Australian series filmed in colour but only available to the UK viewing public of 1957 in black and white, The Adventures of Long John Silver was based very loosely on Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 novel Treasure Island, with only the central character and his cabin boy, Jim Hawkins, making the transition from printed page to small screen.
Even the setting for the series was different, being located in Portobello on the Spanish Main, where Silver and Hawkins worked for British Governor Strong in order to thwart the advance of the treacherous Spaniards and thereby keep the island safe in the hands of The Crown. There was still time for a little treasure hunting although Silver's favourite way of spending his off-duty hours was in Purity Pinker's Inn, where he could swig away on the local brew. Reprieving the title role that he had made very much his own in Disney's first complete live action movie (1950) was the incomparable Robert Newton, who hammed it up so well that every impression that you have ever seen of the good Cap'n is almost certainly based on his interpretation.
Sadly, Newton died shortly after completing the 26 half-hour episodes. The series was filmed in Sydney by producer Joseph Kaufman for Isola del'Oro Productions. Almost thirty years later HTV produced John Silver's Return to Treasure Island starring Brian Blessed in the title role and later still the BBC produced Treasure Island with Peter Vaughan in the lead.
Published on November 26th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.