Ironic isn’t it? TV devours Tea Party Queen Christine O’Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft when so many of its own big money-makers are firmly rooted in witchery, black magic, the living dead, and psychics. And that’s just Fox News.
RANDALL & HOPKIRK (DECEASED) is a fine example of occultism on British TV. The pilot MY LATE LAMENTED FRIEND AND PARTNER, first broadcast on ITV in 1969, neatly sets up the premise:
Before the sun shall arise anew, each ghost unto his grave must go. Cursed be the ghost who dared to stay and face the awful light of day. He shall not to the grave return, until a hundred years be gone.
Only his pal Jeff can see or hear Marty, but Jeff comes to realise that having a ghost for a sidekick does have its uses. Particularly for a private detective.
The series only ran for one season, and in truth it is patchy. But the best episodes are superb, and, because ITV shows tended to have bigger budgets than their BBC rivals, some wonderful location shots bring not-so-swinging London to life in a way few other contemporary shows manage.
The real irony is that while many of the original cast now know all about death first-hand, the original ghost Mr. Marty ‘White Suit’ Hopkirk – who reputedly wore his black wig the wrong way round for the first few episodes – is still going strong.
This is how they died …
Mike Pratt – Jeff Randall – 10 July 1976, aged 45. Was a successful song-writer who wrote for Tommy Steele. Pratt also wrote scripts and co-wrote one of the best Randall & Hopkirk episodes – ‘A Disturbing Case’. Lung cancer.
Dennis Spooner – co-creater/writer – 20 September 1986, aged 53. Prolific writer who also scripted for THUNDERBIRDS, STINGRAY, DOCTOR WHO, THE CHAMPIONS, DEPARTMENT S, and JASON KING. Once played professional football for Leyton Orient! Heart attack.
Monty Berman – co-creator/producer – 14 June 2006, aged 101. Former camera assistant turned producer, Monty went on to secure the rights for THE SAINT before forming Scoton Productions with Dennis Spooner. Natural causes.
And a selection of the guest stars …
David Healy – Bugsy Spanio in ‘Murder Ain’t What it Used to Be’ – 25 October 1995, aged 66. Wonderful, hugely underrated, this American born actor who starred in UFO and provided the voice of Shane Weston in Joe 90. Complications following a heart operation.
Ronald Lacey – Beatnik in ‘My Late Lamented Friend and Partner’ – 15 May 1991, aged 55. The best leer in the business; had to have his lower intestines removed in his 20s. Liver failure.
Gerald Flood – Dr. Lambert in ‘A Disturbing Case’ – 12 April 1989, aged 61. Also voiced Kamelion in DOCTOR WHO. Grandfather of current English rugby no.10. Heart attack.
Peter Jones – Frederick P. Waller in ‘The House on Haunted Hill’ – 10 April 2000, aged 79. Most famously voice of the Book in the radio and TV versions of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Natural causes.
Arthur Brough – Snowy in ‘That’s How Murder Snowballs’ – 28 May 1978, aged 73. Went on to star as Mr. Grainger in ARE YOU BEING SERVED. Natural causes.
Patricia Haines – Martha in ‘Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave’ – 25 February 1977, aged 45. Michael Caine’s first wife. Lung cancer.
Roger Delgado – Tapiro in ‘The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo’ – 18 June 1973, aged 55. Went on to BE the Master in DOCTOR WHO. Car crash.
Lois Maxwell – Kim Wentworth in ‘For the Girl who has Everything’ – 29 September 2007, aged 80. Reckoned to have spoken fewer than 200 words in the 14 BOND films she starred in as Miss Moneypenny. Bowel cancer.
Nicholas Courtney – Max in ‘The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo’ – 22 February 2011, aged 81. Yet another cast member with links to DOCTOR WHO, Nicholas nailed the part of the unflappable head of UNIT (United nations Intelligence Taskforce). Five rounds rapid! Cancer.