The Saint – The Talented Husband

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Simon Templar (Roger Moore) arrives in the small English village of Cookham, ostensibly for a relaxing holiday.  But in reality the Saint is on a mission and it doesn’t take him long before he teams up with the gorgeous Adrienne Halberd (Shirley Eaton) in order to run John Clarron (Derek Farr) to ground.  Clarron’s third wife, Madge (Patricia Roc), is a friend of Simon’s and he’s convinced that her life is in great danger.   Has Clarron hatched an ingenious plot to murder his latest wife and pocket her substantial fortune?

The Talented Husband, with its domestic English setting, seems a slightly unusual debut story for The Saint (original tx 4th October 1962).  Partly this is because Simon has to be placed in the background for a large part of the story, as the domestic tensions between Clarron and Madge slowly play out.  This is really Derek Farr’s episode – he deftly manages to portray Clarron as a man who’s constantly bubbling with resentment at the way he’s kept subservient by his wealthy wife (he’s a former actor turned unsuccessful theatre producer) although he’s also able to turn on the charm when necessary.

Adrienne, like Simon, has an ulterior motive for staying in Cookham.  She’s the most impossibly glamourous insurance agent you could ever wish to meet (although the dialogue does acknowledge this) and has been sent to keep tabs on Clarron.  Since he’s taken out a large insurance policy on Madge, foul play seems set to follow shortly ….

What’s interesting is that the “accident” which turns Madge into a bed-ridden invalid does seem to be genuine.  Clarron, reaching down from his bedroom balcony to throw a jumper down to Madge, knocks over a rather large plant pot – right onto her head.  He makes an attempt to stop it falling and looks genuinely contrite afterwards – or is this simply his acting abilities being brought into play?

There’s a large plot twist coming up now, so I’d advise anybody who doesn’t want the story spoiled to look away.  Although to be honest, I’d be amazed if anybody didn’t instantly twig what the twist actually is ….

Clarron hires a gem of a housekeeper, Mrs Jafferty, to look after Madge, but ….. she turns out to be Clarron in drag!

I think it’s fair to say that this isn’t the most successful part of the story.  It’s painfully obvious right from Mrs J’s first scene that it’s actually Derek Farr dragged up and this is made even clearer when we hear Mrs Jafferty speak.  Clearly Farr couldn’t provide a suitably feminine voice, so instead all of Mrs Jafferty’s lines are dubbed by an actress.  This is the sort of concept that works much better in print than on screen.

Although Simon is rather distanced from the action (he’s forced to keep a watching brief with Adrienne for most of the episode) Roger Moore still effortlessly manages to draw the viewers in.  From his opening monologue to camera, where he confides that he’s not a fan of the worthier type of theatre (i.e. the sort of production championed by Clarron), Moore and the Saint seem a perfect fit.

And his ability to turn from relaxed to remorseless is demonstrated at the end of the episode, when we see Simon confront Clarron with the evidence of his crime. Although Moore is best known for his light touch, he’s easily able – as here – to show a flash of steel when required.

With strong support from the lovely Shirley Eaton, the ever-glowering Derek Farr and the nobly suffering Patricia Roc, it’s plain that this one doesn’t lack for acting talent.  A good character piece, The Talented Husband rates a healthy three halos out of five.

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3 thoughts on “The Saint – The Talented Husband

  1. It’s an episode I find myself returning to every couple of years or so, as is the want of an unashamed series fan. The opening monologue is entertaining and proves Moore’s subsequent worth as an actor was always seriously undervalued.

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  2. Thursday October 4th 1962,The First Episode of The Saint The Talented Husband Alongside Shirley Eaton & The late Derek Farr & Roger Moore Filmed in Black & White by ATV-ITC New World Production.

    Simon Templar Holds John for Try to Kill His Wife by poisoning when the Police Arrives & Arrested John to take him away.

    Terry Christie,
    Sunderland,Tyne & Wear.

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  3. Several years ago, I purchased the bulky Network DVD box set of the Saint monochrome episodes. A wonderful series that I have revisited a few times over the years.

    118 episodes of the Saint were recorded, spanning seven years, which is quite an astounding achievement for any British television series.

    Sir Roger Moore is a fine actor indeed. His screen presence as Simon Templer is electric here and in my view he was much better as the Saint than as 007.

    Its amazing to think that Sir Roger would devote so much of his life and talent to the Saint. Most leading actors would get itchy feel after a couple of years, and move on to other projects to avoid being typecast.

    However, RM had a such a strong relationship with his friends at Elstree, that he was more than happy to remain as ST until he felt the original series had run it’s course.

    This opening episode is quite a welcoming introduction to the Saint and what we would come to expect over the course of the series. Interestingly, I always feel that ST takes a little bit of a back seat role here, while the story plays out amongst the guest characters.

    The English village atmosphere of 1962 almost feels like a period piece and is not uncommon to how monochrome British films were presented as a traditional Saturday morning matinée back then.

    The 1960s would go through some radical changes to British television and by the conclusion of the decade, this type of tranquil monochrome film production would be a thing of the past.

    One of the beautiful aspects of the Saint is that it is an escapism series – it isn’t hard hitting, and some of the stories are quite tongue in the cheek, but nicely present a crime or mystery that the hero would solve in under an hour.

    Sadly, a series like the Saint is one that would never work now.
    The advanced technology we have now, would make it impossible for a story like ‘The Talented Husband’ to be authentic. A mobile phone call, would easily rumble the villain in the first five minutes!!!!

    This is what makes the Saint so great – it is a series built on a simpler way of life from an era that has long since passed.

    At 35, Roger Moore looks incredibly boyish here and it does feel surreal watching him in these very early episodes.

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