R & H: Article 16Jan2017
THOSE LATE, LAMENTED OPENING TITLES…
Network’s brand new HD masters of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) will be something of a sentimental journey for fans who remember seeing the series the first time around, with the return of the ‘original’ opening credits: or rather, the credits that were used on the first transmission.
Uniquely out of all the ITC filmed adventure series, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) had two different title sequences. The original broadcasts all included a version featuring a voice-over from Marty Hopkirk, neatly setting up the series format in a few short lines of dialogue, delivered over scenes edited together from the first episode, My Late lamented Friend and Partner:
‘Jeff! It’s all right, Jeannie can’t see or hear me… nobody can. Only you, Jeff, only you!’
Simple: everyone knew what was going on, leaving viewers free to concentrate on the story instead of wondering why Kenneth Cope was walking around in a white suit.
In the UK, the series was off air for the best part of a decade between the mid ’70s and mid ’80s. When it returned, in the form of brand-new prints struck from the original negatives, it was with an unfamiliar title sequence, minus the graveyard scenes and Marty’s expository voice-over. The series’s fanbase can almost be divided into two; those who recall the series from the original broadcasts, and those who came to it in the 1980s. Anyone who watched in the late 60s and early 70s remember only one, ‘graveyard’ title sequence. Those whose first encounter with the series was the mid 80s repeat saw completely different titles, much to the bafflement of the earlier audience.
This leads us to two key questions: 1) why were there two separate title sequences? and 2) which of them is the original? The answer to no. 2 is simple: they both are. The sequence first seen on the 1980s repeats is present on all the series’ negatives and inter-positives (back-up copies of a positive image printed on negative film stock). The ‘graveyard’ sequence is ‘original’ in terms of what was seen on screen the first time around. But it was the other, ‘1980s’ sequence that was intended to be seen on those first broadcasts.
So why was the intended title sequence replaced? And when?
One clue comes from some surviving paperwork. The Sound Magnetic Dupe Report, dated January 1970, which was archived along with the music recordings for the beginning and end credits, refers to ‘new front titles’ in a ‘long version’ and ‘short version’, with the further entry: ‘shot 12.8.69’ (the reference to ‘long’ and ‘short’ versions of the titles remains unexplained, as only one known version of the sequence survives). Below this entry, we see that the original ‘front titles’ were ‘shot’ on 13.8.68, consistent with the production schedule (the opening episode was in production between May and July of that year).
Production on Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) wrapped in early July of 1969, so the date of 12.8.69 refers to either the editing of the new title sequence and/or the recording of Kenneth Cope’s new voice-over. Only one new piece of film was shot for the replacement sequence: a zoom-in and pull focus on the office door of Randall and Hopkirk (which is not the office door as seen in the actual episodes).
With the series going to air in September 1969, this was a very late substitution, and broadcast prints would already have been prepared, so the new ‘graveyard’ titles were simply spliced into the broadcast prints. This explains why they do not survive in any of the negatives, which have remained untouched since the original edit sessions in 1969. Of those original titles, only Dennis Spooner and Monty Berman’s credits were retained; and while this transition looks somewhat jarring in colour, it should be borne in mind that, when first broadcast, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) was seen in black and white (colour TV arrived on ITV and BBC 1 on November 15 1969).
One question that can’t be answered definitevely is why the titles were replaced. The original sequence had been prepared by Chambers+Partners, who supplied title sequences for many other ITC filmed series. Compared to the replacement titles, this original sequence looks dark and indistinct, with multiple colour overlays and double exposure effects getting in the way of the action. Perhaps more tellingly, it does not fully explain the one aspect of the series format which a new viewer would need to know to understand the whole set-up: that Marty Hopkirk is a ghost, visible (and audible) only to his chosen partner, Jeff Randall.
It’s a question to which we’ll never have a definitive answer. The people who made those decisions are no longer with us, so barring some ghostly intervention, it must remain the only unsolved mystery of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).