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Classic TV Revisited: Campion



Channel: BBC1, 1959 , 1960s, 1989

Starring:Bernard Horsfall, Brian Smith, Peter Davison, Brian Glover.

Posh private detective series introducing a gentleman sleuth from the Golden Era of detective heroes.

Nicely pickled no doubt?
Campion was a dapper 1930s aristocratic sleuth who combined a pampered lifestyle with a bit of crime-busting.

Posh eh?
Posh but had redeeming qualities. Had what critics describe as a charming, daffy-diffident manner.

His genesis?
He was created by Margery Allingham. She dreamed up a posh sleuth who made his literary debut in 1929.

Pedigree writer this Allingham?
Mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Agatha Christie. Like Agatha, she wrote about a 1930s golden era when oikish plods needed genteel types like Campion, Marple and Poirot to help them solve crime among the well-to-do.

This Allingham was a toff?
Not exactly. She went to a poly and lived in Essex.

Who was this Campion?
Albert was an aristocrat who dabbled in amateur sleuthing among the well-heeled of East Anglia. He was charming and mild-mannered, but also a man of strong moral principles. He also drove a Lagonda and wore horn-rimmed glasses.

How spectacular!
His bookish demeanour proved an excellent sleuthing tool. Wrong ‘uns would be lulled into letting vital clues slip. But they soon learned dogged Campion was not a chap to be trifled with.

This Campion chap was a lone Sloane Ranger?
Like many great sleuths he had a helpful but inferior sidekick, Lugg.

Charming name.
The brawny, down-to-earth reformed burglar was his manservant. As well as taking care of the luggage, he would also garner clues from the working-class circles his master was incapable of penetrating.

Invincible together?
Smooth operators who always beat Scotland Yard’s Stanislaus Oates to solving a crime.

Small-screen debut?
Campion was seen solving his crime in 1959 on BBC1. Bernard Horsfall played the toff in Dancers In The Mourning and a year later in Death Of A Ghost.

Bernard Horsfall?
Not a massive star but a well known TV face of the era.

Definitive Campion?
Brian Smith took up the role in the detective serial in the ’60s. Then came Peter Davison.

Peter Davison was champion as Campion?
Davison, who donned the horn-rimmed specs for a BBC1 series in 1989, is definitely the best-known in the role.

And Lugg?
The fab Brian Glover played the benign bruiser.

Any chance of a revival?
Unlikely. While the public’s appetite never seems to be satiated for period crime drama such as Poirot, Campion was popular but never had quite the same appeal.

Distinguishing features?
Horn-rimmed glasses, burgundy Lagonda car, bespoke tailoring, plummy accents and a steely charm.

Do say?
Toodle pip; good show old boy; what what; you sir are an absolute bounder; Lugg, bring the Lagonda round.

Don’t say?
Elementary my dear Watson, come the revolution, four-eyes.

Not to be confused with?
“Campion” The Wonder Horse. Jockey Bob Champion.