Spy drama series The Man From Uncle detailed the cases of an exceptional pair of secret agents, Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, working for U.N.C.L.E (United Network Command for Law Enforcement) against the might of international criminal agency THRUSH.
Prompted by the film success of James Bond, his creator Ian Fleming was invited by US TV bosses to pen a small-screen spy serial.Fleming, who created Napoleon Solo, died before filming began and his work was completed by producer Sam Rolfe.At the height of the Cold War, Rolfe dreamed up the idea of an American agent and a Russian working together in harmony.
The organisation’s HQ was hidden by the secret wall of a New York tailors from which Solo and Kuryakin would emerge each week to tackle a different case.It always involved some innocent in peril at the hands of the crime empire THRUSH – The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.Inevitably, the fate of the world would rest on Solo and Kuryakin being successful.
Papers published in the early 2000’s revealed that J Edgar Hoover loathed it as he received thousands of letters from UNCLE fans convinced it was a real organisation. He dispatched terse rejection letters to young fans saying: “There’s no government agency which performs the functions portrayed in this programme. This type of activity must be left to authorised, competent and highly-trained police officers.”
There was plenty of spoof gadgetry used by Solo and Kuryakin who spoke the show’s most most famous line “Open Channel D” while using their radio-receiver pens.There was also the UNCLE Special Pistol which converted into a rifle or machine-gun. The dynamic duo drove around in a blue two-seater Piranha coupe.
Guest stars included Joan Crawford, Boris Karloff, Joan Collins and Star Trek duo William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Jerry Goldsmith composed the catchy theme which was performed differently in each of the four series.
There was also a spin off called The Girl From Uncle.
There was a brief revival of interest in the series thanks to the recent big screen version directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill as Solo and Armie Hammer as Kuryakin.
USA / NBC – MGM – Arena / 105×60 minute episodes / Broadcast 1964-1967
Creators: Norman Felton, Ian Fleming, Sam Rolfe, / Theme Music: Jerry Goldsmith / Producers: Sam Rolfe, David Victor, Anthony Spinner / Executive Producer: Norman Felton
ROBERT VAUGHN as Napoleon Solo
DAVID McCALLUM as Ilya Kuryakin
LEO G. CARROLL as Mr Alexander Waverly