Secret Army

1977 | United Kingdom

In Secret Army, produced by Gerard Glaister as a follow-up to his hugely successful drama series Colditz, the action takes place in Belgium during the Second World War and concerns itself with the members of Lifeline, an underground Resistance movement, who risk life and limb in their endeavours to smuggle Allied airmen past the Nazis and return them back to Britain via a number of escape routes and safe houses. 

Bernard Hepton played Albert Foiret, the proprietor of 'Le Candide' cafe that served as the base for the movement which was led by its idealistic founder Lisa Colbert (Jan Francis) whose motivation was the murder of her parents by the Germans. Apart from helping the Resistance there was an added threat to Foiret, the fact that the German officers, headed by Gestapo leader Kessler (Clifford Rose) frequented 'Le Candide.' The final Secret Army episode to be made, 'What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?', set 25 years after the liberation of Brussels, looked at how the characters had fared after the war, but was never broadcast. Instead the end of the last series showed how, with the war over and Brussels liberated, Kessler escaped capture and adopted a new identity. He then resurfaced in a spin-off series, Kessler, made in 1981. 

As unlikely as it seems Secret Army inspired one of Britain's longest running sitcoms - 'Allo 'Allo - in which most of the key elements were recreated but parodied. No one was spared. There was even a character called Yvette - Lisa Colbert's codename in Secret Army.

Published on January 28th, 2019. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.