Wilde Alliance

1978 | United Kingdom

Crime novelist Rupert Wilde and his wife live in a luxurious lifestyle in an expensive and beautifully decorated apartment in an old Manor House in the city of York. They live an idyllic lifestyle. But amidst their extravagant taste for good food, fine wine and sports cars (he drives a Triumph TR7), they have one other weakness: They can’t resist a good mystery. This very often results in them being caught up in a dangerous intrigue that could be straight out of a Rupert Wilde book.

Although Wilde is a best selling author of detective stories to the frustration of his long-suffering literary agent, Christopher Bridgewater, he has to be constantly hounded to meet his deadlines. Luckily for both of them Rupert is married to the resourceful artist and designer, Lucy, who types up his notes (Rupert hates writing anything down himself) and organises his life in order for them both to live in the expensive lifestyle they have become accustomed to. Christopher lives in London with an office in Charring Cross Road but often becomes an unwilling companion in their adventures.

Nothing is straight forward for the Wilde’s. Take Mr Bailey, their neighbour, for example, who lives in the flat downstairs. A quiet, distinguished gentleman by all appearances who describes himself as an "artist", until Rupert discovers he makes and distributes soft-porn films. 

The man behind Rupert Wilde was writer Ian MacKintosh a former Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy who left the Service in 1972 with an MBE, and was approached by Yorkshire Television for ideas for a series. He had previously published his first novel in 1967 before approaching the BBC and the Navy with an idea for a drama series from which the successful programme Warship was born. He dreamed up the idea for Wilde Alliance, sold it to Yorkshire, wrote the first episode and become producer of the 13-part series. MacKintosh also created the spy series The Sandbaggers for the same company.

"When I wrote the format and characters for Wilde Alliance, I was working necessarily in a two-dimensional form.” MacKintosh once wrote. “Amy and Rupert were dear to me; but they could not come alive, take real shape, go out into the world, until the parts were cast and the artistes started to speak the lines. May I take this opportunity, therefore, to thank Julia Foster and John Stride for giving me parental pride, and for being two of the most professional and delightful people to whom any writer or producer could entrust his product. Amy and Rupert would surely approve."

In a mystery worthy of one of his own creations, MacKintosh was surveying locations in Alaska in July 1979 (allegedly for a film, but rumours have it for naval intelligence) with his friend Graham Barber when the light plane he was in disappeared and was never found. 

A top rated show in its day, Wilde Alliance was broadcast in a prime time slot between 9pm and 10pm on Tuesday nights and made the Top 20 programmes of the week list during its entire 13 episode run between 17th January and 11th April 1978, reaching a peak audience of 16.6 million viewers, sending it to number 4 in the chart. 

Published on February 12th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus (December 2005) for Television Heaven.