TV UK TV

Secret Army (BBC-1 1977-1979 with Jan Francis and Bernard Hepton)

UK / BBC One / 42×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 7 September 1977 – 15 December 1979

Producer: Gerard Glaister / Script Editor: John Brason / Consultant: Wilfred Greatorex / Technical Advisor: Capt W. Randle / Theme Music: Robert Farnon

Wartime drama series. During World War II, a Belgian group called Lifeline set up a resistance movement helping shot down British airmen get back to Blighty.

Working out of a café called Le Candide, Lifeline specialised in helping trapped Allied servicemen get home, key personnel in the organisation were café owner Albert Foiret (Bernard Hepton), Lisa Colbert (played by Jan Francis, a mainstay of season one); Foiret’s mistress Monique Duchamps (Angela Richards) and waitress Natalie (Juliet-Hammond Hill) were also heavily involved. The Germans of course maintained a large presence throughout the series, chief amongst them were Sturmbahnfuhrer Kessler (Clifford Rose) and Major Erwin Brandt (Michael Culver).

The German SS leader Kessler was determined to try and stamp Lifeline out but they always managed to try and stay one step ahead.

The series followed the war through to its conclusion with the town being Liberated and there was also a six part sequel called Kessler.

Secret Army is definitely one of the strongest of all 1970’s drama series, supremely suspenseful and full of brilliant acting Secret Army has too often in modern times been unfairly judged as the inspiration for sitcom Allo Allo (it was of course but it was so much more than that).

Season two underwent a couple of changes with the departure of Lisa Colbert who died in shocking fashion at the close of Season One. The café location of season one also changed to an exclusive restaurant (still called Le Candide), mainly to introduce more German characters into the series.

Interestingly a “closure” episode of the series, What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? was never actually broadcast, it focused on Albert and Monique some 30 years after the end of the war but the BBC were unhappy about the quality of the make up effects and instead decided to make a six part thriller, the aforementioned Kessler, which focused on the efforts to track down the ageing and now a war criminal Kessler.

cast
BERNARD HEPTON as Albert Foiret
JAN FRANCIS as Lisa Colbert (Season 1)
CLIFFORD ROSE as Kessler
ANGELA RICHARDS as Monique Duchamps
JULIET HAMMOND-HILL as Natalie
CHRISTOPHER NEAME as Flt Lt John Curtis (Season 1)
MICHAEL CULVER as Major Brandt (Seasons 1-2)
TERENCE HARDIMAN as Major Rheinhardt (Season 3)
STEPHEN YARDLEY as Max Brocard
HAZEL McBRIDE as Madelaine Duclos
PAUL SHELLEY as Bradley (Season 3)
RALPH BATES as Paul Vercors (Season 3)





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