Persuaders 40th Birthday Gig

To celebrate the release of The Persuaders! 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray box set, Network DVD held a launch event on the evening of 10 September, 2011 in Knightsbridge, London. On behalf of Cult TV, my partner and I jumped at the opportunity to attend, not least because none-other than Sir Roger Moore - Lord Brett Sinclair in the series - was the special guest. Even better, legendary film critic Barry Norman had also been announced as the Q&A host!

Appropriately attired (me in a suit, Em in 70s get-up), we turned up at the venue a little early, and like everyone else in the queue stood admiring and snapping the vintage, orangey-gold Aston Martin DBS - Sinclair's awesome car, which has been lovingly restored to its former glory. Moore had taken part in a photo call with the stunning vehicle a little earlier in the day. Cutely placed on the parcel shelf was a Corgi replica of the car, and an original script from one of the episodes.

The Excellently Restored Aston Martin as used by Lord Sinclair - Image: John Payne

Doors opened at 6.00pm and holders of special blue tickets were efficiently streamed towards Sir Roger, dutifully signing copies of the Blu-ray box set, and cheerfully having his picture taken alongside delighted fans. For a man a month shy of turning 85, he was in impressively rude health.

Personalised box sets bagged, we made our way into a high-ceilinged room where a glass of effervescent Prosecco, orange juice or water was offered, along with a tasty selection of sandwiches. Attentive waiters offered to top-up our glasses on numerous occasions, and we were more than happy to oblige them, not least because the room became a little sweltering once several hundred people had been packed into it.

6.45pm arrived and, having been advised of a slight change in the schedule, we were guided upstairs to a mercifully air-conditioned mini-cinema to watch the first episode of the remastered series, marvelling at the remarkable HD fidelity of the restored material. As familiar as the majority of the audience doubtless were with the programme, as one they cheered and laughed at all the right moments.

When the hugely entertaining episode had finished, it was time for the main event of the evening. Barry Norman as introduced to rapturous applause, and then it was Sir Roger's turn to step onto the stage to a deafening standing ovation. Minutes later, when everyone had finally settled down, Norman began his interview, keeping it light, humourous and interesting. Moore was captivating, every bit as charming, risqué and humble as seemingly everyone who has ever worked with him says he is.

Barry Norman and Sir Roger Moore on stage

"Why did you chose to do The Persuaders!," began Norman. 'Because forty years later I knew I'd be talking to you,' replied Moore curtly. Several jokes were made about the huge amount of money Sir Roger was offered, or as he put it 'a couple of bob'. Occasionally the tone became a little more serious, as when Moore explained how he had given up smoking cigarettes because co-star Tony Curtis (aka Danny Wilde) had shown him a horrifying pamphlet illustrating the possible damage the habit can cause.

Such breaks in the levity did not last long, however, and the pair were soon back to their hilarious verbal sparring. Tales of dubious on-set habits such as necking real Champagne appropriately raised an eyebrow or two. Moore explained that the series probably did not last very long (just 24 episodes) because it was not hugely successful in the US where much of the funding had come from. "We could you have gone on [to make more episodes]," pondered Sir Roger. "Then you'd have missed Bond," noted Norman. "No, Bond would have missed me!" countered Moore with customary razor-sharp wit.

Eventually the questions were opened up to the floor, and dozens of eager hands shot up each time the opportunity arose to interact with the legendary actor. Asked if there was a role he wished he had taken, Sir Roger replied that he would have loved to have been in "Lawrence of Arabia", a film he had judged to be so perfect when he first saw it that he had half-felt it was almost pointless carrying on making films. Back to The Persuaders!, and Moore gleefully explained that he had loved doing the fight scenes "because I knew I would win!".

At the end of the interview, an even bigger roar of applause and another standing ovation greeted the duo, and then the sparkling, unforgettable evening was over. A second episode ('A Death in the Family', where Moore famously acted - and cross-dressed - in several roles) was due to be shown shortly afterwards, but the majority of the ticket holders chose to leave, in our case so we could catch an earlier train home.

Sir Roger Moore with Cineology/Cult TV Ambassadors Emma and John

Network put on a fantastic event, and we were delighted to have finally met a massive mutual hero - screen icon and charity figurehead.

You can see our review of the Box Set by clicking here!

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