The Persuaders Promotional Spot

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Here’s a promotional spot for ABC’s The Persuaders, which ran from 1971 to 1972, first on Saturdays from 10-11PM and later on Wednesdays from 9:30-10:30PM. Produced in the United Kingdom, the series starred Tony Curtis and Roger Moore as millionaire playboys who, despite vastly different backgrounds and personalities, are persuaded to work together to fight crime and solve mysteries. Television critic Harry Harris of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the series “hardly persuades that the British are masters of merry melodrama” while Bernie Harrison of the Washington Star called it “slick, souped-up melodrama with glittering girls, action, repartee that passes for wit, and far gone, if not foregone, conclusions” [1]. The series premiere, broadcast on Saturday, September 18th (apparently just a day after it bowed in the United Kingdom), ranked 56th out of 68 programs for the week in the Nielsens [2].

Some sources (chiefly Wikipedia) indicate that ABC pulled the series before all 24 episodes were broadcast. I’ve actually had trouble finding an episode guide that gives the ABC air dates rather than those for the United Kingdom. Several episodes were later edited into made-for-TV movies.

Works Cited:

1 “It’s anyone’s guess – and they’re all guessing.” Broadcasting. 27 Sep. 1971: 12-19.
2 “Film Stars Do Poorly.” Hartford Courant. 28 Sep. 1971: 19.

4 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Have you tried the book “Television Drama Series Programming, 1959-1975″ by Larry James Gianakos? It’s a staple in my county library (all five volumes, through 1984). Next time I’m there, I’ll see if I can’t find an episode guide for you in that book, ‘RGJ’…

  • DuMont says:

    ‘The Persuaders’ didn’t do good numbers for ABC on Saturday at 10 pm, garnering a 73rd place ranking for the 1971-72 regular season with a 10.4HH rating.

    In its fall run on Saturdays at 10 pm, ‘The Persuaders’ ran third in the timeslot versus ‘Mission: Impossible’ on CBS with 19.3HH and ‘NBC Saturday Night at the Movies’ with a 16.4HH regular season average. In January 1972, ‘The Persuaders’ was replaced on Saturdays by ‘The Sixth Sense’, which did better with a 14.8HH.

    In midseason, ‘The Persuaders’ moved to Wednesdays at 9:30 pm, out of the ‘ABC Comedy Hour’, a variety potpourri mixed with specials that rated a 13.9HH average, and the 10:30 pm half-hour was given back to affiliates. ‘The Persuaders’ didn’t do much better, up against heavy competition of the last half hour of ‘NBC Mystery Movie’ wheel (Columbo-McMillan & Wife-McCloud) at 23.2HH and the first half-hour of ‘Night Gallery’ at 18.3HH, while on CBS it faced the last half-hour of ‘Medical Centre’ at 23.4HH and the first half-hour of ‘Mannix’ at 24.7HH.

    In April, the ‘ABC Comedy Hour’ was replaced by ‘The Smith Family’ at 8:30 pm with a 12.2HH and ‘The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine’ at 9:00 pm, which proved to be a dreadful lead-in, chalking up a 6.6HH average ranking dead last that season in 78th place.

    I’m positive I have a DVD of ‘The Persuaders’ in my collection…I seem to remember it being one of those A&E DVD compilations…but I cannot find it in my library.

    I also have a listing of OAD’s for the ABC episodes:

    Saturdays 10:00 pm
    1. 19710918 Overture
    2. 19710925 Powerswitch
    3. 19711002 Take Seven
    4. 19711009 The Man in the Middle
    5. 19711016 Chain of Events
    6. 19711023 The Old, the New, and the Deadly
    7. 19711030 The Time and the Place
    8. 19711113 Greensleeves
    9. 19711127 Someone Like Me
    10. 19711204 A Home of One’s Own
    11. 19711211 The Morning After
    12. 19711218 Someone Waiting
    13. 19720101 The Ozerov Inheritance
    Wednesdays 9:30 pm
    14. 19720112 A Death in the Family
    15. 19720118 Anyone Can Play
    16. 19720126 The Gold Napoleon
    17. 19720202 The Long Goodbye
    18. 19720209 To the Death, Baby
    19. 19720216 Five Miles to Midnight
    20. 19720223 NuisanceValue
    21. 19720301 Element of Risk
    22. 19720308 Angie, Angie
    23. unaired That’s Me Over There
    24. unaired Read and Destroy

    ABC might have burned off those remaining two episodes over the summer, but I can’t verify. Given the two near-impossible timeslots and weak lead-ins that the Alphabet net gave ‘The Persuaders’, I have a feeling that the series was utilized as a lower-cost import filler, and the web might have had a challenging time lining up sponsors for it, which would speak to the large numbers of pre-emptions.

  • RGJ says:

    DuMont, thanks for the broadcast history. Based on your information it does seem likely that ABC was able to purchase the series cheaply, gave it a tough time slot and hoped for the best. Had it somehow succeeded, perhaps additional episodes would have been ordered and Roger Moore thus unavailable to take on the role of James Bond.

    And the series was released on DVD by A&E in half-season sets. Apparently some of the re-edited made-for-TV movies have also made their way to DVD but the reviews at Amazon.com are not kind.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    I believe ABC bought “THE PERSUADERS” (as well as “SHIRLEY’S WORLD” that season, and previously, “THIS IS TOM JONES”) from Lew Grade’s ITC as part of a “package deal”. The network was always on the lookout for cheap “imported” programming- and Lew Grade gave them several series “for their money” during the late ’60s and early ’70s.

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