The British butler in Columbo's British episode couldn't film in Britain because he was a tax exile
Wilfrid Hyde-White had to film his scenes in California for the overseas mystery!
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Columbo rarely strayed outside his Los Angeles beat. That makes sense — he was an LAPD detective, after all. But the keen case-solver did manage to travel and work overseas. He took a cruise to Mexico in "Troubled Waters" and crossed the pond to the United Kingdom for the season-two tale "Dagger of the Mind."
"Dagger of the Mind," of no relation to the Star Trek episode of the same name, featured a cast full of beloved British stars. Bond girl Honor Blackman played a major role, alongside Bernard Fox, who you will remember as Dr. Bombay on Bewitched and Malcolm Merriweather on The Andy Griffith Show.
What's a good British murder story without a butler? Enter the august Wilfrid Hyde-White as "Tanner." Most know Hyde-White as Colonel Hugh Pickering in the Audrey Hepburn classic My Fair Lady. Super Sci-Fi Saturday Night fans will also recognize him as Dr. Goodfellow from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
"Dagger of the Mind" actually filmed partially on location in England. It's hard to fake Columbo's sight-seeing scenes. We particularly love the moment when he notes that Big Ben is running just one minute slow by his watch. Considering the weather of London, this episode at least gave Columbo a reason to use that iconic raincoat of his.
But, this being Hollywood, a good portion of the episode was filmed back in California. In fact, Hyde-White had to shoot in America. He was a tax exile from his homeland. The elder actor lived in America for years to avoid paying thousands of pounds to the Crown.
The Racing Post wrote about his financial troubles: "I really cannot stand another winter in England with the income tax and Violetta [his girlfriend]." Then Hyde-White paused and apologized. "Sorry, that was a very caddish thing to say about the income tax."
He eventually paid up. The piece notes that Hyde-White returned to the U.K. in 1979 "to face the wrath of the Inland Revenue, which entailed several bankruptcy hearings."
During his hearings, the witty Hyde-White was staying at the upscale Savoy Hotel. "But how are you going to pay for it?" a tax collector asked. "You're the financial expert. You tell me," the actor quipped.