My favorite espionage TV show is “Danger Man” with Patrick McGoohan, which later morphed into “Secret Agent”. The show takes place during the 1960s, right at the height of the Cold War.
The actor, Patrick McGoohan, refused to perform romantic scenes on camera because of his religious beliefs. He turned down the roles of James Bond and Simon Templar because of these moral concerns (see below). And that dedication to moral excellence shines through in every frame of “Danger Man”.
Main character John Drake worked for NATO as a special security agent and was free to travel the world working on special problems for free world governments. The story lines set an early precedent for non-violence, preferring to have Drake use his wits and his fists rather than a gun. McGoohan influenced the program from the start.
The themes of morality and individuality fit in with his personal philosophy as well as his vision of what the character John Drake was supposed to be.
As both a moral and opinionated man, McGoohan held strong views and was forceful about seeing that they were carried out. He had insisted at the very first meeting on the script for the first episode that the bedroom scene be cut out. In fact, he stipulated that romantic involvements would have to be eliminated if he were to play the role, and consequently none appeared in either this series or the ‘Secret Agent’ series that followed.
[…]It should come as no surprise that when McGoohan was offered the role as the first James Bond, he turned it down – several times – as being incompatible with the type of role he wanted to play. He says it was a decision he has never regretted.
[…]As an actor, McGoohan had now carved out a voice all his own…. John Drake was a loner, an individual, and a moral character.
From the UK Telegraph:
[H]e was offered the roles of James Bond and Simon Templar (The Saint). He turned both down.
He once recalled: “When we started Danger Man the producer wanted me to carry a gun and to have an affair with a different girl each week. I refused. I am not against romance on television, but sex is the antithesis of romance. Television is a gargantuan master that all sorts of people watch at all sorts of time, and it has a moral obligation towards its audience.”
Here are four of my favorite episodes.
Episode 1 of 4: “Time to Kill”
Drake is tasked with eliminating an East German assassin.
Episode 2 of 4: “The Key”
Drake is sent to Vienna to find out who is leaking secrets from the American Embassy.
Episode 3 of 4: “Colonel Rodriguez”
Drake travels to the Carribean to free a journalist who has been arrested for espionage.
Episode 4 of 4: “The Trap”
Drake travels to Venice to investigate the disappearance of a cipher clerk.
If you watch ALL FOUR episodes, you can vote in the poll: