Classic TV: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Thought I’d repost this on the news that Guy Ritchie has begun filming a remake.

When I was watching TV in the mid-eighties, just entering my teens, my two favourite TV shows had been off the air for half a decade before I had even been born. Curiously, both were about international organisations dedicated to maintaining global peace and destroying the plans of world domination by various nefarious individuals, and I often wonder did that subconsciously shape my political beliefs? The first was the British show “The Champions”, which was an Avengers style show. The second, and my favourite, was “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”.

“The Man from U.N.C.L.E” was created by Norman Felton, a US TV producer who got the idea of recruiting Ian Fleming to help devise a new TV spy show in 1963. Fleming came up with the idea of a character named Napoleon Solo, and pretty much stopped there, as the producers of the Bond movies were not enthused about the creator of 007 creating another fictional spy.

Felton went on to flesh out the show, devising a concept of an American and Russian spy working together, just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, to defend world peace. Robert Vaughn (now in BBC’s Hustle) played Solo, with David McCallum (“Ducky” in NCIS) as his partner Ilya Kuryakin. What made the show was not just the action and outlandish plots (silent gun battle in a crowded cinema, anyone?) to take over the world but the witty repartee between the womanising Solo (there were A LOT of pretty girls) and the acerbic Kuryakin. And, of course, we can’t forget the baddies, the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity, UNCLE’s evil twin, more commonly known as THRUSH. Bless.

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