Pierce Brosnan was contracted to do the show for seven seasons. NBC decided to cancel the show at the end of the fourth season due to low ratings, leaving Brosnan free to play James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987). However, Brosnan's television contract gave NBC 60 days to reverse the cancellation. During that time, the publicity over Brosnan's selection as James Bond led to an unexpected boost in Remington Steele's ratings. That boost, plus viewer protests and a failed attempt to sell the show to another network, gave NBC second thoughts about the cancellation. The network approached the Bond producers about a deal that would allow Brosnan to play both James Bond and Remington Steele the following year without any scheduling conflicts. Eventually, Albert R. Broccoli famously told NBC "James Bond will not be Remington Steele and Remington Steele will not be James Bond." NBC finalized its decision to renew the show, causing Brosnan to lose the role of James Bond to Timothy Dalton. NBC made six episodes for the show's fifth season, and then canceled it for good in the spring of 1987.
Originally, the character of Remington Steele was supposed to be a figurehead, comic relief to be used in support of star Stephanie Zimbalist. Bronsnan became so popular that his part became more significant.
Robert Butler originally pitched the show to MTM as detective Laura Holt running a detective agency belonging to a male superior who she invented for business purposes. MTM put Butler in contact with Michael Gleason, who suggested the chaos that would ensue if the invented superior turned up one day, and the character of Remington Steele was created.
During the run of the series, Pierce Brosnan was not only touted as the next James Bond, but he was also mentioned in published reports as being considered to star in a theatrical version of The Saint (1962). This project never materialized.
Director Chris Columbus is a big James Bond fan and he was crushed when Pierce Brosnan didn't get cast when he was offered the part during the making of the show but they wouldn't release him from his contract. Columbus thought Brosnan a phenomenal actor. When they worked together on Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Columbus told Brosnan he'd make a great James Bond but Brosnan thought that ship had sailed. In 1995, MGM called Columbus telling him they're looking for the next James Bond and Brosnan was one of the choices so Columbus recommended him; his little contribution to the James Bond saga.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Recurring character Daniel Chalmers was a con man who mentored a man he called 'Harry' in the art of the con. 'Harry' eventually became Remington Steele. In the final episode, Chalmers confessed to Steele thay they were father and son. Tragically, Chalmers died of heart failure before he could answer Steele's eternal question, "I've always wondered, Daniel, what's my real name?"
In the season one episode "Hearts of Steele," Steele attempts to solve a case by referencing The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) starring Steve McQueen. Pierce Brosnan would go on to star in the 1999 remake of the movie.