In a Mastodon conversation, Andrew Ryan (well known to many car aficionados as ‘The Car Factoids’) reminded me of the infamous ITC white Jag—the Jaguar Mk I that plunges into a quarry, originally filmed for The Baron. I wanted to share with him a page to which I had contributed that included all the incidences of this footage, but, like so many things online, it’s gone, and I can’t remember the address, so I can’t search for it on the Internet Archive.
The only remnants of the page reside on a Russian blog, where it has been (presumably machine-) translated into Russian, and one could use a translation service to turn it back into English, mistakes and all. It gets my and Jaz Wiseman’s names wrong, which means everyone else’s names might be wrong. But let me attempt to put it into some readable form below, with some judicious edits. The original’s photos are not present.
Like many ITC productions, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) used the famous (infamous?) ITC White Jag footage, from The Baron episode ‘Something for a Rainy Day’, originally filmed by director John Llewellyn Moxey in November 1965. Over the years, it was used in most ITC series at one point or another and became something of a running joke—if a character got into a white Jaguar, they were in for a very rough ride with a smashing finish.
The Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) episode ‘It’s Supposed to Be Thicker Than Water’ adds to what was originally filmed for two episodes of The Baron (‘Something for a Rainy Day’ and ‘Time to Kill’) and Department S (‘Who Plays the Dummy?’). Checking out the episodes of this series and especially the high-definition version of ‘Something for a Rainy Day’ on Blu-Ray, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) reveals at least four different Jaguars used, and we can even provide you with their models and registration numbers.
Jaguar Mk II
Registration 469 EXO
Driven by [characters] Ramón and Johnny Crackan.
Jaguar Mk II
Registration M 2543
Driven by Johnny Crackan.
Also appears in Department S: ‘Who Plays the Dummy?’
1957 Jaguar Mk I
Registration M 431428
(This is undoubtedly a car with fake Continental registration plates.)
Johnny Crackan drives wildly!
Also appears in The Baron: ‘Time to Kill’ and Department S: ‘Who Plays the Dummy?’
Jaguar Mk I
Registration WRP 344
(The registration number on the front of the car was NMK 76, which was most likely the actual registration.)
Johnny Crackan drives along a cliff and crashes.
Also appears in: The Baron: ‘Something for a Rainy Day’; The Saint: ‘The Queen’s Ransom’; The Champions: ‘The Final Countdown’; Department S: ‘Who Plays the Dummy?’; The Adventurer: ‘Icons Are Forever’; Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense: ‘Black Carrion’.
The climax of the episode was shot in two different locations. The first footage, where we see one of the white Jaguars (Mk I, with fake Continental number plates—M 431 428) spins out of control and ends up on the side of the road, was filmed at Ivinghoe Beacon, in the Chilterns. We then cut to a shot of another Jaguar (another Mk I, registration WRP 344) going down a steep hill. This was filmed off Zig Zag Road in Box Hill, Surrey. The sequence then cuts to a camera shot at the foot of the cliff (at Betchworth Quarry, below Box Hill) and we see it launched from the top into the void. The camera follows the doomed car downhill, and it impacts heavily on rock outcroppings before disappearing from view.
There were two cameras covering the action at the top, and no fewer than three cameras rolling down at Betchworth Quarry, as different angles of launch and descent are seen in the different episodes in which the sequence appears, often subtly edited. Of particular note is that the Jag appears to have lost the fake front part of the licence plate when it comes to rest and thanks to the wonders of high-definition transfer, we can see that it reads NMK 76. It would seem that WRP 344 is a fake plate used in ‘Something for a Rainy Day’, perhaps to allow two film crews to simultaneously use what appeared to be the same machine. [A photo is supplied by Jaz Wiseman of this.]
An automatic camera was placed in a Jaguar car that was about to be launched into a quarry. The camera was later recovered from the wrecked car and the film processed. There was, of course, a danger that the impact might have damaged the camera and rendered the film inoperable—in this case the director’s calculated risk paid off, and the resulting footage is breathtaking.
The viewer might wish to turn away as the car flies over the edge and plummets into the quarry below. We recommend that people suffering from vertigo close their eyes at this point!
The wrecked car was returned to Elstree, where it was put into service for the last time, looking extremely sorry for itself in the studio re-creation of the quarry. This sequence was shot to conclude ‘Something for a Rainy Day’ and featured Steve Forrest (as John Mannering) and Sue Lloyd (as Cordelia Winfield), neither of whom filmed scenes on location at the quarry (stunt doubles were used on location, which also regularly happened in Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)).
The same location was used in January 1966 to film a similar sequence, this time involving a red Renault Dauphine, for ‘And Suddenly You’re Dead’, another episode of The Baron. This time it was decided not to place the camera inside the car, and so it often overlapped with the white Jaguar car footage in subsequent ITC productions, with the red car suddenly inheriting a white bonnet!
Notable appearances of the ITC White Jag
The Baron: ‘Something for a Rainy Day’
The Saint: ‘The Queen’s Ransom’
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased): ‘It’s Supposed to Be Thicker than Water’
Department S: ‘Who Plays the Dummy?’
Jason King: ‘Toki’
The Adventurer: ‘Icons Are Forever’
Follyfoot: ‘Uncle Joe’
Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense: ‘Black Carrion’
Red Renault Dauphine footage has appeared in the following
The Baron: ‘And Suddenly You’re Dead’
The Saint: ‘The Counterfeit Countess’
The Champions: ‘A Case of Lemmings’
Department S: ‘The Man Who Got a New Face’
The Persuaders: ‘The Ozerov Inheritance’
The Benny Hill Show: at least three episodes, 1985, 1986, 1989
Father Ted: ‘Hell’
The entire ‘white Jaguar’ enterprise was unusually expensive by ITC standards, which is one of the reasons that footage of the stunt appears again and again in their productions. It was even licensed for reuse on the popular American television comedy series, Saturday Night Live, from 1989 to 1993, in which it would appear regularly in ‘Toonces, the Driving Cat’, and footage from the 1992 special can be seen on YouTube. Closer to home it appeared on Spitting Image, and in the ITC parody The Preventers in 1996. Footage of the red Renault Dauphine later appeared in ‘Hell’, an episode of the sublime Channel 4 situation comedy Father Ted.
The remainder of the page includes details of a Jaguar Mark I from one of its owners, translated as Michael Cassidy, who bought it with the registration UKV 668 in East Grinstead in July 1964. It was then sold to an agent who represented a company that hired cars for filming, and needed one for The Saint. The scene at Betchworth Quarry had been filmed and they wanted a cleaner white Jaguar for a scene leading up to the accident. It was sold for £100, and appeared wearing French plates (169 LN 75).
Credits are given to Alan Hayes and Michael Cassidy, with thanks to Sam Denham, Geoff Dodd, Graham Macdonald, Andrew S. Redding, Anthony Stevenson, Jaz Wiseman and myself.
Please get in touch if you were one of the original authors of the page, as I would be very happy to host it in a blog entry or somewhere else—it certainly beats having the automated Russian translation as the only sign of it left on the web! I’m not the only one who wants to see this more comprehensive history of these ITC stunts and 50 shades of Grade.