Wednesday 24 May 2017


From the dog days of the VHS era: the Carlton (remember those guys?) release of the SAINT 'movie' THE FICTION MAKERS, starring - of course - Roger Moore.

It's a long time since I've seen this faux feature film (shot with an inflated budget and designed to air as two episodes of the TV show OR as a theatrical presentation in some overseas markets) but - from memory - it contains a fair few nods to the BOND franchise.  But, of course, pretty much everything featured a Bond or spy riff in the sixties.  But it still makes for fun viewing.  

I was lucky enough to see Moore in person a couple of times... once at the Barbican for a special screening of his film THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (a fun thriller which I think he was the film he was proudest of) and again on the South Bank for a talk to launch one of his books.  Both times - years apart - I found him to be an absolute gentleman with an amazing humour and an amazing ability to spin a good yarn without really being mean to anyone.  If you were casting the ultimate dinner party, you would want Roger at that table.  And probably Joan Collins as well.  

Last night I took the time to watch THE PERSUADERS! episode 'A Death in the Family' by way of a farewell... a good choice because it was the last episode of the glossy early 1970s ITC series to go before the camera... and because Moore has some fun playing other members of the Sinclair family.  

That got me thinking about which Moore film to watch at the weekend.  And it made me realise that I'm spoilt for choice.  Even if you discount the BOND franchise, he made so many other films that fall perfectly into the 'good fun watch' file... CROSSPLOT, SHERLOCK HOLMES IN NEW YORK, THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF, NORTH SEA HIJACK, THE WILD GEESE, THE CANNONBALL RUN, GOLD.  The list just goes on and on...

CARLTON, who joined the ITV system in the 1990s when they replaced Thames Television, were quick to realise that programme rights, format rights and intellectual property was a vital way of supplementing the more flakey income from selling airtime on commercial TV.  So they went around buying up various old film and programme libraries including Rank and ITC.  The material proved useful slot fillers for their digital spin-off channels as well as their VHS and DVD operations.  Carlton eventually merged with hitherto arch-rival Granada (the two had, between them, carved up the regional ITV network but - despite the battle to become the main player - still had to pull together to keep the network, and hair-brained spin-offs like On Digital/ ITV Digital, ticking over) to form ITV PLC.  The Granada name hung on for a while whilst Carlton's non-core assets (book publishing, cinema advertising, broadcast technology) were sold off and the name seems to have all but retired today.  

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