Man from UNCLE, The

Friday, 22 February 2008 07:55

Détente heats up the Cold War ...


USA - 1964-67 - 105 episodes (60 mins) - B&W/colour

The most successful of many attempts to jump on the James Bond bandwagon in the Sixties, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was actually conceived during a meeting with 007's creator, Ian Fleming, and producer Norman Felton who was looking to bring the spy thriller format to television. Although Fleming bowed out before production, the initial ideas were adapted to create U.N.C.L.E., the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, located on New York's Lower East Side behind an innocuous tailor shop.

With the Cold War at its peak, pairing the smooth, stylish American Napoleon Solo with the quietly efficient Russian Ilya Kuryakin produced the détente the public was looking for. With the two countries now allied, a new villainy appeared in the form of T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technical Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity).

Played with tongue-in-cheek charm, the various 'Affairs' the duo were sent on by the direct orders of their superior Mr Waverly were essentially formulaic in execution with an innocent member of the public caught up in the plot, hindering then helping the U.N.C.L.E. agents. But the charm came in the outrageous nature of T.H.R.U.S.H.'s dastardly plans, the high calibre of guest stars, and the technical gimmickry and sometimes outlandish hardware Solo and Kuryakin had at their disposal.

By the third season the show had reached its peak and the humour became much broader, descending into outright comedy. It also came up against anti-violence pressure groups. But for a time, opening Channel D ushered in a thrilling diversion to a turbulent decade.

Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo
David McCallum as Ilya Kuryakin
Leo G Carroll as Alexander Waverly




Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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