|The Flaxton Boys|
|Written by|| Sid Waddell |
|Directed by|| Robert D. Cardona |
|Starring|| Peter Firth |
|Theme music composer||Sergei Prokofiev|
|Opening theme||Extract from the Classical Symphony|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Producers|| Jess Yates |
Robert D. Cardona
|Production locations||Ripley Castle, North Yorkshire|
|Running time||52 x 30 mins|
|Production company||Yorkshire Television|
|Original release||21 September 1969 –|
17 June 1973
The Flaxton Boys is a British historical children's television series set in the West Riding of Yorkshire and covering a timespan of almost a century. The series was made by Yorkshire Television and was broadcast on ITV between 1969 and 1973, running for 4 series and 52 episodes, each of 30 minutes duration.
The Flaxton Boys had a number of different scriptwriters, was produced by Jess Yates and Robert D. Cardona, and directed mainly by Cardona (45 episodes). Each of the series was set in a different era, spanning the years 1854 to 1945/6.
The series is set at Flaxton Hall, near the fictional Yorkshire village of Carliston. Each series follows the exploits and adventures of a different generation of boys, in 1854, 1890, 1928 and 1945/6. The main protagonists in each series are a young member of the Flaxton line and his closest friend, both portrayed as being around 14 years old.
Storylines are drawn mainly from the traditional staples of the Boys' Adventure genre, including plot elements such as hidden treasure, cryptic clues to be solved, ghostly apparitions, malign and unscrupulous villains, and spies. Each series is essentially self-contained in terms of cast and character.
However two lead actors feature in more than one series – Victor Winding portrays Barnaby Sweet in series 2 and Sweet's son Benjamin in series 3 and 4, while Richard Gale plays Sir Peregrine Stilgoe in series 1, his son Sir Tarquin in series 2, and Miles Osborne in series 3. A constant element through all four series is narration by Gerry Cowan, who appears as Jacklin Flaxton in series 2 and as Roger Grafton in series 3.
It is 1854, and Captain Andrew Flaxton is posted as missing in the Crimean War. His wife Lucy and son Jonathan inherit the dilapidated Flaxton Hall, an imposing crenellated and ivy-covered property in the Yorkshire countryside. Jonathan befriends a local boy, Archie Weekes, and the pair spend their free time exploring. Local legend maintains that a great treasure is concealed somewhere within Flaxton Hall or its grounds, and this spikes the interest and attention of the area's avaricious, ruthless and unprincipled villain Sir Peregrine Stilgoe, who hires three convicts to assist him in locating the treasure. Jonathan and Archie find themselves in constant danger, but manage to keep one step ahead of Sir Peregrine in his machinations. A side-plot involves a strange ghostly female figure, reputed to haunt the local churchyard. The series ends with the safe return from the Crimea of Andrew Flaxton, who puts a swift end to Sir Peregrine's villainy and himself finds the treasure, which promises the family a secure and stable future.
It is now 1890. Andrew Flaxton is now an old man, and his son Jonathan is revealed to have disappeared in unknown circumstances some years earlier. Archie Weekes (Jonathan's boyhood friend) is invited to come and run Flaxton Hall with his wife Sarah and son Peter. Sir Peregrine is now dead, but his villainy lives on in the shape of his son Sir Tarquin, who is plotting to take over the Hall in order to gain access to the large reserves of coal. Sir Tarquin's ward, David Stilgoe, becomes friends with Peter, and together they constantly thwart Sir Tarquin's ambitions by their alertness and bravery. Other storylines include a feud between two local Chinese Tong organisations, and the escape of an unhappy and lovelorn young servant girl, assisted by the two boys. At the end, it is revealed that Jonathan has died but that David Stilgoe was, in fact, his son and the heir to Flaxton Hall.
The year is 1928. David Flaxton was killed in World War I, and his widow Jane now lives at the Hall. Their son Jonathan returns home from boarding school for the summer holidays, accompanied by his friend William Pickford. The boys befriend a local character, the feckless but well-meaning Benjamin Sweet. The Stilgoes have vanished from the scene and their former home, Stilgoe Lodge, is now in a state of advanced neglect and decay. The Lodge is to be renovated and turned into an orphanage, and Jonathan and William volunteer their holiday services in assisting with the reconstruction. However things do not go to plan, as a steady stream of workmen are frightened away from the Lodge after claiming to have witnessed hauntings and other supernatural phenomena. Jonathan and William, with the help of Benjamin, eventually discover that the supposed hauntings are fake. Also prominently featured in this series is the thwarted conniving of a Stilgoe family connection, Miles Osborne, to prevent the Lodge from being redeveloped. The series ends with the boys returning to school as the summer holiday ends.
The final series takes place in 1945 and 1946, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. During the war Flaxton Hall has been requisitioned by the army. Matthew Flaxton befriends Terry Nichols, an evacuee from London who has no home to return to following the disappearance of his parents. Storylines in this series centre on suspicions of spies being operational in the Carliston area and the boys' interaction with enemy combatants being held as prisoners of war in the locality. The series closes with Flaxton Hall largely being destroyed by a fire accidentally caused by an upper-class-twit character, Gerald Meder, after Jonathan Flaxton has returned from the war and has expressed grave doubts over whether he will be able to maintain the hall in the new political and economic circumstances; this can be seen as an analogy for the destruction of country houses in 20th-century Britain. Nonetheless, the family plan to continue in business, and with Terry's parents having returned, they announce that they will move to Yorkshire and he will stay in the area.
Location filming for The Flaxton Boys took place at Ripley Castle, four miles north of Harrogate. The castle owner, Sir Thomas Ingilby, credited the series for a dramatic rise in visitor numbers, turning the establishment from a local into a regional attraction.
The theme tune for the series was an excerpt from Sergei Prokofiev's Classical Symphony . Episodes were originally broadcast early on Sunday evenings, at the time the traditional "family" timeslot in the UK for historical drama made for children but with appeal to an adult audience also, such as The Adventures of Black Beauty .
The Flaxton Boys continued to be repeated on various networks both in the UK and overseas until the early 1990s. Unusually for the era, its location recordings were on videotape rather than film, except for some limited use of film in the last series. The series has always been fully extant in the Yorkshire Television archives, but until 2015 only the first episodes of the first two series had been released commercially, in the Look-Back on 70s Telly series. The complete first series was released on DVD by Network in July 2015 although in some instances the recordings had decayed (an acknowledged problem with videotaped children's programmes in the Yorkshire TV archive). In 2017, the second series, the third series and the fourth series were released.
John Edward Thaw, was an English actor who appeared in a range of television, stage, and cinema roles. He starred in the television series Inspector Morse as title character Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse, Redcap as Sergeant John Mann, The Sweeney as Detective Inspector Jack Regan, Home to Roost as Henry Willows, and Kavanagh QC as title character James Kavanagh.
John Carroll O'Connor was an American actor, producer, and director whose television career spanned four decades. A lifelong member of the Actors Studio, in 1971, O'Connor found widespread fame as Archie Bunker, the main character in the CBS television sitcoms All in the Family (1971–79) and its spinoff, Archie Bunker's Place (1979–83). O'Connor later starred in the NBC/CBS television crime drama In the Heat of the Night (1988–95), where he played the role of Sparta, Mississippi, police chief William "Bill" Gillespie. At the end of his career in the late 1990s, he played Gus Stemple, the father of Jamie Buchman on Mad About You.
Peter Macintosh Firth is an English actor. He is best known for his role as Sir Harry Pearce in the BBC One show Spooks; he is the only actor to have appeared in every episode of the show's ten-series lifespan. He has given many other television and film performances, most notably as Alan Strang in Equus (1977), earning both a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination for the role.
Sidney Edmond Jocelyn "Joss" Ackland, CBE is an English actor who has appeared in more than 130 film and television roles. He was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for portraying Jock Delves Broughton in White Mischief (1987).
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters is an American children's television series that ran from September 8, 1973 to October 18, 1975, produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and aired on Saturday mornings. It was syndicated from December 1975 to June 1978 and later as part of the Krofft Superstars show from 1978 to 1985.
Fritz William Weaver was an American actor in television, stage, and motion pictures. He portrayed Dr. Josef Weiss in the 1978 epic television drama, Holocaust. In cinema, he made his debut in the film Fail Safe (1964) and also appeared in Marathon Man (1976), Creepshow (1982) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). Among many television roles, he performed in two seminal projects: the movie The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) and the mini-series Holocaust (1978), for which Weaver was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. He also worked in science fiction and fantasy, especially in television series and movies like The Twilight Zone, 'Way Out, Night Gallery, The X-Files, The Martian Chronicles and Demon Seed. Weaver also narrated educational TV programs.
Michael Roy Kitchen is an English actor and television producer, best known for his starring role as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle in the ITV drama series Foyle's War between 2002 and 2015. He also played the role of Bill Tanner in two James Bond films, and that of John Farrow in BBC Four's comedy series Brian Pern.
Christopher Timothy is a Welsh actor. He is known for his roles as James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small, Mac McGuire in the BBC soap opera Doctors and Ted Murray in the BBC soap opera EastEnders.
James Grover Franciscus was an American actor, known for his roles in feature films and in six television series: Mr. Novak, The Naked City, The Investigators, Longstreet, Doc Elliot, and Hunter.
Eric Gale was an American jazz and R&B guitarist.
Benjamin Patrick Aris was an English actor who was best known for his parts in Hi-de-Hi! and To the Manor Born, and was also very active on stage. He was often cast as an eccentric, upper-class, or upper-middle class, man.
Dallas Raymond McKennon, sometimes credited as Dal McKennon, was an American actor who had a career lasting over 50 years.
Adrienne Posta is an English film and television actress and singer, prominent during the 1960s and 1970s. She adopted the surname 'Posta' in 1966.
Ernest Lamont Johnson Jr. was an American actor and film director who has appeared in and directed many television shows and movies. He won two Emmy Awards.
Moultrie Rowe Kelsall was a Scottish film and television character actor, who began his career in the industry as a radio director and television producer. He also contributed towards architectural conservation.
Peter Stephens was an English stage, film and television supporting actor, notable for his portrayal of the Bunteresque character Cyril in the Doctor Who serial The Celestial Toymaker. He was also the director of one film during his career.
Ripley Castle is a Grade I listed 14th-century country house in Ripley, North Yorkshire, England, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Harrogate.
This is a list of British television related events from 1973.
This is a list of British television related events from 1969.
Victor Winding was a British actor born in Lambeth, London. He appeared in "The Faceless Ones", a Doctor Who serial broadcast from April to May 1967 starring Patrick Troughton in which he played the character called Spencer, an airline pilot at Gatwick Airport, where his identity was taken over by a chameleon. He also appeared in seasons 1-3 of the tv series The Expert from 1968 to 1971 as series regular Det. Chief Inspector Fleming alongside star Marius Goring.