Before there was a Bond at the movie theaters, there was Simon Templar on the small screen. The Saint, A Master thief with a playboy mannerism and Robin Hood complex ruled as a television series starring the future James Bond, Roger Moore and was made in the UK with an eye on the American market, and its success there (and in other countries) made Moore a household name. I remember growing up watching The Saint reruns on TV as a kid and thinking it was a television version of the James Bond films. Apparently so did the producers of the Bond franchise. By the spring 1967 he eventually reached the level of an international pop star. The show established his suave, quipping style which he would carry forward to his future role as James Bond. Suprisingly, Moore actually directed several episodes of the later series, which became a color production in 1967.
The Saint ran from 1961 for six series and 118 episodes, making it (in a tie with The Avengers) the longest-running series of its kind on British television. It is said in Albert R. Broccoli biography that Ian Fleming loved Roger More in the role as Simon Templar but felt he didn’t look quite old enough for the role, even though Moore is five years older than Sean Connery.
Production on a new Saint series has been rumored for a few years now, and came remarkably close to fruition in 2008 when James Purefoy was announced (prematurely) as the next Simon Templar in a series to be produced byHomicide: Life On the Streets veteran Barry Levinson (who was also to direct the pilot), Rome co-creator Bill MacDonald and the son of TV’s first Saint, Geoffrey Moore, among others. Roger Moore has stated on his website that he would make himself available for future cameos in the series.