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Steven Berkoff television

early work





A young Steven Berkoff picking up bit parts, mainly as the villain, for television.

 

 

The Champions was a British television series featuring three members of the Nemesis organisation played by Stuart Damon, Alexandra Bastedo and William Gaunt.  Nemesis is "an agency formed by countries of the world to combat situations that could end in international tension or tip the delicately-poised scales one way or the other" (from nemesis.fandom click here).  The three share extra sensory powers, such as super hearing and telepathy.  They often save the world from villains- "They're the Tops.  The Best.  The Peak.  They're The Champions". 

The episode The Iron Man is directed by John Moxey.

 

The story is about an attempted assassination of a dictator El Gaudillo (The Iron Man played by George Murcell). But it turns out The Iron Man is not the real power. 

Berkoff takes aim in The Champions

Berkoff plays a cheap hood, Carlos.  He takes aim but the dictator is not killed.

Carlos tries again, and again fails.

"A man's last days should be happy ones"

Steven Berkoff as a henchman in The Iron Man episode of The Champions

A very tedious episode with a poor script and mediocre photography.  It was difficult to see why the assassins needed such elaborate preparation, such as a cigar containing a poisoned needle rather than just shoot the dictator.  Berkoff is convincing in his role.

Production began on 7 June 1967 and was completed in two weeks (from DVD notes of episodes 7-10).

The cast includes Patrick Magee who, just like Berkoff, would appear in Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon. Other cast members Salmaan Peerzada and Pauline Chamberlain would both shortly appear in Vendetta for the Saint as did Berkoff.

In the credits Steven's name is misspelled.

All images from the DVD of the film.

 

 

Dixon of Dock Green played by Jack Warner

  Dixon of Dock Green 1967

A role in the popular television series about Sergeant Dixon played by Jack Warner (above), as the likeable local British bobby, which lasted for over twenty years.  Jack Warner created the role in the film The Blue Lamp with Dirk Bogart.  Despite Dixon being killed in the film, the series was created.  He was 60 when the television series started, and was still playing the policeman to his retirement aged 83.

Berkoff appears in the episode The Climber.  Sadly, The Climber was one of the 400 episodes out of 432 that were deleted.  According to tv.com (link here) Berkoff plays Dave Banks in an episode where "Det. Sgt. Andy Crawford [one of the regulars] has personal reasons for wanting to put a man back behind bars".

Script by N.J. Crisp and directed by Douglas Argent.

 

Softly Softly

Softly, Softly a BBC1 cop series.  This was a spin-off from the successful series Z-Cars, concentrating on the detectives from the original.  Berkoff plays PC Archer in the episode The Informant Part 1 Rough Justice (episode 2.1) which no longer exists.

 

An Enemy of the State: The Blood Red Tape, The Reckoning 1965

A six part miniseries on BBC2. A businessman goes to Moscow and gets caught up in a spying plot.

"This six-part BBC thriller series starred ...Charles Tingwell... as Harry Sutton, an electronics expert and the owner of a once internationally successful computer manufacturing factory that had fallen on hard times... and his creditors are closing in... His salvation comes in an unexpected commission to install a computer in Moscow... What starts as a relatively simple computer installation in Moscow... soon turns into a nightmarish sequence of events for Harry, who becomes implicated in murder and becomes a target of the Security Services in Moscow.  Trapped behind the Iron Curtain, he becomes embroiled in a game of cat and mouse which ultimately finds him standing trial for espionage – and facing the death penalty...." (summary from Nostalgia Central included with kind permission, click here).

Berkoff plays the defence council in parts 5 (The Blood Red Tape) and 6 (The Reckoning) (details from British Film Institute website here).  Directed by James Cellan Jones and written by Ken Hughes.

 

The Pistol 1965

James Jones' novel adapted for BBC's Wednesday Play by Troy Kennedy Martin and Roger Smith.  The director was James Ferman.  It was filmed at Fairlight Glen, Hastings and shooting took five days and nights.  Berkoff's acting was obviously good as the Radio Times describes it as "an all-American cast".

James Jones, who wrote the novel in 1958, also wrote From Here to Eternity.  The novel The Pistol is pretty mundane.  It takes place in Hawaii just after the attack on Pearl Harbour, and a group of soldiers are assigned to guard against any invading Japanese.  Weapons are scarce and Private Mast obtains a pistol.  The plot concerns his fear and paranoia that his  pistol will be stolen, and the attempts by  other soldiers to obtain the pistol for themselves.  Berkoff plays Pfc (Private First Class) Gutkowski, but there is no character with this name in the novel. 

Steven Berkoff Pistol
The Radio Times, 10 June 1965 (the play was broadcast on 16 June).
Berkoff is not in the picture below.

The Pistol

Berkoff says "...I again played a small, worthless role and was so fed up with all the climbing up and down hills and digging ditches that I felt sure was more the work of extras that I complained, along with everyone else. I was promptly put in the BBC´s black book and didn't work with them for years afterwards"(Steven Berkoff, Free Association, 1997).

 

 

Sir Jocelyn, the Minister Would Like a Word... Sir Jocelyn, the Minister Would Like a Word... 1965

Part of the BBC's Wednesday Play series.  This episode is a comedy set in a university.  Berkoff plays a councilor.  Directed by Stuart Burge and written by Simon Raven.  Info by kind permission from www.action-tv.org.uk/wed_play/wed_arrived.htm

 

 

Hamlet at Elsinore

Berkoff plays Lucianus in a television Hamlet, one of the BBC´s Wednesday Plays, with Christopher Plummer as Hamlet, Robert Shaw as Claudius, Michael Caine as Horatio and Donald Sutherland as Fortinbras.  1963.

"They were looking for mime artists for the player scene in Hamlet.  That's me I screamed down the phone and they said - Come on in" (Steven Berkoff, Free Association, 1997).

The play was performed on location at Elsinore.  "it was one of the most exciting things I ever saw rehearsed. Plummer's energy and voice were astounding to watch and hear; he seemed to leap over everyone in huge bounds of vitality" (Steven Berkoff, Free Association, 1997).  The director was Philip Saville who more than 30 years later would direct Berkoff in Hans Christian Andersen.

Berkoff as Lucianus

In the play within a play Lucianus (Berkoff) re-enacts the murder of the king.  The role shows Berkoff's mime skills, bringing a minor character to life.  The whole production is excellent, especially Christopher Plummer as Hamlet.  Donald Sutherland is however really bad with an accent that would fit Dracula.



Murder in the Cathedral 1964

A bit part as the messenger in the T.S. Eliot play filmed for television, directed by George R. Foa.  Cyril Cusack (below) played Beckett.

Murder in the Cathedral

 

 

Moonstrike 1963

Moonstrike

The series Moonstrike from 1963 with Steven Berkoff in the episode A Matter of Trust.  The episode no longer exists.

"This anthology series of one-off thrillers from the BBC featured stories about the covert activities of Allied agents and resistance operatives against German forces in occupied Europe during the Second World War.  Each episode portrayed the efforts of a different Resistance group assisting Allied forces in their efforts to defeat the Germans, although many stories featured the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and their operations in occupied territories" (from Nostalgia Central site, click here).

"The special squadrons needed moonlight to fly into occupied countries on their secret operations.  The loyalty of a gypsy girl is put severely to the test" (from Radio Times, 6 Jul 1963 on The Genome Project site click here).

The director Horace Ové later worked with Berkoff in The Professionals.

 

 

Corrigan Blake 1963

“Over the course of six episodes… Corrigan encountered six women of different social backgrounds and was enchanted with each one of them - yet ultimately it was the women who outsmarted, outfoxed, outwitted and used Corrigan for their own ends. The programme became more comedic in its approach to scenarios… and was virtually BBC Television's first attempt at comedy-drama (a relatively new genre which emerged in the late 1960s and became commonplace throughout the 1970s across all the British networks). The series… was directed by BBC stalwart James MacTaggart. Regrettably, the programme was not retained in the network's archives and was never commercially exploited.” (information from startrader here, thanks to David for permission to reproduce).

Berkoff has a part as a barman in the episode Love Bird.

 

 

The Saint Steven Berkoff - The Man Who Gambled with Life

The Saint, with a larger  part for Berkoff as chief henchman Cark in Roger Moore's Saint series, in The Man Who Gambled with Life from 1962. The director is Freddie Francis, with script by Harry W. Junkin.  Berkoff also had a minor role in Roger Moore's Saint film for cinema, with the same script writer. 

The Saint - The Man Who Gabled With Life 

Alone in the countryside, the Saint is approached by a girl wearing identical clothes to his- why isn't explained in the film.

She gives him a white mouse and talks about death.  Later when she reappears, it turns out not to be her but her sister.  Both sisters are daughters of a millionaire, with heart problems, looking for volunteers to test a process to freeze people and bring them back to life in the future.  He wants to freeze himself until it is possible to obtain a heart transplant- five years after the film the first heart transplant was carried out.  The Saint is the prime candidate to test the process.

The Saint - The Man Who Gabled With Life - Berkoff

Berkoff, with his worst fake moustache and Star Trek jersey, is leader of the henchmen.  He has to put up with lines like "your psycho-analytical profile showed an immense bias towards the bizarre".

The Saint - The Man Who Gabled With Life - Steven Berkoff 

The fashion of the women is, er, interesting.

The Saint - The Man Who Gabled With Life

 The previous experiment with a gorilla was a failure.  Time is running out for the millionaire.

The Saint - The Man Who Gabled With Life


All images from the DVD for the episode.

 

 

Steven Berkoff The Avengers  Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers 

Berkoff has a small part in The Gravediggers, an episode of The Avengers, directed in 1965 by Quentin Lawrence.  In The Avengers John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Mrs Peel (Diana Rigg) solve mysterious crimes with good chemistry between Steed in bowler hat and suit and Emma Peel as intelligent and far from defenceless. In The Gravediggers Steed and Emma investigate blackouts in British radar installations. It turns out to be a plan to bury jamming devices in graveyards around the country.

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

Steed follows a lead at a nursing home and shows a nurse a photo of a missing scientist.  She says she has never seen him, but the scientist suddenly appears behind them.  Steed investigates further and comes across a patient, Sager, with a leg in plaster in a wheelchair.

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

But Sager, played by Steven Berkoff, is a henchman- Berkoff's usual role at this period. The wheelchair and broken leg is a disguise and he pulls a gun on Steed. Not a good idea and Steed has no problems disarming him.

The best scene is almost an aside.  Steed follows another clue to the The Sir Horace Winslip Hospital for Ailing Railwaymen, and Sir Horace has a train carriage in his living room.  Steed and Sir Horace (a good eccentric role played spot on by Ronald Fraser) lunch in the dining car.

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

The dining car has effects such as as the sound of a train (on a record player) and shakes gently (the servant rocking the carriage).  The train is stationery but the countryside outside (a screen) moves by including through a tunnel in the dark, with soot coming through the window.

Mrs Peel gets caught and is tied to the outdoor model railway line as a train approaches.  Steed is to the rescue despite  Berkoff trying to stop him.

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

The episode was filmed during March/April 1965 and first broadcast on British ITV (Midland and North) on 9 Oct 1965.  The miniature railway scenes were filmed at Stapleford Park, Melton Mowbray.

Steven Berkoff The Avengers The Gravediggers

All images from the DVD of the episode, location and dates from DVD notes.

 

 

The Four Just Men

The series The Four Just Men based on a story by Edgar  Wallace.  Four men decide to form a pact for justice, and each episode features one of the four tackling a crime.

Berkoff appears in two episodes in non-speaking, uncredited roles.

 

 

 

 The Four Just Men: Panic Button

Panic Button from 1959 directed by Anthony Bushell who also directed Berkoff in the episode Toys of the Dead in the tv series The Third Man.

Jeff Ryder, one of the four just men played by Richard Conte, is visited by a girl (Sheila Gallagher) who tells him she  isn't allowed to go to her college.  Ryder asks why and is told it is because she is radioactive (!!).

The Four Just Men - Panic Button

Her father is a scientist and when working with radioactive material an accident caused leakage.

The Four Good Men - Panic Button

The news has caused panic when the girl goes to her schools the students ignore her and walk out.

Steven Berkoff The Four Just Men - Panic Button  Oliver Reed - The Four Just Men - Panic Button

Two students- left a young looking Steven Berkoff, right Oliver Reed, both uncredited.  Both would also appear in The Third Man- Toys of the Dead in the same year but without sharing any scenes.

The Four Just Men - Panic Button

Ryder talks to the mob and convinces them then there is no danger.

The Four Just Men - Panic Button

All images from the film. 

 

The Four Just Men: The Treviso Dam

The Traviso Dam from 1960, directed by Basil Dearden.  It was the last episode of the series.

A new dam is under construction but Carlo, one of the workers, suspects there is fraud with poorer quality building material being used.

The Four Just Men

The management don't listen, and his girlfriend Anna tells him to contact Ricco Poccari, one of the four just men (played by Vittorio de Sica).  Poccari arrives to learn that Carlo has been murdered.

Anna has another suitor, Giorgio, who Anna rejects.  Giorgio initially seems a suspect who could have murdered Carlo to get to Anna.  But Poccari sets a trap and discovers the real murderer.

The film has a host of famous actors starting their careers, and star Vittorio de Sica was the director of films including Bicycle Thieves and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.

Alan Bates in The Four Just Men  Judi Dench in The Four Just Men

Alan Bates as Giorgio and Judi Dench as Anna.

Steven Berkoff in The Four Just Men

Berkoff on the left in his uncredited role.

All images from the film.

 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead 1959

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff  The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

The series nominally based on the film with Michael Rennie playing Harry Lime who has become a "Saint" like character.  Berkoff plays Toni da Costa (left in picture) a henchman with an Italian accent in a story about diamonds.

Anthony Bushell directs this television episode from 1959.  John Kruse wrote the script, just as he wrote Vendetta for the Saint in which Berkoff also appears.

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff 

Oliver Reed appears.

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead - Steven Berkoff

Berkoff's name is misspelled in the credits.

All images from the film.

 

Crime and Punishment 1959

Berkoff says (Free Association) "I found myself playing small costume parts in Crime and Punishment and Murder in the Cathedral, eking out a living, reporting to the labour exchange".  Cyril Coke directs this television production from 1959.

 



 

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