The Saint (TV series) explained

Show Name:The Saint
Runtime:60 min.
Creator:Leslie Charteris
Producer:Robert S. Baker
Monty Berman
Roger Moore (uncredited)[1]
Supervising Producer:Johnny Goodman
Peter Manley
Malcolm J. Christopher
Opentheme:Edwin Astley
Story Editor:Harry W. Junkin
Starring:Roger Moore
Network:ITV, NBC
First Aired:(Dates for UK airing)
October 4, 1962
Last Aired:
February 9, 1969
Num Episodes:118 (list of episodes)

The Saint was a long-running ITC mystery spy thriller, airing in Britain on ITV between 1962 and 1969. It centered on the Leslie Charteris literary character, Simon Templar—a Robin Hood-like adventurer with a penchant for disguise.

Because of the strong American performance of the initial black-and-white seasons in first-run syndication, NBC picked up the show as a summer replacement on its evening schedule in 1966. Thus, the programme ended its run with both trans-Atlantic prime time scheduling and colour episodes. It also proved popular beyond America and Britain, eventually premiering in over 60 countries[2] [3] . With almost 120 episodes, the programme is exceeded only by The Avengers as the most productive show of its genre produced in Britain.

Series overview

The Saint starred Roger Moore as Simon Templar, the fictional detective created by Leslie Charteris in the 1920s and featured in many novels and novellas over the years. Moore drove a white Volvo P1800 during the series. Moore's portrayal of Templar was considered a training ground for his later work as James Bond. He was reportedly offered the role of 007 at least twice during the run of the series, but had to turn it down both times due to his television commitments. In one early episode of the series, a character actually mistakes Templar for James Bond.

Roger Moore had earlier tried to buy the production rights to the Saint books himself and was delighted to be able to play the part. Moore eventually became co-owner of the show with Robert S. Baker when the show moved to colour and the production credit became Bamore Productions.. Most of the wardrobe Moore wore in the series was actually his own.

Although Moore had a few recurring co-stars, most notably Ivor Dean as Templar's nemesis/reluctant ally, Inspector Teal, he was the only constant performer for the entire run of the series. This was in keeping with the later format of the Charteris novels wherein the Saint usually worked alone; in early books, however, Templar had a team of compatriots (as well as a regular girlfriend) but these characters do not appear in the series.

The series began as a straightforward mystery series, but over the years adopted more secret agent and fantasy-style plots. It also made a well-publicized switch from black and white to colour production midway through its run. The early episodes are distinguished by having Moore break the fourth wall and speak to the audience (in character as Simon) at the start of every episode; with the switch to colour, this gimmick was replaced by simple narration. Invariably, the pre-credits sequence ended with someone referring to the Saint as "the famous Simon Templar", at which point an animated halo appeared above Templar's head as the actor usually looked at the camera -- or directly at the halo. Some episodes such as "Iris" broke away from this formula and had Templar address the audience for the entire pre-credits sequence, setting up the story that followed.

Many episodes of the series were based upon Charteris' stories, although a higher percentage of original scripts appeared as the series progressed; the novel Vendetta for the Saint (credited to Charteris but written by Harry Harrison) was one of the last Saint stories to be adapted. Some of the later stories were later novelised and published as part of the ongoing series of The Saint novels, such as The Fiction Makers and The People Importers. The first of these books -- which gave cover credit to Charteris but were actually written by others -- was The Saint on TV and the novelisations continued for several years after the series ended.

The series has been syndicated for many years, and reruns of the program aired to high ratings on CBS in the late 1970s. Most seasons of the series are available on DVD in North America. The company releasing The Saint in Region 1, A&E, initially was not planning to release the black and white seasons, but changed its mind due to public demand. A pair of two-part episodes from later seasons, Vendetta for the Saint and The Fiction Makers, were compiled into feature films which were distributed to theatres in Europe and often show up on late-night television in America; they are also available on DVD.

In 1978, the series was revived as Return of the Saint, starring Ian Ogilvy as Templar. Moore never played the role again after 1969, though he can be heard speaking on a car radio during the 1997 film The Saint, starring Val Kilmer as Templar. Although the film bore little similarity to the TV series, the executive producer of the film was Robert S. Baker, who developed and produced both The Saint and Return of the Saint.

Filming Locations

In the tv series The Saint lives in London, though the exact address is never revealed, and is seen traveling to locations across London, the UK and around the world. In reality this was not the case, as the whole series was shot at Associated British Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire[4], with very few scenes shot on locations outside of the Elstree Studios site. This was achieved by making extensive use of the sets at Elstree Studios, advanced (at the time) blue screen technology to simulate different locations in the background, painted or projected backdrops, as well as revolving painted backdrops for moving scenes. Lookalikes were used for location shoots where The Saint is seen in the distance entering a well known building or driving past the camera at speed[5] .

Fan Club

The Saint and its books have a fan club created originally by Leslie Charteris for the fans of the series. The club falls under the control of honarary chairmen Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy. The club marks significant events in the news of the series, these include publications of its books or other information on the series.


Main article: List of The Saint episodes.

DVD Releases

A&E Home Video released The Saint with Roger Moore on DVD in Region 1. They have released The Saint - The Early Episodes, Set 1 includes all Season 1 & The Saint - The Early Episodes, Set 2 includes the first 16 episodes of Season 2 (black & white), and Seasons 5 & 6 (Colour) include all episodes in seasons 5 & 6. The remaining episodes in Season 2 and Season 3 & 4 have not been released in Region 1 as of late 2008.

In Region 2, Network DVD has released two multi-disc sets, with all the monochrome episodes available in an 18-disc set, and all the colour ones separately in a 14-disc set. The colour set includes both the theatrical versions of the two double-length stories, as well as the original 50-minute two-part versions. Also included are a 40-minute documentary and isolated music tracks. Prior to this, Carlton Video had released four separate discs, the first one with the first two episodes, and the rest with four episodes each. There is also a 10-disc set that repackages the previous four discs alongside six more, containing the first 39 monochrome episodes.

Umbrella Entertainment in Australia has released the entire series in five boxed sets with six discs each. These are in PAL format, but with no region code (typically, Australian DVDs are a Region 4 code). The boxsets feature numerous extras including a series of audio commentaries recorded in 2004 with surviving members of the cast and crew, ranging from guest stars through to Roger Moore.

The series is also available on DVD in France and Spain.

See also


  1. Official Roger Moore website's accounting of Moore's satus as producer of The Saint
  2. Television Haven overview of The Saint
  3.,9171,844733,00.html?promoid=googlep Time magazine article from 18 April 1969 detailing the premiere of the then-new season of The Saint
  4. The Saint TV Series
  5. UK Colour Series DVD Release, disk 8, special feature documentary "The Saint Steps In...To Colour", narrated by Roger Moore

External links