic job of making Sorrensen downright calculatingly sinister and in turn a brilliant first episode villain. His tone and demeanor towards his now ex-wife in the opening combined with his eyes indicating that something must be done about Marty Hopkirk. Which, that said, and as Sorrensen watches Marty continue his work on the street below, while Sorrensen and murders for hire were not banking on a private investigator visiting their victim, they should have known A LOT better than to do their operation around kids!!

Not counting the title/credit sequence, we see the Randall and Hopkirk office exterior for the very first time when Jeff Randall arrives from wherever he has been for the day while Marty visited the Sorrensen home. The first door we saw Jeff entering had Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators in a different font from that seen in the original/nowadays alternate title sequence. The title sequence’s door font is Impact (just like the show logo, episode titles, and credits accompanying those titles throughout the series), while what is seen here (and other times the door is seen throughout the series) is a gothic font.

Some major character development and establishment occurs in this brief exchange between Jeff and Marty…Marty is quite the worrier, with the subject of his worries at the moment being Randall and Hopkirk: Investigators’ finances, or lack there of, and eerily enough, what Jeannie, his wife would do if something happened to him. Jeff, on the other hand, is quite the optimist, telling Marty that it is the time of year as to why there is not much income, that he will look after Jeannie, and to not be so morbid in his mindset. And speak of the wife, she rings the investigators’ office, interrupting her husband getting ready to demonstrate his observation chops as he was going to tell Jeff (whose observation skills are somewhat no slouch when noting the convenience of Fay’s death for Sorrensen) about what, exactly, he saw at the Sorrensen home, and that he might have figured out the elaborate murder setup…despite the not-so-private PI botch with Sorrensen, perhaps Marty was/is the better detective! The phone call not only introduces Jean ‘Jeannie’ Hopkirk to the audience, but also tells us more about Marty’s worrisome yet caring nature (He asks her if she is alright before giving the phone back to Jeff…oh, and his last ever words to her? “I’m on my way, right now.”), and that there is an interestingly slight flirtatious nature to her and Jeff’s friendship. In addition to worrying, Marty can also have quite the jealous streak, and to the point of not even his best friend is exempt from it! And given the exchange between Jeannie and Jeff, can you honestly blame Marty? But Marty Hopkirk’s even being married is most extremely unusual in that private investigators, particularly given the nature of their business, do not get married more often than not. And although not mentioned until “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”, Marty dislikes divorce cases, making one the cause of his physical death rather ironic.

I cannot believe it has not been said/mentioned at least once in most/all Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) fan fare, at least what I have happened upon over the last decade…but the ITC/Elstree availability of the car aside, one has to wonder if they did not go with the very famous red Mini Cooper for the Hopkirks/Marty’s car as a cute little nod to Paddy Hopkirk, who won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a red Mini Cooper, numbered thirty-seven. That is very potential, as well as remarkably subtle character development with Marty in that he was/is possibly quite the motorsports enthusiast to the degree of owning an automobile like that of his most likely favorite racing star (if not an untold relative of his!). Given how religious about driving Marty was when living AND will continue being beyond the grave (just ask Jeff), this is very plausible. But for someone who is highly protective of their car in and out of their body, Marty sure did not take great pains to lock the doors, and in turn makes way for the debut of the crazily spry beatnik named Hendy (the name will not actually be first mentioned in the episode until later), and who is getting ready to play a most crucial role in an impending turn of events.

The most iconic sequence in Randall and Hopkirk history would have to easily, EASILY be that of Marty’s hit and run murder (which clocks in at only just twelve minutes and five seconds into the episode…a far cry from the ludicrous near-thirty minutes it took in the bloody remake), and not just for its use in the opening title and credits, but also and especially for the fact that if it had not happened, we would have of course not had a ghost and star attraction of the concept at hand. The entire scene was filmed in two days in Maida Vale, London. And the hit and run itself was done in one take, consisting of stagehands pushing the car towards Kenneth Cope, who actually hit the windscreen and rolled off of it. The very last shot of Marty right before he is run down is exactly what is used in the title sequence. Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder played one of the few bystanders who, while not witnessing Marty’s murder, do see Marty lying in the middle of the road. Aitch’s voice was obviously dubbed over, and I mean OBVIOUSLY to the point of the bloody thing does not even match his lips.

Although I appeared in a few crowd scenes during the series my claim to fame are those immortal words I say to the onlookers as Hopkirk is run down by the bad guys car.. I compose myself and utter “He’s dead!”. I had a few fan letters in after that scene was shown on TV suggesting I go back in the timber game.. (It wasn’t even my voice, it was dubbed..) – Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder, courtesy of his utmost marvelous and most highly recommended website and its Randall and Hopkirk section (scroll down).

The aforementioned spryness of Hendy’s comes in very handy against Marty’s killer, as well as a nice display of street smarts. Ronald Lacey was an incredibly distinguished character actor, as proven by his utmost expansive resume (including a great many British television favorites AND Raiders Of The Lost Ark (as the bespectacled Nazi, Ernst Toht) and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (as an uncredited Heinrich Himmler). That said, Hendy is my pick for the most distinctive supporting character of this episode, and will most likely make my Best Randall and Hopkirk Supporting Characters list sometime in the distant future. Although a slight argument could be made for Fay Sorrensen in all of her stingy glory with her being the absolute first ever supporting character seen in Randall and Hopkirk history. But what puts Hendy over and above Fay is his rather strong return potential had there been at least a second series/season. If he was brave enough sometime after his soon-to-be-discussed encounter with Jeff Randall, I could see Hendy approaching the Randall and Hopkirk office with a case or some sort of scheme for better or for worst.

In my opinion, the most shocking aspect of this episode, and really probably the series too, is that Jeff is NOT one of Marty’s pallbearers! I understand that it makes for a more dramatic shot to have Jeff looking forlorn while standing next to and consoling Marty’s widow. But given that both Marty and Jeff regarded each other as best friends to the point of confidently running a business together (and a friendship combined with a business partnership that remains stable to the point of the pair constantly still regarding each other as best friends is very rare), Jeff honestly should have been a pallbearer. This is the very first scene in which Annette Andre performed as Jeannie Hopkirk, and according to her on the commentary for this episode on the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set, she had yet to meet Kenneth Cope, so Andre was mourning for a character whose performer she had not even seen nor talked to yet!

We see Jeff’s flat for the very first ever time, (It seems that I am saying that a lot, doesn’t it? Well, consider that a curse as much as everything being introduced in this episode and into Randall and Hopkirk lore is a gift in and of itself.) and we also meet the night porter, Sid. Ostensibly, and at least back then, if you were lucky enough to own a London flat complete with a porter, you could actually request to not allow calls through to your phone. Take THAT telemarketers! But all kidding aside, this plays a most interesting and important role in the first ever communication between Jeff Randall and the newly ethereal Marty Hopkirk.

It is further established that Jeff can be quite the drinker, as evidenced by, understandably after his best friend and business partner’s funeral, his having partaken of a glass or two or three of whiskey based on that very glass being next to him as he tells Sid to hold his calls.

The decor in Jeff’s flat was supplied by none other than Mike Pratt himself! (Many upon many thanks to the remarkable Mike-Pratt.co.uk and its Biography page/section for this cool tidbit!) Pratt took such an immediate liking to the character that he took it upon himself to bring his own personal posters and items to decorate both Jeff’s flat (including the red-orange bedspread and curtains, the blue tablecloth, various elephants and Indian lamps (including an ENORMOUS one behind the couch), and his own guitar (Mike was also quite the accomplished musician, having won not one, but TWO(!!) Ivor Novello Awards alongside Lionel Bart for co-writing “Little White Bull” and “Handful Of Songs”, both big hits for fellow musician friend, Tommy Steele) on the trunk in front of the bed) ) and the Randall and Hopkirk office (a Taj Mahal calendar, and a uniquely designed India travel brochure and even more extraordinary MartinDisraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire Sharp Hyde Park Cannabis Rally poster (a corner of which can be very briefly seen in the earlier office scene), among at least a couple of other things…), as well as also incorporate some pieces of his personal wardrobe into Jeff’s own. This decor was also naturally prevalent in his Elstree dressing room.

“He was into music, and always playing his guitar, and he was into Indian stuff. He always had incense in his dressing room and he put his bed halfway up the wall to create more space, but it was like a brothel. It always smelt like a nice place.” – Kenneth Cope, Time Screen #11/Spring 1988, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): The Ghost Talks – An Interview With Kenneth Cope” by Annette Buckley

Based on this very decor, just like Mike Pratt, Jeff has an affinity for the counter-culture of the time, as well as India and its art, culture, and music (the most prominent record in Jeff’s collection is Ravi Shankar In New York) too.

On the more frivolous front, Jeff is a Life Magazine subscriber too, as evidenced by the pile of the couple of issues laying next to his phone.

Midnight is appropriately, if not also predictably, when the absolute first manifestation of the ghost of Marty Hopkirk occurs…in the form of psychic contact via telephone, marking the first ever spectral power (or powers, with not only the psychic aspect (as especially proven by the upcoming recording bit), but also the electronic manipulation aspect too) displayed by Marty.

While Jeff is at first delighted to hear his best friend’s voice on the phone, we immediately already see the haunting conflict that Jeff will constantly wrestle with throughout the duration of the series emerge in the form of his disbelief that the spirit of his friend would try to contact him AND that it has to be a prankster. But it has to be said…Jeff’s skepticism and lack of acceptance towards Marty’s reaching out to him beyond the grave is more than incredibly understandable, but does he not realize what a remarkably, to say the least, good impersonation of Marty’s voice this ‘nutter’ is doing? Not to mention the echoing/reverberating, which outside of supernatural means could only be done on expensive studio equipment not available to commoners at the time. But perhaps Jeff was certainly aware of all of this, and simply did not want to admit it to himself. Speaking of studio equipment, a quirky aspect of ‘chosen one’ lore comes into play here…although Jeff is and will be told he is his best friend’s chosen one, even he cannot hear Marty Hopkirk’s voice when it is supposedly recorded.

And as frustrated as Marty has to be with Jeff at this point…

Courtesy of Icy Twaine’s Tumblr.

…you cannot blame him at all for what he is getting ready to pull later.

A nice small slice of ‘suspense’ is utilized when Sid arrives at Jeff’s door, making Jeff as well as the audience think that Marty Hopkirk is getting ready to have his first physical manifestation OR, on top of everything else already happening at this point, an actual ‘nutter’ is paying Jeff a visit. I wonder if Sid would have taken back his tranquilizer suggestion had he known that Jeff had downed at least two-three glasses of whiskey. Come to think of it, Jeff’s ‘hearing voices’ could more than most certainly have been blamed on that very whiskey…shades of “When The Spirit Moves You”?

When Jeff invites Sid into his flat for a moment, we first see the number of Jeff’s apartment to be forty-one (it was once and mistakenly fourteen in “For The Girl Who Has Everything”). This marks the first of MANY instances throughout the series where people start thinking of Jeff as being a little ’off’ due to his interactions with Marty’s spirit. You can tell it is all Sid can do to not say to Jeff that perhaps he should start seeing a psychiatrist (some terrific bit role acting on the part of Harry Locke) when Jeff stupidly reveals that he is already hearing Marty’s voice. But Jeff makes up for such a gaffe somewhat in refraining himself from saying furthermore to Sid.

At four in the morning, we bear witness to the second AND third ever displays of Marty’s powers…his being one with the wind and through that wind, opening the window to Jeff’s flat, AND possessing(!!) a sleeping Jeff to make him finally come down to the cemetery as requested earlier. We also see that Marty can already manipulate the window to close back (how naturally polite of him) and command his possessed subject to drive a car. It is probably the most safe/Marty-preferred driving that Jeff will ever do on this side of “A Disturbing Case”. The opening and closing of windows was done with fine wires, and the wind effects with, well, a wind machine. And per Kenneth Cope in Time Screen #11/Spring 1988’s “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): The Ghost Talks – An Interview With Kenneth Cope” by Annette Buckley, during one use of the wind machine in “A Sentimental Journey”, Cope had to tell director Leslie Norman “Go easy on the wind machine, it’s blowing my wig off!”.

The late night/early morning graveyard meeting between Jeff and the newly astral Marty is officially the very first scene where we see Marty in his trademark AND iconic white suit. There was not just one suit, but either five made by Savile Row (and for which Kenneth Cope himself had to be personally measured), according to Cope in several interviews/articles OR six according to SFX Magazine #7/December 1995, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) 1969” by Jon Abbott…personally, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Cope considerably more because, pure and simply, he was there AND the number of suits being five has been said A LOT more. Here, we see the one suit of the lot that is considerably more off-white than the others. Still much, MUCH better than the pale green that was initially proposed to be the colour of Marty’s ectoplasmic wardrobe.

Also of note about the white suits…they had to be ironed, pressed, and dry-cleaned after every single remote use of them! Kenneth Cope would do all of his rehearsals in jeans, white shirt, and white tie, and then put on his white jacket, white pants, and white boots without time to go to a changing room, for an official take. After “That’s a print!” was said to wrap up the official take, Cope would take the jacket, pants, and boots off again without time to go to a changing room. There were concerns that coffee (as well as food, notably sausage rolls and bread and dripping, and the ashes from Mike Pratt’s cigarettes) might get on the suits during rehearsals. And despite how immaculate they tried to keep the suits, sometimes a little makeup would get on a suit anyway (most likely around the collar and/or lapel of a jacket), and they would have to tippex/white-out the stain, with the dry cleaning eventually taking care of both. After the absolute final shoot for the series, Cope could not help but leap into a humongous tank filled with muddy water with the white suit still on as an act of rebellious celebration! Although Cope has admitted on both the 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set “The Ghost Talks” interview and the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary that he has regretted doing that because the suit, in all of its tippexed glory, could have amassed a fortune(!), be it on eBay or elsewhere.

The white boots originally had felt on their soles, to have Marty Hopkirk move around as quietly as possible with his being a ghost and not having a physical body and means of making noise with his feet. This was nixed not too long into the production of the series due to the felt (most likely the reason Marty’s boot bottoms were white for a remote few episodes, including “The Trouble With Women”, from which the picture on the left hails) being as much a hassle, if not more-so, to maintain as the rest of the all-white outfit, AND everyone quickly accepting that there was only so much they could do to make the Marty Hopkirk role/character as ghostly as possible. Interestingly, there were also initially plans to have Marty leave white footprints with every step he took. As quickly as those plans were axed (obviously right before the production of the very first episode), it is honestly a wonder that they retained the notion to put white felt on the bottom of Kenneth Cope’s boots. While still on the subject of trying to keep Cope/Hopkirk’s appearance as ghostly as possible, according to Ray Austin, there was a mandate to try to not have a shadow fall upon Cope/Hopkirk at all. But sometimes, this was a very tall order, to say the least, as certain shots/scenes throughout the series would prove.

If I had to pick my favorite scene in the entire episode, it would be so fiercely difficult, but I would just about have to go with the cemetery meeting between Jeff and the newly materialized Marty. Let me count thy ways…there is just simply so much wondrous character development that occurs in all two minutes and seven seconds of this bit. From there being more shades of Jeff’s series-long conflict with being haunted by his best friend and business partner as he still disbelieves what is going on despite having been possessed(!!) and wants to believe it is all a dream/nightmare to Marty retaining his kindness and not realizing that possessing Jeff to coerce him to the graveyard would frighten his best friend AND at first not even also realizing he is a ghost until Jeff reminds him.

“You mean you are a ghost?” “I suppose I am, really. Now pull yourself together, it’s only me!”

Jeff’s gradual borderline acceptance of the situation is a marvel to behold here, and all thanks to Mike Pratt’s brilliant and underrated acting. Jeff immediately but organically evolves from being scared and unsure to already seeming to be somewhat alright with the situation, getting to where he is curious and even comfortable enough to touch Marty’s new form…which Marty advises against since Jeff is ‘scared enough as it is’ (and further notes that Jeff’s hand would go right though him) but still begrudging (as indicated by the ho-hum “Thanks.” he gives as Marty explains that other than the odd manifestation, only Jeff will see and hear him). And it should be noted that Kenneth Cope’s acting and how he fleshes out the Marty Hopkirk character in and out of the flesh is every bit as marvelous, and the series would have been sorely lacking if both men had not landed their respective roles.

This scene is where it is first said and contributed to the overall Randall and Hopkirk lore that the car that killed Marty Hopkirk is a black saloon. The actual car model ‘playing’ this infamous automobile was a Humber Super Snipe. We also find out there were no witnesses (which we know is an absolute lie), and that the police have a singer named Happy Lee as their top suspect for the hit and run, the first mention of her in this episode. Despite his knack for observation (as is important to have if you are going to play the private detective game), Marty never even saw a glimpse of his killer due to being blinded by the headlights. Interestingly, in spite of being a detective himself, Jeff never suspected Marty’s death being a murder until this very part and Marty having to spell it out for him. Further proof of why Marty almost always wins the ‘better detective’ argument time and again. But, perhaps Jeff is still a wee bit slow to accepting that Marty was killed, as evidenced by his asking who would want to kill his best friend, with Marty immediately stating Sorrensen. In addition to Jeff’s stress, if only Jeannie had not interrupted what Marty was getting ready to reveal to Jeff that fateful night…maybe, MAYBE Jeff would be connecting the dots a little better than he is doing here.

As an ethereal bell (if not Big Ben itself) tolls to signal to all earthbound ghosts that it is time to return to their graves, we first hear this part of a highly iconic rhyme…

“Afore the sun shall arise anew, each ghost unto his grave must go.”

There is a teeny-tiny debate as to whether the (in)famous rhyme/curse begins with “Afore…” or “Before…”, with Andrew Pixley stating the latter in his “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Only You Jeff! Only You!” article in Time Screen #6/June 1986, BUT Time Screen Revised #6/Autumn 1991, “R&H(D): Only You Jeff! Only You” by Michael Richardson revising that to the former and Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified) agreeing. I side with Richardson/Declassified/the “Afore…” camp…if you listen carefully to Kenneth Cope/Marty Hopkirk during the graveyard scene, he clearly says “Afore…”.

Quite naturally, Marty has already begun to worry about Jeannie. Prompting another iconic (I know I am saying this a lot too, but again, tis the nature of the episode) scene where Marty tells Jeff that he made Jeff his chosen one, not Jeannie due to not wanting to frighten and upset her.

“And I chose you, Jeff. You’re the one. You’re the only one, Jeff! I chose you!”

This was, of course, even more famously emulated in the original title sequence seen on airings of episodes up through the 70s, as well as the American airings, and can now only be seen (for right now AND as far as I know…those of you with the 2009 and Blu-Ray sets, please enlighten me) on the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition’s Disc Five episodes and on YouTube.

“Jeff, it’s alright, Jeannie can’t see or hear me! Nobody can! Only you, Jeff, only you!”

In Time Screen #6/June 1986’s “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Only You Jeff! Only You!” article by Andrew Pixley, it is said that Jeff Randall always had ESP and hence why he can see and sense Marty Hopkirk’s spiritual presence. I disagree with this…my theory/argument is Jeff’s ESP was awakened the moment Marty made Jeff his chosen one, be it on his own or in some sort of deal with a higher-up entity, most likely about wanting to avenge his murder before ascending to his final destination (had he not been cursed).

While Jeff’s acceptance of the situation and Marty’s new state of being is better than before, he still questions why Marty, especially ‘with his (heavenly) connections’, would want his help. Marty ‘has not reported yet’ to wherever his afterlife destination is, and once he does, ‘that’s the end, there’s no coming back’. Both this and what Marty says to Jeff about seeing him later that night raise a compelling question…can a specter choose to not go to their afterlife destination AND stay on the earthly plane as long as they are good about returning to their grave before dawn every day? I really want to say why the need for Marty to be cursed with this notion…but realize that would have put a kibosh on Marty being able to aid Jeff during the daytime AND let‘s face it, the curse just makes for that much more of a cracking story.

Even though Marty claimed that Jeff was not dreaming, Jeff wakes up in his bed! Making he and we wonder which powers of Marty’s on display were real and which were not…certainly one of the most ‘mind-fudgey’ moments of the entire series AND franchise, if not THE one.

Sorrensen almost, ALMOST pulls no punches when he automatically tries to blame Jeff and the Randall and Hopkirk business for his wife’s ‘final heart attack’. I say ALMOST, because if Sorrensen truly wanted to pull no punches, he would have been as trigger happy with calling murders for hire on Jeff as he was with Marty. So apart from storyline convenience, what keeps Sorrensen from calling murders for hire when it is already clear that Jeff is on to him? Perhaps he does not want to arouse any more suspicion with three murders (four if that solicitor had shown his face)…but why stop at two when that is already suspicious enough? Not only does Sorrensen naturally refuse to pay for what is owed on Fay’s account, but he was addressing the Scottish Steelmasters’ Association at the exact time of Marty’s death, which is stated by Jeff, and in turn entered into Randall and Hopkirk lore, to have been 8:30 on a Wednesday night.

Speaking of that exact time, while ghosts do wear a watch as part of their outward appearance towards those who can see and sense them, they cannot refer to that watch for the actual earth plane time due to it being stuck on the very precise time when they died, right down to the last second. Interestingly, this is never exactly mentioned in this version of the Randall and Hopkirk mythos, but has been accepted as part of it since in at least one or two spots, Kenneth Cope’s Marty refers to either Jeff’s watch or a clock to know what time it is, despite his left wrist being adorned with his own white watch.

In my opinion, the interrogations of Sorrensen and Happy Lee are far and away the most ‘boring’/slow part of the episode, BUT is necessary. And not just for further finding out that Happy did not do it, but also to show how mundane Jeff’s detective work would be and pretty much is without Marty’s aid. Happy Lee is quite the trusting soul to pick up a hitchhiking Hendy like she did for ‘someone to talk to’ while driving from Manchester to London (a two hour trip). The police do not believe Ms. Lee and think she made up the beatnik (whose name is revealed to be Hendy here) she dropped off outside of the Hopkirks’ apartment building…well, the police got to have something to do, given that this is among a surprising number of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episodes that do not have an inspector du jour to give Jeff a varying difficult time. In addition to being an agile beatnik, Hendy is also mealymouthed (per Happy’s car ride experience with him), claims to live in the Paddington area of London (more on that later), and is a bit of a jerk (but a paid jerk, again, more on that later) with his refusing to confirm that he and Happy Lee met on the night of Marty’s passing AND she did not cause that passing, tantalizing Ms. Lee in addition to making her out to be a liar. We are thankfully spared of a so far Marty-less Jeff tailing Hendy throughout London until the beatnik turned murder witness books into a hotel.

Alongside Jeff, we arrive at Jean (and Marty) Hopkirk’s flat and view its exterior AND interior (as well as the Hopkirks’ apartment number is eight, once mistakingly twenty-one in “The Man From Nowhere”) for the very first time. We also see that Jeannie is depressed about her husband’s passing to the point of presumably sleeping in all day, for she is in her pajamas when it is only between seven and eight in the evening. But despite such very natural depression, she is certainly not shy to have coffee ready and waiting despite being early in the evening AND go ahead and offer Marty’s slippers and chair to Jeff! No wonder Marty was jealous of Jeff and Jeannie’s friendship when he lived!

Which brings up yet another question…would Marty have been so quick to materialize if such a personal envy causing situation had not occurred? Per the establishing shot of the building housing the Hopkirks’ apartment, it is not even nighttime per se…the sun is setting, but is not completely, 100% down yet. So is it possible that, although not necessarily mentioned in rhyme, Marty broke another ghost-dom rule in emerging from his grave before the actual sunset?

Before the manifestation in the Hopkirks’ apartment, there is further establishment that Marty was(is) quite the worrier. Probably THE character trait that is discussed and mentioned the most of those that all three main characters possess throughout the series (although Marty’s jealousy obviously ranks up there too). But such a trait is proof of how not only was Marty the more caring and empathetic of the detective pair (although that’s not to say that Jeff does not have his caring and empathetic moments, BUT he is safely not as sensitive about this and that as Marty tends to be), but also the brains of the outfit versus Jeff’s brawn. That said, as shown in “The Ghost Talks”, Marty did have the added bonus of holding his own in a physical confrontation too when he needed and/or wanted to do so.

The moment of materialization in the Hopkirks’ flat occurs (and complete with more of Marty’s being the wind itself) right when Jeannie talks about how Marty’s perpetual worries were predominantly about her…establishing the subtle psychic link between her and Marty that will be seen at several points in the series. So even though only Jeff can see and hear Marty, as further confirmed in this scene…

“She can’t see or hear me…I told you Jeff, you’re the only one.”

“So you did.”

…there is definitely something going on in the ether between Marty and Jeannie too. Something remarkably abstruse, but something none-the-less.

By the way, the off-white suit being used in this episode becomes even more ascertainable in these shots, especially with the shirt and the tie being more actually white compared to the jacket and pants.

Off the bat, Jeff comes insanely (no pun intended) close to Jeannie catching him ‘talking to himself’. And even though she does not get that impression yet, she can tell that something is amiss as utmost suddenly in a hurry as Jeff is to get out of there and back into the rainy evening after drying off and getting warm. While sometimes not thinking things through as well as she honestly could (I got to be ridiculously careful whenever this is brought up, BUT I would make the argument that “All Work And No Pay” and “The Man From Nowhere” highly revolve around situations that could have been avoided if Jean had handled things as thoroughly better as she should and could have), Jeannie does have her moments of Marty having taught her well and his observation skills having rubbed off on her and mingling with her own. And this is definitely one of those moments. Speaking of said observation skills, Jeff was already not exactly careful with his ‘sanity’ around Jeannie…most particularly around the door, where he gives off the glaring impression of trying to avoid bumping into an unseen person AND opening the door for them.

As Jeff and Marty proceed out into the hall, it took Jean a moment, but the incident with the ‘unseen person’ makes her pop out and check on Jeff while he is still in the hallway. Although, in my opinion, she gets a wee bit callous in requesting of him to not let her down the next day…not let her down?! I know she is in a most unpleasant state of mind with Marty’s passing AND I am wholeheartedly trying to not be insensitive to that, but Jeff and his detective skills are not chopped liver. Have their off moments, yes, but they are overall still nothing to sneeze at. He did thoroughly well for the day, especially being without Marty’s aid.

And the first moments of Jeff and Marty’s new tangible/intangible partnership are off to a rollicking start with Marty’s jealousy rearing its ever-loving head, as super expected after a couple of minutes ago. Jeff’s conflict with Marty’s haunting him emerges yet again when Marty makes mention of ‘not being cold in his grave yet’ and Jeff does not like hearing that. Jeff’s saying that he and Jeannie are ‘seeing the stone’ also does not sit well with Marty (who goes as far as to think that Jeff and Jeannie are already getting engaged…that is a hell of a jealous streak!), until the stone is revealed to be the one for Marty’s grave. Contrary to what Wikipedia states, Marty does not arrange the epitaph (the iconic “Faithful Unto Death”)…he does help arrange the flowers, but NOT the epitaph. Jeannie is behind that.

“She was thinking of “Faithful Unto Death”.”

“Yes, that’s nice. I like that. Nothing else?”

“Lilies.”

“Oh no, not lilies!”

“What’s wrong with lilies?”

“They’re morbid!”

Later, it will be shown that Jeff and Jeannie go with roses for Marty’s grave, not lilies as requested by the specter.

Proof that the original (and BEST) Marty is so much better AND especially smarter than the remake’s Marty…he can keep his ectoplasmic composure in Jeff’s car without ‘slipping out’, WITHOUT TRAINING, and other such gobbledygook.

One would think that Jeff could have made the connection between Hendy, the money he miraculously earned despite his non-profitable lifestyle, and Marty’s killer, but his need for Marty’s wits becomes all the more evident with such details not completely coming to mind. Although the little details do not necessarily abandon Jeff every time…later on, he will make fantastic use of his spotlight at least once or twice. But there are just times when it clearly shows that Marty is that much more so the brains of he and his best friend’s operation.

If any episode in the entire run of the original (and again BEST) Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) played the straight detective feel perfectly, this one would have to be my prime candidate over the several other such episodes (which I like a little more than most people do AND feel they have their merits and moments, but that is for later). Mike Pratt’s Jeff Randall is one of the utmost best and grossly undervalued representations of a classic-style private eye ever on television, needing Kenneth Cope/Marty Hopkirk’s (whose own private eye deserves a bit more appreciation than he gets, as we will especially learn later on in “The Ghost Talks”) help or not.

Yet again, the off-white suit used in this episode becomes all the more discernible. If it is this noticeable, at least to me, on the regular DVDs from Umbrella and Network…can you imagine how much more perceptible it will be on the Network Blu-Rays (and is for those lucky enough to already have them)?

This episode is a goldmine of nearly all of Marty’s ghostly powers and, in turn, is honestly the downright best showcase of such things in the entire series. At the beginning of the hotel sequence, we learn that Marty, whether in wind form or in humanoid form, has a bitterly cold tinge to his presence that can be felt by most mortals, including animals (in this case, a cat), but presumably not by Jeff/his chosen one. The only relatively real indication of Jeff possibly feeling Marty’s chill is in “Who Killed Cock Robin?”. In that episode, Marty materialized at the dining room table causing one of the guests, Mrs. Howe, to gripe about the room suddenly being cold, and prompting Jeff to note that it was a bit drafty. But there was a sarcastic tone to Jeff’s voice in that scene, complete with a small glare at Marty, which would seem to indicate that Jeff is more than most likely immune to his best friend’s ethereal chill. A more clear-cut indicator of Jeff’s immunity would have to be in “The Trouble With Women”, where the extreme cold of a rainy autumn/winter late night was getting to Jeff (who was complaining about he should have worn his sheepskin liner), but NOT Marty’s presence in the back of Jeff’s Vauxhall…as proven by Jeff still shivering and trying to keep warm after Marty disappearing.

If the hotel clerk’s cat being frightened off by Marty’s coldness counts, and I think it should, then this is the episode where it is also first revealed that Marty has an effect on animals, be it inadvertent (like here and “Who Killed Cock Robin?”) or intentionally (notably “Who Killed Cock Robin?” again, “For The Girl Who Has Everything”, “The Man From Nowhere”, and “You Can Always Find A Fall Guy”). Despite the already impressive array of abilities we have seen from Marty, he still retains a fair bit of humanity…not just in maintaining as much of a humanoid form as he can, and his jealousy and politeness (which shows again when he apologizes to a woman he peeps in on during the upcoming first ever pop-in and pop-out sequence), but also and especially in no matter how hard he tries, Marty cannot ‘glide through walls’! BUT he does glide through when he backs up to make a go for where Jeff wants him to glide! And yes, ‘Jeff wants him to glide’…just as Marty is evolving in what he can do as a ghost a lot more than not do (and the latter just depends on a little time and practice), Jeff too is finally warming up to the idea of someone who can snoop and sneak around infinitely more than a human can. Jeff also is having some fun with this even though he is having to stay on his guard. This very scene would have to be my second favorite in all of the episode for how it is all a continuation of what began in the graveyard scene, and the evolution of Jeff’s attitude towards the new chapter of he and Marty’s still ongoing business partnership and friendship AND Marty’s existence is every bit as organic here as it was there.

While Marty struggles with gliding forward, backwards is no problem…and he uses that to spy on his first subject. But it is here that Marty realizes that he has a far easier time with manifesting and teleporting, and we see the first of the quite iconic pop-ins and pop-outs, complete with eyes closed (but without the trademark harpsichord sting). There is a reason for Marty preferring materializing versus ‘gliding’…in real life, ‘gliding’ (as well as the occasional shot that would show us Marty’s more ‘true’ and transparent appearance) required a very, VERY tedious and expensive, in regards to both money and time, effect called Pepper’s Ghost.

“Walking through walls was difficult. It took a long time to set up and they did it as meticulously as possible. I had to be behind the camera against a big piece of black velvet cloth hanging from the gantry. And they had a light on me when they wanted to see me and there was a sheet of plain glass at an angle in front of a camera lens. When there was a light on me, there was a reflection on the glass, and the camera picked up this reflection, but it was a mirror image. The time consuming element was trying to get the reflection to match up with what was happening on the set and getting the sizes right. It was very lonely for me because I was twenty-six feet away from everyone else facing the wrong way.” – Kenneth Cope, Time Screen #11/Spring 1988, “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): The Ghost Talks – An Interview With Kenneth Cope” by Annette Buckley.

In addition to Mr. Cope’s quote, Ken Baker agreed with him on the 2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set’s Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary that setting up for the transparency and wall gliding scenes ‘was a nightmare’ (his exact words). And those very scenes, on top of the regular ones, had to be shot within what was already a super tight schedule, and because of that very schedule, Baker dreaded such shots. Also according to Ray Austin, again in Randall and Hopkirk Revisited, there was a rule about Kenneth Cope/Marty Hopkirk’s transparency scenes…that he could walk through a building, a wall, or something only once per episode because it was all they could afford, again both money and time.

On the other hand, the manifesting effects were most easily pulled off by stopping cameras with the actor(s) remaining still until Kenneth Cope/Marty Hopkirk either joined or left them, and the cameras would start rolling again (as soon as the cigarette smoke floated up) to continue the scene in a method simply called a ’jump cut’. A BEAUTIFUL example of this, a scene from “Money To Burn”, was found in the ITC vaults and is a bonus feature on the 2007 Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Network Special Edition DVD set (as well as also seen in the Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary).

“It was purely a camera thing…freezing the action, then starting again. We just had to collaborate with the editor and explain what we were doing, and encourage the actor(s) to be still.” – Cyril Frankel, TV Zone Special #14/June 1994, Cyril Frankel Interview by David Richardson.

Kenneth Cope admitted in his 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set “The Ghost Talks” interview that the more they did the jump cuts, the more cheeky he became, and would saunter in/take a little sweet time and/or try to make people blink (considered a no-no and required a redo) while everyone was frozen and waiting for the “Action!”. Further according to Annette Andre and Cope, the jump cuts took a little getting used to, but were overall not too terribly difficult to do. And apart from an extremely rare mistake, notably when Cope ‘accidentally’ trod on Andre’s toe, which was sometimes an intentional joke, along with making her move aside or react with a small outburst and laugh by brushing past her, when she was not supposed to move or acknowledge Cope/Marty at all, the grand majority of the cuts were done with not only time to spare on the tight schedule, but also laughter had by everyone at Cope’s antics.

“I got a bit naughty, but it was all in fun. And they used to scream at me afterwards…they wanted us to get it in one take, and they’d say “Ken, if you do that again, we’ll kill ya!” (laughs) But it was great, it was lovely.” – Kenneth Cope, “The Ghost Talks”, 2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set.

When Hendy is finally found, and asleep, given his digs for the night AND that he blew his hush money on booze and who knows what else, I highly dispute and doubt that Hendy honest-to-goodnessly lives in Paddington, as he and/or the police claimed earlier in the episode.

For once, Marty actually saves Jeff from being pummeled (and it would have been quite the blow…from a whiskey bottle!) and losing the first ever fight on his card before he can land the first punch. This, surprisingly, does not happen as often as it should between Marty’s emerging psychic prowess (which, one can argue came about the moment Hendy started to stir when hearing Jeff unlock the door) and Jeff’s street smarts. One would think these would make for a rather infallible combination…but the course of the series proves that this is where Marty remains every bit as human as his living partner. The fact that the writers did not go the ‘perfect’ route and went with the ‘more/only human’ route with such situations is actually highly commendable…because, let’s face it, ‘perfect’ would get boring pretty quick.

While Jeff, for the most part, is not the kind to carry a gun or a weapon, and prefers to be reliant on his fists and street fighting skills, here he happens to have on his person a pocket knife, which he uses to make the tumblers give way in the lock on the door to Hendy’s room. And I say ‘for the most part’ because in “But What A Sweet Little Room”, Jeff carries a gun when he goes to deal with Arthur De Crecy, in “Whoever Heard Of A Ghost Dying?”, Jeff shows that he is definitely no stranger to firearms and shooting ranges, and in “It’s Supposed To Be Thicker Than Water”, Jeff appeared to not be afraid to use the gun he grabbed from Hodder against both Hodder and Joshua Cracken. BUT, we do learn in ”Murder Ain’t What It Used To Be!” (seventh in the London Weekend Television/standard airing order AND before “WHOAGD?”, OR third to last in the production order) that Jeff overall prefers not carrying a firearm if he really, REALLY does not have to do so. Also, Jeff was not at all opposed to using a pike against one of his kidnappers and assailants in “When Did You Start To Stop Seeing Things?”. So yes, there are some mixed signals as to Jeff’s overall stance on guns and weapons.

Jeff may be a brawler, but he does maintain some morals and principals with his brawling…while Jeff could have bashed Hendy over the head with the whiskey bottle intended for Jeff’s own noggin, Jeff instead chooses to just put the bottle aside, give Hendy a knuckle sandwich, and pin the beatnik to the bed, only using his fists to threaten Hendy to cough up what he really saw on the night of Marty’s murder. (Take THAT, Steve Randall!) And when Jeff takes no crap, he does not care what people think of his ‘talking to himself/thin air’…this is especially put to use in not only this part of “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, but also the end of “But What A Sweet Little Room” and the middle portion of “When The Spirit Moves You”. Jeff uses his ‘insanity’ to the utmost effect in frightening Hendy all the much more with it.

Although not necessarily new because of the earlier part with Jeff’s phone, Marty and we discover that he can expand his electricity manipulation in the form of making a building’s lights (if not the entire circuitry) go bonkers. And yet another iconic Marty power moment: When he retains humanoid form, Marty can make like a bellows and focus his wind ability to blow at gale force! This is used, famously, to great effect to dispel the hotel manager and guests bothered by Jeff’s dealing with Hendy.

Hendy’s total hush money payment? *insert drum roll here* Five hundred quid! *insert cymbal crash here* That’s a lot of whiskey (and again, who knows what else), unless you aim for the top shelf stuff.

No wonder Jeff put aside that bottle.

As we ride along into the night again with Jeff and Marty, we learn that the official legal terminology for Marty’s murder, per Jeff, is death by misadventure since there was no obvious motive. And if the driver had been caught, the heftiest charge put upon him would have been manslaughter. Well, speaking of the driver getting caught, Jeff and Marty’s next destination is a Fulham Road townhouse, 2B (or not 2B).

And already, Jeff forgets his friend’s spectral nature (and in turn has rapidly grown to be very comfortable with it) when he smells gas coming from the murderer’s flat and warns Marty about it.

“That won’t bother me!”

“I’m sorry I spoke!”

In order to make the flat safe and gas free for the mortal half of the pair, Marty gives his first ever (if not second, considering the earlier closing of Jeff’s flat’s window…BUT that could very well have been the first ever demo of Marty’s ability to be like a vacuum when he inhales) demonstration of telekinesis, using that to open this particular flat’s window to ventilate the noxious gas fumes. Even with Marty’s effort, the gas was still choking enough to make Jeff cough a bit on his way to turning off the killing furnace. Although set up to look like a suicide (complete with a forged note), Marty’s killer was most likely ‘whacked’ by the murders for hire outfit as punishment for his cover being blown to Hendy.

Marty’s hit and run artist is revealed to be none other than the fake electrician seen outside Sorrensen’s home at the very beginning of the episode, and therefore was also Fay Sorrensen’s murderer. And meanwhile, the off-white suit keeps retaining its being outright noticeable. Maybe new ghosts’ ectoplasm is cream colored at first, and then becomes totally white as their days upon the earthly plane progress. Maybe uncursed ghosts and their ectoplasm are ecru colored…

That said, because of Marty being due at his grave at sunrise, Jeff has no choice but to force Sorrensen’s hand into calling ‘a certain organization’ right before the crack of dawn. As Jeff points out, Sorrensen did not have to let him in…but all that posturing on Sorrensen’s part would seem to indicate that he is hiding at least a little guilt or something no matter how much he does not want to admit it. If Sorrensen had ended up paying Jeff the twenty-five thousand pound bait intended to force our main villain to call the ‘certain organization’ to go after their quarry, Jeff would have definitely had the largest income ever in his career AND life, as well as this series. Although those one pound notes would have been a hassle to handle, but would have come in handy at the laundromat and many a cigarette machine.

It has to be said again, given how trigger happy Sorrensen was with the ‘certain organization’ that fateful last Tuesday and Wednesday…what on Earth stopped him from siccing the murders for hire on Jeff right after he asked around about Marty’s death and whether or not Sorrensen had a black saloon car? Apart from storyline convenience and what-not, Sorrensen must have actually felt that three murders in somewhat less than a week would have made Scotland Yard incredibly suspicious of him. But, again, two murders would not have eventually had that effect?

I almost, ALMOST cannot believe that Ralph Smart and the good folks at ITC passed up a subtle reference to The Prisoner, and had Jeff saying “Be seeing you.” instead of “I’ll be seeing you.” to Sorrensen.

Yes, feel more than free to groan at that.

And again, Frank Windsor BEAUTIFULLY nails how terrifyingly calculating Sorrensen is with those eyes of his and a mere expression. Jeepers creepers…easily one of the original (and yet again BEST…cannot be said enough) Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) series’ best villains, and as Sorrensen should be, given he and murders for hire are utmost historic villains in the overall mythos at that.

As Sorrensen falls for Jeff’s bait, Marty gets to witness what the genesis of his murder looked like. And consummate professional Marty is, living or dead, he actually and amazingly never gets the least bit emotional about it…not even so much as to shake an ectoplasmic fist at Sorrensen.

Even his otherwise keen mind cannot help Marty remember the rest of the poem about why ghosts should not stay out of their graves past sunrise. To add insult to injury, Jeff thinks of it as nothing more than a ‘children’s nursery rhyme’…but then again, it is most easy to feel that way when you are at the mercy of murderous thugs and need that much more divine aid to hopefully survive. Here is what Marty tries to remember of the iconic and infamous rhyme, but only in bits and pieces:

“Cursed be the ghost who dared to stay, and face the awful light of day.”

With the mention of Jeannie and what she would do if Jeff were to not be around, one has to wonder if Marty was really going to be all that willing to head on to his final destination if he and Jeff had managed to finish their work before dawn. That said, Marty’s decision to stay is for Jeannie’s sake, as he made and said to Jeff right when the sun rose.

The phone number of the ‘certain organization’ is the same as their main vehicle’s register…OYR-877F (and speaking of auto registers, as seen earlier, the register for Jeff’s Vauxhall is RXD-996F and the one for Marty/now Jeannie’s Mini is BAP-245B…leaving no trivia stone unturned!). I wonder how they pulled requesting one or the other without raising ANY eyebrows, what-so-ever. Also and evidently, when you pay the ‘certain organization’ enough money and/or prove yourself to be a regular customer, you are entitled to the perk of getting to tag along on your requested whacks, as we see happen with Sorrensen.

We only hear it once here, but Marty’s nickname, and perhaps since childhood (we unfortunately never hear of how far back Jeff and Marty’s friendship goes, but with the constant proclamations of being best friends, I would be quite surprised if their friendship did not go back to either their childhood or teenagehood), is ‘Hoppy’. “Hop it, Hoppy!” Also, another sign of no matter how much he grows as a ghost, Marty is still every bit as human as he was in the flesh: His utterance of “They’re going to shoot us!” despite being bulletproof to the nth degree.

People tend to harp on this climax, but I personally love the irony of something so covert and intricate like this ‘certain organization’ being foiled by something so utterly simple (with or without Jim Capaldi warbling about it) like a ghost blowing a newspaper onto the would-have-been-murderers’ car’s windshield. I do not care what anyone says…that is bonafide genius and a true credit to Ralph Smart and his script writing. Not to mention that since Sorrensen and any organization member involved with this climax was not killed, only hurt and/or arrested, that left things super wide open for a return from Sorrensen and/or the organization had there been at least a second series/season. I, for one, would have been most thoroughly interested in how Sorrensen would attempt to get his revenge against Jeff Randall (and Marty Hopkirk).

With the first showing of Marty’s new gravestone, we see that there are no birth and death dates in addition to the iconic “In Loving Memory, Marty Hopkirk, Faithful Unto Death” engraving. Something I am surprised has never been questioned all that much. But if they had included dates, that would have further dated the show something fierce, so leaving those off I can understand. We not only see that as kinda, sorted requested by Marty, Jeff and Jeannie go with roses, not lilies, for the first flowers to be placed upon the grave post-funeral, but also learn that when you are a cursed ghost, you are not at all allowed back into your grave, and are rejected every time you try to re-enter. And the first ever chapter of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) closes with rest of the seminal and infamous rhyme, as well as a brief musing from Jeff and Marty about it.

“He shall not to the grave return, until a hundred years be gone.”

“A hundred years..”

“A hundred years!”

Review and Thoughts

“My Late Lamented Friend And Partner” is THE pilot episode just about all, if not ALL pilot episodes dream of being. In a day and age that sees many, MANY people complaining about when an origin story is separate from the actual plot, this episode was honestly ahead of its time in not just introducing the first (and really still only) ghost detective show, but also and especially having the origin of how Marty Hopkirk became a ghost be remarkably interlaced within the overall episode plot with nary any diversion what-so-ever.

All of the ingredients that make an outstanding Randall and Hopkirk episode all the more truly incredible are here…good story/writing, excellent acting, overall fine pace, well fleshed out characters. And the very latter is truly a rarity within a pilot episode, and usually does not come into its own until at least a couple to a few episodes later. This is a true testament to the undeniable yet underappreciated talents of Ralph Smart, Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope, and Annette Andre.

Let me just go on more about these characters, for it is not every day that they are every bit in their element in the pilot as they are quite later into the season/series. Everything we basically know AND need to know about Jeff and Marty, their friendship and business, and how Jeannie beautifully and necessarily rounds out the trinity is here and ready to guide all viewers, brand new and veteran, into the wondrous, ‘something for everyone’ world of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). While the ITC pantheon has produced several highly memorable characters, the others of them are not nearly as thoroughly human as Jeff Randall, Marty Hopkirk (in or out of the flesh), and Jeannie Hopkirk. You are not going to find more ‘only human’ moments in the ITC universe such as…

  • – Jeff’s evolution of an at first begrudging acceptance of his best friend’s being an ethereal entity to realizing the boons of such a circumstance AND that Marty is still quite human outside of a vessel as he was when bound to one.
  • – Marty and that very humanity dominating his very otherworldly being…in his first forty-eight hours as a specter, he puts on a cavalcade of ghostly abilities of which many a poltergeist would be utterly jealous. And yet, despite these astral fireworks, Marty remains every bit as much a human being, as proven by his politeness, jealousy, and worrying still as prevalent as ever; the ‘gliding through walls’ sequence, his difficulty in remembering the ancient rhyme, and his preference to stay and unselfishly help his best friend and, in turn, also be around for his wife. Therefore, Marty is not just still magnificently only human in his ectoplasmic form, he also has heart and, well, soul.
  • – Jeannie’s mourning for her husband to the degree of sleeping in all day and only wanting to step back out into the world to ‘see the stone’. In my opinion, this is the epitome of how the little things do truly count in developing not only an episode, but also and most particularly the characters and the world around those characters. Jeannie is by far the most subtle of the three main characters, but she packs a powerful punch here with hitting home as to how devastating Marty’s murder is, despite what we know, see, and especially enjoy of his most marvelous new existence and powers.

In a series that would develop a small bit of conflict behind the scenes (but very thankfully did not cause any real rifts between at least the main cast…as I will be discussing on/off between other reviews and posts, I absolutely adore the genuine friendship on and off the Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) set between Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope, and Annette Andre and most especially how it thoroughly augmented the chemistry of their characters and the overall series) as to whether there should have been more comedy or more drama, the two are terrifically melded together here with the added bonus of the private eye aspect not being too obtrusive and, if anything, further enhancing the overall story.

You cannot get nor find a better series opening AND historic-within-the-mythos villain than Sorrensen and his beloved murders for hire outfit. Yes, they do have their flaws, but apart from my admitted nitpicking/wisecracking/probably being too ‘Hopkirk-esque’ for my own good (blame my Scots-Irish/potential Liverpudlian/Scouser blood), these flaws, like most other classic/best Randall and Hopkirk flaws, can and should be overlooked. Sorrensen and Co. are the utmost proof that sometimes, and most particularly in the overall context of this episode, typical and street level is not at all a bad thing.

The supporting characters are never cumbersome nor memorable for the wrong reasons. Of them, Hendy is easily, EASILY the standout, which is expected with the talents of the late, great Ronald Lacey at work. But Dolores Mantez’ Happy Lee and even Harry Locke’s night porter/Sid are quite crucial pieces of the puzzle as well…and without them, we would not be witness to the little things that make the Jeff Randall character tick, such as his feelings for Marty and how mundane his line of work would be and is without his best friend’s spiritual aid.

It is only the first episode, and already Marty’s abilities and the special effects behind them are a showstopping tour de force. Although I will not disagree that a few other certain episodes present possibly more fun and/or clever uses of what Marty can do as a specter, you are honestly going to be hard-pressed to find a more awesome array of Marty’s powers outside of this episode. It was bold of ITC, Spooner/Berman, and Ralph Smart to showcase Marty’s abilities in one fell swoop like that instead of spreading out each ability’s debut over the course of the series. But as with all great television series, there needed to be a hook to keep viewers wanting more and willing to tune in week in and week out…and really, there is not an absolutely better hook than what, exactly, a newly materialized ghost can do. And it is all done in such a way that we not only want to see more of Marty as a ghost every bit as much as still a human being, but his powers really do not ever get trite, contrary to what some critics have said, still say, and likely always will.

“No, I didn’t touch anything. I blew stuff. Lenny Henry was on Parkinson, I think he was, and he couldn’t believe the success of the show. He said ‘All that ghost does is blow!’.” – Kenneth Cope, TV Zone #218/August 2007, “The Ghost Talks And The Widow” by Anthony Brown.

What was/is Mr. Henry on about? Somebody needed/needs to show Mr. Henry this episode, STAT. It may not change his mind, but it proves him utmost wrong about everything the ghost can do.

The special effects, as ‘primitive’ as they may be by today’s overblown standards, are to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) what George Martin was to the Beatles. I think there is a lot to be said for telling the story in such a way that it still leaves just enough to the imagination in a way that feels organic, not at all overelaborate, and allows the performers, their characters, and the situations surrounding those characters to rightfully be the stars over and above everything else. And in something as super character driven as Randall and Hopkirk, to say that is of the utmost importance is only scratching the surface.

Yes, the climax is basic, and people either love it or hate it with no in-between. Again, I am in the ‘love it’ camp, and personally dig the irony of how something so complex like the murders for hire organization ends up being taken down by something as absurdly simple as a newspaper blown onto a windshield. It cannot be said enough…the little things, people, the little things, and every single one of them in this episode put that much more of an exclamation point on how damn fine the writing was, still is, and always will be overall for this puppy.

Just like the murders for hire organization was not exactly as covert as they probably thought they were, sure there are some flaws in spots of this episode. But they are the kind of flaws that honestly add that much more charm and love to the whole of the Randall and Hopkirk series and mythos, making it all every bit that much more-so the most human ITC offering, and as such should be appreciated right down to providing that much more of the occasional jolly good laugh, as Mike Pratt certainly would want, God bless him, and also Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre too.

Rating and Consensus

A PERFECT episode off the bat, and the PERFECT place to start for absolutely new and potential admirers of the tangible and intangible detective pair.

TEN OUT OF TEN BLACK SALOON CARS or OFF-WHITE SUITS!!

Everything you could want in a lesson on why the original Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) is still fondly remembered today AND why ITC was once a television juggernaut can be found here. This is a virtual syllabus for ‘Randall and Hopkirk 101’, and even though there is no such thing as an abysmal classic/best Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode (BUT some are admittingly weaker than others…that is what eventual reviews/analyses are for), this is more than certainly among the series/franchise’s strongest and most dynamic offerings. And there is no reason, what-so-ever, to skip ahead of this one in beginning your 1969-70 Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) odyssey.

Up next on the review card…”A Disturbing Case”, alias the episode authored by Mike Pratt, and often regarded by cast, crew, and fans alike as one of the series’ most brilliant comedy gems.

Be seeing you!

Caroline “All you need is love…and champagne!” Smith

The A Brief History of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)/Legend Of A Show introduction and this review, particularly the history portions and the photos (which are the property of ITV Global Entertainment), as well all other eventual Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode reviews and their history portions and photos would not be possible without the aid of these sources.

Avengerland/A Guide To Avengerland by Anthony ‘Tony’ McKay, Annette Hill, and Chris Bentley

Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC by Robert Sellers

HarryFielder.co.uk

2007 Network Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) Special Edition DVD set and its bonuses, especially the commentary for “My Late Lamented Friend And Partner”, the Randall and Hopkirk Revisited documentary, and the Mike Pratt Remembered mini-documentary.

Mike-Pratt.co.uk

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) by Geoff Tibballs

Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified)

SFX #7/December 1995 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) 1969” by Jon Abbott

SFX #161/October 2007 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Steve O’Brien

Time Screen #6/June 1986 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): “Only You Jeff! Only You!” by Andrew Pixley

Time Screen #11/Spring 1988 – “The Ghost Talks – An Interview With Kenneth Cope” by Annette Buckley

Time Screen #14/August 1989 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Vanessa M. Bergman

Time Screen Revised #6/Autumn 1991 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Only You Jeff! Only You!” by Michael Richardson

TV Film Memorabilia/June 2007 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” by Ann Evans and Rob Tysall

TV Zone Special #7/November 1992 – “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Grave-Talk From Kenneth Cope” by Graeme Wood

TV Zone Special #14/June 1994 – “Cyril Frankel Interview” by David Richardson

TV Zone #218/August 2007 – “The Ghost Talks and the Widow” by Anthony Brown

2005 Umbrella Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) DVD set and its bonuses, especially the “A Sentimental Journey” Annette Andre interview and “The Ghost Talks” Kenneth Cope interview.

A profuse amount of thanks to these sources and their authors, producers, and everyone else involved…let us work together in being ‘Faithful Unto Death’ to keep the Randall and Hopkirk spirit alive.

And please, please, PLEASE buy the Blu-Rays and/or DVDs of the classic and forever BEST Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)…man and woman cannot AND should not live on intricately detailed reviews alone.

Further Information:

Randall and Hopkirk (Declassified) – Episode/programme page.

Avengerland – Shooting locations.

YouTube – The ENTIRE(!!) episode available for viewing.

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