The series was produced by the ITC film corporation who produced a total of 26 episodes in 1968 and 1969 which were aired between September 1969 and March 1970. The company produced other cult series of the period such as The Prisoner and The Saint. The pilot episode was first originally broadcast on ITV in the United Kingdom on 21 September 1969.
Spooner was strongly influenced by other paranormal films such as Blithe Spirit and Topper which had a profound impact on him, providing him with an understanding of the elements of the fantasy genre, studying the aspects of paranormal activity in which a television series could be based upon.
While working on The Baron for ITC, Spooner met the producer Monty Berman, with whom he later formed the production company Scoton. Spooner had already worked with Mike Pratt and Annette Andre in The Baron in 1966 and 1967 and had known Pratt and Kenneth Cope from other ITC series such as The Avengers and his work on the BBCs Z Cars. Pratt and Andre had also appeared in The Saint earlier in the 60s which both Spooner and Berman were familiar with. Screen testing began in late 1967 and soon both Monty Berman and Spooner agreed the trio would make an ideal casting and the three were soon confirmed in the major roles.
Soon after this, Scoton were informed that they were to commence the filming of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) in 1968 alongside the production of Department S. Filming commenced in 1968 and the cast worked strenuously into 1969 to complete the series. The first episode was broadcast on 21 September 1969.
In the pilot episode, "My Late Lamented Friend and Partner" Marty is murdered during an investigation and returns immediately as a ghost whom only Jeff (and the occasional psychic) can see, to help Jeff bring his murderer to justice. However in helping Jeff with his case, Marty stays out of his new grave for too long and is cursed to walk the Earth for 100 years. Seeing the advantages of having a ghost at the detective agency Marty stays as an invisible partner playing the key role in helping Jeff solve crime thereafter, also meaning that he can see his widow Jeannie Hopkirk who works as a secretary at the agency every day.
Marty is instrumental throughout the series in ensuring Jeff is aware of the occurrences of crimes and more often than not is responsible for saving his partner's life in each episode by using his supernatural powers. However, his powers are very limited in that he physically cannot touch anything and has no extrasensory knowledge of events that take place when he isn't present. Also in the series, whilst he aids Jeff immensely in his crimes, his persistence at pursuing Jeff to follow leads where Jeff has other engagements, where there is no obvious criminal activity or where he is putting his life and reputation at risk can seriously infuriate and terrorise the short-fused Jeff. The comedic aspect of the series came to the surface in episode 2, "A Disturbing Case", which dealt with hypnotic suggestion. Written by Mike Pratt himself, the episode features Marty impersonating the thick German accent of the German psychiatrist Dr Conrad (David Bauer), allowing him to direct the glazed drugged Randall to do exactly what he wants whilst he is in his pyjamas in a nursing home. Although the second episode is undoubtedly the most comic of the series Marty's ability to control hypnosis is an important source of comedy in subsequent episodes, notably later in episode 10, "When did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?", in which he eventually manages to hypnotize a hypnotist himself to save Randall by directing him to behave like an animal (panther) and perform like a Secret Agent in direct contrast to the behaviour a professional would usually follow.
In episode 3, "All Work and No Pay", a number of story elements important for later episodes in the series are introduced, particularly exposing the vulnerability and naivety of Jeannie Hopkirk, traits which can leave her life in danger due to her willingness to help people. Jeannie is manipulated by the Foster Brothers who, by using electronic equipment, falsely convince her that her late husband Marty is a poltergeist and that they as spiritualists will lay his spirit to rest. The brothers plan to employ Jeannie to bring other widows to them and use their supposed exorcism of Marty as a reward. Her falling into their trap nearly costs the life of another woman.
As she is invited into their manor house we see the start of a much used setting in the majority of the Randall and Hopkirk episodes, an eerie lavish country manor with a grand hallway and rooms and 1930s eccentric décor creating an element of suspense. The same set with a few alterations was used on the majority of later episodes filmed in the same studio set. The third episode also sets the scene for the themes of exorcism, paranormal spirituality, psychic mediums and placing Marty Hopkirk to rest which also feature in later episodes such as "Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?" and "But What a Sweet Little Room".
The appearance of psychic mediums develops in the next episode "Never Trust a Ghost" and also establishes Jeff Randall's trust in his ghostly partner for the series. Jeff visits a deranged medium to question Marty's reliability, beginning to doubt him. We see Jeff Randall become seriously frustrated with his deceased partner as he places his reputation in danger at following up Hopkirk's seemingly false leads, yet Marty persists on bothering him even when he is in the company of women. The medium believes that ghosts hallucinate but Marty whom the medium can see takes hours to convince him of his capabilities. Marty's correct deductions and his ability to stop enemy agents in the end solidifies Jeff's trust of him. The medium is also significant as he is the first man other than Jeff who can see and communicate with Marty the ghost, repeated later in the series as other mediums can communicate.
In episode 4 it really becomes evident that Randall has a distinct hatred of the police which is reciprocated. In nearly every episode where the police are involved with enquiries some way or the other they always suspect Randall as the villain in a crime with Randall many a time treating them rather rudely in his frustration. In many episodes he conflicts with the suspicious Inspector Large played by Ivor Dean. In the eighth episode "Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?" and the 10th episode "When did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?" in particular Randall is suspected of not only being a criminal involved in the operation of diamond operations but is suspected as a murderer implicated to directly throw the police off guard.
The fourth episode is also the first time we really see that Jeff Randall is a womanizer, followed up in the sixth episode "Just for the Record" where he is surrounded by beautiful women at a beauty contest, offering Miss Moscow "a cup of tea" as a cover for sex. Even when Jeff does not physically make contact with attractive women it is clear there is always a mutual attraction between them for example in the 17th episode "Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave" where he flirts with the housekeeper.
However in episode 7, "Murder Ain't What it Used to Be", Randall does show that he does have morals in some areas of his life and when hired by American racketeer Paul Kirstner to look after his daughter he initially rejects at the thought of working for a criminal but eventually relents when he is given a substantial sum of money. However whilst money and earning a living means a great deal to him and is often why he initially decides to take up a case, in later episodes such as episode 12, "For the Girl who Has Everything", he turns down a send off of £250 because he feels he hasn't deserved it yet, demonstrating that he must work for his money. On the contrary in episodes such as "Money to Burn", he becomes directly implicated in a crime because of his indecisiveness over whether to accept £500,000 of old money that is to be incinerated.
A number of developments are made to Marty's character in episodes 7-10. "Murder Ain't What it Used to Be" is the first episode where another ghost appears alongside him, in the shape of Bugsy, the cackling Chicago gangster who was killed in the 1920s who returns to haunt his double-crosser Paul Kirstner. Marty immediately shows an inferiority to him and his abrasive attitude and is unwilling to confront him even when he pesters Jeannie. However towards the end he teases Bugsy by manipulating objects in his direction, objects that can be seen moving and crashing to the human eye. In the episode it also becomes clear that Marty as a ghost can travel back in time as Bugsy takes him back to the black and white 20s to witness his murder over a prohibition scam.
In episode 8, "Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?", it becomes clear that Cecil, a psychic medium, can see Marty (unbeknownst to him) and is able to use him to deliberately put his living partner Jeff Randall off the track of a series of diamond robberies, who had been secretly filmed seemingly speaking to himself on a number of occasions. Despite being a ghost, the power of the psychic puts Marty's health in serious jeopardy to the point where he nearly disappears at the end of the episode, when the medium attempts to exorcise him at his graveside.
In episode 9, Marty proves that it many ways his feelings are still human and he shows as much fear of other ghosts and paranormal activity as any human would. In "The House on Haunted Hill", Marty shows a great fear of electronic equipment in a house attic pretending to producing the sounds and noises of ghosts. He is far more afraid than even Jeff, and he doesn't appear to have any sense of other paranormal phenomenon when he can not physically see them.
The final episode to be filmed contained extended flashbacks of Hopkirk alone solving a case before his death. This was necessitated by Mike Pratt being injured in a fall, rendering him bedridden for duration of filming for that episode.
Although Marty is not supposed to have a physical presence, beds and armchairs can sometimes be seen sagging under his weight. He blows a cabinet door open in "When the Spirit Moves You" and, in another episode, he actually pushes aside a bead curtain.It is never explained why he has a shadow.
Except for some brief exterior scenes in the pilot episode and original opening titles, most of the scenes featuring the principal cast were shot in the studio. Exterior scenes were usually either simulated using blue screen, shot using body doubles or made use of the Associated British Elstree Studios lot. Unusually for an ITC series however, one episode had a significant amount of location shooting with principal cast members - at Woburn Abbey.
Jeff Randall is a successful but often financially struggling private detective whose success in mystery solving becomes inevitably greater once he has the benefits and paranormal abilities of his deceased partner Marty Hopkirk. Randall is described as fairly tall, around 6ft, very thin and dishevelled looking although he is mostly clean shaven. Throughout the entire series aside from a grey or dark suit with a white shirt for work Randall consistently wears brown or beige clothing, instantly recognizable by his tan leather jacket and beige polo neck jumpers or his long beige mac.
He is quick, agile and light on his feet and is able to manoeuvre around attackers very briskly. Randall is known to have a short fiery temper and can become particularly irritated with certain situations and people, particularly the ghost of Marty who torments him as much as helps him. He smokes regularly and is a heavy drinker in stressful situations.
Jeff at times can be a highly ambiguous character. In certain episodes he can show morals and respect for other characters. However at times he can also appear as immoral and verging on criminal in his behaviour. In episode 5, That's How Murder Snowballs, for example, Randall rather than informing the police after the murder of the theatre performer, rang a newspaper immediately to ensure that his tip off earned him a substantial amount of money for leaking story, 'blood money' as Jeannie called it, making money out of a dead man.
Randall is also a womaniser and he attracts many beautiful women from episode to episode. However any love interest also fizzles out very quickly due to his commitments to follow up Marty's leads leaving them stranded.
Marty Hopkirk is a deceased private detective murdered in the line of duty. On being the subject of a hit and run, Marty returns as a ghost selecting Jeff Randall as the only man who can see and hear him as he returns to the world of the living. Staying out in the daylight, to help Jeff solve an early case he is cursed to roam the Earth for 100 years. Marty is a highly persistent character clad in an all white suit to mimic that of a ghost. At times his pressuring of Jeff to pursue cases and follow up leads that he has witnessed nearly puts Jeff at breaking point and haunts Jeff almost as much as he aids him in fighting crime.
As a ghost Marty travels by teleporting from one place to the other although he can seemingly walk as a human would in whatever location he is in. Although he cannot physically touch people or things he can manipulate objects such as vases and furniture which prove crucial in many cases in putting attackers of Jeff at bay. Marty's use of wind blowing also proves very important in distracting people allowing Jeff to manoeuvre and enter situations which would have otherwise proved impossible. In one case Just for the Record Marty saves Jeff's life as he is being burnt in a warehouse, by using his concentration to shatter the alarm bells. However Hopkirk can also be a highly jealous character and is often quick to jump to conclusions. For instance in the episodes "Never Trust a Ghost" and "Murder Ain't What it Used to Be" when it appears that Jeff and Bugsy had bedded his widow Jeannie he becomes highly irritated and angry at the situations. This also shows that while Marty can move from place to place by teleporting and has certain extra sensory abilities his abilities to understand situations where he is not present are as limited as a humans.
Despite being a ghost, there are many situations where Marty proves that it many ways his feelings are still human and he shows as much fear of other ghosts and paranormal activity as any human would. In the episode "The House on Haunted Hill", Marty shows a great fear of electronic equipment in a house attic pretending to producing the sounds and noises of ghosts. He is far more afraid than even Jeff, and he doesn't appear to have any sense of other paranormal phenomenon when he can not physically see them. He also shows a subservience to the 1920s American gangster ghost of Bugsy in episode 8, "Murder Ain't What it Used to Be".
In episode 21, "The Ghost Talks", which is a flashback of Marty when he was living also reveals he was physically very weak and would lose in a fight very easily. His physical strength appeared to be particularly lacking for a professional detective.
Jeannie Hopkirk (Annette Andre) is the young widow of Marty Hopkirk and serves as a secretary at the Randall and Hopkirk Private Investigation office. She is an attractive woman with neat blond hair and a petite frame and build. Jeannie can prove a very useful character in Jeff's exploits and she has saved him many times from an early demise. She is highly resourceful and able as a secretary but often she appears as very naive and vulnerable, which has put her own life in danger on many occasions. In only the third episode, All Work and No Pay, she believes the tomfoolery of the Foster brothers as they use electronic equipment to pretend that the poltergeist of Marty is destroying her apartment. She believes that they are spiritualists who indeed have the ability to contact her deceased husband. In episode 10, "When did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?", she again believes the enemy when they pretend that Marty's spirit needs to be exorcised and true to her nature she is as helpful as possible in aiding them unknowingly, placing her in another difficult situation. Later, in episode 15, "The Man from Nowhere", Jeannie goes as far as to partly believe that an imposter is actually her deceased husband Marty in spirit, again emphasizing her vulnerability.
|No.||Title||Summary||Date of release|
|1||My Late Lamented Friend and Partner||In the pilot episode Marty Hopkirk is murdered by the husband of a client but returns as a ghost to help Jeff bring the man responsible for his murder to justice.|| 21 August|
|2||A Disturbing Case||Concerned for Jeff's mental health Jeannie sends Jeff to Dr. Conrad at the Lambert Clinic where it turns out he is the mastermind of a series of robberies of his patients using hypnotic suggestion, forcing Marty to try and find a way to break Jeff from his control before Jeff has been so severely hypnotized that he loses the ability to see Marty. David Bauer stars.|| 28 September|
|3||All Work and No Pay||Two eccentric conmen brothers (The Foster Brothers) who claim to be spiritualists try to convince Jeannie that Marty is haunting her as a poltergeist using electronic equipment|| 5 October|
|4||Never Trust a Ghost||Two enemy agents murder a high British Secret Service official and his wife and pass themselves as their imposters in their own home to steal important documents|| 12 October|
|5||That's How Murder Snowballs||When a theatre performer is murdered by a loaded gun during one of his acts Jeff joins the theatre as a mind reader to investigate his murder and hunt down the killer. David Jason appears as Abel|| 19 October|
|6||Just for the Record||Aristocrat Harold Pargiter and his Lords rob the British vault for a document proving that his family titles and deeds were stolen by King John in the 13th century and his succession to the throne. Starring Ronald Radd|| 26 October|
|7||Murder Ain't What it Used to Be||Notorious American crime boss Paul Kirstner travels to London for "business" and hires Randall to take care of his daughter. However his wicked past and his haunting by the 1920s Chicago gangster Bugsy catches up with him.|| 2 November|
|8||Whoever Heard of a Ghost Dying?||Knowing about Marty, a crime syndicate, in disguise, hire Jeff to begin surveillance on a gang of criminals (themselves), knowing that he will use Marty. Using an elderly psychic they detect Marty's presence, and deliberately mislead Jeff and the police.|| 9 November|
|9||The House on Haunted Hill||Jeff investigates a diamond theft in which the manager is implicated who threatens Jeff to lie about his investigation. Whilst also investigating a haunting at a country manor in turns out the diamond gang are using it as a hideout|| 16 November|
|10||When did You Start to Stop Seeing Things?||Jeff is hired by a company to find out who is leaking information in the stock market. Finding Jeff suspiciously out of character- and also now being unable to see him-, Marty finds out that the real Jeff has been captured and that the fake Jeff is an imposter, using his status to conduct murders of financial personnel. Marty uses a hypnotist to save the day.|| 23 November|
|11||The Ghost who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo||Marty's Aunt Clara hires Jeff as a bodyguard for a trip to Monte Carlo where she plans to win £100,000 on her self-devised gambling system. Closely followed and watched by several different gangs they only lose their would-be robbers by Marty manipulating the final game of roulette losing the money|| 30 November|
|12||For the Girl who Has Everything||Jeff is hired by a ghost hunter to investigate at a manor where the lady appears to be haunted. When the ghost hunter is murdered whilst on night watch Jeff investigates. When the man of the house is shot by his wife believing she saw a ghost, Jeff becomes suspicious and discovers that it was part of her plan to get rid of her draining husband and leave the country with her butler toyboy.|| 7 December|
|13||But What a Sweet Little Room||Jeff investigates the disappearance of a wealthy young heiress's aunt. When she is then killed by a hit and run driver he is led to a medium previously visited by the aunt and uses Jeannie as a decoy to foil a thieving operation in which middle class men rob wealthy widows by murdering them in the room of the episode title, which then transpires to be a gas chamber in disguise.|| 14 December|
|14||Who Killed Cock Robin?||In this murder mystery, Jeff is hired by a large estate manager to investigate a series of bird shootings in the manor aviery. While keeping guard of the valuable birds. Each member of the family of the manor is killed off gradually narrowing down the suspects leaving Jeff with the surprising culprit.|| 21 December|
|15||The Man from Nowhere||A man enters Jeannie's life pretending that he is Marty returned from the dead. As he gradually builds Jeannie's trust with his alarming knowledge of Marty's life, Jeff, suspicious from the beginning finds that he is a runaway member of a gang and has taken Jeannie to the Cotswolds where her and Marty had their honeymoon to dig up something of the past.|| 28 December|
|16||When the Spirit Moves You||Jeff becomes involved with a conman and a stash of $125,000 of stolen bonds from the United States that a criminal racket are after.|| 2 January|
|17||Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave||Marty finds somebody digging around his grave. He sends Jeff to investigate the cemetery and in doing so is knocked unconscious several times by a masked 18th century axe wielder. Suspecting the gardener, Jeff accepts a job for a wealthy man in the nearby mansion and stumbles on an intricate plot to steal his insane agoraphobic son through an underground tunnel pretending to hold him to ransom. It is all part of a plot to inherit his father's fortune but when he marries his young housekeeper the plan is demised.|| 9 January|
|18||Could You Recognise That Man Again?||When Jeff and Jeannie find a dead body in their car unknown to them at the time that the man they met outside was a killer, Jeannie is held hostage to keep Randall from confessing to the police and giving a testimony in court. And even the ghostly Marty can't locate her until the very last minute|| 16 January|
|19||A Sentimental Journey||A reluctant Jeff agrees to take a valuable item worth £10,000 from Glasgow to London on the overnight express. When the consignment turns out to be an attractive blond, Jeff initially concedes that the assignment is to his liking. How gradually becoming suspicious it turns out the blond is a traitor involved in stealing a highly valuable postage stamp|| 23 January|
|20||Money to Burn||Randall is offered by a dodgy friend to take part in a money salvaging operation whereby £500,000 of old money is to be burnt, but is replaced with newspaper pieces. Not informing the police neither accepting any part in it, Randall watches from a nearby street and is caught by the police and imprisoned. Using his lady friend lawyer she tracks down his dodgy friend at his London club finding the real culprits are his lady dancers freeing Randall.|| 30 January|
|21||The Ghost Talks||With Jeff in a hospital bed, Marty seizes the opportunity to tell him about a spy drama that he handled while he was still alive, involving a corrupt MI5 official and spy ring, the details of which he had never revealed before.|| 6 February|
|22||Thicker Than Water||Playing postman to deliver an envelope to an escaped convict strikes Jeff as simple until he finds out it contains an invitation to murder and before long his own life is on the line|| 13 February|
|23||The Trouble with Women||Jeff is hired by a women and delibrately set up her husbands murder. In disguise she misleads Randall with her club owner boyfirend she is secretely having an affair with almost leading to his shooting at a quarry|| 20 February|
|24||Vendetta for a Dead Man||A vengeance-seeking escaped convict decides that since Marty Hopkirk, the man who put him behind bars, is dead then his widow Jeannie will have to suffer|| 27 February|
|25||You Can Always Find a Fall Guy||Jeff is hired to retrieve stolen funds by a nun, only to discover the nun is not what she seems to be, and he is being set up.|| 6 March|
|26||The Smile Behind the Veil||Only a ghost would notice the smile behind the veil of a funeral mourner. Marty stumbles upon a hidden murder mystery to complete the series|| 13 March|
Two versions of the show's opening titles were made for the British version. The original version includes a brief scene at the graveside in which Marty explains that only Jeff can see him. In later screenings this was replaced by a version without the scene. The US version is identical to the original, except for the title change.
The series was released in Australian in a dvd box set 2005. It contains audio commentaries: from Annette Andre, Directors Roy Ward Baker and Cyril Frankel, Guest stars George Sewell and Jane Merrow and production crew members malcolm Christopher and Ken Baker. It also includes two newly filmed interviews with Kenneth Cope and Annette Andre, nearly 15 minutes of previously unseen production footage, extensive stills galleries, insert reprint of the original ITC promotional brochure, ITC publicity and scripts (as pdfs), all the alternate opening credits, Memorabilia gallery, cast and crew profiles, production notes and a bonus episode of the ITC series The Baron starring Annette Andre.
The series was subsequently re-released in the UK in a further boxset, containing a similar though different set of extras to the Australian release, including a specially-commissioned documentary with contributions from Kenneth Cope, Annette Andre, Mike Pratt's son Guy and several writers and directors. Also included are extensive printed programme notes by UK television historian Andrew Pixley.
The first half of the series is also available on DVD in the North American market from A&E.