Alan Keeling's latest batch of pioneering TV programmes includes a Wild West Robin Hood, a Ronald Colman classic, and the English actor who was on patrol in Africa.
"Here's adventure...... Here's romance...... Here's O'Henry's famous Robin Hood of the Old West, "The Cisco Kid." This was the opening title introduction to a TV Western series that became the first American TV show to be filmed entirely in colour, the famous "Cisco Kid," produced by ZIV Programs Incorporated between 1949 and 1954.
On hundred and fifty-six half-hour episodes were made about O'Henry's well known character, with Duncan Renaldo in the lead role.
In Britain the BBC first screened the show in an early week-day tea-time children's slot, whilst ITV stations picked up the series in 1956, also for children, and screened the show until 1961. Initially US audiences didn't see The Cisco Kid in colour. This only happened during the syndicated re-runs in the late fifties, whilst British audiences had to wait until the 1980's to see any re-runs of the show in colour when they appeared on satellite TV.
Duncan Renaldo as "The Cisco Kid" had Leo Carillo as his dim-witted sidekick Pancho, both of whom had starred in the monochrome 'B' movies of the 1940's. Their respective steeds were Diablo (seen in the accompanying picture with the "Kid') and Loco, a good name for poor old Pancho. There was also a stirring theme and incidental music composed by Albert Glasser. The not 'too' violent episodes had the trusty, flamboyantly dressed pair rounding up the bad guys, with Cisco always getting the girl before the end credits began to roll.
The classic US comedy series "The Halls of Ivy" was filmed in Hollywood in 1954 by Television Programs of America and later distributed by ITC. The 26 half-hour films starred Ronald Colman as Dr. William Todhunter Hall ( known as simply "Toddy" to his wife) and Benita Hall as Mrs. Vicky Hall. Other main characters included Mary Wickes as Alice the house-keeper and Herb Butterfield as Clarence Wellman, the chairman of the fictitious Ivy College where the series was set. It was based on a radio show of the same name, and the series depicted incidents and problems that befell lecturers and students alike. It also had a very catchy, sentimental theme song which some readers might remember. Feel free to sing along.
"We love the Halls of Ivy that's around us here to day.
And we will not forget them, though we be far away."
The series wasn't shown on British screens until ATV (Midlands only) took the plunge in the late 1950's and screened it on a weekday 4.25 pm afternoon slot.
Who can remember "African Patrol," another popular adventure series from the 1950's? The concept of African Patrol made a change from the usual run-of-the-mill cop shows, with an English actor in the lead role and the rest of the players all British. The location however was East Africa and the programmes produced by an African company called Kenya Productions that made all 39 monochrome episodes in one year, 1957. The star of the show had already appeared in popular 'B' movies. He was John Bentley (later to appear in Crossroads) and played patrol inspector Paul Derek, who, armed with just his wits and a gun, pursued crooks and murderers in and around the jungles of Africa.
The programme was shown by ABC (Midlands and North) in 1959/60, but there were seldom any re-runs. Female guest stars like Honor Blackman added a little glamour to the jungle environment, and diverse episode titles such as "The baboon laughed," "Murder is spelt L.O.V.E." and "Snake in the grass," proved fairly popular with viewers. As far as I know African Patrol was last screened on Channel Islands Television in 1973."
As a footnote to this series of old (memorable or otherwise) TV programmes which Alan Keeling is currently keeping us supplied with, he along with the rest of us would be delighted to hear from Bugle readers who have either good or bad memories of programmes from the past or can name a favourite TV series or TV character of all time. With the new Doctor Who enjoying rave reviews, can anyone remember cowering behind the settee during the original series back in the 60's? And how about making the weekly pilgrimage to the local flee-pit to watch some cracking 'B' movies in glorious monochrome. If you have any stories to tell please let us know here at the Bugle.