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"He was, of course, extremely dead!"

9/10
Author: Sthom-22 from Worksop, England
24 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Created by Tim Heald, 'Simon Bognor' was a special investigator for the Board of Trade. If a gossip columnist got murdered, if bounders tried to smuggle pedigree dogs, if a friary was suspected of passing agricultural secrets to the Russians, Bognor was the man to sort it out, despite being a bit dim. He was married to the lovely 'Monica' ( Joanna McCallum ), although pretty women threw themselves at him from time to time. His boss was the gruff 'Parkinson' ( Ewan Roberts ). In 1981, Thames T.V. turned 'Bognor' into a twice-weekly series, starring David Horovitch. The first four books - 'Unbecoming Habits', 'Deadline', 'Let Sleeping Dogs Die', and 'Just Desserts' - formed the basis for the first ( and last ) season. The T.V. Times gave 'Bognor' a warm welcome, putting him on the cover alongside such famous sleuths as John Steed, Callan, Simon Templar, and Dick Barton. But, as it turned out, he was lucky to find himself mentioned in the same breath as Inspector Clouseau.

Despite scripts by such reliable word smiths as T.R. Bowen and Carey Harrison, and strong guest stars such as Robin Bailey, Peter Jeffrey, Patrick Troughton, and John Le Mesurier, the show steadfastly refused to gel. The books' satirical tone was not captured while Horovitch's deadpan performance in the title role won him few fans. However, rare acclaim came from a 'T.V. Times' reader after an episode aired in which Bognor got a busted lip after an encounter with a thug. In an era when television detectives never got their hair mussed after a fight, it was indeed an unusual sight.

As the weeks passed, the ratings dropped and I.T.V. yanked it from prime-time. The remaining six-part story - 'Just Desserts' - was edited into a three-parter and broadcast in a graveyard slot the following year. Recently, Heald revived the 'Bognor' literary franchise and the entire series was released on D.V.D. It was nice to see it again after all this time. By today's standards, 'Bognor' is quality television. Special mention must be made of the 'Avengers' style title sequence featuring moving targets at a fun-fair rifle range, accompanied by a catchy electronic theme by Mike Steer. These images were later reproduced on the covers of the Arrow tie-in books.

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