Released today in 1980: Simon Templer

Deram BUM1

Deram BUM1

The character Simon Templar was created by British writer Leslie Charteris in the 1920s. Often referred to a ‘modern day Robin Hood’, Templar has a strong but sometimes dubious moral code and makes it his mission in life to right the wrongs he perceives are done by “the ungodly” (typically, corrupt officials), taking money from them and giving it to parties he considers deserving (i.e., those who have suffered in some way due to the influence of adversary of Templar’s in question). He makes his presence known to those involved by leaving a calling-card featuring a picture of a stick man with a halo, a reference to his nickname of The Saint.

Charteris wrote around fifty books featuring Templar between 1928 and 1963 and his series was continued by other writers for a further twenty years, with Charteris either co-writing or taking an editorial role in those; considered ‘canon’ are those first published in the UK by Hodder and Stoughton. There were also nearly one hundred Charteris short stories featuring the character, published in various periodicals including a photo play in Life magazine, in which Charteris himself portrayed Templar.

In fact, it seems the only medium that this versatile character hasn’t been resurrected in is computer gaming. In the middle of the twentieth century there were several radio shows starring Templar; numerous feature films have been based around him (although the screenplays have usually been original storylines, rather than based on events from the books and stories); he has appeared in a long-running strip cartoon in newspapers, initially written by Charteris, and in comic books which either contained new drawings or collected the previously published strips; Charteris even co-wrote a stage play starring Templar although this was never performed.

But it is the television series that inspired Max Splodge’s deliberately mis-spelled single Simon Templer, which musically borrows heavily from the theme tune of ‘Return of The Saint’ which was airing at the time of the song’s composition. (Starring Ian Ogilvy, this was not a continuation of the 1960s series ‘The Saint’ with Roger Moore, although it is the same character Ogilvy and Moore were playing. Ogilvy’s fame peaked in the early 1980s due to his performance in ‘Return of The Saint’ and he was briefly tipped to replace Moore as James Bond as well as Simon Templar.) In most of the media in which he appears, Templar is intelligent, sophisticated, seemingly independently wealthy, an exposer of corruption and a champion of the oppressed, an amateur poet and songwriter, a wit and a charmer, but Splodge is not impressed by him. “Could this be Mr Simon Templar?” he asks before listing some of the character’s qualities, only to conclude “Well, I think Simon’s head is large,” and ending with the assertion, “I think Simon’s a bit of a bore/Ian Ogilvy and Podgy Moore.”

Splodge could afford to be dismissive. It was one of this single’s two B-side tracks that got him more attention than Mr Templar. Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please received far more radio airplay and was probably what the punters who took the single to #7 were buying it for anyway, a theory supported by the fact that The Official Charts company now has it listed as a double-A-side.

NEW SINGLES on sale from May. 23
1980
The PROFESSIONALS Just Another Dream (Virgin VS353)
SPLODGENESSABOUNDS Simon Templer (Deram BUM1)
UB40 My Way Of Thinking (Graduate GRAD8)
U2 Eleven O’Clock Tick Tock (Island WIP6601)
1983
KAJAGOOGOO Hang On Now (EMI EMI5394)
1986
TEARS FOR FEARS Everybody Wants To Run The World (Mercury RACE1)
1988
FIVE STAR Another Weekend (Tent PB42081)
SADE (Sade Adu) Paradise (Epic SADE2)
TIFFANY I Saw Him Standing There (MCA TIFF3)

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