There’ve been many newspaper and magazine column inches devoted to PETER WYNGARDE over the years and, latterly, several chapters in unofficial biographies. Since PETER is such a private man who, for good reason, loathes any involvement with the press, much of what we see in print has been gleaned from either show business gossips or simply fabricated to fill in the gaps.
As far as we’re aware, no one has devoted a lifetime to spending every waking hour with PETER, so how can a journalist, author or Internet blogger profess to know him so intimately?
This page is an on-going section devoted to the misinformed authors, journalist and their Internet-based imitators who continue to publish erroneous and deceitful information about him.
Here’s a veritable cornucopia of sub-articles from the early to mid-1990’s, which were written around the time that Department S and Jason King were either about to be released on video, or were featured on one of the terrestrial TV channels Sixties/Seventies marathons.
So here we are – looking back at those in the Nineties who were looking back at the Sixties….
TV Zone – 1993
The tape sleeve sums up it up: ‘PETER WYNGARDE IS Jason King’, because WYNGARDE’s smooth, sardonic, eccentric portrayal of the dandified ‘Crimewriter! Adventurer Lover!’ gives this series a distinctly watchable charm.
The character Jason King left Departments S to “struggle along” (as King puts it) without him. WYNGARDE’s colourful characterization presumably proved the most popular element of the Department S series, so here we are presented with a succession of totally unlikely adventures which befall a novelist (writing the adventures of the indefatigable Mark Caine) who travels the world.
Needless to say, the world consists or reel upon reel of stock footage – of alarmingly variable picture quality, and bits of exotic shrubbery glimpsed through set windows.
The plots are of little note, mostly being concerned with political intrigue, theft and murder – all dreadfully contrived.
In 1971, WYNGARDE was a big hit with the ladies. In 1993, this dapper chappy with the huge moustache, flapping collars, fat ties and turned-up cuffs (reportedly adopted because WYNGARDE lost his cufflinks during filming!) now looks a bit daft . Still, he’s worth checking out.
Errors and Corrections:
- I suspect that the person who wrote this was probably sat at his typewriter (remember them?), in a flame-resistant Shell Suit and jellies. He looks a bit daft now, doesn’t it?!
Accuracy Rating: 7/10
TV Zone – 1994
In the 1970’s, Jason King has obviously left Department S and merited a series in his own right. The episode ‘Toki’ has Felicity Kendall falling in love with Jase (who wouldn’t?), and is set in Paris, France. Jason has now acquired a nice collection of kaftans. How those baddies must have been shaking in their shoes; high drama or high farce? Take your pick.
Accuracy Rating: 9/10
The Lancashire Evening Post – 1994
The sixties were clearly a funny old time. Why else would 35,000 Australian women  claim in a survey that they wanted to lose their virginity to TV tec, Jason King?
Here was a man with the most ridiculous moustache and hairdo in the history of telly, a man with a fondness for crushed velvet  and ties with knots so big they were a danger to shipping. And yet ‘Department S’ and seemingly in real life too, women loved him. Perhaps he was just ahead of his time. Watching King, alias Shakespearian actor, PETER WYNGARDE, wandering through this wildly funny piece of 1969 kitsch, I was often reminded of Nineties pop icons Prince and Lenny Kravitz, who also have tendencies to mince.
Shown as part of another tedious telly marathon on the ‘Swinging Sixties’, that could hardly have been as wonderful as everyone tells us, Department S was like The Avengers meets Batman; a relic of an age which laid itself open to satire almost before it was over. The plot is so daft to recount here – suffice to say the chief baddie bought it after King, wearing a spacesuit, whacked him with a side of beef in a meat locker… But, het, 35,000 Australian women can’t be wrong.
Errors and Corrections:
- The survey referred to in this article was taken in 1971, not in the 1960’s as stated here. The 35,000 women named PETER WYNGARDE as ‘The Man We’d Most Like To Lose Our Virginity To’, NOT Jason King. The author of this article was obviously unable to distinguish between a fictional character and the actor who played him!
- PETER never wore “crushed velvet”. The author, who had probably never seen an episode of either Department S or Jason King prior to writing this article, and so believed that the Comic Strip episode, ‘The Detectives’, was a true representation of the character. Piss poor at best!
Accuracy Rating: 3/10
Video World – 1994
Dedicated followers of fashion will be delighted to discover that they can return to the psychedelic 1970’s this month in the company of old smoothie-chops himself, Jason King. There’s nothing like a good thriller, and these are nothing like a good thriller either, but they’re groovy entertainment nevertheless.
Accuracy Rating: 10/10
Evening Telegraph – 1994
Great television programmes never die, they just go to TV Heaven, where those nice people at ITC Home Video re-issue them for our viewing pleasure.
All that’s best in 60’s and 70’s cult TV can be found on ITC. Out this month are four new episodes from the excellent ‘Man In A Suitcase’. Also out is a new ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) collection, and a wide range of ‘Department S’ videos, if the recent episode on BBC2 has whetted your appetite for more Jason King.
Accuracy Rating: 10/10
Video Trade Weekly – 1994
Get your velvet jacket out of mothballs, shake out your flares and watch out for those wide lapels!
Jason King is back. Just in time to cash in on the 70’s revival the flamboyant writer/detective who first appeared in the hit 60’s series, ‘Department S’ is back. As played by PETER WYNGARDE, the ultimate smoothie who won the Best Dressed Personality Award in 1970, Jason King is back on two video’s released by ITC. Each features two episodes and will be available for £10.99.
- He won it in 1971 as well.
Accuracy Rating: 9/10
The Daily Star – 1994
BBC2 dusts of the joss-sticks, fumigates the Afghan coat and celebrates a host of classic comedies, dramas and great sporting moments in an unashamed day of nostalgia on Monday. ‘One Day In The 60s’, from 11.45am to midnight, unearths ‘Adam Adament Lives!’ with Gerald Harper as the Edwardian detective, dripping from an icy tomb to fight crime in the 20th century with only a swordstick for company, and Sixties sex symbol, PETER WYNGARDE, polishes up his medallion  as flamboyant thriller writer-turned-super-sleuth, Jason King.
- In the name of all that’s holy, not this old chestnut A-GAIN! I’m getting weary of saying this… PETER only wore a medallion in one episode of Department S (The Man From X), when he went undercover at a nightclub. Clearly, one this author’s Scrunchies was too tight, and she couldn’t think straight!
Accuracy Rating: 5/10
The Radio Times – 1994
PETER WYNGARDE starred as Jason King, the flamboyant thriller-writer who doubled as an investigator for Department S, in this and the early-70’s spin-off, ‘Jason King’. No job is too dangerous, no gadget too complicated, no Paisley shirt too loud for Interpol’s most secret weapon in the battle against crime.
Editors Note: Paisley Shirt or a hemp necklace and dungarees with one strap left undone down? Mmmm – difficult one this….
Accuracy Rating: 8/10
The Daily Express – 1994
On Monday four stories are re-issued for the first time in 22 years on two video’s, ‘Jason King – Chapters 1 & 2 (ITC, PG £10.99), with more to follow later in the year… if you’re man enough to take it.
Accuracy Rating: 10/10
Sky TV Guide – June 1995
PETER WYNGARDE’s outrageously trendy clothes and even more outrageous hairstyle, are the real stars of this Sixties classic (Department S). WYNGARDE plays Jason King, best-selling crime novelist and member of a secret crime-fighting trio. His co-stars, Joel Fabiani and Rosemary Nichols. But WYNGARDE stole the show to such an extent that he was given his own spin-off series, ‘Jason King’.
Accuracy Rating: 10/10
The Radio Times – June 12th 1995
In March, the Radio Times asked which cult programmes you, the reader, would like to see repeated; the letters flooded in. Even the postman entered into the spirit, delivering the mail with a witty one-liner before scaling the walls of the building. It was if Simon Templar, Jason King, Adam Adament, the suave Persuaders – Danny Wilde and Lord Brett Sinclair, and their gallant, if shamelessly chauvinistic ilk, had never disappeared into the television history books.
You laughed, you cried, you eulogised… you fell in love: “I was 5 or 6 when I first saw PETER WYNGARDE as Jason King, and I had a huge crush on him even at that tender age,” admits reader, Amanda Long of Bristol. “I saw a one-off episode of Department S recently and, though it’s dated, PETER was ludicrously charming and witty. Watching him you wished there were more men like him”.
Accuracy Rating: 10/10
The Times – 10th June, 1995
One of the top ten ‘Cult’ series , according to a poll in the Radio Times last week, Department S, was first seen on ITV at the end of the 1960’s and was chiefly popular because of PETER WYNGARDE, who played a dandified character called Jason King, who was apparently able to solve impossibly baffling mysteries by growing his sideburns, and wearing ever more appalling suits and shirts.
Tonight’s adventure (Six Days), a planeload of passengers is hijacked en route from Rome to London and whisked off to… but to say more might spoil the surprise. You can ignore the plot and sit back to enjoy the extraordinary acting and clothes and the absence of logic. WYNGARDE’s impact was such that he was liberated from the Interpol sub-contractors Department S and given his own show: ‘Jason King’.
Editors Note: “Appalling shirts and suits”, exclaimed the man in the embellished jeans and Bum-Bag!
Satellite Times – June 1995
The title, Department S, describes a little-known, specialist division on Interpol which was brought into action when the most baffling of crimes or events occurred. The programme made a star of PETER WYNGARDE, who played the debonair author and sleuth, Jason King – a character which eventually got him his own series. At the time the programme was aired, Mr. King was just the sort of man that women would die for, and there’s evidence to prove it: Jason was the most popular name for male babies in the early 70’s! The character, wearing sharpe, velvet suits and frilly shirts, would examine the latest mystery to confront the team, and use the information and use the information and background material for his next Mark Caine adventure novel.
Although he acted as though there were a 1001 other places he’d rather be, you always knew he really enjoyed detective work, and Mr WYNGARDE is still as enigmatic today – he stole the show with a cameo appearance in a recent Sherlock Holmes TV adventure. Jason’s fellow employees were Stewart Sullivan (played by Joel Fabiani), and American who was always getting knocked unconscious after a particularly vigorous fight, and Annabelle Hurst (Rosemary Nicols), a computer genius with an analytical brain. Rumour has it that script editor, Dennis Spooner, would write the bizarre two-minute pre-credit opening teasers, before giving them to his team of writers to do with them what they could.
Accuracy Rating: 10/10
Radio Times 1996
Jason King – author, private investigator and offshoot of ‘Department S’, was the personification of the Seventies man. Sporting a ludicrous moustache, flamboyant shirts, velvet catsuits  and the largest medallions , he leapt from bed to bed, purring catchphrases like, “Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down until it passes”. It’s now the most popular show on Bravo, so turn on, tune in and dust off those flares.
Errors and Corrections:
- I’d give real money to the first person who can show me evidence of PETER wearing a “velvet catsuit” in either ‘Department S’ or ‘Jason King’!
- The old ‘Medallion’ chestnut again (Yawn!). Pathetic!
Accuracy Rating: 3/10
The Daily Mirror – 1996
Any man who can conduct a criminal investigation in a full-length mink coat, a flared Prince of Wales check suit  and a bright mauve cravat deserves a second look.
Yes, PETER WYNGARDE is stepping out again as super-suave novelist-cum-detective, Jason King. The only thing criminal here are the plots while the fights are laughable, while some of the acting is so wooden it’s unreal. But that all counts for nothing because, boy, does Jason have style.
From his carefully clipped moustache to his often alarmingly-loud shoes , the man oozes class. This week’s episode involves a typically unlikely jaunt behind the Iron Curtain. It was entitled ‘To Russia With… Panache’. Need I say more?
Errors and Corrections:
- Nope. Never seen Jason in a Prince of Wales check suit.
- “alarmingly-loud shoes”? Nor them either.
Accuracy Rating: 6/10
New Jensen, no ’tache required
Orders are now being taken for the new version of the Jensen Interceptor, the favourite car of 1970s TV detective Jason King:
Taken from The Times
Someone get Jason King on the Trimphone — a new version of the 1970s TV detective’s favourite car, the Jensen Interceptor, is here. First deliveries of the Interceptor R began this month, with the Oxfordshire restorer Jensen International Automative (JIA) hoping to build a further 18 this year. The company has no links to the original Jensen Motors, which went bust in 1976.
JIA describes its new vehicle as a “modern interpretation” of the British supercar. Each Interceptor R is rebuilt from a stripped-down donor car, with new suspension, transmission, brakes and interior, plus a Chevrolet Corvette 6.2-litre V8 producing 429bhp — enough for a top speed of 160mph and a decidely modern 0-60mph time of less than 4.5 seconds.
I’m afraid Jason never drove a Jensen Interceptor. His car of choice was a Bentley Continental! Oh, dear!
Take note, Tony Blair: why jewellery looks so bad on men
They think it makes them more youthful. In fact, it shows us they’re desperate
Article published in The Spectator
The real rot probably started back in the 1970s, when Jason King, the fictional TV detective, first draped three pounds of bling around his neck and prowled the fleshpots of Europe. As played by Peter-Wyngarde, he became the maharajah of the medallion men; he was the randy dandy, the ladykiller with a Zapata moustache who could never quite be trusted with the sherry bottle or your daughter. Since then, men who heavily invest in gold necklaces always have a whiff of the lothario about them, a hint of gangland, a whisper of try-too-hard, no matter how undeserved that might be.
“I only ever wore a medallion ONCE in an episode of Department S entitled ‘The Man From X’. That was when Jason went undercover in a nightclub”. PETER WYNGARDE
The above nonsense was written by Jan Moir of the Daily Mail, which speaks volumes!!!
THERE’S NO FOOL LIKE AN OLD FOOL!
Classic British Television Of The 60’s, 70’s & 80’s (Facebook group)
The knuckle-draggers were out in force on the Facebook page of ‘Classic British Television of the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s’ recently, after one person posted a photograph of PETER, which was promptly followed by a barrage of derogatory and mindless comments.
Completely oblivious to the fact that they were showing their own ignorance to a much greater extent than they were insulting PETER, these morons displayed the old adage of ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’ to its extreme, with each member of the baying horde first sniffing his predecessors backside, then attempting to post something even more insulting or provocative. It ended up with one particular individual – a character by the name of Carl Ireland – implying that PETER is a paedophile.
This kind of victimisation is indicative of a 17th Century Witch Hunt, whereupon one individual – armed with only the most tenuous, unverified information, would point his or her finger at some unsuspecting chump and cry Witch”. Immediately, every mindless idiot in the village was doing the same. I believed that this kind of senseless behaviour died out with Matthew Hopkins. Evidently I was wrong.
Given the subject matter of the Facebook group in question, it should be assumed that the demographic of its membership must be 45 years and upwards, so we’re not taking about irresponsible teenagers here. These are middle-aged people, probably with respectable lives and careers, who wouldn’t otherwise say “boo” to a goose. However, once they secrete themselves away in their back bedroom to log on, the anonymity of the Internet affords them the opportunity to say and do whatever they please without, they assume, any consequences. This includes the libelling of well-known personalities.
The fact is that if anyone one of these clowns were challenged to validate their comments, they’d be unable to do so – save to say that they’d read this or that in a newpaper, etc. The fact is they know F**K ALL, but mouth off nonetheless. It’s certain that not a single one of these cowards would have the guts look PETER in the eye and say these things. But when they’re sitting behind the prism of a computer screen, or are running with a pack of other silly old fools, they have all the bravado necessary.
Every last one of the names that were complicit in this shameful attack have been noted. ALL will be reported to Facebook and the Administrator of this particular group. Some have been identified as perpetrating libel. Specific individuals will, we hope, will be forced to face Mr WYNGARDE in court.
These kind of trolls, bullies and blackguards SHOULD NOT and CANNOT be allowed to run roughshod over someone, just because they’ve heard a whisper of a story that was misreported to begin with, and has been added to repeatedly over time to become something far more grubby than it ever was to begin with. If people are forced to take responsibility for what they say on the Internet, then perhaps they’d learn to think before opening their deluded and filthy mouths!
DEFENDING THE INDEFENCEABLE
Comments from members of the Official Peter Wyngarde Appreciation Society:
Part of me thinks it’s pointless arguing with someone who firstly doesn’t understand the difference between fact and fabrication and secondly isn’t even aware of which forum he’s discussing it on. The other part of me thinks it’s important to correct such blinding and damaging ignorance, even though it’s a knocking your head against a brick wall syndrome. You can’t reason with stupidity.
Having met PETER, it’s not difficult to see why the ladies love him. He has a charm and charisma that is appealling to everyone. I met him when I was with my fiancée in Birmingham last year. That meeting whereby he charmed my fiancee, coupled with his truly magnificent film and TV career are the reasons I admire him. I have no interest in what stunted people with negative viewpoints say or think. They should neither be seen nor heard. They are vexations of the spirit.
WHEN YOU’RE HOT YOU’RE HOT
There is always one member in any group of blokes, who stands out in the crowd through his style and personality. ‘Flash’ is a common adjective used to describe such individuals.
I am talking here of young men, and a time gone by when trouser waistlines got as low as the hips and that was it. Not shapeless strides that look as if they have an urgent appointment with your ankles.
The only builder’s bums you saw then, were um, well builder’s bums. The resident ‘Jack the Lad’ in our group was Alan.
Alan had Italian antecedents and although he was brought up in England, he still retained a very slight but alluring accent. Alluring to the girls that is.
He took for granted his popularity with women, and whilst the rest of us had to work hard to attract the opposite sex and continuously come up with new and corny chat-up lines, Alan would simply swagger over to his target, lift his eyebrows suggestively, and he was in.
Even his swagger and eyebrow actions were delivered with a Mediterranean accent. A television series of the time was called ‘Department S’ and the main character, Jason King, was played by the actor PETER WYNGARDE.
This oily devil wore sharp suits and sported fashionable long hair and a Zapata moustache. And he always had a babe on his arm or in his Bentley Continental. Alan and Mr WYNGARDE could have been brothers and attended the same school for smooth operators.
I stayed with my old friend in England recently, and nothing has changed. Whilst age has been a bitter enemy of mine, it seems to have simply ignored Alan and moved on to richer pickings.
During my stay he would swan around wearing a granddad shirt, faded blue jeans held up with braces, and scuffed desert boots. And dammit, he looked great.
When I returned home it inspired me to buy a pair of braces on Playa Flamenca market and try to emulate the look. The result was a fair photofit of what the father of Worzel Gummidge must have looked like. The Princess thought I had finally flipped.
But that’s the way it is with blokes like Alan. When you’re hot you’re hot, and if you’re not you’re not.
IS THERE LIFE OUTSIDE THE BOX BY PETER DAVIDSON
(Autobiography): John Blake publishing
Davidson devotes several paragraphs to PETER in his autobiography when referring to the making of the four-part Doctor Who episode, ‘Planet of Fire’.
Quite inconsiderately, the 5th Doctor repeatedly misspells PETER’s name, by omitting the ‘e’ at the end of ‘WYNGARDE’ (it’s even listed incorrectly in the index), which displays an utter lack of respect.
The former All Creatures Great and Small star claims that, once cast in the role of Timinov, PETER’s agent contacted director, Fiona Cumming, to inform her that his client wished to play the character as an “old man”. It’s said at the time that both Cummings’ and Davidson agreed that he WAS and old man! In actual fact, PETER had just turned 50 when the episode(s) was filmed on Lanzerote. Not exactly what you’d describe as archaic. Ms Cummings’ was, herself, only four years younger at 46.
It’s implied that the costume PETER wore – which is described as looking like something from Lawrence of Arabia – was designed especially for him. Anyone who has seen this particular episode will have noted that all the actors playing the inhabitants of Sarn, where the story is set, wore similar costumes(!).
The author also maintains that PETER “hadn’t worked much” prior to his playing Timanov. In actual fact, he’d worked constantly since taking to the stage as a juvenile, and during the decade leading up to his appearance in Doctor Who, had appeared in two feature films, directed and starred in eleven plays which were performed both internationally and on national tours of Britain, and recorded four television programmes – including the aforementioned Doctor Who story – i.e.
- Water, Water, Everywhere (play) at The Royal Pavilion Music Room, Brighton 1974
- Present Laughter (Play) – British National Tour 1974
- Dracula (play) – British National Tour 1975
- Time and the Conways (play) – The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guilford 1975
- The Merchant of Venice (play) – The English Theatre, Vienna 1975/76
- Dear Liar (play) – The English Theatre, Vienna 1976
- Big Toys (play) –The English Theatre, Vienna 1976
- Anastasia (play) – British National Tour 1976
- The Merchant of Venice (play) – British Tour 1976/77
- Deathtrap (play) – The Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa 1978
- Himmel, Scheich und Wolkenbrunch (film)
- Flash Gordon (film)
- Underground (play) – The Royal Alexander Theatre, Toronto, Canada and British Tour 1983
- Crown Court (TV) 1984
- The Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense: And the Wall Came Tumbling Down (TV) 1984
- The Two Ronnies 1984 Christmas Special (TV) 1984
I wouldn’t like to think how PETER might’ve coped if he’d been busy!!! Perhaps Mr Davidson should try THINKING outside the box rather than trying to live outside it!
IS THAT REALLY JASON KING, THE SUAVEST MAN ON TV?
Written by James Tapper for The Daily Mail
Once he was an international sex symbol, regularly mobbed by screaming girls and boasting a clutch of ‘best-dressed man’ awards.
But when Seventies television star PETER WYNGARDE was spotted out shopping near his West London home last week – clad in knitted hat, camouflage jacket, wrinkly leather trousers and scruffy trainers – it was clear his fashion sense had deserted him a long time ago.
WYNGARDE – now 76 – made his name playing a suave crime author and investigator with a penchant for groovy chicks in the cult adventure shows Department S and Jason King. With his flamboyant suits, bouffant hair and lush moustache he soon became one of the best-known characters on television.
WYNGARDE’s heart-throb status once led to him being mobbed by 30,000 hysterical women at Sydney airport, and he even had his own fashion column for women in a daily newspaper.
His adventures as Jason King were a send-up of spy and detective dramas such as The Saint and The Avengers – a typical plot would see King drive his Bentley to a country mansion where he would drink champagne with the owner and flirt with his attractive daughter before arresting everybody.
Daily Mail caption: When Seventies television star PETER WYNGARDE was spotted out shopping near his West London home last week it was clear his fashion sense had deserted him a long time ago.
He once said: ‘I decided Jason King was going to be an extension of me. I was inclined to be a bit of a dandy – I used to go to the tailor with my designs.’
WYNGARDE camp style was later adopted by the comic Mike Myers as the basis for his own spoof-sleuth creation, Austin Powers.
But WYNGARDE’s career ran off the rails in October 1975 when he was fined £75 for gross indecency, under his real name Cyril Louis Goldbert**.
And it emerged in a 2007 biography of actor Alan Bates that WYNGARDE had been living a double life. WYNGARDE was married briefly in his 20s, but had an affair with Bates that is said to have lasted ten years.
Their relationship is believed to have begun in 1956, after Bates made his debut in Look Back In Anger at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
‘I drank myself to a standstill. When I think about it now, I’m amazed I’m still here.’
As a child, WYNGARDE was interned by the Japanese in a prisoner of war camp – the same camp where Empire Of The Sun author J.G. Ballard was held.
No! This is the actor, PETER WYNGARDE, who played a CHARACTER called Jason King on TV over 40 years ago! Duh!
This article is unbelievably poor, even by Daily Mail standards!
Once again, we have a lazy journalist relying on misinformation from unauthorised biographies – i.e. ‘And it emerged in a 2007 biography of actor Alan Bates that WYNGARDE had been living a double life. WYNGARDE was married briefly in his 20s, but had an affair with Bates that is said to have lasted ten years’*. Alan Bates: Otherwise Engaged by Donald Spoto. (The content of this book is currently in dispute).
*This would suggest that PETER and Bates were together from 1956 until 1966. In fact, from 1959 until 1961, he was in an open relationship with Vivien Leigh. He was then lived with another lady – Ruby ******* (she appears on the Electoral Roll as resident at his address) from 1961 until 1965. Go figure!
**Same old yarn about PETER’s career “going off the rails” (see above piece on Peter Davidson’s book, ‘Is There Life Outside The Box’ to see how far off the rails his career fell!
PETER was married for seven years. Other’s in the entertainment industry have been married for much shorter periods, but issue is not made of that. Evidence, once again, of spin and innuendo.
Even Tapper’s attempt at humour was mainly plagiarised from The Comic Strip Presents… Detectives On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown (1993) ‘His adventures as Jason King were a send-up of spy and detective dramas such as The Saint and The Avengers – a typical plot would see King drive his Bentley to a country mansion where he would drink champagne with the owner and flirt with his attractive daughter before arresting everybody’.
PETER himself wrote a letter to this hack to point out that he’s played hundreds of characters, both before and after Jason King, but doesn’t walk around dressed as them either. He was probably wasting his time in putting pen to paper, since the idiotic columnist probably wouldn’t have the intelligence to comprehend what was being said to him.
TAKEN FROM ‘SHAPERS OF THE 80’s: BRITISH YOUTH CULTURE AT IT’S FINEST’
Emma Peelpants is a keen-eyed blogger who plunders magazine and retail archives in search of 60s clothes and the whole vulgar, vibrant style of that swinging decade. Once in a while, she has a mensday and today she exhumes that male stereotype, “the heel” — the overbearing, amoral lothario who 40 years ago fancied himself rotten and treated women as playthings. Miss Peelpants publishes a hideously recognisable illustration of a heel from a copy of the teenage magazine 19, dated 1972, where one such sophisticat is grinding his heel into a bevvy of scantily clad girls. 19’s Guide to Recognising a Heel shows the just-got-out-of-bed coiffed hair, the bandito moustache, the whisky-and-cigarette in one hand, plus total absence of a smile, which he would have deemed too uncool.
To anybody of a certain age, the dandy in the illustration is all too visibly based on the actor PETER WYNGARDE who shot to fame playing exactly this kind of international playboy in two late-night TV espionage series at the dawn of the 70s, Department S and Jason King. These expressed notions of contemporary glamour by being set in airports and beside Riviera pools. Their action-hero won awards as the “Best Dressed Man In Britain” while Sun readers voted him the “Man With the Sexiest Voice on Television”.
What Emma links us to is possibly the most offensive song ever recorded by a star considered suave in his day. The one-off “comedy” album for RCA in 1970 was titled PETER WYNGARDE and billed as dwelling on “the darker side of human behaviour”. It was said to have been withdrawn from sale after four days. Unbelievably it was re-released on RPM in 1998 retitled When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head with a “Don’t buy this” warning on the sleeve. As a model of appalling bad taste it not only leaves no innuendo unturned, but contains one track actively celebrating rape.
Lest we doubt that political correctness has delivered a few benefits over the years, the Lipstick Thespians have posted this number on YouTube. For those who wish to avoid hearing WYNGARDE’S ripe spoken-word rendition, the Thespians have posted the full wince-making lyrics (words and music by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE). Many people feel that the actor met his just desserts when he wrecked his career in what politicians euphemistically call a moment of madness in 1975. He’s still alive and kicking and signing autographs, now aged 77.
(Above): The article from 19 magazine
Oh, dear – where do I start?!
This mess of an article is typical of the kind of nonsense churned out by those who know little or nothing about the subject they’re writing about. To begin with:
- Neither Department S nor Jason King were “late-night TV espionage series”. They were originally broadcast around 8pm, and repeated in the afternoon.
- The re-issue of PETER’s album on CD – released under the title ‘When Sex Leers It’s Inquisitive Head’ never, EVER carried a “Don’t buy this” warning on the sleeve.
- PETER’s career was not “wrecked”, as suggested. He actually worked almost continually after the so-called “moment of madness in 1975”, and received most of his most of his most enthusiastic plaudits from critics during that time.
Perhaps a “Do not bother reading” sticker should be attached to the abovementioned website!
‘THE INNOCENTS’: BOOK BY CHRISTOPHER FRAYLING (BFI CLASSICS – PALGRAVE MACMILLAN)
EXCERPT: ‘For the ghosts, Clayton cast the Australian-born stage actress Clytie Jessop, in her first film role, as Miss Jessel – she would later work with Freddie Francis again on Nightmare (1964) and Torture Garden (1967) – and the dark, saturnine PETER WYNGARDE as Quint. Variety (20 March 1961) reported that the young Peter O’Toole had agreed to appear in The Innocents – presumably as Quint – but he was released, to become Lawrence of Arabia (1962). WYNGARDE had recently starred in an adaptation of South (1959), the first television drama to deal with an explicit homosexual theme. Despite his public image of a Don Juan figure it was widely known in the business that he was gay.’
This book is intended to tell the story of Jack Clayton’s gothic masterpiece, The Innocents, and does so very well. However, the above passage is entirely needless, not to mention completely out of context with the rest of the volume, which is meant to describe the process of making the film. Nowhere else in this softback edition is there mention of the supposed sexuality of any of the other cast members, so it can only be assumed that the author included this passage for controversy’s sake and no other.
A letter of complaint concerning this matter was forwarded to the publisher, The British Film Institute (BFI), who concurred with the concerns contained in it and agreed to discuss it at a forthcoming meeting of the Literary Department.
By the time that PETER was cast as Peter Quint, he’d already appeared in well over 150 television, radio and stage plays, portraying everything from sea captains to Medieval knight’s; murders to Dickensian heroes. Nevertheless, Frayling was only able to make mention of one production – South, which afforded him a platform for another agenda.
It’s clear where Frayling took the line ‘…it was widely known in the business that he was gay.’ This ‘One-Source-Fits-All’ mentality immediately smacks of indolent journalism. The ‘Don Juan’ reference surly relates to the Jason King-era, which came many years after the making of The Innocents. At the time this film was being shot, PETER had not long come out of a six-year marriage to the actress, Dorinda Stevens; had been in a three-year relationship with Vivien Leigh, and was then living with another lady in West London.
The sad thing is that Dr Frayling had shared a stage with PETER at a Nightwaves Special about The Innocents at the BFI, which was broadcast live by BBC Radio 4 on Monday, 2nd December, 2013, knowing full well what he intended to include this paragraph in his book.
While we might expect to find such snide comments in tabloid newspapers on a daily basis, is it not too much to ask that so-called “respected” authors rise above this wretched, timeworn sensationalism and stick to the facts?
Gavin Stewart Gaughan: Semi-Regular Contributor to The Independent and The Guardian Newspaper
The above-named wannabe columnist joined The Hellfire Club – The Official Peter Wyngarde Appreciation Society, in 2015 for the sole purpose, it emerged, of posting regular defamatory, homophobic slogans on the Groups’ Facebook page. To date, we’re still not entirely clear as to what Gaughan’s agenda was, and whilst his campaign of animosity towards PETER was not carried out under the auspices of either The Guardian or Independent newspapers, his actions undoubtedly brought the name of those particular publications into disrepute, if only by association.
Gaughan’s Mundus Operandi was, primarily, to post the same inflammatory message repeatedly on the ‘Site, for which he was recurrently warned. When his attention-seeking antics went unnoticed by the Group, he then began reproducing specially-chosen excerpts from showbiz biographies and other reference books in an attempt to provoke a reaction from either myself or the rest of the group.
When finally he was barred from The Hellfire Club in August 2016, he responded by posting a number of unfounded accusations against me on his personal Facebook page, in addition to making the following statement: “STOP MAKING UP LIES ABOUT AN ELDERLY GAY MAN” (we assume that this was meant to be a reference to PETER, although the content has no grounds). To anyone outside of PETER’s immediate circle, such a grandiose proclamation would suggest that Gaughan had intimate knowledge of Mr WYNGARDE’s private life – privy only to those closest to him. It transpires, however, that this character had neither met nor so much as spoken with PETER, which would imply that the sum total of this cosy familiarity was founded entirely in Gaughan’s own mind.
Further claims and retaliatory remarks were made by Gaughan and his associates* about PETER and myself in an open conversation on his Facebook page in the days following his removal from the Society – the majority of which were shot down in flames both by myself and others.
One of those arraignments concerned an article I’d posted on the Hellfire Club Facebook page several weeks earlier, which related to the story of a Paternity Suit brought against PETER in the 1970’s. Gaughan advocated that I’d fabricated the story in an attempt to airbrush over what HE believed to be PETER’s true sexuality. Since then, however, I’ve found a letter – written in PETER’s own hand, which recounts this story. The section is reproduced here in full, along with a typed version for easier reading.
Is it any wonder, given the attitude of just this one misinformed, self-absorbed little ‘man’(!), that PETER has experienced such a torrid time courtesy of the British press? Gaughan is merely an imitator; a bargain-basement wannabe with dilutions of grandeur, but is still indicative of the crudeness and inability of the bog-standard hack to see past his or her own self-interest. The laughable bit is that this odious nonentity actually advocated reporting me for perpetrating a ‘Hate Crime’, after I referred to him as a “Sad little queen”. This was subsequent to his spending a year-and-a-half posting offensive, homophobic slogans on our Website! The hypocrisy of his outrage had clearly gone clean over his head.
It makes me wonder what Mr Amol Rajan and Ms. Katherine Viner – Editors of The Independent and The Guardian, respectively, would think if they knew that one of their semi-regular contributors had devoted so much time harassing and abusing other people on a public forum? How ironic that, whilst these newspapers were reporting on new laws to help bring Internet Trolls to justice, one of their own was using Social Media to persecute, libel and aggravate.
*After Gaughan had been banned from The Hellfire Club, a ‘Tony Guy’ joined the Group and immediately set about continuing the campaign of posting bigoted mottos on our Website. He was subsequently removed, but it didn’t end there. I was then contacted via our Society email address by either one of Gaughan’s cronies, or by Gaughan himself posing as someone else, when an attempt was made to garner personal information from me. The line from moronic nuisance to stalker had been crossed.
‘Actually, it’s not the first time (and probably not the last) that I’ve been involved in paternity suits. Did I tell you about the girl in Vienna? She got it into the papers and took me to court – I’ve never understood why it never made bigger news here but it was headlines in Germany and Austria. Must have been a St Helens win week! There were 3 judges and I defended myself.
It was a very simple defence – one of the judges had never seen Jason King so an episode was shown – I think it was flamingos – the first of the JK’s and I’d been away on holiday before starting and had a magnificent tan (the best cosmetic facelift going). I said gentlemen you have eyes, you have ears – and I picked up this sleeping brat and stood him up in front of me like a ventriloquists dummy (who he resembled alarmingly) can you honestly say in your heart that I would be capable of siring such a child? I rest my case.
At first there was a stunned silence and then suddenly the whole court burst out laughing (much to my relief. I knew the Austrians were slow on humour (not as slow as the Germans) and it being a court of law they are so programmed as a race…. But when they applauded I knew the case would be thrown out. It was the judge who’d never seen me on TV who felt most that I’d made my point. The brat was really hideous and even if a DNA test had proved he was mine I’d have drowned him at the first opportunity’.
Damn You, Scarlett O’Hara, The Private Lives of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
By Darwin Porter and Roy Moseley, (Blood Moon Productions)
The infamous divorce of Lord and the first Lady Olivier is analyzed in tantalizing detail. And whereas Olivier escaped into the arms of Joan Plowright, whom he eventually married, Leigh lived with actor Jack Merivale, who witnessed first-hand her final mental and physical deterioration. During her final stages, she sustained a brief sexual fling with actor PETER WYNGARDE, with whom she was appearing in the West End play, Duel of Angels. WYNGARDE discovered her running nude one night in the gardens of central London’s Eaton Square, where soon after she encountered a policeman. “Go home,” he told her. “There’s no way in bloody hell I’m going to arrest Scarlett O’Hara for public nakedness.”
This “brief sexual fling” actually lasted for over three years; longer than most Hollywood marriages!
From the now defunct ‘Behind the Beard’ Blog
‘… gay actors would often invent a supposed ex-wife to act as a smokescreen. They’d decline to name this mythical lady, saying that they were merely doing his best to protect her from the unwanted glare of publicity – adding that she lived somewhere abroad. PETER WYNGARDE is a case in point, since he had always refused to discuss his supposed ex, saying only that she now lived in Rome’.
In fact, PETER met Dorinda Stevens (born Dorothy May Stevens) when he was working in rep. at The Grand Theatre in Southampton in the mid- Fifties. Dorinda was a native of the town and was just starting her own career as an actress when The London Players arrived in town.
The Company, who’d been booked to perform four plays at The Grand: Love From a Stranger, Murder Without Crime, Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee and Young Wives Tale over the course of seven weeks. Dorinda who, herself had connections to the theatre, met PETER when the troupe were out on the town following an evening performance.
PETER said that Dorinda was a rare beauty and that all guys fancied her – including Laurence Naismith and William Macilwraith who were part of the Players. “She was the most beautiful girl on the block, “PETER said, “and I got her!”
When their run at the Grand ended and the London Players returned to the capital, PETER and Dorinda spoke ever day over the phone, and would see each other at least once a week.
Whilst on holiday in Sicily that Summer, they decided to get married and found a little church near the coast. PETER said the priest in this tiny village when the two of them arrived, dressed only in beachwear and asked to be married.
When they returned to Britain, the couple managed to find a flat in the centre of London, which was convenient given that Dorinda had started to secure some film work, so it was easy for her to reach the studios in Hertfordshire. However, when PETER was asked to do a run at the Bristol Old Vic, Dorinda moved back to her parents in Southampton so she could be closer to him. After he came off stage every night without fail, he drive the 60+ miles to Hampshire to be with his wife, and then return the following morning in time for the matinee performance.
The longest amount of time they spent apart during those days was when PETER went to Spain to work on Alexander the Great. He did, however, write and call every day, and she’s often fly out to see him at weekends.
The marriage began to fall apart as most actors relationships do because of the time the two inevitably had to spend apart. PETER also blames their ages at the time they got hitched: “We were both far too young. All we did was have sex all day. Other than that and the acting, we didn’t have much else in common”.
The two remained friends after their divorce, and would exchange birthday and Christmas cards every year until her death.
Gavin Stewart Gaughan: Semi-Regular Contributor to The Independent and The Guardian Newspaper
Our old ‘mucker’ (correct spelling!), Gavin Stewart Gaughan, recently pointed to a passage from an autobiography by the actress, Carol Cleveland*, who described how she’d occasionally accompanied PETER to events – describing him as a very shy man.
As is typical of this particular amateur scribbler, he put 2 & 2 together, and came up with a total of 95 – referring to Ms Cleveland as “WYNGARDE’S ‘Beard” (he’d obviously been reading the aforementioned ‘Behind the Beard’ blog). In the paragraph referred to here, Ms Cleveland gave no indication as to how long a period of time she attended dinners and other occasions with him.
Evidently, it didn’t occur to Gaughan that she might only have been describing a brief interlude in PETER’s life when he wasn’t in a relationship? I’m sure that many celebrities, following the break-up of their marriage/long term relationship, invite a friend to escort them on a night out. Only the most desperate of minds would leap to any other conclusion – especially as PETER was seen out with a succession of different women – not all of them actresses. Again, this is another example of an individual seeing exactly what they WANT to see!
*POMPOMS UP! by Carol Cleveland
Published by Dynasty Press June 2014.
PETER on an evening out with actress, Linda Thorson
From Martin Buckley’s (supposed professional journalist) blog: 4-Car Top 10 Cars
Jason King: Bentley Continental This was a follow-on series for PETER WYNGARDE, the Australian actor who played the hunky, spunky Jason King. King was a thriller writer who solved crimes as if he was writing the plot of one of his books. As usual the scripts took the character all over the world but when the action moved to swinging London King would be seen swishing around in his Bentley Continental. With his flamboyant clothes and trendy moustache WYNGARDE was quite a heartthrob yet cut such a slender, effete figure that the fight scenes always seemed rather unlikely. Jason King wasn’t the success Department S had been and in any case WYNGARDE’s career was cut short by an incident in a gentleman’s lavatory. The character was parodied by The Comic Strip in the late eighties as ‘Jason Bentley
- PETER isn’t Australian!
- ‘With his flamboyant clothes and trendy moustache Wyngarde was quite a heartthrob yet cut such a slender, effete figure that the fight scenes always seemed rather unlikely’. PETER actually has a black belt in Karate, and could knock almost anyone out if he meant to.
- As for him being “effete”: As a child, he managed to survive four years in a Japanese P.O.W., which would suggest that he’s far tougher than Mr Buckley would have us believe!
- His career wasn’t cut short for any reason. Typical piss-poor, lazy journalism!
From the Trevor Miller Blog
American Screenwriter, Author and Journalist
Jason King was played by an Australian heart-throb, PETER WYNGARDE. Forget Austin Powers. This guy was the real deal. Not only a gourmet chef, and raconteur – in 1971 – the King show made WYNGARDE the most famous man in the U.K. When he arrived once at Heathrow airport, he was mobbed by thousands of female fans. He was voted the sexiest man alive in the British Press. Rumors abound that WYNGARDE had been involved with Vivienne Leigh, and numerous of his female co-stars.
Another example of lazy journalism. PETER is NOT Australian!
From ‘The Billen Interview’ – The Guardian 7th August, 1997
Andrew Billen visits author JG Ballard in his peeling semi to discuss class, feminism and the material world
Ballard is not being pious and he is, anyway, in little danger of being damned as politically correct. In 1973, when he was still thought of as a science fiction writer, he published Crash, a novel celebrating the eroticism of car smashes. The kinkiness of Crash, and of some of his other works (one, featuring the Kennedy assassinations, is called The Atrocity Exhibition), reminds me of a fairly weird interview I once conducted with the actor PETER WYNGARDE. The one-time Jason King had talked about his preference for ‘sadistic’ sex. I am reminded because WYNGARDE and Ballard were in the same internment camp.
‘Oh,’ Ballard says when I mention it, ‘I don’t think that sort of thing affects your sex life. I’d have thought it needed to be much more personal than that, but then I don’t have any strain of S&M in me, so I wouldn’t know.’ Is it true, as Lynn Barber wrote, that he used to show off photographs of his girlfriend’s car-crash injuries at dinner parties? ‘Of course it isn’t,’ he says.
PETER did NOT say “sadistic sex”. He actually said “Sophisticated sex”.
The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/