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Peter Wyngarde

Peter Wyngarde as Jason King
Born Peter Paul Wyngarde
23 August 1933 (1933-08-23) (age 76)
Marseille, France
Occupation Film, television actor
Years active 1953-1994

Peter Paul Wyngarde (born 23 August 1933) is an Anglo-French actor best known for playing the character Jason King, a bestselling novelist turned sleuth, in two British television series in the late 1960s and early 1970s: Department S (1969–1970) and Jason King (1971–1972).



He was born in Marseille, France, the son of an English father and a French mother. His father worked for the British Diplomatic Service, and as a result his childhood was spent in a number of different countries. In 1941, while his parents were away in India, he went to stay with a Swiss family in Shanghai. When the Japanese Army invaded the city, they were captured and placed in the Lunghua concentration camp. Conditions in the camp were sometimes harsh. On one occasion Peter had both his feet broken and spent two weeks in solitary confinement after being caught taking messages between camp huts. According to J. G. Ballard's recently published biography Miracles of Life, "Cyril Goldbert, the future Peter Wyngarde" was a fellow internee at Lunghua Camp and "He was four years older than me...". Ballard was born in November 1930 so this would place Wyngarde's birth year as 1926.

As a young man he went into acting and from the mid-1950s had various roles acting in feature films, television plays and television series guest appearances. In the late 1960s, he was a regular guest star on many of the popular UK series of the day — many of which were espionage adventure series — including The Avengers, The Saint, The Baron, The Champions, The Troubleshooters, Love Story, I Spy and The Man In Room 17. He also played the rotating guest-star role of the villainous Number Two in the episode "Checkmate" of the cult series The Prisoner. Wyngarde's film work was limited but had a great impact. In 1961, he made the most of his brief scenes as the leering Peter Quint in Jack Clayton's The Innocents opposite Deborah Kerr and Pamela Franklin. The following year he starred in the effective occult thriller Night of the Eagle.

Wyngarde became a British household name through his starring role in the espionage series Department S (1969). His Jason King character often got the girl and as she is about to kiss him, he manages to avoid it, much to the annoyance of co-actor Joel Fabiani. After that series ended, his character, the suave womaniser Jason King, was spun-off into a new action espionage series entitled Jason King (1971), which ran for one season (26 one-hour episodes). The quirky series was sold overseas and Wyngarde briefly became an international celebrity, memorably being mobbed by adoring female fans in Australia.

In 1975, he was arrested and convicted for an act of "gross indecency" with Robbo's wife,O and Tunstall in the toilets of Gloucester bus station. His homosexuality was well known in acting circles, where he was known as Petunia Winegum[1], because of a ten-year-long relationship he had from 1956 with fellow actor Alan Bates.[2][3]

After losing his TV celebrity status, Wyngarde worked in Austria, acting and directing at the English Theatre in Vienna, and in South Africa and Germany. He also landed the role of General Klytus in the 1980 film version of Flash Gordon, though Wyngarde's face was hidden behind a mask for the part.

In 1983, he appeared in the thriller Underground opposite Raymond Burr at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto and at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London.[4] During the 1980s and 1990s he made a number of TV appearances, including the Doctor Who serial Planet of Fire (1984), Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense (1986), The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1994) and the film Tank Malling (1989).

In recent years he has been a regular guest at Memorabilia, a cult, science fiction and sporting memorabilia fair at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.[citation needed] His most recent television appearance was as a guest of Simon Dee in the Channel Four one-off revival of his chat show Dee Time in 2003. In 2007, Wyngarde participated in recording featurettes for a reissue of The Prisoner on DVD, including a mock interview segment titled "The Pink Prisoner"; this material was released in the Prisoner DVD set issued in the UK in 2007 and in North America on both DVD and Blu-Ray in October 2009.

A number of published references state that Wyngarde's real name is Cyril Louis (or Lovis) Goldbert.[5][6][7][8][9] However, the now-defunct Hellfire Club official website described this as a myth that developed from his jokingly giving his uncle's name, Louis Jouvet, in an interview in the 1970s.[10]

In other media

In the X-Men comics, the character of Jason Wyngarde (aka Mastermind) was partially inspired by Jason King and Peter Wyngarde. Mastermind had first appeared in the 1960s, but took on the appearance and identity of Jason Wyngarde in the build-up to the X-Men's first confrontation with the Hellfire Club in the late 1970s. Wyngarde had played the leader of another Hellfire club in "A Touch of Brimstone", an episode of the popular TV series The Avengers starring Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg who appeared in a leather costume that Jean Grey would adopt as the Hellfire Club's Black Queen[1].

Mike Myers' comic creation the 1960s spy Austin Powers also draws upon the Jason King persona, particularly as to his foppish wardrobe and penchant for frilly cuffs.[citation needed]

West End producer Marc Sinden, interviewed in the Daily Mail in 1994 said: "Truth was, in the mid-70s, just after I left drama school, I based my 'look' on Jason King - hell, I even smoked the same cigarettes as him! They were Sobranie Imperials and incredibly hard to find, so I used to get them delivered to me by Fortnum & Mason. Then in 1983 I co-starred in a play with Peter Wyngarde and Raymond Burr. It was called Underground and we were in the West End after touring the UK and Canada. Peter wrote a filthy inscription to me on a packet of my Sobranies and we have been friends ever since. He still has incredible style."[11]


In 1970, Wyngarde recorded an album for RCA Victor entitled simply Peter Wyngarde and a single, "La Ronde De L'Amour / The Way I Cry Over You". The album was reissued on CD as When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head. Unusually, Wyngarde did not deliver a set of easy listening standards but a most unusual collection of spoken word / musical arrangements.

The LP is believed to have been quickly withdrawn after its release, but has gained cult status in the intervening years due to a CD reissue on RPM records in the late 1990s.[12] Selections are often played on XM Radio's Internet-only retro-lounge channel 79, On the Rocks. On 13 February 2009 on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, singer Morrissey presented Ross with a signed copy of the album.

The album is now readily available, entitled "When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head".

Track Listing

  1. "Come In"
  2. "You Wonder how these Things Begin"
  3. "Rape"
  4. "La Ronde de L'amour"
  5. "Jenny Kissed Me"
  6. "Way I Cry over You"
  7. "Unknown Citizen"
  8. "It's when I Touch You"
  9. "Hippie and the Skinhead"
  10. "Try to Remember to Forget (Riviera Cowboy)"
  11. "Jenny Kissed Me and it Was..."
  12. "Widdecombe Fair"
  13. "Neville Thumbcatch"
  14. "Once Again (Flight Number Ten)"
  15. "Pay No Attention"
  16. "April"


  1. ^ Lewis, Roger (28 June 2007). "'The minute they got close, he ran'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  2. ^ Spoto, Donald (19 May 2007). "Alan Bates's secret gay affair with ice skater John Curry". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  3. ^ Otherwise Engaged: The Life of Alan Bates, Donald Spoto, Hutchinson, 2007
  4. ^ British Theatre Guide 1983
  5. ^ The regeneration game — TV repeats, The Times, London, 30 November 1991
  6. ^ TV Review: Walking On The Wilde Side, Evening Standard, London, 17 July 2001
  7. ^ Mr Showbiz Byline Chris Young, Evening Times, Glasgow, 6 April 2002
  8. ^ Television: TV Heroes, The Independent, London, 23 January 2003
  9. ^ Crime Through Time: The Black Museum, Stephen Richards, 2003, Mirage Publishing, ISBN 1902578171
  10. ^ FAQ, Hellfire Club website (via Internet Archive).
  11. ^ Daily Mail Relative Values Angela Brooks 1994-12-06
  12. ^ Peter Wyngarde Album on "Jason King's Groovy Pad"

External links

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