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More TV classics from the age of the little box in the corner

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: August 03, 2006

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Alan Keeling continues to supply us with some wonderful memories of programmes the little box in the corner provided for viewing long before colour was introduced and the never ending search for the remote control began.

Swashbuckling series have always been a favourite with TV viewers and Alan reports on one of the most famous of swashbucklers of them all, Sir Francis Drake:

"The last I.T.C. swashbuckler was every schoolboy's hero who defe·ated the Spanish Armada, almost single handed it would appear, Sir Francis Drake. It starred Terence Morgan in the title role with Michael Crawford in an occasional supporting role as Drake's son John, with Jean Kent as Queen Elizabeth. It was the queen who always told Drake what to do and where to go, and he defended her throne against villainous invaders, and then sailed the seven seas aboard the specially reconstructed ship, The Golden Hind.

"Twenty-six half-hour episodes were produced in 1961 as a joint ATV/ABC production under I.T.C.'s banner, and the series proved so popular that three compilation films were edited together from nine of the episodes. They included; Raiders of the Spanish Main; Marauders of the Sea; and Mission of the Sea Hawk, although I don't recall ever seeing them screened at the local cinema. The series was shown at weekends by ABC in 1962 and had only one re-run.

"Nine years after portraying Walt Disney's Davy Crockett on TV, the star Fess Parker once again donned his famous racoon skin hat to play the 18th century Kentucky hero and pioneer, Daniel Boone. It was a series produced by Fespar Productions and Twentieth Century Fox Television and had a good run from 1964 until 1970. With 165 episodes under its belt, of which just the first 29 were shown in black and white, the opening sequence became famous for Boone splitting a tree with one throw of his axe. Patricia Blair played Boone's wife Rebecca, whilst Veronica Cartwright and Darby Hinton played their children, Jemima and Israel. Boone also had various sidekicks throughout the series, in particular Ed Ames who played Mingo, an Oxford educated Cherokee Indian, and various other guest appearances by British actors. Unfortunately this colourful hour-long series didn't reach ITV areas until 1975 when only ten shows from the second series were screened on Saturday mornings, but there should be some readers in Bugle land who managed to catch a glimpse.

Another stirring swashbuckling series was "The Count of Monte Cristo" starring George Dolenz, the father of Micky Dolenz who later became a member of the famous "Monkees" pop group. George's co-star in the series was actor and acrobat Nick Cravat, playing Edward Dantes' sidekick Jacopo. Other minor parts were played by Robert Cawdron here in England and Fortunio Bonanova in Hollywood as the thirty-nine black and white half-hourly episodes were filmed both here and in the US. The gist of the story follows revelations from a dying cell mate about buried treasure, and this proves too much of a lure for the Count to ignore. He escapes jail and returns to the island of Monte Cristo where he uncovers the treasure and fights battles against evil and corruption. The Anglo-American co-production was produced by Normandie Productions for ITC.

"The Huckleberry Hound Show introduced a cartoon character to the small screen that is still fondly loved by TV historians. It was Hanna-Barbera's second TV production and ran for 195 episodes between 1958 and 1961, sponsored by the giant Kelloggs corporation in the US. It was one of the earliest TV cartoons to be segmented, in other words instead of the programme being one continuous story, it consisted of three or four different cartoons which included different characters, namely Pixie and Dixie with Mr. Jinks; Yogi Bear; and later on in the series Hokey Wolf. It had its first British TV premiere on the London ITV Channel Associated Rediffusion in 1960, but didn't arrive in our neck of the woods until September 1962 when it was screened by ATV on a Monday afternoon at 5.25. After a couple of re-runs this series was shown for two years as individual segments on the famous Midland based Tingha and Tucker Club."

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