Biggles: Adventures in Time

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Biggles: Adventures in Time
Theatrical poster
Directed by John Hough
Produced by Pom Oliver
Kent Walwin
Written by W. E. Johns (characters)
John Groves and
Kent Walwin (screenplay)
Starring Neil Dickson
Alex Hyde-White
Fiona Hutchison
Peter Cushing
Marcus Gilbert
William Hootkins
Music by Stanislas Syrewicz
Cinematography Ernest Vincze
Edited by Richard Trevor
Distributed by New Century Vista Film Company
Release dates
30 May 1986 (UK)
29 January 1988 (USA)
Running time
108 min.
Country United Kingdom/USA
Language English
Budget Unknown
Box office $112,132 (USA)

Biggles: Adventures in Time is a 1986 adventure film based on the Biggles character from the series of novels written by Captain W. E. Johns. The film stars Neil Dickson as Biggles, Alex Hyde-White as Jim Ferguson and Peter Cushing as William Raymond in his final feature film role.



Unassuming catering salesman Jim Ferguson falls through a time hole to 1917 where he saves the life of dashing Royal Flying Corps pilot James "Biggles" Bigglesworth after his photo recon mission is shot down. Before he can work out what has happened, Jim is zapped back to the 1980s. With assistance from Biggles' former commanding officer Raymond (Peter Cushing) who lives in the Tower Bridge in London, Ferguson learns that he and Biggles are "time twins", spontaneously travelling through time when one or the other is in mortal danger. Together, Ferguson and Biggles fight across time and against the odds to stop the Germans changing the course of history by destroying a "Sound Weapon" with a Metropolitan Police helicopter that was stolen by Biggles while escaping a SWAT Team in 1986 London.


The film was shot mostly on location in London and in the Home Counties. Some of the aerial sequences were shot near Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. The weapon testing ground in the 1917 scene is Beckton Gas Works and was filmed there a year before Full Metal Jacket was. The Bond film For Your Eyes Only also used the location for the pre title sequence.

The exterior Church Scenes were all filmed at All Saints Church. The courtyard scenes were filmed within the same grounds of the Stable Blocks at Holdenby House in Northamptonshire.

The original script called for an adventure film in the mould of Raiders of the Lost Ark and would have been much more faithful to Johns' original novels. During scriptwriting, Back to the Future was released and became a major hit, so the script was duly altered to follow this trend, in the hopes of riding out the popularity.

Several aircraft were used in the film. These included a Stampe SV.4, which is flown by Biggles, and a Boeing Stearman, which is flown by his archrival, Von Stalhein. Both these aircraft are of 1930s vintage. Also used in ground scenes are several genuine World War I aircraft from the Shuttleworth Collection, including the Avro 504 and LVG C.VI.

Dickson later reprised the Biggles character in all but name, in the Pet Shop Boys' 1987 feature film, It Couldn't Happen Here.


The film is notably unfaithful to the original works.[1] In addition to the introduction of a science-fiction plot, the continuity of the Biggles universe was largely ignored: for example, even within the film's chronology Peter Cushing's character would have been almost 100 years old in the 1980s (he appears much younger), while Biggles in the film was somewhat older (in the books, he was only a teenager in 1917), and the characters Ginger and Bertie, who feature in this film, did not join Biggles until later in the usual Biggles scenario, although the presence of Biggles' friend Algy, adversary Erich Von Stahlein and love interest Marie are faithful to the earlier books in the series.



R2 DVD cover, including inaccurate World War II fighter

The film was poorly received by critics and audiences. However, the action scenes were praised for their realism and directing.[2] The film remains of interest to Queen fans due to its featuring John Deacon's only non-Queen released recording – the song "No Turning Back", recorded with The Immortals. The R2 DVD release includes the video for this song, among several other special features – it also features a World War II era fighter prominently on the DVD cover, despite no such plane appearing in the film itself.

Video game[edit]

The film was also turned into a video game for Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum getting somewhat above average scores in reviews.[3]


External links[edit]