The Flashing Blade

1964 | France

Originally made in France in 1967 as Le Chevalier Tempete the series of four epic 75-minute episodes were edited into 12 22-minute episodes for its dubbed UK broadcast in 1969 and shown as part of BBC's children's programming. 

The action is set in 17th century France, during the War of the Mantuan Succession (1628-1631) between France and Spain and its allies including the Duchy of Savoy, and involves a besieged French garrison who are defending a Castle in the city of Casal, capital of Montferrat, on the border between France and Spain. The Spanish hear of a possible truce between the opposing countries but some of the Spanish elite do not want peace until the fort of Casal is taken. Hence they begin a bombardment of the battlements to prevent a truce being signed. 

The heroes of the piece are a dashing French spy Francois de Chevalier (Robert Etcheverry) and his servant Guillot (Jacques Balutin). Francois infiltrates the Spanish line causing chaos among their troops and returns to the French expecting to be greeted in triumph only to find himself facing a court martial for disobeying orders. Sentenced to death Francois and Guillot escape and set off to complete the mission they started. 

The UK broadcast was spoiled by the fact that the final episode suffered from loss of picture quality due to faulty film stock leading to several hundred complaints to the BBC who repeated the final few minutes on Ask Aspel. However, the series was often repeated throughout the 1970s. In 1988, it was re-dubbed by Andrew O'Connor, Kate Copstick, Bernadette Nolan and Terry Randall to produce a spoof version, which was broadcast on the children's Saturday morning show On the Waterfront. The scripts for the new comic soundtrack were written by Russell T. Davies before he went on to write Dark Season, Queer As Folk and Doctor Who. The theme song was "Fight" by The Musketeers (written by Alex Masters), which was issued on a Philips single in 1969.

Published on December 12th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.