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Tuesday, 12 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #24 – 12 May 1907

Leslie Charteris was born in Singapore on 12 May, 1907 to a Chinese father and an English mother.  He was educated in Fleetwood, Lancashire and King’s College, Cambridge.  After leaving university, he travelled and pleased himself with a variety of jobs including barman, pearl diver and bus driver.  At the same time he was writing thriller and adventure stories.

He is best-remembered for creating The Saint/Simon Templar, a character that took him a couple of books to be satisfied with.  For a while he worked as a writer for Paramount Pictures.

First, The Saint became a radio series, (1944-51) starring Vincent Price.  On the big screen, Simon Templar was played by Louis Hayward, George Sanders and Hugh Sinclair in films (1938-43), and much later by Val Kilmer (1997), a version, in my opinion, that was a complete mess.  Charteris did not live to see the Kilmer Saint.  I suspect he would have been horrified.

On television, from 1962 to 1969, Templar was played by Roger Moore in 118 episodes and to a certain generation, there is no other Saint.  Before the opening credits, a halo above Moore’s head, his raised eyebrow and a cracker of a theme tune combined to amuse and thrill the audience.  Of the 118, 71 were in black and white, 47 in colour.  

In 1978/79, Return of the Saint starring Ian Ogilvy ran for 24 episodes.  In 1989, a series of television films starring Simon Dutton appeared.

Leslie Charteris died at 85 on 15 April, 1993.  He created one of the most famous characters in popular fiction and enjoyed much success in books, films and television.

Even now, rumours exist that The Saint could re-emerge on screen in yet another recreation.  And why not, as long as it is done well?

Leslie Charteris and Roger Moore

Sources: Wikipedia and others

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