“Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” (1969 – 1970)
Twenty Six Episodes
Created by: Dennis Spooner
Featuring: Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre
Sidney Crabbe: “I’ve always said the only good copper is a dead copper, and the only good dead copper is a good dead copper in pain.”
Released recently on DVD is the 1960s created television drama “Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” (1969 – 1970) that was essentially a three hander and featured a story of the week framework which suited this series very well for its limited time on air before it was cancelled. This series along with such ground-breaking and influential shows such as “The Avengers” (1961-1969), “Doctor Who” (1963-present), “Adam Adamant Lives” (1966-1967), “Department S” (1969-1970), “The Champions” (1968-1969), “The Thunderbirds” (1965-1966) and “The Prisoner” (1967-1968) amongst many others that would shape genre television right up to the present day. In fact their influence can be seen in many series still around today either in dramas, science fiction and comedy.
“Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)” was created by genre stalwart Dennis Spooner who has written many scripts for some of the aforementioned series with an in-depth knowledge in terms of what was required for the 1960s but could also bring some humour to proceedings which ended up being an important aspect of the series created within this period. In terms of performance this show was spearheaded by Mike Pratt and Kenneth Cope as the private detectives Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk. For such a high concept series these two leads seem to know exactly what is required from the outset, they know to play these two seriously without any irony or winking to the camera.
In the initial episode, Hopkirk is murdered during an investigation but returns as a ghost. Randall is the only main character able to see or hear him, though certain minor characters are also able to do so in various circumstances throughout the series, such as mediums, drunks, or those under hypnosis. From here as mentioned it boils down to an episode of the week style that features cases to solve much like the procedural drama of today. Where high concept shows sometimes fail or struggle is to place their characters in the real world, in other words having them progress to grow and change so that an audience can see this onscreen. What may have been advantageous for this show would have been to have arcs over multiple episodes to show the changing nature of the main characters to breathe life into the genre, but of course that was not the case and it was cancelled after one season.
My Late Lamented Friend and Partner: Private Investigator Marty Hopkirk is murdered by the husband of a client but returns as a ghost to help his business partner Jeff Randall bring the man responsible for his murder to justice.
A Disturbing Case: Concerned for Jeff’s mental health Jeannie sends Jeff to Dr. Conrad at the Lambert Clinic where it turns out he is the mastermind of a series of robberies of his patients using hypnotic suggestion, forcing Marty to try to find a way to break Jeff from his control before Jeff has been so severely hypnotized that he loses the ability to see Marty.
All Work and No Pay: Two eccentric conmen brothers (The Foster Brothers) who claim to be spiritualists try to convince Jeannie that Marty is haunting her as a poltergeist using electronic equipment.
Never Trust a Ghost: Two enemy agents murder a high British Secret Service official and his wife and pass themselves as their impostors in their own home to steal important documents.
That’s How Murder Snowballs: When a theatre performer is murdered by a loaded gun during one of his acts Jeff joins the theatre as a mind reader to investigate his murder and hunt down the killer.
Just for the Record: Jeff is acting as a bodyguard to a beauty queen, Anne Soames, who wants to visit the Public Records Office. An intrigued Marty watches as she uses a special pair of glasses to cut the alarm and later a file is stolen by a man named Pargiter. When Jeff pursues him, Pargiter explains that the stolen document reveals him to be the rightful king of England – with his two heavies as noble lords. He condemns Jeff as a heretic, tying him up along with Anne, who has outlived her usefulness, and leaving them to die in a burning building. However, Marty sets off the fire alarm,…
Murder Ain’t What it Used to Be!: Notorious American crime boss Paul Kirstner travels to London for “business” and hires Randall to take care of his daughter. However his wicked past and his haunting by the 1920s Chicago gangster Bugsy catches up with him.
Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?: Knowing about Marty, a crime syndicate, in disguise, hire Jeff to begin surveillance on a gang of criminals (themselves), knowing that he will use Marty. Using an elderly psychic they detect Marty’s presence, and deliberately mislead Jeff and the police.
The House on Haunted Hill: Jeff investigates a diamond theft in which the manager is implicated and threatens Jeff to lie about his investigation. Whilst also investigating a haunting at a country manor it turns out the diamond gang are using it as a hideout.
When did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?: Jeff is hired by a company to find out who is leaking information in the stock market. Finding Jeff suspiciously out of character – and also now being unable to see him – Marty finds out that the real Jeff has been captured and that the fake Jeff is an impostor, using his status to conduct murders of financial personnel. Marty uses a hypnotist to save the day.
The Ghost who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo: Marty’s Aunt Clara hires Jeff as a bodyguard for a trip to Monte Carlo where she plans to win £100,000 on her self-devised gambling system. Closely followed and watched by several different gangs they only lose their would-be robbers by Marty manipulating the final game of roulette losing the money.
For the Girl who Has Everything: Jeff is hired by a ghost hunter to investigate at a manor where the lady appears to be haunted. When the ghost hunter is murdered whilst on night watch Jeff investigates. When the man of the house is shot by his wife believing she saw a ghost, Jeff becomes suspicious and discovers that it was part of her plan to get rid of her draining husband and leave the country with her butler toyboy.
But What a Sweet Little Room: Jeff investigates the disappearance of a wealthy young heiress’s aunt. When she is then killed by a hit and run driver he is led to a medium previously visited by the aunt and uses Jeannie as a decoy to foil a thieving operation in which middle class men rob wealthy widows by murdering them in the room of the episode title, which then transpires to be a gas chamber in disguise.
Who Killed Cock Robin?: In this murder mystery, Jeff is hired by a large estate manager to investigate a series of bird shootings in the manor aviary. Under the terms of the will of the manor’s late owner, the estate is being held in trust for as long as the birds live (which could be twenty years or more), and will be divided up equally among the surviving relatives only when all the birds are dead. While Jeff keeps guard of the valuable birds, he discovers that members of the family of the manor are being murdered one by one, gradually narrowing down the suspects, leaving Jeff with the surprising culprit.
The Man from Nowhere: A man enters Jeannie’s life pretending that he is Marty returned from the dead. As he gradually builds Jeannie’s trust with his alarming knowledge of Marty’s life, Jeff, suspicious from the beginning finds that he is a runaway member of a gang and has taken Jeannie to the Cotswolds where she and Marty had their honeymoon to dig up something of the past.
When the Spirit Moves You: Jeff becomes involved with a conman and a stash of $125,000 of stolen bonds from the United States that a criminal racket are after.
Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave: Marty finds somebody digging around his grave. He sends Jeff to investigate the cemetery and in doing so is knocked unconscious several times by a masked 18th-century axe wielder. Suspecting the gardener, Jeff accepts a job for a wealthy man in the nearby mansion and stumbles on an intricate plot to steal his insane agoraphobic son through a tunnel pretending to hold him to ransom. It is all part of a plot to inherit his father’s fortune but when he marries his young housekeeper the plan is demised.
Could You Recognise the Man Again?: When Jeff and Jeannie find a dead body in their car unknown to them at the time that the man they met outside was a killer, Jeannie is held hostage to keep Randall from confessing to the police and giving a testimony in court. And even the ghostly Marty can’t locate her until the very last minute.
A Sentimental Journey: A reluctant Jeff agrees to take a valuable item worth £10,000 from Glasgow to London on the overnight express. When the consignment turns out to be an attractive blonde, Jeff initially concedes that the assignment is to his liking. How gradually becoming suspicious it turns out the blonde is a traitor involved in stealing a highly valuable postage stamp.
Money to Burn: Randall is offered by a dodgy friend to take part in a money salvaging operation whereby £500,000 of old money is to be incinerated but is replaced with newspaper pieces. Not informing the police nor accepting any part in it, Randall watches from a nearby street and is caught by the police and imprisoned. Using his lady friend lawyer she tracks down his dodgy friend at his London club finding the real culprits are his lady dancers freeing Randall.
The Ghost Talks: With Jeff in a hospital bed with an arm and a leg in plaster, having fallen off a balcony while attempting to apprehend a safe-cracker, Marty seizes the opportunity to tell him about a spy drama that he handled alone (Jeff being out of town at the time) while he was still alive, involving a corrupt MI5 official and spy ring, the details of which he had never revealed before.
It’s Supposed to be Thicker than Water: Playing postman to deliver an envelope to an escaped convict strikes Jeff as simple until he finds out it contains an invitation to murder and before long his own life is on the line.
The Trouble with Women: Jeff is hired by a woman and deliberately set up her husband’s murder. In disguise she misleads Randall with her club owner boyfriend she is secretly having an affair with, almost leading to his shooting at a quarry.
Vendetta for a Dead Man: A vengeance-seeking escaped convict decides that since Marty Hopkirk, the man who put him behind bars is dead then his widow Jeannie will have to suffer.
You Can Always Find a Fall Guy: Jeff is hired to retrieve stolen funds by a nun, only to discover the nun is not what she seems to be and he is being set up.
The Smile Behind the Veil: Only a ghost would notice the smile behind the veil of a funeral mourner. Marty stumbles upon a hidden murder mystery.