Part Two of Vanessa Bergman's investigation
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
Steve Randall - ambitious and ever
optimistic - is convinced that given the break,
the firm of Randall and Hopkirk will definitely be
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.
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:
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
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returns to his apartment, morose and withdrawn, and eventually decides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'
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.
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...
Hopkirk's Ghost does not go to wherever it is all
self-respecting departing spirits go...
HE WILL STAY
ON EARTH - AND MAKE AMENDS!!!
Origins: In the Beginning •
Forward to Origins: All Change
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
acknowledges the help given to her by ITC in the
preparation of this article.