The Saint starred Roger Moore as Simon Templar. The fictional detective and thief was created by Leslie Charteris in the 1920s and featured in many novels and novellas over the years. Moore drove a white Volvo P1800 on the show with a license plate reading "ST1". 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 owing to his television commitments. In one early episode of the series, a character actually mistakes Templar for 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 his own.
Although Moore had a few recurring co-stars, most notably Ivor Dean, who took over the role of Templar's nemesis/reluctant ally, Inspector Teal, he was the only actor to feature for the entire run of the show. 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 programme. Inspector Teal had been previously played by Norman Pitt and Wensley Pithey. From the episode "Iris" (7 Nov 1963), Ivor Dean took over. He had previously starred as a bad guy in the series, in the "Hollywood" episode.
The Saint began as a straightforward mystery series, but over the years adopted more secret agent and fantasy-style plots. It also made a well-publicised switch from black-and-white to colour production midway through its run. The early episodes are distinguished by Moore breaking the fourth wall and speaking to the audience in character at the start of every episode. With the switch to colour, this 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 were based upon Charteris's stories, although a higher percentage of original scripts appeared as the series progressed ("Queen's Ransom" was both the first colour episode and the first episode not to be based on a Charteris work). 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 scripts were 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 series of novelisations continued for several years after the television programme had ended.
The producers of the movie went to the Jaguar Company to ask for a free car in return for the publicity that would follow a successful television series. Jaguar refused, so the producers went to Volvo which was more than happy to risk one P1800 coupe, and the publicity, as it turned out, far outweighed the value of the car.
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