Don't forget to tune in tomorrow for Barbra Paskin's tribute to 100 years of Leslie Charteris with Roger Moore narrating. The live show is at 11:30am tomorrow, London time, with on-demand replays available for seven days after the initial broadcast.
Roger Moore, who starred as Simon Templar in the original TV series, celebrates the centenary of the birth of popular fiction writer Leslie Charteris, famous for his adventures featuring the character better known as The Saint. The programme includes rare interview footage of Charteris along with contributions from his family, actor Ian Ogilvy and Charteris biographer Ian Dickerson.
There has been some recent issues with BBC Radio 4's RealAudio play back, and during testing today, this is the message that was being displayed:
We are experiencing severe technical problems, and regret that many programmes are unavailable. We are working to restore normal service. See station websites for alternative links.
We'll keep you posted as to the lastest links and news about this great show.
Mike Reid, famous for his role as Frank Butcher on the Eastenders, and not-so-famous for being Roger Moore's stunt double on The Saint, passed away on July 29th. Look for Mike in various scenes of The Saint as the much taller Simon Templar doing the really dangerous work!
Mike Reid, 'the great storyteller' and comedian, dies at the age of 67
Mike Reid, the actor and master of the politically incorrect joke, died yesterday, aged 67.
His agent, David Hahn, told the BBC that the stand-up comic was in Marbella, Spain, where he owned a villa, when he suffered a fatal heart attack while apparently in good health.
"Mike was in fine fettle. Only a couple of weeks ago we were having dinner and Mike went to see his consultant that day, had a full medical and they gave him a clean bill of health."
Reid played Frank Butcher in the BBC soap opera EastEnders and starred in the British gangster film, Snatch. Born in Hackney, London, he began his career as a stuntman, working on films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Spartacus, as well as on The Saint as a stunt double for Roger Moore.
Rising to fame on London's comedy circuit, Reid worked as a stand-up comedian in the 1960s in clubs and cruise liners. His big break came in the seventies in a popular television series, The Comedians, that consisted of short slots by mature comedians.
Reid had a daughter by his first marriage and two sons by his second wife, Shirley Collins. Last night, Mr Hahn said of Reid's wife: "Mike was her life."
The entertainer Russ Abbot said Reid was a great story-teller who had a great sense of comic timing. "There are certain comedians who do one-liners, but Mike was a story-teller and a great deliverer," he said.
Reid's close friend and fellow comedian Frank Carson, speaking in Spain, said his death was "absolutely devastating".
If you haven't seen the new TV show, Burn Notice, on USA Networks, you should take a first look. It is billed as an Action-Comedy and is very much like in the Saint in many ways. The show premiered on Thursday, June 28, and they've shown three episodes in the first season series so far.
Simon Templar vs. Michael Westen Jeffrey Donovan stars as an ex-CIA agent named Michael Westen, who like Simon Templar, is a man of strong moral beliefs working outside the law. Using his Special Ops training, whatever tools are at hand, and his sardonic humor, Michael takes on the larger mission of finding out why he got fired from the CIA and helps out a number of people along the way.
Michael Westen Michael is living every spy's worst nightmare. When a spy gets fired, he doesn't get a call from human resources and a gold watch. In Michael's case, they jeopardize his life, freeze his bank accounts, dump him in Miami, and flag him on every government list known to man. They can't take away his skills or what's in his head, so they take away his assets and his resources to make sure he can never work again. They burn him.
Now Michael has a much different mission: he must find out who issued his burn notice and why he was blacklisted so that he can put his life back together. Meanwhile, he has to fend off a suddenly hostile world of old foes gunning for him. In order to survive in Miami and fund his own personal investigation, Michael enlists the help of the only two "friends" he has: Fiona Glenanne an ex-IRA operative who also happens to be an ex-girlfriend and Sam Axe a washed-out military intelligence contact whom the feds have keeping an eye on Michael.
Patricia Holm, meet Fiona Glenanne Like The Saint's Patricia Holm, Westen has a female counterpart that is his equal with somewhat of a romantic history between them. Leslie Charteris wrote the character of Patricia as a strong female character who could jump in with both feet and do just about everything Simon Templar could do. In Burn Notice, that character is named Fiona Glenanne, played by Gabrielle Anwar. Glenanne is also like Holm in that she doesn't sit home waiting for things to happen; she does what she wants and doesn't put up with anything that she doesn't like.
Fiona Glenanne Fiona Glenanne may look like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine but she's a force to be reckoned with. She was affiliated with the IRA for 14 years, but ran afoul of her old organization because she didn't like being told what to do. She has since gone out on her own, picking up odd jobs and using her skills in explosives, lock picking, tracking, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat to make a living. Fiona is definitely a shoot first and asks questions later kind of gal. Her fearless nature is both enticing and dangerous, as she is capable of making things go "boom" very quickly. When Michael is dumped, battered and unconscious, in Miami, Fiona is called since she is still listed as his emergency contact. They were once romantically involved but that ended years before when Michael left her without an explanation. Fiona isn't used to being rejected and the end of their relationship left her with a bruised ego.
She decides to stay in Miami to help Michael, but her reasons aren't all work related. For a woman who considers a good head-butt to be foreplay, seducing men is second nature. Although Michael's reluctant to re-kindle a very complicated relationship, Fiona is a stubborn master strategist and won't stop till she gets her way.
Talking Directly to the Audience The Saint with Roger Moore was one of the first dramatic shows where the actor would talk to the camera, explaining what was going and and letting the audience in on a little inside information. Burn Notice does this in very much the humorous manner of the Saint. Just as Westen is about to be hit by a car, the scene freezes, and Westen explains something to the effect of, "if you're going to get hit by a car, there are two ways to avoid getting hurt. The first is to have the car miss you, and if that isn't an option, then jump onto the hood sideways and try to roll over the top of the car." This is very much like the way Leslie Charteris used to have Simon Templar explain things in the books: as The Saint was hitting someone over the head with a chair he would cast aside a comment similar to, "when hitting a bad guy over the head with a chair, one first needs to acquire a good solid chair."
Spy Hints The action stops from time to time, and Westen gives us, the audience, some Spy Tips. There are also Spy Tips on the Burn Notice website. This is remensicent of the tips sections of The Roger Moore Adventure Book, The Saint Annuals, and on the backs of many of the Swedish 'Helgonet' comic books.
Teal Baiting One of the sources of humor in the Saint books was Simon Templar's relationship with the bumbling Scotland Yard Inspector Teal. Leslie Charteris had The Saint refer to is as 'Teal-Baiting' and it was always a lot of fun. In Burn Notice, Michael Westen has a similar foil in the person of Sam Axe, played by Bruce Campbell.
Sam Axe Handsome with a good-natured grin, Sam Axe is a former Navy Seal, Military Intel Operative, and all-around Cold Warrior. In his prime he was point man on an array of armed conflicts the world over. He worked with Michael many times during those heady days. When Michael reconnects with him in Miami, Sam has embraced his post-espionage days by letting loose. Once, he loved the threadbare world of secret surveillance in the communist bloc, or forward recon in the touch-and-go Middle East.
Now, he has moved on to mojitos, Sugar Mommas and bikini watching in the bars and on the sands of South Beach. He's reliable and consistent, in the way that you can count on a former spy to dig up solid intel and execute missions with stealthy aplomb. Despite his predilection for rich divorcées and cocktails, he is an asset to Michael, even when he becomes an informant for the FBI. Though the Feds have Sam keeping an eye on Michael, he needs Sam's friendship, partnership, and expertise, now more than ever.
The Big Con: Saving The Damsel In Distress One of great things about The Saint is that he uses many tricks of the trade to con the bad guys and save the damsel in distress. In the most recent episode of Burn Notice, Westen finds himself trying to protect a mother and her daughter from a drug dealer who wants to kill them before they testify. The police won't help, and that is where Westen steps in. He uses a number of clever devices and tactics that the police could never use, and thus saves that day. The Saint would be proud.
The Car Of course, what would an action show be without a car. Westen's vintage black Dodge Charger wasn't introduced until the third episodes where it has been sitting in a garage ever since his father died. The Charger isn't exactly the picture of European finesse of The Saint's Volvo, but it does have a certain retro throw-back feel being a vintage car from the 1970s.
Summary Burn Notice is a clever show that lives up to its Action-Comedy moniker. The show has great humor, and a hero who can deal with the darker side of life with aplomb, wits, and style. In short, if you are looking for a intelligent show that has a Saint-like hero who works outside the law with both his brain and his brawn, then Burn Notice is for you.
I wasn’t planning to do it quite this soon but since the radio documentary’s now been scheduled I thought I’d better do something.
Yup, www.lesliecharteris.com is back online. New host—apparently spam protected (but that’s not an invitation!)—and new look. Some new content…I’m sure you’ll all be whizzing over to have a look at the short interview with Jorge Zamacona, the writer of the new Saint pilot.
I still have some work to do—I’ve temporarily killed work on the merchandise page to get the web site back up, and a couple of strange html-like boxes have appeared at the bottom of every page—but I’ll get that sorted in due course.
Burl Barer reports a few more details about the upcoming BBC Radio 4 special by Barbra Paskin on the author of The Saint, Leslie Charteris.
Leslie Charteris – A Saintly Centennial Tuesday, July 31, 2007 11:30am - 12:00noon BBC Radio 4
This year marks the centenary of the birth of popular fiction writer Leslie Charteris, best known for his many books chronicling the adventures of Simon Templar, alias The Saint. In this special programme, actor and Saint portrayer Roger Moore explores the life and legacy of Charteris and reveals a world of adventure, torment, insecurity, failed marriages and enormous success as a thriller writer.
The adventures of The Saint have appeared continuously since 1928, making Simon Templar the longest-running character in contemporary detective fiction. But there was more to Charteris's literary acuity than The Saint alone. He was fluent in several languages; he had a monthly column in the epicurial delight, Gourmet magazine; and he devised a pictorial sign language which he called "Paleneo" and wrote a book about it. He was also one of the earliest members of Mensa.
Despite his film-star looks, with a hint of exoticism, Charteris suffered from a long-standing insecurity about his appearance, arising from his mixed racial origin. In later years he dated some of Hollywood's most beautiful women, among them Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow.
It wasn't until 1963, when Lou Grade cast Roger Moore and filmed the first television series of The Saint, that Charteris at last felt he'd received the final seal of approbation that had eluded him for 30 years.
Among those exploring the world and psyche of Charteris are Dan Bodenheimer, who runs the official Saint website; Burl Barer, author of The History Of The Saint; and Charteris's biographer Ian Dickerson.
Saint Enterprises 314 N Robertson Blvd West Hollywood, CA 90048-2414
A greatly detailed description of his vast enterprise was written by Leslie Charteris and sent out to a large number of subscribers to his weekly newsletter.
If someone could comment below and tell us all what is there now, that would be wonderful.
From 'A Letter From The Saint', May 16, 1946:
This, then, involved an Office; because as everyone knows no business executive can execute properly without an Office. Wherefore we made ourselves heirs to a heavily mortgaged piece of real estate of sufficiently white elephant proportions to carry the gaudy howdah which we felt our new role in life demanded of us. It has been suggested to us that you might be interested in knowing what this environment is really like.
This exotic mausoleum occupies most of a short block on a Hollywood boulevard otherwise distinguished by hand laundries and hamburger stands. It is a one story building, partly because we are selling most of our spare stories, and partly because we cannot afford insurance for all the visitors who might otherwise fall or be helped down the stairs.
At one end of this building is a large barn known as the Shipping Room, which for some unaccountable reason is usually stacked to the ceiling with large quantities of Saint books which we are still waiting for various characters to buy.
Northwards of this is the main entrance, fronted by a spacious and studiously uncomfortable reception room, where writers, entrepreneurs, and general creditors endeavor to struggle past a receptionist whom we have thoughtfully protected with a sheet of bullet-proof glass. Those who are lucky or persistent enough to gain entrance to the interior, would find on their right the studio of Milt Neil, the artist already referred to, who with the help of three or four assistants turns out our book jackets and other illustrations, as well as plenty of other work of his own. This is a very convenient arrangement for us, but results in a considerable loss of man-hours when he is working on pin-up calendars with live models.
Turning your back on this temptation, you might progress to an open section known as the Slave Market, where the most beautiful girls in the world pound typewriters to perpetuate incomparable manuscripts, or adding machines to keep abreast of our incoming debts.
Opening off this Elysian backwater are a number of black doors with enormous brass handles, resembling bank vaults in every respect except the amount of money cached behind them. These portals admit to various offices occupied by the male bees, or drones, in this hive, or dive.
These are mainly paneled in redwood, fluorescently lighted, healthily ventilated, equipped with bookshelves and restful couches, and swept out once a week. In subsequent letters we may tell you more about their occupants. On this first cursory once-over, you may be informed that one of them contains two gentlemen named Cleve Cartmill and Roby Wentz, who are the mainstays of our Editorial Department, while another harbors our office manager and general panjandrum, Mr. Robert Black, whose perpetually worried expression is probably due to a congenital inability to get used to coping with visiting sheriffs.
A third vault is actually the sanctum sanctorum, or Saint's Den. This over-sized chamber, as befits the hideout of the master mind, contains more bookshelves and more books (mostly by Charteris) than any of the others. It also has a victrola equipped to play radio transcriptions, a radio with short-wave facilities to give adequate warning of police raids, and a piano which has probably been played worse than any similar instrument in the country. Through this Grand Central station passes more busy traffic than any other section of the building, except one.
This section is fortunately next door to my office and is strictly a structural liability. But it always did seem to me that if anyone has to work for a living he might as well have some simple comforts with it.
This other room therefore is a bar. Not one of those converted closets, but a nice big room decorated for mental relief in South Sea island style, with straw matting on the floor, woven bamboo on the walls, and tarred fishnet draped across the ceiling, in which several petrified starfish seem to have become inextricably entangled.
In this sanctuary our braintrust and preferred visitors congregate, first thing in the morning for coffee, at noon for the first cocktails justified by the elevation of the sun across our drooping yardarms, at the end of the day for post mortems, relaxation, and more plans to be disappointed in tomorrow... and since you have let me talk myself into it, that is where I am going now, since this letter is already long enough and I have to save a few items for next week.
Barbara Peterson has created a five-page synopsis of The Fiction-Makers, one of the Saint movies starring Roger Moore as Simon Templar. This movie was orginally aired as a two-part episode in 1967. The synopsis is fully illustrated with screen-shots from the recent DVD release.
The secret organization that The Saint goes up against in The Fiction-Makers is the Secret World Order For Revenge and Destruction, also known as S.W.O.R.D.
The goal of Volcano Seven is to pay tribute to "caper" films and TV shows. The debut of Volcano Seven starts with The Fiction-Makers synopsis, and there is sure to be more to follow in the near future!
New Jersey Herald, Sunday, June 24, 2007 'The Saint' car brings man back to Franklin memories By TOM HOWELL JR. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
FRANKFORD — As the Robin Hood-like hero of the 1960s British television series "The Saint," Roger Moore rode a sporty white Volvo 1800 to fame and a role as James Bond.
After negotiations with an overseas owner and extensive repairs, Franklin native Bill Krzastek, 55, rode that Volvo to the Chatterbox at Ross's Corner last weekend.
"I'm very surprised to see it here," said John Smith, of Hampton, marvelling at the car's gleaming white body and shiny chrome. "It's perfect, ya know?"
Adapted from novels written by Leslie Charteris from 1928 to 1963, "The Saint" TV series ran from 1962 to 1969.
Moore played Simon Templar, the show's namesake whose initials "ST" appear on the license plate of Krzastek's keepsake vehicle.
Templar was a crusader who worked within or outside the law to root out crooks and corruption. His fast Volvo was unique and pure, and the Swedish auto manufacturer never made another "enthusiast-driven" car, Krzastek said.
"It put Volvo on the map worldwide," he said. "All of a sudden, every week, here was Roger Moore streaking across the screen with this white, sleek sports car."
The car was built and first used in 1967. Earlier versions of the model were made in Britain, because Volvo did not have the capacity to build it in Sweden, according to Krzastek.
But the company built a new factory in Sweden in 1963, and an "S" at the rear of Krzastek's car indicates its country of origin. Besides acting, Moore was the original owner of the car, according to logs known as a "green book."
Krzastek grew up in Sussex County and graduated from Franklin High School, but now resides in Waynesboro, Va., where he teaches high school math.
"The Saint" series allowed him to bond with his father, Mathew, when the show ran in the 1960s. Mathew Krzastek suffered a stroke in 1975, retired from the Franklin Post Office, and always had a request for his son when he visited Virginia during the 1980s.
"He'd say, 'Hey Bill, you got any Saints episodes?'" Krzastek recalled. His father passed away in 1993.
Nostalgia and an affinity for stylish cars set Krzastek on a mission to rescue The Saint's Volvo from a British museum owner's storage facility.
"It was literally rotting in his warehouse," Krzastek said.
Krzastek talked the previous owner down from $75,000 to $54,000 after an independent assessment, but the restoration cost an estimated $25,000.
The car had to be stripped down to bare metal in some interior parts, and the doors' rocker panels and the body's nose panel were replaced due to rust. The process was called a rotisserie restoration, because the car was placed on its side in a way that lets it turn.
Two British television stations, the BBC and ITV, filmed segments on the car's restoration.
"I thought it was quite the grand project," said Dan Reder, of Wantage, Krzastek's boyhood friend.
Another high school friend, Joe Prtorich, of Frankford, marveled at the car and the scope of the restoration.
"You've got to trust someone half the world away to take this apart and put it back together," he said.
Once complete, the car was shipped in a crate from England and made the rounds at car shows throughout North America. Stops have included the Carlisle Import Festival in Pennsylvania and a recent auto extravaganza in London, Ontario, Canada.
"It's been in both Londons now," Krzastek said. "All of a sudden, folks have been really excited about seeing (the car)," Krzastek said.
The Franklin native heard about the Chatterbox's classic car night and decided to check it out.
"I said, 'Holy smokes!' The place was full of cars," Krzastek recalled.
The Volvo's steering wheel is on the right side, which is customary for a British vehicle. Krzastek said he does not need a special permit to drive it, and post office work in his youth prepared him for driving in the configuration.
It's great for picking up mail, but terrible at drive-thrus, Krzastek joked.
The Wanderers Car Club, which hosts cruise night at the Chatterbox, were thrilled to have a celebrity car in the lot on Saturday.
"I thought it would be a real attraction for everyone," Wanderers' member Sandy Mazza said. "Who doesn't remember 'The Saint'?"
Classic cars such Krzastek's harken back to a generation when new car models were released amid "a lot of hooplah" and anticipation.
"Today they all look alike," she said.
Chatterbox owner Don Hall said it was nice to pull back a memory through the gleaming white Volvo.