Today I come bearing gifts and some supremely British news relating to a classic television show from the 1970s.
When you think of Roger Moore, nine times out of ten, you'll subsequently think of James Bond. And when you think of Tony Curtis, the first thing that'd probably pop into your head would be SOME LIKE IT HOT. But when you think of Moore and Curtis together... well, that association will always spark one title and one title only: THE PERSUADERS!.
On September 19, Network DVD, distribution connoisseurs of classic British television, will be releasing THE PERSUADERS!: The Complete Series on Region B Blu-ray in an eight-disc set to mark the 40th anniversary of the internationally-acclaimed action-adventure series, which enjoyed tremendous success on ITV1 in the UK and ABC in the States, as well as across Europe and beyond.
Courtesy of Network, I have a number of exclusive and quite possibly never-before-seen behind-the-scenes stills to share with you today, so many thanks to them for these amazing images and words.
Historically the availability of stills for The Persuaders! has been pretty good but many more were known to exist. When we came to start work on the Blu-ray set, and with the invaluable aid of ITV PLC (the owner and licensor of all the ITV adventure series, including The Persuaders!) many boxes of stills and transparencies were uncovered and scanned in. Totalling nearly 2500 stills, many of these had been unseen since the mid ‘70s, if they’d ever been seen at all. Every single one of these images have been scanned in at high resolution and are showcased in tiered HD galleries throughout the new Blu-ray release of this complete series.
As a taster, here are some behind-the-scenes stills:
In early Summer 1970, prior to filming of the main series at Pinewood Studios, the cast and crew filmed extensively on location in Monte Carlo, Nice and the South of France for sequences from the first five episodes into production. This photo shows Tony Curtis and Roger Moore discussing a scene with director Basil Dearden for the pilot episode – Overture. Dearden was responsible for numerous key films from the early 1940s onwards, including Ealing’s Dead of Night, The Blue Lamp, Khartoum and Victim.
Also filmed as part of this overseas location shoot was footage for Angie… Angie – a story co-devised by Curtis. Here’s the camera crew setting up a shot on the beach for the clay pigeon shooting sequence. This episode co-starred F-Troop’s Larry Storch (who can be seen operating the clay pigeon machine) – a friend of Curtis’s from when they both served on the USS Proteus during World War 2.
Main filming for all episodes was done at Pinewood Studios, where this photo was taken during late December 1970 for the episode Greensleeves. Curtis looks a bit more tense here then normal, which is hardly surprising as he was about to become a father again (his son Nicholas was born on New Year’s Eve).
This next shot is from the location filming for Chain of Events (November 1970). Scripted by Dalek creator Terry Nation and directed by Bond veteran Peter Hunt (his directorial debut, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, had been a box-office smash only the year before) a good degree of this episode was filmed in Black Park – the woodland area behind Pinewood Studios. Well known for his on-set jokes Moore seems to be doing an impersonation of ITC impresario Lew Grade to keep the crew amused.
Taken during the filming of That’s Me Over There in December 1970, Roger Moore shares a joke with Oliver Reed as the crew ready the set for shooting. Reed is completely hairless due to his starring role in Ken Russell’s controversial film of The Devils – a cause celebre in 1971 and a subject of outrage in certain quarters to this day.
Moore had cut his teeth directing television shows during his run on The Saint and was to direct two episodes of The Persuaders!. Shot in late May/early June 1971, The Long Goodbye was a bit of a family affair and featured his daughter Deborah as the schoolgirl who likes to annoy dogs. Also in shot here, with Curtis, is Moore’s son Geoffrey, who plays a very young Brett Sinclair in the opening titles to each episode of The Persuaders!
Here Moore and Curtis fool around on location during the filming of Nuisance Value in early May 1971. Pictured with them is Brett Sinclair’s Aston Martin DBS V8 (sporting Sinclair’s personalised number plates) – a classic car which still exists in exemplary shape today and is regularly exhibited at UK-based events by its current owner.
For A Death in the Family, the last episode to be filmed (July 1971), Roger Moore plays several doomed members of the Sinclair clan in a tale that pays homage to Ealing Films’ Kind Hearts and Coronets. Not to be outdone, Curtis appears at the very end of the episode as Danny Wilde’s Aunt Sophie – an uncredited performance which lasts for only a split second onscreen. Here Moore rehearses with Curtis in all his finery for Aunt Sophie’s grand entrance.
This selection of behind-the-scenes stills is a small sample of the many, many more images (including production photos and portraits) that have been optimised for high definition and showcased in Network’s new Blu-ray release of The Persuaders!.
Running for approximately 1300 minutes and featuring all 24 episodes, THE PERSUADERS!: The Complete Series (RRP £79.99) will also come loaded with the following special features:
- Digitally restored, high definition transfers
- 156-page, fully-bound book of viewing notes by British TV expert Andrew Pixley
- Recently found, HD-remastered material
- Previously unseen alternate title sequence in HD
- Extensive HD image galleries of rare and previously unseen stills
- 1972 Sun TV Awards footage with Tony Curtis
- Contemporary French interview on-location from 1971
- Moore and Curtis 2008 reunion on The Alan Titchmarsh Show
- Merchandise image gallery (HD)
- Exclusive documentary: The Morning After – Remembering THE PERSUADERS!
- Commentaries with Roger Moore, Tony Curtis and production staff
- AVROSkoop contemporary documentary from 1971
- TOP OF THE POPS promotional video for John Barry's theme
- Promotional spots
- Trailers and archive newsreel footage
- Interview with Tony Curtis by Russell Harty
- French titles
- Commercial break bumpers
- Script PDFs
- International movie versions and trailers for four episodes
It really is great to see a distributor put as much attention and passion into a release. Then again, this is nothing new from Network DVD, who have always handled their titles with a great deal of care.
Oh, and if anyone's heading down to the official launch event hosted by renowned novelist and film critic Barry Norman on September 10, have fun! It sold out back in July but sounds like a blast, highlighted by a screening of two episodes selected and introduced by Moore (Overture and A Death in the Family) in all their HD glory, followed by a Q&A and signing.
Look out for my full review of the release coming soon. In the meantime, why not check out this veritably delicious hi-def trailer?
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