Crime Writer! Adventurer! Lover!
Created by Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner
ITV/Scoton – 26 x 50 minute episodes. Recorded on 16mm colour film.
PETER WYNGARDE created one of television’s most popular characters when he played the flamboyant Jason King in Department S‘. Only one aspect of this colourful, amusing and romantic crime-novelist-investigator was emphasized in those programmes, however. Jason came into the stories when called on to help solve baffling crimes for Interpol. Seen more briefly was the other aspect of Jason King, the successful writer with the world (and women) at his fingertips.
When Interpol called, Jason’s other activities were interrupted. He was found in the most exotic places all over the globe, lured away from glamorous female companions, dragged from personal adventures which had nothing to do with Department ‘S’.
Then from Department ‘S’ sprang a fascinating new series of one-hour colour films: Jason King.
Once again, this fabulous character was portrayed by PETER WYNGARDE, released from the shackles of one line of pursuit to be seen at random throughout the world in adventures that befell him as he sought inspiration and backgrounds for his best-selling Mark Caine novels.
He was on his own, but accompanied throughout by top-name guest stars and gorgeous girls galore. There were no limitations. No longer attached to Department ‘S’ in any way, he was free to roam the four corners of the earth at will. Every type of adventure befell him. His inquiring mind took him into everything from international intrigue to local revolutions. From tense drama to comedy-filled situations. From dire peril to the welcoming arms of beautiful girls.
He tumbled headlong into adventure, whether he sought it or not. He was lured into danger by those who thought they could use him. He jet-propelled himself into situations because of his insatiable curiosity, and was tricked into situations because of his reputation.
Wanna Buy A Television Series?
Broadcast: 15th September, 1971
In order to interest a television mogul in buying his stories for the small screen, novelist and adventurer Jason King describes to the man a typical plot involving his hero Mark Caine. Caine meets a girl who has been given plastic surgery to resemble the deceased Michele who died in a fire. She is taken by two crooks to meet Bellini, a fence of Michele’s acquaintance, supposedly suffering from amnesia, to find out where he has hidden his private stash of valuables. Caine is aware that the girl will be killed once she has served her purpose and steps in to rescue her.
A Page Before Dying
Broadcast: 22nd September, 1971
British Intelligence plan to copy the plot of Jason’s book, ‘A Page Before Dying’, to smuggle Gorini, a man who has information for them, out of East Berlin hidden in a safe. The first part of the scheme involves Jason being smuggled into the East in the safe but when he reaches the meeting place he finds that he has been duped and used as a decoy whilst Gorini has already been taken to safety through other means.
Buried In The Cold, Cold Ground
Broadcast: 6th October, 1971
Jason needs to finish his latest book so he decides to go into isolation in the south of France. When he picks up a pretty hitchhiker and a recently released prisoner, it becomes the start of yet another Jason King novel.
A Deadly Line In Digits
Broadcast: 13th October, 1971
On a visit back to England, Jason finds himself with income tax problems. However, it turns out to be a way of blackmailing him into helping the police solve a series of robberies where the police computer seems to be illegally accessed.
Variations On A Theme
Broadcast: 20th October, 1971
A close friend of Jason King, a double agent called Alan Keeble, was supposed to be dead. However, when Jason receives a letter telling him to come to Vienna to meet Alan, he just has to go.
As Easy As A.B.C.
Broadcast: 11th November, 1971
Two English criminals, Charles and Edward, are committing copy-cat robberies stolen from the plots of Jason’s books, which causes the police to take an interest in the author after a security guard is killed. Jason and his girlfriend Arlene have an encounter with the two villains and escape but, as they can now recognize the pair, they are in danger as they head for Venice, where a trap has been set for them.
To Russia With… Panache
17th November, 1971
Jason is abducted in order to help the Moscow police work out how three men on a workers’ delegation, got into a lift and then, when the doors opened again, there was nothing left of them but three piles of ashes. He discovers that they made their exit from the lift by means of a trap door but comes to appreciate that they are part of a larger plan to tunnel into the Kremlin to steal art treasures.
A Red, Red Rose Forever
Broadcast: 1st December, 1971
Jason gets off a plane in Switzerland and is mistaken for the hitman taken ill on the plane as he has picked up the bunch of red roses which will allow the killer’s employers to identify him. He plays along out of curiosity though his cover is blown when the real assassin leaves hospital turns up. As a test Jason is told to shoot dead his mark but uses an elaborate little stunt as seen in his books to create the illusion of killing whilst identifying the villains.
All That Glisters: Part 1
Broadcast: 8th December, 1971
An antique salt cellar made of gold by Benevenuto Cellini is stolen in California from collector Dreshfield by thief Frankie Luca, who brings it to Paris to sell to Philippe De Brion. De Brion was cheated out of its ownership some years earlier by Dreshfield, who told him it was worthless. However free-lancer Mallen has been hired by Dreshfield to pursue Luca to Paris, where he meets up with Jason, and asks him to introduce him to De Brion. After Mallen has been shot at he and Jason track down the salt cellar, only to find that it is a fake and Luca has escaped with …
All That Glisters: Part 2
Broadcast: 15th December, 1971
Having killed De Brion,who was out to double cross him, Luca gets on a train to Rome with the Cellini salt cellar, pursued by Jason and Mallen. In Italy a former Mafiosi called Angelo Andrea joins the chase, intending to steal the Cellini from Luca. Ultimately all the interested parties end up at Andrea’s house where they discover that all that glisters is not gold.
Flamingoes Only Fly On Tuesdays
Broadcast: 29th December, 1971
Jason arrives on a Caribbean island and find himself in the middle of a revolution when he inadvertently makes a remark about flamingos as he arrives at the airport.
Broadcast: 5th January, 1972
In France Jason meets Toki, whose boyfriend Jean Le Grand and another gangster Olivier plan to steal a cache of emeralds, after which Le Grand plans to kill Olivier. Given that she knows all the plans Jason believes that she is a young girl who has got out of her depth and is danger. He resolves to help her but they are pursued by LeGrand and his mobsters.
The Constance Missal
Broadcast: 12th January, 1972
Jason falls under the hypnotic spell of two glamorous thieves, Claudia and Elaine. They steal the only copy of his recently completed film script, demanding that, for its return, he poses as an expert in ancient manuscripts in order to steal the Constance Missal, a valuable document recently acquired by the British Museum. He is to authenticate it for one Lord Barnes but his lordship is also planning to obtain the Constance Missal for himself.
Uneasy Lies The Head
Broadcast: 19th January, 1972
Having refused to help the British government investigate an international drugs ring Jason is surprised to learn that a man in Istanbul is impersonating him. This turns out to be Trim, a government operative, who has been studying him in order to make contact with the gang leaders and persuade then that he is Jason King. However Trim is captured and Jason has to go to Istanbul after all to save the day.
Broadcast: 2nd February, 1972
Jason is suffering writer’s block so his publisher sends him to Greece to inspire him. However, some Greek criminals use a beautiful woman to seduce Jason using his fame to smuggle drugs into France – but who is seducing who?
A Kiss For a Beautiful Killer
Broadcast: 9th February, 1972
Jason travels to a South American republic to receive an award – in the form of a medallion – for one of his books. In fact both the corrupt President Cordoba, who has bugged the medallion, and the opposing rebel forces, led by glamorous government minister Delphi, believe that the book is so close to the truth about events in their country that he has an actual source of information, and neither will believe that it is all a fiction.
If It’s Got To Go, It’s Got To Go
Broadcast: 16th February, 1972
Jason’s temporary secretary in Germany convinces him to go to a health clinic. However, when several strange events occur he realises that there is much more to the clinic than it appears.
A Thin Band Of Air
Broadcast: 3rd March, 1972
Jason is in Paris taking publicity photos for his latest novel when a man with a rifle shoots at him. It appears that there is bounty of 100 000 francs on him, but who is putting up the money and why? King has to find out.
It’s Too Bad About Auntie
Broadcast: 10th March, 1972
Andrew Bishop is a nasty piece of work who lives with, and makes life unpleasant for, his elderly, housebound Aunt Claire. One day, in the process of robbing a house, he commits a murder, for which Pamela, an innocent woman, is charged. He also steals a vacuum cleaner which, somewhat bizarrely, becomes Jason’s chief clue in leading him to the real culprit.
The Stones Of Venice
Broadcast: 17th March, 1972
Arriving in Venice, Jason is surprised to learn that he is the apparent author of a book entitled ‘The Stones of Venice’, which he assuredly is not. However, after he is attacked by two would-be assassins a jewel robbery takes place and Theresa Bonival, employee of a firm specializing in antique jewellery, is abducted – incidents closely related to events in the book and therefore sufficient for the police to ask for his help in their enquiries.
A Royal Flush
Broadcast: 24th March, 1972
A mysterious girl calling herself Karen invites Jason to meet her at the Capri hotel but when he gets there he finds a note requesting he catches up with her at a night-club. He meets up with her but an apparent drunk drops a lighter into his pocket. Then Karen takes him to meet a lady who may or may not be a princess and who has a proposition for him.
Every Picture Tells A Story
Broadcast: 31st March, 1972
Jason makes a stopover in Hong Kong, where his character Mark Caine appears in a Chinese comic strip but with deliberate alterations to Jason’s original story in the translation. He teams up with Lucy Cameron, nurse to wealthy businessman Arthur Tsung, to confront Irish-American Sam Finnigan, the editor of the paper publishing the strip and a man whom he has met before, for an explanation.
Chapter One: The Company I Keep
Broadcast: 7th April, 1972
Jason King arrives in Rome just after a night-club dancer is murdered. When he finds out that the events in the book he is currently writing mirror what is happening in real-life, Jason is determined to find out what is going on.
Broadcast: 14th April, 1972
Whilst travelling on a plane Jason recognizes a man whom he knew from his Department ‘S’ days to be a professional assassin and so he is intrigued and on his guard when he arrives at his destination – not without due cause, as he will soon find himself caught up in a plot to foil a group of revolutionaries out to kidnap the daughter of the country’s president.
An Author In Search Of Two Characters
Broadcast: 21st April, 1972
In London Jason is paid a great deal of money for a film script only to be relieved of it by two robbers. Later, whilst taking a moon-light stroll he sees an astronaut shooting somebody and then he is attacked and knocked unconscious by a bear. When he wakes up next morning with a head-ache it all seems very real but the police obviously believe that he dreamed it.
That’s Not Me It’s Someone Else
Broadcast: 28th April, 1972
Jason has an invitation to go to Italy and stay with Bonisalvi, an international criminal who lives in the most secure seclusion. A rival gangsters’ syndicate uses the opportunity to send Bennett, a hit-man posing as Jason to kill Bonisalvi whilst Jason himself has problems fleeing the beautiful but deadly Martine, who seems to have more than marriage on her mind.
JASON KING BOOKS
During the height of ‘Jasonmania’ back in 1972, Pan Books published two novels by Robert Miall entitled ‘Jason King’ and ‘Kill Jason King!’ – both of which were described on their covers as being “Based upon the successful ATV television series starring PETER WYNGARDE“, and which were basically re-writes of a selection of four episodes from the series.
The first of the duo, ‘Jason King’, follows the exploits of the inimitable scribe as he adopts the guise of Vershinin Miklos – a Bulgarian master crook, who is sent undercover by Whitehall in an attempt to infiltrate an international crime syndicate who have successfully eluded the watchful eye of Scotland Yard with their computer wizardry.
Having been blackmailed by Rylans with a threat of being turned over to Her Majesty’s Inspector of Taxes, Jason makes the most of the situation by eating, drinking and making merry with Jan, one of the gang’s female companions.
The story deviates only slightly from the original which was penned by Tony Williamson for the episode. ‘A Deadly Line in Digits’, and seems to flow quite naturally into a somewhat raunchier version if, ‘Chapter One: The Company I Keep’, in which we find our hero believing that he’s developed the powers of ESP overnight when, in fact, he has merely been set up by the beautiful yet deadly Countessa Arabella do Maggiore.
In Maill’s rendition of Donald James’ original screenplay, there are a number of minor adjustments – most noticeably, the absence of the rutting rhino in the opening ‘scene’ and, sadly, there’s no nuns habit. But Jason certainly makes up for their absence by his antics with the Countessa, which are only touched upon superficially on screen, but leave little to the imagination in print!
The second of the two books, ‘Kill Jason King!’, encompasses the episodes ‘As Easy As A.B.C.’ by Tony Williamson, and ‘A Red. Red Rose Forever’ by Donald James; the latter of which quite outshines the former, which as I am sure anyone who had seen the live-action story on screen will testify.
In the first segment of the book, Jason finds himself the prime suspect following a series of crimes which have in fact been perpetrated by two upper-crust villains by the names of Charles and Edward, who have taken to recreating incidents as described in Jason’s Mark Caine novels.
Matters take a drastic turn for the worst when a security guard is shot and killed during the course of one of the robberies, and a considerable fortune in platinum bullion mysteriously turns up in the boot of Jason’s car. All hope appears lost when Arlene – Jason’s beautiful bedtime companion (and only alibi!), is kidnapped by the two bounders, leaning poor J.K. with little hope of proving his innocence.
The unlikely combination of Adolf Hitler, a Swiss Bank vault and a pretty air hostess lead to yet more intrigue, adventure and romance for Jason who, as always, manages to outwit the bad guys and get the girl!
It was a very good year for villains…
a good year for blondes, diamonds and furs in London…
for brunettes, orgies, blackmail and murder in Rome…
for redheads in St Moritz.
A bad year for Department S – until his past caught up with Jason King.
- ISBN: 0 330 23165 0
- Original Price:
- U.K.: 25p
- Australia: 80c
- New Zealand: 80c
- South Africa: 60c
- Canada: 95c
The security guard was cold. Cold as the Vienna morgue where he lay. Arlene, blonde and sultry, had been kidnapped. A fortune in platinum filled the car boot. The latest haul in a series of daring robberies that stretched from Munich to Barcelona. And Jason King found himself Europe’s number one police suspect. The only suspect…
- ISBN: 0 330 23419 6
- Original Price:
- U.K.: 25p
- Australia: 80c
- New Zealand: 80c
- South Africa: 60c
- Canada: 95c
Call Sheets and Scripts
Original Call Sheets from the Jason King episode, ‘As Easy as A.B.C.’.
Script from the Jason King episode, ‘As Easy As A.B.C.’, with PETER’s amendments and suggestions.
The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/