|Created by||Karl Heinz Zeitler|
|Theme music composer||Siegfried Franz|
|Opening theme||Siegfried Franz|
|Country of origin||Germany|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Executive producer(s)||Horst Lockau|
|Production company(s)||Hamburgische Film- und Fernsehproduktion|
|Original airing||March 19, 1969|
Percy Stuart was the protagonist of a legendary German TV series (1969–1972).
Percy Stuart tried to fulfill his father's last wish by becoming a member of his father's English club and in order to get accepted he has to prove that he is worthy. Since some of the members do not like the idea he is confronted by a number of actually impossible missions. Whenever he fails them once he has start all over again. On his missions he is accompanied and observed by solicitor Reginald Prewster (Horst Keitel) who always eventually has to report to the club how it went.
Percy Stuart acts very self-confident and venturesome but still he is also a son who respects his fathers wishes. His father on the other hand seems to have offended the ultraconservative members of the Eccentric Club by leaving Merry Old England in order to make a fortune in the New World (and even more by succeeding in doing so). Even though some of the accredited club members act repeatedly downright grumpy, Percy Stuart would always remain nonchalant.
The Eccentric Club
It is hardly a mere coincidence to find Snyder, Pommeroy and Winterbottom among the names of the members. Their names are familiar to many Germans thanks to the comedy sketch Dinner For One and were so already back then. When the series about Percy Stuart started, the very sketch was already that famous in Germany that even after several decades it is still broadcast on every New Year's Eve. To combine cherished clichés about Britons had already been a formula for the success of the many German Edgar Wallace feature films.
Cast of the Eccentric Club
Due to the typical content of the show, which included a great deal of action, Percy Stuart wore the nickname "The German James Bond".
Pre-history of the series
Actually Percy Stuart was much older than Ian Fleming's famous creation. The character goes back to the times before World War I. The first adventures of Percy Stuart were published as pulp fiction in 1913 and described his colourful efforts to become accepted as member of a lodge called the "Eccentric Club" which consisted of high-ranked military officers and civil servants and other influential members of the British upper class. Percy Stuart was the glorification of a British gentleman and his missions could sometimes be described as one-man raids. Subsequently and somewhat understandably the contemporary German authorities regarded this form of entertainment as no longer appropriate once Great Britain had joined World War I and fought against the imperatorial Germany. So Percy Stuart stopped being a British lord and was instead described as an American millionaire.
Anglophile German TV audience
The TV show about Percy Stuart was very much a brainchild of the German zeitgeist of that time. Other films and TV shows featuring Anglo-Saxon protagonists had been very successful. Germany's popular actor Heinz Rühmann had already played Dr. Watson once and Father Brown even twice. Also very profitable was a German series of 32 feature films which were produced by Rialto and were all based on Edgar Wallace's novels. On TV the series The Avengers or "With umbrella, charme and bowler hat" (which is the translation of the German title "Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone") was perceived with enthusiasm, had countless re-runs and is celebrated till today. Shows like The Saint (in Germany: Simon Templar) or Danger Man (in Germany: "John Drake) also found their audience. German TV had also had such a remarkable success by adapting various books of Francis Durbridge that each mini-series after Durbridge was called a "Straßenfeger" (street-emptier) because there would not be anybody left in the streets when they were broadcast.
Becoming a TV legend
After 52 episodes which were often physically demanding even for the athletically skilled Claus Wilcke and which moreover had to be produced within tight schemes and budgets, its cherished star Claus Wilcke turned his back on the increasingly more violent show, decided successfully to return to stage acting, founded a family and worked later also successfully as a voice-over actor (which is in Germany, where people are used to dubbed TV shows, a highly respected profession). Besides all that he is a popular guest star for current TV series. His co-star Horst Keitel (not related to Harvey Keitel ) acted a little later in a similar TV show called "Im Auftrag von Madame" ("By Order Of Madame") and Butler Parker, another successful pulp fiction protagonist, also entered the TV screen (1972–73) but at last it was evidently proven that the TV show "Percy Stuart" and its success had been sui generis.
In 2009 a long-awaited restored version of this series, which had had so many re-runs, was finally published. The DVD collection is enriched by documentaries and interviews.
- This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.