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The Baron in colour
on 16 December 2010
Antiques Dealer John Mannering is The Baron. This wonderful TV series was made by ITC around 1965-66. It is often over looked and forgotten. And yet the series is truly a good one. The Baron was the first complete British TV series from ITC to be made in colour with real actors. (the first colour series being Stingray and Thunderbirds with marionettes. And half a series in colour of the Adventures of Sir Lancelot back in 1957). If you liked the later ITC series then you will like this series too.
The series was loosely based on a character of the same name from a series of books by author John Creasey. ITC tried to copy the formula of book hero to TV hero from the Saint by Leslie Charteris. The character of Mannering was like Simon Templar, a member of the jet set. And the Baron shared the same producer Monty Berman as the Saint. The character, The Baron in this TV series was different to the character in the books. In the books he was British and married. In this series he is American and a bachelor.
The show starred American Steve Forrest as John Mannering, an antiques dealer and undercover agent working in an informal capacity for the head of the fictional British Diplomatic Intelligence. Using an American actor was essential to make the product appealing to the American TV stations. And this forumula was used on a regular basis in further ITC series so they could sell them to the USA.
The music is by Edwin Astley and is very good. The quality of the print has suffered over time and it is not the best but it is very good and easily watchable.
The series looks glamorous with a lot of locations from around the world despite the fact that it was filmed in and around the film studios in England.
The Baron helps people out and gets mixed up in all sorts of problems, espionage, bank robberies, Art and antique theft and murder. He is a sauve american antiques expert. He gets involved whenever there is theft of valuable pieces or whenever art is involved in subterfuge. Millionaire Mannering owns a Jensen car and has exclusive shops in London, Paris and Washington. The stories are well written and the pace of development is good. The whole show looks even more interesting now from a nostalgia point of view as we see not only a glossy production but a slice of a bygone age.
The Baron has a male assistant who was quickly dropped in favour of the glamorous Cordelia played by Sue Lloyd. One problem I have with this release is that they have chosen to put the episodes in production order rather than story development order. And despite each episode having its own story there are some sub story lines that are mixed up in this order. So that Mannering has a female assistant then a male then a female etc. The inner sleeve gives details of the transmission dates so it is possible to go to the correct story development order rather than production order but it's a messy business.
The whole series is very exciting and interesting and is highly reccomended. It is an essential addition to anyone that likes ITC programmes.