Simon Templar had charmed his way through a series of best-selling novels and a modestly successful series of 1940's Hollywood movies, before ultimately finding his immensely successful home on the television screen.
Leslie Charteris originally tried to develop his modern day Robin Hood character for television some years before, but it was Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman, backed by TV mogul Lew Grade, who finally secured the rights for the series (See accompanying article for a more in-depth account). After offering the part to televisions Danger Man - Patrick McGoohan, it was finally decided that ex-knitting pattern model Roger Moore would don the famous Saintly halo. Moore, who had previously starred in the 1958 children's swashbuckling series Ivanhoe, played the part of Simon Templar (the initials ST giving rise to his nom de plume), with great style and panache from 1962 to 1969, in the process helping to ensure that the series became one of the flagship successes of Grade's television empire, as well as bestowing almost overnight international stardom on its innately charming and handsome leading man.
When the series finally reached the end of its natural life, Moore went on to star as Lord Brett Sinclair, in a brief series with Hollywood legend Tony Curtis (The Persuaders 1971-72), before finally taking over from Sean Connery as Ian Fleming's James Bond in the movies. (A move which would earn him the distinction of being the longest serving, and most financially successful incarnation of the Bond character to appear in the series thus far).
The Saint did not appear in colour until 1966 when Moore co-purchased the rights to the show. Seen in numerous countries around the world it is believed that the series earned in excess of £350 million. Two subsequent television attempts to revive the series starring different actors (Return of the Saint 1978-79 by ITC, starring Ian Ogilvy and The Saint 1989-90 by LWT, starring Simon Dutton), and an ill-received big screen version starring Val Kilmer have each failed to recapture the public's imagination in the way that the original series did, leaving Roger Moore's portrayal as the definitive version.
Published on January 27th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus & SRH (1999) "So, you're the famous Simon Templar!" for Television Heaven.