Episode One: My Late Lamented Friend and Partner

Original Air-Date:
21/9/1969
Duration: 48'30m
Screenplay by: Ralph Smart
Directed By: Cyril Frankel
Availability: Try store



Starring: Mike Pratt (Jeff Randall), Kenneth Cope (Marty Hopkirk) and Annette Andre (Jean Hopkirk).

Guest-Starring: Frank Windsor (Sorrensen), Dolorez Mantez (Happy Lee), Harry Locke (Night Porter), Ronald Lacey (Beatnik), Anne Sharp (Fay Sorrensen), Anthony Sagar (Hotel Proprietor), Harold Innocent (Assassin), James Donnelly (Detective), Tom Chatto (Doctor), Makki Marseilles (Manservant) and Dave Carter (Electrician).

Technical Personnel: Ronald Liles (Production Supervisor), Gil Taylor (Director of Photography), Charles Bishop (Supervising Art Director), Cyril Frankel (Creative Consultant), Edwin Astley (Musical Director), Philip Aizlewood (Post Production), Bob Cartwright (Art Director), Stephen Cross (Editor), Ernest Morris (Production Manager), Jack Lowin (2nd Unit Director), Gerald Moss (2nd Unit Cameraman), Denis Porter/Len Abbott (Sound Recordists), Guy Ambler/Roy Lafbery (Sound Editors), Alan Willis (Music Editor), John Owen (Casting), Clifford Robinson (Set Dresser), Bill Greene (Construction Manager), Dave Harcourt (Camera Operator), Ken Baker (Assistant Director), Elizabeth Wilcox (Continuity), Peter Dunlop (Production Buyer), Elizabeth Romanoff (Make Up Artist), Olive Mills (Hairdresser), Laura Nightingale (Wardrobe Supervisor), A. J. Van Montagu (Scenic Artist), Frank Maher (Stunt Co-Ordinator), Chambers + Partners (Titles), Dennis Spooner (Creator/Executive Story Consultant) and Monty Berman (Producer). An ITC Production.

Jeff: Jeffrey Randall and Martin "Marty" Hopkirk run their own private investigation business, their office contained in the same building as, amongst others, "Clive Murray, Theatrical Agency", "Les Freds Recording Co. Ltd.", "Raclinco Co" and "Barry Solomons".
Jeff lives in the seventh apartment of a block, and is evidenced to be a keen guitar player. His car is a Vauxhall Victor, registration number RXD 996F.
Jeff Scraps: Jeff having a scrap - and losing - is a legendary part of the make-up of Randall and Hopkirk, though in this opening episode he only does it once, besting the beatnik in his hotel room.

Marty: Like Jeff, Marty is a regular smoker, and claims to be "always at least five minutes ahead of my appointments." A meticulous man, he's married to Jean "Jeannie" Hopkirk, who claims that Marty gets jealous when she spends time with Jeff. Marty drives a red mini, registration number BAP 245B.
After coming back as a ghost, Marty learns this episode how to walk through walls, teleport and blow objects. In an element rarely used again in the series, there's a wind sound effect and characters complaining about the drop in temperature when Marty's around in this one, and he's seen and hissed at by a cat. The rhyme that Marty quotes is: "Before the sun shall arise anew, each ghost unto his grave must go. Cursed be the ghost who dared to stay and face the awful light of day. He shall not to the grave return, until a hundred years be gone."

Story: Jeff is on a divorce case for a Fay Sorrensen, and presents her with approximately eleven photographs of her husband in intimate situations with other women. This includes pictures taken on 24th May (10:20pm), Sat 20th (10:15pm) and 11th June (2:20am). Mrs. Sorrensen plans to divorce her husband, knowing that he won't be able to keep hold of his business assets in the steel company where he works, as her father founded the company and she is a major shareholder.
Knowing this, Mr. Sorrensen contacts a firm specialising on contract killings on the number 0676750. (The appropriate response is to claim to have misdialed, being after number 9948000. The voice on the other end then asks what number the caller is on, to which the answer must be "Vincent 7542." This acts as a code to inform the contract killers of the person's credentials). With Jeff away on business, Marty travels to the Sorrensen's the next day, with the intention of speaking to Mrs. Sorrensen's solicitor with her present. However, before he can get to do so, Fay is electrocuted in her bath, a cable installed by a van outside (registration FGN 3650), masquerading as an electricity van.
Later, we see Marty speaking to four children on the street, who tell him about the cable leading up into the house - an activity seen from above by Mr. Sorrensen. Attempting to blame her death on her weak heart, Sorrensen then tries to cover his tracks by arranging to have Marty killed.
A Beatnik known as Mr. Hendy hitches a ride with a local club singer known as Happy Lee, then, when she grows tired of his conversation and drops him off half-way, he tries to hitch another lift with Marty outside his house. As Marty turns down any offer of giving the beatnik a lift, Hendy becomes witness to Marty's murder as he is driven down by a black saloon car. (For completeness' sake, the car's registration is EHP 416C, and the date/time of Marty's murder are later given as "Wednesday, 8:30pm"). The Beatnik leaps into the vehicle and wrestles a gun out of the killer's hand, extorting 500 from him in order to keep quiet to the police.
After attending Marty's funeral, Jeff tries to get some sleep, only to be woken at midnight by Marty calling him on the telephone. After alternately believing it to be a hoax and his imagination, Jeff manages to sleep until he awakes in a trance at 4am under Marty's influence, and drives down to the cemetery to meet him. There Marty tells Jeff he was murdered, and urges him to continue investigating. Jeff does so, speaking to Sorrensen, Happy Lee and the Beatnik. Finally he tracks down the fake electrician and driver, murdered in his home at 2B Tower House, Fulham Road.
Jeff and Marty decide that the only thing to do is to force Sorrensen to play his hand, so Jeff calls on him and demands 25,000 otherwise he'll go to the police with (non-existent) statement letters from Marty. Sorrensen goes straight to his accomplices to arrange Jeff's murder, whereby Marty blows a newspaper on their car windscreen, crashing the car, and leaving them surrounded by pre-arranged policemen. Unfortunately for Marty, he's stayed on the case for so long that daylight has broken, forcing him to walk the Earth for a hundred years, with only Jeff able to see or hear him.



Production Order: As so little behind-the-scenes information was unearthed on the series, it wasn't really until the 2008 Network DVD release of the programme that a production order was made widely available. Although exact dates aren't known, the entire series was shot between May 1968-July 1969. After debating whether to reorder this episode guide accordingly, I decided to keep it in the commonly-used "broadcast order", and instead list the production order as part of the guide. This is largely due to the fact that the wishes of the stars made the programme much more of a comedy as it went on, giving an odd balance to the series if watched in production order. Quite naturally, My Late Lamented Friend And Partner was the first episode to be filmed.

The Original Title Sequence: Up until the mid-1970s Randall and Hopkirk had a different title sequence to the one used on repeats and VHS/DVD releases. Created by Chambers + Partners, they featured Marty, Jeff and Jeannie around his grave with these lines of dialogue: "Jeff. It's alright, Jeannie can't see or hear me. Nobody can. Only you Jeff. Only you." Rediscovered in the late 90s they were placed as an extra on the second region 2 DVD, with the US titles (exactly the same, but the name of the programme altered to the feeble "My Partner The Ghost") on the third disc. The Anorak word on the subject is that while naturally material missing for such a long period of time would build up a mythical status, the original titles are some of the cheesiest I've ever seen, and I thank God that the infinitely more stylish replacement versions were made. Not only this, but there is also some doubt as to whether these were intended to be the original titles as ad break "bumpers" featuring shots from the most-known title sequence existed upon original broadcast. As a final Anorak pay-off, then the original titles ran a second longer at 0'46m.

Commentary: The 2008 Network DVD release of the programme features a commentary on this episode from Kenneth Cope, Annette Andre and director Cyril Frankel. Amiable and easy-going, their chat doesn't produce any huge insights, but does give an indication of the order of how it was made, with Cope revealing that he and Mike Pratt had pushed for the programme to become more comedic during the gap between Frankel directing this pilot and his returning to the series some months later. As Frankel went on to direct two of the most overtly comedic episodes (Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave and The Ghost Talks) it appears clear what issues are being addressed. All involved talk fondly of the series, particularly of Mike Pratt, and there's an intriguing moment where they bash the BBC remake, with Cope citing it as "totally unbelievable" and Andre as "it was such junk."

Trivia: Silent behind-the-scenes footage of this episode was included as an extra on the fourth region 2 DVD. Shot by a 2nd unit crew using stand-ins for the leads, the sequence ran to 53 seconds.

This is just one of seven episodes (along with Never Trust A Ghost, Murder Ain't What It Used To Be!, For The Girl Who Has Everything, But What A Sweet Little Room, The Ghost Talks and You Can Always Find a Fall Guy) not to feature the "Marty has a harpsichord in his back pocket" sound effect when he appears.

The first episode, and the first to feature the "torquoise mansion" set. A set reused so frequently throughout the programme's run that it reappears, redressed, at least thirteen, possibly fifteen, times.



Viewpoint:
"Free advice is rarely worth having."
"And good advice is rarely taken."


A wonderful ITC curio, combining fag-smoking, gin-soaked 60s nostalgia with far too loud incidental music and some ropy secondary cast members. This is a hugely likeable first episode, even if the rapport between the two leads isn't as good here as you perhaps remembered. Mike Pratt gets to grips with his character instantly, though Kenneth Cope (infamously wearing his wig back to front for the first few episodes) seems unsure how to pitch his performance.

The plot isn't the greatest the series ever had, as for one of the few times we're well aware from the start who actually did it and why, so we're left waiting for Marty and Jeff to play catch-up with the viewers. There's also the usual problems you might expect with exposition and so on, but generally this works extremely well at establishing the premise. Perhaps possessing more populist appeal now than it did when it was actually being broadcast, this quirky series has considerable charm and more than a touch of poignancy. The deceptively simple plot is wrapped up by no more than Marty blowing a newspaper onto a car window, but for a first episode this is more than good enough.