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THE SECRET SERVICE

secret_service_tv_tss secret_service_bk_td secret_service_bk_tvip secret_service_di_tssa
 
Full Name: Father Stanley Unwin
Nationality: British
Organization: B.I.S.H.O.P.
Occupation Agent

Creator: Gerry Anderson
Time Span: 1969 - 2021

ABOUT THE SERIES

Stanley Unwin is an agent of B.I.S.H.O.P.

That organization's acronym stands for British Intelligence Service Headquarters - Operation Priest.

This middle-aged man with graying, and partially balding, hair, black-rimmed glasses, and a friendly, soothing voice, also enjoys another career which he seems to enjoy and is good at it - he is a country vicar. In fact, he was a vicar for quite a few years before he was recruited by British Intelligence to become part of its specialized group.

Unwin has a powerful tool that he uses in the course of his espionage work. It is called the Minimizer, a nifty instrument invented by his late friend, Professor Humbert, and left to Unwin. It is not known whether Humbert gave Unwin this amazing mechanism before he became an operative with B.I.S.H.O.P. or Unwin received it while already an agent. Also curious is the fact that such a fantastic power would not be sought by other members of the government, leading to the assumption that they did not want it because they did not know it existed.

He has as an assistant a somewhat younger man named Matthew Harding, an undercover intelligence operative. Harding's cover job is that of the vicarage gardener. Harding is there to accompany the vicar on his BISHOP missions but to keep the deception of a lowly and harmless minister, Harding travels incognito in a most unusual way - he is shrunk by the Minimizer to just one-third his normal size which allows him to fit inside Unwin's "gadget-laden" suitcase".

Another interesting person in Unwin's inner circle is his much put-upon housekeeper, Mrs. Appleby. This poor lady is in constant contact with both Unwin and his assistant when they are at home but has no idea of their extra-vicarage work so is invariably perplexed with the fact that they are frequently off and running for no apparent reason.

When Unwin needs to do this running, he does so in his favorite mode of transport, a 1917 Ford Model T that he has named Gabriel. While this apparently souped-up antique vehicle looks incongruous considering the espionage occupation of Unwin in a modern world, it does in fact suit his personality, well, to a 'T'.

One last aspect of Unwin is his ability to lapse into a strange language called 'Unwinese' which he speaks rapidly and without hesitation. It sounds almost like it should made sense but just does not quite register. This gibberish, coupled with his advanced age and clerical garb, has gotten him out of more than one sticky situation. Whether this nonsense talking is intended by Unwin or a product of nerves is not certain.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1969

1 The Destroyer The Destroyer
Written by John Theydon
Copyright: 1969

[plot unknown - except that Unwin and Harding are dispatched to find and stop someone or something called the Destroyer.]

2 The V.I.P. The V.I.P.
Written by John Theydon
Copyright: 1969

"Father Unwin gets an urgent message from the 'BISHOP'...His orders are to guard a royal VIP arriving in England on a visit. An unusual jog for a clergyman, but Father Unwin is an unusual priest!
"Lying in his study is a book which conceals an electronic marvel - the Minimizeer. With this machine, Father Unwin can reduce a tall man to a height of two feet at the touch of a button. A handy gadget to have around in times of trouble - and there is plenty of that ahead!"

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:13
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1969
Network:ITV

REGULAR CAST
Stanley UnwinStanley Unwin [ 1 ]
Gary FilesMatthew Harding [ 1 ]
Jeremy WilkinThe Bishop [ 1 ]
Sylvia AndersonMrs. Appleby [ 1 ]

       While Gerry Anderson has started the move to live action away from his trademark Supermarionation method of modified, electronic puppetry, he was still using it when he moved from his previous Joe 90 television show to The Secret Service.
       According to urban legend, he had met and worked briefly with noted British television comic actor Stanley Unwin (yes, the same name) who had been using for years his Unwinese to baffle and perplex other characters on show he was guest-starring in. He wanted to create a vehicle that could make use of the 55+ actor and his gobbledygook way of talking and came up with this show.
       Again according to legend, when he demoed the show to ITV President, that chap was less than thrilled with Unwinese as it would not be understood by American audience the company was hoping to market it (nevermind that no British viewer could understand it either). The planned 26 episodes for the first season was cut to 13. No second season was ever authorized.
       According to my source, this show was the only Anderson ITC series "that wasn't shown on the whole ITV network" because presented to the bosses of the ITV regional channels, three went for it while the other twelve did not, liking it to "watching a Japanese series that wasn't dubbed and didn't have subtitles"
1 A Case for the Bishop
Episode S1-1, first aired 09/21/1969
Director: Alan Perry
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson

Father Unwin and Matthew are put onto the case when the Ambassador of Dreisenberg attempts to smuggle a stolen mini-computer out of the country.

2 A Question of Miracles
Episode S1-2, first aired 09/28/1969
Director: Leo Eaton
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Donald James

Father Unwin and Matthew are sent to investigate the sabotage of several desalination plants with the help of Agent Blake.

3 To Catch a Spy
Episode S1-3, first aired 10/05/1969
Director: Brian Heard
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Pat Dunlop

Father Unwin and Matthew are put on the case when enemy spy George Grey escapes from a maximum security prison and disappears over the estate of Sir Humphrey Barton.

4 The Feathered Spies
Episode S1-4, first aired 10/12/1969
Director: Ian Spurrier
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick

Father Unwin and Matthew are sent to plug a security leak for a top-secret project.

5 Last Train to Bufflers Halt
Episode S1-5, first aired 10/19/1969
Director: Alan Perry
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick

Father Unwin is assigned to accompany a bullion train after an attempted robbery.

6 Hole in One
Episode S1-6, first aired 10/26/1969
Director: Brian Heard
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Shane Rimmer

Father Unwin and Matthew are puzzled when they are assigned to investigate a security leak regarding an early warning satellite.

7 Recall to Service
Episode S1-7, first aired 11/02/1969
Director: Peter Anderson
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Pat Dunlop

Father Unwin must pose as an army officer in order to prevent the sabotage of an experimental new tank.

8 Errand of Mercy
Episode S1-8, first aired 11/09/1969
Director: Leo Eaton
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick

When Father Unwin is taken ill, he has an extraordinary dream. Can he and Matthew survive their dangerous journey in Gabriel, the flying car, and deliver medical supplies to plague-ridden Africa?

9 The Deadly Whisper
Episode S1-9, first aired 11/16/1969
Director: Leo Eaton
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Donald James

Father Unwin encounters trouble in his parish when a local scientist is held hostage and forced to complete work on a prototype ultrasonic rifle so that mercenaries can shoot down a new jet.

10 The Cure
Episode S1-10, first aired 11/23/1969
Director: Leo Eaton
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson

Father Unwin visits a health farm in order to keep tabs on one of the residents, a notorious spy named Sakov, and is baffled when Sakov manages to engineer the crash of a test car whilst secured in a treatment room.

11 School for Spies
Episode S1-11, first aired 11/30/1969
Director: Ken Turner
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Donald James

Father Unwin infiltrates a gang of saboteurs posing as priests, but will he be discovered before he reveals their nefarious schemes?

12 Mayday! Mayday!
Episode S1-12, first aired 12/07/1969
Director: Alan Perry
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Bob Kesten

Father Unwin is assigned to protect the King of Muldovia from his brother's assassination attempts. When the flight crew of their plane is incapacitated, Father Unwin ends up having to pilot the plane himself!

13 More Haste, Less Speed
Episode S1-13, first aired 12/14/1969
Director: Ken Turner
Writers: Gerry Anderson, Sylvia Anderson, Tony Barwick

Father Unwin and Matthew are sent to retrieve two counterfeiting plates from the devious sibling duo of Lord Edward and Lady Martha Hazlewell.

DIGESTS AND MAGAZINES

Number of Digests:1
First Appearance:2021
Last Appearance:2021

1 The Secret Service Annual The Secret Service Annual
Written by Assorted
Copyright: 2021

According to fanderson.org.uk:
The Secret Service was cruelly deprived of merchandise on the scale of the earlier Supermarionation series.
Now, Fanderson is helping to put that right with The Secret Service Annual!
This 100-page hardback A4 book is packed full with:
- All-new 4-page photo-strip “The Legacy”
- The Unwin Files looks at the cases that Father Unwin investigates
- Biographies of the main characters
- All-new 14-page comic strip “Fun For All”
- Four full-colour cutaways
- Archive interview with Stanley Unwin
- All-new 10-page adventure for a new BISHOP recruit
- Filming locations maps
- Puzzles and games
- Exclusive new artwork and much more!

COLLECTIBLES

Number of Collectibles:2
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:2007

1 "Gabriel" Model-T
Model Car
Dinky Toys
Copyright: 1969

A beautiful reconstruction of the Model T nicknamed "Gabriel" which Father Unwin drove to and from missions.

2 Barry Gray - The Secret Service (Original Television Soundtrack) Barry Gray - The Secret Service (Original Television Soundtrack)
CD
Fanderson
Copyright: 2007

A CD of music composed and conducted by Barry Gray. The total running time was 52 minutes. According to discogs.com, "it also comes with a 16-page colour booklet containing track notes and details of recording session dates and musicians."
1 - Century 21 Sting
2 - Main Title (vocals by Mike Sammes Singers)
From A Case For The Bishop
3 - Robbery At Healey Automation
4 - Calling Father Unwin
5 - Intermission Tag 1 (vocals by Mike Sammes Singers)
6 - Operation Intercept
From A Question Of Miracles
7 - 250 Hours
8 - Sabotage
From The Feathered Spies
9 - Aerial Spies
10 - The Unwilling Accomplice
11 - Intermission Tag 2 (vocals by Mike Sammes Singers)
12 - Feathered Bombers
From Last Train To Bufflers Halt
13 - Ambush
14 - Bufflers Halt Re-opens
15 - The Train Hijack
16 - End Titles (vocals by Mike Sammes Singers)
From Last Train To Bufflers Halt (Deleted Cues)
17 - Father Unwin At Home
18 - Mystery And Suspense
From School For Spies
19 - Radio Music
20 - The Archdeacon's Piano Recital
21 - The Secret Service - Extended (vocals by Mike Sammes Singers)

MY COMMENTS

At some point somewhere in the 70s I vaguely remember seeing the forerunner to the marioneting work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. I recall not liking it. Granted, I was an adult at the time and not its target audience but deep in my memory are the thoughts of it kind of creeping me out. Later when they came up with their Supermarionation techniques, it was still kind of spooky to me.

As a result, I never had much interest in Unwin at any point since then until I forced myself to watch some for this entry.

I was surprised, therefore, to find that while the physical aspect of these 'puppets' still gave me uneasy twinges, the storylines were quite clever and I actually enjoyed the Unwinese. A little bit.

GRADE

My Grade: B-

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