12 things you never knew about these classic ’70s TV pilot episodes

It’s hard to imagine that we’d once never heard of iconic shows like Starsky & Hutch and Charlie’s Angels!

Before full seasons of US classics like TJ Hooker and Hart To Hart were ordered by the TV networks, the producers had to film a pilot episode to demonstrate what the series would be like.

This upcoming August Bank Holiday weekend, True Entertainment will be taking us back to ’70s and ’80s with a selection of pilot episodes from most popular shows of the era, including Hart To Hart (2pm and 3pm on Saturday 24th August), Charlie’s Angels (4pm on Saturday 24th August), TJ Hooker (5.30pm on Saturday 24th August) and Starsky & Hutch (7pm on Saturday 24th August).

True Entertainment is available on Freeview 48, Sky 179, Freesat 142 and Virgin 189.

For even more nostalgic drama, sitcoms and gameshows, True Entertainment will be relaunching as Sony Channel next month, celebrating classic drama and great entertainment.

They’ll be airing TJ Hooker, Starsky & Hutch, Hart To Hart and Charlie’s Angels in full, with familiar favourites like Murder She Wrote and classic Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

As is often the case, these pilot episodes did a number of things differently from the shows we came to know and love!

Here are some surprising facts about our favourite American television pilots:


David Soul originally wanted to play Starsky as he felt that Hutch was too “white bread.”


The original title for Charlie’s Angels was “Alley Cats”, until Kate Jackson (who played Sabrina) came up with the name Charlie’s Angels.


Starsky & Hutch star Paul Michael Glaser didn’t expect a TV series would actually be commissioned after making the pilot.



The name Hooker in TJ Hooker was an homage to Civil War Union General Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker.


Cary Grant was the original first choice for the part of Jonathan Hart in Hart To Hart.


Charlie’s Angels legend John Forsythe got the job as the voice of Charlie late night on the Friday before the pilot was to due to air, recording his first voice-over while wearing his pajamas.



Forsythe never once visited the Charlie’s Angels set during the show’s whole run!


Starsky and Hutch swap gun brands after the pilot, with Starsky’s a M1911A1 Colt .45 ACP pistol replaced by a S&W model 59 9mm and Hutch’s S&W Model 10 snubnose .38 revolver replaced by a Colt .357 Python.


Kate Jackson was originally cast as Kelly in Charlie’s Angels, but she preferred the part of Sabrina.



One of the detectives who worked on LA’s famous Hillside Strangler case worked as as a technical adviser on TJ Hooker until he got fired for criticising re-writes of his ideas.


Bond girl Jill St John (Diamonds are Forever) and Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowall both guest starred in the pilot episode of Hart To Hart.


TJ Hooker was originally going to be called “The Protectors”.


Alongside the Sony Channel will be the relaunched Sony Movies network, the UK’s first free-to-air movie network.

Cinema fans can catch all the best Hollywood films on Sony Movies, action junkies can dive into Sony Movies Action, and if you’re feeling festive there’s Sony Movies Christmas, ahead of the launch of Sony Movies Classic in January 2020, featuring classics from the golden age of cinema.