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The Persuaders! was a British action-comedy series starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore, produced by ITC Entertainment, and initially broadcast on ITV and ABC in 1971. It was one of the most ambitious and expensive international adventure series of its time, featuring exotic locations, fast cars, and witty banter between the two leads.
The show was created by Robert S. Baker, who had previously worked with Moore on The Saint. It was intended to appeal to both the British and American markets, but it failed to achieve high ratings in either country.
The show only lasted for one season of 24 episodes due to several factors. One was the low ratings in the US market, which led ABC to cancel it after 18 episodes. Another was the conflict between Curtis and Moore, who did not get along well off-screen. A third was Moore’s decision to leave the show to play James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973).
The show was known for its stylish and colourful production design, featuring lavish sets, costumes, and props. The show was filmed in Britain, France, and Italy between May 1970 and June 1971. It had a budget of £100,000 per episode, which was very high for the time.
One of the show’s trademarks was the use of super cars for the main characters. Wilde drove a red Ferrari Dino 246 GT, while Sinclair drove an Aston Martin DBS with a distinctive Bahama Yellow colour. Both cars had personalised number plates: Wilde’s read “DWD 1” (Danny Wilde One), while Sinclair’s read “BS 1” (Brett Sinclair One).
Another distinctive feature of the show was the end credits, which showed Moore sketching his clothes on a drawing board. This referenced the fact that Moore had designed some of his own outfits for the show with the help of his tailor Cyril Castle. Tony Curtis on the other hand would more often than not be seen wearing gloves as he thought it made his character a bit quirkier.
The Persuaders! had a loyal fan base around the world, especially in Australia, Spain, Germany, and France. The show won several awards and accolades, including a Golden Globe nomination for Curtis in 1972. Both Curtis and Moore were praised for their acting and chemistry.
The Persuaders! is considered one of the last major entries in the cycle of adventure series that began with Danger Man in 1960. It is also regarded as a cult classic and a nostalgic favourite for many viewers who grew up watching it in the 1970s.
The Persuaders! also had memorable theme music composed by John Barry, who had scored several James Bond films.
The Persuaders! followed the adventures of two wealthy playboys who teamed up to solve cases that the police and the courts could not. Danny Wilde was a rough-and-tumble American who had made his fortune in oil and Wall Street. Lord Brett Sinclair was a polished British nobleman who had studied at Harrow and Oxford. They were both bored with their lives and looking for excitement.
They met in the French Riviera, where they got into a fistfight over a hotel suite. They were arrested and brought before Judge Fulton, who offered them a choice: either spend 90 days in jail or work for him as his agents. Fulton was a retired judge with a list of unsolved crimes he wanted to see justice done. He believed Wilde and Sinclair had the skills, resources, and connections to help him.
Reluctantly, Wilde and Sinclair agreed to help Fulton. They soon discovered that they had more in common than they thought: they both loved adventure, women, cars, and humour. They also learned to respect each other’s abilities and backgrounds. They travelled around Europe and sometimes beyond, using their charm, wit, and fists to fight crime.
They faced various villains and challenges along the way: smugglers, kidnappers, assassins, spies, con artists, blackmailers, terrorists, cults, Nazis,
royals, impostors, etc. They also encountered many beautiful women who often helped or hindered them. Nevertheless, they usually managed to solve the cases with style and flair.
John Barry’s Theme Tune for The Persuaders!
The Persauders! Episode 5 “Powerswitch”
The Cars of The Persuaders
While the duo’s charisma and adventures are the main focus, the cars they drove became iconic symbols of the show. Tony Curtis’ character, Danny Wilde, drove a zippy red Ferrari Dino 246 GT – a symbol of his affluent New Yorker background. Lord Brett Sinclair’s car was an elegant Aston Martin DBS, painted in “Bahama Yellow,” perfectly capturing his sophisticated, aristocratic demeanour.
Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde
A self-made millionaire from New York who had a rough childhood in the Bronx. He was street-smart adventurous, charming, impulsive, sarcastic, and loyal. He often used his fists or his wits to get out of trouble. He enjoyed living the high life and flirting with women. He had a soft spot for animals and children.
Roger Moore as Lord Brett Sinclair
A British aristocrat who inherited his title and fortune from his family. He was educated, sophisticated, elegant, calm, witty, and honourable. He was skilled in driving, fencing, shooting, and martial arts. He had a refined taste in art, music and literature. He was respectful of women and often acted as a gentleman.
Laurence Naismith as Judge Fulton
A retired judge who recruited Wilde and Sinclair to work for him as his agents. He had a list of unsolved crimes that he wanted to see justice done. He was stern, wise, and mysterious. He often gave them cryptic clues or instructions via phone or letter. He rarely appeared in person or explained his motives.
|1||Overture||Sinclair and Wilde meet for the first time in a hotel bar in France, where they have a brawl and are arrested. Judge Fulton offers them a choice: work for him or go to jail. They reluctantly agree to help him find his missing daughter, who is involved with a drug smuggler.|
|2||The Gold Napoleon||Sinclair and Wilde travel to Italy to recover a rare gold coin that was stolen from a museum. They encounter a mysterious woman who claims to be the coin’s rightful owner, and a ruthless gangster who wants it for himself.|
|3||Take Seven||Sinclair and Wilde are hired by a movie producer to protect his star actress from a stalker. They discover that the stalker is actually her husband, who is trying to kill her for her fortune.|
|4||Greensleeves||Sinclair inherits an old manor house from his uncle, but finds out that it has been restored without his knowledge. He suspects that someone is trying to trick him into selling it, and enlists Wilde’s help to uncover the truth.|
|5||Powerswitch||Sinclair and Wilde are invited to a party by a wealthy businessman, who is later found dead in his swimming pool. They become suspects in his murder, and have to clear their names while dodging assassins and corrupt cops.|
|6||The Time and the Place||Sinclair and Wilde witness a car crash that kills a journalist, who was investigating a political scandal. They find out that he had a tape recording of his interview with a key witness, and decide to follow his trail.|
|7||Someone Like Me||Sinclair is kidnapped by an enemy agent, who undergoes plastic surgery to impersonate him. He tries to sabotage Sinclair’s reputation and business interests, while Wilde tries to find his friend and expose the impostor.|
|8||Anyone Can Play||Sinclair and Wilde go to Monte Carlo to play roulette with a system devised by Wilde’s friend. They soon realize that they are being cheated by a casino owner, who is using a computerized device to rig the game|
|9||The Old, the New, and the Deadly||Sinclair and Wilde attend an auction of Nazi memorabilia in Germany, where they meet an old friend of Sinclair’s who is looking for a missing painting. They discover that the painting contains a secret message that could expose a former Nazi war criminal.|
|10||Angie… Angie||Wilde’s old flame Angie shows up in London, asking for his help. She claims that she is being blackmailed by her husband, who has evidence of her involvement in a robbery. Wilde agrees to help her, but soon finds out that she has an ulterior motive.|
|11||Chain of Events||Sinclair and Wilde are involved in a car accident that triggers a series of events involving a kidnapped scientist, a nuclear bomb, and a rogue agent. They have to stop the bomb from exploding and save the scientist’s life.|
|12||That’s Me Over There||Wilde is framed for murder by an old enemy, who plants his fingerprints on the murder weapon. He escapes from custody with Sinclair’s help, and tries to find the real killer before he strikes again.|
|13||The Long Goodbye||Sinclair and Wilde are hired by an old friend of Sinclair’s to protect his daughter from her abusive husband. They find out that the husband is planning to kill her and make it look like suicide.|
|14||The Man in the Middle||Sinclair and Wilde are sent to Switzerland by Judge Fulton to retrieve some sensitive documents from a former spy. They discover that he has been killed by another spy, who is posing as his contact.|
|15||Element of Risk||Sinclair and Wilde investigate a series of robberies at British army bases, where high-tech weapons are being stolen. They suspect that an army officer is behind them, but they have to prove it before he sells them to foreign agents.|
|16||A Home of One’s Own||Sinclair buys a cottage in the countryside, hoping to enjoy some peace and quiet. He soon finds out that the cottage is haunted by the ghost of its previous owner, who was murdered there.|
|17||Five Miles to Midnight||Sinclair and Wilde are stranded in a remote village in Italy, where they witness a murder committed by a local crime boss. They try to escape with the only witness, a young girl, but they are pursued by the killer’s henchmen.|
|18||Nuisance Value||Sinclair and Wilde are blackmailed by a woman who claims to have compromising photos of them with her. They try to get rid of her, but she proves to be more than they bargained for.|
|19||The Morning After||Sinclair wakes up in Paris with no memory of what happened the night before. He finds out that he has been accused of killing a French politician, and has to retrace his steps with Wilde’s help.|
|20||Read and Destroy||Sinclair and Wilde are hired by an author to deliver his manuscript to his publisher. They soon realize that the manuscript contains explosive revelations about some powerful people, who will stop at nothing to destroy it.|
|21||A Death in the Family||Sinclair’s relatives are being killed off one by one by an unknown assassin. He tries to find out who is behind it, while protecting himself and his cousin Archie from becoming the next victims.|
|22||The Ozerov Inheritance||Sinclair and Wilde are hired by an old lady who claims to be the Grand Duchess Ozerov, the last surviving member of the Russian royal family. She wants them to help her recover her family jewels from a Swiss bank vault.|
|23||To the Death Baby||Wilde falls in love with a beautiful woman who turns out to be an assassin hired to kill him. He tries to convince her to give up her profession, but she has other plans for him.|
|24||Someone Waiting||Sinclair enters a car race against his old rival Bruno Nicolai, who blames him for ruining his career. Nicolai plots to sabotage Sinclair’s car and kill him during the race.|
Where Can I Watch it?
The Persuaders! is often broadcast on the Great! TV network which is Freeview 50, Sky 157 and Virgin 189. Elsewhere there is the odd episode on YouTube or watch all episodes for free on ITVX (Ad Supported). Or you can pay for each episode on Amazon Prime. Lastly you can buy the Complete Series on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon.