Steven Berkoff early television


 

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

 

The Champions The Champions 1968

 

The Champions was a British television series featuring three members of the Nemesis organisation played by Stuart Damon, Alexandra Bastedo and William Gaunt.  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".

Berkoff plays a cheap hood, Carlos, in The Iron Man, directed by John Moxey.  Also in the cast is 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.

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

The story is about an attempted assassination, by Berkoff and his henchmen, of a dictator called The Iron Man. But it turns out The Iron Man is not the real power.  Berkoff, below, takes aim.

Berkoff takes aim in The Champions

"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. It was difficult to see why the assassins needed such elaborate preparation, rather than just shoot the dictator on his many tiresome journeys.

Champions credits with Steven Berkoff's name misspelled as Stephen

In the credits Steven's name is misspelled.

 

 

 Dixon of Dock Green played by Jack WarnerDixon 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

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

 

An Enemy of the State 1965

A six part miniseries on BBC2. A businessman goes to Moscow and gets caught up in a spying plot.  Berkoff plays the defence council.  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.  Berkoff plays Pfc Gutkowski.  The director was James Ferman.  The play takes place in Hawaii just before the attack on Pearl Harbour.  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".

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

The Pistol

Berkoff says (Free Association) "...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".

 

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 councillor.  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 1963

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.

The play was performed on location at Elsinore.  Berkoff says (Free Association) "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."  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.

Berkoff as Lucianus in Hamlet at Elsinore

 

Murder in the Cathedral 1963

A bit part in the T.S. Eliot play filmed for television.

 

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 The Saint 1962

Another bit part, this time in Roger Moore's Saint series, in The Man Who Gambled with Life. 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.  Alone in the countryside, the Saint is approached by a girl wearing identical clothes to his.

Roger Moore The Saint

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 bring people back to life.  The Saint is the prime candidate.

The Saint Steven 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 Avengers The Avengers 1961

Berkoff has a small part in The Gravediggers, an episode of The Avengers with Patrick Macnee and Emma Peel. Directed in 1965 by Quentin Lawrence.  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.

Berkoff in The Avengers

Berkoff plays the usual henchman. He appears in a wheelchair, but the broken leg is a disguise and he pulls a gun on Steed. Not a good idea and Steed has no problems disarming him.

Berkoff in The Avengers

The best scene is a journey on a reconstructed train, where the train is stationary and the scenery is pulled past the window.

 

The Third Man: Toys of the Dead 1959

The series nominally based on the film with Michael Rennie playing Harry Lime who has become a "Saint" 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.

 

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.  Denis Sanders directs this television production from 1959.

 

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