The Persuaders! Are two equally-matched men from different backgrounds who reluctantly team together to solve cases which the courts cannot. That was the pitch that Sir Lew Grade delivered to US television executives back in 1970. On the strength of this and without a single actor being cast the show was sold and television perfection was about to be created. Roger Moore as Lord Brett Sinclair and Tony Curtis as Danny Wilde produce the most perfect on screen chemistry. Together with John Barry‟s synthesised 6/4 time theme, and the Aston Martin DBS and Dino 246 GT it became, for me, the most perfect television series of all time. Action was plentiful and although no Stunt Coordinator was ever credited much of the action was arranged by Les Crawford and Frank Maher who also took many of the „heavy‟ roles in the series. Let‟s take a look at the action on this wonderful series and go behind the stunts. EPISODE ONE - OVERTURE Mysterious invitations lead millionaire playboys Danny Wilde and Lord Brett Sinclair to Monte Carlo, where a beautiful girl holds the key to a crime syndicate that appears to be operating with a dead boss. This first episode contains a number of action set pieces. The first is right at the start where our two leads leave Nice airport and race each other along the beautiful coast roads down to Monte Carlo in the Aston Martin and Dino. Many of the shots are back projection, but one or two show both Curtis and Moore actually drive at some speed. The one stunt in the chase is a „near miss‟ where both cars just manage to get out of the way of an oncoming Vauxhall Viva.
Set piece number two is set in the restaurant of the hotel in which our heroes are staying. Brett Sinclair enters with a beautiful girl and orders a cocktail from the bar. Danny Wilde is already at the bar and try‟s to assist Brett with his order by suggesting he has two olives in his drink instead or one. Well as you can imagine this is just too much for Brett who squares up to Wilde and a fight ensues. The fight itself is pretty standard, but both Roger Moore and Tony Curtis throw very convincing punches throughout. Sitting quietly at a table, minding his own business is stuntman Nosher Powell. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time he gets stuck in the middle of this particular brawl.
Tony Curtis does perform one stunt himself. Being thrown over the bar by Roger Moore. Curtis, as we know, is a very physical actor and developed his skills with movies like Trapeze and Houdini. So asking him to perform a very physical fight scene was something he truly enjoyed. Often in a „gag‟ like this the stuntman is thrown over the bar and the actor is waiting behind the bar to stand up and deliver the lines, but here Curtis does it all.
And finally in this bar brawl we find the stunt arranger getting caught up in it too. Les Crawford, Roger Moore‟s double on the show, sits at a table watching the chaos. Brett hits Danny over the back with a chair back and Danny falls into Les who crashes to the ground.
Set piece number three takes place in the same restaurant, but this time Wilde and Sinclair arrive as friends, which pleases the head waiter no end. While sitting at a table a bunch of heavies enter and join them.
Cliff Diggins Richard Lester
The heavies, as you would expect, are all stuntmen. Terry Maidment, Cliff Diggins and Richard Lester. The fight is in slow motion and appears to be a sort of dream sequence. A bad dream for the head waiter who has seen it all before.
Tony Curtis throwing a punch at Richard Lester. The one thing to note is the accuracy. Curtis throws it so close to the stuntmanâ€&#x;s face actual contact is made.
Left to Right Actor Alex Scott, Stuntmen Terry Maidment & Cliff Diggins EPISODE TWO â€“ TO THE DEATH, BABY A rich girl is inevitably the subject of envy and attention - and Shelley Masterton is a very rich girl indeed. She has inherited a soap empire and a fortune. Carl Foster is attempting to part Shelley from her fortune and Brett and Danny can see one possible way out of the difficulties. They must both vie for Shelley's attention in the hope that one will lure her away from Foster. Foster is being bank rolled by a nasty piece of work called Coady. He, as any really nasty piece of work would, has two bodyguards with him at all times. They are played by stuntmen Alf Joint and Frank Maher.
Frank has an early run in with Danny Wilde when, over the cheese board, Danny let‟s Coady know that if he doesn‟t leave town he‟ll rub him out with spot remover! Words like these are enough to turn the average nasty piece of work into an even nastier piece of work. Coady signals Frank to move in and remove Mr Wilde from his dinner table, but Danny is one step ahead, spots Frank coming, grabs hold of his head and slams it into the remains of the Camembert.
Shelley decides to consider her current situation by riding a horse onto the countryside and spending some time alone. Brett has other ideas and rides after her. Roger Moore is and always has been a very fine horseman and rides his horse at the canter during the sequence. Jennie Linden had presumably told the director that she wasn‟t very confident in the saddle so stuntwomen Cyd Child was brought in to double her during this brief shot.
Roger Moore in the saddle
Foster has kidnapped Shelleyâ€&#x;s financial advisor, John Hatton, played by Thorley Walters and left him at an abandoned village in the hills. Brett follows him in order to rescue Hatton and put a stop to this once and for all. Standing in his way is a shepherd called Ramon. A fine man with a crook, his weapon of choice. He invites Brett to a duel. Winner takes Hatton. The actor playing Ramon is Robert Russell. A very physical role and one that he really makes his own. Roger Moore also performs the entire fight himself, but Les Crawford does take over for one shot where Brett is thrown into a passing shepherd played by stuntman Peter Brace seen here, on the left, in the hat. Robert Russell is pretty agile himself. Performing a flip onto his back after Roger throws him during the fight.
Brett and Danny both decide that the only way to look after Shelley is to pay her the money being asked by Foster. As international playboys theyâ€&#x;re not short of a bob or two and yet Brett still feels the urge to play cards in order to win some dough. His opponents are actor Roger Delgado and stuntmen Bob Simmons and Terry Plummer.
One final action sequence before this episode comes to a close. Coady has confronted Foster about the money. The money is sitting on the table in a suitcase. Foster tries to make a break for it by closing the case and thrusting it into Coady‟s stomach. His bodyguard, Alf Joint, reacts and rushes Foster who clouts him with the briefcase and runs off. Alf ends upside down in an armchair as these shots show.
Outside waiting by the car is Coady‟s driver played by stuntman Peter Brayham.
As we saw in episode one Tony Curtis was a very physical actor. When offered the opportunity to perform his own action he literally jumped at it. As we see here. Shelley is being held by stuntman Peter Brayham when the terrace doors burst open and in „jumps‟ Danny Wilde. Leaping over the sofa and right next to Peter Brayham. A very energetic manoeuvre and worthy of any stuntman. Peter is then thrown out of the room by Danny and out of the door by Brett.
EPISODE THREE - FIVE MILES TO MIDNIGHT Smuggling an American gangster out of Italy is no joy ride for Brett and Danny, despite the assistance of a glamorous girl photographer. So Danny sets off with Rocco hidden under a tarpaulin in an old truck owned by Sidonie (JOAN COLLINS), a beautiful girl photographer who smells a great scoop here and insists on accompanying them. Brett follows in his car, creating a dramatic diversion at a police checkpoint, which enables Danny to drive Rocco off in a different direction. It also enables us to get the only real action set piece of the entire episode.
Les Crawford is standing on front of the oncoming Aston Martin, driven by Roger Moore, and tries to get out of the way. He jumps to his right while a policeman climbs the wall in order to get clear. Danny and Sidonie then drive the panel truck away from the road block only to find Les Crawford, who is presumably playing some type of police official, barking orders at the other uniformed officers. He is in the way and Danny and Sidonie are in a hurry to catch up with Brett so they drive into him. Not so much a car knockdown as a car push aside as we can see here.
EPISODE FOUR â€“ ANGIE, ANGIE The French Riviera is the setting for American gangster drama when Danny meets up with a friend from 'way back and learns, too late, that the gaiety of a film festival is a mask for murder. Sandor, ex-boss of a big union in the United States, intends to testify at a Congressional Investigation into criminals taking over the unions. The hoods intend to see he never makes the stand. Only Brett's speed saves Sandor from a bullet fired through the French windows at the Casino where Sandor is playing the tables. Sandor has two bodyguards. They are played by two of the finest British stuntmen. Alan Chuntz and Del Baker. Del gets shot in the arm and for the rest of the episode is seen wearing a sling.
Alan Chuntz passed away in 2009 and was regarded by many as the perfect all-round performer. He was a member of H.A.V.O.C alongside Derek Ware and created many of the action sequences for the Dr Who television series. He was in many of the scenes of this episode as Sandor plays such an important role. Later on in the episode another attempt to kill him has been stumbled upon by Brett at a cinema screening a new Bulgarian comedy that Sandor has tickets for. Alan is waiting in the lobby making sure nobody suspicious gets in. A certain irony here as one of the most suspicious looking characters in the whole episode is the assistant from the cinema seen here standing next to Alan who is already reaching for his weaponâ€Śso to speak!
As point of interest another great British stuntman makes a very brief appearance. Paddy Ryan plays the cinema projectionist and receives a thump to the head whilst attending to the feature presentation. Paddy Ryan died in 1990 aged 85yrs.
And so to the final â€žgagâ€&#x; of this episode. A stair fall performed by Alan Chuntz and assisted by Roger Moore. Most stuntmen prefer to fall down a straight flight of stairs with banisters on either side. The banister can be used to direct the fall. The way in which the fall is started is important since it determines its shape and to a large extent its speed. Many stuntmen prefer to launch themselves backwards so as to get the step of a stair under their necks and then to direct the rest of the fall from that position.
Alan falls backwards down the first set of steps onto the landing where momentum takes him down the next set using the banister for assistance. Momentum is the key to the stair fall and Alan makes this look very graceful.
EPISODE FIVE – POWERSWITCH The body of a beautiful girl found floating in a Cote d'Azure bay plunges Danny and Brett into even deeper water when it is discovered that she has been murdered. The finding of a drowned girl in a Cote d'Azure bay has sinister implications for Brett Sinclair and Danny Wilde after they have come across the body and are tricked by Judge Fulton into helping unravel the strange circumstances which surround the girl's death. The main henchman in this episode, Ravel, is played by stuntman Les Crawford. The first piece of action is in the dead girl‟s room where Les is looking for something and is disturbed by the arrival of Brett.
He is thrown from one side of the room to the other by Brett, crashing through the furniture as he goes. Gets up and runs out to his car to make his getaway, but Brett gets after him and clings to the side of the car as it drives off. Roger Moore is not doubled in this scene and Les has worked out that the shot would be much more convincing if Roger does it himself, but how? Well by sitting on the door frame with the driver‟s door window open Roger can reach inside and grab a hand hold. He‟s only riding the car for a few seconds and he‟ll be able to dismount easily as the car will come to an almost complete stop.
Les gets plenty of on screen moments during this episode as we can see here.
The final scene sees Brett and Danny in an actual cliff-hanger ending. Balancing over the edge of a cliff they scramble to get out while Les rams their car with his from behind in an attempt to send them crashing to their doom, but luckily Tony Curtis‟s agility comes to the rescue.
Tony Curtis climbs through the sunroof and runs along the car jumping onto the bonnet of the Mustang and into the passenger seat where he puts a stop to Les Crawford and his evil ways. Its moments like these that always remind me what a brilliant piece of casting Tony was.
EPISODE SIX – THE GOLD NAPOLEON All that glitters may not be gold - but the question for Danny and Brett is whether there's glitter beneath the bronze of Napoleon coin replicas. As far as action goes it‟s a Tony Curtis showcase. Giving him another opportunity to show off his physical prowess with a great individual stunt. Danny and Brett are sitting outside a café enjoying a drink, Danny is drinking lemonade and Brett is drinking something with far too much fruit in it, when hurtling down the road comes a Mercedes Benz heading right for them. Much of the action in this episode is undertaken by stuntman John Sullivan who drives the car here and takes on much of the doubling work for Tony Curtis later. Incidentally in the foreground you can see an overturned table and chair scattered on the road and yet the car hasn‟t hit the tables yet? Me thinks rehearsals were only moments before this take. Having said that I didn‟t notice until I‟d seen the episode six or seven times.
Now we move onto a great moment in the episode. Danny Wilde breaking into the abandoned foundry where the coins are being made.
John Sullivan was also stunt arranger on the Jason King series for ITC Timing is everything in a sequence like this. Running down the roof too quickly means youâ€&#x;ll have to wait for the truck to turn the corner and be under you before you transfer to it. So John Sullivan times his arrival at the edge of the building to perfection. Simply stepping out onto the truck below. A rope is running the length of the trucks roof allowing him to hold on should he require. Then a change of personnel. John Sullivan takes over the driving of the truck and Tony Curtis rides on the top of the truck for his transfer.
John Sullivan was also stunt director, stuntman and actor on Zulu. To allow a big Hollywood name like Tony Curtis to perform such a stunt is very rare indeed. Yet because of his very physical approach to the role Tony Curtis would probably have suggested to the director Roy Ward Baker about attempting this without a double. And Baker who was a stickler for authenticity would have jumped at the chance. A scaffolding pole has been erected and attached to the building. Its only purpose is to allow Tony to grab hold and transfer from the truck. Travelling at 25mph this is still a very risky stunt for a professional never mind an actor. There is a gap between the wall and the truck. If he slips and falls down that he would certainly be killed. Can he hold onto the scaffolding long enough to allow the truck to pass by underneath him? All these eventualities and more must be ruled out before sending him up. Sullivan covers all options. A rope on top of the truck to steady his approach. Steps and footholds running along the scaffolding pole so he always has somewhere to put his feet. Members of the crew on the roof of the factory ready to lean over and grab him should he get into
difficulty. Once youâ€&#x;ve considered everything and ruled out everything else a transfer like this performed by an actor is a beautiful thing and really sets this episode apart from the others. Finally John Sullivan takes over once more for the walk along the beam some 30ft up between the two buildings.
Then Tony Curtis takes over again for his arrival inside the foundry. Just incredible to think that he did all of this himself.
A motorbike chase is then called for and once again John Sullivan steps up to deliver the goods.
John Sullivan makes one final appearance in this episode as a heavy. He fights with Tony Curtis and manages to throw him over the bonnet of his own Dino before getting punched out himself.
EPISODE SEVEN – THE OLD, THE NEW & THE DEADLY A fanatical ex-Nazi, a girl who is trying to clear her father's name of a wartime stigma and the statuette of a bird combine to put Danny's life in peril. Another classic now and to start the action rolling a fight between Danny and Verner played by Kenneth J. Warren a very familiar face in the world of ITC programming. A regular on such shows as The Avengers and The Saint. Here he is a henchman sent to eliminate Danny simply because he may know something about the above mentioned statuette. The fight takes place in Danny‟s hotel room and is fast paced to say the least. Tony Curtis, as you would expect, is as active as ever and dishes out pretty much all of the beating.
Consequently Ken Warren is doubled for the scene by stuntman Nosher Powell, seen here being thrown over a sofa in the hotel suite. Curtis then performs one of two flying leaps in this episode. We see him run, jump and land a flying two footed kick into Ken Warrens chest.
Nosher then steps in to take another fall over the sofa. This time backwards onto the floor. His bald skull cap can be seen clearly here.
‘Nosher’ Powell is the head of a very successful stunting family. Brother Dinny and sons Greg and Gary have all achieved stunt greatness.
The next set piece takes place in a discotheque in downtown Paris. Danny and Brett have gone along to buy some information. They meet a girl who tries to pay them for information…she then suggests that a meeting with Groski, Darren Nesbitt, would clear things up. It doesn‟t and Danny decides leaving the club in one piece is the main priority. How he does this is indeed a joy to watch. He walks across the dance floor and throws one packet of money into the air. Notes rain down and the clubbing „massive‟ race to grab a note or two. In the confusion Danny and Brett race to the top of the stairs and are met by one of Gorki‟s henchmen played by stuntman Les White.
Brett urges Danny to leave after helping Les down the stairs with a well-placed boot in the behind, but Danny wants his money back and goes about it in a most spectacular fashion. You can see the height of the staircase from the final still in the above sequence. Tony Curtis will now jump down the length of this staircase and land squarely on Les White‟s shoulders. A jump of some fifteen feet. Any other production would have insisted on a double for the jump. After all he is going to use a stuntman as his landing area for this. The producers, Roger Moore being one, and the director are only too aware of Tony‟s athletic ability. They know he‟ll nail it first time, in fact it was take 3, but that‟s not bad for a jump of this size. No wonder Roger turns to Tony when he gets back up to the top of the stairs and applauds saying “that was beautiful”, because it was.
The final doubling sequence goes to Gerry Crampton who takes over the bald skull cap from Nosher Powell to prove that he‟s not the only stuntman who can be thrown over a perfectly sensible piece of furniture all in the line of entertainment.
Nosher wasn’t available to double on this occasion as he was doubling Sid James in ‘Carry on Henry’ also filmed at Pinewood. EPISODE EIGHT – TAKE SEVEN Real or fake? Danny and Brett find it explosively dangerous when trying to help a girl whose long-missing brother apparently has a rightful claim to the estate she has inherited. The outcome is surprising. Peter Hayward is a private detective played by Garfield Morgan he is to be doubled in this fiery fight sequence by stuntman Romo Gorrara. It takes place in a farmyard barn and Hayward is trying to set fire to the evidence when he is caught in the act by Brett.
Fire scenes are always very tricky. Roger Moore is involved in the whole sequence therefore the fire must be controlled. The fire is being fed by gas and can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch. Roger throws a punch and Romo reacts by spinning out of the barn, through the wooden railing and falls fifteen feet to his landing area. He must control his rotation and make sure he doesn‟t land on his side or front. Looks easy, but making it look easy is the job of the professional stuntman and Romo was one of the best.
EPISODE NINE – SOMEONE LIKE ME Who is masquerading as Brett Sinclair? And why? Danny has every reason for probing the mystery because he is at the receiving end of the "new" Brett's thrusts. The difficulty is to discover which is the real and which is the fake - or if they are one and the same! Brett is knocked out and wakes up in what he thinks is a hospital. Head bandaged, leg splinted and machines monitoring his condition he believes he is in a bad way. In fact it‟s all a big con, but it‟s convinced him. A male orderly picks up an empty glass and jug from Brett‟s room and makes his way downstairs. The next thing we see is this poor dogsbody tripping over his own shoelaces and falling down the stairs. Luckily for him it‟s actually stuntman Gerry Crampton doing the falling and as we‟ll see he is taking no chances with this fall down a flight of concrete steps.
Every part of the body will come in contact with the stairs during the fall. Gerry appears to be bursting out of his costume. His arms are huge, his knees are gigantic, and his white jacket is visibly tight across his back and chest. This is because Gerry has a full set of pads on. The arms are covered in padding, especially the elbows as are his legs and lower back. Knee pads can be seen under his trousers. Using the bannister to direct the fall Gerry lands perfectly at the bottom. His trousers won‟t do up due to the padding around his waist. I have padding around my waist, but unfortunately I don‟t get the choice to wear it the way Gerry does here. The next piece of action is a fight between Brett and Danny, but not on the same scale as episode one. Brett is under instruction to kill Danny and sets about him outside a night club in swinging London town. A convenient building site is found to perform this deed. Tony Curtis is not doubled and is thrown around during the scuffle, but Brett is required to
fall through a very badly stacked pile of bricks. Les Crawford steps into Roger‟s suit for this one as we see below.
A crudely construction wall if ever I saw one, but enough to allow Les to push through it. Now onto the meat and potatoes of the story. Sam Milford is played by BERNARD LEE and is the richest man in the world. Brett is a close friend and Sam insists that whenever he is in town they get together. Brett has been programmed to kill Sam by using this friendship to get inside the Milford Empire. Complex I know, but this gives us a chance to identify two of Sam‟s bodyguards.
This is Royston‟s first episode. Gerry has done plenty and is being kept busy on this one in particular. Not only is he a Milford bodyguard, but back at Brett‟s house Dr Fowler, REGINALD MARSH is thrown across the room by Danny who is trying to find out how or what will deactivate Brett on his killing mission. Once again Gerry Crampton is the stunt double.
The final scenes are set in the Milford Shipping Corporation headquarters in London. Danny arrives to stop Brett from killing Sam, but has to get passed Royston and Gerry first. This is how.
So as you can see Royston gets thrown to the floor and Gerry gets thrown through a door. Poetic justice some would say, but they are just doing a job after all and what a job.
EPISODE TEN – CHAIN OF EVENTS A camping holiday results in some explosive situations for Danny and Brett when Danny is chained to an attaché case without knowing that it can blow him sky-high... and with several secret agents searching for him. The first we see in this episode in non-other than stuntman Gerry Crampton who is playing the role of Baxter, an intelligence officer rather than an intelligent officer who is delivering a briefcase to a plane in the middle of a field.
It becomes apparent that the pilot of the plane plans to double cross him and whilst attempting to pull a gun on Gerry it jams giving Gerry a chance to get away on his motorcycle.
Pursued by a jeep driven by stuntman Bob Simmons and a man with a machine gun who inevitably brings Gerry‟s escape to an end it‟s a high paced opening with fast paced editing. Gerry‟s dismount from the motorcycle is worth looking at. A horseman of repute, he adapts a saddle fall for the motorcycle. The fall itself was captured in two takes. The first has Gerry heading towards the plane, he is shot and slides off the back of the bike onto the grass. At this point the remains of the second take are used and we see Gerry rolling along the ground with no aircraft in front of him. I make it sound like a glaring mistake by the editor, but its barely noticeable…well it was anyway!
Now You See It…Now You Don‟t
This episode also gives us a father and son team appearing together for the first time as two of the villain‟s henchmen. Larry and Rocky Taylor are part of Franz Schubert‟s heavy mob that is sent in to retrieve the briefcase which has been attached to Danny Wilde‟s wrist.
Left to Right Actor Peter Vaughn as Schubert. Stuntmen Larry Taylor and Rocky Taylor, actor James Beckitt as Previn and Stuntman Peter Brace.
The final scenes take place in a safe house that turns out not to be that safe as Rocky and Peter Brace are about to find out. The female interest in this episode is played by actress Suzanne Leigh who was coached by Rocky Taylor for the fight. Its very well done and Rocky is very good at giving the audience the impression that Suzanne is throwing him left right and centre where in fact he is doing everything and she is simply moving him from one place to the next.
Rocky struggles and twists, Suzanne pushes and shoves and brings up Rocky‟s arm every once in a while giving him the opportunity to flip over onto his back. Rocky Taylor really is a first class stuntman and it‟s no wonder he‟s been around for over 40 years.
EPISODE ELEVEN â€“ GREENSLEEVES A derelict old mansion suddenly comes to life without the knowledge of its owner, Lord Brett Sinclair. The unexpected outcome is that Brett has to impersonate himself, with Danny as his butler, when probing the mystery. The action for this episode opens with horseplay in the countryside surrounding the Greensleeves estate. Roger Moore rides in much of the sequence, but for the faster shots required at full gallop stuntman Les Crawford steps in. One additional point is that actress Rosemary Nicols who plays the female lead in this one is doubled by top show jumper of the day Marion Coates. She married show jumper David Mould in 1969 who as luck would have it was a neighbour of Persuaders producer Bob Baker.
The action now takes place inside the house with a good old fashioned fight. Involving Brett and Danny and some of the hoods disguised as staff.
So with this information we can fill in the blanks surrounding this final action set piece. Tony Curtis, as usual, is not doubled and performs all of his action. Roger Moore is doubled by Les Crawford and Michael Martin who plays butler Jackson is doubled by Cliff Diggins. The other butler is played by stuntman Alan Chuntz. Max Diamond and Tony Curtis continue to Riposte, Parry and Flèche their way around the hall as Roger Moore gets to grips with Jackson.
Above we see actor Michael Martin on the left advancing towards Roger Moore. On the right Roger slaps and pushes Martin who has now been replaced by stuntman Cliff Diggins. This encounter leads to the major „gag‟ in the episode. After knocking him to the ground Brett chases Jackson to the top of the stairs where another scuffle ensues.
Les Crawford picks Cliff Diggins up and hurls him from the top of the staircase. The landing area would be boxes and crash mats. Cliff relies on Les to position him correctly so he’ll hit the landing area as he is falling backwards and can’t see the landing area at all Les now has Alan Chuntz to deal with, but Alan has the upper hand and with it he unbalances Les and sends him rolling down the staircase.
And finally Tony Curtis must attend to Alan Chuntz and deals with him using the medium of a clenched fist.
EPISODE TWELEVE â€“ THE OZEROV INHERITANCE Echoes of Imperialistic Russia are rung out for Danny and Brett when a Grand Duchess seeks their help in establishing her right to a collection of jewels.
Brett and Danny visit an apartment to find out why Brett has been invited to Switzerland and how he is involved in this story of jewels and inheritance when the police burst in. One of the policemen is stuntman Joe Dunne seen here receiving a warm welcome from Danny Wilde.
They don‟t exactly part as friends, but a mutual respect is earned. It‟s worth pointing out that stuntman Arthur Howell makes another appearance here and yet again he is fencing. Seen here as Sergei‟s opponent.
Another scuffle takes place in a private detectives office and once again Danny is in the thick of it. Not only that but, as the set quite small a two man switch is required.
The actor in the first three frames is hit by Danny and disappears out of shot behind the book case. As soon as he disappears stuntman Rocky Taylor reappears and takes the falls around the office.
EPISODE THIRTEEN – THE MORNING AFTER Wed at last! Brett Sinclair awakens after a heavy drinking party to find that he has a wife. A glamorously beautiful one, too. But is the marriage genuine, or has he been tricked? So Brett wakes up after a serious nights drinking and finds he‟s married to Catherince Schell…oh what a night. My hangovers are never this pretty! Danny goes to visit one of the witnesses at the wedding to see if they can verify what actually happened. She works as a judo instructor and is surrounded by a team of stuntmen. Including Doug Robinson, Rocky Taylor and Royston Farrell. The two other men in the room are from a local Judo school who were able to train with the stunt boys before filming.
Stuntman Rocky Taylor being thrown a few fast falls by actress Yutte Stensgaard. Later that night Danny and the lovely Miss Stensgaard go back to the gym to find evidence that the owner played by Bernard Horsfall is behind the sham marriage. They come up against stuntmen Doug Robinson and Terry Walsh who try to teach them a crash course in pain.
The finale of this episode is in the hands of Les Crawford driving a Range Rover at considerable speed over open countryside in order to catch an aircraft. Les doubles Roger Moore and for once Tony Curtis is doubled by stuntman Terry Yorke.
EPISODE FOURTEEN â€“ ELEMENT OF RISK An unfortunate case of mistaken identity for Danny Wilde. He is believed to be an undisputed master-mind of crime. A planner of true genius' and his life depends on his being able to live up to it! Lomax is the master criminal who is picked up at the airport by two undercover police one of which is stuntman Terry Yorke seen here on the left.
The episode is called element of risk and for Tony Curtis it contains its fair share. The action starts with a punch up in a garage. Actor William Marlowe plays Carl and has a difference of opinion with Danny Wilde and in timely fashion Danny slaps him around a bit, but in true professional form he is doubled for the falls by Les Crawford.
Now I mentioned that Tony Curtis was about to get a busy action packed ride as Danny Wilde. Well this is why. After a fun episode getting into a US Air Force base the double cross back fires and Danny and Brett set off after the bad guys. Brett in the back of a van as a prisoner and Danny on the back of truck as a high ranking official ready to jump onto the back of a fuel tanker.
Once again Tony Curtis doing all his own stunts. The car and truck are travelling at 30mph and he is seen to make the leap from one to the other. Les Crawford wouldn‟t have let him do it if he wasn‟t fully confident in his ability. We‟ve all seen his physical ability in previous episodes and there is more to come. The driver of the truck is George Fisher an American actor and stuntman who decides to get out while the going is good.
While we‟re on the subject of jumping out of moving vehicles Les Crawford once again doubles William Marlowe and is thrown out of the van by Brett.
EPISODE FIFTEEN â€“ SOMEONE WAITING Motor-racing has hazards off the track as well as on, as Brett and Danny discover when Brett receives macabre threats to his life after entering his new car for a race. The opening sequence is filmed at Silverstone race track, home of the British Grand Prix, and although some of the driving was done by Roger Moore and Tony Curtis majority was completed by British Formula One racing driver Peter Gethin who was driving for the BRM team during the 1971 season. Now as with many episodes of this series a fight is always a winner and here we have another example of this. Brett and Danny have been asking other drivers if theyâ€&#x;ve been threatened. Danny finds one throwing his money about and very drunk. Enter Mr Vine and three thugs. (Left to Right: stuntman Del Baker, stuntman Max Faulkner, actor Michael Shaw, stuntman Jack Cooper, Tony Curtis and Roger Moore.
The following fight is nothing short of bizarre. Filmed in sepia, early silent movie style the fight has everyone taking a beating to the ever increasing pace of Sam on the piano.
Stuntman Max Faulkner thrown over the furniture by Brett Sinclair
Jack Cooper finds Tony Curtis‟s funny side Once the fight has ended and the pianist has left for the evening the investigation can continue. Brett finds his way to an address in London where a private detective called Morley Linden is found staggering to the top of a staircase. This can mean only one thing…
As stair falls go this is a „mother and father‟ of a fall. Furious speed and hard hitting too. Stuntman Rocky Taylor bounces off the wall along the bannister and then bangs his head against the wall at the bottom. Yes he is wearing plenty of padding underneath his trench coat, but his head is always going to be exposed and the resulting thud at the bottom of the stairs is par for the course. The angle of the camera makes the stair case look miles longer than its 24 steps. All in a day‟s work for a professional, but I imagine a well-earned drink was had afterwards.
Stuntman Jack Cooper isn‟t finished yet with his on screen trouble making and is seen next attempting to burn down the garage housing the „Sinclair Special‟ race car.
In the end Danny Wilde races in to save the day and manages to find out who is behind the whole saga by asking Jack in a very man to man way as we can see above in the final shot. EPISODE SIXTEEN – ANYONE CAN PLAY While gambling at the seaside resort of Brighton, a case of mistaken identity finds Danny playing a roulette game he can‟t lose. Danny wants to celebrate his win; Brett wants twelve hours sleep so Danny goes back to his room to find two men who work for the casino waiting for him.
Stuntman Cliff Diggins doubles actor Patrick Jordan. Bringing a whole new mean to the phrase “this room isn’t big enough to swing a cat”. Cliff also gets a big right hand from Roger Moore.
Now its actor Dudley Fosterâ€&#x;s turn to get the Cliff Diggins double treatment. Confronted in a hotel room by the female interest in this episode, actress Cyd Hayman, she takes hold of him and throws him across the bed.
The final part of the episode takes place on board a train bound for trouble and features to British stuntmen making character appearances.
The shot on the left has legendary stuntman Paddy Ryan, next to Tony Curtis in the cap, playing an agent. Ryan is responsible for the acrobatic and very spectacular fall from the battlements into an eight foot deep moat in the 1952 film Ivanhoe. On the right we see stuntman Terry Richards who many will remember as the swordsman who scares Indiana Jones so much he simply shoots him on the spot in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
EPISODE SEVENTEEN – THE TIME AND THE PLACE Murder in a country wood, a pretty but evasive girl, political drama and sensation in a television studio add up to dangerous excitement for Danny and Brett. The seventies were indeed a special time. As a stuntman you had a variety of television shows to work on and many interesting and exciting roles to explore. Let‟s use Max Faulkner as an example. He‟s already worked on the series and then receives a phone call from Les Crawford asking him to turn up for work on Monday morning for an episode directed by the star Roger Moore. “We have a major role for in this next episode, in fact you could say that your character is…dead important”!
And there you have the abridged story of how stuntman Max Faulkner got to play the dead Fleet Street journalist Richard Teed in this episode. Why employ an extra to play the role of a dead body when you have stuntmen waiting to earn their Equity cards with a spot of acting? Another stuntman who takes an acting role in this episode is Val Musetti. A man, who once raced cars for a living turned to stunt work and never looked back. In this episode he plays a bogus policeman who interrupts Danny Wilde as he is searching the apartment of the dead journalist.
Tony Curtis, pretending to be an inspector from the yard, using his best Cary Grant voice is trying to find a story that Teed was writing before his death. Val Musetti and his bogus inspector, Patrick O‟Connell find him and take him away where they try to set fire to his Dino, but are stopped by Brett in the nick of time. A Car chase follows and Val is given an opportunity to shine. A combination of back projection and actual footage of the chase filmed in and around Black Park show Val struggling for control of his car and O‟Connell over acting in the passenger seat.
The culmination of the chase has the car losing control on a bend and the car crashing into the trees. This was filmed in two parts. The car turnover was filmed using a hidden ramp, but only a shot of it upside down was used in the final cut. It was inter-cut with studio shots of Val and O‟Connell reacting to the car rolling over.
The final shots of the crash appear to have been filmed at a later stage and without Val at the wheel. The car is rolled using an air cannon. You can see that the car is flipping end over end and that part of the roof is cracked and split, which means a roll cage wouldnâ€&#x;t have been fitted and most importantly of all the car Val rolls is a Ford Cortina Mark II and the one that rolls without Val in it looks very much like a Mark I! Anyway Danny and Brett get back to London to listen in on a conversation at the Coalition Club that could prove vital to stopping whatever it is that is going to bring the country to its knees.
Two waiters bring silver salvers full of sandwiches to a meeting room. The waiters, as youâ€&#x;d expect by now are stuntmen Cliff Diggins and Royston Farrell. They capture our two heroes and bring them to a small room to watch the events unfold on television. The Prime Minister is on a talk show and a man has been sent to kill him, causing the governments collapse and a pre-selected politician set to take his place.
After the altercation with the waiters Danny and Brett race off to the television studio to stop the Prime Ministers assassination. The camera scans through the audience, people from all walks of life ready to hear what the PM has to say about the Law and Order bill. This is 1971 and many of the outfits are loud and worthy of any adjustment to the contrast on your picture. Then a familiar face is spotted in the audience and you instinctively know that he will have something to do with this set piece.
At the precise moment the man sitting to Rockyâ€&#x;s right pulls a gun from a book and points it ready to fire, but Danny spots him and flyâ€&#x;s down the steps pushing Rocky out of his seat. The man sitting next to Rocky is actor Alun Armstrong in an early TV appearance. For the fall down the stairs Armstrong is doubled by stuntman Terry Plummer.
EPISODE EIGHTEEN – THE LONG GOODBYE When three attractive girls all lay claim to the same identity, two are obviously imposters. Equally certainly, several people are determined to obtain the secret formula discovered by Danny and Brett. A harder edged episode with one action set piece. Roger Moore puts on his directing cap for this one and allows Les Crawford to do what he does best. Once again let‟s not deny what a brilliant double for Roger Les was. A scene is written where Brett, after escaping for a hijacked taxi cab, jumps out of the way of oncoming traffic over the roof of a parked car and lands at the feet of a patrolling policeman. Sounds simple enough? But to film it you need the perfect stunt double and luckily that‟s what Les was.
Here he is in close up diving across the roof of a Mini and sliding down the other side. Roger Moore also designed all the clothes for his character, Brett Sinclair, and always had two of everything made. One piece of clothing for him and one piece for Les. They were the same height, same build and shared the same barber. Separated at birth?
EPISODE NINETEEN – A HOME OF ONE‟S OWN Danny buys a country cottage - but he is also buying himself and Brett into dire danger! Danny wants his little piece of England, but so does the local squire who is using the house to stockpile counterfeit currency before it‟s shipped overseas. Danny wants to do all the work himself and toils long and hard to create his perfect country retreat. The squire will do anything to stop him and is assisted by the local heavy mob.
Top Left: stuntman Dinny Powell, actor John Ranane and stuntman Joe Dunne A fight is called for and Dinny gets to grips with Danny himself while the other actor in the scene is Leon Greene.
EPISODE TWENTY – THAT‟S ME OVER THERE An American masquerades as an English Lord - and the American is Danny Wilde, pretending to be Lord Brett Sinclair! It happens when they are trying to expose a crooked millionaire.
This is Cliff Turner, played by actor Terence Edmund. He is about to fall from the roof of this building. When I say fall I obviously mean thrown off the roof. Luckily for Mr Edmund he will be thrown to his death and live to fight another day as the fall will be performed by stuntman Rocky Taylor.
This episode is a prime example of the use of stunt doubles. The story is held together with numerous action set pieces, mostly fights and uses the very best performers around at the time. This next fight takes place in Brett Sinclair‟s apartment where he is confronted by actor Alan Cuthbertson who is doubled by stuntman Max Diamond.
The action now moves outside and onto an old farm where the final fight takes place.
Actress Juliette Harmer is given strict instruction by Les Crawford about how to drive the MG that he will be standing on ready to leap off. What speed to be doing, where to be positioned. Female doubles were difficult to come by back in the early seventies. The stunt register as we know it today didnâ€&#x;t come along until 1973. So up until then many actresses were doubled by men.
Les Crawford doubles Roger Moore, Rocky Taylor doubles Peter Gilmore and Romo Gorrara doubles Derek Newark in this climatic scrap.
Here we see Rocky Taylor being thrown by Tony Curtis in one of his trademark moves.
EPISODE TWENTY ONE – READ AND DESTROY Spies to the left of them, spies to the right of them - Danny and Brett are up to their ears in espionage when an international spy plans to publish his memoirs. Brett‟s ancestral home is used as a base for discussions between the US and British Intelligence so they can secure the memoirs of one of the most important spies the world has ever known. Felix Meadows played by Joss Ackland. A pheasant shoot is arranged on the grounds, but the Russians are trying to kill Meadows and take the memoirs for themselves. Incidentally the memoirs have been concealed in a micro-dot inside Meadows hairpiece. During the shoot Danny hears shots and shouts “Save a pheasant for me”, only to discover the Russian spy shooting at Felix. Tony Curtis performs another magical leap and flies through the air over the top of the gunman to land in the shrubbery.
Once again Tony Curtis proves to us all that he was so much more than just a very talented actor. Comedic timing, style and grace all supplied in this tumble. A mini trampoline is placed at the take-off point. Crash mats are placed and covered by gorse and bracken in the foreground. Take everything into consideration when looking at this fall. The actor playing the Russian is at least 6ft tall and is standing up in the first shot. Curtis jumps much higher to avoid contact with the actor and sails equally as far into the foreground shot before hitting the landing area, which as we know is covered so he must spot his area before take-off. A fine „gag‟ to pull for any professional stuntman, but here we see one of Hollywood‟s finest actors showing that he is just as capable. Les Crawford had taken Curtis to his gym to train before filming began. He told wonderful stories of
Hollywood stuntmen choosing not to do certain stunts on films he‟s worked on because they didn‟t feel confident at being able to produce what the director was looking for. Often Curtis would do many of the stunts in his film career simply to prove a point and show that anything is possible. EPISODE TWENTY ONE – NUISANCE VALUE The dangers of helping a damsel in distress are high-lighted for Danny and Brett when their efforts lead to their being accused of kidnapping her! The girl‟s father Zorakin has a heavy mob to deal with Danny and Brett. They just look heavy, they don‟t act heavy!
Left to Right: Stuntman Romo Gorrara, stuntman Peter Brayham, actor George Murcell and stuntman Tom Clegg. Those of you with sharp eyes may recognise Tom Clegg as the creature „Oddbod‟ in Carry on Screaming in 1968.
EPISODE TWENTY TWO – A DEATH IN THE FAMILY A sharp decrease in the number of surviving members of the Sinclair clan indicates that someone is very anxious for the Sinclair‟s to join their ancestors! An opportunity for both Moore and Curtis to shine brightly in a wonderful episode with a fine supporting cast including Willie Rushton who‟s character is the subject of our stunt. Uncle Lance, Rushton, likes a drink. He‟s hoping to create the perfect wine in his cellar. Danny is sent to babysit him to keep him out of harm‟s way. A phone call lures Danny away from Lance and gives the killer just enough time to pop in a bump poor old Uncle Lance off.
Stuntman Frank Maher doubles Willie Rushton diving into his new vintage
EPISODE TWENTY TWO – THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE Danny and Brett grope their way through the espionage jungle with Brett in a tight spot when suspected of being a traitor and murderer. Assisted gamely by Brett‟s Cousin Archibald Sinclair Beecham played by Terry Thomas. Stuntman Frank Maher makes an appearance as a heavy who over powers Brett, after he is set upon with a soda syphon, and sends him off to the Russians for interrogation as they believe him to be a top operator in British Intelligence.
Another group of stuntmen make appearances as bodyguards in this final episode.
Top left is Harold Sanderson, top middle is Stan Cullis and bottom right being thrown down the stairs is Terry Yorke. Danny, Brett and Archie must now escape and choose a window to jump down from. Archie is a bit on the cowardly side and isnâ€&#x;t very keen on jumping ten feet down from an open window, but the sound of gunfire soon has him leaping down to meet the other two. Terry Thomas is doubled jumping from the window by Max Diamond.
The final scenes show a hand over being closely watched. Archie for Kay, actress Suzy Kendall. When Danny comes in to save the day. A waiting helicopter is to take Archie, who the Russians believe to be the spy, off to Moscow to feed them with NATO secrets.
A box is placed just behind the wheel arch allowing Tony Curtis to step up onto the boot of the car where stuntman Harold Sanderson is waiting. Danny throws Harold to the ground, jumps in and drives off. The only thing that stands between Danny Wilde and the waiting helicopter is stuntman Max Faulkner who gets knocked down as we can see below.
Tony Curtis drives the car, a job normally undertaken by a stuntman. Faulkner clips the edge of the bonnet, or hood if youâ€&#x;re from over the pond, and rolls off onto the ground. In many cases rolling the length of the vehicle is simpler that being clipped by an edge.
So there you have it. The Persuaders in all its action packed glory. A television series that has never been matched since it was first shown forty years ago. The brilliance of Roger Moore and Tony Curtis gave this show something other shows hadnâ€&#x;t got.
For me, of course, the stuntmen are the heroes. Without them none of the action would have been possible so letâ€&#x;s remember those wonderful men and women who gave so much for our enjoyment. For those who are no longer with us. We will always remember you.
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A look at the action on this classic ITC series from 1971