The Baron: The Legions Of Ammak (1966)

Director: John Moxey
Starring: Steve Forrest, Peter Wyngarde, George, Murcell, Paul Ferris, Michael Godfrey, Isa Miranda, Valli Newby
Music: Edwin Astley
Based on characters created by John Creasy

The Baron is not really a spy show, but like most of ITC’s adventure series of the mid to late ‘60s, some of the stories cross over into espionage territory. The star of The Baron is American actor Steve Forrest who plays John Mannering, known as The Baron because he used to be a cattle baron in the United States. Now he is an art broker in London, selling priceless treasures. On this occasion he is selling the Legions of Ammak, which is an intricate jewelled necklace with seven flawless black pearls. It is also a regal symbol of the Middle Eastern country of Ammak and must be worn by the country’s sovereign on all official occasions. The seller is King Abrahim of Ammak (Peter Wyngarde) who wishes to use the proceeds from the sale to build a new hospital in his country. The buyer is an eccentric Greek millionaire called Ofeg Cossackian (George Murcell).

The sale goes very well, and The Baron’s assistant, David (Paul Ferris) cracks open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. As the cork flies out, a spray of champagne covers the King’s shirt and tie. He is very gracious about it, and David goes to work cleaning it up with a napkin. As he blots the Kings tie he notices that it is an Eton tie. David immediately thinks that it is a suspicious because the King went to Harrow.

Later, when David explains this, The Baron doesn’t get it. He is not familiar with ‘the old school tie’ protocol in England, and doesn’t realise the implication. But David explains that wearing the wrong colours is just not done. The Baron decides to look into it but runs into resistance in the form of the King’s right hand man Colonel Ahmed Bey (Michael Godfrey). He dismisses The Baron’s claims as nonsense.

We later find that the seller of the Legions of Ammak was not the King at all, but an actor, Ronald Noyce (also played by Wyngarde). Noyce had been hired by Ahmed Bey to sell the necklace so the King would be discredited, and then Bey could take control of the country. Naturally, The Baron takes matters into his own hands

Once again, Peter Wyngarde steals the show. Here, given a dual role, he gets to demonstrate two very different performances. As King Ibrahim we get a more mannered display. But as the actor, Ronald Noyce, Wyngarde is given full reign to let the more flamboyant side of his nature run free. But these contrasting styles work together beautifully because it is quite easy to believe we are watching two different people on the screen – rather than one actor giving a dual performance.

Now this is the only episode of The Baron that I have watched, and as such I can’t say if it is indicative of the series as a whole, But if it is, then I would suggest that The Baron is another quality TV production from the ITC stable. Viewers who like The Saint, Man In A Suitcase, Department S or any of the similar shows from that era, should find The Baron an enjoyable viewing experience.

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