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

Continuing this analysis of Dennis Spooner's original story format, we now turn our attention to the premise of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). As was the case with the characters, this, as we will see, varies somewhat too.

The opening episode of the series, My Late Lamented Friend and Partner, begins with Jeff Randall, and then Marty Hopkirk, working on a seemingly routine divorce case. Their client, Fay Sorrensen, is killed, and when Marty becomes suspicious, he too is killed, although it is made to look like an accident. The title sequence at the beginning of each episode recaps the circumstances leading up to Marty's death via a hit and run driver.

Spooner, however, had other plans...

 

Steve Randall - ambitious and ever optimistic - is convinced that given the break, the firm of Randall and Hopkirk will definitely be going places.

Marty Hopkirk is not so convinced. He's happy with the way things are - they make a living, work for themselves, and have a good time.

Then the firm of Randall and Hopkirk are working on one of those very rare, large and important cases, and the circumstances we find them in prove tragic.

MARTY HOPKIRK IS KILLED - and the brass plaque that tells the world of their existence, and incidentally which is polished daily without fail, is amended to read:

RANDALL
&
HOPKIRK 
(DECEASED)

 

There is no indication of how Marty is killed. Perhaps Spooner hadn't quite decided, at that point, on such minor details! (Incidentally, I don't recall anyone coming out and polishing the brass plaque either...)

It would appear from Spooner's original plot that the case Randall and Hopkirk were working on was not a routine divorce case but something much bigger and more involved, which eventually led to Hopkirk's death.

This the point at which we encounter a dramatic change in the story, the situation after Marty Hopkirk is killed.

In the final version, Marty's death is a shattering experience not only for his partner, Jeff, but even more so for his wife, Jean, who has now become a young widow. As a means of keeping the business afloat, she moves into the office as Jeff's assistant.

Funerals, by their very nature, are not pleasant affairs, but when it is the funeral of your closest friend and business partner, it is a most traumatic experience. After Marty's funeral in My Late Lamented Friend and Partner, Jeff returns to his apartment, morose and withdrawn, and eventually decides to take an early night. Suddenly, the telephone rings, despite Jeff having instructed the porter not to put any calls through. When he answers it, he hears Marty's voice urging him to meet him at the cemetery. Jeff, of course, assumes it is someone's sick sense of humour, and he decides to ignore the several phone calls from 'Marty' that follow.

He eventually drifts into sleep, but his slumber is disturbed and he suddenly gets up, trance-like, and drives to the graveyard where he is greeted by a ghostly-looking Marty Hopkirk, clothed in a totally white suit, shirt, tie and even boots. Jeff eventually accepts that he is not dreaming and Marty has in fact come back as a ghost. It transpires that Jeff will be the only one who will be able to see and hear Marty; even his widow will not be able to detect his presence.

"You're the only one, Jeff... I chose you," Marty tells him. "Apart from the odd manifestation, nobody'll see me... I chose you, Jeff..."

So why has Marty returned? Well, his death was no accident and he could not rest in peace knowing his murderer would go free. Therefore, he must convince Jeff that he was murdered so that together they may solve the case they had been working on and track down his murderer and bring him to justice.

Unfortunately, as a result of their investigations, Marty disregards an ancient rhyme by not returning to his grave before sunrise and discovers later that the grave rejects him. He tells Jeff that this means he is cursed to remain earthbound for the next hundred years.

This is the story that all followers of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) are familiar with, but Dennis Spooner didn't intend for it to happen that way at all. Here's how Spooner described the situation...

 

Steve Randall is shattered. No - Hopkirk was not the great thing since Sherlock Holmes. As a matter of fact, he was always accident-prone anyway, but he was a partner, a friend, loyal and... well, you name it! And Steve Randall takes the death very badly. He blames himself personally that it happened at all, and is all for winding up the business.

Marty Hopkirk, of course, knows the true facts. His death was entirely his own fault. More to the point, he ruined any success the company might have had, and it could take years for the business to get over it. In addition, Steve Randall was blameless, and must be convinced... so... all in all...

Marty Hopkirk's Ghost does not go to wherever it is all self-respecting departing spirits go...

HE WILL STAY ON EARTH - AND MAKE AMENDS!!!

 

 Back to Origins: In the Beginning Forward to Origins: All Change

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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