Raffles (TV series)

Raffles is a 1977 television adaptation of the Raffles stories by E. W. Hornung.[1] Set in Victorian era London, it features the criminal adventures of gentleman thief A. J. Raffles, a renowned cricketer, and his friend, the eager but naive Harry 'Bunny' Manders, as they test their skills in relieving the wealthy of their valuables whilst avoiding detection, especially from Inspector Mackenzie.

Opening title
StarringAnthony Valentine
Christopher Strauli
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes13 + 1 pilot
Running time60 minutes per episode
Original networkITV
Original release25 February (1977-02-25) 
20 May 1977 (1977-05-20)

The series was produced by Yorkshire Television and adapted by Philip Mackie.[2]

The episodes were largely faithful adaptations of the stories in the books, though occasionally two stories would be merged to create one episode, such as "The Gold Cup", which featured elements from two short stories, "A Jubilee Present" and "The Criminologist's Club".[3] The series has been released on DVD.[4]

Regular cast


Episode #TitleOriginal airdate
0"The Amateur Cracksman"10 September 1975 (1975-09-10)

In this television pilot episode, Raffles is invited to play cricket for a wealthy lord's son's cricket team at Milchester Abbey. Raffles conspires to use the invitation as an opportunity to bring Bunny along and burgle the house. Their plans are complicated, however, when Raffles and Bunny learn that an undercover Scotland Yard detective is hunting for burglars at Milchester.

This episode is adapted from the short stories "Gentlemen and Players" and "The Return Match".

Cast members included James Maxwell (who portrayed Inspector Mackenzie in this pilot episode) and John Junkin. The director was Christopher Hodson.[5]
1"The First Step"25 February 1977 (1977-02-25)

Bunny meets his old schoolmate Raffles, now a nationally famous cricketer, for the first time in many years at Raffles' flat at the Albany. However, Bunny is drawn into a Baccarat game by Raffles' other guests, and loses. After writing bad cheques to cover his losses, a desperate Bunny turns to Raffles for help. Raffles, who is himself hard-up, surprises Bunny by proposing that they burgle the wealthy family of one of the other guests, Alick Carruthers (played by Jeremy Clyde).

This episode is adapted from the first half of the short story "The Ides of March", and from elements of "Out of Paradise" and "A Jubilee Present". The title is a reference to the name of the unadapted story "Le Premier Pas".

Cast members included Thorley Walters (as Lord Lochmaben), Jeremy Clyde, David Firth, and Susan Skipper. The director was Christopher Hodson.[6]
2"A Costume Piece"4 March 1977 (1977-03-04)

Raffles is intrigued when his club's guest of honour, a brutish South African millionaire, dares the club members to try to steal his diamond stud and ring. With Bunny's help and with a few disguises, Raffles undertakes the challenge of stealing the diamonds, but it becomes a matter of life or death when their well-laid plans go terribly awry.

This episode is adapted from the short story "A Costume Piece".

Cast members included Brian Glover as Billy Purvis, Alfred Marks as Reuben Rosenthall, and Jill Gascoine as Dolly. The director was Christopher Hodson.[7]
3"The Spoils of Sacrilege"11 March 1977 (1977-03-11)

Eager to prove his worth in his criminal partnership with Raffles, Bunny takes it upon himself to plan their next burglary of a well-to-do house that was once his childhood home. To win over Raffles, Bunny contrives for him to catch a glimpse of the diamond necklace worn by the lady of the house, at a party. Tempted by the necklace, Raffles agrees to play along, and Bunny takes the lead. But when disaster strikes, it falls to Raffles to extricate them both from ruin.

This episode is adapted from the short story "The Spoils of Sacrilege", with elements of "The Wrong House".

Cast members included William Mervyn as Osborne and Barbara Hicks as Mrs Osborne. Sally Osborn and William Humbert were also part of the cast. The director was Christopher Hodson.[8]
4"The Gold Cup"18 March 1977 (1977-03-18)

During the Queen's jubilee, Raffles and Bunny steal the Royal Gold Cup from the British Museum while in disguise. However, the heist earns the attention of a gentlemen club of criminology enthusiasts, who invite Raffles and Bunny to dinner in order to prove their suspicions.

This episode is adapted from the short stories "A Jubilee Present" and "The Criminologists' Club".

Kingsmill Peter Sallis Lord Thornaby Tony Britton cast member Diana Weston

Cast members included Peter Sallis as Kingsmill and Tony Britton as Lord Thornaby. Diana Weston was also a member of the cast. The director was David Cunliffe.[3]
5"The Chest of Silver"25 March 1977 (1977-03-25)

Raffles is going away to Scotland for a week to practice his accent while having electric lights and a telephone installed in his room. With respect to the chest of stolen silver lying in his room, Raffles asks Bunny to store it his bank until Raffles's return. However, when Bunny's bank later becomes the site of a burglary, Bunny fears that their old rival, Crawshay, has targeted the chest of silver.

This episode is adapted from the short story "The Chest of Silver".

Cast members included Geoffrey Hutchings, Peter Dean, and Robert Dorning, as well as Victor Carin as Inspector Mackenzie. The director was Alan Gibson.[9]
6"The Last Laugh"1 April 1977 (1977-04-01)

While enjoying a house party with Bunny, Raffles becomes infatuated with the house jewels, as well as with a mysterious Italian maid who works at the house. In his quest to steal a ring from the house, Raffles must avoid the close scrutiny of another party guest, Inspector Mackenzie. Later, in his quest to save the Italian maid from a forced marriage and send her to safety in America, Raffles must extract her from the clutches of the head of the Comorra.

This episode is loosely adapted from the short story "The Last Laugh".

Cast members included Victor Carin as Inspector Mackenzie, Cyril Shaps as Pinelli, and Robert Lang as Count Corbucci. Marina Sirtis and Bruce Robinson were also members of the cast. The director was Jim Goddard.[2]
7"A Trap to Catch a Cracksman"8 April 1977 (1977-04-08)

At a party thrown by a sporting club, Raffles and Bunny meet Barney MacGuire, an ill-mannered boxing champion from America. MacGuire not only shows off his extravagant boxing trophies to them, but also boasts that he has a secret trap guaranteed to catch any thief who tries to steal them. Raffles takes the boast as a challenge, and decides to make the attempt alone. However, in the middle of the night of Raffles's burglary attempt, Bunny receives a cryptic telephone call from Raffles, telling Bunny that he has been caught.

This episode is adapted from the short story "A Trap to Catch a Cracksman".

Cast members included John Stratton, Christopher Malcolm, Lloyd Lamble, and Carol Drinkwater. The director was John Davies.[10]
8"To Catch a Thief"15 April 1977 (1977-04-15)

Although Inspector Mackenzie suspects that Raffles is the culprit behind a recent string of unsolved society burglaries, Raffles is innocent. Raffles himself deduces that the real culprit is the respectable gentleman Lord Ernest Belville. Raffles learns about Belville, so that he and Bunny can make an attempt to steal Belville's haul for themselves. During their search of Belville's flat, however, Raffles and Bunny are caught in the act by the man himself.

This episode is adapted from the short story "To Catch a Thief".

Cast members included Victor Carin as Inspector Mackenzie and Robert Hardy as Lord Ernest Belville. David Parfitt and John Flint were also members of the cast. The director was Christopher Hodson.[11]
9"A Bad Night"22 April 1977 (1977-04-22)

This episode is adapted from the short story "A Bad Night".

Cast members included Norman Bird, Jan Francis, and Brenda Cowling. The director was Christopher Hodson.[12]
10"Mr. Justice Raffles"29 April 1977 (1977-04-29)

Raffles and Bunny fail to score during a burglary attempt on an unscrupulous moneylender named Brigstock, while staying at the same hotel. Later, a friend of Raffles named Teddy Garland, who has been roped into massive debt by Brigstock, comes to Raffles for help. For Teddy and for his fianceé, Camilla Belsize, Raffles comes up with a complicated plan to save Teddy from ruin, with Bunny's help.

This episode is adapted from the novel Mr. Justice Raffles.

Cast members included John Savident as Brigstock, Charles Dance as Teddy Garland, Lynette Davies as Lady Camilla, Gabrielle Brune as the Duchess of Darlington, and Alan Downer as the detective. The director was Christopher Hodson.[13]
11"Home Affairs"6 May 1977 (1977-05-06)

Irritated by constant persecution from Inspector Mackenzie and by the harsh punishments for thieves being politically supported by the Home Secretary, Raffles decides to teach his enemies a lesson by going with Bunny to burgle the Home Secretary's house in Kensington Palace Gardens. The heist goes smoothly, until a mistake by Bunny lands him in trouble, and Raffles must contrive a way to use Inspector Mackenzie to save Bunny.

This episode features an original plot.

Cast members included Victor Carin as Inspector Mackenzie, Graham Crowden as Sir Arthur Kombold, Claire Davenport as Lady Rumbold. Erik Chitty was also part of the cast. The director was Jim Goddard.[14]
12"The Gift of the Emperor"13 May 1977 (1977-05-13)

An agent from the Foreign Office tasks Raffles with stealing a pearl belonging to Kaiser Wilhelm, as an act of patriotism. Inspector Mackenzie, too, is keen on helping Raffles steal the pearl. Yet Raffles is determined to snatch the pearl the old-fashioned way: with no one's help but Bunny's, and for personal profit alone.

This episode is loosely adapted from the short story "The Gift of the Emperor".

Cast members included Victor Carin as Inspector Mackenzie, John Hallam as Von Heumann, John Carson as Carstairs, Hilary Gasson as Felicia, Frank Middlemass as a club member, and Yuri Borienko as Rumpelmayer. The director was Jim Goddard.[15]
13"An Old Flame"20 May 1977 (1977-05-20)

While breaking into a random house in Kensington Gardens, Raffles is caught in the act by a married woman who was his former lover. She lets him go, and tries to rekindle their relationship. Her financially dependent husband, however, is eager to keep Raffles away from his wealthy wife by any means necessary.

This episode is loosely adapted from the short story "An Old Flame".

Cast members included Gerald Flood as Lord Paulton, Caroline Blakiston as Lady Paulton, Victor Carin as Inspector Mackenzie, Peter Spraggon as a constable, Maurice Quick as Pelham, Michael Syers as a footman, and Gary Watson as Dr Addison. The director was Jim Goddard.[16]


The 1975 pilot was produced by Peter Willes, and the series producer was Jacky Stoller.[4] The theme music was by Anthony Isaac.[17]

The Albany refused to give Yorkshire Television permission to film on their grounds, so the production team instead built their own exterior. The television series took six months to film and was shot on a mixture of video and film.[4]


In his book Raffles and His Creator, Peter Rowland praised the television series for its fidelity to Hornung's stories, stating that the adapter Philip Mackie kept as close as he could to the spirit and dialogue of the original stories. Rowland noted that, while the series simplified the Raffles saga by keeping A. J. Raffles a well-known cricketer living at the Albany (unlike in the original stories, in which Raffles's situation changes in the short story "The Gift of the Emperor"), the basic characters of Raffles and Bunny were brought more accurately to life than in any previous adaptation. Rowland also stated that Raffles had previously been portrayed with non-canonical features (for example, both David Niven and Ronald Colman portrayed Raffles with a moustache). Compared to previous actors, Anthony Valentine portrayed Raffles with an appearance closer to the slim, dark-haired, clean-shaven description of the original character, with Bunny Manders (Christopher Strauli) being fair-haired and appearing a few years younger than Raffles, as in the stories.[18]

According to Rowland, the series was positively received by viewers and critics. David Pryce-Jones wrote in The Listener (3 March 1977): "Raffles has become a serial. In Anthony Valentine, what is more, Raffles has been splendidly personified, a lean, dark figure with a smile at once engaging and slightly saturnine. The eye is cold, the manner debonair. He looks as if he could well play cricket for England and would steal any tiara without compunction."[18]

The series was nominated in 1978 for the BAFTA TV Awards for Best Costume Design (Brian Castle), Make-up (Phillippa Haigh), and VTR Editor (the Yorkshire TV Team).[19]


  1. Hadoke, Toby (3 December 2015). "Anthony Valentine obituary" via www.theguardian.com.
  2. "The Last Laugh (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  3. "The Gold Cup (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  4. Marcus, Laurence (24 January 2019). "Raffles". Television Heaven. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  5. "Raffles The Amateur Cracksman (1975)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  6. "The First Step (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  7. "A Costume Piece (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  8. "The Spoils of Sacrilege (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  9. "A Chest of Silver (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  10. "A Trap to Catch a Cracksman (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  11. "To Catch a Thief (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  12. "A Bad Night (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  13. "Mr Justice Raffles (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  14. "Home Affairs (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  15. "The Gift of the Emperor (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  16. "An Old Flame (1977)". BFI. 2019. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  17. "Raffles (ITV 1977, Anthony Valentine, Christopher Strauli)". Memorable TV. 6 November 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  18. Rowland, Peter (1999). Raffles and His Creator: The Life and Works of E. W. Hornung. London: Nekta Publications. pp. 269–271. ISBN 0-9533583-2-1.
  19. "Television Craft in 1978". BAFTA. Retrieved 10 September 2019.
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