When 1960's British produced television series are mentioned many first think of the classic spy series The Avengers. However, there was another equally popular program that also made its way to the United States during this decade. The show's title was The Saint.
Running from 1962 to 1969 The Saint starred Roger Moore as Simon Templar. At first it was only seen in the U.S. in syndication. But finally, in 1967, all new episodes were shown on NBC.
The series was based on characters and stories created by the author Leslie Charteris. The title "The Saint" came from the main character's calling card – a stick figure with a halo. Simon Templar was a sort of modern day Robin Hood. An international man of mystery, Templar took on the causes of those who had been robbed, swindled or otherwise taken advantage of. He was sophisticated, sexy, smart, independently wealthy and always cool under pressure.
Moore played the part with warmth, charisma and humor, kind of like he played James Bond in films in the 1970's and early 80's. However, unlike Bond, Templar relied more on his wits than on gadgets to get himself out of troublesome situations. The program combined action, adventure, mystery and intrigue.
Templar became well known in society and among the police as he traveled the world battling bad guys. He rescued kidnapped daughters, solved murders, recovered stolen property and more.
The police regarded Templar with mixed feelings. He was a man dedicated to justice, but often he had to take actions beyond the law to right wrongs. Indeed, Templar was usually trying to stay a step ahead of Inspector Claude Eustace Teal (played by Ivor Dean). To be sure, Teal was Templar's ally at times, but he was also often Templar's antagonist.
One hundred and eighteen episodes of the series were produced. The first 71 were black and white; the others were in color. Many of the episodes are now available in DVD.
Among the guest stars to appear on the program were such names as Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie and Oliver Reed.
The program was revived for a season in 1978-1979 under the title Return of the Saint, but it was without Moore. And in 1997 Val Kilmer played Simon Templar in the big screen version of The Saint.
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