August 22, 2012

The British Superest Spy

How have I gone this far in my life without having seen anything from Jason King?

King was a BBC 'spy' show staring Peter Wyngard in which the titular character was enjoying his life as a writer of spy novels whose real life found itself curiously and commonly paralleling the lives of his fictional superspy , Mark Caine. A bit more detail from Wikipedia...
The series featured the further adventures of the title character who had first appeared in Department S (1969). In that series he was a dilettante dandy and author working as part of a team of investigators. In Jason King he had left that service and was concentrating on writing adventure novels following the adventures of the fictional Mark Caine, [which the Jason King character was also writing about in Department S] who closely resembled Jason King in looks, manner, style, and personality. None of the other regular characters from Department S appeared in this series. 
In the course of visiting international locations as part of his research, or through being summoned by people needing assistance, King would be frequently embroiled in adventure stories featuring glamorous women, exotic locations (for the era), menacing villains, political turmoil, or espionage intrigue. 
The first episode depicted King's retelling of a Mark Caine novel to a television executive, alternating between King's interpretation of events, and the television executive's version. King's version showed style and class, while the executive's version featured added suspense, more cliches, and had the women in more revealing costumes. In the footage representing both men's vision of the novel adapted for the screen, Mark Caine was portrayed by Wyngarde. Peter Wyngarde as Jason King 
Subsequent episodes featured Wyngarde playing King trying to write his novels and being hassled by his publisher Nicola Harvester about deadlines. King, however, was usually distracted by beautiful women and his real-life adventures and was sometimes tricked by Ryland of the British Government into assisting the Government in international political matters: all of which later found their way into the adventures of the fictional Mark Caine.
Part of the fun of the thing is that Wyngard is about as un-suave as he could possibly be with his wrinkles, awful mustache, and foppish, dandy suits.

Heck, he even went with puffy sleeves when meeting the femme fatale.

Looks like the show's full twenty-six-episode run is available on DVD. Gotta go hunting for that.

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