Well this one stings just a bit. News came down earlier this week that actor Peter Wyngarde died at age 90 (or 89, some slight mystery there). His Doctor Who connections are limited to the one story he appeared in, Planet of Fire where he played Timinov, the religious leader on Sarn. And while his character was wrong about the occurrence of events, the script, and Wyngarde, never condescended or sold-out that point of view. It’s a story worth revisiting.
But, and this is especially true for fans of a certain age, Wyngarde is much better remembered for his impact across an array of those wonderful ITC adventure series (mainly in the 60’s). Whether it was in The Saint, The Prisoner (as one of the numerous #2’s), or the Avengers (including a particularly terrific comic turn in the episode “Epic”), usually as a villain with his particularly mellifluous tones.
This culminated at the end of the 60’s as one of three leads in ‘Department S” where he played author Jason King. Department S was another variation on the ITC formula with an eye towards penetrating the American market with a straightforward American, a Brit, and a gal, often European, with a particular investigative prowess. Although ostensibly international in scope, these ITC series would always revert to recreating the world within the friendly confines of the Elstree Studios they shot out of, and were festooned with so many wonderful character actors of the age.
Jason King, as played by Wyngarde, was the imaginative one in this context, and dressed in a dandified fashion in keeping with the late sixties, and would further push that when his character got broken out to his own series “Jason King” in 1971. These series, though hard to find anymore, are well worth seeking out as indicative of their times, and are just great fun.