|Leslie Charteris – A Saintly Centennial
Tuesday 31 July
11.30am-12.00noon BBC RADIO 4
This year marks the centenary of the birth of popular fiction writer Leslie Charteris, best known for his many books chronicling the adventures of Simon Templar, alias The Saint.
In this special programme, actor and Saint portrayer Roger Moore explores the life and legacy of Charteris and reveals a world of adventure, torment, insecurity, failed marriages and enormous success as a thriller writer.
The adventures of The Saint have appeared continuously since 1928, making Simon Templar the longest-running character in contemporary detective fiction. But there was more to Charteris's literary acuity than The Saint alone. He was fluent in several languages; he had a monthly column in the epicurial delight, Gourmet magazine; and he devised a pictorial sign language which he called "Paleneo" and wrote a book about it. He was also one of the earliest members of Mensa.
Despite his film-star looks, with a hint of exoticism, Charteris suffered from a long-standing insecurity about his appearance, arising from his mixed racial origin. In later years he dated some of Hollywood's most beautiful women, among them Marlene Dietrich and Jean Harlow.
It wasn't until 1963, when Lou Grade cast Roger Moore and filmed the first television series of The Saint, that Charteris at last felt he'd received the final seal of approbation that had eluded him for 30 years.
Among those exploring the world and psyche of Charteris are Dan Bodenheimer, who runs the official Saint website; Burl Barer, author of The History Of The Saint; and Charteris's biographer Ian Dickerson.
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