Part One of Vanessa Bergman's investigation into
the origins of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)

We start off with the central characters of the series, first reminding ourselves how these characters are introduced to us in the early episodes of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

 
JEFF RANDALL is the live half of the duo. He's in his late thirties and, after several years of running a detective agency with his partner, he is still struggling to pay the rent. This is due, no doubt, to the fact that most of the cases he undertakes tend to have no financial reward at the end of them! He's tough, but a sympathetic, easy-going man.
MARTY HOPKIRK, around the same age as his partner, is killed in suspicious circumstances while working on a seemingly routine divorce case. When his ghost returns to continue the partnership with Jeff, it soon transpires that the ethereal Marty is just as much a worrier as when he was alive! But for all his worrying, he is perhaps the one with the ideas. It is he who often has the bolt of inspiration to help Jeff out of awkward and often dangerous situations... even though it is usually Marty who has put him there in the first place!
JEAN HOPKIRK, an attractive blonde, is the widow of Marty Hopkirk, who assists Jeff in the office after Marty's death. She is a rather melancholy character who obviously misses her husband a great deal, but at the same time, she doesn't hide the fact that she is attracted to Jeff.
   

In Spooner's original format, he described the characters as being quite different...

 

STEVEN (STEVE) RANDALL is in his late twenties, early thirties. He's ambitious and he's handsome. Women approve of him - to say the least. A direct, blunt, honest man of tall, athletic build. He's a man of action who prefers to settle an argument with his fists rather than a persuasive logic. Headstrong, but just and fair. He'll see a case through to the end, even if it begins to look as though it may break him or lose him his licence. He does have respect for the law but he will go his own way if he has to. Steve Randall never sits on the fence. He always takes sides.

MARTIN (MARTY) HOPKIRK, around the same age as his partner, is a chubby, kind, likeable, friendly man. He's humorous and rather accident-prone; things never quite work out as planned, but there's always the next time.

 

There is no description of Jean Hopkirk, or indeed any leading female character. Therefore, we can assume that Spooner intended for both of his original characters to be bachelors. ITC, however, were fond of including at least one female role in their Sixties series (Sharron Macready in The Champions and Annabelle Hurst in Department S for example) and this is the most likely reason that Jean Hopkirk was introduced.

Apart from that, let's see what else has changed...

  • First of all, and most obvious, there is the name change from 'Steve' to 'Jeff'.

  • There is the age difference. Dennis Spooner had intended for our two heroes to be a few years younger.

  • Steve Randall is described as 'ambitious'. Well, Jeff certainly isn't!

  • Although it would appear in the series that Jeff gets beaten to a pulp every fifteen minutes, I'm certain that, given the choice, he would prefer to use a persuasive logic rather than his fists, to ward off his adversaries, the reverse of Spooner's original suggestion.

  • Steve Randall will go against the law if he feels he has to, whereas Jeff tries very hard to keep on the right side of the authorities, even though the police do not always appreciate this!

  • Steve Randall is obviously a ladies' man whilst Jeff, who certainly has an eye for the girls, doesn't have women figuring greatly in his life. On the occasions where Jeff is attempting to entertain a female companion, Marty's sudden, unwelcome intrusions - always to Jeff's annoyance - certainly don't help Jeff in forging relationships!

There are some familiar characteristics, however. For instance, Jeff Randall does tend to be headstrong at times, and he will side with anyone who feels they are blameless for any misdeed.

And Marty Hopkirk?

  • Spooner's original character is accident-prone, whereas the final Marty was transformed into a born worrier! You name it, he would worry about it! The business, Jeannie (his widow), the car, Jeff's driving... everything! He is also very jealous and protective where Jeannie is concerned.

  • The description of the character being 'chubby' is also at odds with the character as we know it, though this may well have been jettisoned in tandem with the clumsiness.

Again, there are characteristics that we are familiar with, not least in that 'before and after', Marty is a humorous, kind and extremely likeable character.

Back to Origins: In the Beginning Forward to Origins: Background

Proposal Document: Scoton Productions / ITC Feature by Vanessa Bergman
Previously published as In the Beginning in RAHDAS Newsletter No. 1 (Spring 1989)
and as Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): Before and After in Time Screen No. 14 (Autumn 1989)
Reprinted with permission

The author acknowledges the help given to her by ITC in the preparation of this article.

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