Part Three of Vanessa Bergman's investigation
of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)
What happened, then, to the firm of
RANDALL & HOPKIRK, PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS, after Marty Hopkirk was
Well, as the opening titles depict,
and as Spooner described, the word DECEASED was added to the brass
name plate - presumably by Randall - so that observant clients, and
even passers-by, would come to the obvious conclusion that a certain
Mr Hopkirk had passed away and the business was now run solely by Mr
They would, however, be quite
wrong, for Jeff Randall is not running the business alone. He does
indeed have a partner... The very same partner, at that! The only
difference is that Marty is now a ghost who has been rejected by the
grave and cursed to roam the earth. Jeff soon learns to live with the
fact that Marty is still around, come what may, and in time he
realises that having a ghost for a partner does have its compensations
as well as its commiserations!
Hold on, did I say that Marty is
cursed? Perhaps it is Jeff Randall who has been cursed! You see, being
a ghost, Marty can materialise and dematerialise at will, wherever and
whenever he pleases. Now this can be - and often is - a serious
embarrassment to Jeff, because if Marty appears when others are
present (which he often does!), he must act as if Marty isn't there.
And that's not easy, as Marty is a very persistent ghost!
Even when Jeff is alone, talking to
Marty has its drawbacks. For instance, in A Disturbing Case,
when Jean and her sister Jenny find Jeff talking, apparently, to
himself, they decide to send him off to a clinic for treatment. The
clinic is not what it seems though, and Jeff and Marty get mixed up in
a scheme which induces patients to rob their own properties!
Marty, unfortunately for Jeff, also
happens to be a very jealous ghost, especially where his widow is
concerned. The slightest suggestion of romantic interest meets with
very strong reactions from Marty. Now, with Jeff being a rugged
looking, eligible bachelor and Jean being very attractive, perhaps a
little vulnerable, and not hiding the fact that she approves of Jeff,
things can sometimes be a little... well, uncomfortable!
What happens then, when a ghost
detective teams up with a mere mortal detective? Well, just think of
it; what better partner could a private eye have than one who is
completely invisible and inaudible to all but himself? Solid walls and
doors are no barrier to him; he just passes straight through them! He
can never be caught - definitely an advantage when snooping on the
villains! Unless, that is, one of the villains happens to be a
clairvoyant and tries to exorcise Marty to stop him interfering in
their robbery plans, as in
Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?.
As for Jeff, there is always the
problem of how to explain away how he could possibly know that a
murder or robbery has taken place when he himself was nowhere near the
scene of the crime. How does he explain that his informant is a ghost?
No wonder the police nearly always blame him for any crime he
reports! Marty, however, doesn't always get it right and makes a
complete fool out of Jeff in Never Trust A Ghost and
Vendetta for a Dead Man. But he more than compensates for this by
saving Jeff's life in
The Smile Behind the Veil,
But What A
Sweet Little Room and
The Trouble With Women, to name but a
Again, there is an extremely
different effect according to Dennis Spooner's original plot...
when a ghost decides to remain in the crime
breaking business as a detective? And with a
partner who is still living and unaware
Okay, so he can
walk through walls and listen in to any
conversation completely unobserved between even
the criminals themselves... Now he has the
knowledge of the next stage of their plan... but
As Spooner points out...
for Hopkirk, ghosts find contact with living
persons very difficult. I mean, few people can
actually talk to a ghost.
Hopkirk is determined to find a way of
communicating with his partner and putting the
company of Randall and Hopkirk back on a sound
A point is
reached in the story where it is essential for
Marty to advise Steve Randall of a place and time
he has discovered where some crime will take
"If only I could
tell you of the time and place," he says to Steve
(who can never see, or hear, his ex-partner).
Spooner goes on to state...
Hopkirk finds it
a great comfort to speak to his ex-partner, and
even to answer him, although in these
circumstances, Hopkirk himself can only have a
Then an idea comes to Marty...
We feature a
gloomy, dark house set in its own grounds. A
creaking board pronounces, 'The British
Spiritualist Society'. Inside, a seance is in
progress. The window bursts open with a great rush
of air, and Hopkirk enters. Hopkirk - he can
naturally talk to his fellow ghosts - asks the
residing spirit to 'lend' him his seance. Problems
arise as there appears to be a waiting list for
this sort of thing, but eventually Hopkirk gets
his way and spells out, with an upturned wine
glass on the shiny table, his 'message'.
Does Randall get
the message in time - or even believe it? Well,
that is part of the story and unnecessary for this
A pity that Spooner didn't give
away more of the plot - it would have been interesting to have known
the outcome of the message!
Spooner proceeds to describe
walking down Chelsea Hight Street battling his
brains on how he can contact Randall again and
give out a further clue he has acquired.
always dressed in ghostly garb. A normal
outfit of clothes, but every article a plain shade
of pale green.
So deep is
Hopkirk in thought that when an elderly, eccentric
looking lady - very much of the living - says
"Good Morning" as he passes her, he has gone some
yards before he realises the significance.
back. "You can see me - and I'm a ghost!"
The lady nods.
It appears she always has been somewhat psychic.
Hopkirk's joy knows no bounds. At last an end to
all his problems. He succeeds in persuading the
lady to telephone Randall, and to pass on the
Later in the
office, Hopkirk is explaining to Randall (not that
he can actually hear a word) that everything from
now on will be plain sailing. Randall will get the
cases, Hopkirk will find the clues and pass the
information on through his new good friend.
Then - horrors -
through the wall comes the lady - totally dressed
in a pale green ghostly outfit. It transpires that
she has called to say goodbye... she always meant
to get those steps in the kitchen fixed, but,
alas, too late..."
Yes - Hopkirk
will need to find yet another way to contact
Randall next time... a materialisation, perhaps?
And so ends Dennis Spooner's
original treatment for Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). Read the
next part of this feature and discover how some of his ideas were
incorporated into scripts written for the series.
Origins: In the Beginning •
Forward to Origins: Echoes
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.