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The Chequered Flag (ITV Kids, Jeremy Bulloch, Geoffrey Frederick)



In six part ITV kids sports adventure series young Mike Brown (Jeremy Bulloch) is determined to make it as a champion kart racer.

The TV Times of 4 Sep 1960 had an article by Guy Cheviot about the series: Kart racing gives a thrilling send off to The Chequered Flag, a new adventure series on the motor track beginning in the children’s programmes on Tuesday. Six episodes will tell how world racing champion Tony Gregory (Geoffrey Frederick) discovers a future champion in 17 year old Mike Brown (Jeremy Bulloch) and helps steer him to success. Sharing the good work are Tony’s young and attractive wife Joan (Sheila Robins), who is a keen rally driver, and two argumentative mechanics with hearts of gold and tongues of quicksilver – Tim Shannon (Larry Burns) is Irish; Charlie (Tony Hilton) is Cockney. An explosive mixture which could set the pits on fire. Scriptwriter Ivan Berg, himself a keen kart-racer, told me karting can be the first hop towards the big car stuff. “The Chequered Flag is packed with useful information. Viewers will find, for instance, that a racing champion is not just a glamour boy; he needs to be a thorough technician, knowing all there is to know about the machine he drives,” says Jim Pople, the producer.

The Coventry Evening Telegraph of Tuesday 6 September 1960 had a small preview: The first children’s motor racing serial to be transmitted by the commercial companies starts today – The Chequered Flag (ITV 5.25). It is also the first serial 24 years old Ivan Berg has written. Young viewers can be sure of an authentic background to the serial for Berg has just finished the first British book on go-karting and has won many events himself. The story describes the efforts of a young boy to become a racing driver again his parent’s wishes.

L.M. in The Stage of Thursday 8 September reviewed the first episode: Ivan Berg’s new children’s serial about motor racing and motor sport got off to a good start. World racing champion Tony Gregory (Geoffrey Frederick) discovers a future champion in young Mike Brown (Jeremy Bulloch) and persuades his parents to allow Mike to join him as an apprentice. For many youngsters like Mike Brown, this serial is probably their first introduction to kart-racing. And I expect that many will become enthusiasts for the sport well before the end of it. Directed by Jim Pople and designed by Roy Walker The Chequered Flag will also probably be the predecessor to other children’s TV plays based on exciting sports. The first episode introduced the main characters quickly and fully. There was Gregory’s wife Joan (Sheila Robins) who added vigour to her role. Mike’s parents played by Irene Richmond and Anthony Woodruff who wanted their son to go into an insurance office – “a steady job.” And the two friendly but argumentative mechanics, Tim (Larry Burns) and Charlie (Tony Hilton). Many actors nowadays don’t seem to realise the importance of working in children’s TV. Apart from the experience gained, this kind of acting tends to be an exacting task. Children are notorious for seeing through fakes.

Cast: Geoffrey Frederick (Tony Gregory), Sheila Robins (Joan Gregory), Jeremy Bulloch (Mike Brown), Larry Burns (Tim Shannon), Tony Hilton (Charlie), Michael Crawford (Bryan West), James Grout (Commentator), John Harvey (Johnny Redstone), Geoffrey Lumsden (Arthur Pitts), Anthony Woodruff (Mr Brown), Irene Richmond (Mrs Brown), Dervis Ward (Malcom West), Leon Sinden (Driving Test Examiner)

Writer: Ivan Berg / Production Design: Jim Nicolson, Roy Walker / Producer and Director: Jim Pople

UK / ITV – Associated Rediffusion / 6×25 minute episodes / Broadcast Tuesday 6 September – Tuesday 11 October 1960