DVD review: “Jason King” (1971 – 1972) 

“Jason King” (1971 – 1972) 


Twenty Six Episodes

Created by: Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman

Featuring: Peter Wyngarde, Anne Sharp, Ronald Lacey and Dennis Price 

Jason King: “Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes.”

Released recently on DVD is the English drama “Jason King” (1971 – 1972), he was a fictional character who first appeared in the British television series “Department S” in the late 1960s. He was portrayed by actor Peter Wyngarde and was known for his flamboyant personality, impeccable fashion sense, and sharp wit. Jason King quickly became a fan favorite, and the character was spun off into his own series, “Jason King,” which ran from 1971 to 1972.

The character of Jason King was a successful novelist who traveled the world in search of inspiration for his books. He was an expert in many fields, including art, history, and culture, and he often used his knowledge to solve mysteries and crimes. He was also an accomplished ladies’ man, with a string of romantic conquests that spanned the globe.

One of the defining features of Jason King was his fashion sense. He was always impeccably dressed, with a wardrobe that included colorful silk shirts, tailored suits, and statement accessories like cravats and ascots. He was a true dandy, and his fashion choices often reflected his larger-than-life personality.

Despite his flamboyance, Jason King was also a skilled detective. He had a sharp mind and an eye for detail, and he was able to pick up on clues that others might miss. He was a master of deduction, and he often used his knowledge of human behavior to get to the bottom of a case.

One of the most notable aspects of the “Jason King” series was its international flavor. The character traveled to exotic locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. This allowed the show to explore different cultures and showcase a wide range of landscapes and settings.

The series was also known for its humor. Jason King was a witty and charming character, and his banter with other characters often provided a lighthearted counterpoint to the more serious aspects of the show. The series was also full of action and adventure, with Jason King often getting into scrapes and dangerous situations in the course of his investigations.

Despite its popularity, “Jason King” only ran for one season. However, the character has remained popular with fans over the years, and has been referenced in numerous other TV shows and films. Peter Wyngarde’s portrayal of the character was praised for its charm and charisma, and the character of Jason King remains an iconic figure in British television history.

One of the reasons for Jason King’s enduring popularity is his timeless appeal. Despite being created in the late 1960s, the character’s flamboyance and wit continue to resonate with audiences today. He was an early example of the “dandy detective” archetype, a character who uses their intelligence, charm, and fashion sense to solve crimes. This archetype has since been used in countless other TV shows and films, but Jason King remains one of the most iconic examples.

Another reason for the character’s popularity is his sense of adventure. Jason King traveled to exotic locations around the world, often finding himself in dangerous situations. This allowed the show to explore different cultures and showcase a wide range of landscapes and settings. In doing so, it captured the spirit of adventure that was so prevalent in popular culture at the time.

Jason King was also notable for his romantic exploits. He was a ladies’ man who had a string of romantic conquests around the world. This aspect of his character added to his charm and helped to make him a popular figure with female viewers. However, it is worth noting that the character’s attitudes towards women would likely be considered outdated and sexist by today’s standards.

The “Jason King” series also had a significant impact on the fashion world. Jason King’s fashion sense was a key part of his character, and his colorful silk shirts, tailored suits, and statement accessories became iconic. The character’s fashion sense helped to define the “Swinging Sixties” aesthetic and influenced a generation of young people who were eager to embrace new and unconventional styles.

In conclusion, Jason King was a character who captured the imagination of a generation. His flamboyance, intelligence, and wit made him a popular figure with audiences, and his sense of adventure and romance added to his appeal. While the “Jason King” series may have only lasted for one season, the character has remained popular with fans over the years and has left a lasting legacy in British television and fashion history.

In addition to his character’s impact on fashion and popular culture, Jason King was also a trailblazer for representation in British television. He was one of the first leading characters in a British TV show to be openly gay, although this aspect of his character was not explicitly acknowledged on screen. Peter Wyngarde, the actor who portrayed Jason King, was himself openly gay and used his position to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

While the show may not have addressed the issue of sexuality directly, it is notable that Jason King’s flamboyant personality and fashion sense were seen as positive attributes rather than negative stereotypes. This was a departure from the way that LGBTQ+ characters were often portrayed in popular culture at the time, where they were often depicted as effeminate or deviant.

Jason King was also a character who challenged traditional gender roles. He was a man who was unapologetically interested in fashion, art, and culture, and he did not conform to traditional notions of masculinity. This made him an important figure for viewers who may have felt marginalized by societal expectations of gender and sexuality.

Jason King was a character who represented many different things to different people. He was a dandy detective, a romantic adventurer, a fashion icon, and a trailblazer for representation in British television. His flamboyant personality and sense of adventure captured the spirit of the “Swinging Sixties” and helped to define a generation. Today, Jason King remains an iconic figure in British television history and a symbol of the changing attitudes towards gender and sexuality that were taking place at the time.


Wanna Buy a Television Series?: In order to interest a television mogul in buying his stories for the small screen,novelist and adventurer Jason King describes to the man a typical plot involving his hero Mark Caine. Caine meets a girl who has been given plastic surgery to resemble the deceased Michele who died in a fire. She is taken by two crooks to meet Bellini, a fence of Michele’s acquaintance,supposedly suffering from amnesia,to find out where he has hidden his private stash of valuables. Caine is aware that the girl will be killed once she has served her purpose and steps in to rescue her.

A Page Before Dying: British Intelligence plan to copy the plot of Jason’s book, ‘A Page Before Dying’, to smuggle Gorini, a man who has information for them, out of East Berlin hidden in a safe. The first part of the scheme involves Jason being smuggled into the East in the safe but when he reaches the meeting place he finds that he has been duped and used as a decoy whilst Gorini has already been taken to safety through other means.

Buried in the Cold Cold Ground: Jason needs to finish his latest book so he decides to go into isolation in the south of France. When he picks up a pretty hitchhiker and a recently released prisoner, it becomes the start of yet another Jason King novel.

A Deadly Line in Digits: On a visit back to England, Jason finds himself with income tax problems. However, it turns out to be a way of blackmailing him into helping the police solve a series of robberies where the police computer seems to be illegally accessed.

Variations on a Theme: A close friend of Jason King, a double agent called Alan Keeble, was supposed to be dead. However, when Jason receives a letter telling him to come to Vienna to meet Alan, he just has to go.

As Easy as A.B.C.: Two English criminals, Charles and Edward, are committing copy-cat robberies stolen from the plots of Jason’s books, which causes the police to take an interest in the author after a security guard is killed. Jason and his girlfriend Arlene have an encounter with the two villains and escape but, as they can now recognize the pair, they are in danger as they head for Venice, where a trap has been set for them.

To Russia with…. Panache: Jason is abducted in order to help the Moscow police work out how three men on a workers’ delegation,got into a lift and then,when the doors opened again,there was nothing left of them but three piles of ashes. He discovers that they made their exit from the lift by means of a trap door but comes to appreciate that they are part of a larger plan to tunnel into the Kremlin to steal art treasures.

A Red Red Rose Forever: Jason gets off a plane in Switzerland and is mistaken for the hitman taken ill on the plane as he has picked up the bunch of red roses which will allow the killer’s employers to identify him. He plays along out of curiosity though his cover is blown when the real assassin leaves hospital turns up. As a test Jason is told to shoot dead his mark but uses an elaborate little stunt as seen in his books to create the illusion of killing whilst identifying the villains.

All That Glisters… (Part One): An antique salt cellar made of gold by Benevenuto Cellini is stolen in California from collector Dreshfield by thief Frankie Luca, who brings it to Paris to sell to Philippe De Brion. De Brion was cheated out of its ownership some years earlier by Dreshfield, who told him it was worthless. However free-lancer Mallen has been hired by Dreshfield to pursue Luca to Paris, where he meets up with Jason, and asks him to introduce him to De Brion. After Mallen has been shot at he and Jason track down the salt cellar, only to find that it is a fake and Luca has escaped with …

All That Glisters… (Part Two): Having killed De Brion,who was out to double cross him, Luca gets on a train to Rome with the Cellini salt cellar, pursued by Jason and Mallen. In Italy a former Mafiosi called Angelo Andrea joins the chase, intending to steal the Cellini from Luca. Ultimately all the interested parties end up at Andrea’s house where they discover that all that glisters is not gold.

Flamingos Only Fly on Tuesdays: Jason arrives on a Caribbean island and find himself in the middle of a revolution when he inadvertently makes a remark about flamingos as he arrives at the airport.

Toki: In France, Jason meets Toki, whose boyfriend Jean Le Grand and another gangster, Olivier, plan to steal a cache of emeralds – after which Le Grand plans to kill Olivier. Given that she knows all the plans, Jason believes that she is a young girl who has got out of her depth and is in danger. He resolves to help her, but they are pursued by LeGrand and his mobsters.

The Constance Missal: Jason falls under the hypnotic spell of two glamorous thieves, Claudia and Elaine. Claudia steals from him the only copy of his recently completed film script, and she and Elaine demand that, for its return, he pose as an expert in ancient manuscripts in order to steal the Constance Missal, a valuable document recently acquired by the British Museum. He is to authenticate it for one Lord Barnes, but his lordship is also planning to obtain the Constance Missal for himself.

Uneasy Lies the Head: Having refused to help the British government investigate an international drugs ring Jason is surprised to learn that a man in Istanbul is impersonating him. This turns out to be Trim,a government operative,who has been studying him in order to make contact with the gang leaders and persuade then that he is Jason King. However Trim is captured and Jason has to go to Istanbul after all to save the day.

Nadine: Jason is suffering writer’s block so his publisher sends him to Greece to inspire him. However, some Greek criminals use a beautiful woman to seduce Jason using his fame to smuggle drugs into France – but who is seducing who?

A Kiss for a Beautiful Killer: Jason travels to a South American republic to receive an award – in the form of a medallion – for one of his books. In fact both the corrupt President Cordoba, who has bugged the medallion, and the opposing rebel forces, led by glamorous government minister Delphi, believe that the book is so close to the truth about events in their country that he has an actual source of information, and neither will believe that it is all a fiction.

If It’s Got to Go – It’s Got to Go: Jason’s temporary secretary in Germany convinces him to go to a health clinic. However, when several strange events occur he realises that there is much more to the clinic than it appears.

A Thin Band of Air: Jason is in Paris taking publicity photos for his latest novel when a man with a rifle shoots at him. It appears that there is bounty of 100 000 francs on him, but who is putting up the money and why? King has to find out.

It’s Too Bad About Auntie: Andrew Bishop is a nasty piece of work, who lives with – and makes life unpleasant for – his elderly, housebound Aunt Claire. One day, in the process of robbing a house, he commits a murder, for which Pamela, an innocent woman, is charged. He also steals a vacuum cleaner which, somewhat bizarrely, is Jason’s chief clue in leading him to the real culprit.

The Stones of Venice: Arriving in Venice, Jason is surprised to learn that he is the apparent author of a book entitled ‘The Stones of Venice’, which he assuredly is not. However, after he is attacked by two would-be assassins a jewel robbery takes place, and Theresa Bonival, employee of a firm specializing in antique jewellery, is abducted – incidents closely related to events in the book, and therefore sufficient for the police to ask for his help in their inquiries.

A Royal Flush: A mysterious girl calling herself Karen invites Jason to meet her at the Capri hotel but when he gets there he finds a note requesting he catches up with her at a night-club. He meets up with her but an apparent drunk drops a lighter into his pocket. Then Karen takes him to meet a lady who may or may not be a princess and who has a proposition for him.

Every Picture Tells a Story: Jason makes a stopover in Hong Kong, where his character Mark Caine appears in a Chinese comic strip but with deliberate alterations to Jason’s original story in the translation. He teams up with Lucy Cameron, nurse to wealthy businessman Arthur Tsung, to confront Irish-American Sam Finnigin, the editor of the paper publishing the strip and a man whom he has met before, for an explanation.

Chapter One: The Company I Keep: Jason King arrives in Rome just after a night-club dancer is murdered. When he finds out that the events in the book he is currently writing mirror what is happening in real-life, Jason is determined to find out what is going on.

Zenia: Whilst travelling on a plane Jason recognizes a man whom he knew from his Department ‘S’ days to be a professional assassin, and so he is intrigued and on his guard when he arrives at his destination – not without due cause, as he will soon find himself caught up in a plot to foil a group of revolutionaries out to kidnap the daughter of the country’s president.

An Author in Search of Two Characters: In London, Jason is paid a great deal of money for a film script only to be relieved of it by two robbers. Later, whilst taking a moonlight stroll he sees an astronaut shooting somebody, and then he is attacked and knocked unconscious by a bear. When he wakes up next morning with a headache it all seems very real, but the police obviously believe that he dreamed it.

That Isn’t Me, It’s Somebody Else: Jason has an invitation to go to Italy and stay with Bonisalvi,an international criminal who lives in the most secure seclusion. A rival gangsters’ syndicate uses the opportunity to send Bennett, a hit-man posing as Jason to kill Bonisalvi whilst Jason himself has problems fleeing the beautiful but deadly Martine,who seems to have more than marriage on her mind.


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