Media: Sixties hit set to rise from TV graveyard

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For anyone of a certain age, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) means running home from school in a pair of flares to watch television. Now the series is being re-made. Paul McCann, Media Correspondent, wallows in nostalgia.

Long before Britain had heard of Martin Bell, Neil Hamilton or Tatton, Marty Hopkirk was the good guy in a white suit on British television. And now he's coming back.

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) is being re-made by the company that made the film Trainspotting.

PolyGram Film's television division, Working Title, has the rights to the cult Sixties private detective series, and has new scripts by the writer James McInnes ready to go into production.

PolyGram bought the rights from Lord Lew Grade's ITC television library and is using a loan from the European Media Two programme to fund development of the series.

No stars are yet in place to play the detectives but the series is just the latest development in the trend for so-called nostalgia TV. Last week it was reported that Charlie's Angels is to be resurrected in a Hollywood movie while at Teddington Studios in London The Professionals is being re-made.

The boom in nostalgia TV reflects a feeling among television executives that many of the best popular television ideas come from a creatively fertile period in the Sixties and Seventies. The more cynical believe that, rather than take risks, producers are turning to old formats.

As everyone over the age of 30 knows, Randall and Hopkirk was a two-man detective agency until Marty Hopkirk was killed in an apparent car accident in the first episode in September 1969.

For reasons that are never made quite clear they become a one man, one ghost, detective agency when Marty's spirit hangs around to help his partner solve a mystery each week. Only Jeff could see his deceased partner, who wore a white suit to identify him as a ghost.

Marty Hopkirk made a useful detective in that he could walk through walls and doors and transport himself by closing his eyes and simply wishing to be somewhere. Thanks to this spying on the bad guys was Marty's speciality. Unfortunately, his temporal nature also meant that each week he had to stand by helpless while Jeff got beaten up.

The series, inspired by the Noel Coward play, Blithe Spirit, was produced by Dennis Spooner, the man who made the other cult detective hit of the late Sixties, Department S.

Marty was played by Kenneth Cope who became famous playing Jed Stone in Coronation Street for five years, also in the Sixties.

Cope also appeared in many other classic Sixties series, from Doctor Who to Dixon of Dock Green. He was last seen in a guest role in Casualty, before changing careers and running a restaurant in Oxfordshire.

Jeff Randall was played by the leather- faced and laconic Mike Pratt who died in 1976. In the series Jeff maintained a discreetly chaste relationship with Marty's widow Jeannie which may be difficult to sustain in the less strait-laced Nineties.

PolyGram is maintaining a silence on the new series until it secures actors and a broadcaster, but the series is expected to be on air by the end of next year.

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