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Friday, 22 February 2008 07:40

Department S

When traditional criminology fails, call on the Interpol experts ...


UK - 1969-70 - 28 episodes (60 mins) – Colour

An Interpol branch which specialised in solving previously 'unsolvable' crimes, Department S was created by Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner, the second of three shows they collaborated on for ITC. Like The Champions before it and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) which would follow, the format took otherwise routine mysteries involving murders and kidnapping, that were part of the ITC regular diet, and blended them with a strong element of the fantastic so that even the most implausible scenario eventually led to a logical resolution.

More importantly, the show relied on the interplay between the three leads. While actors Joel Fabiani as action man Stewart Sullivan, and Rosemary Nicols as the computer expert Annabelle Hurst were cast as the traditional leading man and attractive female co-star, the memorable performance came from Peter Wyngarde's portrayal of Jason King. Established as a writer of detective thrillers, the character of King was modelled on a parody of James Bond's creator Ian Fleming. He would regularly drive his collegues to distraction by approaching each case they were assigned to as if he were his own literary creation, Mark Caine.

As relief to the more conventional roles beside him, King's flamboyance and unchecked egotism proved popular enough for ITC, once Department S had finished its run, to commission spin-off series Jason King. Rumour has it that Lord Lew Grade’s wife was particularly keen on Wyngarde’s portrayal, and the follow-up series saw the character brought back as a solo crimebuster, in even more outlandish adventures than before.


Peter Wyngarde
as Jason King
Joel Fabiani as Stewart Sullivan
Rosemary Nicols as Annabelle Hurst
Dennis Alaba Peters as Sir Curtis Seretse

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