1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
28 x 50 minute episodes
Flamboyantly moustachioed actor Peter Wyngarde played dandy Jason King (pictured at right), head investigator of Department S, an Interpol branch specialising in “unsolvable” crimes which is headquartered at the Interpol Building at 1703 DeMarne Street in Paris, France.
Jason was also a part-time author of detective stories whose modus operandi was to approach each Department S case as though he were his own literary detective creation, Mark Caine.
This fanciful methodology continually irked his colleagues, the prosaic American explosives expert Stewart Sullivan (Joel Fabiani) and computer expert Annabelle Hurst (Rosemary Nichols). Annabelle is an art expert and can spot counterfeit money simply by touching it. She is also adept at picking locks and opening safes.
The trio’s boss was Sir Curtis Seretse (played by black actor Dennis Alaba Peters) and it was he who gave them their international assignments – usually murder or kidnapping mysteries with a strong element of the fantastic.
For example, ‘One Of Our Aircraft Is Empty’ investigated a pilotless plane, while ‘The Pied Piper of Hambledown’ dealt with the mass abduction of an entire English village.
The scripts were very polished and no matter how implausible the plots seemed, they were usually resolved convincingly.
Less successful was the 1971 – 1972 spin-off Jason King in which Wyngarde reprised his character as a solo crime-busting operative. King was as urbane and rakish as ever, with his turned up shirt cuffs, but the plots were very standard fare, slowed down by bed to bed girls.
Contrary to popular belief, Peter Wyngarde is, in fact, not Australian. He is the son of a French mother and English father and was born Cyril Louis Goldbert in 1928 in Marseilles, Southern France.
Sir Curtis Seretse
Dennis Alaba Peters