In the 1950’s and the infancy of commercial television there was a huge vogue for period action adventures series, sparked by the massive success of The Adventures of Robin Hood another big hit was this one The Adventures of William Tell (often also referred to as just William Tell).
Filmed at the British National Studios, Elstree (and with some location work in Snowdonia) but set in 14th century Switzerland it’s based on the myth/folk hero story of Tell who is basically a version of Robin Hood as he tries to keep the people of Altdorf free from the tyranny of the invading Austrians. Tell is living as an outlaw with his wife Hedda and son Walter after tangling with the evil Landburgher Gessler (the catalyst for Tell’s outlawdom is the famous shooting an apple off his son’s head moment, here it’s something he was forced to do by Gessler).
Aided by a growing band of followers Tell works at undermining the Austrians in a manner similar to that of the work of the French Resistance during World War II. Lots of well known faces popped up amongst the guest casts too including the likes of Frazer Hines, John Le Mesurier, Patrick Troughton, Wilfred Brambell, Christopher Lee and a very young Michael Caine.
Probably not as well remembered these days as Robin Hood but it’s easily its equal. The source material was the story by Johann Von Schiller.
UK / ITV Network – ITP – National Telefilm / 39×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 15 September 1958 – 14 June 1959 in black and white
Creator: Leslie Arliss / Theme sung by David Whitfield / Composer:Harold Durrell / Producers: Leslie Arliss, Ralph Smart
CONRAD PHILLIPS as William Tell
JENNIFER JAYNE as Hedda Tell
WILLOUGHBY GODDARD as Landburgher Gessler
RICHARD ROGERS as Walter Tell
NIGEL GREEN as Fertog
THE EPISODES 15 September 1958 – 14 June 1959
1. THE EMPEROR’S HAT
2. THE HOSTAGES
3. SECRET DEATH
4. THE GAUNTLET OF SIR GERHARDT
5. THE PRISONER
6. VOICE IN THE NIGHT
7. THE ASSASSINS
8. THE BARONESS
9. THE ELIXER
10. THE SUSPECT
11. THE CUCKOO
12. THE BEAR
13. THE MAGIC POWDER
14. THE GOLDEN WHEEL
15. THE BRIDE
16. BOY SLAVES
17. THE YOUNG WIDOW
19. THE TRAP
20. THE SHREW
21. THE MANHUNT
22. THE KILLER
23. THE SURGEON
24. THE ENSIGN
25. THE UNWELCOME STRANGER
26. THE AVENGER
27. THE BANDIT
28. GESSLER’S DAUGHTER
29. THE GENERAL’S DAUGHTER
30. THE RAID
31. CASTLE OF FEAR
32. THE BLACK BROTHERS
33. THE LOST LETTER
34. THE SECRET WEAPON
35. THE MASTER SPY
36. THE TRAITOR
37. THE SPIDER
38. THE MOUNTAIN PEOPLE
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