Top 10... - September 20, 2015

#hmvRetroTV: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About… The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
by Tom
Tom
by Tom hmv London, Bio hmv.com Editor. Peanut butter, punk rock and pillows.

#hmvRetroTV: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About… The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

It ran for four seasons and 105 episodes back in the 1960s and spawned a generation of wannabe secret agents before being reborn on the big screen just a few weeks ago, it’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as American and Soviet spies who are forced to team up and work for United Network Command for Law Enforcement, foiling the plots, conspiracies and general unpleasant aims of a series of ever more deadly adversaries.

It was compulsory viewing while it was on and remains a must-watch to this day. Now on offer as part of hmv’s Retro TV promotion, we thought we’d revisit the classic series and present 10 things you didn’t know about The Man From U.N.C.L.E

 

Robert Vaughn was studying for most of the series…

Not satisfied with his starring role in the show, Vaughn was also studying for his Ph.D, a qualification that’s not only demanding, but hugely time-consuming. In order to complete his studies the actor was often allowed to leave the set early to attend classes and study for the qualification. In the end Vaughn was successful and has a Ph.D in communications from the University of Southern California, it also didn’t seem to do the show any harm.

 

The actors did most of their own stunts…

The stunts were almost always done by Vaughn and McCallum as well as by stuntmen with producers then selecting the best version for the show. Some were easier than others, apparently McCallum didn’t enjoy heights very much and Vaughan wasn't too keen on water, the stuntmen did most of those set pieces…

 

Ian Fleming was one of the of the show’s consultants…

If you’re looking to develop a show about secret agents then you may as well learn from the best and that’s exactly what Arena Productions' Norman Felton did when he approached Ian Fleming. Fleming’s exact role in the development of the show was unclear, but one thing we do know is he’s credited with the name Napoleon Solo, a name taken straight from his novel Goldfinger. In fact...

 

The show was originally due to be called Solo…

This was Fleming’s suggestion, but in the end the producers went a different way.

 

And the show’s producers weren’t shy about their James Bond influences…

Whatever Fleming’s role actually was, no one could deny the show’s creative debt to the world’s most famous secret agent and the show’s producers were quite prepared to be upfront about it. In fact in one episode a mysterious benefactor called 'JB' who helps Solo and a companion escape. And who played that actor? George Lazenby, who would go on to play 007 himself...

 

The guns were all too real…

The show’s producers took the task of making sure their props and on screen weapons look realistic very seriously, but it turned out to be an expensive commitment to the extent that the US Treasury department visited the set and fined MGM $2,000 for manufacturing automatic weapons without a license!

 

The show saw the debut of one of TV’s most iconic pairings…

As well as Vaughn and McCallum The Man From U.N.C.L.E was also the first place another pair of actors were teamed up for the first. Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, who of course would go on to play Doctor Spock and Captain Kirk on Star Trek, but they first appeared together in an episode of the first season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E titled ‘Project Strigas Affair'.

 

The spin-off didn’t quite have the same impact…

A spin-off named The Girl From U.N.C.L.E, which starred  Stefanie Powers as American U.N.C.L.E. agent April Dancer and Noel Harrison as her British partner, was launched in 1968. Unfortunately it only lasted one series before being canned. 

 

Some big-name musicians made brief appearances…

Plenty of high-profile actresses made one-off appearances and a couple of iconic voices, namely Cher and Nancy Sinatra...

 

The reboot was in development for a hell of a long time…

Producer John Davis bought the rights to turn the TV show into a big screen caper back in 1993, since then it’s gone through 14 scripts, a series of directors, including Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh and seen the likes of Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr and George Clooney attached at one time. The movie finally came to screens this summer and it’s a whole lot of fun. You can read our review here.

 

The Man From U.N.C.L.E is available in-store and online as part of hmv’s #RetroTV promotion.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Collection
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Collection Joseph Sargent, Barry Shear, Boris Sagal, John Newland, Sutton Roley

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