The Scarlet Pimpernel

1955 | United Kingdom

Based on the book by Baroness Orczy, Marius Goring starred as English nobleman Sir Percy Blakeney (Goring was also one of the producers on the series), whose alter-ego of The Scarlet Pimpernel was an ally to the French aristocracy facing the guillotine. In order to carry out his covert operations, the Pimpernel had to be a master of disguise, which gave Goring the chance to appear in a variety of costumes as either a Parisian flower seller, a Chinese decorator or a court official in the days when George the Third ruled England in heart if not in mind. 

Goring entered the role with immense enthusiasm, having already played the part in a 1949 radio production. 'I enjoyed playing the Pimpernel,' he said at the time. 'He embodies everyone's idea of a hero; a man who, for no personal gain, risked his life for the innocent. It's a strange thought that his antagonists were the people who shouted, "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!"' 

In contrast to his dashing hero persona, Sir Percy was weak and foppish, always cleverly deflecting suspicion of his true identity, which made the story perfect fodder for a spoof by the 'Carry On' team in 1966. In more serious tone it was revived in the late 1990's by the BBC as an action adventure series starring Richard E. Grant.

Published on January 27th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.