Tv Preview: Stars appear with Columbo

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Recently I have been aware that one of the classic America detective series has been turning up in the STV schedules on a fairly regular basis, both late at night and also during the afternoon.

Columbo first appeared on America television as a one off television movie in 1968.

The format of that first episode usually continued throughout the series, with the first part of each feature length episode leading up to a murder.

Viewers usually knew from the start who had committed the crime so what was interesting was discovering how Lieutenant Columbo managed to work out how it had happened. A pilot was then shown three years later and seven seasons were then made until 1978 when the series took a break.

It returned in 1989 for a further three seasons and five specials - the last one airing in America in 2003. Columbo was brilliantly played by Peter Falk with his cigars, raincoat, dog and his ‘just one more question’.

His wife – frequently mentioned – never appeared, although there was an unsuccessful spinoff series called Mrs Columbo.

Peter Falk was anxious that the quality of the episodes should remain high and that is why all the seasons were remarkable short with none being more than eight episodes in length. One of the attractions of the programme was seeing Peter Falk playing opposite some of the most famous television stars of the day.

There is an episode on Friday morning at ten to one repeated on Sunday at half past one in the afternoon. One of the last episodes, it features amongst its cast Rod Steiger, Jeff Yagher (from ‘V’) and Jay Acovone (from Beauty and the Beast). No doubt more repeats will follow in various timeslots– although keen fans can buy all the episodes in a reasonably priced DVD boxset.

Ian K