Peter Wyngarde as Jason King – the Bentley-driving international man of mystery 

Mannix Knight
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The place – Paris. The time – late 1960s. The look – generally groovy. For those cases that are “inexplicable, baffling and illogical” and involve international fiends who bring terror to the world (or at least Elstree Studio) only the skills of Department S will suffice.

The operation is masterminded by Sir Curtis Seretse (Dennis Alba Peters), assisted by the ex-CIA agent Steward Sullivan (Joel Fabiani), the computer expert Annabelle Hurst (Rosemary Nichols) and, of course, the author and bon viveur Jason King, played by the late Peter Wyngarde

When Department S entered production in 1968 Wyngarde was a high-regarded leading character actor, whose sardonic wit and slightly menacing demeanour had enlivened many a TV production. The series was much in the tradition of ITC’s “International Men of Mystery” shows (stock footage of foreign locations, “border crossings” apparently made of cardboard and that footage of a white Jaguar Mk1 descending a cliff) but it was gleefully subverted by its star.

Wyngarde “decided Jason King was going to be an extension of me” and so our hero drove a Bentley S2 Continental Sports Saloon with James Young coachwork and dressed in a manner best described as uber-decadent. Whether confronted with a mad scientist played by a very young Anthony Hopkins (A Small War of Nerves) or a remote-controlled Jaguar Mk2 (Who Plays The Dummy?), King was always equal to the occasion.


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