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Rogue Male (BBC2 Drama, Peter O’Toole, Alastair Sim)

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Rogue Male was a wartime drama based on the popular novel by Geoffrey Household. Just before the start of World War II an upper class Englishman hatches a plot to try and kill Hitler.

On Saturday 27 March 1976 The Daily Mirror had a small piece on production, some months before it aired of course: PETER O’TOOLE is about to star in his first – ever BBC drama – as a big-game hunter who sets out to kill Hitler, after his Jewish girlfriend is executed by the Nazis. He has the lead role in “Rogue Male,” which is being adapted by the “Glittering Prizes” team producer Mark Shivas and writer Frederick Raphael from Geoffrey Household’s novel. It’s going to be a big film budget affair for the BBC. They have an American co-production deal to share the cost of this yarn, which was first filmed by Hollywood during World War II with Walter Pidgeon as the hunter and Joan Bennett as his girlfriend.

Jack Bell in The Daily Mirror of Sat 29 May 1976 mentioned the fact playwright Harold Pinter had a small role in the drama: Pinter, who began as an actor, will appear in a brief scene in the forthcoming Rogue Male ” serial. Peter OToole stars in the series as a big-game hunter with his sights set on assassinating Hitler. Pinter was picked by director Clive Donner – who made the film of Pinter’s play The Caretaker – because he knew Pinter liked the book and they had worked together before.

Alastair Sim in one of his final performances.

Ian Allen previewed the drama in The Aberdeen Evening Express on the day of broadcast, Wed 22 Sep 1976: PETER THE ROGUE PETER O’TOOLE, who was supposed be one Michael Parkinson’s guests last Saturday, stars in ‘‘Rogue Male” tonight (BBC 2. 9.0). A television film version of the famous thriller by Geoffrey Household.

He plays Sir Robert Hunter, who, in the spring of 1939, has Adolf Hitler in the telescopic sight of his rifle when he caught by an S.S. man. Tortured and beaten by the Nazis. Hunter is left for dead, but he survives and works his way painfully back to England. His uncle, a member of the Government, is of help when Hunter turns up in London. Only his solicitor. Saul Abrahams, knows that Hunter was trying to kill Hiller because his Jewish fiancee, Rebecca, had been shot fay a Nazi firing squad. When a Major Quive-Smith begins inquiring after him. Hunter realises that Nazi agents are tracking him in London. After a dangerous encounter in the London Underground, Hunter heads for the Dorset countryside where a tense of cat-and-mouse develops. Alastair Sim plays Hunter’s uncle, the last role played before his death last month, John Standing plays Major Quive-Smilh. Cyd Hayman plays Rebecca, and Harold Pinter makes a rare acting appearance Saul Abrahams.

The production had a quick repeat on New Years Eve of 1976, only three months after original broadcast.

Cast: Peter O’Toole (Sir Robert Hunter), John Standing (Major Quive-Smith), Alastair Sim (The Earl), Cyd Hayman (Rebecca), Harold Pinter (Saul Abrahams), Hugh Manning (Peale), Robert Lang (Jessel), Michael Byrne (Interrogator), Mark McManus (Vaner), Ray Smith (Fisherman), Ian East (Muller), Philip Jackson (First Seaman), Nicholas Ball (Second Seaman), Maureen Lipman (Freda), Ray Mort (Gerald), Michael Sheard (Hitler), Shirley Dynevor (Eva Braun), Ivor Roberts (Mr Drake), Julia Chambers (Daughter), Jean Rimmer (Postmistress), George Selway (Captain), Declan Mulholland (Cook), Henry Woolf [as Henry Woolfe] (Ticket Seller), Richardson Morgan (Ticket Collector), Ron Pember (Ticket Collector), Denys Hawthorne (Assassin), Dennis Chinnery (Tube Traveller), Trevor Ray (Golf Clubber), David Webb (Pork Pie), John Ringham (German Policeman)

Writer: Frederic Raphael / Novel: Geoffrey Household / Music: Chris Gunning / Conductor: Marcus Dods / Costume Design: John Bloomfield / Script Editor: Richard Broke / Production Design: Tony Abbott / Producer: Mark Shivas / Director: Clive Donner

UK / BBC Two – 20th Century Fox / 1×95 minutes / 22 September 1976