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Below right: Photographed from the vicinity of the Monaco Yacht Club. Below far right: The familiar façade of the Hotel de Paris.

About the title

Those of us brought up on the Lew Grade serials of the 1960s and 1970s will recognize The Persuaders, a series which, at the time, was then the most expensive made. It was not so much the salaries of Tony Curtis and Roger Moore than used up the pounds and shillings, but the Continental locations that made the award-winning series brighter. It never caught on in America, probably because it was never gritty enough (the story of two playboys wasting their time solving crimes in the south of France was not the sort of thing that might work in French Connection-era USA) and that it went opposite the sure-fire hit Mission: Impossible on CBS. However, everywhere else, Curtis and Moore got awards for their acting and the five planned years were only cut short when Moore was offered the role of James Bond. Based on an idea by Robert S. Baker, The Persuaders was originally trialled as a Saint episode called 'The Ex-King of Diamonds', scripted by John Kruse. Revamped the following year with a Brian Clemens script and directed with a big-screen feel by movie director Basil Dearden (who had directed Moore in the critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful The Man Who Haunted Himself), The Persuaders took the action on location to Monte Carlo with a memorable John Barry theme, light-hearted comedic acting and $400,000 per show to tell the tale of Danny Wilde (an ad-libbing Curtis, although Rock Hudson had been suggested before casting), a rags-to-riches Bronx-to-Manhattan playboy du jetset who came across calls for Mr Schwartz when not doing Cary Grant impersonations, and Lord Brett Sinclair, a titled Englishman born with a silver spoon in his mouth who signalled expressions with his eyebrows. The Persuaders never meant anything as a name, although writers made some efforts to incorporate the word 'persuade' into the odd episode. Known for having translated The Avengers to Chapeau Melon et Bottes du Cuir, the French called the series a more sensible Amicalement Votre, which summed up the relationship between the lead characters admirably. •

The A7 to Portovenere

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HE CONCIERGE read the note I handed him aloud. 'Join me at the Hotel de Paris. It's going to be a ball.' I envisioned potential fist-fights in the bar having argued over whether there should be one olive or two in my drink.
   The principality of Monaco draws people there for a variety of reasons: Grace Kelly fans with their own idea of what 'Graceland' means; James Bond fanatics who wish to see the Casino Monte-Carlo; and me, brought up on The Persuaders.
   There are many reasons people fall in love with the Continent and that was mine. It was the earliest impression I had of Europe, other than toy Fiat 127s with a plastic dog hanging out the left window. Having left Italy (see 'The A Road to Portovenere') because it was too tough to speak my (emergent) sixth language and preferring my third, I drove on the autostrada waiting for it to become the autoroute. I knew I should have been more persuasive in asking a certain someone to join me, because I was linguistically lost, able to understand, unable to reply more than anyone who was fully versant with The Sopranos had I watched it.
   It had been a few hours already. I stopped off at a gas station, speaking in French while the attendant spoke Italian—they seem very used to it, and besides, I was less menacing than the football team and its bus filling up with diesel—and was told in response to 'La France, c'est loin?' that I was about 40 minutes away from the border.
   There were plenty of people in a rush that night on the A10: a Renault Avantime (which does look wild zooming by) and a Mercedes CL 600 overtook me, the latter being safe with flashing lights from six seconds behind to warn of its approach. I tailed them as much as I could, but night-time driving in an Opel Astra, with much skinnier tyres, was not the means with which to have what Autocar used to term a 'Continental road test'. It was tempting, but then this was no longer the lovely A7 between Milano and Genova any more.
   The border was, in this day of a single European Union, deserted. But there had just been another stop: the last Italian toll bay. But at least the Italians had the good sense to put their toll bays in places which didn't interrupt the enjoyment of driving. The péages in France are everywhere, but then again I always prefer the routes nationales.
   The Grimaldi mountains loomed to my right and what little of the summer sunlight was gone. I could still make out the hills, but the only brightness was from the many tunnels I had crossed. It wasn't the cheerful sunshine of the Mediterranean any more. But the signs had a refreshing familiarity to them, thanks to the awful italicized sans serif that seemed an uncomfortable mixture of Univers and some freak characters. The mental translation that had plagued my time in Italy had disappeared. I was on home soil, as was my French-registered car.
   Monaco came up and I decided that after a night in Switzerland earlier that week, where the only telephone available to hotel guests was about as old as some of the cheese recipes at the restaurant near St Moritz I ate at, I would rest somewhere with considerably more luxury. Besides, Monaco’s flag's colours were shared by Lucire. It was a sign—and not those poorly typeset ones on French autoroutes.
   I headed toward the Principality, which came up with the staggering brightness of any gambling city: everything was dark along the coast except the palatial lights of the Casino—and, in similar luminance, the rest of Monaco. It must consume its share of kilowatt-hours in lighting and be visible to the naked eye from a space station (or UFO) above.

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These were not nouveaux riches who had come down to show off. The clothes, the posture and the facial features gave them away as being people so familiar with this old town that future anthropologists would find a Monaco gene in their DNA




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