Friday, 11 September 2009


[14.17 - French Time] The Saint is back! No not our Saint Bernie (Lomax), patron saint of the remakes and "reinventions", but Simon Templar.

According to the excellent Broadcast website, Canadian independent production company Brightlight Pictures - based in Vancouver - is about to resurrect the character in a pilot for a new television series of The Saint. Scottish actor Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, Heist) is lined up to star as "the infamous Simon Templar". Kate McMahon, of Broadcast, explains that an American broadcaster is yet to be formally attached to the project, but is expected to be revealed soon. ( Could it be the anglophile NBC?

Simon Templar (initials ST, hence the nickname "The Saint") is of course the suave modern knight-errant, defender of damsels in distress and amateur sleuth created by novelist Leslie Charteris. He's always ready to challenge high profile criminals, spies, or whoever can act be a pretext for a life of action, danger and seduction. The most famous screen Saint is Roger Moore in the long-running ITC television series (from 1962 to 1969) but George Sanders portrayed Templar in six movies between 1938 and 1941. Even French action star Jean Marais played The Saint in the painful Le Saint prend l'affut (1966).

Ian Ogilvy starred in the wrongfully underestimated Return of the Saint, a 1978 ITC series. The Saint came back in a terrible one-hour pilot with Australian actor Andrew Clarke in 1987. Two years later an international co-production resurrected the character for TV with Simon Dutton as Simon Templar. Dutton seemed a good choice and the title theme of this version - composed by Serge Franklin - is one of the coolest TV themes ever written. The premiere episode, written by screenwriter and novelist extraordinary Anthony Horowitz, was great... But to qualify the rest of a total waste would be a polite euphemism. Nothing compared to the 1997 movie starring Val Kilmer, though.

In 2008, a two-hour backdoor pilot project for another television series surfaced with James Purefoy (Rome) atttached as Simon Templar but nothing occured and Purefoy finally starred in The Philanthropist for NBC. The bar is high for Brightlight Pictures and this new version of The Saint, after almost 30 years of creative vacuum for the character. Dougray Scott must not succeed Val Kilmer but Roger Moore and Ian Ogilvy. The real questions are: can a character so dated in the first part of the 20th century be updated and can a studio in Canada double for one or more of the international playgrounds of Simon Templar?

Otherwise the accountants would hail havoc. The Philanthropist was shot mainly in South Africa but The Saint with James Purefoy was meant to be shot in Germany and Australia. Anyway unless of a miracle the best playground for Simon Templar now is Heaven.

No comments: