Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

(United Kingdom | BBC | 2000 – 2001)

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
Series Background

Based on the classic 1960s series of the same name, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) saw TV comics Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves take on the roles of Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk, two private detectives who stumble along from one case to another.

But where Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) stands out from other similar detective series — and there's a slight clue in the title! — is that Marty manages to get himself killed during the course of the opening episode, only to come back in the form of a ghost that only Jeff can see. Unsurprisingly, this makes Marty the ideal partner, as he can get information and go places where no one else can.

The two other main characters were Jeannie (Emilia Fox), Marty's fiancée, and Wyvern, a completely new character who would act as Marty's mentor in Limbo, and who was played by former Doctor Who star Tom Baker.

The mastermind behind the re-make was Charlie Higson, best known then as one of the stars of The Fast Show, and more recently as the writer of the Young James Bond novels. Of the six episodes in Season 1, Higson was solely responsible for scripting five of them, sharing writing duties on Paranoia with his Fast Show co-star Paul Whitehouse.

Season 2 saw the introduction of a number of new writers to the series, with Gareth Roberts and Kate Wood both co-writing an episode each with Higson. Roberts was allowed to go solo on Painkillers, and this proved to be one of the highlights of the series — ideal training for his future work on both Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. The very final episode was written by Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson, who, at that time, were best known for their work on The League of Gentlemen. Higson also found time to direct four episodes, and in true Hitchcock fashion appeared on screen in all thirteen of them!

Unfortunately, the mix of comedy and special effects was obviously not to the liking of the Saturday evening audience and, over the two seasons, the ratings plummeted from 10.63m to a paltry 3.24m. This despite appearances from the cream of modern-day UK television comedy, including over half the cast of The Fast Show (John Thomson, Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson himself, Arabella Weir, Simon Day), Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson from Spaced, Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith from The League of Gentlemen, and also David Walliams and Matt Lucas, who subsequently went on to find fame and fortune with Little Britain.

The remainder of the acting talent included the likes of Charles Dance, Hugh Laurie, Steven Berkoff, Richard Todd, Mark Benton, Dudley Sutton, Gareth Thomas, Hywel Bennett, Sir Derek Jacobi, Dervla Kirwan and Pauline Quirke.
Further Reading

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)
by Geoff Tibbals
  • Boxtree
  • Paperback
  • 1994

Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): The Files
by Andy Lane
  • Boxtree
  • Paperback
  • 2001
DVD Releases

Both seasons of the Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) re-make have been released on DVD in the UK. The Season 1 release is something of a mess, with all of the episodes being 4:3 when they should be 16:9. Rather unfortunate when you see how often people's faces disappear off the sides of the picture... Extras include the On Set with Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) documentary, out-takes and the video to the theme song. The Season 2 release is, thankfully, as nature intended, with the episodes all being 16:9. The only extras are two commentaries. A box set containing all thirteen episodes has also been released. None of the releases is subtitled.

The original 1960s series has also been released on DVD in the UK. No subtitles. The first thirteen episodes have also been released on DVD in the United States.
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): Ghosts from the Past

by
Graeme Grant
Cover image: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Ghosts from the Past, Boxtree Ltd (2000)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Boxtree Ltd
Publication Date March 2000
Original Price 5.99
ISBN 0752223461

Ghosts from the Past is an original novel.

Back Cover Blurb
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), the cult 60s detective series is back from the grave with a brand new series. Written and produced by Charlie Higson, it stars Bob Mortimer as the hapless private detective Jeff Randall, Vic Reeves as his deceased partner Marty Hopkirk, who comes back from beyond to help solve cases with his supernatural powers, and Emilia Fox as Marty's bereaved girlfriend Jeannie.

To accompany the first series comes an original Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) novel. When Tallulah Joplin, an old flame of Marty's, asks Randall for help, Jeannie discovers there were things about her fiancé she had never known. And they all hark back to a fateful night, ten years previously, when Marty was a nightclub entertainer and Tallulah was a sultry vamp...

Now Marty is dead and Tallulah belongs to a mysterious organisation called Angels with Broken Wings. But who exactly are the Angels — and why does Tallulah want to track down an ex-convict called Dave Day? What is the connection to the tall man with plans for world domination? And will Marty be able to stage a comeback, and tapdance his way into the limo limelight?

Fast-paced, action-packed and furiously funny, Ghosts from the Past is a must for all fans of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased).
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #68
    Review: 6/10
  • SFX #64
    Review: 3/5
Notes
  • The original series of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was unusual in being one of the few adventure programmes produced by ITC in the 1960s not to have a spin-off novel released.
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): Ghost in the Machine

by
Andy Lane
Cover image: Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Ghost in the Machine, Boxtree Ltd (2000)
Country UK
Format Paperback
Publisher Boxtree Ltd
Publication Date October 2000
Original Price 5.99
ISBN 0752223518

Ghost in the Machine is an original novel.

Back Cover Blurb
The calm of the Scottish highlands is shattered when a new Laird dies a gruesome death on a decommissioned Russian nuclear submarine. Discovering her inheritance to be under threat, his money-grabbing widow enlists Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) to establish the cause of his death.

The investigation gets off to a bad start, and soon Jeff, Jeannie and the ghostly Marty find that they are discovering more questions than answers. What are the motives of the two Israelis who make a bid for the detective agency and are later discovered snooping around the submarine? How is it that one of them can sense Marty's presence? Who is Abaddon: the mysterious force mentioned in a coded message found in one of the dead man's pockets? And why is the film crew that has arrived to make a documentary about the local fishermen, acting so strangely? It is only when Jeannie is kidnapped by the Russian Mafia and Jeff is trapped on board the submarine, fighting for his life, that the trio begin to uncover the awful truth...

The TV series Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) stars Bob Mortimer as the luckless detective Jeff Randall, and Vic Reeves as his supernatural partner-in-crime-detecting, Marty Hopkirk. Ghost in the Machine is the second original novel to accompany the series.
In the Press
  • DreamWatch #74
    Review: Peter Franks, 4/5
Notes
  • In a rather lazy move, the cover to Ghost in the Machine is identical to that of Ghosts from the Past, with the exception of the background being tinted blue rather than green. Clearly no expense was spared on this particular range of tie-in books...
  • Andy Lane has also written tie-in books based on Doctor Who, BUGS and Torchwood, as well as Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased): The Files, a non-fiction book looking at the making of the television series, and which was also published by Boxtree.