Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk
Created by Dennis Spooner

Although the idea's been dredged up several times since, I think ITC's Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was possibly the first teaming of two private eyes where one of them had already shuffled off this mortal coil. At best, one could say this one had definite echoes of Hamlet. At worst you could call it silly fluff.

Yep, JEFF RANDALL was more-or-less your average mildly-competent TV eye, London Division, a heart-on-his-sleeve bloke, still trying to make ends meet, not exactly the greatest gumshoe in all the U.K., often accepting cases with little or no chance of financial compensation. He's a bit of an idealist, can be rather headstrong, and has been known to act impulsively, and sometimes unwisely. A nice enough guy, really, the kinda guy who relaxes with a glass of whiskey, and the occasional company of a pretty lady. The one woman who's a constant in his life, though, is his partner's wife, Jeanie.

It was his partner, MARTY HOPKIRK, who was the real brains. But Marty had passed on, was no more, had ceased to be. He had expired and gone to meet his maker. He was a stiff, bereft of life. His metabolic processes were history, he'd kicked the bucket, shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile. He was an ex-detective.

But that didn't seem to stop him from giving Jeff assistance and advice.

Of course, Jeannie's marital status was changed forever when Marty was murdered in a hit-and-run while investigating what seemed to be a fairly routine divorce case. A tough break, indeed, and when Jeff heads to the cemetary to pay his respects, Marty's ghost pops up (in a dazzling white suit, no less), determined to help Jeff find his killers.

After the two crack the case, Marty decides to stick around, help Jeff out, and keep an eye on things. And that's really what the gag is. See, Marty's a worrier, almost to the point of compulsion, and he's not shy about giving advice to Jeff, whether it's asked for or not. So Jeff has to listen to Marty nag about his driving, his detecting skills, his personal life, how he's running the business...everything! And of course, only Jeff can see Marty, adding to the hilarity, and Jeff's frustration. Imagine a personal, otherworldly Felix Unger!

And it turns out Marty's also got a mean streak of green. Whenever any man starts to develop any kind of relationship with Jeannie, Marty's intense jealousy rears its ugly head. Of course, any hint of anything between Jeff and Jeannie, is bound to set him off. And just to further complicate things, Jeannie soon goes to work in the agency, to help Jeff out.

It may sound gimmicky, and too cute by half, but it was actually a rather entertaining mix of comedy and drama, with an engaging cast, particularly Kenneth Cope as Marty. Despite the fact it only ran for 26 episodes, it gathered a huge cult following, and is fondly remembered in Britain and several other countries around the world. It wasn't quite as popular in the States, though, where NBC aired it late at night as My Partner, The Ghost. Too quirky, too British, and way too low in gun battles and car chases, you could almost say say it never stood a ghost of a chance...

But never say never. Such was the popularity of the show in the U.K., that in 2000 it was announced that BBC1 was preparing a big budget revival of the show, with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer taking over the roles of Marty and Jeff. One interesting guest star is Guy Pratt, son of Mike Prat, the original Jeff Randall.

UNDER OATH

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Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Flo for a friendly reminder, and for pointing the way.


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