Department S (TV series)

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Department S
Alt=Full screen Red letter S with the word Department in the centre of letter.
Format Spy-fi
Created by Dennis Spooner
Monty Berman
Developed by Dennis Spooner
Starring Peter Wyngarde
Joel Fabiani
Rosemary Nicols
Dennis Alaba Peters
Theme music composer Edwin Astley
Composer(s) Edwin Astley
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 28 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Monty Berman
Cinematography

Frank Watts

Brian Elvin
Running time 49 mins
Production company(s) ITC production
Broadcast
Original channel ATV
Picture format 35 mm film 4:3 Colour
Audio format Mono
Original run 9 March 1969 (1969-03-09) – 4 March 1970 (1970-03-04)
Chronology
Followed by Jason King

Department S is a United Kingdom spy-fi adventure series produced by ITC Entertainment. The series consists of 28 episodes which originally aired in 1969–1970. It starred Peter Wyngarde as author Jason King (later featured in spin-off series Jason King), Joel Fabiani as Stewart Sullivan, and Rosemary Nicols as computer expert Annabelle Hurst. The trio were agents for a fictional special department (the "S" of the title) of Interpol. The head of Department S was Sir Curtis Seretse (Dennis Alaba Peters).

Production and influence[edit]

"When a case proves too baffling for the minds of Interpol, they turn to the talents of Department S." – from the ITC trailer for the series.

The series was created by Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman, although neither wrote any of the episodes. Episodes were instead written by ITC veterans such as Terry Nation and Philip Broadley. Many of the directors on the show had also worked on several other ITC shows – The Saint, Danger Man, The Protectors and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Like many ITC shows Department S gained cult status.

The series was filmed on 35mm and designed, like all ITC's film productions, to fit the United States commercial format. Unusually, however, the episode title, writer and director credits appear before the opening title sequence, though after the theme tune has started. With a few exceptions, the principal cast is always studio-bound. Some exteriors are represented by studio buildings, while the rest mainly consist of second-unit footage using doubles where necessary. Exotic locations are usually established by the use of stock footage. To cut costs further it was produced back to back with Randall and Hopkirk (deceased).

The character of Jason King was the basis for Jason Bentley (Peter Richardson) in the 1993 Comic Strip Presents film Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Details[edit]

Department S was a section of Interpol with an office in the Paris headquarters that investigated international cases other crime agencies were unable to solve. Sir Curtis Seretse, an international bureaucrat, was in charge of the team.

Stewart Sullivan was the head of Department S, taking instruction from Seretse. Sullivan did much of the leg work, confronting the criminals. Jason King was the ideas man, but also helped in the field. King was often seen with beautiful women before being called in on an assignment but had no permanent love interest in the series. King's sideline was as an adventure novelist. He managed to use details from their cases to write his novels. A playboy with a woman in every city, he had once been married to a woman named Marion who had died in a plane crash (episode A Fish Out Of Water).

Annabelle Hurst was a computer expert taking an analytical role in investigations. However she also went on assignment as a conventional investigator, sometimes appearing in many seductive, glamorous disguises. There were hints of romantic interest between Sullivan and Hurst.

DVD Releases and Repeats[edit]

The first two episodes of Department S were released on a now deleted DVD in Britain by Carlton Television (now ITV plc). Department S was released on DVD in Australia by Umbrella Entertainment in a box set. This version is in PAL with no region code. Network released the series on DVD in the United Kingdom [1] featuring many exclusive extras including commentaries and part of a documentary series also covering Jason King: Wanna Watch a Television Series? Chapter One: Variations on a Theme.

A repeat run of Department S began on ITV4 in November 2005, alongside a large number of similar ITC productions.

Cast[edit]

Episode list[edit]

Filming took place between April 1968 and June 1969.

Airdate[1] is for ATV Midlands. ITV[2] regions varied date and order.

Production number here refers to ITC synopsis guide number and the order in the Network DVD booklet.

Episode # Prod # Title Directed by Written by Original airdate
1 5101 "Six Days" Cyril Frankel Gerald Kelsey 9 March 1969
When an aircraft goes missing for six days and the crew have no recollection of events, Department S investigate. 
2 5102 "The Trojan Tanker" Ray Austin Philip Broadley 16 March 1969
A crashed tanker with a room built inside and a girl unconscious who disappears before help arrives. 
3 5116 "A Cellar Full of Silence" John Gilling Terry Nation 23 March 1969
Department S are called after four dead men are found in a cellar, wearing fancy dress. 
4 5110 "The Pied Piper of Hambledown" Roy Ward Baker Donald James 30 March 1969
When an entire village disappears overnight except for one girl, Department S are called. 
5 5103 "One of Our Aircraft Is Empty" Paul Dickson Tony Williamson 6 April 1969
An airliner lands at Heathrow and the crew and passengers are missing. (Made back to back with Six Days). 
6 5118 "The Man in the Elegant Room" Cyril Frankel Terry Nation 13 April 1969
When a dead girl and a demented man are found in a room inside a disused factory, Department S investigate. 
7 5117 "Handicap Dead" John Gilling Philip Broadley 20 April 1969
When a tournament golfer is found dead on a nearby beach, Sullivan investigates. 
8 5121 "A Ticket to Nowhere" Cyril Frankel Tony Williamson 27 April 1969
A disappearing scientist and the death of a financier are linked, but Jason and Stewart keep forgetting about the case to the despair of Annabelle. 
9 5115 "Black Out" Ray Austin Philip Broadley 17 September 1969
A chef and food critic is found unconscious in the Mexican desert and cannot recall the last three days. Is there a connection to the American space program? 
10 5119 "Double Death of Charlie Crippen" John Gilling Leslie Darbon 24 September 1969
An assassination attempt leaves only a dummy as the victim and Department S has to discover who the real target is. 
11 5120 "Who Plays the Dummy" John Gilling Tony Williamson 1 October 1969
When a car crashes and the sole occupant is a dummy in the driving seat, Department S follow the trail to an imminent attack on N.A.T.O. senior officers. 
12 5123 "The Treasure of the Costa del Sol" John Gilling Philip Broadley 8 October 1969
Two dead fisherman and a haul of plastic fish containing $100,000 leads to a painter and engraver. 
13 5107 "The Man Who Got a New Face" Cyril Frankel Philip Broadley 15 October 1969
Department S investigate when a man is found dead with a clown's mask glued to his face and the trail leads to a vicious vendetta. 
14 5112 "Les Fleurs du Mal" Cyril Frankel Philip Broadley 22 October 1969
Three plastic flowers contain a coded message that will lead to the proceeds of a bank robbery, but there are interested parties ready to kill for the flowers. 
15 5104 "The Shift That Never Was" John Gilling Donald James 25 October 1969
With one exception, every member of staff of a chemical factory take a day off. The one man who went to work is murdered and the trail leads to a beauty parlour and a nuclear power station. 
16 5111 "The Man from X" Gil Taylor Tony Williamson 5 November 1969
A man clad in a spacesuit staggers in a London street and, unable to remove the jammed helmet, suffocates. Department S investigate and the only clue is the man has slight radiation burns and had been in vacuum. 
17 5106 "Dead Men Die Twice" Ray Austin Philip Broadley 12 November 1969
Department S find that 'dead man' can die twice when a man is murdered twice three years after his double had been murdered. 
18 5122 "The Perfect Operation" Cyril Frankel Leslie Darbon 26 November 1969
A surgeon performing a delicate brain operation on a senior British civil servant is forcibly removed and another surgeon enters and completes the operation saving the man's life. Department S investigate the only surgeon capable of doing the operation but he is Russian and too old. 
19 5124 "The Duplicated Man" Paul Dickson Harry W.Junkin 3 December 1969
A double agent is killed, but is he really dead after he has spent ten years cultivating a second identity to escape from his masters? Department S investigate closely followed by enemy agents. 
20 5113 "The Mysterious Man in the Flying Machine" Cyril Frankel Philip Broadley 10 December 1969
A man is found murdered in a mock up aircraft in a warehouse. The team wonder why anybody should go to so much trouble. A message left scrawled on their car is the only clue. 
21 5108 "Death on Reflection" Ray Austin Philip Broadley 17 December 1969
Head of Department S, Sir Curtis Seretse is astonished to see a mirror at auction sell for four times its value and when the buyer is murdered asks the team to investigate. 
22 5127 "The Last Train to Redbridge" John Gilling Gerald Kelsy 14 January 1970
Multiple murders on a tube train lead Department S to criminal speculators attempting to tap the hot line between the US President and the UK Prime Minister. 
23 5126 "A Small War of Nerves" Leslie Norman Harry W.Junkin 21 January 1970
A fanatical scientist who has developed a deadly nerve gas threatens to wipe out London unless governments take notice and agree to live in peace. 
24 5109 "The Bones of Byrom Blain" Paul Dickson Tony Williamson 28 January 1970
A chauffeur arrives at his destination only to discover his passenger has disappeared, leaving only his skeleton behind. Department S investigate and discover the chauffer's skeleton and the same fate awaits Sir Curtis Seretse and Jason King. 
25 124 "Spencer Bodily is 60 Years Old" Leslie Norman Harry W.Junkin 11 February 1970
Spencer Bodily is dead, he looks 20 but must be at least 60 and there is no record he ever existed. The body disappears and Department S suspect there could be more cases of 'eternal youth'. 
26 5105 "The Ghost of Mary Burnham" Cyril Frankel Harry W.Junkin 18 February 1970
John Burnham is tormented by the ghost of his wife shortly after she is shot and killed. He is a brilliant economist and is someone trying to unbalance him to prevent him taking an important job. Department S has to find out why before he is driven insane. 
27 5114 "A Fish Out of Water" Cyril Frankel Philip Broadley 25 February 1970
When an Interpol agent is found dead, Jason King is sent to take over his mission to crack an international drug ring. Jason realises he has been identified and his life is in danger. Stewart and Annabelle are sent to back him up. 
28 5128 "Soup of the Day" Leslie Norman Leslie Darbon 4 March 1970
When a crate of soup is stolen from a bonded warehouse, Department S suspect smuggling but when they locate the stolen soup cans, all are intact and contain only soup. A case of double cross. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dates from ITC Episode guide issued with the Network DVD
  2. ^ History of ITV

External links[edit]