|Created by||Dennis Spooner|
|Theme music composer||Laurie Johnson|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Running time||50 mins|
|Production company||ITC Entertainment|
|Distributor||ITV Studios Global Entertainment/Carlton Communications UK|
|Original network||ITV (ATV)|
|Picture format||16 mm 4:3 Colour|
|Original release||15 September 1971 –|
28 April 1972
|Preceded by||Department S|
Jason King is a British television series starring Peter Wyngarde as the eponymous character. It was produced by ITC Entertainment and had a single season of 26 one-hour episodes that aired from 1971 to 1972. It was shown internationally as well, and has been released on DVD in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Germany.
The series featured the further adventures of the title character who had first appeared in Department S (1969). In that series he was a dilettante dandy and author of a series of adventure novels, working as part of a team of investigators. In Jason King he had left that service to concentrate on writing the adventures of Mark Caine, who closely resembled Jason King in looks, manner, style, and personality. None of the other regular characters from Department S appeared in this series, although Department S itself is occasionally referred to in dialogue.
In the course of visiting international locations as part of his research, or through being summoned by people needing assistance, King would be frequently embroiled in adventure stories featuring glamorous women, exotic locations (for the era), menacing villains, political turmoil, or espionage intrigue.
The first episode depicted King's retelling of a Mark Caine novel to a television executive, alternating between King's interpretation of events, and the television executive's version. King's version showed style and class, while the executive's version featured added suspense, more cliches, and had the women in more revealing costumes. In the footage representing both men's vision of the novel adapted for the screen, Mark Caine was portrayed by Wyngarde.
The titles of the Mark Caine books often consisted of four short words, in the manner of some of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. The Mark Caine title mentioned most often in the series was Index Finger Left Hand; another was To China Yours Sincerely (parodying Fleming's From Russia With Love).
Subsequent episodes featured Wyngarde playing King trying to write his novels and being pressured by his publisher Nicola Harvester about deadlines. King, however, was usually distracted by beautiful women and the adventures of his normal life, and was sometimes tricked by Ryland of the British Government into assisting the Government in international political matters: all of which later found their way into the adventures of the fictional Mark Caine.
The series was created by Dennis Spooner and like its predecessor was made by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company (which had become successful with such series as The Saint and Danger Man). However, unlike previous ITC series which were shot on 35mm film, Jason King was filmed on 16mm to cut costs. Episodes were written specifically to include travel to various European locations to which Peter Wyngarde had, before the series, been brought for outdoor location filming; these shots were then included within the filmed narratives.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|01||"Wanna Buy A Television Series?"||Roy Ward Baker||Dennis Spooner||15 September 1971|
|02||"A Page Before Dying"||Jeremy Summers||Tony Williamson||22 September 1971|
|03||"Buried in the Cold, Cold Ground"||Jeremy Summers||Philip Broadley||6 October 1971|
|04||"A Deadly Line in Digits"||Jeremy Summers||Tony Williamson||13 October 1971|
|05||"Variations on a Theme"||Cyril Frankel||Philip Broadley||20 October 1971|
|06||"As Easy as ABC"||Jeremy Summers||Tony Williamson||10 November 1971|
|Guest stars: Nigel Green, Michael Bates|
|07||"To Russie With... Panache"||Paul Dickson||Tony Williamson||17 November 1971|
|08||"A Red, Red Rose Forever"||Cyril Frankel||Donald James||1 December 1971|
|09||"All That Glisters (Part One)"||Cyril Frankel||Philip Broadley||8 December 1971|
|10||"All That Glisters (Part Two)"||Cyril Frankel||Philip Broadley||15 December 1971|
|11||"Flamingoes Only Fly on Tuesdays"||Jeremy Summers||Tony Williamson||29 December 1971|
|12||"Toki"||Jeremy Summers||Tony Williamson||5 January 1972|
|Guest star: Felicity Kendal|
|13||"The Constance Missal"||Jeremy Summers||Harry W. Junkin||12 January 1972|
|14||"Uneasy Lies The Head"||Cyril Frankel||Donald James||19 January 1972|
|15||"Nadine"||Cyril Frankel||Philip Broadley||2 February 1972|
|Guest star: Ingrid Pitt|
|16||"A Kiss for a Beautiful Killer"||Cyril Frankel||Gerald Kelsey||9 February 1972|
|17||"If It's Got To Go, It's Got To Go"||Cyril Frankel||Dennis Spooner||16 February 1972|
|18||"Thin Band of Air"||Cyril Frankel||Harry W. Junkin||3 March 1972|
|19||"It's Too Bad About Auntie"||Jeremy Summers||Harry W. Junkin||10 March 1972|
|20||"The Stones of Venice"||Jeremy Summers||Donald James||17 March 1972|
|21||"A Royal Flush"||Roy Ward Baker||Philip Broadley||24 March 1972|
|22||"Every Picture Tells A Story"||Cyril Frankel||Robert Banks Stewart||31 March 1972|
|23||"Chapter One: The Company I Keep"||Cyril Frankel||Donald James||7 April 1972|
|24||"Zenia"||Roy Ward Baker||Philip Broadley||14 April 1972|
|25||"An Author in Search of Two Characters"||Cyril Frankel||Dennis Spooner||21 April 1972|
|26||"That Isn't Me, It's Somebody Else"||Roy Ward Baker||Dennis Spooner||28 April 1972|
In the X-Men comics, the character of Jason Wyngarde (aka Mastermind) was partially inspired by Jason King and Peter Wyngarde. Mastermind had first appeared in the 1960s, but took on the appearance and identity of Jason Wyngarde in the build-up to the X-Men's first confrontation with the Hellfire Club in the late 1970s. Wyngarde had played the leader of another Hellfire club in "A Touch of Brimstone", an episode of The Avengers, in which Diana Rigg appeared in a leather costume that Jean Grey adopted as the Hellfire Club's Black Queen.
The Two Ronnies performed a sketch entitled 'Jason King', with Ronnie Corbett putting on all the airs and graces of King and Ronnie Barker playing a suspect in a murder investigation, during their third series in 1973.
Jason King was also the basis for Jason Bentley, played by Peter Richardson in the Comic Strip Presents episode Detectives on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown (1993). Wyngarde said in a BBC television interview when this episode was originally transmitted that he was flattered by the affectionate parody, but insisted that Jason King would never wear crushed velvet.