Top Secret

1961 | United Kingdom

William Franklyn as Peter Dallas, an Englishman brought up in Argentina and now a British Intelligence agent. He has been granted a year's leave and is engaged by South American businessman Miguel Garetta (Patrick Cargill) to act wherever the official forces of law and order cannot or will not do so. 

Dallas, usually aided by Garetta's nephew (Alan Rothwell) travels all over the picturesque Pampas pitting his wits against villians in cities and villages. To bring beautiful backgrounds to the ITV screen, a film unit headed by director Ian Fordyce went out to Argentina with Franklyn, a 35-year old ex-paratrooper. They spent eight weeks in the most exciting locations they could visit. They started in Buenos Aires. "The hardest thing there was crossing the road," said Franklyn. "It's a city where the insurance premiums for pedestrians should be higher than for motorists." Meanwhile, on the French Riviera, Patrick Cargill was relaxing, getting himself fit for the series. "Garetta is extremely rich," he said, "and as I'm far from rich a certain amount of acting will be required!" 

This is the show that turned William Franklin into a star and eventually made him one of the most familiar faces on British television through a series of advertisements for the soft drink company Schweppes. The commercial's 'Shh! You know who' cathphrase immediately caught on and proved to be one of the most successful advertising campaigns of the 1960s. Patrick Cargill went on to specialise in TV sitcom and is especially remembered as the father in Father, Dear Father and Alan Rothwell starred in Coronation Street as Ken Barlow's brother, David. 

The serial's catchy South American sounding theme tune, 'Sucu Sucu', became a top ten hit in 1961 for composer Laurie Johnson.

Published on February 8th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.