DEPARTMENT S

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The cases are inexplicable, baffling, and illogical.

They have to be to interest…

Department ‘S’ was the world’s most unusual police department. An off-shoot of Interpol based in Paris. It stepped into cases which could not be handled or solved bay any other authority. They were mysteries which may have been caused by a natural occurrence, a calamity, a disaster or by premeditated or spontaneous crime.

Each case was apparently inexplicable, baffling everyone with its total lack of logic.

This was the premise of ITC’s Department ‘S’ series, produced by Monty Berman. It was a complete departure from all other mystery-adventure programmes, and served as a precursor to the popular X-Files series of the Nineties.

The mysteries themselves were only part of its fascination. The appeal of the series lay, more than anything else, in the three principal characters, played by PETER WYNGARDE, Joel Fabiani and Rosemary Nicols. They had many ways of approaching the task of solving mysteries. Jason, Stewart and Annabelle worked together in close harmony, but their methods were sharply contrasting.

Department ‘S’ therefore had a many-sided appeal. The stories were intriguing with plenty of action, which provided the viewer with the challenge of spotting the solution to each mystery as the three operatives unravelled one knot after another. Even the most illogical of situations had a logical answer…

Department S was a complete departure from all other mystery/adventure series of the Sixties and Seventies, as the mysteries themselves were only part of the fascination. Its appeal lay, more than anything else, in its principal characters: Two men and one woman. Contrasting personalities as well as styles, each with an individual approach to proving that even the most illogical situations have a logical explanation. Three different ways of approaching each crime, with three outstanding personalities.

“Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes!” Jason King

 PETER ON JASON KING

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“When I used to see that person up there on the screen and I knew it was me, I still couldn’t not believe it was me. I thought: ‘What the… no one could have a nose like that. And that voice! I mean, what are you doing! Why are you an actor!

“Originally, Department S was based on a very good idea by Ian Flemming. He was working for MI5, which was a special department – it wasn’t Department S – but it was something very similar to it. So we took all the stories which had happened during the war and other domestic stories which had taken place. We got them together and tried to find a solution to the ones that were never solved. And that’s how Department S started.

“I thought that the clothes that were going around for guys at the time were boring. One day I saw a drawing of a 17th Century riding jacket, and thought ‘That looks good. There’s a kind of style to that There’s something about that; it looks good’. And I started doing some drawings, and slowly it became the kind of jacket that Jason wore.

“I remember saying to the producer, ‘Look, we’ve got to go on more locations – we’ve got to stop with this terrible back-projection thing with me in the car and you see this thing wobbling behind. The audience isn’t fooled – you can’t fool them,. We’ll go to Rome and walk down the Spanish Steps, and something will happen, because no matter what anyone says, the camera doesn’t lie. There was a moment where I had to go and do some parachuting, and I said: ‘This is not good. Let’s go and do it for real.’ I was showing off again, of course!”

 THE CHARACTERS

Department S was a complete departure from all other mystery/adventure series of the Sixties and Seventies, as the mysteries themselves were only part of the fascination. Its appeal lay, more than anything else, in its principal characters: Two men and one woman. Contrasting personalities as well as styles, each with an individual approach to proving that even the most illogical situations have a logical explanation. Three different ways of approaching each crime, with three outstanding personalities.

DEPARTMENT S PERSONNEL FILES:

Jason King:

  • Birthplace: Darjeeking, India.
  • Occupation: Author of thriller novels and Interpol Agent.
  • Previous Occupation: Freelance Journalist. Forensic Adviser to the Hong Kong Police Force. Height: Six Feet. Weight: 11 Stones and One Pound.
  • Colour of Eyes: Blue.
  • Colour of Hair: Dark Brown.

Jason King is a novelist – a successful writer of thriller novels, and a man with a vivid imagination. His keen interest in crime has lead him to Department ‘S’.

Jason is a man with a flamboyant personality. He uses his imagination and know-how in theorizing what has happened in each case that befalls the Department. He looks at it as if it were a situation devised for one of his books – asking himself what his hero, Mark Caine, would do and think under the same circumstances. His wildest guesses might spin into the realms of fantasy, but in doing so, he often hits upon the truth… or at least one aspect of it.
Stewart Sullivan:

  • Place of Birth: New York City.
  • Occupation: Interpol Agent.
  • Previous Occupation: F.B.I. Agent.
  • Height: 5 feet, 11 inches.
  • Weight: 12 Stones.
  • Colour of Eyes: Blue.
  • Colour of Hair: Light Brown.

Stewart Sullivan is a more down-to-earth character than Jason. He is well-built, with a shrewd mind and considerable athletic ability. He believes in a direct approach. His brain works for him, as do his fists. He will often shoot down King’s wild and imaginary theories, yet at the same time, will seize upon those ideas which strike him as the most practical.

Annabelle Hurst:

  • Place of Birth: Sevenoaks, Kent.
  • Occupation: Interpol Agent.
  • Previous Occupation: Computer Analyst with the Metropolitan Police Force.
  • Height: 5 feet, 7 inches.
  • Colour of Eyes: Blue.
  • Colour of Hair: Auburn.

Annabelle’s approach is the most scientific of the Department ‘S’ team. She is an expert computer programmer, with a highly intelligent mind. She is always alert to observe even the smallest detail which her colleagues might overlook. She will delve conscientiously through accounts, and believes in getting laboratory reports on every piece of evidence she finds – be it a strand of hair or a cold cup of coffee. Sir Curtis Seretse:

Sir Curtis Seretse:

  • Place of Birth: Nigeria.
  • Occupation: United Nations Representative.
  • Height: 6 feet, 2 inches.
  • Weight: 15 stones and 5 pounds.
  • Colour of Eyes: Brown.
  • Colour of Hair: Black.

Sir Curtis is a member of the Diplomatic Mission from the African state of Nigeria attached to the United Nations. His duties include liaising between his department and Interpol. He is therefore responsible for the three Department ‘S’ operatives who are assigned to special cases.

EPISODE GUIDE

SIX DAYS

  • First Broadcast: 9 March, 1969
  • Location: Aboard Astair flight Golf-Alpha-Zulu-Echo-Bravo, Karachi to London
  • Date: July 17th

An airplane lands at Heathrow 30 minutes early, according to all indications on board. When the plane lands the crew is met by anxious airport officials, notifying them that they are not 30 minutes early, but six days overdue. Department S has a vested interest in the flight, because Sir Curtis was aboard. As they begin investigating, people start dying.

THE TROJAN TANKER

  • First Broadcast: 16 March, 1969
  • Location: Bedfordshire, England
  • Date: July 22nd

A tanker is involved in an accident. A witness swears he saw a woman in the back of the tanker, but when the police look there is no one inside. The tanker, however, is not carrying fuel, but rather is elaborately rigged as a living space. A search for the missing woman leads Jason to an old friend, and eventually to France.

A CELLAR FULL OF SILENCE

  • First Broadcast: 23 March, 1969
  • Location: London, England

Date: June 20th Four men dressed in various costumes are gunned down in a cellar. The gun of one had been fired, the bullet turning up in the body of a man found in the trunk of a submerged car. Stewart pays a call on a crime broker to see who hired the men and how the crimes relate to a house in St. John’s Woods, where a woman is being kept seDated because she thought she saw four men wearing disguises committing a robbery in the house.

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMBLEDOWN

  • First Broadcast: 30 March, 1969
  • Location: Hambledown, Hampshire, England
  • Date: April 16th

A woman goes to bed early, taking a sedative, to get enough sleep for a beauty contest. When she wakes up the next morning her entire village is deserted. The only clues Department S can find are a man with a shotgun in a home on the outskirts of the village and a freshly-painted mailbox post.

ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING

  • First Broadcast: 6 April, 1969
  • Location: London Airport
  • Date: April 30th

Sky Tripper 190 requests auto land clearance at Heathrow Airport in London. When boarded, the plane is totally empty. While investigating Stewart locates the body of the pilot, and Annabelle sees a reclusive industry CEO boarding the plane in a photograph.

THE MAN IN THE ELEGANT ROOM

  • First Broadcast: 13 April, 1969
  • Location: Islington, London, England
  • Date: May 12th

A real estate agent, taking a man to see a warehouse, discovers a room constructed inside the warehouse. Worse, a dead body and a babbling man are locked inside the room. Stewart tries to interrogate the man, but he is killed before anything can be made of his babbling.

HANDICAP DEAD

  • First Broadcast: 20 April, 1969
  • Location: Colindale Golf Course, Scotland
  • Date: June 6th

Stewart attends a golf tournament in Scotland. The tournament leader is found dead near the course. The Department is unofficially involved until someone breaks into the dead man’s living quarters and steals his golf clubs.

BLACK OUT

  • First Broadcast: 27 April, 1969
  • Location: London, England
  • Date: May 26th

A chef goes to the opera in London. Three days later he is found by Mexican authorities in the desert, still his formal attire, unaware of what happened after he left the opera. A case of mistaken identity, leading the Department to Jamaica for turtle in the shell while Sir Curtis is off to America to witness a rocket launching. How are they connected?

WHO PLAYED THE DUMMY?

  • First Broadcast: 1 October, 1969
  • Location: The Sierra de Guadarrama, Spain
  • Date: September 12th

A car, apparently out of control, rushes to its doom in a mountainous, uninhabited area of Madrid. And its only occupant is a tailor’s dummy sitting at the wheel. The chief clue is the expensive tie on the dummy, a British-made tie that Jason notices on someone else in town.

THE TREASURE OF THE COSTA DEL SOL

  • First Broadcast: 8 October, 1969
  • Location: The Costa del Sol, Spain

Date: July 31st A man goes scuba diving while his friend waits in the car. The man returns from the dive with a fish, and his friend shoots him. Before he dies he is able to return fire with a spear gun, killing the shooter. A policeman happens upon the scene and finds the diver’s catch: a plastic fish with $100,000 inside.

THE MAN WHO GOT A NEW FACE

  • First Broadcast: 15 October, 1969
  • Location: Cap d’Antibes, France
  • Date: August 16th

A man takes enormous risk by sneak onto the grounds of an estate. He steals nothing, taking the gamble instead to glue a classic theatrical comedy mask onto a sleeping man’s face. The man wakes and sees the mask, dying of a heart attack trying to remove it. Since the man was a friend of Sir Curtis, he wants the Department to investigate who performed “this bad joke”–and why.

LES FLEURS DU MAL

  • First Broadcast: 22 October, 1969
  • Location: Rome, Italy
  • Date: September 26th

A small package has the key to the disappearance of $5 million taken in a robbery. The man charged with delivering the package to a man in Paris is curious, so he opens the package to find three flowers and a cryptic passage from a book. He does not know what the message means only that people involved in the robbery are being murdered, including the prime suspect in the robbery.

THE SHIFT THAT NEVER WAS

  • First Broadcast: 29 October, 1969
  • Location: Stepney, London, England

Date: October 10th The police are called to investigate a manufacturing company manager’s claim that no one showed up for work on a Wednesday in spite of neighbours’ claims that everything at the plant appeared to be perfectly normal. The shift substitution somehow ties to the opening of a nuclear-powered generating station.

THE MAN FROM X

  • First Broadcast: 5 November, 1969
  • Location: London, England
  • Date: February 2nd

A couple, necking in a car, are shocked to find a man in a spacesuit coming at them. He falls dead before he reaches their car. The Department wants to know what a man in a spacesuit was doing in London at night, and how it might tie to a planned robbery.

DEAD MEN DIE TWICE

  • First Broadcast: 12 November, 1969
  • Location: Southern France
  • Date: July 19th

A man’s home is invaded by armed intruders’ intent on killing him. He has a heart attack and dies before they can, however. The two men go to the morgue to see the body, where they put two bullets into the corpse. Department S investigate the shooting of the body of a man who bears a striking resemblance to a notorious criminal who allegedly died three years earlier.

THE PERFECT OPERATION

  • First Broadcast: 26 November, 1969
  • Location: City of Southwark Hospital, London
  • Date: October 24th

A British government official suffers a brain haemorrhage. While in surgery, his surgeon is replaced by another man. Instead of killing the official, the substitute doctor completed the operation. The Department must find out why, while Jason disputes the official government records that state the official has never been to Istanbul.

THE DUPLICATED MAN

  • First Broadcast: 3 December, 1969
  • Location: Foreign Office, London
  • Date: February 16th.

A plane carrying a British MI5 agent explodes over the English Channel. Witnesses on a boat crossing the Channel see the plane explode and are certain no one survived. Sir Curtis, however, is confident the agent jumped from the plane prior to the explosion, and sends the Department out to find the agent. The Department’s activity catches the interest of Russian agents, who are also certain the agent – who was also working for the Russians – is still alive.

THE MYSTERIOUS MAN IN THE FLYING MACHINE

  • First Broadcast: 12 December, 1969
  • Location: Paris, France
  • Date: March 8th

A man murders another man on a flight. He then orders no one to move and opens the airplane door, jumping — to the floor of a warehouse. Other men aboard the “plane” chase and shoot the killer in the warehouse. The Department is called in to learn who would build such an elaborate set in order to murder someone.

DEATH ON REFLECTION

  • First Broadcast: 17 December, 1969
  • Location: Bond Street, London, England
  • Date: January 18th

Sir Curtis attends an auction. A mirror that he suspects is worth no more than £2,500 goes for £9,000. He is perplexed as to why, and even more concerned when the man who bought the mirror at auction is murdered.

THE LAST TRAIN TO REDBRIDGE

  • First Broadcast: 14 January, 1970
  • Location: London
  • Date: November 22nd

A tube train arrives at its final destination for the evening. A conductor finds a car filled with dead people, and he is overcome by something in the air and dies as well before he can leave the car or notify anyone. As Annabelle is escorting the widow of one of the victims from the morgue, the widow is abducted at gunpoint. Jason further complicates matters by being abducted by the people responsible, while Stewart and Annabelle try to figure out why the massacre happened and who was behind it.

A SMALL WAR OF NERVES

  • First Broadcast: 21 January, 1970
  • Location: Wiltshire, England
  • Date: April 20th

Greg Halliday is fed up with his work as a chemical engineer creating weapons that can obliterate the population of large cities. He leaves his job with a canister of the deadly chemical. The Department is out to find him before others who want the chemicals get to him — or before Halliday uses the weapon himself.

THE BONES OF BYROM BLAIN

  • First Broadcast: 21 January, 1970

Location: Marling Dale, Cheshire, England Date: April 4th When a chauffeur opens the door for his passenger, a diplomat named Byrom Blain, he discovers a skeleton instead. The Department is called in, but they cannot stop other diplomats from turning into skeletons — including Sir Curtis.

SPENCER BODILY IS SIXTY YEARS OLD

  • First Broadcast: 11 February, 1970
  • Location: London, England
  • Date: May 8th

A man commits suicide beneath a tree in a park. He has no identification and is completely untraceable. To complicate matters, the coroner’s report indicates the dead man is 60 years old – even though his physical appearance makes him appear to be in his 20s. Before the Department can question the autopsy, the corpse is stolen.

THE GHOST OF MARY BURNHAM

  • First Broadcast: 18 February, 1970
  • Location: London
  • Date: January 4th

John Burnham’s wife was murdered in the parking garage as they were leaving for the evening. However, John continues to see Mary and receive phone calls from her. Who killed Mrs. Burnham and why is a matter of utmost importance for the Department to solve, since, as Sir Curtis tells Stewart in giving him the case, “John Burnham is an important man to the world.

A FISH OUT OF WATER

  • First Broadcast: 18 February, 1970
  • Location: Beirut, Lebanon
  • Date: March 22nd

The body of an Interpol agent is found near the shore shortly after he arrives in Beirut for vacation. Stewart is upset, not only because the man was a friend but also because Sir Curtis accepts the report that the death was accidental. Stewart rejects that, claiming his friend was an expert diver. Stewart must control his emotions and work around his supervisor’s order to not work on the case in order to discover the truth.

SOUP OF THE DAY

  • First Broadcast: 4 March, 1970
  • Location: Liverpool, England
  • Date: May 2nd

Department S is called upon to investigate a most unusual burglary: four men break into a warehouse and break through a stone wall, all to steal one crate of Portuguese fish soup. The crime becomes more confusing when the stolen soup cans are found discarded less than a day after they are stolen.

A TICKET TO NOWHERE

  • First Broadcast: 11 March, 1970
  • Location: London Airport, London, England
  • Date: December 6th

A pilot coming in for a landing spies a man on the runway. He is unable to miss the man, killing him. Jason, at the airport to fly to Paris, stumbles onto the situation by befriending the deceased’s niece. In Paris, the Department is charged with the task of finding a missing scientist who has perfected an advanced form of brainwashing. When Jason finally arrives in Paris, he realizes the man discovered on the runway dressed in pyjamas is their missing scientist.

THE DOUBLE DEATH OF CHARLIE CRIPPEN

  • First Broadcast: 24 April, 1970
  • Location: Bay of Naples, Italy
  • Date: August 14th

Assassins attack a limousine with a land mine, but the “man” killed turns out to be a mannequin. Jason nicknames the mannequin “Charlie Crippen” while the Department sets to find out who did the attack, and who the real target is.

Department S episodes in date order:

18, 20, 19, 22, 23, 25, 27, 4, 26, 5, 28, 24, 6, 8, 7, 3, 2, 15, 1, 10, 9, 12, 11, 13, 14, 21, 17, & 16.

The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/

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