An affectionate look at some of the bloopers in Peter’s films and TV series
Strange as it may sound to our younger readers, back in the olden days, if you wanted to watch something on telly, you had to do it at the time it was broadcast. There was no such thing as being able to catch your favourite programme an hour later on +1, and there was certainly no iPlayer or SKY+; no videos, DVD’s or Blu-Ray’s either, so you’d see a television series once and once only. That was it.
One of the irritating thing’s about this was that if you thought you’d seen something dubious on screen, like spotting a character with a Beehive in one scene, and then them appearing completely bald in the next, you couldn’t just rewind live TV to make sure your eyes weren’t deceiving you.
It was clear by the number of continuity errors in TV programmes of the 1960’s and 70’s that directors/editors etc. expected these shows to be broadcast only once – possibly twice – so they didn’t worry too much about the odd blooper here and there. Certainly, no one could’ve foreseen that within the coming years, everyone would have VCR’s in their own homes, and that these series would be pored over and scrutinised ad infinitum by fans. Indeed, by the mid-1980’s, ‘Nit-Picking’ had become an international sport.
When the first episodes of ‘Department S’ and ‘Jason King’ were released on VHS in the early 1990’s, a whole list of continuity errors were identified. Here are some of the more obvious ones and the episodes in which they appeared.
Firstly, Department S…
♦ Probably the most error-strew episodes of Department S is ‘Six Days’. For instance, when Jason and Annabelle are in the airline’s office at London Airport listening to a recording of the missing planes’ radio communications, Jason goes to stand at the window. He has a lit cigarette in his left hand and a glass of Scotch in his right. He lifts the glass and takes a sip, but as he lowers the glass again, it’s moved from his right hand to his left, and the cigarette has disappeared.
♦ When Walsham drives up and stops outside his flat, he notices Jason’s maroon Bentley parked in the street to the rear of where he pulls up. We’re shown that Annabelle is in the car alone, but when we’re given Walsham’s point-of-view through his own rear-view mirror, both Jason and Annabelle are in the Bentley.
♦ Annabelle and Jason are in the Bentley, staking out a house in central London (or at least she is; he’s snoozing in the passenger seat!). A black cab arrives to pick up their quarry, and the two take off after him. First Annabelle is driving the Bentley, but as they come to a road junction, Jason is at the wheel. However, when the cab stops to drop off its passenger and the Bentley pulls up behind it Jason (or at least a stand-in!) gets out of the passenger-side door, and follows his target into a London Underground station.
⇑ Jason driving the Bentley… now it’s Annabelle!
♦ In the pre-title sequence of ‘The Pied Piper of Hambledown’, the pub landlord’s daughter is looking through the window of one of the vacant houses in the village, where she sees an unfinished breakfast on the kitchen table. However, we’re told later on in the story that the villager all disappeared during the night – i.e. approximately 00.55, as her alarm clock and peek through her bedroom window testifies.
♦ In the same episode, Annabelle organises the investigation into the missing villagers with some female associates, when a shadow of a microphone boom following her across the pub lounge, and can be seen clearly above the door just before Jason enters.
♦ Still in ‘…Hambledown’, – towards the end of the same episode, we see Susan’s father, who’s at the holding centre, reading a copy of ‘Index Finger, Left Hand’, The photograph of Jason King on the back of the book is a face-on portrait. However, when Jason picks the book up, the photo’ of the author is now in profile. The picture then returns to its original position in the next shot when the book is handed back to Susan’s father.
♦ ‘The Ghost of Mary Burnham’: When Jason is posing as an Irish window cleaner in order to get into the villains flat, he gets out of the lift carrying a ladder, his bucket is clearly empty (save for a cloth). However, when he’s seen and is instructed to get on and clean the windows, the bucket is suddenly full of water!
♦ ‘Who Played The Dummy?’: When Annabelle rescues Jason from the cafe, the white Jaguar they escape in is first a left-hand drive, then a right-hand, and latterly a left-hand again!
♦ In ‘A Ticket To Nowhere’ Lisa Crane, the Karate expert manages to dispatch Stewart Sullivan swiftly with her finely-honed skills, but seemingly forgets all about her Martial Arts prowess when she loses a cat-fight with Annabelle Hurst later on. It would appear that the amnesia-packed plot affected the script writer, too!
♦ In ‘One of Our Aircraft Is Empty’, when Annabelle is abducted from her hotel room, she’s wearing a dark top and trousers. However, in her very next scene, when her captor brings her to the place where Stewart and the other passengers are being held, she’s suddenly wearing a yellow jumper and skirt.
♦ Also, when the passengers on board the plane are about to be sent to their death, Chalmers punches a protesting Finch on the left-side of his face. However, Finch is clearly seen clutching the right-side. Even Annabelle Hurst is convinced Finch is correct, as she applies her handkerchief to the man’s right temple.
♦ In ‘A Cellar Full Of Silence”, Jason is lying on a couch in the Department S office with an obviously empty ice-bag on his head, having been knocked unconscious in an earlier scene. Annabelle and Stewart arrive, and the team begin watching a cine film of a university Rag. While they discuss the case, Jason can be seen in the background putting on a pair of sunglasses, and then reaching over to get a glass of Scotch from an occasional table. He places the glass on his lap, and lifts the ice-bag up with his right hand. In close-up, however, the ice-bag is still on his lap, then back in his hand as he’s seen again in the background. He now puts the bag on the occasional table. Yet, when we once more go to close-up, Jason is still taking ice from the bag which is once more resting on his lap, and putting it into the glass. In the final background shot, the ice-bag is on the table!
♦ ‘The Trojan Tanker’: It’s undoubtedly that PETER’s voice has been dubbed on where Stewart Sullivan exclaims “Il belle sola”, after throwing down the parasol in the beach scene.
Unfortunately, ‘Jason King’ didn’t fare any better in the blooper stakes as you’ll see…
♦ PETER clearly fluffs his lines in the pre-title sequence of ‘A Deadly Line In Digits’, when he’s seen sitting at a table outside a café near the ski-run – arguing with Ryland. He has to stop in the middle of the line: “I’m recovering from physical exhaustion!” to include the prior line which he seems, momentarily, to have forgotten: “Well, that’s presumptuous. I’m no longer with Department P, Q, R or S!”). He then repeats the line in its entirety.
♦ In ‘Variations On A Theme’, the footage cuts back and forth for a considerable time from exterior location shots to interior studio shots. One moment in the exterior shots, PETER’s hair is wavy and unkempt, the next (in the studio), it’s styled and perfectly groomed, as well as being a good inch or two longer.
Of course, ‘Department S’ and ‘Jason King’ weren’t the only series to feature such mistakes. Keeping to the PETER WYNGARDE theme, here are a few of the blunders that managed to remain in the Prisoner episode, ‘Checkmate’:
♦During the aerial view of the Village during the opening sequence of the episode, there is no sign of the human chessboard, yet moments later, it’s all laid out and the players on it.
♦ The chess move “Knight to Queen’s Bishop Three” is called, and appears to be completed by a ‘Pawn’, yet there’s no ‘Pawn’ in the appropriate square.
♦ When Number 6 appears to be filling in a crossword, it looks as if the puzzle has been pasted into a regular newspaper, as there’s an article in it which mentions various driving offenses and the Worcestershire town of Kidderminster!
♦ When Number 6 and ‘The Rook’ approach the Villager who’s painting the wall for the first time, a man’s voice can be heard in the shouting “You alright there, Fred?”.
♦ During the Word Association test at the Hospital, the ‘Nurse’ (Number 39) is holding a notebook, which disappears in the following close-up. But after Number 6 says (“Free”) “For All”, the book is back in her hand.
♦ When Number 2 has spoken to ‘The Rook’ on the beach, the latter is wearing his badge. However, when he walks across to the tent, the badge has gone, but it reappears once he’s inside the tent.
♦ ‘The Queen’ is sitting on a rock while talking to Number 6 about her locket. But when the Supervisor sees her a second or two later, she’s paddling in the water, before she’s momentarily spotted back on the rock.
♦ At the end of the episode, when No.6 is fighting with the crew of the Polotska, we see Number 2 drumming his fingers on the top of his shooting stick, and then clicking a button on the control panel using the point of his umbrella. However, in between these shots, when Number 2 is shown sitting in his chair, he doesn’t have the umbrella/shooting stick with him.
♦ When Number 6 punches one of the Guardian’s up in the Bell Tower, there’s the sound of a large splash, despite the Tower being nowhere near the sea.
♦ After the struggle between Number 6 and the crew of MS Polotska and Rover arrives to accompany the ship back to shore, none of the unconscious crewmen can be seen anywhere.
And what about the episodes of The Avengers in which PETER guest starred…?
♦ ‘A Touch of Brimstone’: Right at the beginning of the episode, when Sir John Cleverly Cartney pours himself a drink, there’s no chocolates on the arm of his chair. But when the camera cuts to him sitting in front of the TV, the box has suddenly appeared on the chair arm. We then cut back to Cartney as he is selecting one of the chocolates which he has carefully placed along the arm of his chair!
♦ In ‘Epic’, during the scene where Emma Peel has a six-shooter pistol and fires several shots at Stewart Kirby in the guise of a Red Indian, she discards the gun in the buckboard. Later, when she’s walking through the back lot and comes to a notice on the electrified fence, the previously discarded weapon is back in her hands. Still later, when she runs into the policeman, the pistol has disappeared again.
♦ Also in Epic”, at the end of the fight between Emma Peel and Kirby in the guise of a Confederate soldier, PETER swings a punch past Diana Rigg’s head, but she reacts and then pretends to be unconscious.
Of course, the type of gaffes described above weren’t confined solely to television series. Big-budget feature films are often strewn with blunders and slip-ups. Take ‘Night of the Eagle’ (‘Burn, Witch, Burn’) for example…
♦ After the giant eagle has smashed through the main door of the college to pursue Professor Taylor, we see the door back in one piece in a later shot.
♦ At the very beginning of ‘Flash Gordon’, Emperor Ming and General Klytus are discussing “An obscure body in the SK system”, which the inhabitants refer to as the planet “Earth” – which pronounced as if the word is completely foreign to them. However, at that moment, Klytus activates a button on his console labelled ‘Earthquake’.
♦ Also on the console amongst the choice of catastrophes, Typhoon and Hurricane are listed as separate items. Typhoons and Hurricanes are the same weather system and are just called by different names around the globe.
♦ After Dale and Flash take off from Dark Harbour, they fasten their seatbelts as turbulence begins, but when it gets really bad, Dale jumps into Flash’s lap without unfastening her seatbelt.
♦ As the capsule carrying Flash, Dale and Zarkov crash lands on Mongo, and one of Ming’s guards looks through a porthole into the craft, it seems that he’s just outside. However, the next shot reveals a crowd of guards, but they’re behind the ship and far away from the capsule.
♦ When General Klytus tells Flash and Dale that they have until “The sands run up” to say their goodbyes. Dale is distraught when she sees that the Timer is about to run out, she tries to turn it over, but there’s far more sand in it than when she first looked at it.
♦ After their escape from Mingo City, Princess Aura is showing Flash how to fly the ship in which they’re travelling to Arboria. She tells him that, “The left lever controls direction, and the right controls altitude”. Moments later while still flying, Flash gets angry at Aura for not showing him how to use the thought amplifier, so he shoves the left lever forward. The ship responds by going into a nose-dive.
♦ When Flash is on Arboria, he sees the initiations ceremony of a young Arborian man, who bleeds light green blood when he’s bitten by the Wood Beast. However, when Prince Barin fights Flash at Sky City later on, his blood is red.
♦ After General Kala announces the execution of Zarkov and Barin, there’s a small scene when the gold faced guards are lined up and ordered to march by their superior in a distorted voice. The voice matches the mouth movements of the superior for several words, then doesn’t as his mouth is closed. However, the voice continues to sound off.
♦ After the bloody fight between Prince Barin and Flash at Prince Vultan’s Sky City, both emerge without a single scratch on them in spite of sustaining numerous cuts from whips and spikes.
♦ In the same fight, Flash’s shirt (which he’d been wearing on Arboria) goes from clean to dirty and then clean again.
♦ During the wedding sequence, Prince Barin is charging around Ming’s Palace with a ray gun. He’s seen at one end of a corridor when three guards appear from around a corner at the opposite end. He promptly shoots one of them. When we next see him, Barin and the remaining two guards have switched positions (Barin is now standing over the body of the guard whom he initially shot down).
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