1963 - United Kingdom

Richard Crane decided to give up the life of a city businessman and trade it in for one of excitement and adventure in Morocco. He said goodbye to his safe suburban home and headed for the sun, bought himself a boat and opened a beachfront bar near Casablanca. He also had a nice little operation dealing in illegal contraband.

Crane was presented as the kind of adventurer in The Saint mold when he first appeared on British screens in April 1963. Like Simon Templar he was not a private eye but a man of principles and despite some of his questionable activities he was not above cooperating with the law whenever an injustice had been committed.

Keeping a watchful eye on those activities was local police chief Colonel Mahmoud (Gerald Flood), a man of charm and elegance, suave yet deadly when opposed. And yet, both men had a healthy respect for each other, sometimes finding themselves on the same side of the law before resolving a situation and then going their separate ways again. Crane also had an accomplice in the form of ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, expert engineer and first class motor mechanic, Orlando O'Connor (Sam Kydd), who later reappeared on British shores in the children's adventure series, Orlando. Glamour was provided by cafe bartender, Halima, played by German actress Laya Raki.


Raki, born in Hamburg in 1927, gained popularity in Germany during the 1950s. In 1954, she was enticed to London to appear in the J. Arthur Rank Film Company production The Seekers and with promises of further film roles in the UK and Hollywood. However, her experience was disappointing, as she found herself mostly unemployed, with only a few minor roles on television in shows like Hawaiian Eye, The Beachcomber, and Tales of Wells Fargo. Despite this, her situation garnered attention and eventually led to new opportunities. In 1962, Raki tried her hand at being a recording artist, but her song, Oh Johnny Hier Nicht Parken, faced controversy. A Nuremberg court banned it, claiming that her ecstatic moaning simulated sexual content. At the age of 30, Raki married Australian actor Ron Randell in London and subsequently retired from performing in 1966.

The show's star, Patrick Allen, had previously appeared on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Memorial Company in Stratford-on-Avon and was offered the role of Crane whilst playing Achilles in Troilus and Cressida. Immediately the play was over he left for Morocco. "I think," he said, "there is a little of Crane in every man. Most of us feel the urge to get away from the cares and worries of everyday routine. But how many would risk changing their normal lives so radically? Richard Crane was a man bored to death with city life. He decided there was more to life than making money. What did he do? He simply hung up his bowler and umbrella and quit. In Morocco he found the kind of life he was looking for and with his last few hundred pounds (which would have gone a lot further in 1963 than it would today) bought himself a cafe and a boat and settled down to wait for something exciting to happen. He is not strictly a fighter at heart, and he will only go into action if there is a good cause or if a friend is in trouble."


Rediffusion spared no expense bringing Crane to the screens. Many TV series at that time would use travelogue inserts to set the scene of foreign locations before shooting in studio bound 'streets.' But in this case, instead of bringing Morocco to the studios, the company went to Morocco to film on location. This did cause a few complications, not least of all an occasion when designer Henry Federer was arrested for spying. "I'd gone into a local police station to take some photographs of a street from the roof," he explained. "I was whisked away to police headquarters where I was interrogated by a high official. Finally, after a policeman had taken me back to my hotel to see my passport, I was cleared." Patrick Allen and Sam Kydd were regularly being filmed in temperatures reaching 122 degrees Fahrenheit, but the weather wasn't always reliable. On one occasion they were filming in a small boat when a sudden storm blew up and the boat was almost squashed between a yacht and the harbour wall. Interior scenes were filmed back in the UK. 3 series were produced.

Patrick Allen was born Patrick John Keith Allen on 17 March 1927, in Nyasaland (now Malawi) - and raised in Canada. He made his screen début as a soldier in Robert Aldrich's thriller World for Ransom (1953) and after Crane he went on to appear in numerous other series including the almost copycat 1971 production, Brett, although he is probably best remembered for his deep, authoritative voice, which kept him in television-commercial voiceovers for years to come. In the early 1970s, he made a series of commercials for Barratt Homes in which he was flown by helicopter to new housing developments. He was the voice-over artist for the 1990s comedy series The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer and Vic Reeves' Big Night Out, narrated the first series of The Black Adder (1983, and appeared in the last episode) and narrated the children's animated series TUGS (1989), playing Captain Starr. He was also the 'four-minute warning man' on the Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit single Two Tribes.

Among the guest stars appearing in Crane were stalwarts of British television such as Peter Bowles, Brian Cant, Warren Mitchell, Michael Robbins, Peter Vaughan, Patrick Troughton, Paul Eddington, Annette Andre, Roger Delgado and Keith Barron. Viewers enjoyed their weekly visit to the exotic locales of Morocco, where business dealings, friendships, and unexpected twists kept them eagerly tuning in week after week.

Published on May 4th, 2024. Written by Marc Saul for Television Heaven.

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