It takes one TV series to make a cult hero out of someone; well, if you doubt it then ask Ian Ogilvy. Ian who? Right, for many reading this, the name is totally unknown and, honestly, I do not blame you. But if you call yourself a cult TV fanatic and happened to be an avid TV watcher in the late 70's, like this reviewer, then, this book is like a manna from heaven.
For us, the quintessential late 70's TV adventure came in this format: tweed jacket wearing agile man with a steely resolve, driving a white Jaguar XJS and delivering that famous line, perhaps not with a raised eyebrow but with his own inimitable style: Simon Templar.
No, this is not Roger Moore though as a cult TV aficionado, I agree that if it hadn't been for good old Roger, Templar would just have remained an obscure late 1920's gentleman adventurer locked within the pages of crime fiction.
Nope, Saint has transgressed boundaries and those who acted as Simon Templar found that life after playing the suave slightly infamous hero would never ever be the same.
Ogilvy understands this and aptly calls his memoir, Once a Saint!
But the book is not just about being the Saint; in fact it's about the life of a man whose entry into adulthood was marked by an adventure which would only be right for someone who would eventually go on to play the slightly unorthodox Simon Templar.
As a young lad, growing up in an upper middle class British home, Ogilvy's father was instrumental in introducing the young man to the pleasures of the skin. It was of course a very elegant affair as the actor describes.
One fine evening, his dad took him to an upmarket club and introduced Ian to a lovely lady. But apart from the father son mischief regarding growing up, what strikes the most is the very liberal social outlook in late 50's England when mixing with people from racially mixed backgrounds was frowned upon.
Ogilvy describes the first woman, possibly from an African or West Indian background, as perfect with the complexion of 'Starbuck Latte'.
The rise of Ogilvy as an actor is riveting as we find the variety of roles he played before getting the ultimate part of the Saint.
In fact, some of his other films, The Sorcerers, Witch-finder General are also much appreciated among recherché film connoisseurs as lost gems from the sixties.
If Ogilvy to you means only one character then find these two movies, available free on You Tube.
Interestingly, when the offer for Saint came to him as a new series to be called Return of the Saint, he took it without any negotiation, as a result of which, in the end, he only got about sixty to seventy thousand Pounds for the entire twenty five episodes, twenty four hundred for each episode.
But Ian has no regrets because as Saint he got as close to, as one could get, working for the small screen to experiencing the champagne, honey, exotic adventures typical of 007.
After all, Templar was none other than Bond for the TV screen.
Who knows what would have happened if someone in the late sixties decided to go into full length Saint films, supported by high budgets.
In the memoir we find that on one occasion, Roger Moore dropped over at the set, had a whole night drinking session leaving all others completely zonked the following morning while he (Moore) moved about cheerfully as if he had a long night's quiet sleep.
The character that would define this actor may not have made him rich, but according to Ian, it gave him the chance to live the actor's Shangri La, with shooting taking place in spectacular locations.
Lest we forget, just like 007, Templar also had a new love interest in each episode, meaning Ian was in dream land.
A compelling read, the book should have included more chapters on intriguing experiences during the filming of Return of the Saint.
After all, no matter what Ian Ogilvy did later in life, for millions across the world, he remains the notorious Simon Templar.
The ending of the book is especially thrilling with a touch of royalty thrown in. But for us, Simon Templar fans, it's only appropriate that the queen should meet not just one who has set the template of the British hero on the big screen but also the other who added that touch of English class on TV, topped with a delicious vice.
By the way, form the day when Ian's father took him to the swanky night club till a long period into adult life, women of all types managed to entice a saint, some for short others for longer periods.
But despite being a married man now, somehow I feel, Ian Ogilvy can only pretend to be tamed……after all, if you have been Simon Templar, you will be a thrill seeker till God summons back his Saint….
The reviewer is an avid reader and occasional reviewer.