Jason King (1971–1972)
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Variations on a Theme 

A close friend of Jason King, a double agent called Alan Keeble, was supposed to be dead. However, when Jason receives a letter telling him to come to Vienna to meet Alan, he just has to go.


Cyril Frankel


Philip Broadley (screenplay), Monty Berman (creator) | 1 more credit »


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Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Wyngarde ... Jason King
Ralph Bates ... Alan Keeble
Julian Glover ... John
Eric Pohlmann ... Kolkov
Walter Hertner Walter Hertner ... Hoffman
Basil Dignam ... Viney
Sebastian Breaks Sebastian Breaks ... Hazell
Alexandra Bastedo ... Alexandra
Magda Konopka ... Greta Weiss
Michael David Michael David ... Dischev
Janos Kurucz Janos Kurucz ... Balenkov
Colin Vancao Colin Vancao ... Croupier
Will Knightley Will Knightley ... Waiter
Adrian Hall ... Bell Boy


Jason goes to Vienna to help an old friend,British agent Alan Keeble,who is supposedly dead but is being pursued by East and West alike for an important black book of names in his possession. Jason's phone is tapped by the Russians as he makes his rendezvous with Alan's deeply suspicious girlfriend Greta who,rightly,trusts nobody. Jason negotiates with the chief British intelligence officer John,to grant Alan a safe passage in exchange for the book - but can he be trusted? Written by don @ minifie-1

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Action | Adventure





Release Date:

20 October 1971 (UK) See more »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

13 April 2010 | by kmoh-1See all my reviews

I am a great fan of Jason King - at its best, entertaining, comic and thrilling in equal measure. The Jason King character, first seen in Department S, is surely one of the best to come out of the cycle of 60s and 70s thrillers.

However its standards were highly variable, and this particular show is abysmal. It is set in Vienna. Normally in a show of this type, we would see a bit of library footage of tourist traps while everything else would be shot in the studio or in obviously English countryside near London. Cheap and cheerful.

It is surprising, therefore, that 'Variations on a Theme' sees genuine footage of Jason walking around Vienna. Extra realism - until you realise that this is where the budget went. The external shots (of which there are several interminable sequences) show Jason walking round, talking to strangers, patting horses, smiling at pretty women. No other actor in the show appears in any of this footage. Barely a single frame of it advances the plot in any way. Most of it looks like holiday films.

What seems to have happened is that writer Philip Broadley was shown these sequences and then asked to come up with a plot based around them. Unfortunately, he came up with a clunker - a girl arranges to meet him; Jason goes to the rendezvous (cue some of the holiday footage); the girl isn't there; she arranges to meet him again; he goes to the rendezvous (cue more of the holiday footage); the girl isn't there, etc. You get the drift.

This is stunningly boring. There is an exciting pre-credits sequence, and yet it is 25 minutes into the show before the plot is advanced any further than that.

Not only that, but the integration of the holiday film and the proper stuff is badly done. Jason clearly has a lot more hair in the studio shots than he does in his holiday footage. He is forced, as a result of the editing, to wear the same outfit two days running - surely an impossibility for Jason. Worse - most criminal - some of the holiday footage in the Zentralfriedhof (the graves of the great Viennese composers), which already goes on for way too long, is repeated!

Good actors, such as Ralph Bates and Alexandra Bastedo, are wasted. Eric Pohlmann is brought on to do a quick turn for one scene, and they can't even bother to spell his name correctly in the credits!


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