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Fourth Arm, The (BBC-1 1983, Paul Shelley, Philip Latham)

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Wartime drama series The Fourth Arm was set in 1944 and saw British Officer Major Gallagher and a specially selected team sent to France to try and destroy a site where Nazi’s are manufacturing their major new weapon – the V1 Rocket. Much of the first part of the 12 parter focused on the gathering of the team and their training.

The team were from various walks of life, one is a safe cracker George Macklin languishing in prison but joining with hopes of a pardon if the mission is a success. Another is a French singer and another still is a boffin with no active wartime experience.

It isn’t until episode 11 that the mission actually begins and whilst the build up may be long  it’s definitely worth it as we learn about the team and quirks. Watch friendships and relationships develop all the while knowing that not all of them may make it back. Indeed there are two casualties even before the off when a side mission doesn’t go quite as planned.

Paul Shelley is excellent in the lead as Gallagher, he had a few high profile roles in the 80’s and deserves to be more well known than he probably is. Incidentally he is the brother of fellow actor Francis Matthews.

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The main team is
Sgt Duncan Cameron, a highlander
Sgt Sally Birkett, a good organiser and speaks fluent German
Simone Portales, French singer knows the area where the base is having been born there. Also speaks fluent German.
Nigel Macauley, an unorthodox all rounder
Geoffrey Wilson, French born and also a German speaker
Helen Robinson, a cypher expert
Solange Rohr, a member of the Free French fighter
George Macklin, Expert safe cracker

Once training begins they are all given French code names.

A well made series and shot through with the exact same flavour as the same team’s Secret Army. Indeed Gallagher had also had a prominent role in that series as Major Bradley.

production details
UK / BBC1 / 12×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 7 January – 25 March 1983

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Creators: Gerard Glaister and John Brason / Producer: Gerard Glaister

cast
Paul Shelley as Major Gallagher
Philip Latham as Colonel Gwillim
Neil Stacy as Lieutenant-Colonel Squires
Eve Adam as Portales (Rossignol)
Angela Cheyne as Birkett (Hirondelle)
Susan Kyd as Solange (Chardonneret)
Carole Nimmons as Ellen (Merle)
Stuart Blake as Wilson (Corbeau)
Rob Edwards as Lovell (Hibou)
Dean Harris as Macklin (Choucas)
Michael MacKenzie as Cameron (Grive)
Robert Swales as Macaulay (Mesange)
Leonard Fenton as Moffatt (Miff)
Roy Boyd as Lamboit (Ferdy)

THE EPISODES
1. PART ONE (7 Jan 1983)
2. PART TWO (14 Jan 1983)
3. PART THREE (21 Jan 1983)
4. PART FOUR (28 Jan 1983)
5. PART FIVE (4 Feb 1983)
6. PART SIX (11 Feb 1983)
7. PART SEVEN (18 Feb 1983)
8. PART EIGHT (25 Feb 1983)
9. PART NINE (4 Mar 1983)
10. PART TEN (11 Mar 1983)
11. PART ELEVEN (18 Mar 1983)
12. PART TWELVE (25 Mar 1983)

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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