The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was an American television series that ran on NBC from September 22, 1964, to January 15, 1968, generating 105 episodes. It was created in response to the success of the James Bond movies that began in 1962 with the help of Bond creator, Ian Fleming.
In the fall of 1962, Norman Felton, the successful producer of the hit TV series Dr. Kildare, approached Ian Fleming about developing a series loosely based on the Alfred Hitchcock movie North by Northwest. Eventually Fleming came up with an outline for a show about a spy who had certain similarities to the Bond character. He named the spy Napoleon Solo. Because of legal problems with the producers of the Bond movies, Fleming had to withdraw, and many of the ideas had to be dropped; however the name Solo remained.
Felton brought in writer, producer, and creator Sam Rolfe, who worked out the characters of Solo, and created Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum), and a character, Mr. Anderson, who was later replaced with the character Alexander Waverly (Leo G. Carroll). He created the organization U.N.C.L.E. which existed to maintain order in the world, and was not under the auspices of the government of any one country.
The inspiration that came from the movie North by Northwest was that of the innocent character upon whom each plot centered. In the movie, Cary Grant, the innocent, was swept into the story when he was mistaken for a spy. So each episode would have some character who the audience could identify with that would carry the show. One other theme that remained through the four seasons was the episode titles. They all carried the "Affair" moniker. That is, they would be in the format of "The Vulcan Affair" or the "The Mad, Mad, Tea Party Affair."
Another unique aspect of the show was that the heroes were not larger than life. They were not body builders, tall, or otherwise the typical hero. In fact, they were short, both stars being under six feet tall. They used brain more than brawn, although each could use martial arts and the shows featured a lot of action for the day. Also, having a Russian as one of the lead characters during the cold war was very unique indeed. During its time on television, it earned 16 Emmy nominations, and won a Golden Globe award.