Kessler (BBC-1 1981 with Clifford Rose and Alan Dobie)


UK / BBC One / 6×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 13 November – 18 December 1981

Writer: John Brason / Producer: Gerard Glaister / Director: Tristan DeVere Cole

Thriller serial. Spin off from Secret Army. 35 Years after the end of World War II, a Belgian TV show producer discovers that prominent German businessman Manfred Dorff might just former SS Officer Ludwig Kessler, also interested in Kessler is German secret service agent Richard Bauer and israeli girl Mical Rak whose mother and family were sent to Auschwitz on Kessler’s orders.

As the net closes in on Kessler he is forced to flee to South America to join forces with other Nazis hiding out there including Mengele and Boorman. Kessler holds the key to the remaining Nazi fortune (which now numbers in the billions of deutschmarks thanks to Dorff Industries and investments). Kessler’s oldest colleague Colonel Hans Ruckert wants the money to keep the old Nazi faithful in comfort until the “Der Tag” (the day) when the party can rise again and Kessler’s daughter Ingrid is keen to convince him to give the money to her young organisation. Meanwhile as Bauer and Rak team up to track Kessler in South America the bodies are starting to pile up.

A brilliant idea this, take the much hated Kessler (superbly played by Clifford Rose) and tap into the then current idea of leading Nazis hiding out in South America and the like and turn it into a first rate thriller. Alan Dobie is his usual terrific self and Nitza Saul as Mical Rak is a great find – sexy and able to be tough when she needs to. Shame she didn’t do more UK film and TV. There is also a nice touch with the same Secret Army theme music and appearances in the first episode from Albert, Monique and Natalie (mainstays of SA) who get together to help confirm to Belgian TV producer Gidney that Dorff is indeed Kessler.

Clifford Rose as Ludwig Kessler / Herr Dorff
Alan Dobie as Richard Bauer
Nitza Saul as Mical Rak
Ralph Michael as Colonel Hans Rückert
Alison Glennie as Ingrid
Nicholas Young as Franz