ITC A brief and personal view 1960-1978 from a fan.
But there may be some justification in the fact that their next three series followed an identical pattern, a trio comprising one American actor, one British actor, and one female. However, behind the superficial similarity there are key differences.
(Trios: William Gaunt, Alexandra Bastedo, and Stuart Damon are The Champions; Joel Fabiani, Rosemary Nicols, and Peter Wyngarde work for Department 'S', Kaz Garas, Anneke Wills, and Anthony Quayle file a Strange Report)
- Superb script-work by the cream of British TV screenwriters, including Roger Marshall, Brian Clemens, Philip Broadley, Harry W Junkin, Terence Feeley, Dennis Spooner, Tony Williamson, Terry Nation and many more. Yes, some scripts were recycled, but you don't normally notice, particularly on the flagship shows.
- Great opening credit sequences (see bottom of post), often designed by Chambers + Partners, a company of which I cannot find any information on the internet. Any information gratefully accepted (and duly credited). Accompanied by some great theme tunes, mostly by Edwin Astley.
- Superb incidental music, atmospheric and noticeable, again mostly by Edwin Astley. Listen to the great dramatic jazzy score and distinctive use of harpsichord on Danger Man, or this atmospheric spooky opening to The Saint episode "The House on Dragon's Rock". It's no surprise to find they're available on CDs, and I have most of them.
- Superb set designs, production design, and set dressing. See picture of the ruined Scottish castle in The Saint episode "The Convenient Monster", better than the real thing as it stimulates the imagination in a way real locations don't. Also see the impressive drawing rooms and libraries of the countless country estates portrayed in the shows. And all done on a fortnightly basis. When they do go on location, you get to see some of the best of rural Hertfordshire, Bucks, and North West Wales. If you want to track a location, try this excellent website: ITC Locations.
- Great fast-paced direction (special shout out to John Kruse), and in the B&W series some beautiful and subtle cinematography, though the colour series tend to be overlit, to compensate for the crude TV sets of the time. Some great action and fight sequences (spot the stand-in!), and it's always fun to spot the obligatory white or red cars going over the cliff, originally shot for The Baron but used ever since.
- No season arcs (The Prisoner excepted) or relationship backstories, so you can watch any episode in any order, you can miss episodes you dislike, knowing you're not going to miss anything. And no padding in stories to continue the season arc, a bane of modern television.
- A repertoire of great guest stars, the cream of British film and TV, including Peter Wyngarde, Wolfe Morris, Aubrey Morris, Marne Maitland, Derek Newark, Julian Glover, Earl Cameron, Clifford Evans, George Murcell, Basil Dignam, etc. It's also fun spotting an early appearance by a future star, like Anthony Hopkins in Department 'S'.
- Some of the most beautiful, sophisticated, and sexy actresses as guest stars. Too many to mention, but especial praise to Ingrid Pitt, Alexandra Bastedo, Justine Lord, Hilarys Dwyer Pritchard & Tindall, Jane Merrow, Wanda Ventham, Shirley Eaton, Veronica Carlson, Stephanie Beacham, Geraldine Moffat, Margaret Nolan, Sue & Suzanne Lloyd, and many many more.