Supernatural series still entertains

Last updated 05:00 05/01/2013
SUPERNATURAL SIXTIES: The cast of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

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Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) was first broadcast UK 1969-1970.

I first remember seeing this series during its original run in the early 1970s. We had black and white telly and only two channel choices. As a youngster it caught my imagination (even though it was on 'late') and I would not miss an episode.

Fast forward 40 years and I am watching it again, for only the second time, and it's in colour!

The series centres on a struggling detective agency of Randall & Hopkirk run by Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt) and his partner Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope). In the first episode Marty is handling a divorce case which turns nasty when his client, the wife, is murdered by a hitman that her husband had hired. Marty figures out what happened, confronts the husband and is also murdered in a hit and run by the same hitman.

Marty returns as a ghost that only Jeff can see, as he wants Jeff's help to solve his murder. Unfortunately during the course of the case Marty misses his ghost curfew (all ghosts have to be back in their graves by dawn or they are cursed to walk the earth for 100 years). The case is solved and their partnership begins anew.

Marty in life was the clean cut careful guy who was married to Jeannie (Annette Andre), Jeff is not your typical hero, he smokes like a chimney, he's a womaniser, usually in trouble with the law, he's not that good in a fight and on witnessing the on-stage death of a magician rather than call the police he calls in a scoop to a journo mate of his for cash.

Jeannie joins Jeff at the office initially for something to do to fill in time after Marty's death but gradually becomes a secretary and occasionally is sent undercover by Jeff. Jeannie begins to question Jeff's mental health in one episode as he is always talking to himself so she arranges for him to be seen by a psychiatrist who in turn drugs and hypnotises him into forgetting Marty which almost works.

This series is sometimes serious but more often has a light humorous touch and occasionally you see real depth in the writing. In one sequence you have a sad-looking Marty wandering aimlessly around late night/early morning London all alone unable to do the things the living take for granted fleshing out the curse part of the story. A genuinely poignant moment and one I had not expected.

One of the things I enjoy about watching these older series is looking at all the old cars. Seeing streets full of Vauxhalls, Hillmans, Humbers, Jaguars, Wolseys, Rileys, a variety of Fords, (proper) Mini's Bentleys and the odd European car always makes me smile.

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Sadly Mark Pratt died of lung cancer in 1976, but Kenneth Cope is still alive and contributes an opening scene to each DVD and Annette Andre is still acting.

About 12 years back I watched the remade series starring comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer (Dr Who's Tom Baker in a recurring role). This series was very well done and worth a watch as well, although it's more often played for laughs.

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